Monthly Archives: October 2012

Making Decisions with the Organization in Mind

decision

As leaders, we have the power to make an impact in the organization with our decisions, as every decision we make will affect people in one way or another.  In order to make sure we make the best decisions, we have to think carefully about what’s at stake and not be easily influenced by others in our decision making process.

People tend to be individualistic in the way they perceive situations, but it’s important for leaders to think and act in the interest of the collective group.  I think the most unfortunate part of being a leader is the constant exposure to organizational politics, as some people will try to influence your opinions and get you to act in their best interests, instead of everyone’s.  It’s important that leaders are not easily swayed by others, as their decisions not only affect other people, but also shape their character.

I’ve seen situations where leaders have been easily influenced by others, which caused them to make detrimental decisions to the organization.  It’s okay to hear other people’s opinions in order to make well-informed decisions, but it’s also imperative to understand why people have certain opinions and suggestions.  Do those suggestions benefit the organization as a whole?  Has that person made positive contributions to the organizations before?  These are some of the questions to keep in mind when listening to other people’s ideas.

Unfortunately, many leaders become too invested in their relationship with people in the organization, to the point where they let those people’s opinions blur their purpose as a leader and affect their ability to make decisions effectively.  While it’s not a bad thing to create friendships in the organization, it’s important for leaders to remember that their responsibility is to the organization and everyone who is involved in it.  Remember, the decisions we make as leaders also define us as people, so if our goal as a leader is to act in the benefit of the collective organization, our decisions need to show that.

Related Thoughts:

5 Elements of an Effective Decision Making Process

The Big Key to Organizational Decision Making

Please feel free to share your thoughts by commenting below.

Seven Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Lead

Leadership

You are only doing it for the title.

I’m sure a lot of people would like to be a “president” or a “CEO”, but that’s not enough of a reason to give them those positions.  Yes, the title is prestigious, but along with that are lots of responsibilities and sacrifices.  With every action, leaders must keep the organization at the forefront of their thoughts.  The title is simply the byproduct of assuming bigger responsibilities and making sacrifices.

You can’t handle constructive criticism.

Leaders must be able to accept being under constant scrutiny by others within the organization.  Not everyone is going to agree with what you say or do, but it’s important to understand why they don’t see eye-to-eye with you on certain things.  You are not expected to be perfect, but you are expected to allow others to point out potential mistakes so you can learn from them.

You are easily influenced by others.

It’s okay to consider other people’s opinions on certain courses of action, but you shouldn’t let them completely dictate your decision-making.  As a leader, your job is to be firm in your decision-making and stand by your choices.  You can weigh in other people’s opinions, but make sure you can draw the line somewhere so you don’t let others control your actions completely.

You’re not willing to make sacrifices.

A leader’s job doesn’t start at 8:00am and end at 5:00pm.  You are expected to be a leader 24/7, meaning that you must be willing to accept that and make the necessary sacrifices for organizational success.  You will have to sacrifice a lot of your time and freedom in order to be successful as a leader.  If you have the passion to be a leader, these sacrifices shouldn’t be too much for you.

You are happy with the status quo.

Leaders should be chosen because people believe in their vision and that they will act in the betterment of the organization.  They must be willing to make the necessary changes in order to achieve this vision.  I believe the most detrimental element to any organization is the unwillingness to change.  Competitive organizations should have proactive leaders who advocate change.

You want to be everyone’s friend.

As I’ve mentioned above, leaders will face a great deal of scrutiny.  They must realize that there will be people who disagree with them regardless of what they do.  The leader’s job is to drive organizational success.  Not everyone in the organization will like who you are and what you do, and that’s something you just have to accept.  A good leader’s priorities should be organization first, and friends second.

You don’t like to make the tough decisions.

If you’ve ever watched Spider-Man, I’m sure you are familiar with the quote “with great power come great responsibilities.”  As a leader, your decisions will affect many people in the organization.  A lot of them won’t be easy decisions, but you are ultimately expected to make that decision.  If that’s something you’re uncomfortable with, then you might not want to be a leader.

 

Please feel free to share your thoughts by commenting below.

Five Steps to Handle Criticism

We’ve all dealt with criticism in the past.  It’s not always what we want to hear, but it’s something we need.  It’s imperative for organizational leaders to be able to accept constructive criticism as a learning experience, so they can further act in the betterment of the organization.  We sign ourselves up to be criticized when we become leaders, since not everyone is going to agree with the decisions we make.  As such, we need to be open to constructive criticism when it comes.  Here are five things that I believe great leaders should do to handle constructive criticism:

https://i0.wp.com/www.pickthebrain.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/criticism.jpg

1.  Acknowledge the criticism.

This means that you are aware of what others are saying about you.  By acknowledging your critics, you show that you do care about what others say about how you do your job, and you are aware of what they are saying.  Leaders are well-known within their organizations, and people will know if you try to “sweep things under the rug”.  When others see that you’re aware of your critics, it can also show people that you are honest with them.

2. Understand the other person’s point of view.

Communication is a two-way street.  If you want others to understand where you are coming from, you should give the others a chance to voice their opinions so you can see where they are coming from.  Take the time to understand why your critic(s) feel the way they do about you as a leader, and you might learn something about yourself you didn’t know before.  If you still don’t agree with what they’re saying, tell them your take on the situation and how you’ve approached the choices you’ve made.  Even if you don’t come to an agreement, at least you’ve built some mutual respect for each other.

3.  Own up to your mistakes.

No one is made to be perfect, and that includes you.  Everyone makes mistakes at some point, it’s just a matter of how you move on from those mistakes.  There’s no humiliation in admitting that you’ve made a mistake.  It takes a lot of courage and honesty to do such a thing, and I think it’s something to be respected when a leader admits that they might have done something wrong.  If anything, it’s admirable.

4. Create action steps to fix the problem.

Once you admit to making a mistake, it’s time to fix it.  What can you do next time to prevent the same mistakes from happening again?  The best start would be to create some action steps to correct the problem.  Open up some discussion with your critic(s) regarding the issue and ask for their suggestions on improvement.  By creating these action steps, it becomes easier to not repeat the mistake in the future.

5. Check progress.

Go talk to the person who pointed out your mistakes and let them assess your progress.  Simply tell them that you still remember their criticisms and that you’ve taken the steps to learn from those mistakes.  I feel this is something that leaders need to do more of because it leaves a very positive impression in the other person’s mind, as they know that their leaders care about their suggestions.

If you’re receiving constructive criticism from people, it’s a good sign, because it shows that people care about your development as a leader, as well as the well-being of your organization.   Remember, it’s not about never making a mistake, it’s about learning from your mistakes and making the right changes so you can lead your organization to the best of your ability.

Related Thoughts:

10 Ways to Get the Most from Criticism

How to Respond to Criticism without Being Defensive

John Maxwell:  4 Steps to Handling Criticism

How do you handle criticism?  Please feel free to share your thoughts by commenting below.

How Leaders “Put First Things First”

As part of my continued series of blog posts on how Stephen R. Covey’s book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People apply to organizational leadership, this week we will focus on Habit #3.

Habit #3: Put First Things First

priority

Putting first things first is all about our ability to prioritize things.  Our time is spent in four different ways, as Covey explains in his matrix diagram from the book: (1) urgent and important, (2) urgent and not important, (3) not urgent and important, (4) not urgent and not important.  Urgent, in this case, means that the activitiy requires immediate attention, and importance means that it contributes to our mission, values, and high-priority goals.  We must meet needs in all four quadrants of the matrix in order to be truly balanced in our lifestyles, but most of us only focus on one or two quadrants.

So how can this be applied to organizational leadership?  As explained by Daniel Newman from Millenial CEO, the rapid development in technology has mostly made us grossly more productive, but also wildly unproductive at times.  While we may have the appearance of looking busy doing certain things (texting, calling, emailing, tweeting, etc.), that doesn’t mean we’re making the most of our time and resources, as we most likely have more important tasks that we are not attending to.  While these activities can take up a majority of time and create an illusion of productivity, they are merely excuses for us to put off more important tasks at hand.

Organizational leaders must set the example, meaning from the top down, we need to remind our teams the difference between being busy and being productive.  We have all the information in the world at our disposal in order to complete our tasks to perfection.  As leaders, we have a responsibility to put first things first and influence others to do the same.  This means being aware of our priorities and responsibilities to ourselves, as well as the organization.  This is the first step to beginning with the end in mind.

Here is the link to the original article.

As always, I’d love to hear some feedback on the subject, so please feel free to comment below!

Three Ways to Make Yourself Available to Employees

availability

When you say that your door is “always open”, make sure that your actions are also in agreement with those spoken words.  As a leader, employees will look at you in times of crises, and they need to know that you are the person that they could count on.  In order to gain your employees’ trust and respect, it’s important to be available for your people when they need you.  Here are three things that I would recommend to organizational leaders:

1.       Answer emails in a timely manner.

I’ve had to deal with leaders who take almost a week to email me back when I had a simple question for them, or ones that just do not email back at all.  As you can see, this can become extremely frustrating, especially when your position requires you to maintain close communication with the person.  To me (and I’m sure I speak for a lot of people), the impression that I get is that my questions are not important enough to be answered in a timely manner.  I believe that emails should always be answered within 24 hours, barring special circumstances.  If it takes longer to reply, make sure there is a good reason for it.

2.       Come to meetings on time.

When you are meeting with your personnel, it’s especially important to show up on time.  As an organizational leader, you might have what seems like a million things going on at the same time, and your time can be very valuable.  However, it’s important to understand that other employees in the organization may be just as busy.  By showing up to a meeting 30 minutes to an hour late, or not even showing up at all (yes, this happened to me too), it gives people the “my time is more valuable than yours” impression.  If you are going to be late to a meeting, or need to postpone a meeting, make sure to let your personnel know ahead of time.

3.       Come to meetings prepared.

When someone I’m meeting with comes unprepared, I feel like we just shouldn’t have met at all.  It’s a waste of time and leaves me with a bad impression of the person, especially if it is a person that I’m supposed to report to.  It’s not as different as them saying “I don’t care about your concerns”.  As a manager and a leader, this is not the type of message you want to give to your employees.  If you didn’t have time to adequately prepare for the meeting, just postpone it until when you do have time to prepare.  It’s better to have that than an unproductive one.

A large part of organizational leadership is being available your personnel.  Make it a goal to do these things consistently, and your employees will appreciate you so much more.

Please feel free to share your thoughts by commenting below.

All about End Results

vision future

This will be part two of my blog about how Steven R. Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People can apply to organizational leaders.

Habit #2: Begin with the End in Mind

To begin with the end in mind mean that any time we set a goal for ourselves, we must be able to paint a clear picture of what we want the end result to look like and decide how we want to get there.  The left side of our brain presides over logical and verbal functions, while the right side of our brain is more creative and intuitive.  It’s important for us to utilize our right brain capacity because the right brain gives us the ability to visualize and create a holistic image of the end results.  To apply this principle as an individual, try to visualize your wedding, your 25th and 50th anniversaries, your retirement, and even your death.  What would you imagine they look like?  And how do you want others to think of you during these defining moments?   After visualizing these events, now it’s time to think about what you need to do to get there.

It’s all about being able to set long-term goals and attain them.  Before we step into a leadership role, we must be able to ask ourselves “What do I want others to think of me as a leader?” and “How do I get there?”  To become an organizational leader is a big commitment, and one that demands a lot of our time and attention.  To become a successful leader, we must ask ourselves these questions and answer them honestly.  So what does it mean to “begin with the end in mind” in terms of the organization?  The same steps apply.  For an organization, it’s more than just developing financial plans, it’s about the ability to execute goals with measurable results.  We have to ask ourselves, within our organizations, questions like “Where are we now?”  “Where do we want to be?”  “How do we get there?”  Regardless of whether it’s the individual or the collective group, an integral part of personal and organizational success starts with our abilities to “begin with the end in mind.”

Please feel free to share your thoughts on the subject by commenting below.

Three Simple Words

Imagine that you’ve had a long and grueling day at work.  Since you’ve arrived to work at 8:00am, it seems that tasks just continue to pile up on you with no end in sight.  You’re three more pages of paperwork away from tearing your hair off.  Now it’s 5:00pm and you’re ready to get off of work, when your boss asks to have a word with you and calls you into his/her office.  You’re probably thinking “What now?  I worked my butt off all day today, what could he/she possibly want from me?”  You walk into your boss’s office and take a seat.  He/she smiles at you and says: “I know that you’ve been working very hard lately, and I just wanted to tell you that I appreciate what you do around here.”

“I appreciate you.”

appreciation

It’s amazing how much difference these three simple words can have on a person’s mood.  By taking the time out to recognize others for their work, leaders will build a stronger team by improving productivity, as a recent study conducted by the Globoforce Workforce Mood Tracker suggested that employees would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized.  It’s no doubt that leaders must work hard to achieve their organizational vision, but they should also realize that they cannot get there by themselves.  In order to achieve your organizational vision, it will require the combined efforts of the collective group, which is why it’s important to build a culture of appreciation in our organizations.

I’d love to hear some of your feedback on this subject.  Please share your thoughts by commenting below.