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When you Suck as a leader…

I am reading a book called “The Energy Bus” (website if you want more details http://www.theenergybus.com/) And this book is amazing!  It really has some great insight into being a great leader and how to use your positive Energy to push yourself and others forward.

The book is written around a ficitional character who is a leader in a company that is releasing a new product.  One of the things this character struggles with is getting his team on board with this new idea.  He meets 1×1 with his team and they all pretty much tell him that he is a terrible leader!  One of his people goes on to say that why should he work for him when he never get’s noticed or thanked!

This got me thinking about those times when we just suck as leaders!  Now I  know that ‘Suck’ is a bit of a strong word but frankly it’s true! We all have times where we just aren’t at our best and those times can go on for days, weeks even years unless someone tells us!

We think we are doing so great and being an amazing leader, but our teams are simply floundering because they aren’t seeing the same greatness we are perceiving!

I started wondering about how many times my team would look at me and think, you suck as a leader!  I know I’ve thought it over the years and even said the words out loud to my spouse!  Here’s where good leaders succeed, instead of sitting around thinking we are terrible or wondering how do we get better we look inside and think about what can we change?

What areas do we need to improve and what resources are available to us!  This blog is a good one (if I do say so myself) But good books like the Energy Bus are also great tools.  Now just for the record, I don’t get anything for suggesting this book! I really think it’s a great book!

So here’s a thought for this week… how about you think about ways you Suck as a leader! Seriously think about this for 30 seconds (That’s all you get) Then start to think about the ways you are an amazing leader. Do that for 2 minutes!  Then go around and tell your team what you appreciate about them. If they are remote send an email!  Don’t offer a ton of information just affirm them AND BE SPECIFIC!

Here are some examples, I really love the way you handled that difficult client last week, or thank you so much for taking on that new project, I know you are busy but this really helps the team. Or I really appreciate your positive energy during our meetings, this really helps me!

Now go and Don’t suck as leaders!  And when you start to think about why you aren’t doing so great! GO GET THE ENERGY BUS BOOK!!!

Fact Checking

On one of the Facebook pages I follow someone posted about 52 Thoroughbred horses that needed rescuing from imminent death.  Of course the original post was from 2011 but hey whose checking.  How often have you been surfing social media and saw someone post something that you know for a fact is either old or false.

I cringe every time I see something like this because the extra 30 seconds it takes to fact check could really make a difference.  As leaders we often do the same thing.  We go off on something that hasn’t been fully fact checked!

As a leader I keep track of things, not because I want to keep track of someone’s faults or mistakes but to show that what seems like a constant issue is really very intermint.  We need to be very diligent in our reporting, and make sure that we double and triple check our facts.  We have the potential to really hurt the people we work with and lead if we aren’t careful.

Many years ago as a young church leader I had a husband and wife team that were struggling.  They were doing an OK job leading but weren’t really getting the vision behind the ministry.  Instead of working with them, I listened to a single source and asked them to step down.  They ended up leaving the church all together because of my words.

You see if I had fact checked and looked I may have seem something different. I may have also come to the same conclusion however I would of approach it differently and maybe found another place for them to serve.

As leaders it is critical that we fact check constantly and not react based on our gut.  AND when we do react (which we all will) we have to step back and apologize and then go back and fact check again.

As you move into 2019 think about what makes you react and then how can you fact check just a bit more, because remember no one is going to save those 52 horses!!!

Happy New Year!!

I am not a big person to do resolutions, I mean if you can’t make changes during the year why do you think you can make them on Jan 1.  As leaders I think we often feel this same way.  I’ve been doing this the same way for 10 years, 20 years or even only 2 and why should I change now?

Well to be honest, let’s see just because you do something the same way for years, doesn’t make that way right! Amazing Idea I KNOW!! Sarcasm aside, we all need to take a minute and review how we do things.  Do we belittle, or jump in and take over instead of letting a team member struggle? Do we feel that we always have the answers and if we don’t we are going to be looked upon as less?

This new year, I want you to think about 1 or 2 things that you’ve always done and challenge yourself. BE HONEST!  Is this activity really best for you and the team?  Should you change that activity or behavior?  Is there something that you could do differently that might make your team better?

For me, I want to be in control of everything!  (Hence the falling off the horse a few days ago).  If I am not in control then I get mad, like it’s your fault that I am not in control!  So this year, I am going to work on letting that control go.  Knowing that we all have our faults and just because something happens doesn’t mean A: that it was somehow something I could of controlled and B: identifying when it was my mistake and how can I correct it.

What are the things that you need to look closer at.  Be honest, it’s only yourself you are talking to.  Then think about how you can change that. I will be stopping and counting to 10 on some things… then thinking how can I answer this better, manage this better or understand that this simply has nothing to do with me!

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope 2019 is amazing!!!

Humility

There are so many great sayings about humility, this one by C.S. Lewis “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less”

However nothing teaches more about humility then horses. You see horses are 1000lb animals that can be completely sane one minute and a bunking bronco the next.  I learned this lesson the hard way yesterday when my bucked me off because ….. well if we figure out why I’d be a millionaire.

Humility in leaders is a tough thing.  You see, we are leaders because of our confidence. We often just KNOW what is the right thing to do and trying to explain that to others is difficult.  Horseback riding has taught me that there is nothing more humbling than riding.

When I fell yesterday, (after my trainer asked if she should call 911) helped me up.  Then another owner in the barn said “nothing teaches more about humility than riding”.

As leaders we must practice humility we must learn that we don’t always have the answers and that sometimes life teaches us that the hard way.  Showing humility does not make us weak, it actually makes us strong.  Of course in the moment, that is a really hard lesson to learn.

As I sat on the ground yesterday I could feel the tears welling up not because I was hurt but because I was embarrassed.  You see I haven’t been riding that long and this is something that only happens to newbies.  I don’t want to be a newbie, I want to be an experienced rider. However, falling happens to EVERYONE!  My trainer who has been riding since before she could walk fell off a horse in May!

This week practice humility think about how you can learn from those around you, and while you might have all the answers sometimes you have take a step back and realize that maybe you aren’t always right!  (Even if you know you are!!)

Then when life teaches you humility you have to get back on!  For me that will mean going to the barn today and literally getting on the horse.  I may not go very far or even walk at all! However I am going to go and see my horse and learn that humility makes me a better person!!

Letting them Fail

I am Grey’s Anatomy Junkie! I mean literally I have watched every episode at least 4x.  One episode in general is one of my favorites, not because it is particularly jarring, or has alot of stuff happen but because it’s the one where the Senior Docs make the Residents perform the surgeries on their own and in doing so a few of them fail!

I am a bit fan of letting our kids fail, and not rescuing them, however as leaders we don’t let our teams fail!  We jump in and save them, and sometimes this is a good thing but when it becomes their go to and they aren’t figuring it our for themselves or using their resources then we are doing everyone a disservice.

In one scene the doctors are doing an appendectomy and the doc forgets how to perform this very simple procedure.  The nurse offers advice on what to do next.  By allowing our team to work together and get information from each other we are making sure that they are best team ever.

This week (and after) take a moment when you get a question and see if the person can get that information on their own.  Is there someone else on the team who can help.  I will warn you this is going to frustrate some of your team members, it’s OK!  Let them feel the pain because then there maybe growth!!

Catching the Vision

As I listen to my companies Town Hall Meeting I am wondering as lower level managers how do we see that our team is excited about the information provided.  I find find myself asking the question, is my team excited about the numbers provided?

When your company sees an increase in revenue how do you relate that to your team? Do they care that the company is making money?  Should they be?  I mean the honest answer is DUH! Of course they should be but it can be hard for them to understand how all of this information effects them!

As leaders it is our job to see that our team understands how what they do is impacting this!  For example if you are in customer service it’s easy to relate what you do to the bottom line.  You make the customers happy they come back and spend more money.  However, how does your admin staff or even the support staff relate this to what they do?

It’s your job as the leader to make sure they know what they do directly impacts this bottom line!! For example, your admin person orders lunch for the project management team.  This means that they don’t have to go out and they are happy because they got a free lunch.  This translates to them providing excellent service to the customer, which translates to better customer service.

As leaders it’s also important to understand the numbers ourselves. Do you know what the revenue is for your company? Do you know how this effects your organization?  This is where knowing your team becomes very important.  I am not personally driven by bottom line numbers, however there was a person on my team who was.  He wanted to know what these numbers meant.  That meant that I had to know the numbers and could explain them.

Don’t underestimate what might motivate your team, and make sure they see how their job is critical to the organization.  I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again EVERYONE on the team is important.  From the person who answers the phone to the CEO and as leaders it is our job to make sure everybody knows that!

The Release is what teaches

I follow this great group called Tuskey Dressage on facebook.  They are an amazing barn out of Wisconsin.  They posted a saying “it’s the release that teaches”.  When you are training a horse it’s all about pressure and release.  Pressure is a way to teach horses to react to something.  For example, you look at the horses flank to put pressure on to make them turn toward you.  Release the pressure the minute they look at you is the way to teach them to react to your pressure.

Leadership is very similar, we can apply pressure in such a way that either drives certain behaviors or remove others.  For example if you have an employee who is continually late you may wait at their desk for them to arrive.  You are applying pressure in  way that shows you are unhappy with this behavior.  When the employee arrives on time you won’t be there.

Press and release can teach all of us how to be better leaders, and we should not be afraid of the pressure.

For example I am teaching my horse to walk with me and share our energy.  We do this by walking side by side with a training whip.  When I stop he should stop in a specific place, if he doesn’t I apply pressure to his chest to back up.  When he stops where I want he gets loved.  You see walking this way is unnatural for horses so I am teaching him to trust me.  This is tough for him and he often tries to bite me while I do this.  Last week he tried to rear simply because there was too much pressure.

In the same way our teams may react negatively to the pressure, our job as leaders is to not react to their reaction.  We often want to get angry or upset.  Take a step back, my horse isn’t rearing because he’s mad at me, he’s doing this because he’s feeling the pressure.

This week, think about the pressure you can apply to change behaviors and don’t take it personally if your team reacts to that pressure!!