High impact leaders focus on doing the right things well and consistently live up to their commitments especially when it is hard. You don’t ever have to worry about their personal behavior or professional discipline.
I have been a Charles Handy fan for many years and find that his work only becomes more prescient and meaningful with time. It’s amazing how he could envision the world we would be doing business in before it happened. His thoughts on life, business, and leadership are timeless. I had my son revisit his […]
Leadership isn’t rocket science. Creating the conditions for business success is actually pretty basic: be clear about where you are going and why; define what success looks like and track performance; make sure all of your key people on the same page; don’t “wing it” when it comes to important decisions; ensure that every single employee knows how they fit in the big picture and what they are supposed to be doing; create a process for providing on-going performance feedback; hold people accountable for results (including yourself); be careful about who you hire and put in supervisory roles; provide extensive training and support; never stop communicating with your customers; and make sure everyone shares in the success of the business but also feels the pinch of nonperformance.
I’ve heard many leaders tell me they always wait to do something until the last minute because they perform best under this type of pressure. Sounds like a bit of rationalization to me. I know that when I procrastinate on something it’s not because it is the best way to work – it is often quite the opposite. I just don’t want to do whatever it is because I view it as drudgery, am unsure how to proceed or I’m not sure I’ll be pleased by the outcome. I cannot imagine any scenario where purposefully putting yourself under time pressure until the last minute makes any sense.
Leadership isn’t easy or everyone could do it. Some talented people make it look easy, but we often don’t see all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to make it look this way. Most leaders struggle at some point and have to learn some difficult lessons along the way. Experience can be the best teacher if you are open to learning. I’ve observed the following 25 ways (in no particular order) that leaders tend to get themselves in trouble:
Leadership Thought #488 – 22 Questions You Should Ask Someone Before You Put Them in A Management Position
Through the years I have witnessed many unsuccessful management promotions and equally bad managerial hires. Often, the outcome would have been obvious if the employer had taken some time to ask a few basic questions during the screening process: What is your personal definition of management? Why do you want to manage other people? Have […]
I remember my mom telling me early on that “words matter.” Once you say something it cannot be unsaid. Even if you apologize and/or make excuses, the imprint on another person’s brain is still there. And, sometimes the repercussions can last for years or even a lifetime. There are many situations where I wish I […]
Anyone can manipulate words and stretch the facts to suit their short term objective. However, it is difficult long-term to fake behavior and eventually your words will catch up with you.
Most leaders have an uneven record of accomplishment when it comes to ensuring employee success. The wonderful thing about my job is that I can find inspiration everywhere, from all walks of life and fields of practice. It is often cliché that leadership development professionals lean on sports and military examples (at least my male […]
Too many people really aren’t fully listening. As part of my work, I am in a lot of meetings and conference calls. It’s amazing and disheartening at times to see how the quality of these interactions can vary. There are moments where it feels like everyone is “dialed-in” and paying rapt attention, but these are […]
Just about every week I meet with a client who bemoans the lack of accountability in their work environment. My first response is always, “we are what we tolerate.” However, I then walk them through the four reasons (in my experience) why things don’t get done: There is a lack of clarity about what needs to […]
We have become an excuse making culture. I have been a bit frustrated lately with the quality of service provided by various contractors and service providers. It seems as if there is a minimal connection between what people promise and what they do. Excuses abound as work doesn’t get done and/or quality issues emerge. There […]
The biggest mistake leaders make is to think it is all about them. They believe that success or failure is a direct result of their own personal behavior rather than a team effort. Show me a successful leader and I will show you a person surrounded by good people who each do their own jobs exceedingly well. While it is common practice in this country to celebrate the individual, no one builds a high performing organization by themselves. This doesn’t mean that the leader isn’t an essential ingredient; however, he/she needs other ingredients to complete the recipe.
There is a wise old saying that “if you want to get something done, then give it to a busy person.” In my experience this is a pretty accurate depiction of how families, organizations and communities work. They “Type A” person will always assume the most responsibility and be the hub of critical activity. Other people tend to rely on them and their boundless energy for execution. Unfortunately, if you are not careful, this dynamic also ends up becoming somewhat dysfunctional and unhealthy as time goes on.
When you own your business it is your sandbox. You get to decide who plays in it and what happens inside. Just remember that these decisions also have consequences. As an advisor to my clients, my role is to get them to appreciate this fact. I’ve often watched people make decisions that I don’t agree with. Sometimes I am right and sometimes I am wrong about what happens next. My track record is usually pretty good but far from perfect. I just want to make sure that these decisions are somewhat informed and well thought out. I am fine with being pleasantly surprised by good results that I didn’t foresee or anticipate. I learn from these situations as well – never underestimate the resolve and creativity of a committed leader. Most importantly, I strive to ensure that these decisions are aligned with the outcomes the client is aspiring to achieve. Success can be defined in many different ways and unless there is a moral or ethical component, it is not my role to judge.
A conversation without listening is merely the exchange of two monologues. If we limit our exchange of information to what we already know or believe, we are limiting our capacity to learn, grow and have healthy relationships. Almost everyday you witness evidence of public or private figures that really have no interest in hearing what anyone else is saying. It has become practice to become intractable in your views and block out any contrary evidence. In reality, our society tends to reward brashness and poor behavior these days. Just look at who dominates the airwaves.
It is rare that things work out exactly as planned. We often attempt something with the best of intentions and then run smack into a reality not as accommodating as we’d like it to be. In all decision making or negotiation situations it’s advisable to have a plan B that allows you to adjust for shifting circumstances or differing points of view. We often don’t get everything we want, but to paraphrase the Rolling Stones if we are smart about it, “we just might find we get what we need.” It’s very important to be able to prioritize your objectives and know where you have some room for movement. In fact, it’s critical to build flexibility into your response strategy.
Imagine if someone was rushed to the Emergency Room of a hospital with severe symptoms of something wrong and then decided to tell the doctor that that it was no big deal and then selectively shared information about their true physical state. You would think this person was being irresponsible with their health. This happens all the time in business. Leaders let their pride and ego get in the way and it prevents them form being forthright and honest at the very time they need to be. I’ve seen many a business go down the tubes that didn’t have to because the leader was slow to act, slow to ask for help and unwilling to face reality. Avoidance rarely works in business or life.
Time is finite. No matter how hard we try, we can’t create more of it, so we have to manage the time we have in the best way possible. A leader typically has no time to waste. You need to minimize distractions and maximize your focus. Here are some tips on how to manage your time better:
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.