Are You Malicious?

Are you malicious? I would put good money on your answer being a resounding “NO” if you are reading blogs about leadership and teamwork. You might Look at it a little differently, however, after reading this, and I hope it will change you at least a little bit.

I have recently been a “victim” (for lack of a better word) to piecemealed data. What does that mean? Well, it means that when I ask other resources for data, I get bits and pieces of the data based on the specific question I asked. If I don’t ask the right question, I don’t get the right data. It can be very frustrating, at times, especially when that data is critical. I have also notice this over the years from other colleagues as well that just don’t want to paint the full picture. It is almost like they are wanting to leave things a bit mysterious.

Sure, I understand that management is often times bound by the constraints of “I can’t tell you yet” and I’m not talking about those instances even though they can be very frustrating at times as well. What I am really talking about are the silos of information that exist in corporations all across the world. Silos can be dangerous to a company. Why dangerous? Well, I believe that giving little bits of information can cause other teams to be counterproductive. It can cause them to go down a path of data mining to get the information that someone already has but is not sharing, or it can cause them to spend additional cycles thinking of the “best way” to ask questions so they get the right answers. Within the same company, a full picture should always be painted when the full picture is what is being asked for. Don’t make it sound as if you’re giving all of the information when you aren’t.

So, I ask you again, are you malicious? If you are holding pertinent information back just because it wasn’t specifically asked for, I say, yes you are. If you are not meaning to be so, then you might take a closer look at how you deliver information. If you DO intend to hold on to information for your own power play (remember, knowledge is power) then I urge you to change your ways because you are causing your company more harm than you can really imagine.

Here are a couple of things you can try:

  1. Ask questions to make sure you fully understand what is being asked of you.
  2. Be more open with the information that you have. Remember, good leaders help build others.
  3. If you do not have time to tell the whole story, give an overview and tell the person that you are only giving them a small piece of the puzzle they are asking for and schedule some time to give them the whole picture.

Thank you for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have you been a “victim” of of someone holding on to knowledge that cause you do go down the wrong path?

Have a great day!!  ~Jim

Leadership: Are you Strong Enough?

I was reading a blog this morning on making mistakes, written by the Leadership Freak, Dan Rockwell (So You Screwed Up …). The whole post was great as usual, but one point stuck out to me very clearly. Not only did it make perfect sense, but it is also a point within my own leadership that I struggle with.

By the way, if you don’t follow Leadership Freak, I highly recommend you do so. He is a great read and a top blogger. He is looked up to by many, including myself. (Leadershipfreak.wordpress.com)

As I mentioned, I was reading his blog and his first reason for making a mistake slapped me like a cold fish: 1.) [Trying to] please others while ignoring your gut.

Ouch! For a self-professed people pleaser, this is a very pointed bullet item and it was pointed right at me. It is no mystery why he has that item at the top of his list. Of course, it causes my wheels to turn faster trying to find out why I had such an issue with the statement. I can tell you I didn’t have to think very long, I already knew the answer.

People pleasers do not make good leaders!

There, I said it! Now, let me explain what I mean. Mr. Rockwell’s first point is right on the money. As leaders, we have responsibilities to do what is right, not only for our companies but for our teams as well as ourselves. Our educated gut feelings can provide us with amazing discoveries and decisions. Ignoring that “gut feeling” can mean we miss out on a good decision that can keep a project on track or even turn it around.

So, can you be a people pleaser and an effective leader? Yes, but it will probably take some work. You need to analyze each decision to make sure it is being made for the right reason. Keep in mind, you don’t have to make a decision that goes against your people pleasing tendencies with a tone of harshness. You can, and should, communicate that decision with a servant leader’s heart and be sensitive to those that are affected by the decision.

Are you a “people pleaser”? How do you get past that to make better decisions?

Do you agree or disagree with me?

Find Your Purpose Today

Do you have something you’re working for?

I was walking through my office the other day after a hard meeting with a team member in which we were not seeing eye-to-eye. The end of the meeting left me thinking critically about what I can do to make that working relationship better. I was racking my brain for days about how to make it work. The end result of all of that brain racking was that I had a renewed sense of purpose. That new-found purpose actually had me feeling better about my current state of mind. I started walking through the hallways of my office feeling renewed, mentally rejuvenated, seeking answers, paying attention to others, and generally (oddly enough) feeling pretty good about myself. Had I found the answer to my question? Not at that time.

That isn’t what this is about. I’m sorry; I don’t have all the answers to dealing with employees that don’t see the world through our rose colored glasses. I sat down at my desk, realizing what had just happened. I started really thinking about what it was that was making me tick and what makes me tick day in and day out. What motivates me? What is it that drives me day in and day out?

Walking with purpose

All day, I found myself walking through the halls a little taller, my head a little higher, and my pace a little quicker. I wasn’t “puffing my chest” at the employee that disagreed with me, nor was I trying to exude superiority. This type of “roostering” has no place coming from a leader. I just…felt better. I had a mission, a goal, a purpose. That new life had me pushing hard all day long to be more productive, to find answers, and to do the absolute best I could do. It felt incredible, despite the hard conversation that sparked the whole thing.

What is it that makes you tick? Do you have something on your to-do list each day that can give you a sense of purpose?

A challenge

We need to find a reason to push hard each day. I challenge you not just to find something to give you purpose every day, but actually, schedule something. Put something on your to-do list that will cause you to think a little harder. Find something new that you can learn. Think of a problem you need to solve.

What are your thoughts on this post? Do you already have a way to give yourself purpose every day? I’d love to read your comments.

Change Your Directions!

What is Your Communication Style? I don’t mean do you talk softly, loudly, often or little. I’m thinking about how effectively you communicate. Is your style good enough? I was talking to a colleague the other day about team communication and realized that we really aren’t very good at it. Sure, there are communication plans for various levels of stakeholders in a project, but how do you communicate directly with the project team? Do you give direction the same way with everyone? Do you find it frustrating when your directions aren’t followed the way you’d like? Do you have team members that are consistently missing the mark?

Sure, the team member might have underlying issues that are effecting their performance and could follow directions better with a little extra effort, but maybe it’s you. There might be an opportunity for improvement on your part which can assist them in better performance.

Think of it like this, we all learn in different ways. Some people can learn by simply hearing (audible), some by reading (visual), and yet others learn by seeing or even being coached with hands-on activities (kinisthetic). More often than not, we hear of these learning styles with children, but do we grow out of this as we get older? I would say, probably not. Sure, as adults, we learn how to cope with changes in learning environments, but is that really efficient at all to simply know your weaknesses?

As a project leader (or any type of leader for that matter) how well do you actually  know your project team? While it is your teams job individually to listen intently and understand the directions they are given, it is YOUR job as a leader to ensure the team has the tools they need to succeed.

I recommend trying an exercise over the next month or so. DISCLAIMER: Please keep in mind I’m a project manager, not a phycologist, so the durrations may be inadequate or too much but you get the idea. Give your team directions in different ways, utilizing the three methods, and make mental or even written notes on how the team performs as a whole. Which way is the best way for your team to receive direction? Do you notice a boost in performance?

Take it a step further, talk to your team individually. You can try the same exercise as you did with the whole team, or, you can go even one more step further and actually talk to them. See if they can or will tell you how they learn best. Note: Make sure they understand that you are not trying to give them any criticism, even constructively as they might start to get nervous and shut down, or even quit. Tell them what you are doing and what it is that you are trying to accomplish. I believe they will respond positively and your productivity will increase for the simple fact you actually care about them.

The whole premise here is we sometimes think of ourselves as the absolute authority when it comes to giving or receiving directions. I assure you this type of thinking is a recipe for failure and you are setting yourself and your team up for poor performance. Go the extra mile, pay attention to your team and give them the tools they need to hit a home run!

Do you have a favorite method for delivering directions? Tell us, maybe we can learn a technique we didn’t know before.

It Takes Grit!

I was driving to work the other day when I saw a billboard from a local energy company that said, “InteGRITy”. While the billboard was intending to relay the company’s stance on grinding it out for good energy policy, it really got me thinking about another side of that exact same sentiment.

It takes grit to have integrity.

What do I mean by that? Well, it is simple really. Integrity is not something that we should take lightly. It is an ideal that requires constant action. We should be on guard consistently in our daily lives to ensure we don’t slip and make a potentially fatal mistake. The bottom line is that it takes effort to maintain integrity. I will grant you some require more effort than others, but it is worth it.

What are you waiting for? Are you already displaying integrity? Are you the same person, even when you think nobody is looking? Keep fighting the good fight!

I know it is a short post this time, but I just wanted to throw this out there to you. Do you have additional thoughts on the subject? Please share them by commenting.

Heated Conversations: Do you Engage?

How do you, as a leader handle heated conversations in your team? Are YOU engaging?

Differing opinions are a part of our daily lives. In fact, in leadership roles, they are essential to the survival of the teams we are tasked with leading. By this, I mean that utilizing different opinions or even different world views will allow us to avoid the damaging and often destructive results of groupthink. While we might think that life is great if everyone agrees with us, it all too often means that something is about to go horribly wrong.

The problem is that differing opinions can sometimes create tense moments during a meeting or even just during an otherwise calm part of the day. Let’s face it, there are many people out there passionate about their work and about their opinions. It is our job, as leaders, to keep that passion somewhat controlled and pointed in a positive direction. If the argument gets heated, or worse, the meeting, whether formal or informal, it needs to stop right then with encouraging words that all disputes can and will be resolved amicably. It is critical that all of our team members feel safe coming to work (emotionally or physically).

In the end, it is important for teams to have differing opinions but in a controlled environment. The biggest thing I can leave you with as a leader is to not engage in such heated discussions. If you get into a strong disagreement with a team member, you either need to take it to another, closed-door room or just table the discussion for another time when you both have had a chance to calm down and reset your passions. Keep in mind that it is possible that you DON’T have the best idea, be sure to set your ego aside too.

Different opinions are essential to business. Without them, we would all wear white shirts with blue pants, regardless of gender, age, race, or nationality. All cars would be white 4-door sedans with gray interior and all houses would be white with blue trim. We don’t live in any such society, not even the ones with the harshest of homeowner restrictions. That doesn’t mean we have to box our neighbor’s ears when we want to paint our house a different color.

The most important single ingredient in the forula of success is knowing how to get along with people.” ~T. Roosevelt

What tricks have you used to stop heated debates at the office? Comment below.

Are you Trustworthy?

Are you trustworthy?

Sounds like a simple question to answer doesn’t it? For some, it is simply a matter of whether or not they can go into a convenience store and not swipe a piece of gum or a candy bar. Trustworthiness goes far beyond of being mature enough not to steal.

Trustworthiness is sometimes called by other names, but it really boils down to one word as the root: TRUST.

Trust encompasses reliability, accountability, integrity, and others. Basically, what it boils down to is:

  • Are you going to do what you said you are going to do?
  • Did you do what you told me you did?
  • Are you reporting accurate numbers?
  • Are you doing what you’re supposed to be doing?
  • Are you the same person outside of the office as you are at the office?
  • Do you own up to your own mistakes?
  • Do you correct those mistakes?
  • Do you show up to work on-time or early?
  • Do you expect the same for yourself as you do for your team?
  • Do you bill your clients accurately?

So, I ask you again, are YOU trustworthy? It isn’t too late to make a change and correct anything you are doing wrong. Fix it now and become the leader you and others want you to be. You will be amazed at the change in your team’s attitudes!

I’m proud of you for making a difference!!!

Keeping a Positive Attitude

Some of you that know me know that I have just undergone a fairly serious surgery to repair two ruptured disks in my lower neck. For almost 13 years now, I have dealt with severe pain of one type or another on the rite side of my neck or even upper back, shoulder-blades, and shoulders. On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being barely no pain and 10 being the most excruciating pain experienced, my levels were sitting at a consistent 8+. I dealt with it for yeas, hardly able to move my head and having doctors tell me that I’m simply “deconditioned” or out of shape. Grr, really? I just had an MRI if my back and skull, and all you can say is I need to take a walk? Wow, I wonder how much that cost me. So you can see a real internal battle brewing in my head. I am a positive person! Well, at least I try to be. I don’t like to dwell on the negative aspects of events. It is kind of like getting your heart broken over and over and over again. I’m not sure anyone would think that is fun.

SO? What do I do?

Well, honestly, that part is easy. There are several avenues that can be taken here, and sometimes you can or even have to take more than one.

  1. Deal with it! Sound harsh? Well, it is. It is also extremely hard to do. Just “dealing with it” does not mean you are prepared to deal with it and this can end badly.
  2. Get some help and deal with it! This is the preferable approach to the first item. Find someone who’s been there or has the expertise to help you. In my case, a neurosurgeon.
  3. Learn from it. How did you get here in the first place? How can you avoid this situation again? Look back on it, what were the tell tale signs that this was going to happen.
  4. Seek the bright side of the bad situation. This particular point gets a lot of people. I just broke my leg in a wreck where my car was totalled, my lunch was ruined, and my cell phone went flying out of the window. Seems bad, right? Well, it is, but let’s analyze a little closer.
  • Had a car wreck: This is one of the single most disruptive items that can happen in a day. It can and will disrupt your life for quite some time. You’ve had a learning process here though. Now you’re looking at more safety features on the next car. Perhaps you’ve been wanting a different car with a different color, or added sunroof or DVD Player for the kids. Hello silver lining, now you have an opportunity to look for all of these things in the replacement car, which if done right, can even cost you less than you were paying before
  • You just broke your leg. Well, your friends will come around more often to see if they can help you. If you are anything like me, you’re always the giver and rarely get treated the other direction. Not only that, but you might get some sympathy from another new girl that thinks your cute and wants to use that as an ice breaker. Heck, if nothing else, just remember that the broken bone will now be twice as strong as it was before making it hard to break again.
  • Lost your cell phone? Well, let the insurance company buy you another one – brand new 🙂

In the end, it all boils down to how you react to the situation you are given. I spent 10 years angry with the drs telling me there was nothing wrong with me. After I realize how silly this really is, I finally got the medical help I needed and had a diagnosis in a few days. Then we setup a plan of action and the executed the plan, with almost perfect precision. I could have been pain free 11 years ago if I had stopped being mad and started being  results oriented. Now, I am on the way to a complete recovery and no longer have the pain level 8s that were plaguing me daily. Instead, I have a level 3 in areas that are new and the old areas are pain free. PAIN FREE!

I still need to take a walk though, and I so. Anywhere from 2-5 miles almost every day. That makes a difference too.

So, my friends, don’t get mad. Don’t waller in your own self pitty. Nobody wants to hear it, and neither do you. Keep your chin up, look for the silver lining. Let the other stuff just roll off your back like water on a duck!