Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Watch The Snake Oil

Hey, you’ve been reading leadership books. Great! Before you try out something new, remember – you have to lead according to your own style. Books and articles are wonderful but they’re a base from where you need to begin. If you want to implement the styles that you read about, do it in the most successful manner.

If you come across an exciting new idea that you read about in a book, you’ve got to read and learn more about it first. You can’t read one book and be ready to go. Read a number of books or articles by different authors. You need to have a good grasp of what it’s all about BEFORE you start. One author may make it sound great – different authors may not.

Remember that management “fads” or "trends" are TOOLS. They’re going to work in some situations, but not others. Taylor it to your own needs and beliefs. Be sure you know WHY you’ve picked these tools and HOW you’re going to use them. If you don’t know how you’re going to measure your success, then don't do it.

For gosh sakes, when you do implement your new style, be sure that you stay with it. Don’t get into the "flavor of the month" mode. With each new technique will come a new failure, and increased disparagement from your team. If you keep ringing the bell, sooner or later the dog won’t come (Pavlov).

Part of being a successful leader is being consistent. Get new ideas . . . discover new tools . . . but don’t try to be something you’re not. If the tools WORK for you, then great. Go for it. Don’t try to force it just because you like the ideas of this new style. Keep in mind that authors write books to make money. They make these things sound as good as possible. Go with the things that sound like they’ll be the best fit - for YOU.

Special Note: I'm privileged to be reviewing an advance copy of Zappos.com CEO, Tony Hsieh's new book, "Delivering Happiness". Stay tuned for my take. The book will actually hit the stores June 7.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Best Is Yet To Come

So. You’re getting into that middle aged (or over) area and you haven’t fulfilled your “destiny” yet, huh? So what? Maybe it’s not time for your destiny. If God would fulfill all of our destiny’s early in life, what would we have to look forward to or work towards? The best may be yet to come.

Famed business guru Peter Drucker wrote 39 books. Wow. Took a long time to do that, right? By the time Drucker turned 65 he had only written about one-third of his books. For you non-math majors out there, that means he wrote about 26 books after turning 65. Now you can say WOW.

Zelda Rubinstein was 48 before she had her first acting role, a minor part in “Under the Rainbow”. She’s most known for her "debut" in the “Poltergeist” film series starting the following year (“Now clear your minds. It knows what scares you. It has from the very beginning. Don't give it any help, it knows too much already”).

Colonel Harland Sanders didn’t begin his Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise until he was 65. He used $105 from his first Social Security check to fund visits to potential franchisees.

Baseball pitcher Randy Johnson was celebrated for having one of the most dominant fastballs in the game. He made his Major League debut at 25, but didn't reach superstar status until he was 30. In sports years (kinda like dog years) that’s a pretty advanced age.

Ever heard of seven-time Grammy Award winner Al Jarreau? He released his critically acclaimed debut album, We Got By, at age 35.

So what are you going to do? Give up? Take a back seat? I don’t think so. Hold on to your dreams and aspirations. Keep moving forward and keep LEARNING. The best is yet to come!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I Want The Window!

Employers look for staff who have that special something - the skills, tendencies and attributes that help to keep productivity - and profits - up. They look for people who are going to make a positive contribution for the company.

“So what are these things?” you ask. I’m glad you asked. More and more organizations are looking for employees with strong "personal" skills, not just the right “experience”.

Here are five of the top attributes employers are looking for:

Creativity: You've heard of the saying, "thinking outside the box"? Employers want innovative people who bring a fresh perspective to the organization.

Discipline: They look for the ability for you to keep to the task at hand and complete projects without becoming distracted or bored. Being well organized helps you to work without major distractions. Organizations want employees who have high aspiration levels and work hard to achieve their goals.

Good Attitude: This has been shown to be able to predict counterproductive work behaviors, job performance and even theft. Willingness to connect personally in workplace events is very important. A positive attitude goes a loooong way toward productivity.

Influence: Groups need strong leaders to guide the way. Influence includes positively impacting circumstances by speaking your mind and becoming a group leader.

Sociability: How much you enjoy interacting with coworkers affects how well you work with them. This isn't just about job knowledge, but knowledge of coworkers and the environment. It includes being able to read other people's motives from observed behavior and using the information to guide your thinking and actions.

To have these attributes means a better chance of being hired or moving up. To master these attributes means moving into that nice office with the window.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

You Don't Know Me

In the April edition of SUCCESS magazine, Food Network star Guy Fieri said that one of the top three elements in his marketing strategy is having an “organized effort”. “We don’t need everybody thinking the same way and doing the same thing, otherwise somebody’s not necessary.”

What a concept. But you know? Many staff and leaders do look at certain positions as not being “necessary”, or sub-human even. This is why organizational charts and job descriptions are needed. Each specific position needs to be planned out. But chances are, if you're a new supervisor, you have no control over it. Unless you’re in on the ground floor of creating an organization or a new department, it’s all set up already when you come in.

So where do you start? A-ha – getting to know the org charts and the job descriptions – along with your new staff. These things should have been looked at enough already for you to know that you do indeed need all the staff you just inherited. Don’t fall into the trap of believing you don’t need someone or that they’re not important just because you don’t know what they do.

I’ll give you a good example. Anyone that’s been in the military knows that Mess Cooks, or whatever your branch calls them, get a bad rap. “They don’t do anything.” “All they do is cook.” “Heck, I can cook and I didn’t need any training.” All things I’ve heard before. Okay you know-it-all’s, let’s see what happens when they don’t show up for work. Are you going to jump in and cook up your famous scrambled eggs for 1 - for 5000 people? Ahhhhh, now it’s a different story.

Never underestimate others or their positions within the company without first LEARNING what they’re all about. As Socrates said, “True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.”