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?
Does the thought of ‘spring break’ approaching cause you grief? Sure we all love our vacations, but unfortunately taking vacation and returning afterwards can be stressful. It doesn’t have to be this way. Here’s some things you can do to help! If you’ve seen them before, it might still be worth a skim through as a reminder.
Just recently having the opportunity to take vacation with my family, it reminded me how stressful vacation can be, unfortunately. In today’s world of always being connected and the on-going expectations and demands placed on us in our work lives, it can be very difficult for many to get away on vacation easily. Then there is the mess when we return! The result too often is the week before we leave is high stress and the week we return is brutal! Then there is the time we are actually off on vacation. Regardless whether we are able to disconnect while away, the first few days can be tough as we de-stress from the week before, and then a few days before the end of the vacation we begin to think of what awaits our return and the stress and anxiety ramps up.
To help out just a little, I’ve re-posted some information from previous posts that may help.
Before you go:
TIP: When you book your vacation, block off in your calendar the last day before you go and the first day you return, then be very selective as to what meetings you book on those days, if any. Give yourself the opportunity to clear your inbox, ensure delegation is set-up, take care of any priorities that need to be looked after when you are gone, and give yourself sometime to deal with the inevitable last minute before vacation “crisis” that surely will pop up.
Appoint a delegate to look after things for you. Advise your team who this is and how to contact them. Turn on your out of office notification and put this contact information in the notification so that when others beyond your team try to contact you, they will realize you are out of the office and will know who to contact should they need to do so, rather than wait for your return.
Depending on your level of responsibility, provide someone you trust with your contact information should there be a urgent matter or emergency in which you need to be reached. This maybe your cell phone number or contact information as to where you will be staying. This may or may not be your assigned delegate. Let your team know you are not checking or responding to emails or texts while you are gone. Be sure to leave clear instructions as to what constitutes an urgent matter or emergency.
TIP: Leave instructions with your team to summarize key issues or problems you need to be aware of or where they need your help immediately upon your return. If you have an assistant they can consolidate all these items in one email and send to you upon your return. If you don’t have an assistant, then you can assign this to your delegate. The intent here is that this short list will allow you to quickly focus on the most important items immediately upon your return rather than trying to sort through all your emails or reacting as things come to your attention somewhat randomly throughout the day.
Review the consolidated list from your team of the urgent matters they need your immediate assistance with. Use this list to set your priorities for your first day back. Schedule urgent meetings or phone calls as necessary to address these issues.
Check-in with your delegate to see how things went and if there is anything you need to know about or follow-up on.
TIP:Create a “Vacation holding” file within your email and move all the emails received while you were gone, other than the last 1-2 days, to this file. Then sort through and process the remaining emails from the past 1-2 days. If something comes up that you need to search through the emails in the vacation holding file, you have them available. After a week or so, if you haven’t found you need any emails from this folder you can go ahead and delete them.
Reflect on what worked well and what didn’t before, during, and after your vacation so you can tweak your vacation routine accordingly.
TIP: Book your next vacation!
Whether you are on vacation or not, everyone must have the proper balance between work and life. Finding it is a real challenge that so many people struggle with. So what is this work-life balance thing anyway? Is it real, or just a myth? This article discusses two analogies to describe work-life balance. Having the right mindset and expectation helps you find a sweet spot to get you through the twists and turns that life will surely send your way. With these 10 steps to improve your work-life balance you can get closer to a healthier and happier place in life!
During the summer months when your co-workers are taking time off, or you are taking time off, it is very easy to get out of your routines. This is likely when you need these routines the most! This post on personal planning discusses 6 key steps to getting and staying organized on your priorities. Even if you are familiar with them, review them again and do an inventory to ensure you haven’t mistakenly dropped some! When you are picking up the slack for others that are away, or playing catch up when you return, managing your time effectively is key to treading water.
Is email easier in the summer months? Maybe, but not very likely! There are some very helpful built in tools within Outlook and several email apps that can assist you with staying on top of your email. It is surprising how few people use them and often enough aren’t even aware of them. You may be a quick and easy mouse click away from some much needed help! After it was first published, this second post on the @5 Essential email folders. received positive feedback from several who tried these tips. If you aren’t aware of what the @5 are, check it out!
Other Related Posts:
Here’s some additional posts related to this topic written by others.
Do you want to get yourself better organized this year so you are ready to lead more effectively? Then these two tools will help you! Yes you!
At High Performance Leaders Inc., we help develop leaders to be more effective, everyday! Although there are many important aspects to being an effective leader included in our program, one straight forward but critical way is to get and stay organized.
Unfortunately, too many leaders say they want to spend more quality time with their teams, have more focus on their top priorities, and feel less overwhelmed. Sound somewhat familiar? Two vital tools that can dramatically assist with these far too common issues is Leader Standard Work (LSW) and a personal planning sheet and routine.
To assist in these areas, download these free basic LSW and personal planning templates and start off the year more organized!
If you think LSW doesn’t apply to you or your position, you are missing out on a very helpful tool. LSW is not only for first line manufacturing supervisors. It’s a powerful tool for any leader in any business at all levels. Another myth is that a leader’s job is not standard, so therefore LSW will not work. Absolutely there are aspects of a leader’s responsibilities that are not standard, however, there are likely many responsibilities and actions that are standard when you step back and evaluate what needs to be accomplished.
LSW is simply an organized list of the most important responsibilities, actions, or tasks that a leader needs or wants to accomplish, and the frequency with which they need to be completed. This list then is used to remind the leader what they need to get done. When integrated into a robust scheduling and personal planning routine, it will result in improved results, accomplishments, and feeling of accomplishment. It will also avoid important things from falling off the radar over time or when things get hectic.
Surprisingly many leaders also only use their calendar and maybe a note book for personal planning purposes. This can lead to losing control of your time and schedule, and not having time to get to those things that are most important to get completed. Important tasks or follow-up items may get buried within the notebook and get overlooked or forgotten.
A regular personal planning routine of reviewing your LSW, scheduled and new meetings, your priorities, outstanding actions and follow-up, is critical to being an effective leader. Coupling the routine with a single page weekly planner can have a dramatic impact on a leader’s effectiveness.
Update and revise your personal planner once per week, print it out and then keep it up-to-date throughout the week using the old pen and pencil method, or maintain it live on your computer. Your choice. Add tabs to keep a log of actions or tasks that need to be completed at some point in the future, but that you don’t need on the current week’s planner. Categorize the tabs based on key areas of your life such as, “Follow-up”, “Actions”, “@Computer”, “Errands” etc.
If this sounds basic to you, great! You should be all set and maybe already effective in this regard. However, indications are that many leaders lack a robust planning and organizing routine. A 20 minute weekly planning routine is all that is required to get organized and stay on top of the important things.