It’s easy to sucked into petty disputes and inter-office politics, but as the leader you need to rise above it. You must always remember that your employees take their cultural cues from you. You are a role model! If you get enmeshed in office gossip then they will. If you use a divide and conquer management approach than they will do the same. If you treat people poorly and/or without proper etiquette then bad behavior towards others will become acceptable. If you have a short fuse, then anger will become an acceptable management strategy.
Month: July 2012
You can’t operate at top gear all the time. Even “Type A” people need some downtime or they will eventually burn out. I watch people all the time push themselves to the limit. You can see it in their eyes and read it in their body language when they are exhausted. And, tired people tend to underperform, make less than optimal decisions, allow their people skills to slip and if they are not careful begin to resent heir work. It’s very important for leaders to learn to pace themselves and set a good example for others to follow.
A big red flag for me is when I encounter a leader who is always sitting behind his/her desk or always in meetings in their office. I am also not a fan of a constant open door policy, but having your door closed all the time is much worse. You need to get up from your chair, walk out of your office and circulate amongst your employees. In addition, you need to also be out in the field regularly meeting with your top customers and business partners. Leadership is an active not passive activity.
A leader’s primary job is to rally people around a common goal and convince them they are capable of much more than they think they are. People talk themselves out of success all the time. For the average person it is easy to identify obstacles and reasons why things can’t happen. As a result, we tend to lower the bar so we can make our goals achievable. Leaders should never lower the bar. They should expect more of themselves and their organizations and never settle for being average or second best.
You get to decide what you focus on. You can spend your time and energy on things that bring you down or lift you up. I know people who are pretty blessed who can find something wrong with just about every situation. On the contrary, I’ve been amazed by others confronting great difficulties who manage to keep their spirits up through positive thinking and proper perspective. Life isn’t what happens to you, but what you think about it and how you end up responding to whatever has transpired. You can go through life accumulating personal baggage because things haven’t always turned out as you had planned or you can accept the ups and downs as part of the journey – easier said than done I know.
You can never lose your edge in business as a leader. The moment you get complacent your organization becomes vulnerable to its competitors and the vagaries of the marketplace. I’ve seen many good companies and talented leaders get caught off guard by changes taking place in their industry or economic realities they were slow to identify and adapt to. The pace of change is only accelerating as the world becomes flatter, technological innovations come more quickly, and customers push for more options at lower prices. Being good enough no longer works, at least not for any extended period of time. Today’s champion is tomorrow’s goat if he/she gets complacent or rests on his/her laurels.
I’ve always been a bit annoyed with people who are grouchy in the morning on a regular basis. Sure, everyone has a tough morning every once in awhile, but to wake up every day in a bad mood is hard to comprehend. What could have happened between the time you first put your head on your pillow and when you woke up that is so bad you need to make everyone else around you unhappy? If you are too tired, then go to bed earlier. If you are having problems sleeping, then do something about it. Part of growing up is learning how to act like an adult.
Far too many organizations are dependent upon far too few people to be successful. I often ask my clients, “What happens to your business if something happens to you?” The answers more often than mot are less than satisfactory. One of the key jobs of a leader is to mitigate risk and one of the biggest risks you have in any company is people risk – starting at the top. It may feed your ego to be critically important to your company but it is no way to build an enduring successful organization.
If we are honest with ourselves, most of our relationships in life are out of convenience or due to necessity. Typically these types of friendships are fine as long as things stay relatively stable and major life issues don’t complicate the mix. However, once something bad happens, you do learn who your true friends are and it may surprise you. Friendship is easy when life is easy. When life gets hard, some people just don’t have the stomach for it. Always remember that this says more about them than you. Some people are just much more comfortable taking rather than giving – sad for them. Others just can’t handle any level of emotional depth or commitment.
There are many things in life beyond our realm of control, but you get to decide how you behave. You can take the high road or low road. You follow the belief that two wrongs don’t make a right or you can escalate the pattern of bad behavior. You can allow people to continually stretch your moral/ethical boundaries or you can stick to them. You can play the victim or move on. You get to decide who is in your social circle and who isn’t. I listened to a speaker utter the phrase many years ago that, “we are what we tolerate” and it resonated with me right away. We are also what we continually do and who we do it with.
Today I received some very disturbing news. It was information that would make anyone angry. There is nothing worse than betrayal especially when you have a long history with someone and have trusted them. It never ceases to amaze me how people will rationalize their behavior and not take personal responsibility. The fact is that actions do have consequences and sadly there is often collateral damage to an individual’s behavior that can linger a lifetime and affect many people. A pebble will cause a ripple in the ocean whether the act is good or bad – it is important to always remember this.
One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn in my line of work is that you can’t save everyone. Despite your good intentions and best efforts, sometimes the formula will not work. In some cases, you might have to accept the fact that you are not the right fit for a given engagement or client relationship. In other instances, there is always a reason why someone is struggling and until they fully come to grips with this fact and take ownership of their behavior, there is only so much you can do.
Change is a fact of life. Like or not we will get older. Our minds will get sharper then grow duller. Out bodies will get hard then grow softer. Friends will come and go. Loved ones will enter this world while others exit. If we have children, they will grow up and become independent adults and leave the nest. Our careers will follow a natural arc of emergence, growth, maturity and decline. We will have periods of minimal responsibility and other moments where it feels like we are overwhelmed with life/work obligations. It is difficult to grasp at times, but very few things will ever stay the same.
It’s amazing how many of us stress over little things. It’s almost as if we believe the world exists to make us happy and every small obstacle becomes a major annoyance. We lose our sense of proportion and forget how fortunate we truly are that petty issues can even occupy our attention. It’s important not to forget that a large percentage of the world still struggles with basic life/survival issues.