Leadership is changing!

What makes a good leader? Go ahead, answer…

Truth be told, you’re probably dead on. I have no idea what you said/thought, but in your own mind, it’s true.

You see, people learn how to be a leader from other leaders in most cases. Sure, there have been leaders who were obviously born with the pedigree that virtually ensured their success as a leader (Jesus), but most people who we think of as great leaders learned their skills from someone else.

baby jesusWe learn that in 2 ways:

  1. How to lead
  2. How not to lead

Which of these were you?

Yeah, that’s what I thought, #2. Really, it’s a lot like parenting. We either see what our parents did and say to ourselves, “I’m going to do it that way!” OR “My parents did that and there’s no way I’m going to do it that way!”

The problem with that is that the world is changing. Rapidly. I know the boomers thought they were in a world that was changing quickly, but the rate of change today makes the 60’s & 70’s look like the stone ages.

I’ve been approaching leadership development from a different angle for the last 12 months than ever before. The main difference is that I’m working with an organization that is trying to figure out how to transform it’s direction to match what the constant changing landscape is doing in our industry. There’s an old saying, “what got you here won’t get you there.” That could not be more true for us. We, like most in our industry, have operated for a long time on a model that has essentially made competitiveness a race to the bottom – cheapest provider. That’s not sustainable unless you’re Walmart.

As we think about what it’s going to take to be successful, we’re thinking about the kind of leadership that we need.

The answer? A leader who:

  • Can lead change
  • Has the drive to take the business forward, even if they don’t know what’s ahead
  • Can deal with ambiguity
  • Creates new revenue streams that don’t exist today
  • Can find profitable new markets
  • Is comfortable changing the business model

You’re thinking WAIT! What about honesty, integrity, people skills, motivation, etc. Yeah, I know. I didn’t forget. Those don’t make a good leader; they’re table stakes. The leader has to accomplish the things listed above through others and you can’t play without putting in the table stakes.

Recreate/RecycleI’m looking for ways to develop the leaders for tomorrow. That does not mean clone the leaders we have today. We need to think ahead and skate to where the puck is going to be.

What about you? Are you trying to imitate a leader from the past? Are you trying to model or do opposite of what your former boss/parent did?

Are you trying to develop into the kind of leader that will be needed tomorrow or just recreate/recycle/retread what used to be?

Advertisements

Career Insecurities: What do they really mean?

Why are we scared to start something new?

I remember the folklore surrounding sorority rush. I went to a University with a very large sorority population and there was one particular sorority that was known all over campus to have the legendary “circle of fat”. Legend has it that’s where  girls were placed on a pedestal and the other girls would draw on their bodies with a sharpie.

As aweful as that sounds, it didn’t actually happen – urban legend. No one ever experienced it first hand, but every single girl on campus “knew” someone who had a friend who it had happened to.

The very thought of experiencing that kind of vulnerability made even the most beautiful girls on the entire campus tremble with fear.

Anytime we step into a new role, we expect to learn a lot, right? Of course we do. When you accept the new position, there is a lot of uncertainty as you leave the old position/division/company. That’s to be expected. but after awhile, even those who are accustomed to starting something new can get a little stuck – especially when we think the stakes are high!

Why?

Because we have insecurities.

Some people just mask them more easily, but we definitely all have them. We all think someone is going to draw circles around our imperfections with a sharpie.

Continue reading

Just a chance…it’s FREE!!!

Things are tight right? I mean, if the economy is in the proverbial toilet and we’re cutting costs everywhere, you can’t possibly think you’re getting a raise, can you? Of course not! It wouldn’t be fiscally responsible.

office space“By the way, we’ve got your mid-year evaluations due by the end of the month so make sure you’re working with your managers to complete these. They are an important tool for our company and your professional development…but we aren’t giving merit increases/bonuses this year.”
Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it.  Where’s the incentive for stellar performance? Why should your star employees live up to their potential?  How can they remain innovative and keep giving all they have to their jobs?
I’ll tell you: they will remain innovative, live up to their potential, and give all they have to their jobs…somewhere else.  Certainly it’s a tough market.  The star performers, however, know when you’re giving lip-service to people development and when you’re actually practicing it.

Let’s roleplay.  Suppose you, as a manager, were told that your career was very important to your company and that your manager was going to help you get to the next level.  Then, nothing.  Nada. Nil.  Nothing happens because things get tight… and the phone rings.
On the other end of the line is a former coworker telling you how theyobamaarelooking for someone who does exactly what you’re doing for your company now.  It’s not an advancement, but there’s a chance it might lead to it.  Your old company has all but promised for you to be stuck in this dead end job until the next President makes 1,000 promises of changing the economy so why wait it out here?  At least there, there’s a chance.
LloydThat’s all I’m saying.  Blanket policies about advancement, hiring freezes, raises, performance evaluations, etc., just don’t work.  All an employee wants to know is that there’s a chance.  As Lloyd says, “SO YOUR SAYING THERE’S A CHANCE!!!
It doesn’t have to be spending thousands on lavish trips, training seminars, and huge bonuses; however, for those who are top performers, reward them.  Unfortunately, it seems some managers would rather not reward a top performer and have a blanket policy, than to have to deal with those who are not top performers.
Keep evaluating, keep moving, KEEP THINKING!

We can’t afford to hire right now…

Really?  Times are tough.  Budgets have been slashed.  You’re just lucky to have a job right now anywhere right?  We’re just waiting to see how the economy pans out before we make a move.

Really?  Well you know, things aren’t as fluid as they were a couple of years ago.  It’s important to cut costs in times like these.  We can’t justify adding anyone in a non-revenue producing department right now.

ENOUGH!!!  Sorry about that.  Is it just me or has Eeyore taken over the reins of the business world?  Hearing things like that make me wonder how we ever developed the greatest economic superpower the world has ever seen.Eeyore Fortunately, there are a few of us out there who haven’t drank the KoolAid that things are horrible.

Life is tough for those who have lost a job.  It can’t be easy as an HR pro to look into their eyes and tell them that their services are no longer needed, but GOOD NEWS: Companies still need innovation.  Companies still need people…NEW people.

One of the greatest things about diversity is that it gives you a fresh, innovative thought.  Business has seen time and time again that diversity helps a company be innovative.

The challenge?  Push ahead.  Good companies come out of recessions stronger than they went into them.  Good companies relish the opportunity to add talent that will help them gain a competitive edge.  Talent that will help them beat their competition.  Talent that might even come from the competition.

In this month’s DiversityInc magazine, companies were ranked on their diversity efforts and it’s no surprise that those with a higher priority on diversity (you know, the ones who are doing more than looking for skin color) are some of the most innovative companies in the world.

images (1)Anthony Carter, the VP & Chief Diversity Officer for Johnson & Johnson was quoted “Different ways of thinking drive innovation.  We have to create an environment that fosters mutual accountability.”

What a concept!!! Rather than having the same people in the same departments thinking and acting the same way that got you into this mess, let’s come up with another way to get some accountability.  Maybe, just maybe that’s looking for a fresh perspective.

You can’t afford to hire right now?  WRONG!  You can’t afford NOT to hire right now.

Keep pushing.  Keep trying.  Keep innovating.  Keep Thinking!

Networking??? I’m busy today…

The very thought of filling your pocket with business cards, trekking off to the next association event, throwing yourself all over the prospective client/hiring manager/volunteer/waitress, just sends shivers down your spine right?  Some people would rather schedule a dentist appointment thanMilton go to a networking event.  People hate it so badly they’ll pay almost any amount of money or hide behind a computer screen and call it social networking, just to avoid being “The Networker.”

Although we all know the “natural networkers,” most of us do network regularly, but we don’t think about it until we’re in a panic looking for a job.  Think of it like this: when you were learning to ride a bike, what was your biggest fear?  It probably wasn’t falling off the bike.  That was secondary.  The first terror was that your escort would let go of the seat!  “IF YOU LOVE ME YOU WON’T LET GO!” you screamed before reluctantly pedaling.

Maybe it’s like the guy you know who is a wonderful person and you can’t wait to set him up with the girl who’s just perfect for him.  Only when it’s on the line, he’s acting like a completely different person than the one you know.  More than a dufas than you could’ve ever imagined!

Enough with the analogies.  This is what networking forces us to do again later in life.  We have to perform when the game is on the line.  When we’re trying, we’re usually trying too hard but we have to push out of our comfort zone.  Making connections can’t be that hard…right???

Here are some very helpful tips on just how to network:

  1. Be proactive – Always look for a way to connect, preferably, other than business.
  2. You’ve done this beforeQ. How did you get the friends you have now? A. Networking.
  3. People really do want to help – How do you feel when someone asks you for the name of your dry cleaners?
  4. Talk.  Don’t sell. Make a real connection.  If you’re talking about the weather, you’re wasting their time and yours.
  5. Try to connect others.  One way to calm your fears is to go in trying to connect two other people to each other.  They’ll both remember you for it.

Realize that others have the same insecurities you do.  Remember your first kiss?  How you were scared to death and wandered how you’d pull it off?  Well, it turns out they were wandering how to kiss you too.

Hitch

It’s like the movie Hitch with Kevin James and Will Smith.  If you lean in 90%, she’ll lean the other 10%. Make the effort.  Keep finding ways to connect.  Keep Thinking!