Monday, May 2, 2011

Wine into water

I came across an illustration (unfortunately I can't seem to find it again...) about a town that decided to celebrate by toasting together. Everyone was to bring their best bottle of wine to pour into one huge container to share. When it came time to celebrate, there was nothing but water in the container! Everyone thought that they could just bring water and it wouldn't be noticed when it was poured in with everyone else's wine.
As part of a team, are you bringing your best wine? Or are you just bringing water? Are you relying on the rest of the team to make up for your lack?
As a leader, are you bringing it? Or watering it down? Or just passing it along without contributing anything?
Now, I am all for not "re-inventing the wheel", but you still have to bring something to the table. You can't just pass along information - an auto-responder can do that - no person necessary. You have to personalize it and make it relevant for you and your team. You even have to test it yourself - just because it plays on the coast doesn't mean it will be successful in the midwest.
What is your team going to toast with? Wine or whine?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April showers

I love April showers.
Wait, I mostly love April showers.
Ok, I love the occasional warm, light shower maybe 2 or 3 times in April (as long as it doesn't mess up my plans).
What I do enjoy is the fresh smell after a nice rain, the grass turning green, and the plants starting to bud and bloom after a long, cold winter.
What I don't enjoy are the torrential rains, flooding, wet basements, satellite going out and changing plans.
But here's the thing- the rains are going to come in the spring regardless of anything I do. But I can make a plan. I know the rains are coming, I just don't know how much. I can hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
Is your leadership like riverfront property? Each spring you start to sweat when the rains come down and the river rises? You get "closer to God" as the water inches toward your home and everything you own?
Or do you anticipate the rain? Build your home above the flood stage? And not sweat the showers?
Good leadership requires preparation - and a Plan B (maybe even Plan C). Enjoy the rain. Anticipate it. Even look forward to it. Because after the showers, come the flowers.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Light my Fire

I just finished reading a very insightful book "Opportunity Screams - Unlocking Hearts and Minds in Today's Idea Economy" by Tom Asacker. Of the many, many thought provoking ideas presented, one that struck home with me personally was about passion.
I sell products (maybe you do, too). The products are great, but there are lots of similar items in the marketplace. My products will never be the cheapest. They will never be the most cutting edge. So what chance do I have to run a successful business? It's passion. It's what I believe that my products can bring to enhance the lives of my friends and family. It's how I help others improve how they see themselves and their lives.
But, lately, the "cares of life" have gotten in the way of my personal passion for my products. Now, I still run a good business, and lead a great team. My passion for my team has never waned. But how much better could it be? How much more could there be if that passion were allowed to run wild? If the flame burned that much brighter?
Have the cares of life dimmed your passion? Do you believe in your mission? Do you know what your mission is? Are you genuine? And authentic?
What will it take to light your fire?

Monday, February 14, 2011

It's about them

One of my leadership activities is being a business coach. I help others identify their goals and plan strategies to achieve their goals. Very often, the initial coaching goes something like this-
"What are your goals?"
"These are my goals."
"What do you need to do to achieve these goals?"
"I need to do a,b,c."
"When do you want to have these goals achieved?"
"By this date." And then off they go. OK- so there is more, but this boils it down to the essentials.
Next coaching (after they have actually done some of the steps) sometimes goes like this-
"No one will a or b."
"What was their objection?"
"I asked them to a or b for me, and they just said no."
"What did you offer them?"
"I offered them a or b and they said no."
"What was in it for them?"
"I didn't even get to tell them because they said no."
"So why would they want a or b?"
"Because... I don't really know..." Exactly!
Leaders know that the best way to close the deal is to find the need, then fill the need.
Are you just asking for a favor? Does what you want have anything to do with their decision? Will they just do what you tell them to do, because you told them to do it? (Oh, how I wish that were true!)
You have to take you out of the equation. What do you have to offer them? Who's need can you fill? Do they really want or need what you are offering? By filling their needs, you will ultimately meet your goals. You will experience less rejection because you are not offering until you know if you have anything of value for them.
Find their need. Fill their need. It's not about you, it's about them.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Have you just gotten lazy?

The pace at which you can work at leadership has an ebb and flow. The seasons change in your personal life. Your business has peaks and valleys. Things just change.
When your leadership is in a growth faze, you look for ways to streamline your activities. You delegate, you cut out some activities, you only work with your "A" people.
So what happens when you're not growing? First, you catch your breath. You take a few minutes to rest. Then, do you hit the ground again? Or do you keep resting? Do you forget to do the things that put you into growth mode? Is the comfy couch, or other parts of life, just so much easier?
Be a leader, or don't. But being a "lazy leader" is really just being a bad example.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

What's holding you back?

Several years ago, I heard a speaker talk about the "fear of success". The idea being that some people are afraid to really do well. Afraid others may think they have too much. Afraid of the fame, the money, the promotion. Really? I think most people would say, "bring it on!"
I believe the majority of us are really afraid of failing. We may put things off until the last minute, so that if we don't meet a goal, we can blame our lack of time. We may rely heavily on others, so that if the other person fails, they can be blamed. It isn't our own fault that we don't succeed.
Because what happens if we do give it our all?... and fail? Who wants to admit that they just don't measure up? That they failed? That they are responsible? That they gave it their all, and still didn't cut it?
Good leaders do what they know should be done. Even when it's hard. Even when they're afraid. Most of the time. Do we occasionally hide our heads in the sand? Or try to avoid a difficult situation? Sure. The good ones just don't let it hold them back.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Head of the House

My husband is the head of our house. Now before you get your feathers ruffled or go all "women's lib" on me, let me explain my viewpoint.
My husband knows he's the head of our house, because I told him he could be. I have no doubt that any decisions he makes for our family, take my best interests to heart. Does that mean that I don't make any decisions? Hardly. Anyone who personally knows me, knows that I make a ton of decisions. Does that mean that we always agree? Of course not. Sometimes, I even need to remind him of factors he may not have considered.
Have you ever tried to "co-manage" or "co-chair" something? And either no one wants to make the final call, or both people want to make a different call? Isn't it frustrating? Have you ever noticed how much easier it is when one person takes the lead? And the other takes a supportive (but equally important) role? That's exactly why my husband is the head of our house.
Having a good relationship with anyone takes 2 important steps: choice and compromise.
Choice - we first need to carefully choose who we go into business with, who we make babies with (men and women), who we trust. All too often, we leave choice to "chance". Don't be afraid to ask tough questions. Taking extra time up front can save you a life-time of problems later. You have to be confident that the other person will live up to your expectations.
Compromise - Once you've made a good choice, compromise can keep you in business. There are very few times that any decision is life or death. Extending an olive branch can go a long way toward a good relationship. Sometimes, it's nice not to be the one making all the decisions. It can be a lot of stress to handle the pressure alone.
Will these 2 steps change the world? Probably not. But could slowing down and taking time to make good decisions and looking to the other person's point of view change your world? It might.

Friday, January 7, 2011


I am a rule follower. I like rules. I think rules help to avoid a lot of problems. They provide clear expectations for appropriate behavior. They bring a certain civility to life.
That being said, I think I'm a dying breed.
Almost every day I see people breaking traffic laws (texting, running red lights, causing grid lock, speeding through school zones). These things are illegal and downright dangerous. And don't even get me started about how awful people are when dropping off and picking up at school.
I have recently had conversation with a couple people who are dealing with bad employee behavior. The employees do not like some changes that have occured within their respective companies. (On a side note- companies often have to change due to economic or industry factors just to keep their doors open.)
Instead of adjusting to the changes or forming a plan to make the changes work in their favor, they have chosen behaviors that are unethical and damaging to their company and, ultimately, themselves. Some of the actions include coming in late or leaving early (but not changing their time card), not waiting on customers in a timely matter, taking extended lunches & smoke breaks, trash talking their company, complaining to co-workers...the list just goes on.
So what do they accomplish by breaking the rules their company has set? Customers will not want to frequent the business. Sales go down. Commissions go down. Morale goes down. Ultimately, the employee will quit and blame the company, or they will be fired for not doing the job they agreed to do (and blame the company).
Do you not like your job? Then do something different! No one is holding a gun to your head. That may mean go do something else, or it may mean that you have to come to terms with the expectations and step up. Either way it is NOT okay to do a bad job or break the rules because you are not thrilled with the situation.
"The time is always right, to do what is right." Martin Luther King, Jr.