Posts tagged leader
Confront With Care

Few leaders can avoid confrontation. There are simply too many items and employees that require oversight and guidance. The likelihood is very high that every leader will need to address numerous areas of concern within her organization at various points.

Whether the matter is personal (a coworker's attitude or manners, for example) or performance related, confronting someone about an issue can be one of the hardest things for a leader to do. It is generally unpleasant for someone to have to bring this concern forward and demand change and improvement. In fact, many leaders will go to extreme lengths to avoid it. Some reasons for this include:

  • Fear of how your relationship will be affected moving forward;

  • Concern over being seen as overly demanding or callous;

  • Bad feelings from past confrontations that went awry;

  • Second-guessing and questioning ourselves regarding our grounds and motives for the confrontation;

  • Negative memories from times that we were confronted by others.

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Get to know the job well

My first leadership experience was the most unusual, most unexpected and most fleeting management role that I ever held. When I was a high school senior, I was asked if I could provide supervision in a kosher restaurant in Manhattan on Saturday nights. I didn't live too far from the place and wanted to earn some extra cash, so I agreed. The position, I was told, included oversight in the kitchen, and, because I could be in and out, manning the cash register.

The first night was going pretty smoothly. It took me a short while to learn the inner workings of the establishment's kitchen and how to operate the register. Not bad, I thought, for $10 an hour. But then, the head waiter told me that I had a phone call.

"Is this the manager?" asked the woman on the line. "Manager?" I thought. I hesitated, thinking that he had called the wrong person to the phone. I asked her to hold and went back to the head waiter. He explained to me that every kosher supervisor who works in that restaurant is also the manager, so yes; I was the right one to answer. I picked the phone back up. The woman, by now confused and a bit annoyed, asked incredulously, "are you sure that you're the manager?" With the confidence of a censored child I meekly replied to the affirmative. Let's just say that I've had better leadership moments than that one.

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Your approach to problem-solving: diet or regimen?

Until recently, I had never dieted. I simply didn’t need to. I come from a family of fast metabolisms and was always able to eat more or less what I had wanted without worrying about added girth. Even when my waistline started to expand, it wasn’t significant, certainly not enough to truly conscience the idea of dieting.

In addition, I had seen what happened to so many others who had set out to diet. Too often, they failed miserably. Some were unable to stay sufficiently disciplined. Others lost the weight that they wanted (and often even more) but quickly gained it back. If I was going to do something about my weight, it would have to be done in a way that I would achieve a different, more sustainable outcome.

So recently, when I decided that it was time for me to again fit comfortably into some old clothing, I put myself on an exercise regimen, rather than a diet. Though I had knew that weight loss comes primarily through changes in one’s eating habits, I felt that if I could first become disciplined establishing a demanding exercise regimen, I would be able to create a more sustainable approach to healthy living and, as a result, weight management.

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Why I Set Goals This Morning (and Why You Should Too)

As I see it, the benefits of goal setting are many, including:

  1. They help you organize your thoughts – You probably have many things on your unofficial to-do list. Setting goals allows you to select from that list and set some direction. (Note: Daily goals are even more effective when they are developed in the broader context of monthly or long-term goals, such as the need to complete a client project or write a book. When you do this exercise in that context, it produces a broader sense of clarity and direction and can better inform what each individual day should look like.)   
  2. They help you prioritize – Along the same lines, goal setting allows you to look at the list that you’re created and determine what the priorities are within the list. What are your must-haves and what are the things that would be nice to achieve but are less imperative?
  3. They allow you to better organize your day – Based on what needs to get done and the available time slots (45 before lunch, 20 minutes until carpool, etc.) you can slot things in where they have the best chance of getting done while also factoring in the rest of your agenda.
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Taking the Fear out of Change

Few words scare people like “change.” While we know that change is critical for organizations who want to stay cutting edge and prepare for the future, the fact is that change and disruption are hard on individuals and teams. They mess with our routines, raise questions about proper procedure and protocol, and force us to change our behaviors. Worst of all, they create a fundamental baseline of uncertainty, which cause many to descend into fear and doubt.

So what can leaders so to manage change effectively in the organizations and with their teams? The following are strategies to help manage change effectively:

1.       Set the expectation that change is inevitable – Communicate your vision of a dynamic and evolving organization, where progress and change are inevitable. When a major shift happens, your people will be more likely to accept it as a matter of course.

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From barracks to boardroom: How Bill Sandbrook parlayed military experience into corporate success

When I asked Sandbrook whether it was harder to emerge from Chapter 11 or to resurrect a defeated leadership team, he quickly said the latter. You can find ways to get funding and other components that are needed for a turnaround, he told me, but it’s not so easy to change people’s mindsets and behaviors.

Success, he said, works from the inside out or from small to big. To use a military analogy, he sought to make winners out of people who weren’t used to winning. Once they developed a greater sense of control, efficacy and success on a personal level, it was just a matter of time before the company would benefit. As of this writing, the stock trades well over $50 per share.

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Put the past where it belongs

Success is not about the resources that we have access to but rather the resourcefulness that we bring to each situation. The most successful people in life were not necessarily the ones who had it all laid out for them on a silver platter. Plenty of folks with the standard “success ingredients” such as intellect, strength, charisma, wealth, good working environments, strong business plans, etc. have done surprisingly little in life.

What can we do to become more resourceful, so that we can take proper advantage of possibilities, manufacture opportunities and manage setbacks in a way that allows us to move forward? Consider using these techniques:

  1. Prepare well in advance. We never know exactly how things will work out. The best-laid plans often go sideways, many times for reasons that we could never have predicted. The readier we are for situations, the easier it will be to live in the moment and chart a different course to success.
  2. Be an avid learner. Again, the more we know the better we typically do. As part of being prepared, take the regular time needed to be well-versed on whatever we are trying to achieve. Many pundits suggest at least 30 minutes daily of growth-oriented reading.
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Walking the tightrope of life

Too many folks have confused priorities or, at the least, lose out on the means in order to enjoy the ends. We all know that life is about more than money, perks and notoriety. We have to be able to live, not just work. And for too many of us, this crucial balance gets lost in the rat race.

Folks with strong work-life balance:

  1. Lead purposeful lives. Balanced people give serious thought to how they want to live their lives. They confer with those who are most important to them and develop and then commit to a road map that will help them get there.
  2. Adjust as needed. Like most things in life, well-conceived plans can easily go sideways if we let them. People who stay on track continually ponder and dialogue about what is working or not, and adjust as needed.
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