Friday, September 30, 2011

Let's Pretend

I am certain that you have played the game 'let's pretend'.  If not, here are the rules:
  • you are provided with a scenario and you use your imagination to see what you would do in that situation...pretty easy.
So here goes.  You are the gold bear in the photo above.  You have just had your meal taken away from you by the brown bear.  As gold bear, you have worked hard to find and trap this fish, you actually had it in your jaw and then after a short struggle, it was gone.  What do you do?

Would you like me to put it in people terms?  You are working your butt off, more than 60 hours a week, less than 1 day off each week with little payroll and diminishing results because the market has tightened up.  You are struggling to make your bottom-line numbers - you can get there some months in dollars, some months in percent, but never exactly what the company is looking for because of the economic situation and new competitors in the marketplace, not to mention the unrealistic budgets and pie-in-the-sky promises to shareholders.  Now, your boss states that if you cannot come in on your numbers, save payroll and hit all operational targets, then your bonus (which you have received in varying degrees for 20+ years) is now not only in jeopardy, but in fact, gone.  What do you do?

Why are you working for these people?
Are you really happy here?

It sounds just awful, but unfortunately it is the grim reality for many right now.  And instead of finding ways to assist people in reaching goals, companies are turning to the 'brown bear' mentality and taking food out of their team member's mouths in hopes to inspire momentum.

No one ever learns or stays the course due to fear. Instead you will have employees (not team members, because who wants to be on your team if you treat them like this) looking for ways to construct their dismissal so that they can get a fat severence package from the brown bear....hoping that someone else is crazy enough to take their place.

So who are you?  Gold bear or brown bear?  What is your next step? 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Horrible Bosses

Have you seen this movie?  I am sure you must have because it has been out for a while.  Just thought I would ask a few obvious questions for your consideration:
  1. are you a horrible boss?
  2. what did you do to/with your horrible boss?
  3. how did you escape from your horrible boss?
  4. are you a horrible client?
  5. do you have horrible employees?
  6. how do you handle all the 'horribles' in your life?
Not a lot of preaching today...just some thinking.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Voicemail

The dreaded voicemail....not the messages that stack up when you are in meetings, but the voicemail greeting.
Little story - maybe it's about leadership, maybe not...but it is certainly a 'Not to Do'.

Trying to resolve an issue with a certain institution, my friend called their contact and got the dreaded voicemail greeting that said "I am away from September 2nd to September 12th.  Do not leave a voicemail for me. But if this is an emergency, leave a voicemail and someone will pick it up while I am away."

Does this make any sense?  Don't leave the voicemail, but go ahead if it is an emergency?  Someone?  Who?  Someone qualified to deal with the issue?  How about providing a name and contact number for that 'someone'?  You would have to be certain that this institution, with its multiple layers of middle management would have a policy that there needs to be a back up in place for all vacationers.

So, yes, this is about leadership.  Think about the way we communicate our vision, discuss our strategies and plan the future with our teams.  Are we vague? Do we provide mixed messages?  Do we have a back up plan when  we need one?  Have we considered how the other end will receive the message?

Next time you go on vacation leave a very clear voicemail (and don't even get me started on out-of-office replies on email that still have vacation dates from 3 years ago!).  Take a few minutes to pay attention to that detail - and apply the same attention to the rest of your messaging.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Be Transparent

Beautiful, fresh, effervescent bubbles. 
Transparent.  Clear.  Whole.

Now, think about this.  Is your leadership like this?  Clear.  Whole.  Transparent.
Let me use some other words.  Authentic.  True.  Of yourself.

Many leaders believe that they need to have a facade, a dual personality - that who they are is not reflective of their leadership, when in fact it should be.

Think of those old TV shows where the boss at the office is all snarly, smoking a cigar and belittling to the people that work for him.  He then goes home and is all sweet and loving with his family, especially the family dog.  Really - that's the dual personality.  Why can he not be the same loving, sweet person he is at home with his team?

Some leaders believe that they need to personify power in all the ugly terms it can host.  Instead what it should be is kindness, caring and the ability to put others before self.
This is by no means belittling the persona that can come with leadership - but instead the 'power' is wielded out of respect and action, instead of conferred by title.

Friday, September 2, 2011

What Colour Are Your Glasses?

The same person is now in charge of the project. This happens every time.  You are not happy because you have complained numerous times about their lack of organization and inability to lead teams and the fact that every other one of their projects is either off the rails or has been put back on the rails by a rescue effort.  You wonder what colour are the glasses your boss is wearing?  What is he seeing that you do not?  What is he seeing in you, or rather, not seeing in you?
What to do?
This one is easy.  And it is a 2-parter:
  1. Think about when you complained, did you offer any solutions or resolutions or alternatives that would have been better, or was it simply a complaint?  If it was only complaining- like sour-grapes, then re-think that strategy immediately.  You are not contributing by whining.  Always provide a solution or an alternative. This regular choice may be the go-to choice because they are unaware there is an alternative.
  2.  Ask why you are not being considered.  What is it that you have to learn/do/experience before you are given these types of assignments?  Showing that you are open to learning will no doubt give your boss something else to think about.  Your initiative can open their eyes.