A Leadership Experience

This past week, I had the privilege of watching a group of leadership program candidates graduate from their experience.  As a Board Member for a local trade association, I was there as this program is a Board sponsored program. 

There were some important lessons that I took away from this dinner, aside from the fact the dinner, was AWESOME!  All of these lessons are more “duh” moments when you sit back and think about it, however, they definitely served as reminders that you have to take the time to get  back to the basics from time to time as leader.

1. Leadership is a journey, not a destination
2. Each person has their individual spin they put on leadership
3. Have a dream; develop a plan; execute on your strategy
4. No two leaders execute in the same manner, nor are their experiences the same
5. Just because leadership styles are different, doesn’t mean one is more right than another
6. If you are learning in a homogeneous environment, you lose diversity in thought and experiences
7. Successful leaders are always networking and exchanging ideas
8. Leaders must be open to differing perspectives and allow results to happen as a consequence of execution
9. Leadership is not about the leader
10. Leaders must take the time to “smell the roses” and celebrate the success of their teams and organizations
11. Leaders need to be facilitators for growth and development, not managers of activities
12. Leaders don’t need to be the smartest person in the room, but they need to have vision and effective communication skills

These 2013 graduates of The Austin Contact Center Association Service Leadership Academy did a great job in their journey.  Several of the graduates are already on their way to successful adventures inside their organizations, but also outside of their organization.  I don’t think that they realize how much they taught this member of the audience.  I hope they do now.

Have a great week!

A Sense of Purpose

Today’s topic is one that is discussed frequently as a leadership topic, providing a sense of purpose.  I take credit for this not in my workplace, but in the work that my two son’s began this weekend. 

Allow me to table set for a moment.  First of all, they are both A students in high school.  One has been accepted to his dream college on early admission, but is keeping his options open as before he fully commits as he has a desire to play baseball at the collegiate level.  My other son is a sophomore who is definitely coming into his own personality and is very focused in his own right.  They are both focused on being successful in school, but at times it seems they are satisfied with doing enough to stay ahead of their peers.

They began assisting a family friend this weekend on a new business venture that they are assisting him with market research on.  What a better source on how social media is influencing people than with a couple of teenagers.  A great idea for my friend, plus it provide some valuable work experience that allows them not to come home covered in hamburger grease.  A win-win in my book.

Here is the leadership lesson.  They came home fired up and motivated to do well (after a 9AM meeting on a Saturday morning), not just because there was money involved, but they were talking about all the potential they saw and wanted to become part of a greater purpose.  They understood the value of what they were doing and the impact it would have on our friends business.

In our own workplace, are including in our day to day activities a way to integrate a sense of purpose into our culture?  While there are may be a variety of roles and responsibilities in our environments, are we taking the time to make sure that our teams and organizations understand the value of each persons contribution to the “why” we are in business.

I am fortunate, I get to share a story of contribution and success with the rest of the organization I work for in the morning.  Daily my team shares encouragement and stories of success with each other.  As a result, the team has a shared sense of purpose and value.  They support and encourage each other and motivate our leadership to want to do more for them on a daily basis.  At the end of the day, having the shared purpose, creates a shared vision of what success looks like, and we work on it daily.

Take a few minutes this week to recognize those you work with.  Tell stories, because you want to, not because you have to.  They will be much more meaningful to the recipient than if you are going through the motions and simply checking a box.

Have a great week!

Keep Perspective

Each year Beloit College publishes its Class of XXXX mindset list.  This list is a compilation of the perspectives that each incoming freshman class has.  It is a very intriguing look at how the world we live in has changed over the preceding 18 years.

This morning I had an interesting conversation with my wife on the way to work.  She teaches 7th grade science and raised a very interesting perspective to me.  This years sixth and seventh graders have not known a world where global terrorism has not been a concern.  They don’t know about the events leading up to the attacks of 9/11.  The world we live in has changed so much over the past 12 years.

Think about your work.  Are you able to keep perspective of the events going on around you?  It is difficult to do.  Most times, even as professionals, we are so focused on making the decision, we forget about all of the events leading up to the current situation.  We think that every experience we have is one that no one else has been through before.  That simply isn’t the case.  We forget that experience is the catalyst for innovation.  Understanding that every situation is a result of a series of decisions and events that brought us to the here and now is very important. 

Keeping perspective on ones mindset allows teams to grow, products to be launched, and businesses to grow and expand.  Think about it for a moment.  Could Benjamin Franklin have developed a cellular telephone?  No chance!  Remember, experience is the catalyst for innovation.  Without Franklin’s discovery of electricity, experiences leading to the development of the cellular phone would not have been possible.  For Franklin and his contemporaries, it would have been inconceivable to imagine that some could be walking down the street in Boston, and speaking to someone in Philadelphia or London.  A series of discoveries, experiences, and innovation led to the world we know today.

My boys may not know or understand that when I grew up, there were essentially 3 networks on TV and everyone watched the 6:00 local news, and then the 7:00 national news.  Pong was a cool video game.  Red Dawn was a real concern.  The thought of my beloved Red Sox winning a World Series was a pipe dream, let alone two World Series in three years.  Automatic windows on a car were a luxury.  Going to an Apple store, meant work at the orchard.

Their perspective is that they have communication available at the speed of thought.  Apps are a way of life.  Terrorism is not limited to countries that we just read about. 

Keep perspective of how you got to where you are.  Take time to be self reflective and know that you can change your course if you so choose.  Every morning the sun rises and new beginnings are born.  Take calculated risks and blaze your trail.  Easier said than done, but we crawled before we walked, and walked before we were able to run, and ran before we were able to soar.  Take the first step today.

WTF???

WTF???  You can fill in the blanks for what those initials stand for.  However, they are initials for what all of us experience at some point in our day?

  • Another driver cuts your off in an effort to make a yellow light so they can arrive at their destination sooner….  WTF???
  • You are sitting in a meeting and you offer comments that are seemingly ignored.  Then what seems like just seconds later, another participant in the meeting offers the same comment that you had just made and seems to receive praise for their comment…  WTF???
  • You are having a conversation with a person face to face, and a third person approaches the person you are speaking with and interrupts with a question of their own…  WTF???
  • A project is completed in your office that has taken a very long time to complete and has been promised to be the saving grace that all have been waiting for.  When it’s rolled out, there are more problems post implementation than there were previously…  WTF???
  • As a parent, you are constantly approached by your child’s school for fundraisers, donations, etc., that just seems endless and non-budgeted.  As a parent, you want to participate because you know what non-participation could potentially do for your child socially…  WTF???

All of these situations just are frustrating and we face them on a daily basis.  You spend more time asking yourself WTF?  You expend more negative energy towards getting the answers rather than on just moving forward.  You allow yourself to dwell in a place longer than what it really needs to be.  Is that really solving the problem at hand, probably not. 

Here’s an approach for you….  Bank It.  Remember Karma is a bitch!

While you may not be able to change the situation immediately, especially in the workplace, remember that every situation has a result, either positive or negative.  It is easy to become frustrated, all of us have done this, but this could actually be a learning opportunity for ourselves if we look hard enough.

Look at the current situation in its totality and what decisions have occurred to arrive at the present place.  How could better decision making in the future avoid negative consequences in the future.  By taking a step back and becoming an observer, rather than a participant in a situation, can you become a better decision maker?  Just a thought.

This week when you are just thinking to yourself, WTF?  Just document and deposit the situation, and bring it back when the time is more appropriate, not in an “I told you so” moment, but rather in a how do we avoid the same situation from occurring again.

It has been a while since I have posted a blog, so please have a great week and don’t dwell in WTF!!!