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!

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!!!

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!!

Do what you love!!

Leaders, how many days do you go home and think I just can’t do this again?  I can’t make myself go through another day!  Then you remember the mortgage and the car payments, and the kids and all the other bills that need to be paid and you do it again.

Not all of us love our jobs, and I would guess some of us down right dislike it alot!!  As leaders we put ourselves out there, we support our teams we strive to be better and we sometimes forget that we need to find something that feeds our soul!

This doesn’t have to be your job, in fact it’s OK to not be but there has to be something that you do that you love!  For my amazing husband it’s greeting new people at our church.  He has a sixth sense for new people like seriously can smell them from inside the building!  He takes great pride in welcoming them and then having me meet them later!  This and coaching are 2 things that he loves more than most anything else!

For me, welcoming people at church is OK, it’s not something I love, I’ll do it but it doesn’t make me smile.  Today I did the thing that makes me smile. I rode a horse!  For an hour all I could think about was sitting in the saddle and attempting to steer. (I am still learning so doing more than 1 thing at a time is still really tough!) My smile was huge! I felt joy like I haven’t felt in a very long time!

You see I was not control, I didn’t have to teach the other riders in the room. I had to focus on my horse and the horses around me but all I was responsible for was my horse and myself! I was doing the thing that feeds my soul!

This weekend take time to figure out what feeds your soul! As leaders we are no good to anyone if we aren’t taking care of ourselves!  So go feed your soul!!

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!