High Performance Leaders is hosting our next FREE 50 minute Lunch & Lead Series event on Friday, April 30 at 12:05PM EST / 9:05AM PST on the topic of “Leading Problem Solving – 5 essential ways to engage and lead your team in Problem Solving”.
In our Front Line Leadership program, we discuss 4 very important leadership attributes with our leaders which are Attitude, Accountability, Courage, and Trust. We always have some great dialogue on each of these attributes with the leaders sharing examples of how leaders can demonstrate each of these and equally how they can very easily damage their reputations within each.
Thinking of leadership courage, and reflecting back over my career, my greatest career opportunities and leadership development growth has come when I have pushed myself, or have been pulled, outside of my comfort zone. Without exception, every single of what I would consider to be my greatest career accomplishments and where I have grown the most have come when I gathered up as much courage as possible to challenge myself to do what initially scared the life out of me. Each time, I learned and grew exponentially. In many cases, the risks could be considered high. Failure and definitely losing my job were real potential outcomes. There were failures along the way but boy did I learn from those, so were they really failures? They are only failures if you don’t learn from the mistakes or miscalculations.
Moving out of your comfort zone takes real courage! It’s scary and is not without risks. However, if you plan carefully and mitigate AND accept the risks, the rewards and growth realized are without doubt, career and life changing.
Are you being courageous and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone? Leave comments on your thoughts and or experiences of when you have been courageous with your leadership.
Below is a link to a very good John Maxwell video that talks about Courage. Well worth the 2 minutes! Enjoy and be courageous in your leadership!
With every New Year, there is an opportunity for all of us to make a fresh start! Are you prepared to take it? This year, perhaps more than recent years, we all want things to be different!
Often due to our busyness or just plain procrastination, the hardest part is to get started, so I thought I’d try and assist you by providing some of my previous posts on topics that I think can be very helpful at this time of year.
Getting yourself Organized – Time management & weekly personal planning
6 Must have’s for any planning routine – If you are in need of getting yourself better organized so you stay in control and get the right things done, these 6 key points to incorporate in your planning process will be helpful.
An effective leaders to-do list – We all have “things” we need or want to get done on a regular basis, but often we lose track of them and they fall off our radar. This article gives an over view of a very powerful leader tool, that is sadly too often overlooked, not understood, or assumed to be only for manufacturing. Not giving it away here so as not to discourage you from checking it out first!
Free personal organizer/planner download – Free down load of the template I use for my personal organizer and weekly planner. If you don’t have one, this should give you a good starting point that is ready to use, or you can easily revise to fit your personal needs.
Setting goals and Objectives – Personal or for business
Reflections vs Resolutions – A critical step before setting annual goals and objectives is to first reflect on the previous year. In my opinion, reflection is far more important than any resolution. In this post we discuss why resolutions typically fail and the steps to conducting a good reflection.
I’m sure few of us imagined that by this time, we’d still be in this COVID pandemic! But here we are.
At High Performance Leaders as we’ve continued to engage with our partner leaders, we have identified five phases that most, if not all, leaders have experienced to one extent or another throughout this situation.
Phase 1 was the “Crisis” phase where leaders were faced with a rapidly changing situation. They struggled to keep up with a developing situation and had to quickly and creatively develop new policies and standards to protect the health and safety of their employees while also trying to maintain their operations. They were experiencing the change curve at almost exactly the same time as the teams they were leading. This was uncharted territory for most leaders!
In Phase 2 leaders were thrown into “Establishing the new work environment”. Setting up the infrastructure, technology and processes for them and their teams to work remotely. Some leaders also had to lead through a hybrid situation where some of their team worked remotely while other parts were still required to be at the workplace. Some had to revise the work week or working hours and establish new working standards and processes.
“Staying engaged” was Phase 3 where leaders time and attention was spent on figuring out how to keep their teams busy, productive, and focused. They and their teams were still learning how to work remotely and stay in contact with each other. New forms, media, and initiatives of mass and individual communication was needed to be established. Many leaders struggled getting and keeping their teams aligned and focused beyond the normal day to day of what seemed like basic survival tasks. Short term team goals needed to be established to motivate, inspire, and frankly become a distraction from what was now becoming a longer-term situation than people originally thought.
Important by Phase 3 and remaining relevant today was a reminder about the Stockdale Paradox. As Jim Collins said “You must maintain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time, have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be. Watch Jim’s Collin’s explain the Stockdale Paradox here. (full video 6:41).
Phase 4 showed the impact the first few months of COVID had on leaders as the reality of the “New normal, new reality” had sunk in. Many leaders were extremely frustrated by the on-going situation, were depressed and many were burning or were burned out. Longer days, blurred lines between work and personal time, and not having any vacations to speak of had taken their toll. Of course, continued governmental restrictions and protocols impacted the traditional social and personal escape routines. The long-term reality of the situation had set in.
“Cultural tensions” define Phase 5 that I believe we are currently still in. This is where opposing thoughts, expectations, and beliefs such as the need to wear masks or not wear masks are creating polarized views within society but also within our teams and businesses. Some team members are more disciplined than others toward COVID standards and protocols than others. We are all longing for the ‘old’ ways and want everything to be ‘open’. Economic fallout is now obvious as layoffs, permanent closures, higher costs, and budget constraints are rearing their heads and must be dealt with.
It’s been a tough road and experts say, tougher roads lay ahead. However, don’t despair, this too will end and we will get through it! Here’s a few reasons why I really believe this.
I was blown away with the quick actions that most business leaders, companies, political leaders, and society overall took in the initial stages of COVID. Many people and organizations stepped up and acted with integrity to do the right thing, to innovate and implement creative ways to keep people safe and employed, to make funds available to subsidize lost wages, protect against financial impacts. Although some will feel it hasn’t been enough, it’s incredible though just what has been done in the time it has been. It’s easy to be critical, but I encourage you to consider just what has been done!
Humans throughout all of time, have persevered, survived and prospered. We will do it again. We will change, adopt and discover. Some of the best advancements, innovations, creativity throughout history have resulted from some of the worst and biggest challenges humans have faced.
There are many good and great leaders and people out there. This is their time and they will step up!
Through CEO Global Network, I recently had the opportunity to hear Randy Garfield, President (retired) of Walt Disney Travel Company speak on the topic of “A Legacy of Determination”. He had some great and inspiring things to say about the current situation. Here are a few that really resonated with me:
Times are tough, but times have been tough in every generation. Our parents or grandparents lived through the dark tunnel of WWII
We need to maintain the long-term view
Don’t underestimate the power of creative solutions
Out of adversity can come incredible success
Don’t overlook survival guilt as many of our employees have never experienced a challenge like we are all facing.
Crisis doesn’t make a great leader, but it can bring out the best in a good one
I’m not sure what Phase 6 will be, but there will be a Phase 6. It may very likely get worse before it gets better, but we will get through this, together! You can sit back and ride it out, or, help lead those around you out of this. You don’t have to have all the answers, just lead the next best step. What do you choose?
There are plenty of tools out there to help us with continuous improvement projects or for problem solving, but it’s not about the tools! It’s about the mindset. The mindset to simplify, make things better, reduce errors or defects, and reduce waste.
It’s that time of year, at least where I live, that we anticipate warmer weather soon. We hope! That means the sap will start running for the annual maple syrup season. A friend, that owns a farming business, asked me to help him tap some trees and hook up the sap lines in preparation for the sap to start running. Sure beats the old days when I helped empty the buckets! Man that was hard work!
Snyder Heritage Farms has various products, one of which is maple syrup. Although not considered a large farm, they tap 2,500 trees with 3,800 taps pulling approximately 250,000 litres of sap through 24,000 feet of small lines. The small lines converge with 10,000 feet of larger main lines leading to the evaporator which boils the sap down to produce about 5,500 litres of pure Canadian maple syrup in an average season.
Even though I had helped in previous years, I was given a brief training course by the owner, Kevin Snyder, on the standard work to install the taps and connect the sap lines. Kevin gave me some key quality points to ensure the hole was drilled properly, the tap installed correctly, and the line secured tightly. What impressed me most though was his continuous improvement mindset. He had determined the most efficient paths to walk through the bush to minimize walking, placement of the tractor in proximity to where we would need to reload with taps while minimizing the walking distance to/from the tractor to do so. He established working zones for each helper to maximize coverage while eliminating any duplication or cross over. He had nail pouches to hold the taps, harnesses for the drills so they were easy to carry and to set aside when not drilling, while eliminating the risk of setting them down in the snow and then leaving them behind. All these things make sense, but what struck me most was his mindset. He was very focused on making the process as efficient as he could to both reduce the burden on the tappers and make them more efficient, while also improving the process to reduce defective tap holes, taps, and hose line connections that could impact vacuum pressure and reduce sap yield. At one point I complimented him on all the improvements he had made and for his mindset. Kevin’s response as he trekked off into the snow covered bush to put in more taps was,
“When you’re the little guy, you have to be efficient!“
It is true smaller companies need to be efficient, but so do larger companies! Unfortunately, sometimes larger companies lose focus and forget the importance of the team’s mindset by hammering out new tools while insisting the team find a “problem” to apply them. Tools are important, but it’s the mindset that is most important because mindset is what creates the drive for continuous improvement. After all, not everything needs a tool to improve. Sometimes, just pure observation, common sense, and know how is all that is needed. Mindset coupled with tools can be powerful, but when you have a bunch of tools without mindset, everything looks like a nail waiting to be hammered!
Maple Weekend – 4th & 5th April 2020
If you are near the Kitchener-Waterloo area, Snyder Heritage Farms hosts “Maple Weekend” on 4th & 5th April from 10:00am – 4:00pm where you can bring your family out to their farm for an instructional tour of the sugar shack and how maple syrup is made, take a tractor ride to visit the maple bush, and enjoy freshly made pancakes and sausages. It’s a fun couple of hours for the family on a nice spring day, and of course, there’s lots of fresh maple syrup!