“Everything requires time. It is the only truly universal condition. All work takes place in time and uses up time. Yet most people take for granted this unique, irreplaceable, and necessary resource. Nothing else, perhaps, distinguishes effective executives as much as their tender loving care of time.”
Peter F. Drucker
Real leadership is leaders recognizing that they serve the people that they lead.
When you are interacting with others what is your mind set? Are you looking for their reaction to you or are you looking to learn more about them? The first approach is egocentric and means you are more concerned about being interesting. The second approach is focused on others and means you are more concerned about what the other person has to say. If you think about past experiences, when someone listened to you it left you feeling much better than if they spent the time talking about themselves.
Truly connecting with people means that you must be concerned with what is going for them, and interested in what they have to say. It’s a two way street. You hear them and they hear you. If one of you is doing all the talking then there is no real connection going on.
This issue can show up during an introduction or during an interaction with someone you know already. If you are a boss and are meeting one-on-one with an employee are you doing the talking or are you listening? It’s important to listen more than you talk when you are engaging with someone. It gives them a sense that you value what they have to say which leads to them feeling valued. Even if you are giving feedback or direction it’s important to take the time to listen to their perspective on what you shared.
Additionally as a leader you need to be interested in what is important to your team. This means that you have to take the time to listen to their concerns and issues. If you are genuinely interested in what is going on with others, they will feel respected and trusted. If you are consistent in this approach people will trust you to be there for them. You have shown that their interests matter to you.
You don’t have to have all the solutions to their problems, in fact its better if you help them find their own solutions. One of the best bosses I ever had would let me vent about a situation and then ask me how I was going to handle it. He rarely offered solutions, unless I specifically asked and even then he would find a way to make me figure it out. During that same time I had regular contact with another manager who when you shared your problems he would jump in to solve them. While I was frustrated with my boss on occasion because I would have loved some guidance, I actually felt more empowered and valued in that relationship. I liked the other manager a lot, and yet at times I felt like he didn’t trust me or my team to find the solution. While I liked both of them, I respected and trusted my boss more because my success seemed to matter more to him.
The amazing thing about being genuinely interested in others is that they will respond by caring about your interests. Putting others first shows that you are willing to help them reach their goals and objectives. In turn they will want to know what matters to you and will help you with your goals and objectives. Focus your efforts in being interested in others instead of being interesting to others. You will get more trust, respect and assistance in return.
Here is a link to the chat I had with Doug Dickerson on Management Moment Radio show last Friday. We discussed the need to develop the next generation of leaders.
Take a listen and let me know your thoughts on how we can prepare for the future of our organizations.
To reach your goals you must focus on them. Focusing involves two unique steps, sight and sharpness. Like using binoculars you must first look in the right direction, get the object in your sights. Next you have to adjust the binoculars so you can see the object clearly. Focusing on your goals requires the same two steps.
First you must know what to look at, what is the goal you want to accomplish. What are your long term and short term goals? What things do you need to do to reach these goals? At this stage it is important to step back and look at where you want to go and what path you want to take to get there. If you want to have a balance in your life between work and family then you will need to create goals around how much you will work or how you will prioritize family involvement. Start with the high level goals such as “Spend more time with my family” and “Work less on weekends”. Now you have an idea of what you will be focusing on, and it’s time to get clear on what that means.
Once you know what your goal looks like you need to sharpen your focus. This goal must be something that you have clearly defined. You know what it is, you know what it looks like, how your life will be different, and how you will feel upon successfully reaching it. This is similar to the idea of adjusting the binoculars to get the image clear in your sights. The more clearly you can describe and visualize the goal and life after reaching it the easier it will be to bring it into focus. This means more than just saying “I will spend with my family”. It means being crystal clear such as “I will be home for dinner with my family at least 4 days each week and I will not work on weekends”. The second version is much more specific and it’s easier to see if you are meeting this goal.
The first step is to identify what is your goal and then you get clear on what it means to you. Taking these two steps will help you take action. You will know where you’re headed and how you are going to get there. It takes vision and clarity to reach your goals so improve your focus by defining your goals and getting clear on what that goal means to you. Once you have these in your sights you can create the action steps needed to reach them. You will be on your way!
There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.
As information about the tragedy in Boston emerge one of the things that struck me most was the number of people who ran towards the site of the bombing. Sure people ran away, but many turned to help. Some were obviously first responders who are trained and who accepted the duty to render aide. Others however were ordinary people who performed extraordinary acts. While these acts inspired me and provided proof that there are many good and fearless people in the world, it also reminded me that leaders can be found throughout all levels of an organization.
Being a leader means that you are willing to step up and take action. It’s more than just a title; in fact there are people who are in leadership positions that really do not lead anyone. They may command action due to their title and position but people aren’t inspired to follow them anywhere.
True leaders are people who inspire others to take action and move in a common direction. I’ve seen this from a factory floor to corporate offices, in schools and on youth sports teams. If you step back and watch behaviors there will be a person in a group that everyone else looks to for guidance and direction. At times they aren’t even really aware that others are following them, they just do what’s right because that’s who they are. This draws people in and results in others adopting their attitudes and behaviors.
Unfortunately at times the people who become defacto leaders have great charisma but are self-centered and only have their interests in mind. These people can lead folks down an ugly path. The good news is that while these people exist they typically don’t have great influence over many people for very long. Good people realize the intent is off and pull away.
The challenge for organizations is to identify the informal leaders who are shaping the thoughts and actions of those around them and ensuring they are engaged in moving the company forward. Too often management underestimates the power of the informal leaders and works to direct everyone’s actions without using these valuable resources to provide momentum. Tapping into the leadership found at every level of your organization will help create a uniform culture, makes it easier to introduce change effectively and can provide critical insights into the problems within the company.
Remember that anyone can lead from anywhere in your organization. Encourage people to step up and help direct the actions of their team or department, particularly those who do not have a position that means they have a responsibility to lead others. The informal leaders have great influence on those around them and can make or break a change initiative. Just like ordinary people can be heroes in times of disaster, ordinary people can be inspiring leaders. Find them in your organization and celebrate their contributions.
How do you encourage informal leadership?
photo from iStockphoto.com
It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.
I am being interviewed by Doug Dickerson on his radio show Management Moment on Friday April 19th. We will be discussing developing future leaders.
Here is the link to the show. Hope you can join us.
When you work on a team you want it to be the best ever, accomplish the goals and be a success. Reality is that most teams are average, a few are failures and a few are spectacular successes. This is a normal distribution of all things in life, teams included. The secret is to move the bar up on what is average or typical. The better teams perform on average the better the experience is for everyone.
How do you improve the quality of a team? Here are three key behaviors that anyone, at any level, can apply to improve their team’s quality.
- Inclusive. If you are open to including the others into your work and ideas they will be open to including you and your ideas. This is a cornerstone of collaboration. Encourage inclusion and model it.
- Supportive. Be supportive of your fellow members’ goals and efforts. Help them achieve more by assisting them. They will return the favor.
- Accountable. Hold yourself accountable to the team, its goals and your promises. Ask others to hold you to your word and hold them to their word. Never wait for the boss or team leader to address performance issues. Tackle it yourself in a professional and supportive way to help people do more.
When you practice these three behaviors people will trust you and will want to work with you. In a team environment this means that you will be sought after to be on teams because you are someone who helps make teams succeed. This can be a very rewarding position to be in. If you are early in your career it will help establish your ability to get things done by working with others, which is critical to your ability to advance. If you are already in a leadership role being a good team player and being able to manage successful teams continues to build your credibility and value to the organization.
These three behaviors are trust building which is the first step to getting a team to work together. If people trust each other they are more willing to work with each other and commit to the team’s goals. Without trust people will not commit because they will not believe others are committed. When everyone is committed to the success of the team it will succeed even when things go radically wrong.
If your team is dysfunctional and you want to see it change go first. Lead by example and model the behaviors you want the team to have. It will be hard and at times frustrating. Yet with perseverance you can make a difference. Be the change you want to see in your team.
What have you done that has helped your team succeed in the face of adversity?
photo from iStockPhoto.com