What Horses Teach us…

I feel like this is one of those, everything I learned, I learned in Kindergarten type post!  It sort of is when I say that everything I learned I learned from a horse!

You see horseback riding is alot like a dance (credit to my trainer!) and in this dance your partner is a 1000lb animal who doesn’t speak the language and generally has it’s own idea of what the dance should look like (and quick tip it does not start with you on it’s back!)

You see when you get on a horse for the first time or the 1000th time the horse has to adjust to what you want! The horse does not want to walk around in circles going fast and slow. It does not want to walk over water by roads, or over tree limbs. It wants to go hang out with his buddies in a pasture where it can eat, sleep and lay in the sun! (Yes they do lay down but that’s another post)

When you get on the horse you have to adjust your idea AND make sure the horse knows you are the boss.  You can get the idea across by being mean just like you can when you lead.  But the horse is probably going to take it for a while then dump you… literally! Or you can get on the horse and you can encourage the horse to go in the direction you want. You do this with multiple aids, your body, feet, reins and pressure.

The horse I am currently riding is an old draft horse. He’s big, slow and would much rather be in  his stall. In fact yesterday I walked over with his halter and he left. Literally walked out of his stall into the mud.  This was his way of telling me that he was just not that into me!  (My trainer did explain to him that we were riding and he finally agreed)

You see I could of yelled and hit him but all that does is show him that I am mean.  Why do we think this is ok as leaders? We get mad at our team because they are human and don’t want to do some of the stuff we are asking.  Instead of getting mad, why don’t we encourage them.  Share how this is helping them and the team!

Reward them when they are done.  My horse got apples and carrots yesterday.  Now when I go back on Wednesday to ride he’s going to remember that this human is OK.  She gives treats!

As leaders we need to remember that we are doing a dance with our team.  We are the leader but we are going to get our team to go in the direction we want if we approach it in a more friendly manner.

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!

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!!!

Communication A bad game of Telephone!

communication

 

How many of you remember playing the game telephone?  If you aren’t familiar this is where you tell a friend a story and then they tell the person next to them and so on.  The fun of this game is seeing how badly mangled the story gets at the end.  I have played this game as a team building exercise and to illustrate how badly things can go when we don’t communicate well!

Recently I have experienced poor communication.  I am currently volunteering for a large event at my church. I am leading a small piece of the event and there is an overall leader who is managing the event from start to finish.  This person does not communicate well, and this is causing some issues with the team.

I experienced this first hand today with not only a bad game of telephone but also a very frustrating set of phone calls.  You see this leader had failed to communicate what was going on and then in a moment of panic started calling me several times and then when I didn’t reply in the moment sent out a larger email indicating that I wasn’t going to serve.

If this leader had simply reached out via email to indicate that there were questions and laid those out I could of replied and we would of avoided the entire issue.

This made me realize that as leaders we often think we are communicating well, but in fact we might be totally missing the boat.  We need to be humble enough to ask our team if we are doing an OK job in this area and what ways they’d like to see us improve.  Of course asking for feedback is never fun and we don’t want to hear anything negative, however in this case it kind of makes sense!!

What would happen if you had a hard deadline for a project, but you didn’t communicate that to your team, or if you did you didn’t stress that this was a deadline that couldn’t be missed.  Your team might think that this is a soft deadline and may not realize the urgency of the project.

Imagine this as a game of telephone. Your boss tells you “this project must be done by 1/4/2019”

You tell your team lead that this project should be done by 1/4/2019.  Note the key word here is is SHOULD.

Your team lead tells the team, we would really this done by 1/4/2019.

The overall sense of urgency has drastically changed simply by 1 word being changed.

As leaders our ability to communicate is often tested, and we need to continue to stop and make sure that we are not only communicating in a way that get’s us heard but in a way that allows everyone to know what’s going.

This week, find a trusted mentor or fellow leader and ask them to help you communicate better.  Ask them if they see ways you could improve and then take their feedback to heart!

Happy Feedbacking 🙂

Stop Complaining

I am very good at complaining.  It’s like my super power!  Oh and blaming, I have that one down as well.  Pretty much if something goes wrong it cannot be my fault!  I didn’t do it, didn’t cause it and if you think I did I will complain until you stop talking!

I would guess we are all really good at complaining, what most of us are NOT good at is stopping.  I mean really who wants to stop doing their super power!  But maybe, just maybe – and hear me out here – complaining shouldn’t be our go to.

There is a difference between talking about an issue and complaining about it!

For example let’s say at my job the wrong documents are provided to the client.  I could complain, “they didn’t really tell me which ones” or “the dumb review team imaged them so I provided them” or I could say “wow, ok this is an issue how do we resolve it now and how do we keep it from happening going forward”.

Complaining as a leader only makes us look, well.. dumb!  We look like we have no idea what we are doing and then we make our team and ourselves look really like we have no clue!

Honestly we might not have a clue!  The issue might be one where we simply aren’t sure what happened.  Let me tell you the team and the client usually don’t care.  They want the issue fixed AND they want to know it won’t happen again.

Complaining to ANYONE doesn’t resolve the issue.  You can talk about it, talk through how you think it happened if your goal is to attempt to resolve the issue from happening again, but complaining isn’t going to help.

Now many of you are probably asking, well how do I know I am complaining well you have to stop and ask yourself – why am I talking about this?  Do I need to vent? (That’s actually OK if it’s with someone you trust and don’t work with) or am I simply complaining because something bad happened. If it’s the latter, then STOP!  Take a breath and relax.  Usually work mistakes aren’t that big of a deal and noone is going to die over them.

Take a step back and realize that you or someone on your team made a mistake (we are human it will happen) and figure out how to resolve it.

Today I want you to start to think about when you complain, is it in the car at other drives, the grocery store, about your spouse or significant other, kids?  Then stop yourself and ask if this is really going to get you to the end result?  If this isn’t going to resolve the issue then STOP!  If you are venting, give yourself 5 minutes to vent and then STOP! Then either work through a solution or take a walk.. Either way as leaders we need to STOP complaining.