One of the biggest issues that companies face is the lack of leaders who actually make decisions to ensure employees are able to be effective and efficient with their work. We all know that one of the most important roles of a leader is to be the decision maker; someone has to be that person where debate ends and action begins. Unfortunately, decision making is also one of the most difficult traits to develop as a leader.
As the saying goes (or at least one of those sayings), “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good”. Too often, we try to accomplish so much with one change that we end up getting nothing done. We expand the scope of change to a point that we miss the initial intention of the change. It is so important to keep things simple; you will be shocked how much progress you can make if you do.
As I have written in the past, behind closed doors, executive management discusses the strategy for the organization. Whether it is during a specific strategy session or during ongoing team discussions regarding the business, executive management has a clear plan for the organization (hopefully).
We all have experienced a great speech. Maybe it was one that impacted us directly; for example, from the CEO of our employer. Or maybe it was from someone we were “less connected” to that still impacted us in a profound way; for example, a great political or charitable leader.
I have been fortunate to have had (and still have!) great leaders and mentors in my life. As with most of us, an invested colleague, manager, friend or family member has guided me to the head of a particular path and, then with words of encouragement, set me off to explore that path on my own. Despite my seemingly singular journey, evidence of my mentor’s continued presence has always been apparent. Perhaps the guidance was manifest in a resource left for me to circumvent a boulder in my path, or through an encouragement – or reprimand – not to wander, to lengthen my stride or to get back in the game. Sometimes it was as simple as an invitation to look ahead to the parallel path my mentor walked, to emulate his/her successful behaviors.
We have all experienced a great speech. Maybe it was one that impacted us directly; for example, from the CEO of our employer. Or maybe it was from someone we were “less connected” to that still impacted us in a profound way; for example, a great political or charitable leader.
When a leader captures our views, imagination, excitement and support by presenting their own vision of what the future can become, and the impact that we can have in creating that future, we are drawn to help achieve that vision. Leaders with these skills are great at getting people committed to helping their cause.
A highly successful developer of on-line learning software recently told me that the key to her success is to turn learning into doing. Her focus on doing as a part of learning, she said, has made her a key problem solver to her clients. Converting knowledge to action reinforces learning (the subject matter), develops high-performing teams and helps her clients resolve performance gaps that often result from misapplied training efforts. My friend lives by the adage that you have to learn how to do and, then, you learn by doing. Or as Benjamin Franklin puts it, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
As we gear up for mid-year reviews, we will inevitably have to deliver some “bad” news to some people. Generally, people don’t like to deliver bad news, either professionally or personally. Why? Usually, they are concerned about the reaction that may result from initiating that confrontation. They don’t want to be questioned, or get into a heated discussion. They are passionate about the issue and don’t understand why the counterpart doesn’t see things in the same light as they do.
We have all been there. We look at our calendar to find out we are buried in meeting after meeting “all” day, “every” day. We scratch our head and try to figure out when we are going to have some time to do OUR work. A list of phone calls that we have to return is piling up on our desk, our inbox is out of control and our team is “lined-up” outside our office to get advice on work they have been assigned.
Unfortunately, too many times the order that we catch-up on our work is in the exact order listed above, based on who is trying to contact us (i.e. with superiors always getting bumped to the top of the list, as their issues always seem the most urgent…or at least they think they are!). Certain phone calls get returned and emails get sent to address the most pressing issues, the remaining emails are addressed at night or over the weekend and the team needs are squeezed in where possible. We think we are supporting the team adequately, but, if you asked them, they would (most likely) have a different opinion.
Standing on the edge of the district’s swimming pool as a timer, I am struck with the distinctive cultures and activity of the four results-driven high school teams preparing to compete. The diverse groups of athletes mill about in excitement, and complete their warm-ups as they envision themselves competently executing their strokes in the upcoming individual and team events.