Monday, August 16, 2010

Can You Develop Patience …. Like Now?

I’ve heard repeatedly that age old phrase of “be careful what you wish for” and it’s often applied to wishing you had more patience. Some even tell me when they pray for patience they seem to get all kinds of opportunities to practice it in some not so fun times! Well, I’d like to develop patience… like now! Why wait? Hehe!

Patience isn’t something you hurry or rush into. Obviously. So wanting it now is a bit of an oxymoron or set up in irony. However, how often have we wanted to just sit back, await great things, and go with the flow? I wish for it a lot, but what I do instead is quite different. I struggle, fight, fuss, and try to force things to happen now all while wishing I were a more patient person. Well, that’s just silly and going with the flow takes… well, letting go. How do you do that?

Timing Is Important

Have you ever noticed that when you let things happen as you gain the knowledge or as it seems “they are supposed to” or “when they occur naturally” that they often work out even better than you might have planned? It seems to hold true. For example, If you had rushed that coaching conversation with Suzie, she wouldn’t have made the great sale first and given you a chance to celebrate while giving feedback, a much easier conversation. Come up with some times in which you know the timing of events was important and remind yourself of those the next time you want to push and rush. Then sit back, let go and release the need to force things.

Forced Behaviors Never Fair as Well as Those That Flow

How much faster do you get things done when you are in the zone? My guess is at a rather rapid rate and with much more satisfying results. Allow yourself the time and attitude to get in the zone before you kick things into high gear. If you are forcing your own behavior, it will not go as well, it will feel like drudgery, and you will become impatient. Find that zone and let it flow out of you as if your energy is endless.

Know When to Lead Yourself and When to Get Out of the Way

Okay, I get it. Sometimes we do just have to muster up the strength to make tough decisions, eat that frog (so to speak), or do those things we don’t like. However, keep in mind the difference between having to overcome fear and procrastination and listening to when your instincts are telling you now is NOT the right time to do that. The difference is subtle at first and gets louder with practice. Lead yourself to “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway” (great book by Susan Jeffers!) and listen to those instincts when they tell your brain to hush and follow your gut.

I’ve about decided patience is a learned skill for those of us who prefer to “do” stuff regularly. It’s almost like we “doers” spend a great deal of time bragging about how busy we are, how stressed we feel, and how much we’ve tried to cram into one day! We even think that somehow Type A is a compliment, when it was actually the label given to the dead people in a Stress induced death study done in the 70s. But the ones who get it seem to get much less wrapped around the axle about the small stuff. They really don’t sweat the small stuff and they really do seem happier with their own sense of patience, timing, and trust. So how do you learn patience, well you just let go, like now… like right now… let go and go with the flow.

Chime In: What could you become more patient about by letting go of a need to force or control?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cheat: Get Hindsight Ahead of Time

What is it about the moment we’re promoted that implies we know it all right away? It seems to apply to parenting, volunteer roles, and management positions. But, no matter what your title, I‘m quite certain your hindsight was more clear on some things than what you thought you knew when you got the job. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could cheat and get some “hindsight” ahead of time? Well, you can.

My father once said that “Wisdom is something you gain from the experience of others.” Doesn’t that sound a lot better than having to learn it the hard way? We don’t have to know it all and in order to gain some wisdom and some clarity and some hindsight, cheat, so to speak, and follow these steps:

Ask someone who has Been there, Done that.

Hindsight and lessons learned are what prompted me to write Contagious Leadership in the first place. I made so many mistakes and the biggest one is I very rarely asked for help. Find a mentor or a person who has done the role you now have, well, and ask their advice. Most often people love to share what they have learned and you don’t always have to TAKE their advice, but it adds to your perspective.

Become an Observer.

While it’s true that we all learn differently and that only about 20% of the population is what we call kinesthetic learners, who must learn by doing, there is something to be said for watching how it’s done before you launch into your own trial and error experiment. When leading people, trial and error can have some detrimental and truly contagious ripple effects. Why not step back, take a seat, and watch someone else to see what works and what didn’t? Keep in mind, once you observe, you will need to get out of the bleachers and take action, but if you’ll become a student of others first, the actions you take will have more positive results than diving in and doing with simply no clue of your possible outcomes.

Find a coach.

If we have a medical issue, we go to a doctor. We usually don’t assume what we find on Wikipedia will substitute for a medical degree. We ask an expert. When our car breaks down, we might look online a little, but at the end of the day, if it stops the car from moving, we find an expert. In business, why is this so different? If you’ve never been a manager before or a business owner before and what you are doing is stopping the business from moving, why wouldn’t you seek out an expert who has done what you need to do and pay them for their expertise?

With each of these steps, you’ll find valuable information. With each of these steps you’ll learn from someone else’s wisdom. It’s not cheating really, it’s called growth and a gaining of hindsight ahead of time. After all, those people who taught you to walk and talk, you listened to and learned from by observing, testing, and trusting their expertise, as they were telling you with language what to do from that standing up and walking position.

Chime In!

How have you benefitted from coaching, others’ wisdom and gained hindsight ahead of time?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Dealing with Discipline… Is it a Burden or a Responsibility?

Good morning and Happy Monday. I’m Monica Wofford and this is your Monday Moment.

So someone has done something you disagree with. Maybe they broke a policy or committed an egregious error for which they need to be informed, guided, and experience a course correction. That is what we call discipline and that is all it is – guidance, information, and a course correction. However, keep in mind that course corrections completed early on in someone’s growth and development are much easier to convey and carry out, than a course correction shared after a habit has been formed.

Perhaps this visual will help. If you were the captain of a large cruise ship and you left the port on a charted course that was one degree off your anticipated direction. If you only maintained the off course direction for an hour or two, it would be easy to make a correction and get back on track without any great loss of time. If you, however, maintained the slight off-course direction for several days, you might find yourself in a completely different country or continent than you intended and one does not just hit the blinker switch and flip a “U-ie” in a cruise ship out in the middle of the ocean.

Your role as a contagious leader of you, your life and others, is to provide gentle course corrections early on enough to make a long term difference. But, keep these things in mind…

Discipline is better received in private than in public.

Discipline is a dish better served with warmth than cold hearted facts, even if the consequences are large!

Discipline, when shared from your ‘wit’s end’ or a point at which you have “lost it” will almost always be taken personally and as criticism. The point is to provide feedback and course correction, so speak up early and consider the value in sharing your guidance versus letting things go (i.e. stuffing them) until you are ready to blow up.

Honor those you are leading with the sharing of your wisdom and experience. If they knew how to do it the way you do, they likely would. If they had lived your experience and were operating from your place of wisdom, they would likely have your role. Your wisdom and experience gives you a responsibility, not a position of being better or more special. Do not take that responsibility and the privilege it is to share your information with others, lightly.

Discipline is rarely considered to be one of the joys of leadership and many will shy away from those conversations that start with phrases like “we need to talk” or “what were you thinking?” and rightly so. But for growth and development, discipline is needed. After all, when you were little, weren’t you disciplined for wanting to run out into oncoming traffic? Probably. But weren’t you glad someone told you to look both ways?

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great Monday and of course, Stay Contagious!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Change is Contagious. How Do You Lead Them Through It?

Good morning and Happy Monday. I’m Monica Wofford and this is your Monday Moment.

Change happens all around us all the time and we are designed as human beings to be adaptable, but there are several factors that will make it easier to adapt and well… more difficult. How do you as a Contagious Leader™ err on the side of making it easier for those you have the privilege of leading? Here are a few techniques you can put into place immediately.

First, recognize that there is only a small percentage of the population who is comfortable with and capable of doing what we so often recommend, which is “check your emotions at the door”. For many, the concept of compartmentalizing strong emotions and saving them to be dealt with another time or on another day is just foreign. Most people, including many of those I suspect you lead, carry their emotions with them wherever they go and when you request that they ignore them for a while, you create a conflict of internal magnitude that can often make things worse. Instead, recognize that this is difficult or impossible for some and allow for a bit of time where one can freely share and discuss emotions. I used to call it a 30 minute vent session.

Secondly, there are phases of transition that one will experience when adapting to change and almost always the first phase involves resistance. Just know that it exists and recognize it as temporary. If you instead focus on the resistance and try everything you know how to do in an attempt to get someone to come out of resistance faster, you provide more ammunition for them to stay there. Accept that resistance is phase 1, not necessarily a permanent response over which a big deal is warranted.

And finally, in times of change, seek out resources that will help both you and those you lead overcome what is coming. A book called “Managing Transitions” by Mr. William Bridges, has been a long time companion tool of mine in times of change. Also, in many cases, the CORE® Profile we use and the training we provide, is considered a prerequisite to times of change, increasing participants awareness of who they are and how they will react to any perceived stress. Other tools and resources include anything that will improve your clarity of communication on what change is coming. Develop the skills to communicate clearly and thoroughly during times of change so that you don’t leave out critical pieces of information. Information left out is like a fill in the blank test we used to get in grade school and in the absence of knowing the correct answer, people will literally make up an answer and hope it is correct. This is where rumors come from and how they spread. I don’t know an answer, so I make one up, then I tell three colleagues, wait to hear it come back to me from someone I didn’t tell and whala, peanut butter sandwiches… I now have validation that what I made up must be true because I’ve heard it from someone else! Instead, be the leader who leaves no blank empty.
Change is part of what makes us who we are and makes us better, stronger, and more resilient. Contagious Leaders™ face and lead through times of change with that idea in mind.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great Monday and of course, stay contagious!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Contagious Leaders Hire Slow, Fire Fast

Good morning and Happy Monday. I’m Monica Wofford and this is your Monday Moment.

If you’ve had an open job for a while and find that you’re doing the extra work that the person in that vacancy could be doing, then there’s a real strong temptation to find the nearest breathing human being and put them in that job. I think we’ve all done it. In fact, I think at one time I envisioned holding up a mirror to someone’s mouth in the interview. If they fogged it, they got the job.

Let’s just say this is a baaaaad plan. If you hire someone fast, without checking references or without making sure they have not only the skill, but the attitude to do what you need them to do and do it well in the near future, all you are doing is adding to your workload. Add to this the reality that in your office, someone may need a congressional order to be fired and you are truly asking for trouble.

Instead be slower to hire. Screen your candidates carefully. Ask them in the interview to tell you stories of instances in which they have done what you know will be their responsibilities. The stories of their experiences are more difficult to make up, far more revealing, and will get you greater quality of information than something as brilliant as “Tell me about your weaknesses.” Clearly I don’t like that question, but it’s only because it is the one lied about the most. If someone says “I’m a workaholic” or “I’m a perfectionist” and they’re calling it a weakness then they’re telling you what you want to hear. Well, that or I’m in big trouble!

Okay, moving on, when you take careful time and diligent consideration to make sure that you have right person in the job or the right person on the bus, as Jim Collins says, then you will have the next 2 weeks to 2 months to devote to training so that they have the greatest chance of success. Sometimes it’s a gut instinct, sometimes it’s a personal referral and sometimes it’s a resume out of the stack. But any of those rushed through the process of making sure they have the right attitude AND skill, will likely back fire on what you intended to be a solution to a job opening problem. And if, in fact, you’ve made the mistake of hiring that wrong person, get them out of there as soon as possible. You know it’s not a good fit, and usually so do they so why prolong the inevitable. Free them up for new opportunities to grow elsewhere and free up your time to focus on the search once again. In fact, my experience has shown that prolonged time in the wrong position will result in setting a precedent. An employee might resist being let go if they’ve been there long enough for you to stew on the problem, but not say anything. They might tell you they are surprised you are letting them go and might even create more problems down the road. The best policy is to take a longer time to hire than you might like so you make sure you’ve made the right decision. And much like we mentioned in last week’s Monday Moment – hiring someone is one of those decisions that if made under stress, often results in a bad decision.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week and of course, Stay Contagious!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Find your Sunday Mentality

Good morning and Happy Monday. I’m Monica Wofford and this is your Monday Moment.

It was actually Sunday when I recorded this so maybe we should call it a Sunday Moment. I only say that because today’s message is about what I call a “Sunday mentality”. For me, Sundays are a day of rest, relaxation, recreation or re-creation, and downtime. No matter how many activities I may have on a Sunday, there is always a more relaxed mindset on that day more so than any other day. Yet, even if I am just relaxing or visiting with friends, I find that my creative juices are also flowing at a much higher level and faster rate when I’m in that relaxed so called “Sunday mentality”. Perhaps you’ll find value in locating your Sunday mentality, or even more so, see the value in the thought leader you’ll become when you take a moment to relax regularly.

This week when, or if, you find yourself a bit tense, a bit stressed, or even somewhat contagiously negative, take a moment to locate your Sunday mentality. I’ve tried it and it really works. Breathe deep, drop your shoulders, and take a moment. Imagine how relaxed you feel on the weekends when email slows down and calls come to a halt or, if you work through your weekends, some other time when that is the case for you. Even five minutes of closing your eyes and just listening to the sound of your own breathe will make a world of difference in your blood pressure.

Okay, so am I going to start teaching Yoga classes next? Hmmm… likely not. But here’s what I know. Even the hardest working, most focused, highly dedicated and accomplished Contagious Leaders will find themselves in a place from time to time where decisions should not be made. They get stressed, overwhelmed, maybe even frustrated. And it is these very leaders who are usually the least likely to give themselves permission to take a break. You really can’t run on fumes and M&Ms, at 900 miles per hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And as a special note, that problem that is causing you stress will be resolved faster, more creatively and with a solution you’ll feel better about, in that Sunday Mentality moment. The moment calms you down and in many cases, will help you determine what to do next. Plus, if you tell those you lead that they have to have balance or take time for themselves, at least finding a moment of relaxed Sunday Mentality won’t slow you down too much, and you can say as you do, instead of just telling others to do as you say, not as you do.

In fact, what you are you doing now? Maybe it’s time for a Sunday Mentality moment? Now, wait a minute if you’ve downloaded this to your phone and you are listening to it traffic, get to the parking garage before you go closing the eyes. Got it? Also, be careful of the other Sunday Mentality which is the feeling of dread of going to work on Monday. If it’s worth dreading, it’s worth doing something about.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week and of course, Stay contagious!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Bad Day Remedies: Turn Blues into Bowls of Cherries

Good morning and Happy Monday. I’m Monica Wofford and this is your Monday Moment.

We’ve all heard the phrase “life is bowl of cherries” and truthfully, I know some days it feels like that bowl of cherries got dumped upside down on your head. However, keep in mind that when you are in a contagious Leadership position, your mood is equally contagious as your actions.

How you feel could mean the difference between employees seeing you as someone who rode their broom into work or someone they can approach with a need, question, or great news. In fact, it happened to me just the other day. I was tired, exhausted, and overwhelmed and it showed and no one talked to me for the rest of the day. Eek! So how do you turn the blues or bummed out or stressed out moods into one that really reflects a more positive, approachable outlook?

Well, the first step is a rather simple one and in fact you may laugh: think about something else. Yes, I just said think about something else. When you are dogmatically focused on the bad stuff in your world that is all you see and the radar system, so to speak, in your brain seeks out more crummy stuff because that is what your focus is telling your brain is important. So, pretend you have “something shiny syndrome” and shift your attention to something else, preferably more pleasing. Go sniff some roses, perhaps.

Secondly, write down all those things that you appreciate about whatever is bothering you. Again, it sounds simple, but why “over-complicate” matters. Do the simple steps and if they don’t’ work, then come back to me and I’ll give you complicated assignments. Physically writing down what you appreciate about the person making your life difficult or the situation you just encountered that irked your nerves will help you to have a contagious sense of appreciation, greater control over your emotions and more contagious confidence™ about your ability to handle anything else you come across.

Finally, stop for a moment and listen to yourself. Sometimes we get carried away with the “woe is me’s” and once the downward spiral starts, it gains momentum. Stop, breathe, and take stock of what you are really saying. Listen for extreme language like “every one, every time, always, never” etc, and then question what you are saying. Does this, whatever it is, really happen every single day? Really? The doubt you infuse in what you are hearing yourself say will lessen the blow of your thoughts and likely begin to change your mood.

The blues are a bummer. Frustration is not your friend. And though no one is saying you need to go out and attach Pom-Poms to your body today, it is important to realize that when you are bummed, down or stressed out, others notice and your productivity goes down and your relationships suffer. It’s all contagious, you know.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great Monday and of course, stay contagious!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Leading and Doing: Two Different Things

Good morning and Happy Monday. I’m Monica Wofford and this is your Monday Moment.

Those promoted into leadership were often the very same people who were good at getting the job done on the front line. However, when you get promoted, unless someone tells you otherwise, you might not consciously recognize that you no longer will have the time nor be directly responsible for all that “doing” of the day to day job. But, this is where many managers get stuck.

Leading and doing are two different things to be sure, but how do you transition from doing the actual front line work yourself to a position of teaching others how to do it, sharing the expectations of what you want it to look like when it’s done, and avoiding the temptation to be intimately involved in the process? Well, I think I just mentioned three steps that we need to expand upon.

First, when teaching members of the team you lead how to do something you used to do, it is first necessary to spend some time remembering the steps.

If you were really good at that task, you no longer remember the steps and it then becomes very difficult to teach. Remember, “oh, you know, just do it.” are not detailed instructions and will set an employee up for failure if you meant to be more step by step specific, but weren’t.

Secondly, determine what your expectations are for the completion of the task or project. The truth is that the way you used to do it is likely not the only way for it to be done and the real bottom line important part is that it gets done, right? So once you think of the steps, determine what your final outcome expectations are and then let the employee follow the steps that work well for him or her and focus your efforts and energy on the outcome.

And finally, avoid the temptation to be intimately involved in the process. Another way to say this? Quit micromanaging the living dickens out of HOW something gets done and focus on your new role, which is the leadership of the team and its results. With a team of people to lead, you likely no longer have time to do the day to day logistics of each person’s task, and certainly don’t have time to do it with the same singular focus you had when you were only in charge of you. So, let go of the need to do it all and any given moment and show the employees you have asked to do this project that you trust their ability to do it or learn from any mistakes they might make along the way.

Our behavior, whether in leadership of others or not, is always contagious and if you try to do everything that members of the team you lead are supposed to be doing, this type of mindset and action rubs off on them. You will be breeding a team of future micromanaging leaders. If instead you show them the task, make your expectations known, and back off a little, you will be developing the very initiative, creativity, ambition, and results that you really want. Leadership is a different skill than doing and in fact, it’s a key component of Contagious Leadership training.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great Monday and of course, stay contagious!

Monday, June 21, 2010

We Know You’re Contagious… but, Are you Coachable?

Good morning and Happy Monday! I’m Monica Wofford and this is your Monday Moment.

This weekend I had a great opportunity to get some coaching and those of you who were there, know exactly the situation I’m talking about. Like some of the most poignant of coaching moments, it happened off the cuff and out of the blue, but at just the right time. My question to you is are you open to feedback and coachable moments, even in your capacity as a Contagious Leader – and even if all you lead is you?

The situation unfolded something like this: I asked an expert for her opinion in an area that I knew she had more information than I. what I was expecting was guidance and what I got was, well, guidance, but it came in a way that sounded like “funny you should ask.” Now, you and I both know that I had a choice of reactions at that point. As she proceeded to share with me what all I was doing differently than what she thought was best, I could have gotten defensive or retorted with the oh so mature “Nuh uh!”, but instead I listened and asked for more. Now, mind you, hearing that you are the poster child for the way something should not be done which is what she told me, is not the best way to wrap up a Saturday afternoon, but it turned into a fantastic coaching moment from which I learned and grew and now have a new expert partner willing to help me do better.

What do you do when someone says “funny you should ask?” If you’re coachable, or particularly, if you’re not, these guidelines or techniques may help:

1. Remember that those who do, every day, the job you are asking about, are often closer to the problem and solution than you are, meaning they likely know more and are worth listening to. This is mentioned in chapter 4 of Contagious Leadership in which I encourage leaders to ask for help. The key is that when you ask, be open to listening.

2. Know that there is no shortage of opinions out there and that even an expert may not know the right path for you, but still share his or her opinion of the road you “should” take. It is always your choice to listen, nod and smile and consequently ignore, OR consider their intent, their expertise and its value and decide to take their advice. Someone else telling you “you’re doing it wrong” does not make you wrong, it means they have an opinion… and we all have those, some stronger than others on things we’re particularly passionate about.

3. And finally, if you’re self esteem struggles with the fact that you don’t know everything about everything, then work on that first and work on gaining more knowledge second. It’s okay to be a leader and still not know everything. In fact, it helps those you lead feel more valuable and more respected when you take their advice to heart and then even DO something with the advice you asked for. This is not always possible, but when you are coachable, it at a minimum deserves your consideration.

There is a lot of information out there and it is becoming more and more difficult to know everything about… well, anything. Being coachable helps you improve. If you’re not coachable, it keeps you stuck in the position of needing to know it all while you continue to face the reality that you don’t. That is not a fun place to be. Stay coachable my friend and that, too, just like everything else we do, will be contagious. You want those you lead to be coachable, too, right? Well, it begins with you.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great Monday and of course, stay contagious!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Contagious Coaching of Star Performers

Good morning and Happy Monday! I’m Monica Wofford and this is your Monday Moment.

We’ve talked about this topic in other areas: People do what they get paid attention to for doing. Today, let’s apply this topic to leadership and with that, I would encourage you to think about who among those you led do you pay attention to the most? Likely, it is those doing something wrong or in need of improvement. Yes?

Most of the time managers spend their spare time with those messing things up. The message this sends of course, is that in order to get your attention, one must, yep, you guessed it, mess things up. Is that really the message you want to send to your star performers? Likely not. So, how do you spend time with, coach, and ,lead, versus manage, those star performers that you have the privilege of leading, without relying on that old adage of “no news is good news”?

If the star performers on the team you lead have not heard from you in a while, chances are their assumption is not that “no news is good news”. They might like to be left alone due to their own internal drive and high initiative, but they also need a challenge and a direction to go in. If you fail to pay any attention to them or give them that challenge, they are likely to get bored and even … quit, but forget to tell you they’ve done so.

So, the first step when coaching star performers is to give them a challenging assignment. Check in with them more frequently, not to ask “how they are doing”, to which you will almost always here “fine”, but rather to challenge them on reaching that goal.

Secondly, make sure you share you are sharing the resources, authority, and parameters they need to succeed. In other words, don’t tie their hands by not giving them what they need to reach the goal or challenge before them.

And finally, when they do reach their goal or achieve the assignment or produce the results, give them the praise that works for them. Praise comes in many different forms, but the important part is to remember that the star performers need it, too. Assuming they know they’re good and that they know you know they’re good and appreciate their efforts is something like telling your spouse “I love you” on the day you were married and never saying it again until years later, but assuming he or she knows that is how you feel. Do we really need to go over what happens when you assume? Suffice it to say, that too, is contagious!

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great Monday and of course, stay contagious!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Contagious Competition: Crisis or Catalyst?

If you live in North America, you are surrounded by what our forefathers created: a capitalist society in which competition abounds and impacts industry, price, and products. Marketers will tell you, such as Ries and Trout, the key is to get to the marketplace first so that your idea has little or no competition for a time. Others will tell you there is no such thing as a new idea – they’ve all already been had. I find that sad, personally, but perhaps even worse is the amount of negative energy and effort spent in fending off competition or trying to police the ideas of others who have seemingly honed in on your marketplace.

Competition, quite simply is anything that vies for the same resources, market, or dollars that your particular product or service is targeted toward and some see the slightest of completion as a crisis. If someone else creates a magazine that targets your market, some see it as bad. If someone else uses your tagline or in our case, calls something else contagious, some would say that is trademark infringement, and in some cases it might be, but anytime you see something as a crisis, you successfully slow down your creativity to the speed of cold molasses. What if… instead… you looked at that “competition” or another person’s flattering modification of your own ideas, as a catalyst to create something new, different, bigger, or better. What if… you let go of the crisis feeling and thought “hmmm… what great confirmation that this was a good idea and I need to go with it a bit more and add to it, enhance it, build it, and create something that serves even more?”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not na├»ve in this area and I’ve watched many hone in on a good idea, feeling the same pang of “darn it, I thought that idea would stick and not be copied and now I have to go create something new”, but this is what we do. Human beings have the intellectual capacity to create, intellectualize, think through, and redo. We have an abundance of ideas at our disposal and if we remove the temptation to think of contagious competition as a crisis, we may find that we can use the opportunity as a catalyst for tapping into even more abundant creativity. Hmmm… kind of sounds like being fascinated instead of frustrated, doesn’t it?

How many times have you stopped in your tracks when someone got close to your train of thought? Why did you slow the train down or even screech it to a halt? Why not shift gears, pop the clutch, add more coal and speed up to that intersection where your idea will find a new track and the other person will still be trying to figure out where your train went? I’d much rather be blazing a trail, or new track in this case, then hanging out back where two powerful trains of thought collided, derailed, and created debris. Who’s got time to clean up crud, when there’s new territory on which to lay new track ahead?

Monday, May 31, 2010

Contagious Culture: Fire Drill Management Requires a Bigger Fire Truck!

It’s been said that we are a culture of crisis management, fire drill chasing individuals. Who can argue with that assessment when we are a culture who answers the question “how are you?” with things like:

• Busier than a one armed paperhanger
• Up to my neck in alligators
• Busier than a cat in a room full of rocking chairs

Admittedly, most of these sayings stem from a Southern household perhaps in Alabama where someone has actually SEEN a one armed paperhanger or in Florida where you can literally wade among alligators, but the point is we wear busy-ness as a badge of honor. So much so, it seems that we should all be equipped with one ginormous fire extinguisher attached at the ready to our person at all times. And even more so it seems that a mere single canister of fire extinguishing fluid, whatever is in those elusive red canisters with a hose, might not do the trick. Should we all go to auction and buy a big red fire truck?

Or, should we perhaps take stock in the list of 750 things that we put on our list of things to do “today” and realize that it is WE who ignite our stress level causing us to run around like a man, woman, or manager with our hair on fire in desperate need of water?

Why do we run around frantically searching for that which will extinguish the very stress that we created? Wouldn’t it just be easier to put down the matches, or the proverbial pen that continues to add to the list and just avoid the whole feeling of flipping out all together? Sure it would be, but it’s awfully hard to relax when you see yourself as the cat scurrying through a maze of rocking chairs in a room in which there are 300 clocks all about to chime the deadline reminding you that your time is limited, your efforts are how fast you can run, how quickly you can dodge the curved wildly swinging rocker, and how agile you can be at tucking your tail. Okay, that visual is just funny, but maybe it’s because I have a cat!

So, today, either find the auction where fire trucks are sold, gather the folks in your office and go buy you one OR lead the way in toning it down a notch. 30 things on your list that are doable will get done better, faster, and with greater precision than 750 things on your list that you constantly reassess realizing there’s no way, no how they’re actually going to happen. Who needs THAT kind of stress?

Monday, May 24, 2010

No Challenge, No Chase – Challenge Your Star Performers

When in the role of a Contagious Leader, sometimes you will have to conduct the difficult conversation of discipline or even termination and there is a great deal of information on both subjects, in fact, it is something I provide when training leaders. However, how often have you thought about what you do for those star performers? Do you assume that as long as a person is performing and getting praise, they need little or no further development? Do THEY operate on the premise that no news from you, is good news? If so, you might be missing a key opportunity.

You see, people do what they get paid attention for doing and if you think about it, most of your attention is spent on those messing up or performing poorly. But, if you want the star performers to keep up the good job, then giving them a little attention is important, too. Here are a few ways you can give them the attention they deserve and the attention that will continue to drive their positive performance.

Say thank you sincerely and frequently. In other words, notice their efforts, notice their initiative and notice their achievements. Without this acknowledgement, they may decide that what they need to do to get your attention, is to somehow end up on the poor performance roster.

Challenge them to do even more that builds their Contagious Confidence™. Powerful performers are usually internally driven, but they also rise to the challenge. i.e. no challenge, no chase and they might get bored feeling as if they are standing still with no goal for which to reach.

Think twice before you give them more responsibility. Challenging a star performer does NOT necessarily mean a promotion into management or an assignment of a mentee. Star performers who do well in sales for example, will likely make less money when promoted into management and will have less time to sell with a mentee in tow. Think about what motivates the star performer before you dole out the traditional “reward” of promotion. It may not be as motivating as you think.

The bottom line is star performers need attention, too, and when you give them what they need, it’s like adding the right fuel to a car… it will go farther, usually faster, and often more productively.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great Monday and of course, stay contagious!

What Does Leadership Take?

Wow, it's been a while! Been working on building the business and creating quite a following in Twitter around "What Does Leadership Take? "

Check out the Twitter handle Contagious Leadr and find out more about What Leadership Takes.

For example: What Does Leadership Take? Recognition that somedays what you need to buy is not more stuff, but a bigger firetruck to put out all the fires in your world. Hmmmm....anyone know anyone who has a firetruck for sale? Small fire extinguisher maybe? hehe!