Archive for the ‘ Goals ’ Category

The Leaders Guide to Mediocrity—Less Than a Million Ways to Maintain the Status Quo

“Proceed with caution in the direction of your hopes, and live safely, the life have.” —Hank Dave Locke

Mediocre is a good. Moderate quality is ok. “Average is the norm,” as Yogi Berra might say.

300x300Today’s world is complicated—every segment of society is continually changing and very little seems to be certain anymore, like it was two hundred years ago. No amount strategy, planning, or consulting can change this reality.

The great challenge for today’s leader at work, in sports, at home, or in academia, is to help everyone just hold on through the chaos and hope that things turn out for the good. We need to lower our expectations on what “greatness” really is. Our primary focus as leaders today is to maintain the status quo and not allow innovation, excellence, or a utopian idea of high-performance disrupt people from allowing people to get their job done the way they always have—for the most part.

The following are a host (who really counts how many points there are in articles like this anymore?) of ideas, or habits, or secrets, that will help leaders around the world avoid the stress caused by the quest for “higher levels” of performance and help maintain the status quo within your spheres of influence—if you have any.

Don’t Have a Vision

Visions are nothing more than “pie in the sky” dreams about the way things should be, not the way things really are. Having a vision for your organization only stresses people out and puts too high of expectations on them—expectations that are impossible to live up to in the end. And besides everybody forgets the vision after the town hall meeting anyway. So leaders need to save everyone the stress—don’t create a vision.

Don’t Set GoalsIMG_0517

Like vision, goals are a big stress in any area of life. People don’t need really need goals; it only sets you up for failure and disappointment. People come to work and know what they’re supposed to do and should be left alone to get it done—they don’t need a goal to tell them what they need to do. Without the stress of goals we don’t have to plan our week or take time every day to think about our activities we need to do. Without the burden of goals, people are free to just get straight to working—on something!

Don’t Give Feedback—And Never Ever Ask for Feedback

Feedback is just an illusion. It’s just someone else’s perception. By offering feedback you’re suggesting that something could be actually done a certain way—that’s pretty judgmental if you think about it. The reality is that everybody has their own way about going about doing things. By giving feedback to someone you’re know judging them, you’re insinuating that things could be done even better, and this is very disruptive to an organization—especially when you give feedback to someone that’s been leading people for 20 or more years. By asking for feedback you’re insinuating that someone knows how to do it better than you. That’s a no-no. You’ll look like a fool and people may begin to think that you don’t know how to do your job if you ask for feedback

Don’t Listen

There’s only so much time in a day that you can sit around and listen to people’s complaints and problems. A leader that wants to maintain the
status quo and promote mediocrity, keep things flowing, should have no part of listening to somebody else’s challenges concerns or feedback. Time is of the
essence so don’t waste time listening to people’s concerns, and they’ll figure it out on their own—probably.

Don’t Solve Problems—Today

Like listening, problem-solving is another big waste of time. Problems exist, they always will, so what’s the point of trying to solve a problem when the reality is there will be 10 more, at least, that will spring up the next day. And if you really must try to solve a problem, sometimes you do, than the best strategy is to put it off until tomorrow. An average leader instinctively knows that today is all we have, and today’s troubles will take care of themselves; tomorrow.

Don’t Measure Performance

Yardstick-500x375Our society is beginning to understand this at a youth sports level—it’s time to understand this at a corporate level. If you hand out trophies and reward people for a “excellent” performance, what does that say to the rest of the organization? Measuring performance is just another way to discourage those who want to show up and work and just collect a paycheck. It’s another way to create distrust of the executives. Remember, your mission is to help your people survive, it’s not up to you to help them thrive—making the “scoreboard” irrelevant.

Feed Them Coffee and Donuts

This is a no brainer. Pavlov proved long ago that food, and now today, coffee, is a real good way to keep people satisfied. As long as people can come to work and know that donuts and coffee will be available, they will keep showing up. Sure it didn’t really work out with the orca whales at that Entertainment Park, but then again people aren’t really whales—food defiantly will satisfy humans. It’s not that complicated.

Which brings us full circle. Today’s leaders need to provide a safe environment with moderate expectations. The primary purpose of leadership is to help people survive and get through life in one piece—and enjoy the weekend. Leaders who follow these simple guiding principles will more than likely produce a culture of mediocrity and maintain a steady balance and certainty in an otherwise uncertain world.

Jason Diamond Arnold is a leadership consultant for The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is Coauthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action a real time, real work, leaning experience that develops effective communication and collaboration skills for individuals in the workplace. He works with Fortune 500 Companies, Small Business, and Start Ups developing Performance Intelligence strategies that are linked to research based, leadership development curriculums and cutting edge application software.

“Don’t get too worried if you have to stop and walk…”

I had a message this morning from an old university house mate. She’s just agreed to sign up for a marathon, with wine. It’s the Marathon du Médoc, in France, if anyone else is insane enough to run 26.2 miles with 23 wine stops. She knew I’d run a marathon before, and she wanted my advice on the training program – for the running, not the wine drinking.

Whilst I am a runner, I have very limited technical knowledge – but what I do have is the experience of training for a marathon, and the frustration of going out on a training run and not achieving what it was I set out to do. I’ve had training runs as short as three miles where I’ve had to walk at least two. I’ve given up and cut runs short. I’ve cried. I’ve fallen over (a lot!). However, each time something goes a little bit wrong, I’ll be annoyed with myself for a little while, and then I’ll vow to do better next time.

With this in mind, the best advice I could give her was not to worry if she has to stop and walk for a bit.

This made me think about whether I could apply this logic to anything else. Any of my other goals; whether they’re personal or work orientated.

I thought about my New Year’s Resolutions. I made a list at the end of 2014 of 12 things I wanted to achieve in 12 months, and I stuck the list on my pin-board at home. Buy a new car. Pay off my credit card. Travel abroad. Learn sign language. Solve world hunger. It’s now October, and I’ve probably achieved three things out of those 12. I threw the list away months ago, realising that 2015 probably wasn’t “my year”, and decided 2016 would be better.

I’m not disappointed with myself. Refresh Leadership reminds me that only 8% of people who make resolutions actually achieve them. I’ll try again for the things I want to achieve another time. I remember that it’s ok not to achieve everything I set out to do.

We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t fail occasionally.

This made me start thinking about two things. Why I failed and what to do next?

I realised I hadn’t met my own goals because I hadn’t set myself SMART goals. The concept of setting SMART Goals isn’t a new idea – it’s been in business for a long time, and there are a number of different versions of the acronym out there. Just Google “SMART Goals” and the top ten results all offer something different. I’ve opted for this version:

Specific What exactly do I want to achieve? What should the outcome be?
Motivating Will working on this goal ignite my passion?
Attainable Is it within my power to reach my goal? It can be a challenge, but not so difficult that it becomes de-motivating.
Relevant Is it meaningful to me? Will it make a difference?
Trackable When do I need to achieve this? How do I measure how well I am doing?

The resolutions I did achieve were the ones that I was passionate about; the ones that I could realistically achieve in 12 months; and the ones that had a clear end objective.

I need to work on setting myself SMART goals, if I actually want to achieve them.

This alone won’t help – sometimes, even setting SMART Goals, I won’t be able to achieve a goal. It might be that the goal is no longer relevant to me – in which case I could try modifying the goal to meet my needs – but it might just be that, despite my best efforts things didn’t go as planned.

In this situation, I need to remember not to be so hard on myself. People are their own worst critic – one of the hardest parts of failing to achieve is that inner monologue – and people will put themselves down, devalue themselves, and become disillusioned.

Obstacles to achieving our goals are inevitable – but it’s not what happens to us that’s important. It’s how we respond.

Sam Thomas Davies writes about how to move on when a goal is missed – and points out that the goal is the outcome you want to achieve at the end point, and people focus on this more than the passion and enjoyment of trying to achieve it in the first place. I’m reminded of a song by Miley Cyrus called “The Climb”, where she sings about it not mattering whether she gets to the top of the mountain or not, it’s all about the journey she’s taking to get there.

It’s important to remember that, even if it’s taking you longer than you expect to get to where you want to be, you should take the time to appreciate any progress – no matter how small that might be – and remember to congratulate yourself for what you have achieved.

Take the time to make your goals SMART, and give yourself the best chance of achieving them. Keep a flexible approach. And, when obstacles come your way, remember that it doesn’t matter if things take you longer than expected.

It’s ok to stop and to walk occasionally, and enjoy the view from where you are right now.

Top 3 Reasons Why Being a Great Leader Isn’t Easy

A few months back, I asked a group of leaders for a show of hands on who had experienced either oversupervision or undersupervision. Almost every hand went up. But then I asked how many had themselves oversupervised or undersupervised their direct reports. Only one or two hands shyly peeked out from the crowd.

So what’s going on? Well, leaders can sometimes be unaware of what they should and should not be doing. And this lack of awareness separates good leaders from great leaders. Great leaders know that leading is a never-ending journey that can be filled with treacherous obstacles.

So what do you need to know to become a great leader?
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Who drives your career?

1-driving-career_V3I had an interesting question asked in my master’s degree this week. How much responsibility should a company take in managing their employee’s  careers? In an ever changing society, where people are now wanting careers and not just a job it’s important for managers to help their employees grow,  but should they be the driver?

Quast (2014) looks at the research by Phoenix University and EdAssist. 71% of employees say that employers should provide job opportunities and  career paths; whilst 85% of employers say it’s the employee’s responsibility to identify job opportunities and career paths. This lack of alignment can cause huge problems. Employees & employers need to have open discussions around desires and expectations.

I personally think you need to drive your own career, with a manager’s support. Below are a couple of steps you might find useful to help drive your career.

Step 1 – What do you Want?

First of all what makes you tick? Where do you want to be heading? Only you can decide what career you want. This is probably the toughest question of all. Sit down one weekend and just map out in your ideal world what you would be doing, what would the role look like and how you can get there.

Step 2 – Tell People What you Want, Find out Options

You’re not alone if you are nervous or uncomfortable about talking to your manager about career progression – 44.8% of UK workers feel the same! If you have a good manager they will understand and want to help you achieve your goals. Talking about career progression isn’t having all the answers now, but knowing that you are growing and moving in the right direction. A company needs to support you in this if they want to keep hold of you. If your manager is aware of what you are thinking, they can look out for opportunities when having meetings with other managers.

Step 3 – Keep on Track

It’s so easy to go off track!  Make sure you put your goals around growth and progression into your quarterly performance appraisal.  This will help you stay on track, and help communication around your career aspirations.

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