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

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!!!

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!

Learned Helplessness

Reading social media today I came across an article on Learned Helplessness.  You need to google it to get a full understanding however it really struck me how this might happen to our teams.

The article I read was about horses and how they often begin to ignore pain and other stressors simply because they can’t get away.

As leaders we often want our teams to work a certain way.  We want to push them into a behavior that makes sense to us, the leader!  We either can’t or don’t want to deal with behavior that seems outside of our norm.

We punish, belittle, even use sarcasm to get behavior we want.  By doing this we often make our team become numb to their own pain.  Now there are behaviors that do not go well when working with a team, however by using punishment we often get to our results faster and with little work on our part!

Take the horse for example, Duke doesn’t like pressure.  (Pressure for horses means bad things and they react to that pressure). Horses also don’t like things they can’t process.  Noises, shifts in their vision all cause them to spook.  It is our job to get the horse to trust us to keep them safe.  We do this by exposing them to these pressures and noises and by showing them that we are keeping them safe.  We want them to trust us!  However, some people use other methods to train their horses.  They punish them, they leave them tied tightly to force the spook out of them. Horses who are trained this way learn they can’t escape and eventually become really good horses on the outside but they are no longer horses on the inside!

As leaders are we doing this to our teams? Are we tying them down to simply get behavior we want instead of teaching them to trust us.  Teaching our team to trust us means we have to make difficult decisions, we have to stand up to our leadership for our teams.  We then often have to go back to our teams and tell them we failed.  We have to show that we aren’t perfect and that is a hard thing to do!

Think about this as you lead your teams, what if you were honest with them!  What if you told them the truth that you spoke up at the last meeting but you were turned down. Or that you feel that the decision is a good one for the organization and that you support it even if it means something bad for the team?

When someone on your team works in a way that is different or in a way that maybe needs improvement, try understanding why they work that way and getting them to trust you that your way might be better?

Being a good leader isn’t about forcing people into a mold it’s about getting them to trust you and know that you have their best interest at heart!!

Good Leaders…..

Lead!  They lead, but not only do they lead they DO! When you think about some of the best leaders you have seen in your life and in history they all have 1 thing in common, they DO! They don’t just talk, they DO!  They lead by example!

This doesn’t mean they solve your problems, it doesn’t mean they jump in and make the issue go away it means they HELP!

When I started in my current industry my boss was notorious for asking did you look it up?  Did you try to recreate it?  It furstrated me to no end because more often than not I had NOT done those things!  I wanted him to solve the problem for me, because I knew he had the answer!  The problem was he wanted ME to find the answer not just have it handed to me!!

As a leader I have learned that this frustrates most of us, we want to have our problems solved quickly and easily and often without work on our part, however this isn’t always the best for our team!  Yes as the leader you have the answer, no that doesn’t mean you should solve all the problems!!

Ask questions, ask what problem solving techniques your team has used and acknowledge that you sense their frustration and that you will help them get to the right answer!  Now if you have a screaming mad client you may have to jump in and solve the problem, because that could get ugly quickly! Most of the time though we don’t have a screaming client, we have a frustrated team member.

Today instead of simply solving the problem, ask questions see if your team has tried to solve the problem and offer ideas on where they might find the answers!

Then take your team out for drinks because you are ALL going to need it after!!

ICNU Challenge

HI Everyone,

As we go into Thanksgiving and start to think about the things we are thankful for I want to challenge you to find things to be thankful for in your team!

We all have that 1 employee or co-worker who annoys us greatly!  And I say that in all honesty!  If we are honest with ourselves there is always someone who is different, thinks differently or comes at the job different and it frustrates us!

At one of my recent jobs I had someone on my team who worked 8 hours a day.  That’s it, no more no less!  I work in an industry where we are always very busy!!  You just have alot to do and you just keep going until it’s done.  It wasn’t until I learned how to motivate my employee and learned to understand how his life worked that I learned how to work with him in a way that was beneficial to all of us.

I had another team member who worked really well on the tough tasks but ask him to do something mundane and he struggled.  I learned that if I made sure he had a good combination of hard and normal.

Seeing and understanding what motivates the team and how what they do benefits the team and the organization will help you work with them!

Your challenge this week is to write down the 3 employees that frustrate you the most and then write down 3 things that make them a good employee.  What gifts do they bring to the organization and how can you use those to better your team!