Tag Archives: Growth

Do You Go All In?

poker chips

As we neared the project deadline it was amazing to see the dedication and commitment of the team. People where putting in long hours if needed, helping out with things outside their responsibility and just looking for ways to ensure success. It was a great feeling, particularly when we hit a really ugly snag a couple of days before our deadline. When that happened it was amazing to watch everyone pull together, pull out all the stops and get things done. We hit our deadline to almost everyone’s amazement. The team members humbly told the stakeholders that they just did what had to be done.

This was a team where everyone was ‘all in’ when it came to the project. There were many different factors that created the conditions leading to the formation of such a high functioning team. One of the most critical pieces of that puzzle was the personal choices made by the team members to fully commit to the project.

Each person was 100% vested in the success of the project. This wasn’t something we discussed amongst ourselves, it was just how each of us showed up. Not everyone started off that way, a few went through the motions at first; they did just what was needed and not anything more. As time went on the team grew together and by the last few days everyone was on board and giving their all.

More recently I’ve been part of teams where there were a few members who just did the bare minimum. When their shift was over they left right away. These team members did what was mandated but did not go out of their way to do more or learn more. Sadly it meant there were many more issues as the project rolled out. The people who held back during the preparation ended up playing catch up later. Additionally they were surprised when there were problems and issues. These problems were obviously the fault of the rest of project team.

Why the difference in the commitment level of these two teams? Part of it is their personality, part the business culture and lastly the expectations of the project leaders. When expectations are set that each person is expected to be fully engaged it builds an environment where that is the norm not the exception. Team leaders must give 110%, hold people accountable for their commitments, and bring an energy that helps keep the team excited and going during the rough patches.

Yet each of us has a responsibility to bring our all to whatever we are part of each day. The most engaging, inspiring and exciting teams can still have people on them who just won’t go all in. This means they are missing some of the benefits of being fully engaged. There are three key things gained when you are fully engaged with your team.

  1. Experience: When you are willing to do more than expected you get the opportunity to experience new things, learn new skills and see things in different ways.
  2. Satisfaction: Most people want to know that what they are doing makes a difference. When you give your all you have the satisfaction of knowing that you did your best to create success. Whether you succeed or not you will know that your efforts mattered.
  3. Perception: Those who are seen as going all in on a project are seen as valuable team players. These are people who are get recognized as having potential because they can be counted on to get things done. This perception of dedication and ability can make your next career step a move up.

It’s so easy to say ‘let someone else do it’ or ‘it’s not my job’ or ‘someone else is responsible’ because it means less risk and less work. Yet it means you are creating limitations for what you can do, now and in the future. Holding back means boxing yourself in to a limited role. If you want to only be in a supporting role then only do what you are told. If you want to lead and grow you must break out of the box and show initiative, show commitment and go all in.

Like in poker when you go all in you can lose big or you can win big. However, you will never know how big a win it can be until you risk it all.

If you are ready to take the risk and go all in you can start today. Ask yourself what more can I do today to help create success? Is there something I can do to help someone get more done today? Where can I lend a hand?

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Quote for Jan 21st

yoda

Try not. Do or do not. There is no try. ~Yoda

If you are chasing your dreams you need to go for it, not just ‘try’ to reach it.   Give it your all.  You might exceed your expectations if you focus on doing not on trying.

 

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How Deep Does Your Courage Go?

16 2009 07 04_0083_edited-1There are times when you need more courage than you think you have in you.  When you enter unknown territory you need to have the courage to move forward.  These situations often appear completely unexpectedly and catch you unaware.  As leader you have to be able to quickly pull on your reserves of courage to get you through the tough times.

You may need courage to:

  • Make a tough decision
  • Take on new responsibilities
  • Share your position on a topic
  • Get out of your comfort zone
  • Be vulnerable
  • Admit a mistake/error
  • Speak in front of a group
  • Delegate an important assignment
  • Ask for help

These are just a sampling of when you might need to find the courage to proceed.  It’s important that you manage your fear so you can step up when needed.  It’s okay to be afraid; in fact if you aren’t ever afraid of failing, or letting someone down, or being wrong about something important then you really aren’t committed.  Healthy fear means the outcome matters to you.  When you have no fear, nothing matters anymore.  So embrace the fear just keep it in perspective.

To keep your fear in its proper place you need to balance it with courage.  Courage comes from confidence.  Build your courage by building your confidence that you can succeed.  Confidence is created from recognizing and acknowledging past success in a related area.  If you have previously negotiated a contract successfully you will be more confident of your ability to do it again.  The real challenge comes when you venture into new territory, one where you have no direct past experience to use as your compass.

Here are several tips to build confidence when you are in a new situation:

  1. Look for similar experiences.  Maybe you are giving a speech in front of 500 people which is 400 more than you’ve ever done before.  However, speaking in front of people can be the same no matter the size of the audience.  If you did well with 100 you can do well with 1000.
  2. Identify transferrable experiences.  If you are good at making decisions in a project based environment you can be successful making decisions in other environments.  Decision making skills transfer across industries and organizations.
  3. Remember past unexpected success.  Think of times when you accomplished more than you believed possible or even met a goal that seemed unachievable.  Once you have done the seemingly impossible you can do it again.
  4. Enlist the input of someone who has succeeded.  When you are going into something totally new and unknown find a mentor or coach or trusted colleague who can share how they succeeded in this kind of situation.  You can use their experience to learn what is needed to succeed.
  5. Take action decisively.  Once you make the decision to brave the unknown act quickly and decisively.  The more time you spend preparing yourself the more time you will have to create doubts by worrying.  As Nike says “Just Do It”.

Use your past success to give you the courage to dare to do something new now.  Be brave and take a stand, do something new or go where others fear to venture.  The more successes you have in new things the more likely you will be to have the courage to go further and do more than you dreamed possible.

If you are a leader, your courage to go out on a limb will inspire your team to do the same and the results will be even greater than imagined.  Create an environment where fear is okay but courage is cherished.  Be brave for yourself and your team.

When did you have to dig deep for courage?

 

If you would like help building your courage to face new situations contact us at carol@delta-group-llc.com

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Responsibility – Do You Pass it On?

Teamwork passing the batonEach of us has responsibilities, to ourselves, to our families, to our jobs, and so on.  It’s one of those facts of adulthood.  With freedom comes responsibility.  The real question is how well we handle all of those responsibilities.  We also have choices on what we take on as a responsibility.  This is very true as leaders.

When we assume a leadership role we are being placed in a role with responsibilities.  We are accountable for our team’s performance as well as our own.  We become responsible for guiding, directing, and correcting the behavior of those around us.  How much we take on ourselves will often determine how well we perform as a leader.

The challenge of being responsible for the performance of others is how much of their success or failure do we really own?  When is their failure ours and when is it theirs?  What is our responsibility as a leader for those who are on our team?  Here are 6 questions to help determine when it’s your responsibility and when it’s not:

  1. Have you given clear direction, and checked for understanding, on what is required?
  2. Have you provided the training and coaching needed for success?
  3. Have you given feedback on their performance, including corrective ideas?
  4. Are you letting them act independently and not micro-managing?
  5. Are you available to them for support and guidance?
  6. Have you created an environment where people can innovate, act on ideas and questioning is welcomed?

If you answer yes to all of these questions then you are doing all that you can reasonably do to help your team succeed.  Some team members will flourish and grow in this kind of environment.  There will be some who aren’t well suited for the tasks at hand.  It could be that they just don’t have the abilities or capacity to meet the demands of the position.  They may not have the right attitude for the role they are in, or they may not want to grow in the direction needed. 

When someone can’t or won’t gain the skills needed to do the job assigned and you as their leader has worked with them to help them get there it becomes your responsibility to help them move to the right position.  This may mean leaving your organization or it may mean transferring to another area.  Your responsibility is to the entire team and the organization so you have to make sure the right people are in place to accomplish your goals and mission.

Responsibility is part of our lives, at home and at work.  When we take our responsibilities seriously and act on them with integrity and compassion we help our teams become the best they can be, together and individually.  Remember while we as leaders are responsible for the team’s results each person is also responsible for their performance and their results.  We must coach, train and guide them towards success but we have to let them succeed or fail on their own.  If they can’t succeed in the given role we must be responsible to the team and make a change.

You have to pass on the responsibility for personal performance to each person on your team.  Along with that you must share the responsibility for the overall team’s success with each member.  Build trust and collaboration by passing the baton of responsibility to your team.  Get them engaged in their individual and joint success.  Everyone wins then. 

Have you ever had issues related to passing responsibility to others?  Share your experiences below in the comments.

 

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If you would like help defining your responsibilities or learning to build your team’s abilities contact us at carol@delta-group-llc.com

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Rising Above Adversity

As I read all the information about the life on Nelson Mandela one thing that struck me was his ability to forgive and move forward.  After spending years in prison he emerged and embraced his oppressors when he was elected to office.  He went out of his way to bring the two sides of South Africa together to create a new unified future for that country.  His legacy will live forever.

The lesson for us as leaders is that we can rise above adversity by being willing to let go of the hurt and bitterness.  There will be people who oppose our ideas and actions.  This leads to arguments and heated battles.  Often these workplace battles leave people hurt and bitter.  As leaders we must repair these rifts and heal the pain.  When we set aside our own pain we can move forward to create new opportunities.  By working with our opponents to find a new ways to work together we create a better and stronger future for our organizations.

The challenge is finding ways to build a bridge that will allow you to collaborate in the future.  Here are some ways to take those first steps forward:

  • Let go of bitterness:  Hanging onto your anger, hatred or bitterness will keep you stuck in that ugly place of hostility.  Let it go to open the doors for a better tomorrow.
  • Look for common ground:  There are things that you and people who oppose you have in common.  Find those items to start building a future that benefits both.
  • Acknowledge their perspective:  You don’t have to agree with or even like other’s perspectives on issues; however they have a right to their feelings and opinions.  Be willing to acknowledge their thoughts without accepting them as yours.  A great phrase is “I can see you feel strongly about….”  That shows your willingness to listen to them.
  • Extend the olive branch:  Be first to reach out to others to mend rifts and resolve disagreements.  Your willingness to find a way to move forward can help them open up to you.
  • Be sincere:  Make sure that in all you do you are sincere in your efforts to build a better future.  Doing it just to look good will be obvious.  When you sincerely want to improve the situation it will ring true and people will be more willing to work with you.

The key to all of this is to be true to yourself and your ideals while honoring and accepting the ideals of others.  When you embrace your opponents you can create a new environment where everyone feels included and will work towards the same goals.  By consistently and sincerely reaching out to others you become someone everyone admires, even when they don’t agree with everything you say or do.  You show you are working towards the good of all, not just a few.  Nelson Mandela changed the world by doing just that quietly, consistently and sincerely.  He held firm to his beliefs and welcomed those who opposed and oppressed him resulting in a stronger and better society.

What could you accomplish if you rise above adversity and embrace your opponents?

As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison. ~ Nelson Mandela

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Obstacles or Opportunities

Motivation conceptThere are times when you run into a challenge or a problem that you just have to figure out how to get around.  It seems like these times always come at the worst possible moment, when you are swamped with things to do, have pressing deadlines or you have reach the point of burnout and need a break.  Whenever these occur keep in mind that they can be a road block or they can be an opportunity to learn.  How you handle it as a leader or project manager will impact the team around you as well.  You set the tone for the rest of the team.

I know that it’s become cliché to say “we don’t have problems we have opportunities” however there is a great mindset hidden in those words.  If you look at every problem as a challenge or an obstacle than they will often keep you from moving forward.  If you turn your thinking around you can look for the opportunity to learn a new skill or finally defeat an old fear.  It really is up to you.

To help you shift your mindset to looking past the obstacles here are 5 strategies:

  1. Stay positive:  Avoid falling into the mindset that things never go well, that bad things happen, or that this will never work.  Focus on the end result or goal, and take time to look at the good things that are happening.
  2. Avoid pessimists:  You will find people who are like Eeyore who think everything is horrible and doom and gloom.  Avoid them at all costs.  Spend your time around people who accept that stuff happens but look for a way forward.  Who you spend time with will impact your ability to bounce back.
  3. Be grateful:  Yes it sounds trite and it can be hard to do when things get tough.  However, there are always things around you that are good so take the time to notice and appreciate them.  Say thank you to people who help you with your challenges.
  4. Be open:  Odds are there is something new you can learn to solve the problem so be open to new ideas, new methods, and new thoughts.  These will help you find new solutions and get past the challenge quicker.  If you want to move beyond where you are today you need to develop new skills and new knowledge.  Look for those nuggets within your current challenge.
  5. Relax:  The good news is that this too shall pass.  Nothing stays great or horrible forever.  There are times when you just have to hang on and let things improve with time.  Sit back take some deep breaths and clear your mind for a few moments.  Shut out the negative thoughts and pressures to just calm yourself.  Find time to unwind from the pressures for even 10 minutes and you will be better ready to get back to it.

While these are all simple things it can be tough to accomplish them when you feel like everything is going wrong.  It takes discipline and resolve to keep these in your mind as you are facing a challenge or obstacle.  Keep calm and it will work out.

It is important to surround yourself with people who will help by giving you ideas, support or just a shoulder to lean on.  Who you are with has a huge impact on your thoughts and feelings.  There are people you can’t avoid who may be “Debby Downers” and want to suck everyone down with them.  Work with them when needed and avoid them otherwise.  Go to lunch with people who will make you smile and laugh not ones who will moan and groan the whole time.  Pick your surroundings carefully.

Focus is a critical component of creating a mindset that helps you get past the obstacles in your path.  The more you focus on the good in your world the more good you will see so the more good there will be in your world.  It doesn’t mean that negative things will never happen, they will but how you react to them determines the outcome of those events.  If you focus on problems you will have problems everywhere.

Whether you are faced with an obstacle or an opportunity to grow is up to you.  How you view the situation will determine which one of these things experiences you have.  Look for the positive in a bad situation and you will find your way out of the ugliness more easily.

Albert Einstein said it best “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”  Choose your thinking carefully and make it a great opportunity to learn.

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Growth

Growing KnowledgeWithout continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.
Benjamin Franklin

All of us have a great capacity for growth and improvement.  We get the choice of doing something with that capacity or not.  Life is a journey and each day represents a new opportunity to move forward towards are dreams.   Success is a result of action and great success is a result of determined and focused action.  Keep moving forward no matter what happens.  An obstacle only stops progress if you let it, find a way around it to reach your goals.

What are you doing today to grow your skills and abilities?  

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Quote for Oct 23rd

Learning

I’m still learning, and that’s what life is about.
Cary Elwes

If you are interested in learning more about controlling project scope join me on October 30th at 7:00 pm CST for a free webinar.  Get more information and register here.  Webinar Oct 30th

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Making Hard Choices

Caught Between A Rock And A Hard PlaceWhen you are in a leadership position there will come a time when you have to make a hard decision.  It maybe that you have to fire someone or you must cancel a project or deny someone a promotion.  Whatever that decision is you will be required to act on it.  That is your role as the leader.  Unfortunately you can feel like you are between a rock and a hard place.

The key to being effective in making these hard decisions is in your mindset.  How you react to the situation will determine how your team handles it.

If you dread the decision and worry about it then it becomes bigger and harder to make.  You may also delay making the call which can have a negative impact on your team.

  • If you keep a bad employee because you don’t want to fire someone you are telling your team that you will tolerate poor performance.
  • If you let the team continue working on a dead project you are telling them that their time and efforts really aren’t important because you wasted it.
  • If you hold off on a promotion to avoid hurting someone you have missed a chance to help them grow into the job they want and you have given them false hope.

As you can see all of these are discouraging to a team.

If you embrace your role as a leader and all that it entails you will welcome the chance to make those hard calls.  It doesn’t mean you enjoy firing or denying a promotion to someone.  It means that you are willing to do what is needed to keep your team going forward and growing.

  • If you have worked on correcting someone’s performance and they are not making the grade then let them go.  They may even thank you for helping them get out of a situation that was not good for them.  I’ve seen it happen.
  • When you let someone know they aren’t ready for a promotion yet and give them feedback on what they can do to improve their skills you are helping them grow so they will be prepared next time.
  • If you have to cancel a project that is underway and you are open about the reasons you are helping your team understand the business and they can help make better decisions about their work and projects in the future.

Being a leader means you have to pay attention to the needs of the organization and take care of the people in it.  This means you must make the tough decisions when needed.  If you handle it in a calm and professional manner people will respect you for it.  If you drag your feet and delay those decisions your team will see through it and you will lose some respect from them.  You aren’t willing to stand up and decide; which is your job.  Your team wants you to lead, so go ahead and make the hard choices.  Be firm but fair and above all be professional and considerate when dealing with people.  They will like you better for it.

How have you handled the tough choices you’ve had to make?

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Do You Persist?

pushThere are times when it seems like nothing is going your way.  How do you react to it?  Do you become a victim of circumstance or do you become a survivor who makes it through?  Often it is easy to quit when things get tough or it seems like you can’t win.

Keep in mind that you may be closer to a break through that will get you to your goals.  Thomas Edison once said:  “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  If he had quit instead of persisting who know what the electric light bulb would have looked like or even when it would have come into existence.  When you have a goal you must keep going no matter how hard it seems right now.

For some great pointers on how to develop the skill of never giving up are found in this post by LaRae Quy:  http://www.laraequy.com/blog/personal-leadership/the-number-one-skill-in-life-is-not-giving-up/.  As she states most often we give up because we are afraid of failing.  This is a fear we develop over time and can become a major roadblock to success.

As shown in these examples if we are willing to keep going, persist in our efforts to reach our goals we can have great success.  We have to get out of our own way.  The title of John Maxwell’s new book says it best: “Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn.”  The question to ask yourself is: are you learning when you aren’t winning?

If you take the time to learn when things go wrong or when it gets tough you can get past the obstacles and keep moving forward.  If you quit when it gets tough instead of persisting you will be like the miner on the bottom of the picture here.  You turn back right before you reach the pay-off.  True leaders will always find a way to keep going no matter how difficult it seems.  They show the way forward for their teams as well.

Keep going, persist, learn and do something new to move yourself forward.  The rewards will be amazing when you reach your goals?

What is your favorite thing to do that keeps you going when it gets tough?

Picture from http://www.lightweightfunny.com 

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