A Simple Leadership Principle

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I once had a boss who performed magic! His mere presence on the sales floor seemed to always enable us get the job done in record time. Whenever an important merchandising project rolled up, his presence instantly doubled our strength. He wasn’t mean. He didn’t yell at us. He made work fun. He made it hard to spot the general by working like a soldier. It was simple.

The principles of great ‘Leadership’ can sometimes be broken down into smaller pieces. One of the often-missed smaller pieces is leading by example.

Leading by example is as simple as:

  1. Working side-by-side with employees showing them how to do it. The employees will also appreciate the time they have with their boss.
  2. Volunteering for the tougher assignments. By showing that you have the courage to take on a tough assignment, your followers will be more apt to volunteer when you need to accomplish something big.
  3. Doing the dirty work first. Your employees should see that you aren’t afraid to do the unfavorable ‘grunt’ work.
  4. Changing your mindset first. When upper management makes a decision that requires change in your team, let them know it isn’t easy. But tell them how you will change yourself to accommodate the request.
  5. Sharing your own struggles. If an employee is finding it hard to execute at their job, share with them a similar experience you’ve had and ask them if there’s anything you can do to help them overcome it.
  6. Failing in front of them. Do not hide your failures. When you fail, let them know you did, and it’s ok because you will get better.

What are some examples you have of leading by example? Please share them in the comments below!

Volunteer!

volunteer-1326758_1280Nothing builds a greater camaraderie with your work team than volunteering together for something that you are collectively passionate about.  You may already know of some passions of your team, such as a coworker who volunteers.  You can try to help recruit others in the workplace to join you to get behind a great cause.  Wouldn’t it be great to get behind what they are passionate about?  Wouldn’t it be great to get behind what you’re passionate about?

My colleague, Debbie, is rallying her team behind a great cause, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada. In turn, her team will be able to “toss their boss”: she and some of her team will be able to rappel down the side of one of our area’s tallest buildings, the Grand Sierra Resort!  Over the Edge, an organization that helps non-profits raise money with these types of events, conducts this event.

My colleague is doing what she’s passionate about, by helping Big Brothers Big Sisters, and she’s building camaraderie within her team at the same time.

There are people and organizations that you connect with that need your help.

If you’re an animal lover, the Humane Society could use you.

http://www.humanesociety.org/community/volunteers/

If you would like to help an elder, check out the AARP or local organizations on Google.

http://createthegood.org/volunteer-search

If you or a loved one has been affected by cancer, volunteer for the Relay for Life.

http://www.cancer.org/involved/volunteer/relay-for-life-volunteers?_ga=1.102283201.1931679441.1468070851

If you want to make a big impact in a child’s life who needs your friendship, consider Big Brothers Big Sisters.  The children you would be helping might be living in a single parent home, be in poverty, or do not have their parents there to raise them. Helping children, indeed helping people, is a great calling, and I will be signing up for Big Brothers Big Sisters next month when my academics are over.

http://www.bbbs.org/site/c.9iILI3NGKhK6F/b.5962345/k.E123/Volunteer_to_start_something.htm

“To ease another’s heartache is to forget one’s own.”
– Abraham Lincoln

What are you passionate about?  Do you currently volunteer for any organizations?  Please let me know and leave a comment below.

If you would like to help Debbie raise money for BBBS, please follow the link below:

https://secure.e2rm.com/registrant/TeamFundraisingPage.aspx?teamID=711989&langPref=en-CA

How to Discuss Leadership Values

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“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” – Roy Disney

An important exercise I’ve used with my team is a values discussion. As a teammate or manager, I find it beneficial to understand the perspective of my team. It’s also worthwhile that the team understands the perspective of their teammates and manager.

This discussion can be a team building exercise. I purchased a deck of values cards from life coach Margie Heiler. These wonderful cards perfectly capture meaningful values and questions that one may ask themselves to understand their significance. The first person (go in order of reverse title rank) will go through the deck and choose the 8 values most important to them. Someone will record this.

The next person will do the same, and so on, until all of the values are recorded. The results are tallied and shared with the team, starting with the most mentioned and working their way down. As the results are discussed, ask the team for a volunteer to talk about why that value means so much to them. These results should be published for the team afterwards.

Through this exercise, the team learns about how unique it is. It’s also revealed how unified it is behind certain values. This awareness can help drive teamwork and decision-making at various levels.

Here are some additional questions that you can examine as a group:

  • What step(s) can be taken to strengthen our resolve in our values?
  • How does staying true to our values make us feel?
  • Are there things we are doing now that are not aligned with our values?
  • Are these values the same at home and work?
  • What stories can individuals share that best illustrate one of their values?
  • How do our own values help us make decisions in gray areas?
  • How can we use these values in the workplace?

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

What are some of your top values? Reply in the comments field. If you like this blog, click on Follow so you can be notified as it is published.

By the way, I have not been paid for this endorsement of Margie Heiler’s product. I believe these cards are useful, and you should have a chance to acquire this awesome tool. You can find out more information at www.roadtoresilience.com.

The Big Picture

The Big Picture

Do you think your employees know what the big picture is for your company or your unit? Do you think they should? If they don’t, what are the possibilities if they did?

I once heard an anecdote of a restaurant company who was trying to increase sales by 8% over a 3-year period. Everyone of the board thought this would be a huge challenge, but they approved the sales budget and shared the goal with every employee in the company from managers down to the bus boys. They ended up exceeding their target many times over within that 3-year span mainly because everyone was informed and working for the same cause.

If you’re a manager, you may be given direction from your boss on topics to share with employees. Of course, you’ll dutifully share those. However, rare is a company that I’ve worked for in non-management where the bigger picture was shared with me, much less the bottom line of my unit or the impact my actions/inactions would have on it.

For some reason, the picture usually becomes clearer as we move up the chain of command, but wouldn’t it be helpful for all employees?

I encourage you to share these big picture motives with your employees. If you share with them some of this information regularly, you will have more people pointed and pulling together in the right direction. Things you could make a topic of conversation are:

  • Company’s vision/mission statement
  • Unit’s profit and loss statement
  • Information on gross margins and expenses and how it affects profitability
  • Annual goals of the unit and company
  • 3 to 5 year plan of the unit and company
  • How various departments work together to support one another and how actions taken can impact the other departments
  • Your vision of the unit’s operations within the next 1, 3, and 5 years
  • Career opportunities that may even go outside of the unit

Do you share bigger picture perspective with your team regularly? What topics do you focus on?

Is Your Team Prepared for Emergencies in the Workplace?

One week ago, I was robbed at gunpoint. Luckily for my employees, and myself, the robber just wanted the money in my store. He did not want to hurt anyone. That did not take away from the scariness of the situation or my thankfulness of safety when it was over. In the aftermath, I was thankful I made time the past two years instructing my employees on tips and protocol when dealing with a bad situation.

We must make time to inform our employees what to do in the case of emergencies. If the moment ever comes, we want them to think clearly and focus on what they know. The few minutes you set aside to discuss these things with them twice a year is time well spent if a crisis reveals itself. Here are tips to help you help your team:

  1. Designate shelters-in-place – These are rooms that are secure from the outside, usually with little or no visibility, where your employees can go to hide from an active shooter or protect themselves in case of a natural disaster. The room should be free of objects that could fall on top of them. The room should be structurally sound (bathrooms often are very sound). The room should have little to no visibility from the outside and be able to be locked.
  2. Have an area to meet up outside of the workplace – If employees evacuate the building (from fire for example), you will want to get a head count to ensure that all are accounted for.
  3. Post maps that clearly identifies exit paths and doors – These maps will help them think clearly in case of an emergency.
  4. Discuss What-If scenarios with your team – What if someone is robbing the workplace? How will you respond? What if there is a tornado? How will you respond? The types of situations can go on and on. I would recommend natural disaster scenarios, fire scenarios, and scenarios that involve potential assailants or robbers.
  5. Have these meetings bi-annually – You may have new employees, and it’s always good to have reminders of the proper protocol in case of an emergency.

Do you have scenarios that you prepare your team for? Do you feel like you and your team are prepared?  I would like to know your thoughts.  Please join the discussion and post a comment!

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Challenging Yourself

Management is demanding. The best of us face problems every day, and many of them were out of our control. It’s part of our job, but can leave us mentally drained. I’ve found that by challenging myself in my personal life, I have more energy and a clearer focus at work. Here are some ways that you might consider challenging yourself to re-energize after a long day’s work.

  1. Take some classes – What do you want to know more about? Take some classes on that subject! This can be fun and challenging. I’ve found out by going back for my master’s degree, my focus at work is more acute. By the way, if you’re looking for a challenging and enlightening MBA, I would encourage you to check out the EMBA program at the University of Nevada, Reno. http://www.unr.edu/degrees/emba/online-emba #unrbrand
  2. Volunteer for a favorite cause – There are many charities out there trying to help those less fortunate. There are few things better in life than helping other people. It’s good for the soul, too!
  3. Coach – If you have children who play sports, sign up as a coach if possible. Even if you know very little about the sport, the time you spend with the children aiding their learning and working towards a common goal can help bring clarity to other times in your life you spend leading (such as at work).
  4. Become an expert at your hobby – Spend the extra time mastering your hobby and find others to share it with. Many times there are local groups you can connect with to share in your passion.
  5. Blog! – Sharing your thoughts with the world is a scary endeavor. I’m sure you have something very valuable to contribute to others, and blogging about is a great way to share. Platform by Michael Hyatt is an excellent resource to get you started with blogging. Follow his blog at http://michaelhyatt.com

Let me know how you challenge yourself by leaving a comment. And please subscribe to my blog by clicking Follow!

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Are You a New Manager? 6 Tips to Relate Better With Employees

Being a new manager is hard. It may be your first management assignment, or you may be the new manager for a crew of people.   It’s crucial you start your employee relationships with the right tone and image. Here are 6 tips to help you do this.

  1. Introduce yourself to the group– Meet with them as a group and introduce yourself. Give them a brief biography and maybe a quirky fact. Let them know that you’ll meet with them each personally over the next few days. The idea to communicate is to let them know that you are here, you care, and you are ready to do a great job for them and the company.
  2. Meet with employees individually – During this 15-30 minute meeting, ask them questions about their career goals. Ask them what they do well. Ask them what you can help them with as their manager. Ask them what you can do to improve the team or results. Ask them about the things they do well that can help you and the team. Share with them some details about your life – spouse, kids, hobbies, causes and interests. Ask them about their family. It’s important to remember what they are saying. When you are done, take 5 minutes and write down some of the highlights to remember.
  3. Create quick wins – Based on your initial meetings with employees or within groups, take action on anything quick you can do to improve the team.
  4. Publish quick wins – Anything you do that immediately improves the team condition or results in the first 30 days should be published / posted to let the team know what changes you were able to make based on their feedback.
  5. Don’t change anything for 30 days – If the group didn’t ask for the change in your meetings with them, don’t change it the first month. Many groups have a life of their own. It’s good to watch to see how the team interacts and the decisions and actions they make daily. When you introduce change you want, you’ll need to be ready to sell it and the benefits.
  6. Be fair – Ultimately, there will be those that will attempt to persuade you that an employee is a bad apple. Assume positive intent and judge that employee for the actions they take and the results they get. Address any team concerns only if you sense it cannot wait. Even then, ask questions first to understand the other employee.

I would love to hear any tips you have as a new manager. Please leave a comment! Thank you for reading.

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