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!!

Leader to Follower … Leaders Perspective

Leaders, we’ve all had that person on our team who was once a leader and is now a follower on our team.  They may have changed industries, jobs or intentionally taken a step back. Anyway it happened they are now on our team and we know that they were leaders in their previous jobs.

How do we handle this?  It can often seem a bit scary because we may question our own leadership when confronted with someone who was a previous leader especially if they are high energy leaders!

First, acknowledge that they are a leader!  Don’t ignore it, or try to ‘put them in their place’.  Next get them on your side!  Seek their input, get them involved in leadership of the team and other team members!

Essentially USE THEM to your advantage.  Trying to ignore it, or making them feel small will only demean your own leadership!

There maybe times when you have to provide them with negative feedback.  This can be scary if you are not confident in your own leadership.  Seek feedback from other leaders prior to speaking with them and then talk with them as another leader.  Leaders should always be seeking feedback both negative and positive!

Provide the feedback by letting them know the issue and then asking them for their input. Don’t talk at them, instead of saying “you messed up and the client is mad” ask for their feedback.  Let them know you received feedback that the client isn’t happy with a current situation.  Ask how they would handle this in the future. My guess is that they know they messed up and they have already beat themselves up over it.

Asking them how they would handle it in the future will allow them to know that you trust them and will not undermine them as leaders.

It is never easy when leading other leaders, but you can do it! And it will make you a better leader!

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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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.

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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!!