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9 Things That’ll Put the Smack Down on Your Leadership Style!

October 14th, 2011 12 comments

We all love success stories!  Stories about people who have beat all the odds and have won the prize of doing something extraordinary with their lives.  In the days of old, ballads would be sung of their successes.  We, as leaders, may not be going for the rousing lusty  ballad, or the cover of Newsweek magazine.  We are looking to lead a group of people to accomplish a worthwhile goal.  When the leader does it well, it can lead to some exceptional things.

Why does one leader accomplish so many great things, and another flounders along with their team?  What are excellent leadership characteristics which make a strong leader versus a mediocre leader?  I don’t think anyone takes a leadership role wanting to fail their team.  I believe there are 9 things which can trip up a leader and get them traveling down the wrong path. If we have any of these things going against us, an adjustment of thinking and action can increase our good leadership qualities and we can become a stronger team leader.

Let’s take a brief look at these 9 things:

1.  A ineffectual leader disengages from actively leading their team.  Instead of having a participative leadership style, they become managers who study reports and relegate themselves to pushing paper.

2.  They no longer have their finger on the pulse of their team.  They become dictators and force their issues upon the team without regard to what is actually happening within the team.

3.  They treat their team as if it was a democracy, wanting everyone’s input.  They watch their poll numbers, so to speak, and can’t call the unpopular shots.

4.  They make decisions based on individuals instead of the team.  These decisions erode the teams well being.

5.  They look out for only the well being of the leader, spiraling down into self servitude at the cost of the team.  This includes making decisions by their own pocketbook and not for the good of the group.

6. They don’t reward the innovators.  The leader believes they are the only ones with ideas worth pursuing.

7.  They are jealous or intimidated by strong leaders on the team.  They squelch leadership tendencies instead of rewarding them.

8.  They are unable to use self discipline.  An undisciplined leader can’t lead a disciplined team.

9.  They have no idea what moves their team.  They don’t know their individual team members goals and dreams.  Most people will do extraordinary things for something or someone they hold dear to their hearts.

We, as leaders, may never have a ballad sung about us.  But the ability to effectively lead a great team is an accomplishment.  Avoiding the 9 pitfalls of leadership is a start to great team leadership.

Effective leaders always strive to learn more about leadership. Leave us a comment and let us know something you have found to be effective or something that doesn’t work.  As John F. Kennedy said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

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Leaders – How to Get Your Team’s Motivation to Go Viral!

August 8th, 2011 10 comments

There are different types of teams in the world.  Each team is lead by a leader.  Some teams are wildly successful.  Everything they touch turns to gold.  While other teams seem to wallow in mediocrity, never rising above the norm.

What makes teams so different?  One difference is the level of motivation.  The successful team appears to be brimming with motivation.  Get out of their way, because they are steaming towards their goal!  While the other team seems to be only going through the motions.

I’ve heard it said that motivation comes from within.  This is true.  The sign of a great leader is one who will find this motivation lurking inside each individual and pull it out of them with gusto.

I’ve had leaders ask, “how can I reach this motivation.  I’ve tried contests and money rewards and I can’t seem to get them motivated.”  Contest and money doesn’t work for everyone or every situation.  Some occupations work better with these kinds of rewards.  Some personalities respond better to competition and fiscal rewards.   If you have competitive action personalities on your team, they are more likely to work for those kinds of incentives.

The more creative the project, the less likely contest and rewards will work.  For these creative projects, we need to roll up our sleeves and use a completely different approach.

Get your team actively involved in the crusade

The most successful people in business and life are those with a cause.  Something they can believe in and commit to.  People will work harder for a crusade or cause then they will for money.  The great leaders have discovered their own crusade and how it’s going to make people’s lives better.  It could be righting a wrong, or they’re working to make the world a better place.

A great leader figures out the crusade and then gets their team’s emotions involved with this crusade every day.  Great leaders understand that people respond to directing their own lives.  These leaders, also, recognize and respond to their team’s individual initiatives in moving the crusade forward.  Everyone wants to be a part of changing the world.  People will work harder to be a part of history.

Leaders must be in touch with their own dreams and goals.

The leader should recognize each member of the team’s strengths and how these strengths can fit into the big dream.  The leader should know the steps it will take to reach the dream, but never discourage anyone on the team’s contributions.  Individual initiatives may even discover a better way to accomplish the goals.  The dream needs to be big enough for everyone on the team to have an active part in it.

Everybody wants to be somebody.

Not only do they want to be somebody, but they have the desire to get better and better at something that really matters.  Everyone wants to be remember in the history of the world, at least in their world.  We must never forget this desire when we lead our teams.

To create an explosion of  viral motivation, we will need to inspire those around us to reach inside of themselves and pull out the best they can be.  People’s desire to be involved in something bigger than themselves and fight for something they believe in is a strong motivating force.  We can look for the best in our team and encourage them to make a difference each and every day.

I have a video of Dan Pink’s talk at Ted on motivation.  He brings some surprising things to light.  They are controversial things which most business don’t believe or don’t know about.  I’ve worked in sales fields where we were compensated monetarily.  At first, I didn’t agree with him (as if my research department is bigger than his). After contemplation, I can see how this fits. Leave me your comment and let me know your thoughts.

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5 Tips – How to Use Vince Lombardi’s Back to Basics Technique to Explode Your Business

August 1st, 2011 37 comments

Going back to basics was the hallmark of the great Vince Lombardi.  Those of us who enjoy hearing success stories on our quest for self improvement are very familiar with this legendary American football coach.  He was the head coach of the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League from 1959-67, winning five league championships during his nine years. Following a one-year retirement from coaching in 1968, he returned as head coach of the Washington Redskins for the 1969 season.

One of the things which separated Mr. Lombardi from the pack of other head NFL football coaches was his passion for going back to basics.  Every year, at the beginning of the football season, he would stand in front of his players and say, “Gentlemen, this is the football.” It is impossible to get much more basic than that.  He did this, not because he didn’t think his team of NFL superstars  knew what a football was, but because he knew it was a vital for their success.  He realized the only way to explode his team’s success was to go back to the basics every year.

Why is it important to take, not only ourselves back to basics every year, but, also, our team?  Mr. Lombardi said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence”

Here are 5 reasons why this is an important endeavor for anyone, or any team, to do when striving for excellence.  When we go back to basics,

1.  We learn something new or forgotten.  This past week, I’ve had the privilege to take Dan Nickerson’s 22 Day Boot Camp.  Even though, I’ve been online with my blog for 2 years, I discovered some things in his boot camp I didn’t know.  I, also, found some important tactics I had forgotten about with the passage of time.  Important things which will have a positive impact on my business.

2.   We reconnect with or connect with our coach or mentor.  In my case, I’m enjoying the connection to a new mentor.  I have respect for Dan Nickerson.  He is the “ideas man” for Joel Comm.  I was introduced to Dan by of my association with him when I chose the Socrates Theme for my blog.  He has always been helpful and attentive. Over the past few months he has earned my respect and trust.  I have been enjoying his teaching style and his knowledge he is willing to share.

3.  Going back to basics is a refresher course which can re-ignite our passion.  When I started the 22 Day Boot Camp, I was lethargic in my business.  I kept all my goals, mission statement, and afformations in front of me, but I’d become complacent and without an urgency or passion for my chosen endeavor.  The refresher course has re-ignited me.  I feel the rumblings of passion deep in my guts again!  It helped me remember why I’d chosen this path.

4.  Catch up on advancements in our subject matter.  Many times, in our chosen professions, we are so busy doing the mechanics of our position that we don’t have an opportunity to stay abreast of advancements.  I found this to be true for me this week.  There were things he discussed which I hadn’t heard of before.  Learning these will have a positive impact on my business.

5.  Keeps everyone on the team on the same page.  When we are a leader of team, we must be on the same page with our team mates.  Going back to basics reinforces our leadership, our leadership style, and our expectations for our team.  This adds to the cohesiveness of our team and expands all of our expectations.

I’ve found in my many years of business, having a coach or mentor is a vital element to our success in any endeavor.  Find someone who has not only done what you want to accomplish, but has excelled in it.

Going back to basics, often, at least once a year, is a hinge pin of success in the quest for excellence.  As Vince Lombardi said, “The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.”

How often do you go back to basics?  What works for you and your team when you go back to basics?  Leave us a comment with some helpful hints and  your thoughts on the subject.

For your viewing pleasure, here’s a short 3 minute YouTube video on Vince Lombardi.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

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Secret Leadership Tip – Build a Partnership with Your Team

December 9th, 2010 No comments

There’s a little secret to effective team building.  A leader has 3 choices; either know this secret and uses it, know this secret and don’t believe it or use it, or is completely clueless to the secret.  What is this little powerful secret?  It is to know your team mates and treat them like your partners in business.  This means knowing more than just their name and position in your company.  Sounds easy doesn’t it?

I’m not talking about knowing all the dirt on your team mates.  That is gossip and completely ineffective unless you are leading by intimidation, which is a trait of an weak leader.  I am talking about knowing what’s important to them in their lives outside of work.  Who are they besides the position they hold at your company!

This isn’t a difficult task if you have a team of 3 or 4.  It’s easy to learn somethings about them.  The most effective leaders are those who know their team mates’ families; spouse, kids, dog/cat, the team sports their children may be playing, etc.

I have heard leaders say they don’t want to get to know their team mates very well, because they may have to fire them.  My answer to such nonsense is, if you knew them better they would integrate into the team more effectively, work up to your expectations, and you wouldn’t have a reason to fire them.  Make sense?

People spend most of their waking day at their jobs.  If they are merely a number or a position, why should they care?  If your team doesn’t care, things begin to happen.  Work efficiency slows down, office supplies disappear out of the closet at an amazing rate, and moral stinks!

Many years ago, I joined a very large company.  About 2 months into my tenure there, I was at a company meeting.  On a potty break, I ran into the CEO of the company in the hall.  Right away, he called me by name and asked how my spouse was.  He even called my spouse by his name.  He had only met me once before.  I was impressed.

He always had the ability to know all of us and recall immediately all the tidbits about us he had gleaned from our conversations.  He cared about each and everyone of us.  We were his partners in business.

Some of us may feel it is impossible to know every one’s information.  It becomes a surprisingly different task if we change the way we perceive our team mates.  If they are all our partners in business, the details about them become more important to us.

You might say, I can’t remember everyone because my memory isn’t that good.  If that’s what you think, than you are right.  I’m sorry you’ll have miss out on this very important secret. But, if you change your mind and decide to prioritize your memory skills this tip will change your team’s dynamics.

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Leadership Style – Is It Better To Have Control of Your Team?

December 2nd, 2010 No comments

Leadership is a challenging way of life.  Some people either don’t want to put the effort into learning to lead or they haven’t a clue why leadership is different.  Leadership is a very effective management style.  But, not the only management style.  Let’s look at the differences between a controlling manager and a leader.

It is easy when in the top position of a team, to put all the effort into control them instead of leading them.  This control is characterized by rules enforced with an iron fist.

Don’t misunderstand me.  There needs to be some kind of behavior standards for a team.  A better way to say it is a standard of excellence.  This standard of excellence is more concerned with the performance of the team and their results.  A leader, instead of being an enforcer, gives their team free rein to indulge in creative actions which will bring better results.

The controlling personality is more concerned with making sure the team is on time then they are to seeing the team’s creative solution to challenges.

A leader realizes it’s not about what happens when they’re with the team.  A leader builds a team which can function as well without the leader.  Perhaps, they can even function better.  Not because a leader is not there looking over their shoulder and controlling their actions.  They work to please the leader and themselves.  The team realizes it’s not just about the leader.

A controller will micro manage their team.  A sure sign of a controlling team manager is their lack of ability to leave their team mates alone to do their jobs.  A controller really doesn’t want their team to function better without them.  That is their worst nightmare!  Their thought is, if their team can function without them, someone will figure out they aren’t needed.

Another characteristic of a leader’s team is their ability to grow into a leadership position themselves.  It’s not because they have special talents or anything extra which the controller’s team doesn’t have.  It’s because they are free to bloom, discover themselves, and follow the example of an effective leader.

A controller’s team can languish, characterized by a lack of motivation.  They perform their duties under pressure.  A controller will make sure no one can ever take their job.  They will bully, intimidate and even fire anyone who looks able or willing to take over their position.

A leader is self assured in themselves and in their team’s abilities.  They enjoy recognizing their team.  This motivates the team!  They believe in their team and push them up.  The leader feels pride when their team can function without them.   They are not in fear of losing their position.  They know they are an intricate part of a well performing team.

There are many different management styles.  They’re as different as people can be.  A wise man once told me to develop my management style early.  Meaning, know what I would except and reject in my team performance.  To understand my standard of excellence so I could communicate it to the team.

We spend many hours in our day working to provide for our families.  There’s more enjoyment and feelings of accomplishment working on a team with an effective leader.  Isn’t it worth the effort to perfect your own leadership style?

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Leadership – Is it Important to Be a Good Follower?

November 29th, 2010 5 comments

I was thinking about what it takes to be a good follower.  Kind of a contrary thought, isn’t it?  Because, anyway you slice the pie, leadership gets the most press.

The leader, is the out front guy, who takes the flack or receives the praises. As we all know, the leadership proficiency meter can go from bad to great with many stages and steps along the way.  Is it completely out of vogue to be a good follower?

Great leaders are not hatched from a egg fully developed.  They all start out as good followers.  Timing or circumstances are the usual catalyst for turning a follower into a leader.  If a follower hasn’t learned from the feet of the master, how can they become an exceptional leader?

Someone who has been in the following of a leader are, themselves, setting an example.  If they haven’t been coach-able, helpful, or taken direction well, the example they have set will be a poor one.  Others will follow that example.  When they advance to the leadership position, their reign will be fraught with the issues in their followers, they, themselves, were an example of.  In other words, what goes around, comes around.

Some people, in a leadership position, wants to keep all the knowledge of how to lead people to themselves.  They may feel insecure in sharing the knowledge.  What if their followers won’t want to follow them?  Or, the follower might take their job if they understand what it takes to lead.

This kind of thinking is a grave error in judgment.  The only leaders who can stand the test of time are those who create leaders from their followers.

A sign of a strong, confident leader is to realize or believe the cause they are fighting or working for is larger than themselves. If they are to truly succeed on a monumental level, they have to train their followers to become a leader, and to develop other leaders.  A leadership factory, so to speak.

If this isn’t done, a good causes can fail.  Crumbled at the very core by a lack of leadership to continue after the initial leader has gone.

There is value in being a good follower.  Obviously, we can’t all be the leader at the same time.  It is an excellent training ground to learn to lead.  A good follower is the backbone and strength of any group.

As the old saying goes, a team is only as strong as its weakest link.   If we understand and believe this concept, wouldn’t it be wise to be the best follower possible?

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Successful Team – 5 Tips a Leader Must Know

October 11th, 2010 19 comments

Building a productive team can be a very rewarding experience.  It takes a set of real world skills schools don’t often teach.  This leads to learning it by the seat of our pants.  The best way to learn leadership is by following a good leader.

Effective teams work because the leader has the group’s loyalty.  Done incorrectly, the leader will lose the trust of the team.  Right from the beginning the decision has to be made.  Are you a leader or a manager? Once the decision is made, here are a few tips for becoming a group leader.

1.  A leader, leads from the front of a team.  They are the role model for the team.  If the team isn’t being productive, the leader should examine their own goals and activity first.  Even being an excellent role model, team members will, individually, only do a half to three quarters of what the leader does.  The leader sets the pace for the team.  If a leader wants a productive team, the leader must be productive.

2.  Leadership isn’t a 9 to 5 proposition.  A leader will put in longer hours than the team.  The leader of a team can’t ever go home early.  They come in early and stay late.  The leader can’t just “tell” their team to finish a project.  Even though they have trust in their team to complete each project independently of the leader, they are personally invested in the quality of the finished project.

3.  When a leader removes him/herself from the playing field, the team’s productivity will decline.   Leadership isn’t a paper pushing endeavor.  We would never expect to see the Captain of a sports team retire to the sidelines, tell his team to “go get ’em”, go inside, sit in the office, and work on paperwork.  That may sounds silly to you.  We all know, that team would go into a rapid spiral downward or they’d switch their loyalties to the best member they could follow who was actively involved.  I know paperwork will not do its self, but it is better to delegate it.  Paperwork is never the best use of a leader’s time.

4.  A team must always see a winning spirit from their leader.  A leader can never, ever show hurt.  If things aren’t going well, the leader takes the responsibility, re-evaluates, and then corrects the course of the team.  They  must be the one who re-ignites the group!  If the leader gives up, it is over. This doesn’t mean falling behind isn’t a great call to action.  But, a defeated attitude from the leader will defeat the team.

5.  A leader expects only the best.  If they don’t, they will only get mediocrity from their group.  The leader sets the standard of excellence for their team.  Their group is well trained and fundamentally sound, and functions like a well oiled machine.

Tough leaders have tough teams.  They know when to slap and when to kiss (not in the literal sense).  They know when the team members need discipline and when they need encouragement.

Although leadership isn’t a 9 to 5 job, it is the most rewarding position on the team.   A team is the sum total of its leadership.  Leadership changes lives! No where else can a person have a better influence in a group of people’s lives.  Take your responsibility seriously and go win!  Your team deserves it!

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