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Goals

My husband and I recently bought (leased) a new car.  And we had the opportunity to buy the car from my son.  While it was amazing that we got to watch him work, what really struck me was his ability to set goals.

He showed me his calendar where he had written down what days he would buy a car and showed that on those days he did indeed sell a car.

This got me to thinking as leaders do we set goals for ourselves?  I know sometimes I don’t set goals because I am afraid i won’t hit them, but so what! So what if i don’t hit my goal, WHAT IF I DO?

As leaders we are always leading those around us but do we take a moment and set goals for ourselves?  Goals can be big or small, but if we set small goals then we aren’t challenging ourselves we aren’t really pushing our selves to be better!

This week I am going to set some goals for myself, some big some small. I am going to write them down and I am going to set dates for those goals.  I challenge you to do the same! Set some goals for yourself and see what happens in your life!!

In over your head….

When we bought our horse last summer we had ZERO idea what we were doing.  For the seasoned horse people out there (I know deep sigh).  We got super lucky in landing at the barn we are at and finding a community of people who are helping us navigate the world of owning a 5yo Gelding.

As leaders we will find ourselves in similar situations where we hire someone or take someone from another team either not realizing just how poorly managed that person was or we think that it doesn’t matter WE must be better than the others in managing that person.

In the horse world you have a few options when you are in over your head, you can sell your horse (or give it back where you got it from), you can simply give up and ignore the issue OR you can find someone who can help.  We got very lucky in that our barn owner/trainer is that amazing horse trainer who get’s it and is there to guide us on this journey or we’d have one very unhappy rider and 2 very scared parents!

As leaders we can’t simply give an employee back, we can put them on a performance plan, but let’s be realistic those are simply paths to firing.  Or we can ignore the bad behavior, however this puts our team at serious risk when other employees find themselves having to take over for this one employee.

We do have a 3rd option and that is simply to admit we are in over our heads!  Find a trusted mentor and ask how they might solve the issue.  Ask for their input on what changes can be made to allow this person to be successful.  Of course there are times when we only have the option of a plan or letting someone go and those aren’t necessarily terrible ideas. However, what if I challenged your thinking into seeing that there might be another option.

First you need to admit you are in over your head.  This can be the hardest step but your success AND that of your team are at stake!  Next find someone you trust and tell them you are in over your head, let them know what you’ve done, what you are seeing and ask how they can help or what they see….

Finally LISTEN! Don’t immediately brush aside their advice. Ask questions, ask how this has solved issues in the past.  Get details on who to implement their ideas and ask if you can continue to meet to discuss the progress.

This process means you have to humble yourself and admit that you need help which isn’t easy but I can promise you that YOU will be a better leader because of it.  You may not be able to save the employee but you will save your team and YOUR team is going to respect you because you stood up to the problem and found help to solve it!

Keep learning my friends

Investing in the next generation

I had the most pleasurable experience (insert sarcasm here) of buying a car this weekend.  This process as most of us know is NOT fun, it is long and tiring and frankly why can’t this process be better?  However, I did get to buy the car from my son, which was an amazing experience!

My son is 19 going on 20 and has found a passion selling cars.  This child has strong leadership gifts. He often is the one taking charge and leading others.  However, as we all know simply having leadership gifts does not make us leaders!  We need to invest in our up and coming leaders and help them to grow!

Saturday I got to meet the people who are doing just that!  (Shameless plug coming up!!) The team at Fair Oaks Ford in Naperville has seen potential in this 19yo kid and are investing in him!  From the GM to the Finance guy, they all made a point to talk to us about our son.  I got the chance to meet his manager and I like him!  He isn’t going to go easy on my kid and he even said that he will get on him at times!  However, the way he does it shows that he understands the potential and is willing to put in the effort.

Now, if my amazing, wonderful child screws up well he’s going to have to deal with the consequenes and this isn’t an easy path, however if he’s willing to stick with it he could have an amazing career!

This whole experience made me start thinking about how are we investing in that next generation.  For many of us, we are Generation X we graduated in the 80’s and 90’s we didn’t grow up with cell phones and technology.  We are now leading a generation that doesn’t know rotary dial phones or manually changing a channel on the TV!  However we want to lead them like they did!

We simply cannot lead this way, we have to figure out how to connect with this generation and we have to invest in them!  They are the next generation of leadership and it is our job to raise them up! We have to learn to speak their language via social media, text messaging and others.

This week think about how you are leading up the next generation.  Talk with your team of leaders and talk about how you as a team can lead this next generation!

And for all of you here is a picture taken 2 years ago of my son coaching!  For you who are parents, encourage your kids to take those leadership opportunities on!!

joncoaching

Embrace the Quirky

It is not a secret among horse owners that the painted ones are well quirky.  You see they are bred for color while others are bred for speed and to work.  The paints or Pinto’s are bred to be pretty and they are! They are also a bit odd!

As leaders we all have that one person on our team who is a little different and we often get frustrated with them because they don’t fit into our mold.  I had someone on my team once who would not work past 5.  He felt that this was not part of his job, I work in an industry where this is kind of expected.  I had another person who really only excelled in jobs that were very complex.  At first I struggled to led these 2, because well they were quirky!

I learned that I had to motivate them, I had to work with their own specific ideas and once I was able to do that I had 2 great employees! Just like with my horse (who is also a paint) I have to learn what makes him tick.  You see if Keno is trying to bite me when I first take him into the arena I should not ride him that day.  He’s going to be a brat (I wouldn’t ever call a person that but my horse has that down to a science)!  What I do know is that on these days we do alot of ground work and I read his body language.  He might just be telling me that I need to leave him alone to do his own thing.

As leaders we can’t always leave our employees alone, however we can learn that in some situations letting them do their own thing can be the best for everyone!  It’s alot like learning what battles you are willing to take on.  Some days you are going to have to ask the person to stay late or work on something that simply isn’t that fun! However if you spend every day challenging this person, even when it isn’t needed you are going to frustrate both of you and you are going to end up with an employee who resents you!

Learning what works and what doesn’t is going to make you both successful.

This week, figure out what quirks each of your employees have (We all have them) and figure out who you can take those quirks and make them successful WITH them!  Just like I’ll be listening to Keno and if he’s nippy then we’ll be working on our love for corners (Read hate) and maybe just letting him run around with his buddy!

Happy Quirky Leading everyone!

Putting People in Boxes

We all do this, we take a look at someone and immediately they are placed in a box in our head.  Smart, funny, boring, know it all, etc we do this often without thinking.  We want people to fit into a mold we have in our head of what people should be like.

As leaders doing this allows us to quickly manage our teams.  Joe, he’s a go getter and I can go to him with any complex task.  Mary whines alot, so I am going to avoid giving her anything that requires too much work because she’ll just complain about it.

What if we challenged this way of thinking!  Instead of seeing Mary as whiny, let’s think about her as maybe someone who is a perfectionist and doing something complicated may cause her anxiety.  She feels that if the project isn’t perfect she’s failed so she complains instead? Or Joe while he is always out for the new project, he doesn’t really seem to like the day to day stuff because he get’s bored with it quicker.

Understanding why our team reacts the way they do when presented with certain ideas helps us understand those boxes they are in.  AND can often help us allow them to step outside of the box.

When we put people in a box and then walk away from them we are doing not only them but ourselves a huge dis-service!  Instead of challenging Mary we are allowing her to not experience anything new!  We could ask her, why she seems nervous about taking on that new or difficult project, you both may be surprised about her answer.  Her whining may not be something she is even aware of and by simply talking it out and understanding what she is dealing with will help you as the leader find a sweet spot for her to be!

As leaders we want to avoid putting people in boxes!  If we think about people physically being in a box we can start to understand how this might be bad for the person.

smiling-girl-sitting-cardboard-box-260nw-81821005

Instead of putting them in a box why don’t we start to understand their behaviors and responses and when we find ourselves putting someone in a box, mentally picture them in that box.  See them there, and know that they are worth so much more!!

Own your Story!

Inspiration for me comes in so many ways.  My horse, life, books I am reading and today the TV show New Amsterdam.  (if you haven’t watched it I highly recommend it).  In last night’s episode a doctor had a reporter bring up something that happened to him over 10 years ago and his girlfriend/attorney told him to “Own His Story”.

Many years ago, I led in a program in our church called Celebrate the Journey or C the J for short.  It was a group of people in recovery, people needing help on their way and others. I led a group for Blended Families.  Part of the group was a short worship and teaching time.  Often someone would get up and tell their story. I told my story several times during these sessions.

You see owning our story means not only celebrating the good but also acknowledging the bad. Our stories are what make us who we are!  However, often we want to skip over the bad parts, ignore them like they simply didn’t happen.

Except they did!  Those parts, the good and the bad make us who we are today.  They shape us into the leaders we have become.  All good leaders have times in their lives that they liked to forget, times where they didn’t live up to their leadership potential.

What would happen if you told your story to your team?  I don’t mean share you dirty laundry, but I do mean share those times when your leadership faltered.  When you made a decision for yourself instead of your team.  Sharing these stories with your team helps them see you as a human and as someone they can relate to.

Today think about something in your leadership past that you aren’t proud of and share that with your team. If you aren’t comfortable with that share it with someone you trust on the team.  Getting comfortable with your story is the first step!

Once you are comfortable then share it with your team! You won’t regret it!

Confidence

keno

This guy tossed me about 3 weeks ago.  Like on the ground after he decided that something somewhere was scary.  He also tossed his owner 3 days later. (I shareboard him from a college student).

I have been working to get back on and ride again.  I didn’t ride for about a week after mainly because I was so sore.  I did get back on as soon as I could and I have been trotting him a little again, however it’s scary as hell!

You see horses can sense your energy.  If you are tense they are tense, if you are relaxed they are relaxed. I have to verbally remind myself to relax when I am with him.

As leaders I think our team also feeds off of our energy. If we are upset or tense our team is going to be upset and tense as well.  We might not even notice the changes in them or ourselves. So how we do adjust? How do we calm ourselves down to keep our team moving forward?

It starts with knowing yourself and acknowledging your feelings.  Simply saying that you are having an off day helps!  Next find the good!!  Yea your boss might be on a tirade, your clients having fits over the fact that it is simply 9am and your best employee might have decided that this is the day they have a mental breakdown; BUT (stay with me here) you have a team, you have a job and YOU HAVE A PURPOSE!

I follow a barn in Wisconsin called Tuskey Dressage this is their verse for the month “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Submitting isn’t about being submissive to God it’s about trusting Him that He has a plan!  You see God, no matter what God you believe in has your best interest at heart and you have been given a great gift!

There are days where that gift may seem like it’s out to get you (IE Being tossed from your horse) but that is never the case.  No matter what is going on, there is good in it!

On days when you are struggling with the client who thinks that a 2 day process should take 10 minutes, be thankful that you have a job, the client and the team. Let your team know that it’s ok to be frustrated however you must find the positive in it as well!

Happy hunting and remember falling off hurts getting back on hurts more! (at least it does if you seriously bruised your back!!)