When to step over the line.

14 12 2016

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty.  The obedient must be slaves.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

If you don’t know about Thoreau, Google him someday.  He seems to me to have been way ahead of his time, in that  he was a lifelong abolitionist and environmentalist, who died in 1862, at the young age of 44.  His philosophy influenced greats like Gandhi and Martin Luther King.  I wonder how much better our world might be today had he lived longer.  He is sometimes referred to as an anarchist, but he really didn’t want to destroy institutions, he just wanted to intelligently improve them, with common sense and simplicity.  Those that know my thoughts on simplicity can see why he’d be a man that I admire.

Leaders, we all are expected to follow rules, norms, rituals, and traditions in life.  It’s easy to “go along to get along”, by following in the ruts that are in the road ahead of us.  Nobody is going to be popular, and succeed by spurning every one of these things that are “the way we’ve always done it” – disagreement on a few points is OK, but turns into Rebellion when you just stop following all of the rules.  But know your heart, and know when the opportunity arises in some situations, you can and should stand up and say “No, not this thing.  I can’t do it this way”.  If you communicate your disagreement respectfully, you shouldn’t fear taking that position, no matter how hard it may be to make that stand.”

Speaking of disobedience…

disobedience-dog

Rubes cartoons used with permission. www.rubescartoons.com





Falling through the cloud floor

13 12 2016

There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds.” ~ Gilbert K. Chesterton

“A neurotic is a man who builds a castle in the air.  A psychotic is the man who lives in it.  A psychiatrist is the man who collects the rent.” – Jerome Lawrence

This set of quotes leaves me scratching my head.  Is it aspirational to build a castle in the clouds, or are you a lunatic to even try?  I’ll leave it up to your own leadership style to decide the right answer.

Leaders who dream can, and have turned “chicken droppings” into chicken salad (I took a little creative license with the old saying to use appropriate languages).  They’ve been given a loser of a product/service/project, and succeeded where nobody ever thought it would work.  Others have been asked to do the impossible, and said “no thank you”, and didn’t take the job, as only a crazy person would try do build (or live in) a castle in the sky.  Pick and choose your castle projects wisely, leaders!

Speaking of …

castleinair

Rubes cartoons used with permission. www.rubescartoons.com





Don’t shatter the glass balls

12 12 2016

“We are always balancing work, life, home, etc.  It’s important to know that while juggling rubber balls, and glass balls, the former may bounce back when you miss, but the glass balls will crack if you let them fall.  So prioritize, prioritize, prioritize.” ~ Nita Ambani

I like the idea of tasks that need to be done, but if  you miss a deadline, or do them a little wrong, there’s little harm.  They can bounce back pretty well, and business can go on.  If EOM reports run a day late because someone is out sick, or if approving an invoice takes an extra day or 2 to get to, because you’re working on one of the “glass ball” tasks, that’s a smart use of your time.  Note: most of the glass-ball tasks are at home, not work.  That said, work ones will run the spectrum from super-bouncy-balls to crystal Faberge’ eggs.

The critical, fragile, breakable projects are the ones that you need to focus your time and attention on doing right, getting them done on time, and otherwise doing your best to ensure the success of the initiative.  IF these are one of the tasks that you delegated, then your focus as a leader needs to be in giving the resources, attention, and support to your trusted team member.  Because if you give them a glass-ball task, and don’t give them the rest of the support they’ll need, then someone’s going to be cleaning up a glass-mess on the floor.

Speaking of juggling…

juggggling

Rubes cartoons used with permission. www.rubescartoons.com





Connecting and Performing Uniquely

9 12 2016

“In general, fashion is decorative, it’s protective, it acknowledges that the world does involve conflict, and you might be attacked by assumptions, presumptions, and attitudes.” ~ Margo Jefferson

On this casual Friday, I hope you are wearing your favorite fashions, representing your sports teams, or whatever it is that, during the “business casual” week, might not represent your personality as much as Fridays allow you to.  Don’t be afraid to use your fashion to tell a story, as long as it’s within dress code.  Sure, someone might attack you with assumptions (for example, a Ravens fan might chide at a co-worker in Steelers gear).  Others who are more conservative might make presumptions on more progressive fashion choices.

The point, leaders, is that people are all unique.  Your challenge is to find whatever it is in them that motivates them and that they get energized by.  Use that connection to make their workday better.  Maybe it’s asking about their child.  Maybe it’s congratulating them on their favorite team winning over the weekend.  It could be that you see their car in the parking lot, and it’s looking sparkly after a good detail job – and you know they’re a “car person”.  Whatever it is, they very likely won’t make you have to guess.  They’ll show you pictures of their kid, wear a sports jersey proudly, or otherwise let their passions leak into their conversations.  Listen, note, and get back to it when you get a chance.  That connection will make them pull harder with you when you need that extra effort.

Speaking of decorative stuff…

spoonsforks

Rubes cartoons used with permission. www.rubescartoons.com





The unforgivable sin – guessing with certainty

6 12 2016

“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.” ~ Bruce Lee

“The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

All of the leaders on my team know that the one unforgivable sin they can commit is to represent something as truth to me, when they’re guessing.  If I take your “truth” up the chain of command, and get called out for being wrong on it,  we will indeed have a conversation that you will not forget.  Now, if you tell me you are 99% sure of something, or that you’re “almost certain” of something, then I will represent it that way up-hill, and it gives both you and me a way to save face when we are wrong.

There’s no shame in being wrong, but the only way to be forgiven for being wrong is to admit to it, tell what you learned from it, and to internalize the lesson so that it doesn’t happen again.

Speaking of forgiveness…

forgivepermiss

Rubes cartoons used with permission. www.rubescartoons.com





30 11 2016

“Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli

There are 3 kinds of decision makers.  First, you have the naval gazers (many of you Googled that last month).  These are the people who are asked to come up with a plan, and then they execute it like the man in the cartoon below.  Ready, Aim, Aim, Aim, Aim and they never pull the trigger because they’re worried about either the consequences of failure, or are afraid that they don’t know what they don’t know.  The second are the ones that go off half-cocked (maybe the bully comparison from above works here).  They get started without thinking.  They are more like Ready, Fire, (oh, drat), Aim,  and try to fix their mistake by changing what they executed.  That may mean stopping everything and re-training, or it may be an instant fail, in those situations where you only had one chance to get it right.

Leaders, try being the third type… The corageous ones who go ready, aim carefully, and then fire.  Think about as many consequences and obstacles, have a plan for dealing with them, then pull the trigger.  You may not hit the target on the first try, but you’ll be going in a good enough direction that someone will be able to give you the guidance to shift your aim just a bit closer to success.  A car that is parked can’t get anywhere (the first type) and a car that drives off a bridge can’t get any further (the second type).  A car that drifts a little to the right or the left is much more likely to make it to it’s destination.

Speaking of fire…

readyaf

Rubes cartoons used with permission. www.rubescartoons.com





Rocking the boat can get you thrown to the sharks

29 11 2016

“The only guy who isn’t rowing has time to rock the boat.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre

You’ve been there.  You and your group are in a crunch-time situation (for example, our current business pilot, and the pressure to hit our numbers), and almost everyone on the team has their head down, rowing aggressively (or in this case, smiling & dialing  🙂 ).  At the same time, someone on the team is checking their selfies on the phone, or shopping for holiday gifts.  They’re basically rocking the boat, by making you work harder than them in order for the team to succeed.

Leaders… Those among you who have a leadership title, or just you line workers who have the respect and admiration of your team.  THIS is the time to step up, and confront the person who is rocking the boat instead of rowing with the rest of the team.   Basically, make it more uncomfortable for them to NOT work than for them to work their butt off.  When they do turn around, don’t forget to praise them.  Positive reinforcement and optimism can be a force multiplier, allowing 10 people to accomplish the work of 15!

Speaking of guys…

dumbshark

Rubes cartoons used with permission. www.rubescartoons.com