As I’ve covered many times in previous blogs it becomes less and less and about you working harder or having all the answers and more about you diligently asking the right questions and letting others guide you. You need to become an expert question asker and never miss an opportunity to interact with all employees in this manner. There are seven question that when asked on a regular basis will encourage your people and ultimately the company as a whole to learn and grow:
Sadly, it seems rare these days when I see something that a professional athlete does that I feel sets a good example for my children and even inspires me. One could argue that the physical abilities of athletes has grown considerably since I was young. Their exploits on the field seem to continually set a […]
Beware of putting yourself or anyone up on a pedestal. There are right ways and wrong ways to feed someone else’s or your own ego. Just because an individual has experienced significant success in one aspect of life, doesn’t mean they are equally competent in all other things human. It doesn’t do that person or you any good to blanket the praise. It is one thing to appreciate and respect individual accomplishment. It is another to think that similar success could be achieved in whatever else that person attempted. In fact, it can be dangerous as we heed advice or jump to conclusions about different situations based on who we choose as our role models. For example, Bruce Springsteen is a very talented songwriter and musician, but there is most likely a difference between his songwriting and his own reality. He is not a deity, he is a man. Thinking he has life all figured out isn’t fair to him or you. No one of that stature can ever live up to the hype.
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.
Since Father’ Day is right around the corner, I thought it would be fitting to share some of what I have learned from my dad. Every boy’s first role model is his father. You believe him to be a man of Olympian strength, Einstein-like intellect and the quintessential self-reliant individual as portrayed by Ralph Waldo Emerson. There was nothing he couldn’t fix or problem he couldn’t solve. I remember watching many cowboy movies as a kid and always assuming my dad would have made the better protagonist.
As we get older we learn that our dad is human like everyone else and if you are smart you eventually relieve him of the pressures of sitting up on a pedestal. However, many of the lessons we learn from our parents end up lasting a lifetime. My dad taught me the following:
There is nothing more distasteful to employees than a boss who has no control over his/her emotions. People look to their leader to lead with confidence and resoluteness not to “suffer the slings and arrows” of their emotional ups and downs. Of course there will be adversity and disappointment – that’s part of the job (and life in general). However, what separates great leaders from everyone else is that they actually get cooler under pressure and have an unflappable nature about them when things go wrong.
Unless you are the one business who has figured out a way to be successful in spite of your staff and/or customers not because of them, then you are simply creating obstacles to your own path to success.
It all starts at the top. Whether you are a politician, government official, leading hedge fund executive, Wall Street banker, corporate CEO, small business owner, college president, sports coach, professional athlete, teacher, parent, etc., your actions do matter! Strong Ethics aren’t a luxury but a requirement of any well run business, organization, community, classroom and family. Behaviors do ultimately have consequences. And, even though you may win in the short term by always putting your needs first, not playing by the rules or stretching the boundaries of what’s acceptable, ultimately it will catch up with you and sadly have adverse consequences for others in your life.
It’s easy to fall in love with your own opinions and limit your intellectual breadth to your own world view; however it also stunts your growth personally and professionally. A good mentor will ensure this does not happen by providing an objective opinion regarding your ideas, decisions and actions.
One a leaders primary responsibilities is to create an environment where people thrive and good work gets done. Never forget that you are always on stage and have an audience.