Be Happy

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Two simple words to say, but not always something so simple to do. My 4 year old has been known to blurt this out after he has done something wrong and knows he is in trouble. Like if he just says this, it will automatically make his poor choice go away and instantly I will be happy!

Throughout our leadership journey, how many times have we said to a peer or team member something along these lines? “Let it go,” or “Get over it,” were my two personal favorites. Yes, if someone just tells me this, I will magically move past something that has annoyed or upset me. And of course I have said these very words to others, so I am just as guilty.

I believe that we often try to fix a situation just by saying something. While this might help a little, it will not address the issue at hand. We are conditioned as leaders to deal out advice because we have been led to believe this is what our team members want. And, in many cases they do want our advice, but sometimes we need to dig a little deeper and listen more than we speak. In many cases I have often found that a team member will come to you when they are unhappy and in need of a sounding board – someone who can listen and help them work through something that might be bothering them. Guiding the conversation and probing a little further can sometimes aid a team member in finding their own solution without some cliché saying being tossed around.

Do we all need to let it go or get over it sometimes? Yes we do, however simply saying the words doesn’t make it happen. Sometimes as a leader just listening will go much further than offering your words of wisdom!

You Can Learn From Your Dog

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Another insightful look at leadership from my guest blogger, EJ Widun!

It is often said that a dog is man’s best friend. I believe it is true. Those of us who have pets forge an incredibly special and powerful bond.

Think about it…what’s not to love.

  • A pet gives you unconditional love.
  • A pet doesn’t care what went wrong or right, your pet loves you no matter what.
  • A pet will listen when you just need to talk.
  • A pet will be happy to just spend time around you and support you.

In our family, we have two dogs and they are truly special members of the family. We adore them and love them. They are always there with a tail wag and a smile. They are always ready to listen and offer unyielding support. No matter what has happened personally or professionally, our dogs are there to offer the perfect support.

Have you ever stopped to think if you, as a leader, display these same traits? Are you there for your team members no matter what happens?   Are you there to offer unconditional support?

As leaders, we may feel that we have to be right or have the answer to every situation. That is not true. Sometimes our team members just need our support and love. They need us to act like a pet to them. They don’t need to be told how to be better or what could have gone differently. Sometimes the team member just needs your ear and heart.

So after reading this, I hope that you can take a moment to appreciate your pets for all they do for you every day. I also hope that as you reflect on your relationship with your pets, you learn how to apply the lessons that they teach you into your leadership style.

A Noisy World

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It is hard to escape all of the noise that exists around us. There is the noise you actually hear, such as barking dogs and loud children (something that is heard quite often in my home.) Or the noise you do not hear – all of the outside influences, such as social media, other people, or the many things that roll around inside your brain on a daily basis.

When we talk about a noisy world, I personally believe the internal noise that we deal with is far more difficult to process than noise that is obvious. I know this seems like a confusing idea, but let me put it into perspective for you.

I am a writer, when I sit down to write a blog, story, or article, I prefer to have quiet so I can think and hopefully string together a couple of intelligent thoughts. Sometimes it works, other times, not so much! Can I work if the house is noisy? Of course I can, it just makes it a bit more difficult to concentrate, but not impossible. On the other hand, I can be sitting in a quiet room working on a story, but cannot focus due to all of the “noise” going on inside my head. The list of everything I need to work on, the kids’ schedules, does this blog really make sense, did I forget to pick up the dry-cleaning; what on earth am I going to make for dinner…. dare I even mention the crazy stuff on Twitter? See how difficult it can be to think about the actual work at hand when we cannot clear our minds to focus?

This scenario can be challenging for a leader. You are tasked with leading a group or an organization when there are so many things that can and usually happen in a day creating unnecessary diversions in our paths. Keep in mind that I am not referring to interruptions from your team members or colleagues. Speaking with a team member about an issue should never be considered “noise” in my opinion. If someone is concerned enough to seek out your assistance, calling their concerns noise will not do much to solidify your position as a leader.   The type of noise I am referring to is the type that you can allow to overtake your brain, or you can squash it like a bug. Understanding that internal noise exists and getting rid of it can be a challenge. For some, it is getting up and taking a walk to step away from the noise for a moment. For me, I have personally found that jotting down notes on my writing ideas on paper helps keep me on track. For some reason, once I write something down the old-fashioned way, it puts my thoughts back in order. How do you block out all of the “noise” to effectively lead?

Fake It ‘Till You Make It

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Many have uttered this phrase when times get tough. There are times in our lives when we just aren’t sure how to keep moving forward when things are going to hell around us. This can be especially true in leadership. How often have you had one of those days when nothing is going right and you just want to yell at someone but you don’t, because as I have often told my 3 year old, throwing a tantrum and yelling at someone is no way to go through life!

In these instances, do we just paste a smiley face on and go with the flow? I have previously written about not panicking unless there is a really good reason to do so; but what about a day when your mojo is just off and you don’t feel like jumping up and saying yeah! It is really surprising how the mood of one person can impact the rest of the team. I once had a team member who was an extremely happy and positive person, someone who had a gift for putting the most miserable person in a good mood. Once, this person had a very bad day and her positive personality disappeared. The mood of the entire group mirrored her and soon, I had a group of nasty, whiny, complainers. This made me contemplate the way in which I approached a bad day. Knowing that others would follow my lead, I tried to be conscious of how I interacted with everyone.  If I could curtail my annoyance, no one would suspect I was having a bad day. I guess in a way I was faking it – pretending that all was well in order to preserve the positive attitude of everyone around me. In the end, this exercise actually helped me turn my negative mood around, just by acting positive I was able to block out the negative thoughts in my head.

How do you respond as a leader when dealing with a bad day? Do you fake it till you make it?

Share and Share Alike

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Anyone who has read my blog knows that I am an ardent supporter of leadership belonging to everyone in an organization, not just a handful of people with a title. If we believe that everyone has the potential to be a leader, how do we filter this concept down to every person within your organization?

The concept of shared leadership may sound like an odd idea. If you are a leader, it is your responsibility to lead, correct? What happens when we make the choice to share our leadership with others? I am not talking about passing the buck, shoving your dirty work onto your team members. What I am referring to is the idea that you should be taking the time to share your thoughts about leadership as well as allowing your team members to assist in the leadership process. Wouldn’t it be great if you created an opportunity for everyone to learn from one another? I felt that we all had something to contribute to the organization regardless of position. Just because I had the title of leader, it no way meant that I was the smartest person in the organization. Sharing my leadership increased my knowledge base from the many things I learned from my team along this journey. The organization also benefitted from the way in which the team was able to take up the reins of leadership. They felt more confident in the decisions that they made and were able to serve our customers in exemplary ways.

Are you a leadership miser, keeping it all to yourself, or do you believe leadership should be spread around?

Yes Mother

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How many times have we used this phrase, complete with the exasperated eye roll? Regardless if you are a know-it-all teenager or an adult, at some point in our lives we will become annoyed with unsolicited advice.

This has made me think about how we react to unsolicited advice – regardless of who gives it to us. Are we more willing to take the advice of others when it is presented in a specific way? Or, are we closed-minded to any advice and politely say that we will take it under consideration or just give the blank stare of indifference?

I used to wonder why a few of my team members would get that glazed over look when I would dispense with my great knowledge about a given topic? Then I actually listened to what I was saying and it was pretty cringe-worthy. Yep, I was giving out the mom speech – and no one was the least bit interested in what I had to say. I learned the hard way that lecturing is not a very effective method of communicating your thoughts and ideas to others.   Most people do not like unsolicited advice – we tend to believe that we are intelligent enough to deal with whatever crosses our path in life. We do not like to be placed in a situation where someone might question or threaten our intelligence. 

It is not what you say but how you say it that makes all the difference in the world. There will be a time when you feel the need to provide feedback to someone, whether it is your team members or even your children. Take a moment and think about the best way to present your viewpoint – how would you want someone to approach you in a similar situation? Lecturing does not create buy-in, it unleashes the rebellious teenager in all of us!