Delegation (Part 1)

In today’s busy business environment, managers are always looking for ways to free up time and get more done in their workday. Often, managers forget one of the best ways this can be donedelegate! Yes, letting others do what we feel only we have the ability to do is sometimes difficult. But, if one is to function at their greatest capacity, one must learn to let go. Here are a few ideas to help with the delegation process and, at the same time, create that valuable free time you need to grow your career.

Sit down with a piece of paper and list all the things you do. Break major responsibilities into as many subcategories as you can. Once you are done with this task, start reviewing the list and check all items you are comfortable letting someone on your staff do for you. If there is an item in doubt, check it anyway on this first pass. Next to each item you checked, place the name of a staff member to whom you wish to pass on the responsibility. Assess strengths and weaknesses of these individuals and their knowledge level of the task. Match the task with their talents.

If possible, develop a written description of the task requirements and review this document with the person given the task. Placing the assignment in writing greatly reduces misunderstanding by both parties. Insure that the task assigned is fully understood by asking questions following your review. Have the staff member re-state your assignment in their words to assure they have understood your instructions. You should be willing to provide some training if necessary. Don’t expect perfection the first time or that the individual will do things exactly as you might have done them. Make expectations clear but allow for some growth and learning. Perhaps there may have to be a joint effort in the beginning and you can gradually let go entirely once your comfort level grows.

Ten Ideas to Improve Your Life

I’ve provided ten ideas on creating greater successes in life for your reflection and consideration

You are always in charge of yourself. Many are constantly looking for someone else to bring success into their life. They don’t realize that if they wish more success, they will have to take greater charge of their life decisions. No one is coming to the rescue. We must improve and/or change habits and our willingness to work hard with a laser focus. Nothing less will do unless you are willing to settle for “average.”

The world reflects the attitude you give it. Look at life like a mirror. The reflection you get in a mirror is similar to the reflection we get from the world based upon our actions. Attitude is a dominate component of personal success. Give out signals of negativity and negative is what you reap. On the other hand, brightening the world with your positive approach will eventually provide the reaping of positive results.

Accept personal responsibility for all your actions. This is another way of stating the first item. Except here I’ve added the word responsibility. For too many, it’s a word they avoid thinking about or acting upon. Personal responsibility means you don’t blame others for your failures. They are the result of choices and poor actions. Get over it. Take responsibility and you win.

Keep “balance” in your life—a spiritual, family and career balance. Journeying on Holy Ground, (www.JourneyingOnHolyGround.com) is a book about how to bring balance and the right priorities into your life. Why not check it out for yourself and as a possible Christmas gift for those you love. Besides, it provides an in-depth body of knowledge to achieve that important “balance” we all seek.

Use goals to create your future and commit to their completion. We get energized this time of the year to recommit ourselves to greater successes next year. Why not start with one goal that will give you the greatest return on your time investment and work like hell to bring it into reality. Once done, you can start working on the next most important goal. Continue adding goals throughout the year. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a long list that never gets done.

Establish relationships. They are the foundation for all your successes. No one is an island. We all need someone to help us achieve our maximum potential. On a spiritual level, that relationship is with God. On a secular level, this means individuals who support your life’s focus and who can provide information and/or resources to escalate your achievement timeline.

Learn all you can about personal / business money management. Cash flow is king on both a personal and business level. One must master how to best use and manage money. Much of today’s ills start with a money problem. Don’t fall into this trap—get educated on how to preserve your cash and properly apply its use for your maximum benefit.

Learn something “new” each day to keep growing intellectually. Stagnation of thoughts will eventually end up giving you a cesspool of nothingness. Be curious. Become growth oriented. Always look for information that enhances your personal performance or position in life. “Lazy” is not part of this process!

Develop an exercise routine to keep your body and mind fit. Your mind and body need constant “exercise” to grow the effectiveness of both. Sound mind and body propel you forward. Poor health is life’s friction and an undeveloped mind is the pathway toward ignorance. Keep health at the top of the list of achievements you strive to attain. It’s the source of a long life.

Express gratitude often. Two of the most forgotten words today are “Thank You.” We should never miss an opportunity to offer thanks to anyone that provides any level of help. It’s a powerful set of words that we all love to hear given to us as a result of some action we’ve taken. Make a list of things for which you are grateful and strive to grow that list every day.

Leaders Create Direction (Part 2)

A number of years ago, I was conducting an executive coaching session with the CEO and President of a multi-million dollar business. The leadership style of each person was vastly different and was the root-cause of the friction between these two leaders. As I worked with these individuals, it became evident that the CEO had never really articulated the expectations he desired to the President. In the absence of direction, the President created his own leadership style. Each had a different style of providing instructions to employees. Each viewed their jobs from a different set of eyes and viewpoint. The stress in their relationship was spilling over into the entire team causing unneeded tension within the organization. Both had different philosophies on how to work and interact with their customers. Their individual leadership styles were clashing and something had to be done. That’s why I was brought in.

As I listened to both leaders, it became evident that a thorough understanding of individual roles and responsibilities had to be articulated. I asked the CEO to be crystal clear on his expectations and share those expectations to the President. Only then could he hold the President responsible for his actions. This required a one-on-one detailed discussions with the CEO. I worked with him to clarify his delivery and the meeting was scheduled. Initially, the air was cleared and the working relationship became more positive. However, in the long term, the expectations were not met and the President was eventually let go. Not the best of endings for this employee but the necessary ending for the company to continue growing their profitability, internal effectiveness, and efficiency.
Take-away Idea: It is up to a leader to set the tone within his or her department or organization. Leaders set the tolerance level for performances. Unless you articulate what you are willing to accept in performances, people will work at a level they think is acceptable. Too often these are two very different expectations and becomes the source of tension in the workplace.

I recently read this statement: “Words are suspect unless our actions match them.” I hope you recognize the powerful meaning of these words. As a leader, you must exemplify congruency between what you say and what you do. Leaders should reflect honesty, integrity, and sincerity as part of their character. A lack of any of these traits creates distrust and disconnects that are lethal to you and the organization.
Take-away Idea: As a leader, you are a role model to every employee working under your charge. Your actions are under constant scrutiny and any deviation gives employees cause to distrust you. What you do in the dark should be what you are willing to do in the light. It’s that consistency of sound character that gives rise to greatness. Don’t ever let your words or deeds become suspect.

Leaders Create Direction (Part 1)

Everything that happens within an organization is impacted by the type of leadership present.

This is a powerful concept that sometimes escapes the mindset of many leaders. Some leaders feel they are operating in their own little domain of responsibility and what they do does not have a great impact on the overall effectiveness of the organization. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every leadership decision made impacts the overall effectiveness of the organization in some way. Some decisions have a great impact, others are a lesser factor. But, in the end, every decision made by leaders has some ramification—good or bad.

Take-away Idea: Leaders must constantly assume a 360 degree view as they make decisions. Failure to do so can result in being blindsided with an unexpected consequence.

I regularly interview leaders within my client’s organization to help me highly customize the content. From the information gathered, I create the upcoming training session. As I talk to everyone, the quality and effectiveness of each leader becomes evident. How they talk about their employees, how they view their job, how they view their management team, and how they choose to interact with their customers are all factors that reflect on their leadership style. If one or any combination of these factors is negative, leadership effectiveness will be impacted negatively. Likewise, if the power of positive thinking is present, these leaders will experience a higher level of efficiency and effectiveness as they carry out their responsibilities.

Take-away Idea: Leaders don’t work in a vacuum. Their attitude and approach to their job directly impacts results. How do you view your employees, your job responsibilities, your boss and your customers? Never forget it’s your attitude and your thinking that play the greatest role in your accomplishments.

Follow Your Leadership Values

Leaders come in many sizes, shapes and posses a wide-range of values. The first two characteristics may be mostly irrelevant but the last is critical for long-lasting success. Examine with me the values of Stalin, Hitler and Mao Zedong. Each had control over millions but displayed a flawed value system. They murdered millions in their quest for control. Were they leaders? Reluctantly, one must say “yes.” Did they experience long-lasting success? Thankfully one can say “no” to that question.

On the other hand, examine the values of Mother Teresa, Billy Graham and Jesus. They too influenced millions but murder was not part of their plans. Now you might be thinking but these were very religious individuals. While true, their leadership style is certainly not limited to only religious leaders. Each is a leader but unlike the first three examples, these individuals did achieve long-lasting success

As you strive to grow your leadership skills, you must first evaluate your own values. FYI, here are three key values that are traits of leaders that win.

1. They have a vision: If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never know when you arrive. When you lead, you must have a clear prospective of where you want to take the department or organization. Fuzzy won’t work. In all six examples cited, each one had a vision of what they wanted to accomplish. The difference is the intent of the vision and the methods used to achieve them.

2. Leaders are trustworthy: Trust is not automatic. Kouzes & Posner in their book, A Leader’s Legacy, make two points about trust. First, one cannot take trust for granted. It is an earned reward for behavior towards others. Secondly, not letting those under your charge be fatally affected when they don’t carry out an assignment well. Rather a leader doesn’t lost faith in their followers and teaches them how to avoid the mistake in the future.

3. Leaders are willing servants. Let’s go back to our first three examples of leaders. In each case, none were willing to serve others. To the contrary they wanted power and control over others and service was not a part of their character. In the last three examples, each was very willing to serve others and wanted no power and control over people. Humility blankets their character.

Study the life of individuals whose leadership style has been successful over a long period of time and whose influence still positively impacts society. Let their character soak into yours. Learn to apply their principles. Doing so separates you from the masses and helps you leave a lasting positive impact on the world. Then you are truly a difference maker.

 

 

 

Leading Yourself in Tough Times

As I write this post, I’m waiting for Hurricane Isaac to come ashore into Louisiana and ultimately pass over my home. Although I’ve lived through similar events many times in my life, there is still always the need for one to take charge of personal circumstances and properly prepare for the worst. This is what leaders do. They take charge and seek to control their environment. Self leadership demands that one think through each situation creating the best options that can produce the best results. In the case of a Hurricane, many factors are out of our control. Anticipating the need to have a tank full of gasoline in the car, batteries and/or candles for light when downed power lines shuts down electric service and securing an adequate supply of water, food and medicines makes life a bit easier. Generators can supply electric power but finding a supply of gasoline to run them can be difficult because of the short supply. A battery powered radio is a necessity to keep in touch with the outside world.

There are many other factors to cover but they are too long to list. The jest of this post is to point out that leading yourself to success is a planned process with definite steps that must be carried out. The next time you are placed in circumstances that require a bit of self-leadership, why not create a well thought out plan of action to bring the task or process to a successful close. You’ll be glad you took that initiative.

 

A Parental Leadership Thought

I strongly believe the genesis of a good education begins in the home. Parents must insist that their children study. They have a responsibility to do all in their power to prepare their child for success. And, there lies the irony of this situation. Parents who don’t appreciate the value of a good education don’t encourage their children. When children don’t recognize this value on their own, they perpetuate the cycle of ignorance and lack of job skills in the marketplace. Sadly, some become dependent upon government for their livelihood. The result is a lifetime of enslavement to others and a lost opportunity to reach their personal potential. This is the greatest of human tragedies.

Billions have been poured into educational improvement initiatives but few ever attack the lack of responsibility in the home. Up to and until this focus changes, we will continue to pour dollars into the black hole of ignorance with no significant results as a payoff for our investment.

Choice is Always an Option

How do you feel about your life? Is it productive? Do you consistently reach the milestones you so vividly imagine in your mind’s eye? Do you have the commitment to continue working on your current goals or do you feel burned out and stagnated?

We Can Choose

 The beauty of life is that no matter where we find ourselves at any given moment, we always have the choice to move in a different direction and re-position ourselves. By conducting a thorough examination of our past activities, readjusting our tactics and implementing the necessary changes to improve our results, we can reach the milestones of our life. It’s never too late to start over. But before we can successfully begin to move towards our destination of choice, we must build a self-awareness of our weaknesses—the lid on our success jar that stops our progress.

We all bring strength to the table of opportunity. Likewise, we all have weaknesses that, if not corrected, will diminish our ability to maximize and capture the opportunities of life. Successful people focus and use their strengths, and seek support to shore up their weaknesses. They surround themselves with people who help them overcome their weaknesses. This is a win-win partnership.

Your Defining Moment

 A defining moment in your life is when you clearly recognize your weaknesses and take action to reduce their impact on your business and personal life. Find your own personal support group to help you bridge the gap between failure and success and you are well on your way. This idea has value no matter the situation. Capture the defining moment in your life by being big enough to admit where you need help. When you do, you will find many who are willing to support you. This decision can be the difference between reaching your destination or entirely missing your ride.

 

Greatness in Serving

I recently read an article written by Jean Vanier, founder of an international network of communities for the mentally disabled. I was struck by this statement in her article: “All authority, whether it be civil, parental, religious or community, is intended to help people grow towards greater freedom, justice and truth. Often, however, it is used for the honor, power, privilege and positive self-image of those who exercise it.”

As one who speaks on the subject of “Servant Leadership” this statement is the epitome of what this type of leadership really means. Unfortunately, far too many leaders forget why they lead. They are more concerned with their own perpetuation than carrying out the purpose of leadership. Exemplary leaders know that it is never about selfishness and always about serving those being lead.

If we closely examine the style of leadership in this country today, we will notice that service to others is always blanketed with a self-serving mindset first. As Vanier said, honor, power, privilege and positive self-image trump all other things. But unfortunately, the reality is that we get the kind of leadership we tolerate. And, that brings me to my final point—as citizens of this great Republic, we must raise the bar of expectations regarding those chosen to lead. Unless this change becomes the mindset of every citizen, we have no right to complain. We are getting exactly what we are willing tolerate.

Make Every Year a Great Year

I recently read about four steps on how to bring incredible results into our life written by Jack Canfield. The approach is old but newly defined by Jack in a unique way.

 

  1. Analyze: We must analyze our life’s activities and determine which pay dividends and which are a drain on our life. Time on earth is too precious to waste in trivial, non-productive activities. So, what’s your purpose? Hard question to answer but a most important one that we must address. Once defined, everything you do should support your clearly defined purpose. Then, throw out everything else that doesn’t support the purpose. Tough, tough decision. But no one promised that greatness came without a price.
  2. Visualize: Once we’ve discovered purpose, we need to spend time every day thinking and visualizing the accomplishment of our purpose. Visualize in color, Visualize with emotion. Visualize in minute detail. But visualize you must. Creating a vision opens the doors of possibility and helps to create the right path on our success journey.
  3. Strategize: OK, you’ve defined purpose and engaged in visualizing it to be a reality. Now the really hard part—we need to develop a detailed action plan, with daily activities, that will make our purpose a reality. Take time to undergo this process. It is a plan of the action steps that will get things done. And, as you know, no action equals no results.
  4. Actualize: The last step—just do it. Take action on your plan so purpose is achieved. Take action so the most important things in your life become a reality. Few things bring greater satisfaction than the achievement of our dreams. So dream big and watch for the results!