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Be Consistent

The 1 main rule in horse training is to be consistent.  Horses are notorious for give an inch take a mile!  If you let them get away with it once they are going to do it again and again until you teach them where the boundaries are!

Leadership is very much the same.  You must provide consistent boundaries for your teams and offer praise for the consistent items.  This doesn’t mean you praise and reward each person on your team equally however it does mean that if you hold someone accountable for being on time but let someone else be late every day your team is going to notice.

For example, if your company does not allow consistent working from home but you allow 1 employee to work from home every week simply because you like them, this is going to cause issues with your team.  If that person is working from home because they have a child who is chronically ill make sure your team knows that this is a special circumstance.

Being consistent with the rules allows everyone to know what the boundaries on and how to live within them.  If your team expresses concern over a rule it’s your job to take that to leadership and fight for your team.

Today, take a look at the rules you have with your team, are they consistent across the team?  Do you favor someone simply because you like them better?  It’s OK to have team members that you relate better with, it’s NOT OK to treat them differently.

Happy Leading!!

What’s it Worth??

I read an article today about the cost of boarding horses.  We pay $625 a month plus the cost of training for Lil Duke (yes that is officially his name – Don’t ask).  The article indicated that just an average barn the cost is about $500 per horse per month!  This doesn’t include things like maintenance, etc.

This article got me thinking about the true cost of leadership and if we are willing to put in the time to make the most of it!  When we decided to buy a horse, we did so without a real understanding of the cost, I think alot of us get into leadership without fulling understanding the cost.

Of course the cost isn’t so much monetary but time and energy.  We think wow, I just promoted I am going to be a great leader without really knowing what that means! We can prepare ourselves by finding mentors, reading books and looking at examples around us!  However, we can’t expect that this is going to come naturally, even for those we are natural leaders.

When we first got Duke, I thought we’ll get on him and ride him and life will be great.  Then we figured out that he is afraid of his own tail and he couldn’t understand why he would need to do simple things like stop.  As leaders we think this is all going to be so easy. We are going to go to work on day 1 and be this amazing leader!  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but probably not going to happen.

You are going to have days where you feel like you are the best there is, and then you will have days where you are sure your mouth and your brain are seriously disconnected!  The way to get better is to seek mentorship – don’t expect it to come to you!  And ask for feedback from your team and those around you!

Think about how you handle situations and see if you could of done it better and or changed it!  Then don’t get frustrated when you do 2 steps forward and 1 back!  There will be days where you get on the horse and the ride is amazing and there will be days where you get on and end up on the ground!

Don’t under estimate what you can do!  However, don’t over estimate it either!  Then start learning and never stop!

Vision Casting

Most of us middle to low level managers feel that vision casting is something that those higher on the food chain should be managing.  We don’t feel like we have a vision to cast and we couldn’t be more wrong!

Often those of us in this role actually get the vision being cast from our upper level managers AND we understand how it impacts our teams. It is our job to make sure our teams get it.  Most of the time our teams don’t understand how what they do has any effect on the bottom line of the organization. They may feel that their contributions can’t have any real impact, however they have a huge impact on the bottom line!

Yesterday at volleyball a parent came up to me to say how thankful she was that I was coaching.  My energy really impacted her daughter and she wanted to say thank you for what I was doing.  I am an assistant on a 5th/6th team.  I am not a coach, I am not directly impacting the program but my leadership is making a difference on that 1 child whose parent will share that impact with other parents.  My actions impact the bottom line.

It is our job as leaders to make sure our teams know how their actions impact everyone.  It doesn’t matter if their job is to bring the team lunch or interact with the customers directly what they do matters and as leaders it is our job to make sure they know that!

You maybe wondering how bringing the team lunch impacts the client, well anyone whose seen an angry, hungry co-worker knows that feeding them helps!  However what if you thought of it this way, the lunch that you are providing to that team allows them to spend more time working out a serious customer facing issue.  Because they had lunch together they were able to solve a problem that is costing the company money. The lunch you brought solved that problem!

Leaders, we need to be able to cast that vision for our team and continue to cast it.  There is an old saying that vision leaks. It’s like carrying our a heavy bucket of water.  Every step we take some water falls out.  If we won’t refill the bucket eventually it’s going to be empty.  When our teams run out of vision they may start to lack focus and wonder why do they have to bring people lunch!

Sometimes others bump the bucket and cause water to fall out.  People say things in the heat of the moment that causes the water to spill out. It is our job to refill that bucket!  Reminding our team that what they are doing not only matters but has a positive impact on the organizations bottom line ensures that they see the importance in their jobs!

Today, think about the impact your team as on the organization! You may have to be creative in thinking about it.  Write down 3 or 4 ways what your team does makes the organization better and then share those ways with your team!

The Easy Button

Don’t you just wish that everything is solved in 60 minutes? I am sitting here binge watching Netflix and everything is solved in 60 minutes. Got a murder, Solved; missing child? Found! Strange disease, found out AND cured!

Unfortunetly life doesn’t work this way, it often takes alot more time than 60 minutes to solve our issues.  In leadership this couldn’t be any more true!  We want our issues to go away at the end of the day, be solved like on TV. But I am pretty sure this doesn’t happen!

I can however give you 1 tip that might actually help you solve some leadership lessons! Here it is!  LISTEN. No seriously listen, don’t listen to solve listen to hear.  Listen to your team mate, boss or team member.  Hear what they are saying, and then ask questions and then guess what LISTEN again!  AND if you can’t listen in that moment be honest.  Tell them, you are worried about something or have something on your mind and you can’t give them the attention needed. THEN schedule something right then!  It can be for later in the day, or the next but put it on the calendar and then be prepared when the meeting occurs.

Listen to what is being said, ask yourself how is the person feeling, what are they telling me. Don’t try to solve the problem just listen!! When they are done ask how you can help, don’t offer advice just ask how you can help. Be honest about what you can and can’t do.  Do they want a raise? Can you do that? Do you have to talk to someone else?  BE HONEST!

When the meeting is over recap and lay out concrete next steps.  The steps don’t have to be a resolution but they will show that you are listening.

This upcoming week, listen really listen to what your team is saying!  Then ask how you can help them!! Ask what they need to be successful and then try to accomplish what you can!  It doesn’t have to be a big thing but you’ll be surprised by the outcome simply by offering to listen

Trust the process

I am the last person who can really handle that phrase! Trust the process?  Screw that I am trusting myself!  However in my many years on this planet I have learned to do exactly that, trust the process!  For me as a Christ follower this often means trusting in God and that HE has the plan.

As leaders, we often want to skip steps to get to the end, we forget that trusting the process is probably what got us there in the first place! I had my first ‘official’ riding lesson with Duke yesterday.  He did great, me, not so much!  Learning to ride is alot like learning to read braille after you lost your sight or picking up a new language.  The process is slow and methodical and sometimes boring.

Yesterday I walked, then I stopped, literally every 5 steps she had me walk and then stop! Why well because if I can’t stop this amazing 700lb animal (he’s little for a horse) then I am in big trouble! Oh and he’s afraid of everything!  Our trainer says he’s reactive!  Yea to the planet! (but that’s another story)

So after walking and then stopping, and walking and then stopping and then walking and then stopping ( you get the idea) she had me trot.  This is like a slow job on a horse, and then what did I have to do, well stop.  And guess what he did stop!  Why because we learned to walk first and then stop!

You see as leaders we want to skip steps to get to the end, but we can’t we have to trust the process.  We have to learn to walk and then stop!  We can’t rush things because when we do we get hurt or our careers get stalled or our team fails!  When I rush the process in riding, I get hurt (very very very hurt lol)

If you are struggling find someone you trust to talk it through with!  Sometimes having a fresh perspective can help, however you have to find someone who will tell you the truth not what you want to hear.  In this case your best friend or spouse is probably NOT the best option.  They are going to tell you what you want to hear, and that’s OK! But you need someone who is going to be honest and tell you, you need more time before you ride the bigger 1200lb horse!

Today your challenge is to trust the process.  Trust that things are going in the right direction and if you aren’t sure find someone to talk it over with!  There might be things you can be doing or (here’s a novel thought) you might have to be patient! (Of which I am not!) Good luck! And remember walk, then stop, walk then stop, walk then stop!

Your Single Job

You single most important job as a leader is to motivate.  Everyone is going to have crappy, horrible, brow beaten days.  Where you want to give up, walk away and never come back.  As a leader it is YOUR job to help your team get past this, it is YOUR job to motivate them, to show your team value.

This motivation is going to come in different forms but it will NEVER be negative, it will NEVER be disparaging. It may come from buying lunch, offering encouragement, even sending a funny animal video.  There will be days where your team wants to give up, heck there will be days where YOU want to give up.  You will wonder why you are here, how did you get to this point, and how do you get out!

This is the point where your team needs you the most, listen to them, ask questions and then do what they need!  And this may not be what you think!  However if you listen close enough you will hear what they need!  This is what being a leader means!

On the day when you as the leader want to quit the most, when you feel at your lowest possible point, THIS is where your team needs you the most.  This is when they are going to look to you to see how you react!  How you lead in this single moment will show so much of you as a leader! HOWEVER 1 moment will not define you, if you screw it up,  heck WHEN you screw it up, apologize and pick back up!

Be a leader!! Lead your team!

Humble

Not everyone understands the importance of being humble.  Being humble doesn’t mean being weak or submissive it means understanding that you are part of something bigger.  Dictionary.com says “having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance”

I was recently talking with my husband about this, and why some people are hired more quickly than others and we both agreed that being humble is probably the key.  Think about this, you are good at your job you understand what you bring to the team however you go into an interview thinking that the company needs you and that you are better than anyone else out there.

You are probably very good at your job and I am sure you bring ALOT to the company however the company is thinking this person isn’t going to fit with their culture.  The minute you come across as the person the company can’t live without they are going to shut down.  They want to hear how you fit, how you are going to enhance the team and how the team is going to enhance you!

Being humble doesn’t mean you are weak or less than someone else, it means being able to understand that you are part of a bigger picture and you fit!

Being a leader often means we humble our selves to serve our teams.  We must know that we don’t know it all, that sometimes our team as a whole knows more than we do and being a great leader means going the extra step to draw that out.

Think about this, the next time a team member comes to you with a problem, you can probably solve it, in fact I am 100% sure you can! However, what would it look like if you said, wow that’s a great question, let’s see if ‘Joe’ can assist?  Joe now feels like he has something valuable to add and the person asking the question feels like they are part of a bigger team.

Being humble can not only make you a great leader it can also land you the best job as well!  The next time think about not only how you can make the team great, but how the team can make you great!