Personal Responsibility

200171399-001Well, I am ashamed to say that life has gotten the best of me.  I have not posted to this blog since October.  That is not necessarily a bad thing.  Lots of good things have been happening, I just haven’t taken the time to write them here.  But today I came across something so good that I felt I had to share.  It was on personal responsibility.

Kody Bateman, the president of Send Out Cards wrote a great blog. Personal Responsibility, it spoke to me.  So many times in life we blame others when things don’t go our way.  Surely we could not be responsible for doing something stupid.  But so many times we are, aren’t we?  Great leaders don’t blame others for life’s dissapointments.  They take them as they come and learn from them.

 

Never Let Them See You Sweat

In 1984, Dry Idea deodorant launched an advertising campaign that was one of the best in history.  Their tag line was “Never Let Them See You Sweat.”  They had all kinds of celebrities do commercials with 3 nevers, the last being never let them see you sweat.  Here is a link to one of the commercials.  http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_EUz0XQbz4

While this is a witty campaign idea, the point it adds to leadership is invaluable.  The best leaders are cool under pressure.  No one around them knows the storm that is brewing.  A great leader is a calming presence.  It is our human instinct to jump and run when there is an issue, but we must always remember that people are watching.  You never want to cause your followers to have fear.

So, in a difficult situation how do you lead without causing panic?

1)      Take a moment and breathe

2)      Decide if someone needs to take your place while you take care of the problem

3)      Do not run.  Move at an acceptable pace.

4)      If a plan is in place for this type of emergency follow it.  If not, make it up

5)      Demonstrate calmness in everything you do.  Your speech, body and actions should show that you are in control.

As Dan Reeves, head of the Broncos said, “Everyone feels pressure, winners don’t let it show.”

Is Your World Spinning? sTOP!!

Stop spinning!

Some of you might think I made a mistake in my title, but I didn’t.  I wanted to focus on the word TOP.  As a child, (or an adult) have you played with a top?  It spins and spins but does not really go anywhere.  Sometimes our lives can become like a top.  We spin and spin and look really busy, but in reality, we are not going anywhere.  So what do we need to do?  STOP!!!

It seems that especially this time of year, we are very busy!  We need to pick out the perfect presents and prepare the perfect meal.  We need to lose weight and look great for the holiday party.  We have to make cookies for the exchange and we must attend everything we are invited too.  Don’t forget the added pressure from work, getting things buttoned up for the end of the year.

There is one way to stop spinning. Just stop.  You may have some dizzy after effects but I promise you, it is worth it.  Look at what you need to do.  Prioritize it. You may need to cut some items.  No one knows everything that is going on in your life.  You don’t have to say yes to everything.  Saying yes to everything is a sure way to end up stressed out.  When you are stressed out, you are not as effective (or as kind) as you can be.

There is hope.  You are in control.  Just believe it.

Breaking Through the Boredom Beast

Break through Boredom and Lead!

Even the best self-starter can lose focus, coast and become bored.  We are getting things done but it has become mundane.  Even when we are still producing good results we can be experiencing boredom.  So what can we do to get out of this rut?

Work Like You are Being Watched

Some of us work out of our home.  It is very easy to coast at home.  Others of us have a manager that trusts us to get our work done.  While we may be performing what is asked of us, how can we do more, become more and produce more??  Is there a way that we can innovate and create more efficiency?  If we knew our job depended on producing more faster, what would we change?  Make the change and make it happen.

Use technology tools

There are all kinds of technology performance tools that can motivate you.  A whole segment of the market has been devoted to this.  Some are as simple as using a timer and breaking your work into timed episodes while others involve intense meters and logging.

Surround yourself with people who inspire you

Nothing is more motivating than hearing from someone who inspires you.  Whether the person is a friend or a famous speaker, take the time to listen.  Their words can cause you to be more creative and achieve more.

Breaking through the boredom barrier has to be done if you are going to be successful.  Other people will leave you in the dust and reach the top first if you remain apathetic and satisfied with the status quo.  Don’t be left behind, LEAD!!

Leadership Lesssons from the Caterpillar Game

As a child in the church youth group, we used to play a game called Caterpillar.  Everyone would line up with their hands on the shoulder of the person in front of them.  The leader would then run like crazy, twisting and turning, trying to get people to let go.  Some great leadership lessons can be learned from that game.

Stay Close to Your Leader

The closer you are to the leader, the better you are able to anticipate their next move and stay with them.  The first five people holding on to the leader rarely got thrown off.  They were able to stay connected.

Communication is Key

If you are the leader and are planning to make any change, communication is what will save your team.  If you were leading the caterpillar game and shouted, turning left, everyone would be able to follow you.  If you make quick turns in policy or procedure and don’t tell anyone, don’t be surprised if you find them on the floor.

Pay Attention to Who You Follow

Sometimes when I was playing the game, I would be behind someone who would just let go. They were not committed to the goal.  If the person leading you is not committed, they will let you fall.  Sometimes in the party plan, mlm or direct selling world, we might get someone who has pulled us into the business but is not leading us.  If that is the case, find out who their sponsor is.  Move up the chain until you find a leader that helps you stay connected.

Keeping everyone connected is the goal of any healthy organization.  It is also a challenge for all healthy organizations.  Healthy organizations are growing and must constantly keep in mind that the chain behind them is getting longer.  This requires an increased commitment to leadership communication and encouraging their team to listen and follow the right person.

Trusting Your Leader

I was leaving the church parking lot and it was raining.  In front of me was a car headed towards me and a man in wheelchair (with a parka).  There was not enough room for all three of us go at the same time.  There was also a car behind me.  As I sat waiting for the man in the wheelchair to cross the street, the car behind me jutted out, as if to pass me.  At that point, he saw the situation as it was.   He was now in incoming traffic and he could see I was waiting for a man in a wheelchair to pass.  He quickly ducked back into place.

Leaders can sometimes be impatient.  I think it is just our nature.  We want action and we want it now!!  Good leadership is not always about leading though.  A lot of times it is about following.

A Better View

The car behind me did not have the same view I had.  I was leading him in the correct manner but he did not know me well enough to trust that I was doing what was best.  As a leader, we must garner the trust of those around us.As a follower,we must trust those that have a better view.

Trust Your Leader

Ernest Hemingway wrote “the best way to find out if you can trust someone is to trust them.”

Many people with “type-A” personalities struggle with trust.    It is not as hard as it seems.  I am not saying that you should sign over your “baby” to someone you just met, instead work through the process.   Let them hold your “baby”, then maybe next time they can hold him a little longer while you walk away for a few minutes.   Trust is a muscle that must be built in every organization for it to thrive.

Trust What You Know

In World War II, there were a lot of pilots in the air.  This led to a lot of plane crashes.  When the plane crashes were investigated they found no visible reason for many of the crashes.  They were not shot down and there was no mechanical failure.  After a lot of searching, they discovered the issue, vertigo.  As the pilots were flying through the air they got confused and instead of trusting their instruments, they trusted their feelings.  Their feelings led them straight into the ground.

Trust What You Know

When your life begins to spiral out of control, go back to what you know.  I was recently helping a friend who had gone through a serious mental battle.  We took a very simple approach.  When her  mind started  spinning, she needed to go back to what she knew.  In her case, it was her name, the names of her children, her husband and her faith; this allowed her to begin to feel grounded again.

The same is true in business.  When you are having a bad day, your boss is mad and the clients and customers want your head on a platter, take a few minutes, breathe and go back to what you know.

Feelings are extremely valuable.  They make us human.  They allow us to laugh and love and enjoy life.  They  can also allow us to spin dangerously out of control and crash and burn.  This hurts us and those around us.

When you begin to feel your world spinning, hold on tight and go back to the basics.  If you follow your gauges, you can guide that plane to a safe landing!!!  (Then you can jump out, kiss the ground and cry)

Stagnant Leadership

 

Share what you know

If you spend much time around children, you have probably heard the phrase, “they are like a sponge.”  It is an American statement that means children willingly accept and soak up whatever is around them.  Typically, it is a positive statement and refers to learning. As adults, hopefully we continue on that trend and remain sponges throughout our life, but we have to make sure that there is a direct correlation between what goes in and what comes out.  Have you ever used a sponge in the kitchen and forgot to wring it out?  A sponge can become saturated and if it sits, it will sour.

As leaders we have to make sure we are constantly learning and sharing.  We can become caught up in the fact that we are not confident enough or competent enough to share what we know so we sit and soak.  The longer we sit, the more we soak.  Eventually, we will sour.

As you learn things, share it with others.  Try it out, talk about it.  You might get questions but that should fuel you to learn more!

Never become stagnant.  If you do, you will no longer be leading.  As Baudjuin said,

“No matter how hard you work for success if your thought is saturated with the fear of failure, it will kill your efforts, neutralize your endeavors and make success impossible.”

How a Leader Handles a Flat Tire

I travel the interstate a lot and have had my share of flat tires as well as being surrounded by others who have had flats.  There are different kinds of flat tires; the slow leak, tread shred, and the full tire fall-out.  Below, I will address flats and how to handle those as a leader.

First, let’s address the slow leak. Within an organization, the slow leak is the hardest to detect.  Typically, it is the person on your team who is slowly withdrawing into themselves and is no longer engaged. The leader must be actively aware of everyone in their organization.  Truckers and Airlines inspect their vehicles every trip looking for leaks and damage.  As leaders, we must do the same. If we forget and get busy with our daily activities, the slow leak can turn into a flat that hurts our organization very quickly.

Second, tread shred is a major problem.  Drive any interstate system in America and will see pieces of tire on the side of the road.  An outer layer of tread has fallen off the vehicle but the good news is there is still another layer. Unfortunately, if you are behind this vehicle, you are going to get hit with tread.   I relate this to the teammate who unloads on you.  You are minding your business and going through your day and Ka-boom!  You are hit with tread shred.   As a leader how you handle this problem, sets the tone for your entire organization.  My suggestion is to pull the person aside and speak with them privately.   Sometimes, people don’t even know they unloaded on someone.  We all have bad days.   Try to figure out what caused the problem (are there issues at home, is work too stressful) and get them patched up and back on the road.  You might have to address the person who got hit as well.  Tread shred is tough, but if everyone is open, you will be able to move on rather quickly.

Full tire fall out is a tough one.  About six months ago, I was driving down the interstate and a tire came completely off the vehicle in front of me, bounced, hit my hood and rolled over the top of my vehicle.  Clearly, this situation caused lots of swerving and an immediate stop.  (Thankfully in my situation, no one was hurt).  This is the most dangerous type of tire failure for a vehicle and your organization.  This is not an issue with the tire but with the components that make the tire move.  There are times, when situations outside of your area will cause a slow down or even a stop.  No one wants to bring their project to a halt but these areas must be addressed.  Again, I think it goes back to being vigilant and watching for clues.  If we are paying attention, we notice the bumps, the squeaks and the hints that things are not going well.  If we address issues early on, we are able to circumvent serious issues that will derail our projects and plans.

A leader handles flat tires (in all their many forms) by being alert, constantly and consciously checking the known systems and being on the lookout for impending danger.  Following these suggestions won’t always lead to an easy drive to success, but will guide you there faster and safer than if you ignore them.

3 Ways to Increase Your Adoption Rate

Do people love your product?

Adoption rates are huge in any business.    No matter what you are selling, if people don’t buy, it is worthless.  So how do you get people to “buy in” to your product?  Unfortunately, there is no secret sauce.  You must focus on the basics.  Below are some helpful hints that may help you get started.

1) Consider your audience-Seems pretty clear cut, doesn’t it?  Many times, companies move on the whim of a designer, CEO or a programmer, rather than actually listening to their buyers.  Many companies that are very successful, like Starbucks, have idea labs where they allow customers to submit their ideas and thoughts.  Then, (don’t miss this!) they actually read and respond to some of the ideas!!!  Good stuff!! Whether you are a rep for a party plan company or own a big business, listening is key!

2) Cheaper is not always better-While most people want a good deal, they also want something that will last. Value is important.  Access what value your product brings to the consumer and use that to your advantage.

3) Develop your brand-What is your brand?  What are you offering and why should people buy your stuff?  I know plenty of teenagers who buy strictly based on a logo.  How can you convince people they need to buy your product?

If you are able to master these three basics, I think you will find you are on your way!!