Ease your workload – don’t do the wrong things

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Many leaders have a hero complex. They want to be known as a problem-solver, the go-to person when something needs to be done or fixed. But, is being that hero in the best interest of your organization? Is handling a problem that could be handled just as well by someone else the best way for you to contribute to the good of your organization?

Defer projects better handled by someone else, to that someone else. As a leader, you should work strategically on the objectives that move you, your team, and your organization toward predetermined goals. Don’t do the wrong things.

To make the decision whether or not to defer a request, ask yourself these questions:

  • Could someone else handle this project better than I can, or least handle it sufficiently?
  • Does this request better fit the responsibilities of someone else?
  • Does this project take me away from something core to my strategic goals or my part in my organization’s strategic goals?
  • Is handling this request the best use of my time?

If the request is coming from a superior, the questions above will help you justify your deflection. Your boss does not want to take you away from your highest value activities.

Being a hero and solving problems is great. But, don’t let your hero complex and doing the wrong things get in the way of what really matters.

 

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Opportunity Knocks. Are you ready?

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Opportunity knocks often. Are you prepared to take advantage of it?

Some people seem to be lucky. These people go from one success to another. But, is it really luck? Do they carry a talisman of some sort?

If these people are lucky, it is because they set themselves up to be lucky. Opportunities abound. But, you need to be ready to take advantage of it when it arrives.

  • Practice – You have likely heard, “practice makes perfect”. Work to continuously improve.  You cannot take advantage of opportunity if you aren’t prepared.
  • Be persistent – Keep at it until your soul is no longer in it.
  • Stay informed – You won’t answer the knock if you don’t hear it.
  • Play to Win – You can’t merely show up. Show up planning to win.
  • Listen for the knock – Expect to find  opportunity. Pay attention and look for opportunity in your experiences.

 

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Teams: Individual and Vision Goal Alignment

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A large part of leadership is creating vision and guiding a team toward that vision. As a leader, you must keep your teams’ focus on the vision. But, what if a team member’s goals seem to be out of alignment with the vision? Can you restore alignment?CCO lic from Pixabay

Strong leaders make their corporate strategy transparent to their teams. Continuous communication of the strategy and its supporting goals helps maintain alignment. Many leaders assume the strategy is apparent and understood. But, this understanding is often not the case. It is important to make the vision clear and understood. Continue reading

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3 Tips For Handling Work Overload

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For most leaders workload often becomes overwhelming. There are multiple projects, reports, Frustrated_man_at_a_desk_(cropped)and daily duties. Workload goes beyond the job. Many leaders also serve on boards and do volunteer work. There is also eating, sleeping, exercise, and family. Don’t let work overload overwhelm you. Here are three ways to streamline your life:

    • Prioritize continuously – ask yourself if what you are doing is important, does it move you toward one of your long-term goals.
    • Look for help – can you delegate any of your tasks? Don’t fall into the trap of “It’s faster to do it myself than to teach someone”. That is short-term thinking. Take the time to teach someone the task. Then, you have someone to whom you can delegate that task in the future.
    • Learn to say “No” – You can’t do it all. Sometimes, although the request for your help may be for something very worthy, you just have to say “no”.  If the request is from your boss, make sure he understands that by taking on something else, another project has to suffer. Whenever you are doing one thing, you are not doing something else.

It is easy to let the urgent push aside the important, especially when you are suffering from work overload. But, with thought and planning you can take control.

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Help Your Team Make Better Decisions

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An organization’s decisions are made by individuals. Why do some organizations make better decisions? How can you help your team make better decisions?

Making good decisions is a skill. And, like any skill, practice leads to improvement.

  • Let your team make decisions. Guide them, describe the results you want, but empower them to make decisions.
  • After a project is concluded, do a debriefing. Review the decisions made. In retrospect, which would have been made differently ans why?
  • Allow and encourage corrections. If during a project a it becomes obvious a decision was not the correct one, change it. Start over if necessary. A delay is better than a failure.
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4 ways to Give a Better Performance Review

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Performance reviews are an annual exercise at many organizations. Many people, on both sides of the review, loath them. But, the annual performance review is a terrific opportunity to reinforce ongoing performance management. The annual performance review should help define clear objectives. Here are 4 ways to make sure your reviews are useful to your team:

  • Keep the review objective. This task can be difficult. Ask other leaders in your organization for their thoughts and observations. Put thought into comparing the person’s performance to their peers, and to people in other departments in a similar role.
  • Balance evaluation and planning. A discussion of where the person is and where they should be, offers a perfect seque into discussions of goals.
  • Goal alignment. The performance review is an excellent opportunity to discuss your organization’s strategy and goals, how your team’s goals fit into that strategy, and how the individual’s goals and functions fit into the bigger picture. (NOTE: I am writing a piece on this topic. Stay tuned!)
  • Give continuous feedback to your team. There should be no surprises in the evaluation part of a review. As a leader, it is important that you have ongoing discussions with your team. Each member should know exactly where they stand at all times. You must be their coach.
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Working to not Fail Leads to Mediocrity

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Do you ever find yourself working with the mindset of avoiding failure? Perhaps you work through a project or assignment just to get it done, without getting any attention. We spend a lot of time and energy on not failing – this is a formula for mediocrity.

Instead, look for ways to improve on what you are doing. Work for growth and learning. Accept that you will fail. If you are not failing some, you are not changing enough. Remember that failure is an event, a point in time that passes, and a learning experience.

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7 Keys to Start a Successful Day

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Success at work, regardless of your definition, is made up of many smaller successes. A successful life is made up of successful years; a successful year is made up of successful days. (I could put in weeks and drill to hours and minutes. But, you get the point). How do you make your work days successful?

A successful start to the day is important. Here are a few suggestions on how to start each day:

  1. Arrive a little early. An early arrival allows you time to transition into work mode.
  2. Stop. Relax a minute. Have a coffee. You likely had a harried morning. Perhaps there were traffic issues, or things were rushed or even left undone at home. Take time to focus on the now.
  3. Plan your day. Review your schedule; know what meetings you have. Review your to-do list. Decide the priorities. You likely left some things undone from the day before. Which of those still need to be done? Which items on your list should be delegated?
  4. Check in with your team. Connect with your team members. Be sure to be truly present. Pay attention to their needs. What are they working on that day? What do they need from you?
  5. Don’t check email – at least not first thing in the morning. If you dive into your email early, you may get pulled down rabbit holes of tasks and find it is lunchtime before you have done any of the other items above. If you must check email, scan for the urgent items. But, be careful not to be pulled into the rabbit hole trap.
  6. Make connections. If you have important calls to make, make them early in the day. It is easy to get pulled into the day, and put off making important calls.
  7. Take a mid-morning break. Perhaps have a second cup of coffee. Take a walk around the office. Use the time to ascertain how your morning is progressing. Are you on track?

Your mornings set the pace for your days. Take control of your morning and choose success for your day.

 

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Merry Christmas – Presence, Presents, & Thank You

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Presence

For those of you who celebrate Christmas, as you go through your day, and this season, be present. The relationships in your life are what is truly important. Forget the to-do lists, the things that are waiting at the office, anything other than the people you are with. Be present. Put your mind on the people in front of you. Listen. Ask questions. Care. Have intentional presence.

Thank You!

Nearly 2,000 people have registered on this blog. I thank all of you. I appreciate that you spend some of your time here. I know it is a choice, and that you have many choices. I am truly honored. I hope that my words give you thought.

Merry Christmas

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Motion, Confusion, Direction, and Action

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Motion

It is easy to stay busy. Email, metrics, social media, news, industry articles, data, customers, peers, and bosses all constantly scream for your attention. You can be well-informed and be known for quick responses to emails. You can very easily appear to be busy. You can be on many boards. It makes you feel good, feel important and needed to be so busy.

Benjamin Franklin 1767

 

“Never confuse motion with action.” – Benjamin Franklin

Confusion

We humans trick ourselves and others into believing we are busy. We become addicted to how being busy makes us feel. Your busy-ness grows and gathers momentum like a snowball rolling down a hill. It becomes expected of you to respond to email immediately, to be the go-to person for help in every situation. You become known as a multitasker  and wear the label like a badge of honor. You are “The Man” or “The Woman”. You can do it all! But, are the things you are staying busy with actually moving you forward, toward your goals?

If you think so, you are confused and delusional.

Direction

To have true impact and get the right things done you have to know your direction. Imagine a pilot taking off from the runway. Our pilot knows where he is supposed to land. But, on the way there is an interesting mountain just a little off course. We go take a look. On the way to the mountain another plane is in our path. So, we diverge to get out of its way. Then, a hailstorm appears in front of us. Once again, we change our path to avoid the storm. We now turn again to go back and look at that mountain. As we fly by our pilot suddenly remembers where we are supposed to land. But, we are almost out of fuel. We have just enough to go back to our starting point. We land, back at our beginning. Our pilot is a hero. We got to see a terrific mountain. We just missed crashing into another plane. We avoided a terrible storm. And, we landed safely. We’ll try again tomorrow.

Are your days like our heroic pilot? Do you accomplish lots of great things? Do you end your day no closer to your goals than when you started?

Action

A real flight is somewhat like our imaginary flight above. Things do constantly happen. Pilots do not take a plane in a straight path from takeoff to landing. Pilots adjust and correct the plane’s direction constantly. The pilot takes action that maintains the direction toward the landing point.

As a leader you must keep your goals in mind. Leaders are the pilots of their teams; they must keep the focus on direction toward the goals. Leaders need to know the purpose of the actions being taken. As a leader, you must drive the direction of the actions you, or your team, take.

Of course there are things that must be done, which diverge from your primary goals. Serving on boards serves a useful purpose. Important work is done by boards. Helping peers, customers, or bosses is important, too. However, you should choose how you spend your time wisely. Know your goals. Know your direction. Keep your own and your team’s actions focused on those goals and direction. And, you will end at your destination.

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