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!

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!!!

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!!

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is perfection an option

Being perfect is something that ALOT of people strive for and in certain situations and professions it’s kind of important.  As I sit on my couch and watch a season of Air Disasters, I realize that being a pilot means you really need to be perfect at your job, however here’s a news flash, YOU AREN’T PERFECT!

Yup I know this is a huge announcement – you aren’t perfect, let that sink in!  Can you strive to be better, sure! Can you strive to improve of course, but you will never be perfect, you see we simply aren’t.  Human’s have flaws, lots of them!  When we expect perfection from those around us we set them AND us up to fail.  Asking your team to never make a mistake and simply accepting no less isn’t going to happen!

Now if you are a doctor, you really want to be as close as possible which is why check lists are SO important and that’s a post for another day! However learning to accept our team’s imperfections actually makes us better leaders.

I was training Keno yesterday and we are learning to communicate with each other.  We both make mistakes, he makes them because he’s a horse and misreading my cues and I make them because I am still learning!

What would it look like for you to review your teams mistakes as learning opportunities or process improvements?  Now some mistakes are simply that, someone forgot to check a box or read the check list and of course the scenarios of performance issues.  However, if we take a step away from the performance problems, is there a problem with our process?  Are we training the wrong way?  As organizations we must review mistakes as just that a mistake, and remove the stigma of it being made.

Once we take it out of the discipline area and we start to review the WHY we can start to slow the mistakes down.  Looking at mistakes as learning opportunities allows everyone to learn from them.

Today take a moment when a team member makes a mistake and ask yourself why did the mistake get made? Are other team members having similar issues? Do you need to provide training, a check list or is there another reason.  Take the person out of it and see what you can find!

Speaking the Truth

quiet

As leaders it is our job to give feedback and when that feedback can be negative we often choose silence instead of the truth.  This can actually get us into trouble.  If we have a situation that really requires honesty we must provide it.  HOWEVER!  That also means that we think about our words before they are spoken.

I had a member of a volunteer team that just wasn’t getting it.  It was a husband and wife team and they just didn’t see the mission, or at least I didn’t think they did.  So I spoke with my boss and he suggested I ask them to step down.  So I did, I fired them. The issue is that I didn’t really tell them WHY they were being asked to step down.

I didn’t take the time to think about what they were or were not doing that wasn’t moving the mission forward.  If I had taken the time I may have realized that they were simply in the wrong role.  You see my inability to be quiet for a moment really ruined a friendship and caused 2 people to move to another church.

Speaking honestly is difficult and must be thought about very extensively! You see while we may know the words need to be spoken the way they are said can cause extensive damage.  Understanding that can really help us grow as leaders.

If I had taken time to think about the issues and how we could get past them I may have stopped 2 people from being told they were bad and couldn’t serve.

Thankfully I have learned ALOT since that day and I have learned how to speak honestly with team members and ensured that when these conversations have to happen they go as smoothly as possible.

Talking with a trusted advisor will help as will thinking about the issue, what the problem is and how you hope to resolve it.

Good Luck Conflict is never easy!  However you can get through it!