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…


Rubes cartoons used with permission. www.rubescartoons.com


The OTHER 80/20 rule

28 10 2016

“Vegetables are a must on a diet.  I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.” ~ Jim Davis

“Man cannot live by bread alone; he must have peanut butter.” ~ James A. Garfield

I can’t take a leadership lesson from the quotes above, other than sometimes, especially on casual Friday, it’s OK to take a minute just to laugh, and appreciate how humans can take a traditional truism/saying, and turn it into something funny, and worth appreciating for it’s wit.  I can take a leadership lesson from today’s comic below, though, so skip down and read it, then come back up.  It’s OK… I’ll wait for you…

Leaders, understand that there will often be a gap between what you can afford to give your employees, and what they’re expecting.  The lady below is giving away her own hard-earned bread, and the duck isn’t satisfied.  You may have found yourself giving a “good” raise to an employee who resents it because they think they deserve a great one.  How does a gift create resentment?  It comes from a conflict between one’s self worth, and their externally perceived worth from others.  So, when you do a good thing, and don’t get the appreciation that you expect, remember that the lack of a thank you, or the grumbling about how “THIS” is all they got is based on the 80/20 rule:  80% of people believe they are in the top 20% of any group, performance wise.

(See how I tied back to the beginning there?  No?  Go ahead and read it again… I’ll wait for your well deserved appreciation of how witty I am… at least from the REAL top 20% of you!)  🙂

Speaking of bread…


Rubes cartoons used with permission. www.rubescartoons.com

My bad. (Full Stop)

26 04 2016

“We count on winning, and if we lose, don’t beef.  And the best way to prevent beefing is – don’t lose.” ~ Knute Rockne

Pretty straightforward, even if Knute started his sentences with a conjunction.  If you don’t want to have to make excuses, wail, and gnash your teeth, then be right!  And when you’re wrong (did you see how I did that?), suck it up, buttercup.  We all make mistakes, and we all have some urge to try to fix it, make excuses, or get angry about being wrong.  Guess what?  You’re wrong, live with it.  Don’t like it?  Try harder next time.

Losing graciously is something that’s hard for most of us to deal with, but it’s something that good leaders do.  It shows class and dignity to say “my bad”, with no excuses following that statement.  When you own your results, you’ll be more respected and admired than those who try to throw blame or excuses.  Leaders, remember that when you have an employee who does or doesn’t own it.  For those that do, cut them a break – they just did a very brave thing.  For those that don’t:  Well, keep on them until they do.  You’re teaching a valuable lesson to a future leader (if they can learn it).

Speaking of beef…


Rubes cartoons used with permission. www.rubescartoons.com

Quick, Good, or Cheap – Pick 2

26 03 2015

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” ~Abraham Lincoln

Today’s quote speaks to time management and planning.  “Get it done quick” and “Get it right” are 2 directives from leaders that are often at odds with each other.  In the IT world, buyers are often told that they can have it quick, good, or cheap – pick 2.  If you want something done quick and good, it’s going to cost money (i.e. additional programmers all working on the same project).  If you want it good and cheap, it’s going to take time (i.e. one programmer working on the project exclusively.  If you want it quick and cheap, it’s going to be thrown together, and not good at all.

When given a task, leaders need to not only understand the specific project, but the “view from 10,000 feet”.  Do you have the time to do the job good and cheap?  Is time an issue, so you just need any old solution quickly?  If this is the case, hopefully you build in time afterwards to improve the project.  Phase 1 gets it done “quick and dirty” (with work-arounds, manual reporting, etc.), and Phase 2 rolls in behind it cleaning it up, and automating the manual stuff.  When quality is non-negotiable, then you have to choose to spend a lot of money, or to wait for the final product.  There are valid business reasons for each approach.  If you’re not sure, then please ask before getting started.

Speaking of the first…


Rubes cartoons used with permission. www.rubescartoons.com

Hedging your risk to hedge your career.

5 11 2014

“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt.  Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.” ~Robert Hughes

Many of us have seen new managers who take quick action when dealing with staff… with absolute confidence that they did the right thing… and it’s the absolute wrong thing.  More seasoned leaders might spend days (and nights) agonizing over a decision, when they know in their heart that it’s the only thing to do…  They take the time to try to find any other way to deal with the issue, because they’re not confident that they’re right – they worry they might be missing something.

Often in leadership, the quick, easy answer is the wrong one.  If leadership were easy, everyone would be an excellent leader. When you think you have it figured out, take a minute to ask yourself “what can go wrong if I move forward”.  Poke holes in your theories, and worry about the worst case scenario if you’re wrong.  If you can’t afford the worst case scenario – don’t do it without mitigating the risk as best you can.  The amount of time and energy that you invest in preventing a disaster should be up to, but not more than the chances of the disaster happening times the amount of money and energy you’ll lose if it happens.  A 10% chance of losing $1 million dollars is probably worth up to $99,999 in “insurance” or other preventative measures (like generators, UPS’s, legal fees for those disclosures, etc.).  If you spend your career playing the odds – “Why spend time & money on a 10% chance of disaster.” – it will be a short career indeed.

Speaking of consolation…


Rubes cartoons used with permission. www.rubescartoons.com