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!

Potential from the Inside Out

gabi

This photo is my Sister in law.  She isn’t pretty by the worlds standards, however she has the biggest heart for those hurting in this world.

How many times as leaders have we made a snap judgement because someone looks different.  Maybe they are overweight or their teeth aren’t prefect… and we look at them and think they can’t do this job how can they lead?

What if instead of looking at what was on the outside we took a moment and reviewed the inside?  How would this look at our jobs and in our day to day lives?

As leaders we often have to make quick decisions, our teams expect us to know what’s going on and how we are to accomplish our goals, however these decisions don’t have to be made based on what we see on the outside.  We can take a moment and talk to our teams, find out what motivates them, what their goals are.

I love this quote from Brennan Manning
“To affirm a person is to see the good in them that they cannot see in themselves and to repeat it in spite of appearances to the contrary. Please, this is not some Pollyanna optimism that is blind to the reality of evil, but rather like a fine radar system that is tuned in to the true, the good, and the beautiful.” – Brennan Manning

As leaders our main job is to raise up those around us, sure it’s important to make the company money and reach goals, however we can’t do any of those things if we don’t have a good team and that doesn’t mean pretty! It means people who have the potential to lead and get the job done!

This week when you go into work, I challenge you to look at the people around you, the ones you don’t always see and think about what good they bring to your organization.  For example the person who cleans your office,  they may seem unimportant, but think about it your office was always dirty and you couldn’t sit down?  You couldn’t do your job!  Or the person who makes the coffee, I can’t imagine any of us think that person isn’t important!

Next get to know these folks ask they how they are, what are they doing?  Maybe she’s a student working towards a degree, or a single dad who works at night to be with his kids during the day.  Our next post will take this a step further! But for now… see the people, not what they look like but who they are!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be a Beginner!

beginner tuskey dressage

(Photo cred to Tuskey Dressage)

Why is it we always want to jump to the end of everything!  We don’t allow ourselves OR our teams to learn.  This is something that has been causing quite a bit of conversation in our family lately.  We are meeting with alot of young people who are struggling because they don’t know what they want to be an so many companies are requiring them to be an expert before they start!

Most of us who are in our 40’s and older started at companies and were taught the skills we needed to do the jobs.  We didn’t ‘know’ everything when we started, fewer and fewer organizations are allowing people to grow into jobs.  This can be both good and bad as it often means that you are missing out on someone who might be really good at the job if you gave them a few months to learn!

As leaders we often follow this mentality as well with our teams, we expect people to be instantly good leaders and forget that we didn’t start off knowing what we know.  We had to learn and grow into our positions!

What IF (stay with me here), what if we found someone who seemed to have some skills and we invested in them?  Taught them how to be a good leader, how to lead a team, how to handle conflicts?  Taught them the skills they needed to be good leaders and then allowed them to expand their leadership skills in small but impact-full ways? Mentoring another member of the team or leading a small project?  Not only could we guide but they would have the chance to learn!

Today your exercise is to find someone on your team who you think might make a good leader.  Setup a meeting with them and then help them find small ways they can lead within your organization.  Allow them to fail, allow them to succeed and guide them along the way!  I promise you, you won’t be disappointed!

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!

Remain Calm and Chive On

I have no idea what this saying means!  I mean Chive ON?  What is that? According to Amy DIY (http://www.fmgwebsites.com/aleblanc/blog/what-is-the-chive-what-is-kcco) this saying originated in WWII and essentially means hang loose or be cool.  It has recently gained popularity again.

For me being calm is not something I am good at!  I spent a few years as an EMT/Paramedic and calm was not something I exceled at.  I am a type A person.  I go at a 100 miles an hour ALL THE TIME! When I am not moving that fast I am freaking out!  Literally, this is not a good place to be ever!

I have recently started working with horses, well 1 in particular.  He has a great personality, unlike the one I own.. Well today I experienced the whole keep calm thing.  Duke (the horse I own) got totally freaked out because we dropped something.  (Yea we know he has some issues) however what I learned today is keeping calm is the most important when working when horses.

Being a leader also means keeping calm.  Not losing your head when things are spiraling out of control is not an easy task for anyone.  For some people it’s so much easier than others. As a leader we MUST remain calm at the face of everything because our team is looking to us to set the tone.

Just like with the horses today if we’d lost our cool they would of freaked out even more than they did.  Now think about this a 1200lb animal running scared. This is NOT good!  Well neither is have 10 people on your team running scared!

As a leader it’s OK to not know it all, its even OK to get upset from time to time. It’s going to be how you recover.  Today when Duke decided that the whip that fell was TOTALLY going to kill him ( I am not joking that was his response) my response was to take a few deep breaths and try to back up the horse I had.  However, I didn’t yell, I didn’t start to cry I simply talked calmly in that moment.

How we deal with a crisis is a true test of our leadership!  However the bigger test is how we deal with the after. Did we lose our cool?  Do we need to apologize? We are human it’s OK to learn from our mistakes and missteps.

When your team goes into crisis mode work through it and then go over it after.  Talk about what went well where can you improve and think internally about how YOU as the leader reacted.

Today think about how you react in a crisis, what’s good, what’s bad?  Ask those close to you for feedback.  Think about what is said and what you can learn from it.  This is what will make you a better leader