Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Lots of Moving Parts

We have lots of moving parts.

I hear this phrase almost daily. It didn't used to be that way of course, but the pace of work seems to have picked up each year. The use of technology in our lives (which I've completely adopted!) combined with an ever increasing workload means we have more projects and strategies simultaneously demanding our attention like never before.

Badge of Honor
For those in leadership positions the demands of the hyper-connected and "always on" world of work means we are constantly busy. Some people embrace that pressure in an almost martyr-like way proclaiming how busy they are at every available opportunity.

I'm not sure that's a good idea though. I worry it inadvertently sends a negative message to those around us. Is the "I'm so busy message" actually sending a signal that you are not approachable? Are you subconsciously trying to avoid new projects or responsibilities?

Being busy is a good thing! Complaining about it...well...that's not so good, even if you have convinced yourself that you're simply acknowledging that you're running at maximum capacity.

Parts Are Not The Whole
A different way to think about so many priorities in our lives is to appreciate that they are just that...lots of little parts. Small pieces can be managed, fixed, improved, reinvented, and delegated. Think about that for a minute. You do not have to do everything on every task at every minute.

Too often leaders fall into the trap of thinking they have to manage every little piece of the work on their own. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

We have talented professionals on our teams. We have young people with tremendous potential who simply want the opportunity to do more. 

We do not have enough time to play super-hero...but we do have time to think strategically and manage all of those moving parts.

How About You
Have you used the phrase "lots of moving parts?" If so, what are you doing about it? Simply saying that over and over will yield exactly zero progress. However, if you slow down for a minute, think strategically, and tap into your team you'll watch those parts eventually turn into a well oiled machine.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Most Important Thing

"Someone needs to speak with Steve. His behavior is getting worse in our meetings, and I'm afraid he's going to alienate his colleagues to the point of no return."

"Sharon is not giving us an answer. I think she's unclear about whether or not to commit to the project. Something needs to happen...the whole process has stopped."

"Why does that team struggle with their part of the strategic plan? We need them to get moving so we can all meet our deadlines. This is getting ridiculous." 

"We have a variety of options...we need to make a decision..."

Lots of Things
The world of work is filled with pressure. One day we're learning about a colleague's irrational behavior, and the next we're trying to roll out a new culture change initiative across the enterprise. In between we're juggling deadlines, talent shortages, and how we can lead a new employer branding campaign.

Leaders have lots of things to do.

Focusing On A Few Things
For as much as I love Wunderlist (read here --> could not live without it!) there is a certain reality to how much we can realistically expect to get done each day. 

Somehow I'm able to have a longer list than I have hours in the day, but that doesn't stop me from loading up that app with all sorts of things I need to do.

When I sort through my priorities however, there is a very short list that actually demands my attention. Those are the items I focus on, and then reprioritize the others as best I can.

The Most Important Thing
As I power through the demands, expectations, and stress I feel each day, it is crystal clear to me what the most important thing is that must be done. It isn't a task or related to a major strategic goal. It is something that should happen frequently and with conviction.

I need to make decisions. You do too. 

Waiting for every bit of information to come in means you've missed your opportunity. Showing how indecisive you are actually means your team is losing confidence in you. Leadership is about being bold, driving change and being confident. 

What culture do you create when you live in the dreaded world of analysis-paralysis? I'll tell you...it's a world where no one will follow you. 

How About You
Instead of worrying, over-thinking, and wondering if you might make the wrong decision; try this instead --> do something! Show your colleagues, employees, and customers why you are the leader. That won't happen if you're hiding...it will happen when you stand up and make it happen!

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Line of Fire

I remember the first time I realized that not everyone was excited about moving into leadership. I was a very green young manager and my hospital had a number of management vacancies. I couldn't believe that we didn't have any internal applicants. In fact, it would be safe to say I was stunned! How could this be? No one wanted a "great" management job?

I Get It Now
As it turns out leadership is difficult. In fact, leading in a mediocre way is tough, let alone trying to actually be effective. I spend a lot of time on this blog pushing for effective leadership behavior, but I know it's a heck of a lot easier to write about it than it is to do it.

But that doesn't mean I'm not going to keep trying to get better every day.

The Firing Squad
One of the ways I've found to be effective in my role as a leader is to step in front of the proverbial firing squad on behalf of my team. As we all know, Human Resources lives in a fishbowl. All of the hiring managers, employees, and executives can see our every move. They all expect results, and candidly they deserve them. That is the opportunity of working in HR, not the burden!

The problem is that sometimes the team around us can become an easy target (read here --> scapegoat) for operational problems. It is in those moments that I believe HR leaders need to intervene. Simply letting our staff take all the heat (often it isn't even justified) while we hide in our offices is just lame.
I hate being lame.

Let me be clear...I'm not suggesting our team members cannot handle criticism, complaints, or areas that need to be addressed. What I am saying is that when you know the "noise" you're hearing about your team is inaccurate, you better get your butt out of your chair and stand up for them. 

How About You
It's no fun being in the line of fire as leaders. Imagine what our team members are going through? What must that feel like? More importantly do they know you care? Show them you are behind them 100%, and take a few bullets for them. Sometimes they won't even know you're doing it....but you'll know...and that's pretty important too.

I"d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Far Without The Near

I consider myself to be driven when it comes to my career. Okay, really driven. I like trying new things and taking risks that most of my #HealthcareHR colleagues just aren't comfortable doing...yet. We all move forward at our own pace, right? (Remember when LinkedIn was new and no one dared try it?)
Racing Ahead
One of the pitfalls I've discovered in my enthusiasm to push myself to get that next great job or test new strategies that truly are risky, is that I can sometimes miss what's happening in the world around me.

Looking ahead to what is in the distance...the vision I see of how things could be...can get in the way of how incredible things are now. As much as I love the phrase "I have a need for speed" sometimes racing too far ahead doesn't make sense. Particularly if that is the only thing I'm doing. 

Stop, Look and Listen
I'm now learning to find balance between my passion for pushing ahead as fast as possible and immersing myself in the endless possibilities around me. I'll be honest with you, it's not easy. 

I have found myself using the phrase "go go go" lately to describe my enthusiasm for making progress on all fronts. It's part of who I am. 

How About You
The more I think about this concept of balance in my career, I realize that the only way I know how to operate is to do both...at full speed! Don't judge. I am going to move forward in a full sprint. I have a need for speed...I'm just going to make sure I apply it to the far and the near.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Stormy World

"Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm."
Publilius Syrus

It is so easy to manage when things are going well. But when the storms come, the true test of one's leadership becomes clear. 

Is it stormy in your world today? If so, how are you leading those around you that are now so anxious about the future?
It's up to you.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Obstacles and Courage

"Obstacles are things a person sees when they take their eyes off the goal."
- E. Joseph Cossman

I like to convince myself that I'm a "big picture" leader. Focusing on the impact different ideas, opportunities and problems have on my whole organization instead of just my piece of it however,  is difficult. As it turns out, thinking strategically and acting strategically are two very different things.

All too often we allow the obstacles that Cossman references to cloud our vision. When that happens we have a tendency to think negative thoughts and get distracted from our real focus. Being stuck in this negative mindset only makes our work more difficult. 

For example: If there is a major issue that needs to be addressed and the necessary end result is clear, are you allowing the challenges that are part of that decision to stop the entire process? Yes, details need to be accounted for and managed, but the role of the leader is not to be intimidated by problems, but instead to be bold and push past those problems and achieve the end result that everyone is expecting.

Making difficult decisions is far from easy. Making those decisions when you feel absolutely alone is even worse. Yet it is in those moments that we need to look beyond the noise and criticism and push through. 

Effective leadership means you are making decisions. 

Effective leadership means you're not name-dropping the CEOs name every five minutes in an attempt to cover your back side. 

Effective leadership means leading, and that takes courage. Sadly, many who have a leadership title know little or nothing about being bold, or effective, or courageous.

How About You
What do you do with the obstacles in your life? Are you quick to hide behind the CEOs power suit? Do you retreat to the safety of a risk averse (and horribly ineffective) excuse to abstain from making a decision? Or, are you the one that everyone counts on in a crisis to stand alone and lead the way?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Free Will Sacrifice

I spend a lot of time thinking about leadership, and more specifically what it takes to be an effective leader. So much is written about this topic (including this blog) that it almost seems impossible to read it all, process it in a timely way, and execute the approaches that make the most sense to us in our professional lives.

We have so many options to consider, perhaps we are over-thinking the core concepts of leadership; and in so doing, we're missing opportunities to achieve our primary goal of leading effectively.

Use The Data
The more I struggle with my own leadership and the behaviors of other leaders, I find myself returning to the work Jim Collins did relative to Level 5 Leaders. The piece in Harvard Business Review is a fantastic resource that describes what it takes to get to this lofty status.

Collins' data suggests that there are two primary behaviors that are essential for leaders to move beyond their own myopic view of the world: humility and fierce resolve.

When was the last time you tried that combination at the office?

What It Means To Me
Read the article, I don't need to reprise it here. The evolution in my thinking has shifted from Collins' focus areas and the subsequent hierarchy of achieving Level 5 status down to one word: sacrifice.


What comes to mind when you hear that word? Pain? Suffering? Loss of personal or professional freedom? 

Sacrifice to me means all of those things and more. It's a commitment to something more important than ourselves; yet at the same time it can be a selfish move too. Sometimes we make sacrifices for others or our organizations. In fact, that type of sacrifice has dominated much of my life.

There is another type of sacrifice. When we take risks to try new things...when we test out new strategies that others have been afraid to try...when we move out of our comfort zones...these are sacrifices too.  

When we are willing to sacrifice our credibility in order to achieve a breakthrough that could benefit our companies and ourselves, we are also making a sacrifice. Those sacrifices are not easy...in fact, most don't dare give them a try.

How About You
How do you define success? Are risk-taking and sacrifice part of your definition of effective leadership? For me, they are two of the most important pieces. Think about what is most important to you. This stuff matters.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.