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!!)

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!!!