Taking risks

How many times have we made a decision to do something only to either not do it at all or only do it half way because we were scared of the outcome?

Recently a friend of mine posted a message on facebook about how she is trying to justify her job decision.  You see she choose to take a job with a start up where she’s not getting paid. She’s had to work other jobs to pay her bills….

BUT she loves what she’s doing.  She get’s up everyday with a strong sense of purpose and excitement.  She get’s up EXCITED to do her job!  Now I understand that not all of us can make this type of decision as far as our jobs are concerned.  We may have people relying on us and simply taking a job where we don’t get paid isn’t always an option.

However, how often do we simply NEVER make a change because we just are either too afraid or not willing to put in the work to make the change.

You see my friend has had to go back to working in a restaurant, a job she thought she gave up for something in her field.  However, she made a choice, one that was a bit uncomfortable to get to where she wanted to be!

I have been struggling with this lately.  Trying to find the ability to take the risk I want to do what brings me joy!  I want to be like my friend, and I will!

As leaders, it is our job to push our team to take those risks!  Even if it means they leave us!  We want to push them to be better and to do what brings them the most joy!!

When Leaders become followers

Many of us have been in situations where we were once the leader but now we are followers.  This has been the situation for me as I have moved from one area of business to another.  This choice was something I made intentionally and a path that I felt was the best for me personally.  However, the transition is not always an easy one.

How do we as leaders handle the process of becoming the one who is being told what to do?  Often this is a difficult transition because we are leaders!  This is in our DNA and having to take direction from someone else becomes difficult.

If you think about how police departments or fire departments work you see organizations where it is very important that everyone knows their roles.  You need clearly identified leaders and people who are executing the direction.  If you imagine a car crash where things are happening very quickly and lives are at stake.  The leader on the scene is directing what is happening.  This person is making sure that everyone lives and is safe!

Most of our jobs don’t mean that people die if we don’t do our jobs correctly. However I am sure most of us think the people we work with sometimes feel this way!!

So how do we make this transition, first we must get rid of the thought that we are the leader and therefore we know better than the person who is put in charge as our leader!  We all have things we can learn and if we go into the situation with an open mind it will make the transition easier!

Next, we have to stop thinking that if we were the leader we would do the job better!  I am very guilty of this!  Instead see how your leader handles situations and what they did well!  Think about how you could learn from the situation.

Finally, show respect!  So first of all stop rolling your eyes at me and saying that you DO respect them because if you think about if for a moment you probably have had moments where you don’t.  Again I am super guilty of this!!

By going into the situation with a respectful attitude we can really transition into the follower role!

Stay tuned for the next post where we address this from the Leader perspective.

Goals

My husband and I recently bought (leased) a new car.  And we had the opportunity to buy the car from my son.  While it was amazing that we got to watch him work, what really struck me was his ability to set goals.

He showed me his calendar where he had written down what days he would buy a car and showed that on those days he did indeed sell a car.

This got me to thinking as leaders do we set goals for ourselves?  I know sometimes I don’t set goals because I am afraid i won’t hit them, but so what! So what if i don’t hit my goal, WHAT IF I DO?

As leaders we are always leading those around us but do we take a moment and set goals for ourselves?  Goals can be big or small, but if we set small goals then we aren’t challenging ourselves we aren’t really pushing our selves to be better!

This week I am going to set some goals for myself, some big some small. I am going to write them down and I am going to set dates for those goals.  I challenge you to do the same! Set some goals for yourself and see what happens in your life!!

Investing in the next generation

I had the most pleasurable experience (insert sarcasm here) of buying a car this weekend.  This process as most of us know is NOT fun, it is long and tiring and frankly why can’t this process be better?  However, I did get to buy the car from my son, which was an amazing experience!

My son is 19 going on 20 and has found a passion selling cars.  This child has strong leadership gifts. He often is the one taking charge and leading others.  However, as we all know simply having leadership gifts does not make us leaders!  We need to invest in our up and coming leaders and help them to grow!

Saturday I got to meet the people who are doing just that!  (Shameless plug coming up!!) The team at Fair Oaks Ford in Naperville has seen potential in this 19yo kid and are investing in him!  From the GM to the Finance guy, they all made a point to talk to us about our son.  I got the chance to meet his manager and I like him!  He isn’t going to go easy on my kid and he even said that he will get on him at times!  However, the way he does it shows that he understands the potential and is willing to put in the effort.

Now, if my amazing, wonderful child screws up well he’s going to have to deal with the consequenes and this isn’t an easy path, however if he’s willing to stick with it he could have an amazing career!

This whole experience made me start thinking about how are we investing in that next generation.  For many of us, we are Generation X we graduated in the 80’s and 90’s we didn’t grow up with cell phones and technology.  We are now leading a generation that doesn’t know rotary dial phones or manually changing a channel on the TV!  However we want to lead them like they did!

We simply cannot lead this way, we have to figure out how to connect with this generation and we have to invest in them!  They are the next generation of leadership and it is our job to raise them up! We have to learn to speak their language via social media, text messaging and others.

This week think about how you are leading up the next generation.  Talk with your team of leaders and talk about how you as a team can lead this next generation!

And for all of you here is a picture taken 2 years ago of my son coaching!  For you who are parents, encourage your kids to take those leadership opportunities on!!

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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.

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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!

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!!!