Are You Chasing Cheese or Change?

In his book, Who Moved My Cheese, Dr. Spencer Johnson reminds readers that change is constant. 

A couple of days ago I had a phone conversation with a leader I am coaching. During our chat he made reference to Johnson’s premise of change, telling me he had read the book several years ago at the suggestion of his supervisor. Since reading it he has attempted to embrace change, seeking out ways to improve his leadership. My level of respect for this guy went through the roof.

Great Leaders GrowToo often, those in charge resist change refusing to think outside the box, especially when it comes to personal growth. They assume that since they are in charge there is little left to learn. Wrong! Leaders are learners. As my friend Mark Miller reminded us in his book with Ken Blanchard, “Great Leaders Grow.” 

In the case of the guy I’m coaching, he not only believes in change, he’s doing something about it. To start with, he read a book and allowed it to change his thinking. Now, he is opening himself up to coaching, attempting to reach his full potential. Next, we are creating a development plan to help him gain much needed traction in his pursuit of climbing to a new level of leadership. 

As you look at your life, are you open to change? Do you have a track record of growth? Is there someone who is stretching your thinking? Do you have a development plan?

If today finds you spinning like a mouse on a wheel hoping your cheese will show up, I encourage you to step off and hop on the change train. It is the vehicle to a better you. 

Leadership Begins at Home,

Randy

Why are so many leader resistant to change?

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Are You Focused on Relationships and Results?

A few weeks ago I was speaking at an event and was asked the following question from one of the attenders.

“As a supervisor, how do I gain more authority when many us are the same age and have relationships outside of work.”

What a great question!

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We can all relate to times when the lines between work and play become blurred, especially if we work with people we consider friends. 

Note: Maybe it’s just me, but why would you want to work with people you don’t consider friends? 

Assuming we can all get along, then how do we keep the boundaries clear between leader and follower? 

Here are four things to consider:

  1. Don’t be afraid to lead. If you hope to accomplish something great, it is going to require courage. If the leader is afraid of stepping on toes, the team is doomed from the start. 
  2. Think others first. Many times when we are concerned about establishing authority, it is an indicator we are thinking about what others can do for us. The best leaders think other’s first, seeking to add value to those they lead. In the end, servant leaders create a culture where team members gladly submit to authority. High performance teams are ones where followers recognize their leader cares for them as much as he does himself.
  3. Communicate with clarity. Many times people don’t live inside the boundaries because the boundaries haven’t been made clear. Don’t be afraid to talk about what is expected. When a person agrees on the expectations up front it is much easier to hold them accountable when standards are not met.
  4. Value relationships and results. Teams achieve more than individuals do. If you really want to maximize your potential, don’t underestimate the power of working together with people you love. While there is a mountain to climb, who you climb it with is of equal importance. Many leaders have made it to the top only to find themselves miserable because they failed to bring others along to share in the celebration. 

Accept the reality that lines of authority will always challenge teams. Your team can win the battle if you will lead with courage, humility, clarity, and love.

Leadership Begins at Home,

Randy 

Do you find it challenging to balance relationships and results?

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4 Habits to Help You Manage Your Time

After spending the past five days in the Big Apple, yesterday I had the opportunity to fly out of LaGuardia Airport.

Admittedly, as expected, the pace of the city was frenetic. Surprisingly, the pace of the airport was even crazier. I’m all for being productive, but there is a limit to how much work I want to do.

While I appreciate the fact that LaGuardia has created an environment where people can get things done, it would have been nice to have had an option. Rather than typical seating outside of each gate, there were endless workstations screaming, “No relaxing allowed.”

Laguardia

As technology advances, the temptation to grant the world (or at least our bosses) total access to our lives becomes a lust that overwhelms most. The question begs, “At what price?”

Can faces buried in screens over candlelight be counted as a date night? Is it possible to have connection without choosing to disconnect?

At some point ‘total accessibility’ will demand payment for its cunning allure. So how does a leader survive in today’s assembly line of access?

Let me encourage you to build into your work the following four habits to help you manage your time.

  • Limit your availability to certain hours of the day. Forty hours a week of being ‘plugged in’ should be plenty for you to be effective. Create 8 hours on your schedule to be available to others and then go dark for the rest of the day. Use airplane mode if needed. If you don’t tell your time where to go, someone else gladly will.
  • Schedule down time and then show up for the appointment. I’m serious. Put it on your iCal and set up a reminder. If your phone doesn’t remind you, you’re likely to forget. Off days should be off days, not days to catch up on the work you didn’t finish while on the clock.
  • Eliminate stuff. Stuff can be anything that causes you stress or distraction. Every week you should de-schedule as much as you reschedule. Perhaps your “stop doing” list needs to be longer than your to-do list. Subtraction = more capacity!
  • Be where you are. Great leaders (and for that matter, great people) are ones who are fully present. They live face to face with others, looking them in the eye, seeking to add value. They do not have their heads glued to a screen 24-7, emotionally unavailable to those they love.

The person in charge of you is you. Lead yourself well when it comes to your productivity and use of time and you will be on your way to greater impact. Especially where it matters most … Home!

Remember, home is where leadership begins …

Randy

What other habits can help leaders manage productivity while protecting emotional margin?

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A Little Change Can Make a Big Difference

A little change can make a big difference.

One degree causes water to boil if it is degree number 212. One yard scores a touchdown if it is the last one. One point changes a ‘B’ to an ‘A.’

A little change of attitude is no different. One letter can transform an organization. Take rigor and vigor, for example.

I know many leaders who are rigorous, which is defined as, “Adhering strictly or inflexibly to a way of doing something; severe; harsh.”

Vigorous, on the other hand, means, “Strong, healthy & full of energy.”

Rigorous leaders and their organizations are stale, stern, and relationally lifeless.

Vigorous leaders and their environments are focused, fun, and have high morale.

So what kind of leader are you? Rigorous or vigorous?

There isn’t much difference between the two. Only one little letter and a leader who understands the importance of having the right attitude.

Moving forward, why not make vigor your priority? It might make a big difference.

Leadership Begins at Home,

Randy

What is one little change you need to make this week?

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Is Your Leadership Due for an Update?

Yesterday was update day. My Macbook, iphone, and ipad-mini all moved into 8.1ville.

UpgradeTruthfully, the day felt like a waste as I watched a spinning rainbow for most of the morning. Somehow I survived and ended last night more modernized.

The upgrades reminded me that those who reach their full potential make time to continually improve their work capacity. As you look at your leadership operating systems, are you due for an upgrade? If so, consider the following:

  1. Updates require downtime. Don’t expect to go forward until you are willing to unplug and stop your normal routine. When was the last time you took a day to assess your systems and work habits? If it’s been a while, I encourage you to schedule a getaway to reevaluate.
  2. Updates lead to change. When the rainbow finally stopped turning, things looked different. I was used to the old look … comfortable with it. For leaders, it always feels easier to keep things the same. Great leaders resist that temptation. They refuse to coast. The best seek out better ways to do things and make continual progress. What is one thing you need to change in the coming week?
  3. Updates necessitate a restart. Yesterday I wrote about Peyton Manning’s TD record. It never would have happened had Manning not had a restart. Is there an area of your leadership where you need do something new? Restarts demand courage. If you are satisfied with where you are then play it safe. If not, push the power button and start over with a renewed sense of passion.

Technology is not the only place where updates are required. Leaders need them too. If you will consistently unplug, embrace change, and be willing to start from scratch you can take your performance to another level.

Make today, update day!

Leadership Begins at Home,

Randy

Why do you think leaders struggle to update their systems, strategies, habits, and behaviors?

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