personal development

December 8, 2010

Leadership Lessons of ‘The West Wing’

Many of you will remember that I’m steadily working my way through the 7 seasons of ‘The West Wing’ boxed set. And so far, it’s not difficult to appreciate why so many Americans (and others) would readily take Jed Bartlett as their President.

There are many aspects of Bartlett that are agreeable and none more so than his tremendous leadership of others.

In an example I watched just the other night, one of his senior team takes an incredibly brave step to ask Bartlett personal details of his relationship with his father. Whilst this might seem a step too far in his relationship with ‘Mr President’, Toby Ziegler is performing an ideal, if rather intimate service to his boss.

Initially, Bartlett is rather incensed at Ziegler’s impertinence and then, in the next couple of episodes, we see the true leadership come through, where he responds to the raw edge that Ziegler has exposed. Bartlett sees past his own bruised ego and ‘gets’ the point of Ziegler’s intervention.

In his own way, Bartlett shows Ziegler how much he values the man’s courage to speak up in such a sensitive area – and, incidentally, an area that Bartlett really does need to investigate.

In too many cases, leaders are so engrossed in their own ego that they fail to appreciate that giving feedback to your boss is a tough thing to do.

Bosses very often intimidate, whether they mean to or not.

To have the courage to give feedback is a rare thing in an employee. Even when they do get brave enough, the handling of this feedback has to be very careful indeed, or valuable relationships will stutter and the most likely outcome is that no more feedback will ever be forthcoming.

(Hint – never start to argue or justify your side of it, just thank them and accept the feedback very graciously and ponder on it honestly).

Great leaders – like the fictional character Bartlett that Martin Sheen plays so effectively – value both the very feedback they are given by acting on it constructively, as well as respecting the generosity and courage shown by the employee who has the kindness to offer it.

We see feedback as a one-way street – often interpreted by employees as ‘criticism’ (and negatively as a consequence) – where we dole it out downwards when we lead others (often more for our benefit than theirs).

Where we graciously accept feedback given that is intended to help us ourselves evolve, we make best use of the gift for our own benefits and also show our people that it adds value and is to be appreciated, which, in turn, makes it much more likely for them to value too when they are on the receiving end.

When we accept and look into feedback that seems hard to take, we are being provided with a perception of us that sometimes – often indeed – is just where our blind spot is.

And that’s such a valuable steer for someone to take the time and trouble to share with us.

Filed under Blog, Building the Future, Developing Your People, Management Basics, Managing Me by Martin

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December 6, 2010

The Curiosity of Employees

How do children learn? It is, after all, something we all have to do – and the formative years of kids are fascinating to observe.

Children learn be experiencing new things. By having the freedom – whilst being protected by their carers as much as possible from harm – to explore anything and everything in their lives.

Each object, idea and concept is there for the level of study they feel appropriate, simply by being curious.

We let them be that way without demeaning them. We smile at their odd questions and behaviors and enjoy the moment with them.

Over the years of getting older, as we discover our emotional side, we lose the ability to take risks with new things in quite the same way ever again.

It happens to a greater or lesser extent in every single one of us, as we move into middle childhood and then as adults.

Often in the workplace, this can prevent learning and development, at the very least, with the possibilities to explore and learn by doing falling way behind in the self-fulfilment pecking order.

We protect ourselves from experiencing painful and indeed harmful emotions that hurt our self-esteem, by being a lot less inclined to do things when we have been affected before.

So, unless carefully nurtured, as employees we hold back and stay safe. We’ve experienced the bump on the head or the graze on the knee once too often to try it again, especially when it made us feel not only physically bad, but even more so when it hurts us inside.

As managers, we can really get much more from the potential of our people by making exploration and new learning a very safe place to go.

When we start to appreciate just what it is that we need to do to lighten up our people; to let them make their mistakes; to let them learn from the little bumps and scrapes that children learn from, we offer an enlightening experience indeed.

We are there to nurture our people to ‘find things out’ freely and without besmirching or embarrassing them at all, we do them such a favor. Indeed we develop our teams so effectively as well.

So once again, where we take the time to recognize exactly how each of our employees needs us to be, everyone can become a winner.

Filed under Blog, Building the Future, Developing Your People, Management Basics by Martin

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October 27, 2010

Losing Your Best Employees

Working with a client this week, I came across one of those situations where a manager’s emotions can get confused.

I recall a training video where the manager concerned feels that if he develops his people enough, then they might be good enough to, well, get promoted and then they would leave him. And his misguided concern is that they will leave him to struggle!

The situation this week was similar. It was time for the manager’s trainee to move to a new deputy role, in a different arm of the business.

The manager was noticeably glad for the trainee, yet I could also sense a hint of sadness that he was losing a valuable member of the team – one who he’d nurtured himself to an enhanced level of performance.

In fact, losing people to new challenges – especially when they have developed to their potential – is pretty much always a good thing.

Managers who deliver great team members who are capable of moving onwards and upwards can celebrate with them – in more ways than one.

Firstly, that they (the manager) have done a great job. One where they have used their people skills to draw from that individual all the possibilities that they had within them.

Secondly, that the individual will be moving on to better personal opportunities for their own future (not least they often get a pay hike too!).

Thirdly, that they will learn more somewhere else – after all, one manager simply cannot provide all the growth for an individual.

Finally (and I’m aware there might be even more positives that others might be able to provide here), there’s another upside that all managers can draw from good people moving on.

There will be another new trainee right along soon. And there’s nothing like a new challenge to keep a manager sharp, engaged and able to reflect on how they themselves can evolve, as they start along the path to create new excellence from another raw recruit.

Filed under Blog, Developing Your People, Management Basics, Managing Me by Martin

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August 24, 2010

Keeping Your Team Members Happy

A manager’s role is to build successful teams that deliver the business. We aim to seek for higher and higher performances from those we encourage, cajole and develop.  How do we keep them all happy?

We strive to create refined, capable people to inhabit our teams. The results we seek cannot be delivered by us alone, because simply we cannot do it by ourselves.

Like the soccer coach – the results come from those who cross that white line for us. All the plays the team practice during the week, are for nothing if they don’t deliver ‘when Saturday comes’ – as they say!

As managers we have to hone their skills, tactics and flair for then.

Yet what happens to our people when we’re done developing them. When they can grow no more in the circumstances that we are in a position to offer them?

Indeed is it possible that they can grow no more with us at their helm? Could that be possible?

The simple answer is – of course they can reach a peak in the team we have them in; with the support and challenge we help them with.

And sometimes, when they achieve that zenith, we have to make the more courageous decision to let them fly off and seek a new level of opportunity, to make the next leap.

Successful management is not simply about building a team that serves us well. It’s much bigger than that.

When we help create fulfilled employees, the bigger picture is where we have to be brave and let them go. We have to celebrate the success they achieve with us and – where this is what they want – prepare them for a bigger stage to explore and reach for the next level, with our support and enthusiasm.

In soccer, managers of smaller teams strive to create better and better players for the good of the team and then, whilst it may be a sad time, encourage them on to bigger teams; new arenas and bigger opportunities.

That’s where the bigger managers stand out – loving the growth they see and then accepting – no, encouraging – their people to be the most they can – even when that means moving on.

Filed under Blog, Developing Your People, Management Basics, Management Development Tips, Managing Me by Martin

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August 2, 2010

Waving The Management Magic Wand – Part 1

OK, so we’re all managers, right? And although we might keep it to ourselves, we all probably have moments when we whisper to ourselves, ‘I wish…’.

Never fear, we all in this together, so you can tell me it’s so…

Little things that our workplace does to us that really, it would be so cool to, well, be different.

Whilst I am not able to give you the magic of Master Potter’s magic wand, I can help you a little here.

It’s about being focused and taking action.

Part one this week is about issues that are all about you. Next week we’ll attack those ‘I wish…’ issues about your people.

For this week, we’ve enough to work on with you alone.

When you want things to be different, there is only one answer to that wishfulness thinking. It’s about grasping the issue ahead of you and being strong (sometimes brave) enough to handle it.

You see, many time we want things to be different, yet we want magic to happen. Here’s a heads-up. The magic will only happen when you have the wand in your hand and you make it happen.

If they are issues about the way you do things, be resolute and decide it’s going to be different from now on – or, decide that you are going to live with it and find work-arounds that will make the difference.

So you can park the challenges someplace else apart from right in your face causing you worry, stress and frustration.

The wand, as they say, is in your hands (and, in case the message didn’t quite get there – no-one else’s, so, if it’s your way, stop blaming everyone else).

Filed under Blog, Management Basics, Managing Me by Martin

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March 10, 2009

Quick Thinking Required!

I’m fascinated by productivity. Making things actually happen, instead of pondering endlkessly is a huge step forward for any manager.

When I was in Australia recently, I met up with Dr Ken Hudson, from The Speed Thinking Zone. Ken’s premise is that things take way too long and there is a better way.

Hudson’s Law of Meetings

February 27, 2009

In 1955, Cyril Northcote Parkinson suggested, in a tongue in cheek way, what has since become known as Parkinsons Law. It states:

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

I would like to suggest that this be updated for meetings in what i have called Hudson’s Law of Meetings:

Meetings expand to the time set for the meeting.

Think about it. Have you ever been at a meeting when someone says, well we have the meeting room booked for the next hour why don’t we stay till then. Why should you? If the meeting is over the meeting is over.

Why do most of us feel guilty about having a shorter meeting or one that finishes early? In a recent workshop we covered all we had to do and i suggested that we finish early. One person started to complain about this.

Why I asked?

Why don’t you use the extra time to go to the gym or see your kids or go to a movie?

If Hudson’s rule is valid then we should think seriously about the amount of time we spend in meetings. Why are all our meetings at least one hour? Why aren’t these half an hour?

Imagine how much time you could free up and how more productive and enjoyable your life could be.

Ken Hudson

Ken’s thinking is fast paced, as you might expect. I like his stuff and I want to know more, despite Australia being quite a hike from where I am.

I think you might like to check it out too, right here at The Speed Thinking Zone

Filed under Blog by Martin

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November 18, 2008

6 Tips To Effective Delegation

Greetings!:

As an executive, supervisor, manager or team leader, you make daily decisions about everyone’s workload. Delegation is an excellent management tool to maximize your team’s performance; however, it is a skill that needs to be learned. To help maximize your delegation skills, we have put together 6 tips and 5 core competencies to improve your delegation skills.

6 Tips To Effective Delegation

1. Give The Person A Whole Task To Do – People prefer to get the job done and not wait for someone else to hand-off a component of it. Likewise, connect everyone who is actively working on the project so they can all see the big picture.

2. Make Sure They Understand Exactly What You Want Them To Do – Take the time to manage expectations so things are done correctly. Establish performance standards with SMART goals. That way, it is crystal clear what and how the task or project needs to be done.

3. Share Your Vision With Them – People like to know what your vision is on a project so share it with them. If they understand the big picture and how the task or project they are delegated fits into that big picture, they are more likely to be committed to it.

4. Set Project Due Dates – Most people need to know due dates so they can effectively manage a project. By setting specific dates and milestones you will help your team better manage a project that has been delegated to them.

5. Give Them The Right Tools – Make sure your team has the right tools to do the job. This can range from computers to software and everything in between.

6. Reward Your Team – Rewarding people for their individual and group performance is a great way to motivate them. Although financial consideration is great, best-in-class leaders find creative ways to reward their team.

Effective Delegation Can Strengthen Any Organization

Delegating tasks not only fosters a team environment but can help individuals increase their level of performance. Doing so, you will find individuals increasing their responsibility, leadership skills and project management skills. Plus, it’s an excellent way for them to feel important to your organization.

The 5 Competencies To Help Maximize Your Delegation Skills

1. Make Your Team Accountable – Leaders who delegate well demonstrate personal responsibility and hold everyone accountable for organizational outcomes.

2. Human Resource Management – Leaders who delegate well make sure there are resources available to meet the team’s goals and objectives.

3. Solid Interpersonal Skills – Leaders who delegate well build solid relationships of trust and respect inside and outside the organization.

4. Leveraging Diversity – Leaders who delegate well find ways to leverage capabilities, insights and ideas across diverse cultures, styles and ability.

5. Strong Leadership – Leaders who delegate know how to enhance their organization’s value, while tapping into their team’s skills and abilities, to help achieve the desired results.

SUMMARY – Effective delegation is all about sharing the workload, with the added bonus of developing skills and responsibility in others. A leader not only needs to look at the “final result” but also who worked, who didn’t work and what they should do differently next time. The 6 tips and the 5 competencies above will not only help you achieve a work-life balance but also become more productive.

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”
–General George Smith Patton, Jr.

If you want to find out more about how Dale Carnegie’s® Competency Based Development Solutions can make your business more effective, or need more information on this subject, please contact us.

Anita Zinsmeister, President
Dale Carnegie® Training of Central and Southern NJ
(609) 324-9200
success@dalecarnegie.com
www.southjersey.dalecarnegie.com

Filed under Developing Your People, Management Basics by Martin

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