Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Fixer

"It's always up to me. These employees are full of complaints but I'm the one who has to stop what I'm doing and get things back on track."

"When things get tense around here, it seems like I'm the only one that has the courage to step up and hold people accountable. It's wearing me out."

"Why does he behave that way? Can't we just have a normal conversation about these issues?"

It's On Me
So often in the life of a leader we are pulled into the role of The Fixer. You know what I'm talking about...we're the ones who everyone else expects to jump in and resolve the tension and smooth things over. Why is it that the people around us are willing to fan the drama-flames, yet are unable to see their own role in turning that spark into a fire?

It's Exhausting
Sadly, those that are so comfortable stirring the pot often miss how draining it can be to "fix" things. Since they are rarely involved in cleaning up the mess they create, they do not realize the physical and mental toll it takes on those of us who have to jump in (again and again) to save the day.

Ultimately we only have ourselves to blame I guess. We've allowed certain behaviors to occur repeatedly, and in in order to keep the peace we end up fixing everything.

It's Enough
When was the last time you  stepped back and said "no more!" Have you given yourself the freedom to no longer be subservient to those around you; and instead focus on driving accountability into the situation? If not, it's time. You do not need to own their behavior. You do not need to feel compelled to come to the rescue...and you certainly do not need to feel guilty that you need to do anything at all.

The people around you are adults. They can be responsible for themselves.

Tough HR love? Maybe. Necessary? Absolutely.

How About You
Set yourself free today. Decide that you are going to separate being supportive from playing the role of The Fixer. Ironically, when we shift into fix-it mode we're actually allowing the people around us to continue their lazy self-centered ways. Are you ready to be free?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Hey Leader...Grab A Towel!

I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking, speaking, and writing about effective leadership. It's been such a big part of my professional and personal life for so long that I don't really know anything else. Sometimes I'm convinced I've figured out the key pieces of being a leader...and at other times I feel like I'm just getting started.

...and that's where the trouble begins...

Title and Being Right
For many leaders having a fancy job title equates with their opinion always being the correct one. This is a colossal failure, and sadly happens regularly to those who find themselves with new authority or power.

Let's pause for a moment to remember what leaders are supposed to do. Our task is to guide, inspire, support and harness the power of the bright people around us. Our job is not to be an idea factory that squashes the creative genius of our teams.

Are you with me? It's not about's about us leading our colleagues!

Title and Vision
Here's where thing get a little tricky. Leaders need to have a vision of how the team, department, organization or industry can be in the future. Their needs to be an inner drive to move toward that vision that gets the people around you fired up. 

However, the path to achieving that vision needs to be a shared process. When leaders who are unaccustomed to new found power, combine their enthusiasm with "their vision" we quickly find ourselves with a disengaged team and embarrassing credibility issues for the leader.

Remember the Emperor with no clothes? get my point.

How About You
Think about the leaders you work with...and think about your own leadership style. Is the combination of power and vision compromising your ability to inspire, support and leverage the team's creativity? 

If so, it might be time to reach for a towel and cover up.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, July 21, 2014

This Is Your Time!

In our work lives we rarely have the opportunity to hear an inspirational message to kick off a big meeting, or day, or week. Work just doesn't operate that way. 

We're supposed to dive into our task list, Inbox, and meeting schedule "all fired up" yet we rarely hear words that help us realize how important that meeting, or day or week could be.

I need that message today...maybe you do too.

This is your time...let's go out there today and take it!

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Friction Points

Watching new leaders struggle is an odd experience. Many new leaders consider themselves to be quite experienced; yet in reality they are not. Having a large scope of responsibility does not equate with being an experienced and effective leader.

It just means you were involved in lots of stuff. Big difference.

Reactions Matter
For new executives the struggles are even more pronounced. Their previous world which was typically narrowly defined by their role is suddenly expanded to include the entire organization. Yes, regardless of the title, an executive must think in terms of the entire organization. 

Their "newness" is often characterized by a tremendous amount of enthusiasm, energy, and desire to prove they are worthy of the role. Those same qualities can get in the way however when problems arise. It is their reaction to change that often creates friction, and in turn hurts their credibility. 

Calm, Calm, Calm
In those moments when change occurs, or someone gets upset, or suddenly there needs to be a new plan of action, it is imperative that leaders remain calm. This is not an option, nor is it negotiable. Effective leaders do not over react, make knee-jerk decisions, or convince themselves that "it will be better if they just handle it by themselves."

No, no and no.

The best leaders stay focused and calm. Why? Because the people they are leading are watching their reaction in the moment. They want to know that the unexpected challenge is not going to hurt them or the company. They want to know everything is going to be okay. 

When leaders over react and get all fired up as a first response, the team gets nervous and ultimately loses faith in that leader.

Don't give your team or organization a reason to lose faith in you.

How About You
Do you know new leaders who struggle with the burden of their role? There is a reason the phrase "leadership is hard" has been around so long. Because it's true! Be calm today in your world...and role model for those other leaders around you how it's supposed to be done.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, July 14, 2014

The Whole World Turned Away

"The day your team members stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership."
Colin Powell

Being part of a team can be wonderful. The connection between team members, the trust and support of each other, and the knowledge that everyone is working toward the same goal can be an amazing experience.

What happens when everyone isn't as focused on the team as in the past? What if the appearance of support wasn't as sincere as the team believed? The impact of these changes can not only create divisions within the team, but has the potential to rip the team apart.

How could this happen?

Changes in life are not uncommon, in fact change is the most exciting part of life! Living a routine, same-old-schedule day in and day out would just about kill me. Learning, growing, and maximizing what you can become is the definition of living a full and meaningful life.

So how does all of the goodness that is wrapped up in change, end up pulling the team apart?

Team Agenda vs. Personal Agenda
As leaders...and as team members...we have to ensure that goals and priorities are clear. Every member has to know what is important, why it is important, and what needs to happen to achieve those goals. In the absence of knowledge, people will start filling in their own interpretation of reality. That is a slippery slope.

One of the worst things that can happen to a team is that one member or a small group of members decide that their wishes supersede those of all others. When this happens the team suffers. It is our job as leaders to make sure we keep the team informed, fired up about the future, and fully aware of what needs to happen, even if what needs to happen isn't the most popular option.

No one ever said leadership is easy.

How About You
When your team raises issues and concerns with you the next time, instead of feeling like you have another headache to deal with, be thankful. They are reaching out to you. They feel it is important that you know what is going on so you can do something about it. They believe in you...and that's a pretty special feeling.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Polite Disregard

I have some favorite words. Many of my HR colleagues have the same favorites. One that is near the top of my list is accountable. I like it so much I built it into the subtitle of this blog. Recently I've started hearing that perhaps the word accountable is falling out of favor...that it is too negative...and may send a message that isn't positive enough.


Have we become so politically correct that we're not allowed to lead anymore?

I'm Not Giving Up
For the record, I'm sick and tired of how politically correct the world has become. I'm all for supporting people. Anyone who knows me is clear about how positive I am...and they also know how much I despise any form of I've written about here and here and here.

However, the issue of holding people accountable, particularly in the context of gaining the proper alignment to execute on strategy, organizational culture, and good leadership is a non-negotiable item. 

They're Not Listening Anyway
One of the odd behaviors I continue to see in people is that despite repeated direction, communications from the company, and clear examples being demonstrated, some individuals believe they can act out in their own way "because that is just their personality."

Excuse me? Are you serious? No one is going to agree with every single decision their company makes, including me. But does that mean I can "do my own thing" because I feel that my views are the best ones?

Absolutely not!

A key component of effective leadership is supporting the organization's mission, culture, and priorities. I hate to break it to you, but if you have a problem with these're the problem.

Harsh words? Maybe. Honest? Yes.

How About You
What do you do when suddenly holding others accountable is no longer en vogue? Do you allow their polite disregard for your organization's priorities to be tolerated? Or, do you step up, hold them accountable for real, and move your company forward?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Achievement and Gratitude

“In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.” 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer 

Take one minute today and consider how far you've come in life. Look at the team of people you work with...and think about all the hard work they do and how that work directly impacts you. I'm blessed with an incredible team of professionals who put in long hours under sometimes very stressful circumstances.
...and I'm grateful for their dedication to their profession...and to our organization...

How About You
How does it look in your world of work today? Despite the challenges we all face, I'm guessing you have a pretty terrific group of people around you too. 

Take one minute today and think about where you would be without them.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I Don't Wanna Be Me

Have you ever taken a step back from your current role and compared it to what you thought you would be doing at this point? What were you expecting? Was it a certain title...or salary...or span of control? How close are you to achieving that vision?

For many...that vision is a cruel reminder of what their career is not. That can really hurt.

When those feelings get churned up we often try to suppress them as quickly as possible. After all, we're professionals! Being under control is a hallmark of our leadership skill set. Except the suppression strategy is not real. Feeling disappointment...frustration...and even some bitterness is normal. Don't bury those feelings, and please don't disregard them in some sort of artificial cleansing exercise.

Wallow in the pain. Let it consume you. Allow your honest feelings to flow hard through your mind and body. Experience those raw emotions...and feel the pain.

And only then...begin to release them.

Allowing yourself to feel alive...even when it is painful...actually turns out to be quite empowering. As counter intuitive as that may sound, life has a way of using our frustrations and disappointment as fuel to bring the future into greater focus.

Get Moving
Once your self-inflicted pain session is complete it is time for action. Get yourself organized. Start a list of what you Don't sell yourself short as you document what it is you really want. Put it all down on paper (or Wunderlist if you've committed to a digital life like me.)

This list...regardless of how your new beginning. You don't have to achieve anything on your list today...but you absolutely need to acknowledge that it exists. 

Your new plan has just been born. Give yourself credit for starting. Nothing keeps disappointment and bitterness going strong more than inaction.

So take action!

How About You may have a role to play in your plan. However, being someone other than you makes no sense, so stop the comparisons and focus on your list. Organize it...take small steps...and start being the real you. After all, it's a lot more satisfying to say "I Wanna Be Me!" Don't you think?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.