Monthly Archives: January 2013

You’re only as good as the people you hire.

Ray Kroc 

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Quote for Jan 29th

To succeed, one must be creative and persistent.

John H. Johnson 

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Time Management Myth

HourglassThere is a prevailing myth that we, as humans, can manage time.  We really can’t.  There are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour and 24 hours in a day – every day and it’s the same amount for everyone.  So why is it that some people seem to get so much more out of their time?  They recognize that they can’t manage time; however, they can use that time effectively to get things done.

Time management is about effective time utilization.  It’s that easy and it’s that hard.  So how can we get the most out of our time each day?  Here are three keys to get you started:

  1. Know what’s important.
  2. Understand time needed for what’s important.
  3. Block out time for the important.

The first thing to do is to get clear on what’s important.  These are the things you need and want to do.  On the job they are your job responsibilities and goals.  This may be a weekly report, month end statements, or the project that is due on Tuesday.   In your personal life, these are the things that are important to your life goals.  These may be spending time with family and friends, exercising, enjoying your hobbies.  Whatever is important, make note of it, take the time to get clear and stay aware of what’s critical to your job and your life.  Make a list so you can stay on top of them.

Now that you know what is important take the time to figure out what is required for each item.  The weekly report may take an hour each Friday; okay make a note of it.  If the month end statements take a day, recognize it.  If you want to exercise an hour four times a week it’s important to take that into consideration.  Assign time for each of the important items on your list.

Finally, when you know how much time is needed for the important things you can open your calendar and start blocking out time for each item.  The weekly report that takes an hour every Friday should have an appointment with you every Friday.  If you need an hour four mornings a week to exercise, schedule it – make an appointment with yourself to get in shape.  When we look at our calendars the things that are scheduled and have time blocked out are more likely to get done as planned.  These items are compelling on our calendar so put the items from your important list on your calendar.

People who effectively use their time to get things done recognize these three steps and follow them.  Their exact method probably varies, but they acknowledge and make time for what’s important to them.  This gives them control over what they do each day and they are focused on accomplishing the important goals and spending their time on important things.

We each have the same amount of time each day, what we do with it is up to us.  Make this a great day!

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Leadership Quote for Jan 24th

Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing.

Tom Peters 

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Flaw or Hidden Strength?

Cracked PotBelow is a parable of an elderly lady and a cracked pot.  The story shows us that what one person perceives as a flaw may be seen as a strength by someone else.  Flaws in one situation may be strength in another.  The question then becomes as a leader how do you handle flaws in yourself and those who work for you?

When evaluating someone do you focus on their flaws and push them to “fix” them?  Can you recognize that what is a flaw in one situation could be a key to success in another situation?  If so, do you give the person the opportunity to use that “flawed” characteristic in a positive way.  As a leader you may be very visionary but poor at details, so it’s important for you to create the vision and have people around you who can develop and execute a detailed plan to get there.  Your flaw is a problem only if you do not take the time to address it. 

You may have someone working for you in a position that requires them to work independently on a computer based system with little interaction with others, but the person is highly social and needs interaction.  This is a bad fit for the person and the position.  Constantly pushing them to isolate themselves to get work done is only going to be effective in short spurts, so look for ways that can you adapt their role to get the most out of them.  They will be more productive and your world gets easier as well.

Embrace difference in the people on your team.  Look for the hidden strength inside each flaw within yourself and your team.

Cracked Pot Parable

There was an elderly woman who had the responsibility of gathering water for her family each day. Because the family lived in a very remote and dry region, she had to walk far to get the water. She could only carry two pots at a time and so, needed to make the trip every day.

The elderly woman did not have the means for new materials. As a result, only one pot was in perfect working order. The other pot had a crack running half way down the side. The first  was the envy of the latter. Making matters worse, the whole one often belittled the other, critiquing it of lacking performance:

“You are a sorry excuse for a pot! Every day you lose half your water. I will give you a poor performance review. You’re not even meeting half of your objectives and you are draining our resources. You need to be replaced.”

Of course, these negative remarks wore on the cracked pot. Over time, the poor pot began to believe the negative feedback about itself. Until, one day, the cracked pot nearly gave up and apologized to the elderly woman, asking to be replaced:

“My lady, I am so sorry for failing you! Every day, we walk to and from the well and I cannot hold on to all the water you place in me. I am a poor performer. You must be awfully disappointed in me. Please, replace me with another, newer model, so you can be more successful!”

Upon hearing this, the lady gasped. She now realized the cracked pot did not fully understand its role:

“But, cracked pot, you provide so many benefits to me and our family that you do not realize! Haven’t you noticed all the flowers and vegetables growing up on your side of the path? I knew you dripped water and so I planted seeds along your side of our path. Your water nurtured those plants and vegetables. I picked the flowers to make our home beautiful and the vegetables to feed our family. The other pot may seem more complete, but I would have to stop and tip it every time I wanted to give the plants a drink. In contrast, water flows from you perfectly – at a consistent and steady pace.”

The cracked pot was so excited at hearing this, it never again doubted itself. It ignored the negative commentary cast by it’s peer and continued to feed the plants and vegetables every day.

Photo from iStockphoto.com

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Leadership Quote for Jan 22nd

He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander.

Aristotle

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Interesting Articles for January 2013

Young Woman Sitting Looking at Laptop Screen

I’ve listed some of the articles that I’ve found interesting over the past month.  I hope you enjoy them and find some new and useful information in them.

Let me know what you’ve read that has inspired you to reach new levels of leadership or productivity.  Have a fantastic week!

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Leadership Quote for Jan 17th

A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.

Arnold H. Glasow 

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Leaders Must Dare to Disagree

Conflicting Ways

There is almost always more than one way to accomplish a task, solve a problem or create a product.  Do you seek alternative ideas that disagree with your approach?  Do you dare to disagree with others?

Below is a link to a TED Talk by Margaret Heffernan on the ability to pull the best from those around us.  She uses the example of a woman doctor, Alice Stewart, in the 1950’s that discovered a link between x-rays of pregnant women and childhood cancer.  This was radical thinking for the time and was not welcomed or acted on for years.  Margaret goes on to show how Alice worked to prove she was right by having someone prove she was wrong.  Alice welcomed disagreement and actively sought it so that she would have confidence in her theory.

The idea of asking people to disagree is shocking and uncomfortable to most of us.  It’s conflict on a very personal level.  However, if everyone agrees then how do we minimize risk, reduce errors or find a better way to solve a problem.  When no one challenges decisions or ideas flaws become ingrained and are harder to eliminate later.  Disagreement can spark creative thinking and new solutions.  As leaders we should be asking those around us for ideas and suggestions about what can be done better/ differently.  Group think is mediocre at best but creative disagreement leads to superior results.

To get this going in your organization ask your team:

  • What could go wrong if we do this?
  • Do you see potential problems?
  • How can this be better?
  • What are the risks associated with this?
  • Do you see room for error / mistakes?
  • How would you do this differently?
  • What is unclear to you about this?
  • Can we make this easier or simpler to do?

These are just some of the possible questions that will help open the door to new ideas and improving projects and/or products.  Give your team the permission to disagree with you and each other.  The result will be better options and reduced risks.  Make sure that the environment for disagreement is professional and respectful of each person’s contribution so that everyone feels valued not judged.

Dare to disagree and see where it will take you and your team.

Margaret Heffernan – Dare to Disagree

How do you spark the creative process in your team?

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Leadership Quote for Jan 15th

Don’t find fault, find a remedy.

Henry Ford 

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