Day 13 – Eyes to the stars, Feet on the Ground

 

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There are few things worse in an organization, than employees, volunteers, etc. simply going through the motions… the “working for the weekend” mentality. As a leader, it’s crucial to communicate the vision for your organization in such a way that the people surrounding you get on board and begin to care as deeply as you do. When a group of people share a common passion and desire, the possibilities are endless.

What is vision?

 “Vision is everything for a leader. It is utterly indispensable. Why? Because vision leads the leader. It paints the target. It sparks and fuels the fire within, and draws him forward. It is also the fire lighter for others who follow that leader. Show me a leader without vision, and I’ll show you someone who isn’t going anywhere. At best, he is traveling in circles.” – John Maxwell, Vision: Are you moving forward… or in circles?

“To me, vision is being able to see where you’re going, to see what’s up the road ahead, in both literal and figurative senses. It’s being able to see the potholes before you drive the car into them, being able to skillfully navigate.” – Christopher S. Penn, What is visionary? What is vision?

“…leadership success always starts with vision.” – John Ryan, Leadership Success Always Starts With a Vision

“Vision: A mental picture of what could be, fueled by a passion that it should be.” Andy Stanley, vision. andy stanley

Day 12 – What makes the difference?

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Check out this short video of leadership expert, John Maxwell, explaining “The Difference Maker”… this applies not just in the work world but in life too! Enjoy!

Day 11 – Top 11 BEST Leadership Practices

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1. Be consistent in character, words and actions.

2. Foster respect by being firm and fair.

3. Admit when you’re wrong.

4. Lead by example.

5. Communicate clearly.

6. Learn what motivates others and encourage personal growth.

7. Express gratitude.

8. Humbly ask how you can serve and assist others.

9. Do the things that no one else wants to do.

10. Be someone worthy of trusting.

11. Focus on that which is MOST important and let the unimportant stuff go.

Day 10 – You’re fired!

One of the hardest things to do as a leader is to let people go. This may mean laying them off, firing them or letting them know that their volunteer services won’t be needed anymore. It’s brutal! Unfortunately though for all involved, it needs to happen from time-to-time for the betterment of the organization. 

We have to be real with ourselves; we’re not going to be good at everything and sometimes the skills we bring to the table, don’t meet the needs of the organization. But that doesn’t make the news any easier to hear. Nor, is it easy for the person delivering it. Here are some thoughts for both the bearer of bad news and the receiver.

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If you’re giving the news…

The number one thing to consider is this: If the person being fired is shocked, you’ve most likely done something wrong. Let me explain. Employees, volunteers etc. need to be clear on your expectations as a supervisor. If there are rules employees are unaware of, they may unknowingly break them. Once you’ve explained everything in easy-to-understand terms, it’s up to the employee to ask if clarification is needed. However if they don’t and you notice they are still not doing their job right, explain again and make sure they have ample time to make changes before you give them the boot! It is my belief that if someone is getting let go from a position, they should have been able to see it coming… or perhaps something went wrong along the way.

Letting someone go is more than simply a conversation. It involves human emotion and for many some impending hardship after they’ve officially left the position. These things need to be handled with care.

  • Be sure you have documented everything so if you’re ever questioned, you can clearly explain why you had to let the employee go.
  • Do the dirty work yourself. Remember the movie “Up in the Air?” Companies would outsource all firing responsibilities to George Clooney’s character, who had no prior relationship with the employees. You know the employee and if you are confident enough to let them go, the least you can do is deliver the news yourself.
  • Be firm but kind. Although you may be angry at something the employee has done or disappointed in their work ethic, their ego is about to be severely bruised. Cut them some slack and try to end on a good note.

For the person receiving the news…

  • You’re going to feel upset and possibly angry over what’s happened. That’s natural. You may even be disappointed in yourself for not being able to “cut it.” Allow yourself some time to grieve what’s lost.
  • Understand that while your skills may not be needed or the right fit for this job, there are plenty of other areas they can be used… You just have to find them.
  • Don’t hold a grudge against your coworkers for what happened. Yes, you will be embarrassed and upset for a while but if you made friends at your old job, you don’t need to abandon the relationships completely. They probably feel just as weird as you do and someone will need to break the ice;  it might as well be you. You don’t need to go out for coffee with them the very next day but once some time has passed, consider reestablishing those relationships.

Hope this is helpful. This is an awkward part of being a leader… but sometimes it needs to be done and if handled well, can be a positive move for both the employee and the company!

Day 9 – T.E.A.M.

Okay we’ve talked about teamwork the past two days. Let’s finish up today with some pragmatics. How do you develop a strong team? Here are a few tips that I hope will help!

T – The Titan Principle

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Typically, teams are diverse and team leaders do this intentionally in order to bring different perspectives, backgrounds, skills etc. to the table. Therefore it would be unrealistic to think everyone is going to get along all the time. I’ve been fortunate to work with a number of people in my past who I socialized with outside of the office but often times we work with people who are simply coworkers. We appreciate our workplace relationships but wouldn’t necessarily choose to hang out over the weekends. (You know the ones I’m talking about)! But, no matter how much you like or dislike the members of your team, it’s crucial to apply The Titan Principle (see Day 8). Just like in the movie, these guys had to get to a point where they could work together or else the team wouldn’t function. In fact, at the beginning there was a lack of respect, fighting and a general feeling of negativity surging through the entire team. When they finally began to accept that they were working toward the same goal, they were able to soften and even come to value one another’s differences. Through their example, these young guys had a profound impact on the entire town.

E – Expectations and Examples

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Like Nailah mentioned in her comment (Day 3), setting clear expectations helps get everyone on the same page and prevents the need for bosses to micromanage. If everyone is able to catch the vision of what the team is aiming for, they will naturally bond together to make that happen. It starts from the top, so if the leader sets the example and ensures that everyone “gets it” the team should be good-to-go.

A –  The Angel’s Angle

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Facilitate a strong commitment to “team.” Just like the Angels (Day 7) had each other’s backs, strong teams look out for, care about and want the best for each other. This happens through personal connection, affirmation, encouragement, and really helping people to feel appreciated and part of something important. Offer opportunities for collaboration as well so that members don’t feel isolated while working on projects. Empower them to take ownership of their work and kick some serious butt like Charlie’s Angels did!

M – Make Adjustments

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Sometimes for the betterment of the team,  members need to make adjustments along the way in order to better complement one another and reach overall goals. This does not mean “sell out” or give up on moral convictions. But as teams develop and members become equipped to be leaders themselves, the strong personalities and confidence gained from new skills could lead to conflict and jealousy. As the saying goes, “too many cooks in the kitchen” could lead to trouble. Read what John Maxwell has to say about this in his article Can a Team Have Too Many Leaders?

What are some other ways to facilitate a positive team atmosphere?

Day 8 – Goosebumps

The year was 1971 and the place, Alexandria, VA. Blacks and whites didn’t associate much – well, to use the word “much” is an exaggeration – They only spoke when absolutely necessary.

It became necessary to associate more frequently when Herman Boone took the head coaching position at T.C. Williams High School against the better judgment of the parents, students and former coach Bill Yoast, among others. Boone was warned that if the team lost even one game he’d be fired. Boone offered Yoast the role of assistant coach, which he reluctantly accepted in order to appease the white football players who threatened to quit the team (and forgo all opportunities to receive college scholarships) if he left.

The climate was tumultuous as schools began to integrate and racially motivated conflicts continued.

Despite the chaos around them, Coach Boone’s team, The Titans, had to find a way to get along if they were ever going to survive the season together. After a grueling summer camp where the entire team was forced to be integrated on the bus, at meals, in the dorms and of course at practice, the members of this team, led by Coaches Boone and Yoast, began to realize they weren’t so different after all.

They managed to form a bond, amidst a world that resisted racial equality, that brought the entire town together. The relationships they formed were supportive, caring, and authentic. These men, only teens, were more courageous than most of the adults in the town and their willingness to accept one another ended up inspiring many.

Powerful teams, in sports or otherwise, have the ability to facilitate great change. I think we often underestimate that.

Here’s a brief montage from You Tube of various inspiring scenes from the movie, Remember the Titans. This movie gives me goosebumps; it’s so moving and so inspirational! Enjoy!

Day 7 – Charlie’s Angels Style

Once upon a time there were three little girls who went to the police academy… and now they work for me. My name is Charlie.

I used to love that show. Quality TV, I tell ya! (I think I was probably the only 6th grader on the planet recording the reruns and watching faithfully everyday)!

While many of the men who watched the show only did so because of the sexy ladies – um, I mean the intriguing cases – I watched it because I loved the friendships and the fact that these women kicked some major butt week after week.

The thing I always appreciated was that these three friends (and Bosley of course) had each other’s backs no matter what.  There were so many times where one of them would be trapped by a bad guy and out of no where one of the other Angels would come up from behind and save the day.

Leadership involves teamwork and accountability, neither of which can be accomplished without other people. Isn’t life easier with friends? Coworkers? Community? We weren’t meant to live life alone and that applies in leadership settings as well.

I used to run a counseling ministry at a church and one of our rules was that all counselors were required to meet in supervision groups weekly to process what took place in session, get advice and work together to come up with the best possible plan of action for the client. While the counselors often resisted the idea of yet another weekly commitment, they ultimately thanked us for insisting they reach out for support along the way as they frequently encountered difficult situations in their work. We also recommended all church staff members meet with unexpected “walk-ins” or those seeking help in pairs. You never know what kind of person or issue you’re going to be dealing with and two heads are always better than one.

How does this sit with you? Are you a lone ranger or do you prefer to work as a team?

Here’s my two cents: Surround yourself with people you can depend on. BE someone THEY can depend on. Take a risk and delegate to others. Allow the people around you to develop into a strong team.

More on teamwork tomorrow!

Day 6 – “3 Stages of Equipping”

One of the major differences between a good leader and a not-so-good leader is that good leaders don’t fear allowing others to be in control. In fact they actually empower others to take ownership of their assignments and make decisions regarding both the minute details of the day as well as the bigger picture. Good leaders are not threatened by other people moving up the career ladder and even encourage growth in their employees.

This isn’t always easy though. Even if you get to the point as a leader where you desire to develop others, how do you do it? To begin with, your employees must respect you and feel cared for as they venture out and take both personal and professional risks.

One of the leadership experts I have learned the most from is John Maxwell. He has written tons of books, drawing from years of experience as a leader. He has researched the qualities that make leaders successful and his books have sold over 19 million copies. He speaks, trains, writes, communicates incredibly effectively and has taught government employees, Fortune 500 companies etc. In other words, he really knows his stuff!

from successmagazine.com

If you are involved in leadership of any kind, I encourage you to check out the free resources on his website, johnmaxwell.com as well as his many books. One of my personal favorites is The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.

Here’s an article written by John Maxwell detailing 3_Stages_of_Equipping. If you’re interested in moving up to the next level of personal leadership and experiencing the fulfillment that comes from helping others grow, I hope you’ll check this out!

Day 5 – Going the Extra Mile…

Who read the John Wooden article I linked on Friday? My dad told me over the weekend that this was his favorite part of the article:

Coach Wooden made himself accessible to our student athletes – he wanted that to be a central part of his visit. Coach was told that one of our women’s teams was away at the national playoffs, and that they were very disappointed to miss his visit to campus. When the team returned, he personally invited them to his home for lunch.

(Cutting Edge Leadership)

That act of kindness on the part of Coach Wooden, to invite the entire women’s team over to his house for a meal, got me thinking… Good leaders really go out of their way for people. They don’t just settle for doing their work at a status quo level. They don’t settle for living their personal life at status quo either. They go above and beyond!

One of my favorite leaders to work for was someone who, I knew without a doubt, cared for me personally. She went out of her way to spend time with me, asking about my personal life and even went so far as to attend the funeral of my mother-in-law, on the weekend, an hour away from where she lived. She planned retreats for our team at work so we could get out of the office for a change of scenery. She invited us into her home for meals and did not allow our working relationship to end without letting us know what we meant to her and affirming all of us as employees. She went the extra mile for us on every level and was a great example of not only a leader but a person of great character and integrity.

To take on a leadership role means to do more than what’s required of you, just like Coach Wooden and my former boss. If you desire a lighter workload, no biggie. Just don’t take on a role as a leader!

Day 4 – Leadership “Wooden Style”

One of my favorite leaders ever is John Wooden (although it’s hard for me to accept that he was UCLA’s coach for so many years being a Trojan, myself)! That fact that he was part of that other team and I still adore him just proves how quality he really is, right?!

The man was seriously a wealth of knowledge and a phenomenal example of great character and wisdom. He is a legend and despite his passing exactly a year ago this month, he is still heralded as a tremendous leader today.

He left a legacy we can all continue to learn from. So thanks Mr. Wooden!

Credit: Photo by Christian Peterson - Getty Images

Here is a brief article from Psychology Today describing four lessons on leadership by a professor/psychologist who had the honor of presenting Coach Wooden with an award back in 2000.

Additional tidbits to ponder, courtesy of John Wooden…

Never mistake activity for achievement.

It’s not so important who starts the game, but who finishes it.

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.

Listen if you want to be heard.

If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over?

One last thing…. take a look at John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success. Print it, hang it up on your wall, use it as a tool for leadership!

Have a great weekend!

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