Trust is the Glue

The power base of any cohesive and unified team is trust.  If you believe in your people and you have confidence in their abilities and decision making, it has a way of multiplying the impact of the team.  You are, in effect, advancing your leadership to all of your team members.

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Leaders often have a tough time passing this responsibility on to others.  They are often used to making the decisions and developing the strategy for the group.  Leaders have confidence in their abilities to provide direction with effectiveness- that is how they became a leader.  The problem is that one person cannot think for the entire organization.

Once you let go of the reins and allow others to think and make decisions, you are tapping into more brain power.  Much more brain power.  The front line team members often know the situation better than the leaders.  They are involved in the struggle every day.  They see things first hand.  They know the intricate details that are involved in the process.

Most employees have no problem following direction.  They will proceed as directed.  If the plan is flawed from the start, they will generally avoid blame for the outcome.  The tension develops when you allow your team to think for themselves.  When they are allowed to put together their own plan and strategy, they are now open for scrutiny.  They feel vulnerable to judgement.

How do you remove this apprehension to leading?  Trust is the key.

Once the employee knows that his manager and the company are squarely behind them, they will feel the freedom to step into a leadership role and make decisions.  Without trust, there is a breakdown in authority.  And trust must go in both directions to bind the team together.

Trust is the glue that holds together a successful organization.

Mistakes will be made.  There is no way to completely avoid them.  You must always be ready to help clean up a mess resulting from a poor decision made by someone other than yourself.  This is natural- but not fun.  You can’t avoid it.  This is part of the learning process.

To unleash the power of your entire team- you must trust them and they must trust you.

There is no other way.

So what do you think?  Have you experienced a lack of trust that kept you from acting?  Click on “Leave a Comment” and let me know what you think!

The Hero and the Villain

A good action movie or a novel generally has these roles.  The villian is the dark and scheming character who is struggling to get what he wants in an unscrupulous way.  The hero is the character who is on the right side of things. The hero struggles with the villain and his schemes and works hard to make things right.

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A wise woman once described a relationship issue I was experiencing in the metaphors of the hero and the villain.  But this description is much different than what you would see in the movies.

The hero in this situation convinces themselves that the other person- the villain, is broken, weird, evil, twisted, crazy, or just wrong.  This gives the hero the license to do whatever they want.  The hero feeds off of competition, power and control.  The hero is always right.  They have to be at the front.  They have convinced themselves that the villain is so messed up they can treat them in a way that can be cruel, unfair, and disrespectful.  Or they see the villain as competition. The hero can distort the facts so they feel like they have to take care of things.  The hero has convinced themselves that the villain is so messed up that all regular conventions do no apply.  They have free rein to do whatever they want.  And its their job as the hero to jump in and make it right.

Meanwhile, the villain is just doing what they always do.  They may be way different from the hero- but their heart is right.  The villain may be unattractive or introverted or eccentric or have problems that the hero can’t understand.   Things that really grind the hero.  But generally, they are just different from the hero.  The villain can’t understand why they are treated so harshly by the hero.  They see the hero as someone they respect.  They can’t understand why the hero wants to continually put them down.  And the actions of the hero can be so subtle that the hero doesn’t even know what they are doing.  But I can assure you- the villain can see it.

I’ve been the villain.  More times than I can count.  I am different.  I am introverted.  I am not competitive.  I am an easy target.

Have you been any of these characters?  Let me give you some dialogue/thoughts you may be able to relate to:

  • All my son wants to do is play video games.  I can’t get him outside and he hates fishing.  I don’t know what’s wrong with him.  I’m going to take away those stupid games.
  • I’m just going to go talk to the client.  John is just not good at this.  I can’t trust him to take care of it.  He’s not like me.  I will close the deal.
  • I have to take control of things.  My husband is so passive.  Yes, I can be a little bossy- but I have to.  Somebody has to do it.
  • Why do I have to do everything around here.  When I give you a task to do you always take too long and make mistakes.  Good thing I am here to clean up your mess.
  • There is no way I could promote her.  She barely talks to anyone.  How can she be a manager?  I’ll continue to take care of it myself.
  • He is so weird.  I am afraid to take him to any meetings because he will make us look bad.  He just sits there and when he talks he makes weird comments.  I am so glad I am good at covering up his comments.
  • I don’t get her.  She hates shopping.  What woman hates shopping?  I am surprised she has any friends.  All my friends love to shop.

And so it goes.  The discouraging thing is that once the roles are set the hero rarely changes.  They continue to see the world as though they are the only person who is equipped to handle things properly.  This sounds as though they are well equipped, right?  No.  The truth is the hero is actually very insecure.  They see the world as a stage and they need to have everything looking good.  Any opportunity that could make them look bad is intolerable.  The hero must continue to be the hero and will fight for it at all costs.

So where are you on this?  Have you seen the villain or the hero?  Maybe a hard look at your relationships is in order.

Remember that different is good!  And just because someone is different than you does not give you a blank check.  If you are inherently competitive or have an issue with control you may need to do some self-examination of your real motives.  The villain is not broken.  They are just different than you.  And you need to give them some space!

So what do you think?  Have you seen these roles played out in your life?  Do you have a story about one of these roles?  Click on “Leave a Comment” if you want to join in or click “Like” if you agree with me!   

The Dangers of Meddling

“I can do whatever I want- I’m the boss!”

Have you heard this before?  This is a true statement for the most part.  If you are the boss you can do whatever you want.  But is it healthy?  Is it the right thing to do?  Will it do more harm than good?

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Meddle: 1. to become involved in the activities and concerns of other people when your involvement is not wanted.  

               2.  to change or handle something in a way that is unwanted or harmful

When you think of meddling you probably think of a mother-in-law giving advice on child rearing or your father lecturing you about your personal finances.  Meddling is not a typical way to describe a management and leadership problem, but I believe that meddling is much more common in business than you might think.  And- I believe that it can be very damaging.

When I typically visit one of our construction sites I will call ahead and talk to the Project Superintendent and give him a heads up that I am on my way to the site.  This is a call out of courtesy and respect.  I am not really obligated to call them- I out rank them.  Others like to show up unannounced to do a “stealth” visit.  I really fail to see a good reason to come unannounced.

The reason I call is that I believe that I am going out on their project site.  Yes- I outrank them, but we have put them in charge of the site.  It’s their domain.  Their responsibility.  Even though I am a company executive, out of respect and to align with responsibilities, I feel that I need to notify them and ask to be out on “their site”.

I believe this theory holds true with most areas of management.  If you put someone in charge of a particular area, then you need to respect their authority and stay out of the day-to-day operation.  You hired this person for a reason and you have given them specific duties.  There is a chain of command for a reason.  If you fail to respect the responsibilities and you drift in and out of issues as the wind blows it can be very damaging.  Here are a few of the problems that can develop:

  1. Undermining Authority: By getting involved in the day-to-day activities, you are blurring the lines of authority.  This adds a layer of confusion to who is really in charge.  The employee will be able to take the path of least resistance.  If you are trying to discipline an employee or work out a particular strategy, your efforts can be completely destroyed by a meddler.
  2. Mixed Messages: By getting involved, you will invariably be sending a different message to the employee.  It is extremely unlikely that your message will be identical to the manager who is their direct report.  If you follow the chain of command, the employee will hear only one voice and this will eliminate confusion.
  3. If Dad Says No- Go Ask Mom: We all know this tactic used by children to get what they want.  This also occurs in management.  If you meddle, you are setting yourself or your manager up to be manipulated.  By getting involved, you have added an additional person to the equation and you may be used to wiggle out of a responsibility.
  4. Nice Guy: If you are the big boss and you want everyone to like you, it will be very difficult for your manager to keep the employee focused on areas of improvement.
  5. Turns Down The Volume: If you are meddling and constantly giving direction instead of following the chain of command then the voice of the manager becomes secondary.  Due to your position, the meddler’s message will always drown out the voice of the manager.  Their voice becomes secondary.
  6. Mr/Ms Everything: You have now set yourself up to be involved in everything.  You will now field questions and problems that you really don’t want to deal with.  You can’t get away.  You can’t take a vacation without anxiety.  You loose your trust in your managers.

These are just a few examples of the damage that can occur when you neglect to follow the lines of authority.

You believe that you are better.

You just can’t stay out of things.

You can’t trust anyone to get it right.

You have to get involved in everything.

You want everyone to rely on you.

You have no real confidence in your managers.

Your opinion is the only one that really counts.

You may be telling yourself that you are just “helping out”.  Well, if that’s the case, then ask them if they really want your help.  Remember, if you truly want to help and be productive, then you need to take complete control of the issue and follow it through to the end.  You can’t have one foot in and one foot out.  You can’t bail out when it’s not fun anymore.

Be very careful.  Being a meddler is addictive. When you are involved in everything and you drift in and out of things responsibility suffers.  Who really has the ball?  Should you really carry everything?  Push everything back through the chain of command.  It’s there for a reason.

Empower your managers.  Support them.  And, most importantly, stay out of their business!

So what do you think?  Have you witnessed this behavior before?  Do you believe that you are entitled to do whatever you want when you are the boss?  Click on “Leave A Comment” and tell me what you think! 

Power Shortage

“Nobody will ever love you quite the way you want them to.  You just have to let them do their best.”

 

I saw this quote on Reddit the other day and it really hit me hard.  We really are selfish in everything- even in the way we are loved by others!

Why would I expect someone to love me just the way I want to be loved?

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Let’s face it- we are not mind readers and we are all wildly different.  And this does not even address the gender and role differences!  Yet through all of this, I can get to a place of feeling completely misunderstood.  I can sink into this feeling that folks just don’t really care about my desires, my feelings, my happiness.  I’m sure that I’m not alone.

Yet- How could they know?

I believe you can and should know how someone wants to be loved.  The problem is that we tend to default to loving others the way we want to be loved.  If you like words of affirmation, then you assume that everyone else values this action in the same way you do.  If its gifts or money, you are convinced that all you need to do is buy something for them.

 I believe this is also true for managing people.  You can’t expect that a “one size fits all” view of wants and needs is realistic.  I struggle with managers who are one dimensional in their approach to managing and motivating others.  So what do you do as leaders to love better?  How can you make your team feel truly loved and appreciated?  Here are a few hints!

Go Deeper:  If you are seeking to build strength in your team you must work to build a stronger relationship.  This takes risk.  You have to be willing to get past the surface and go deeper.  Lower your guard.  Find out what they are struggling with.  Find out what brings them joy.  By building your relationship, you will strengthen trust and understanding.  You will be able to tap into what truly motivates them.

Be a Noticer:  Watch for hints and feedback that give you a window into the person’s values and priorities.  I am always amazed how some folks can spend a large portion of their lives with someone and still not really understand them.  Be observant and get your mind off of yourself, the money, the day to day junk, the crisis of the day…and truly look at others on your team.  Simply watching and listening can provide you with a huge amount of information about others and allow you to connect with the things that are important to them.  The things that give them self worth and value.

Ask Questions:  Instead of barking out the orders and moving on, ask questions.  Engage your team members in meaningful dialogue.  Ask them for their opinion.  Make them part of the bigger story that you are trying to tell your customers and clients.  When you get your team involved, you are placing value on their opinions and their worth to you and the company.  You are acknowledging their expertise.  Ask them what they want, what they desire, where they see their role.

Gosh- such simple stuff but really powerful!  If you treat your team as if you don’t really care for them- how do you expect them to care for you and your companies goals?  Should you love your employees?   Yes- absolutely.  Should you try to give them what they want?  Yes- absolutely.  Should you make them feel part of the bigger picture?  Yes- absolutely.

If you give marginally to your team you will get marginal results back.  Is that what you want?  Not me.  Life is too short for a mere passing grade.  Get to really know your people and give them what they need.  Need a new jolt of power in your business?  The power is in loving well!

 

Smile Power

My daughter was born with a smile on her face.  She was, and still is, always smiling.  When she was a baby we would get comments about what a happy little girl she was.  Her smile was contagious and helped her make friends quickly.  When our kids were young we would frequently go camping and, before I could get the camper set up, she would be asking me to unload her bike as she already had found a friend.  In like five minutes.  Her smile continues to be big part of who she is.

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I tend to go in the other direction.  My natural look is to sport a serious face.  This may sound weird to some, but I actually have to remind myself to smile, especially when I meet new people.  My wife has had to field comments like “Is he angry.”  And, “I don’t think he likes me very much.”  Comments that are not at all flattering.

I used to think that it was OK.  I am who I am, right?  I’m just focused.  They just need to get over it.  But I have come to realize that it’s not right.  I shouldn’t make people feel uncomfortable when all I need to do is smile more and be a bit more engaging.  Smile.  Seems simple right?

I have come to realize that there is real power in a smile.  Last week I was at the airport toting my bag and backpack and surveying the perfect spacing of seating in the boarding area.  As I walked down an aisle, a woman looked up from her phone and eyes meeting gave me a big smile.  A simple, friendly, warm smile.  The airport is not always a very “smiley” place so it really caught me off guard a bit.  I smiled back and continued my search for a seat.  Her smile was a little “pick me up” and a moment to refocus.  Or maybe even unfocus?

Smiling has power.  Scientists have concluded that smiling people actually live longer, have better marriages, are more successful in business, win elections, and have greater influence than the general population.

Smiling works.  It has a way of disengaging tense circumstances.  It is a powerful, yet silent, introduction.  It builds trust.  It communicates peace and contentment.  Are you using your smile?  Unlike other leadership tools, it’s always ready and available.

My father always had a smile on his face.  I don’t know anyone that didn’t like my Dad.  He was always lighthearted and positive.  How do you want to be remembered?  Serious and focused?  Or smiling?  I know which one I would choose!

So what do you think?  Click “Like” if you agree!  Do you have a “smiler” in your life?  Click “Leave A Comment” and let us hear your story!