Archive for the ‘ Managing ’ Category
I was reading the obituary of the late and great Sir Christopher Lee this past week (The Times, Friday 12 June), who had a 70 year career on screen and made more than 300 films. One of his best known roles was Dracula, a role which he played 10 times.
In doing so I was reminded of a Freakonomics podcast called ‘what can vampires teach us about economics’ (October 2014), a light-hearted, yet oddly fascinating look at how we can turn relationships with vampires and the undead into advantages in society.
In memory of the iconic role of Dracula I thought it only my duty to ponder the link between vampires, and the ‘undead’as a whole, and what they can teach us about leadership.
Everyone fears a vampire
You may not be sucking people’s blood in a literal sense, but you may be sucking the life out of your co-workers each day. Treating your colleagues with a lack of respect or using a top-down leadership approach could lower morale and erode trust.
Promote open conversations and build relationships – put those fangs away!
Be a visual leader
Vampires are well known for having no reflection and living ‘in the shadows’.
Make yourself a visual leader, whether via webcam or being in the office regularly. People like to chat face-to-face and you may be working hard, but from my experience a lack of ‘visual presence’ can make others question what you are achieving and distance you from the highs and lows of office life day-to-day.
It’s amazing what you overhear or the conversations you can have when you are in the same room as your colleagues.
Need blood? Let’s chat about it and find a solution
Listen to your team’s needs and wants.
The Freakonomics podcast touched on the subject of the desire for blood – a possible solution is to stop the killing of innocent victims by selling vampires blood. Providing them with the one thing they need; if they don’t get it from you, they will certainly find it elsewhere.
Your team may not want blood, but they do have needs and wants that need satisfying. Understand your team and what each individual values. It may surprise you, not everyone is motivated by money. They may want career progression or a new challenge.
Satisfying you team’s needs will make the team and organisation more successful, it will reduce staff turnover and prevent bad habits from affecting the business (i.e. boredom and therefore shirking from tasks…or attacks to the neck!).
Vampires are the epitome of power dressing
Vampires dress to impress, the chances are they will get a job over the zombies and werewolves of this world. We may not deliberately judge rotting skin and hairy feet, but they are hard to ignore.
Dressing well also boosts your confidence – so shave those feet and grab your suit!
Werewolves work as a team and vampires work solo: try both and the art of delegation
There are times when we are more productive working alone, there are also times when team work or delegating tasks are a better option. I hear so many people say ‘I could get it the job done so much quicker myself, so I didn’t delegate’.
Think about the best use of your time and that this may be a great development opportunity for someone else. You are doing them a favour by providing a new challenge, teaching them a new skill and believing in their abilities. You are also doing yourself a favour by honouring your own time.
The ‘unknown’ causes panic
The fear of things unknown can cause mass hysteria, widespread gossip and for people to draw their own conclusions. Are you creating your own zombie apocalypse by not communicating effectively during times of change, addressing individual’s concerns and being transparent? There needs to be trust and communication is the key.
I am going to end this lighter look at leadership with something Sir Christopher Lee said, ‘I decided to make Dracula more believable and sympathetic’ (The Times, 12 June 2015) – it sounds like Dracula would make a great leader after all!
Looking past the viral-oriented nature of this video, the main concept presented is critical for leadership. Thoughts, when attached to emotions other than sadness, generally have higher “infection” rates.
Thus, it is important to generate more emotion (hopefully positive and not anger-inducing) around messages that you want your direct reports to remember or share. It seems idea is lost at times in the data-driven world of today, where it’s more important to get across the numbers and metrics than it is to tell a story.
So communicate with feeling and generate positive emotions in your direct reports. Make the topic relevant to them. They will be more receptive to your messages and will remember them better. Let’s infect the world with the good germs to promote healthy thoughts.
Just don’t anger them… or you may end up on the wrong side of a thought germ!
When I first entered the workforce 15 years ago, I had the great honor of working directly with best-selling business book author Ken Blanchard. At the time, I had little knowledge of his work or his reputation as one of the most influential thought leaders in the business world. I knew even less about his numerous best-selling business books, including one of the most successful business books of all time, The One Minute Manager.
Shortly after working with Ken on book endorsements, and helping him organize and publish The Little Book of Coaching with Don Shula, I quickly came to realize how worthy Dr. Blanchard was of his celebrity status. Ken Blanchard has a way of making you feel like you’re the most important person in the room, whether you are one-on-one with him in his office or a captivated member of a 5000-person audience. Ken is one of the most down-to-earth and compassionate people I have ever met.
This January, I graduated from the Ken Blanchard Companies, taking with me a wealth of knowledge and experience applicable to my own leadership development and media firm. There are five key leadership and career principals I learned from working with Ken Blanchard during my 15-year apprenticeship with the company that bears his name and helped start a leadership revolution.
“Take a minute to set goals.”
Not only is goal setting the first secret in The One Minute Manager, it is also the first skill of one the world’s most influential leadership models, Situational Leadership II. Most leaders and individuals have goals set in their minds, but few leaders and individual contributors actually write those goals down and actively use them to manage performance. Ken often quotes fondly the enigmatic Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” Goal Setting is a foundational business skill, whether you are a leader of others or a self-led leader. Setting clear outcomes makes your path more certain and productive.
“Catch people doing things right.”
If one lasting legacy of Ken Blanchard will be passed on for generations, it will be the practice of catching people doing things right. We all have a tendency to focus on the negative—to point out what’s going wrong rather than what’s working well and thus making the adjustments to improve. Great leaders build upon others’ strengths. They lift up and encourage the people they’re trying to influence toward peak performance. Once people have goals set and desired outcomes determined, the leader’s role is to encourage them to achieve those goals—not micromanage them by emphasizing the details of their shortcomings and failures on the path to achieving those goals.
“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”
The best way to encourage others is by praising or redirecting toward the desired outcomes. Feedback is the conduit through which we provide the praise or redirection necessary on the path to excellence. Most leaders don’t think of feedback as a skill, but studies highlight the importance of effective feedback in motivating and building trust in the people you’re trying to influence. Great leaders understand how to give effective feedback. Excellent individuals learn how to seek feedback from leaders and anyone that can help them advances their goals.
“None of us is as smart as all of us.”
There is perhaps no greater truth in today’s knowledge-based workforce than the wisdom of the crowd. When people try to solve problems on their own, go Lone Wolf on tasks and goals, or keep acting as the gatekeepers of knowledge, they not only disrupt the outcomes of projects critical to organizational success, they isolate themselves from real solutions and the support of others. Great leaders seek wise counsel and seek input by empowering people to create solutions to everyday business challenges and employ strategic initiatives. Today’s most influential leaders and successful individual contributors understand the importance of collaborating with others for organizational and personal excellence.
“Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
This is one of the most influential concepts I learned from Ken Blanchard. People often think of themselves too highly or, conversely, suffer from low self-esteem. Being humble may be more about a person’s attitude than an actual skill, but people who think about themselves less and focus on the needs of others often build trust and have a greater influence on the people they lead. Humility is not as difficult as it seems when you have a healthy self-awareness of your place in the world at large. Not only is humility a great character attribute, it’s a powerful leadership concept that will elevate the success of your team and your career.
Thank You, Ken Blanchard
The lessons I learned from Ken Blanchard are worth more than a Ph.D. in leadership. These five Key Leadership Lessons are valuable life skills that, if embraced, will guide you on your own journey toward professional and personal excellence. Whether you are serving clients through your own company or within the organization that employees you, clear direction, positive praise, consistent feedback, collaboration with others, and humility will all go a long way to ensure lasting success in all your endeavors. Ken Blanchard is a thought leader in the business world because he has learned to tap into the timeless truths that have inspired people to flourish throughout human history. I hope you will consider these five simple truths this day as you engage in your daily tasks and interactions with others.
Jason Diamond Arnold is a Leadership Consultant for The Ken Blanchard Companies and Cofounder of DiamondHawk Leadership & Media. He is Coauthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action, a powerful learning experience designed to help individual contributors to excel at work and in their career through critical leadership and business skills.
I am a millennial. I almost feel obligated to apologize for that because, for some, it has almost become a dirty word. Disjointed, entitled, unsocial… the list goes on. These are just some of the adjectives that people might describe this large portion of the work force and the current and future leaders of America.
For now, let’s say we get past our differences and agree on one thing: What we (millennials) need out of our leaders is different than what you needed. We need:
To all non-millenials, remember, we are the generation that saw our parents lose their jobs, pensions, and futures during the economic downturn. We watched the news as the unemployment line was packed with people looking to stay afloat. We heard many say, “I lost my job and that was the only thing I knew how to do.” So we are diversifying our biggest portfolio by investing in ourselves. We are getting as many skills as possible, and although we may be accused of “coming for your jobs”, we are really just in survival mode. And we probably always will be.
If you are like me, all you want to do is “see everything” once you get to a new country or city. I just want to go out and explore every inch of the city and get a feel for the people, the food, and the culture. On my last trip to Venice I ended up getting lost and seeing the same tall buildings for 2 straight hours as I kept going in circles through the buildings that divide the canals. At times in my career I’ve been doing the same thing wandering aimlessly throughout my day to day tasks. Often Ken Blanchard tells us that “Leadership is a partnership” and that we must work together to accomplish tasks. If you have ever had a bad manager or a bad travel agent, you know how important this collaboration is.
Take a look at these descriptions to see what kind of manager fits your description:
Travel Agent: He has never done the job before that he is asking you to do, and probably will never end up doing it himself. He has tons of tips of ways to accomplish the task but has never even stepped onto the job site. He doesn’t speak the business language at all, but tries to act like he does, while continuously mispronouncing business terminology. He also keeps repeating the word “synergy” because he thinks it sounds great but has no idea what it means. He also thinks SCRUM is a type of Norwegian cheese spread.
Tour Guide: Knows the job really well and has extensive experience in the field. He speaks the business language fluently and often teaches these classes at night to new comers. He knows the job site in and out and can tell you the best places to meet new people and who to learn from. He’s often seen walking around the office and getting acquainted with the culture and knows the real players in the organization. He guides his direct reports every day and helps them navigate the business while providing them with the best information possible. He doesn’t accept tips at the end of the day because he genuinely loves to do his work.
If you are a Travel Agent manager, don’t feel bad. Get out there, explore the sites, and get familiar with the “culture”. Sip the wine, mingle, and help your direct reports through their workplace experience. Really do your best to partner with them and guide them through their role and tasks.
The workplace needs more leaders who can partner with their direct reports for success. No travel agents needed.
I was shocked to find that some leaders don’t take goal-setting and performance reviews seriously. Instead, it’s considered a formality or something done because it is “required”. Once a year, managers and employees meet to discuss goals that were forgotten a week after they were set and never revisited throughout the year. Two signatures later, they return to what they were doing.
Proper goal-setting is so important because it sets realistic expectations for performance and prevents employees from ever being confused about what they need to accomplish next. Every day, employees should refer back to the goals and use them to plan out the day. And managers should have regular conversations with employees on what goals are working, what goals are not working, and what goals need to change.
Essentially, this is a performance review spread throughout the year. Then, when it comes time for the actual performance review, there are no surprises. This places focus not on the “final exam”, but on the daily tasks that employees do to make progress toward each of the goals.
So meet with your direct reports regularly and have conversations focused around goals with the perspective that you are there to do whatever you can to help them meet those goals. You are the coach; they are the athletes. And by setting those goals and making daily progress, nothing can stand in the way.
“Success isn’t owned — it’s leased. And rent is due every day.” – @JJWatt