8 Core Beliefs of Extraordinary Bosses by Geoffrey James

Apr 23, 2012

The best managers have a fundamentally different understanding of workplace, company, and team dynamics. See what they get right.

A few years back, I interviewed some of the most successful CEOs in the world in order to discover their management secrets. I learned that the “best of the best” tend to share the following eight core beliefs.

1. Business is an ecosystem, not a battlefield.

Average bosses see business as a conflict between companies, departments and groups. They build huge armies of “troops” to order about, demonize competitors as “enemies,” and treat customers as “territory” to be conquered.

Extraordinary bosses see business as a symbiosis where the most diverse firm is most likely to survive and thrive. They naturally create teams that adapt easily to new markets and can quickly form partnerships with other companies, customers … and even competitors.

2. A company is a community, not a machine.

Average bosses consider their company to be a machine with employees as cogs. They create rigid structures with rigid rules and then try to maintain control by “pulling levers” and “steering the ship.”

Extraordinary bosses see their company as a collection of individual hopes and dreams, all connected to a higher purpose. They inspire employees to dedicate themselves to the success of their peers and therefore to the community–and company–at large.

3. Management is service, not control.

Average bosses want employees to do exactly what they’re told. They’re hyper-aware of anything that smacks of insubordination and create environments where individual initiative is squelched by the “wait and see what the boss says” mentality.

Extraordinary bosses set a general direction and then commit themselves to obtaining the resources that their employees need to get the job done. They push decision making downward, allowing teams form their own rules and intervening only in emergencies.

4. My employees are my peers, not my children.

Average bosses see employees as inferior, immature beings who simply can’t be trusted if not overseen by a patriarchal management. Employees take their cues from this attitude, expend energy on looking busy and covering their behinds.

Extraordinary bosses treat every employee as if he or she were the most important person in the firm. Excellence is expected everywhere, from the loading dock to the boardroom. As a result, employees at all levels take charge of their own destinies.

5. Motivation comes from vision, not from fear.

Average bosses see fear–of getting fired, of ridicule, of loss of privilege–as a crucial way to motivate people.  As a result, employees and managers alike become paralyzed and unable to make risky decisions.

Extraordinary bosses inspire people to see a better future and how they’ll be a part of it.  As a result, employees work harder because they believe in the organization’s goals, truly enjoy what they’re doing and (of course) know they’ll share in the rewards.

6. Change equals growth, not pain.

Average bosses see change as both complicated and threatening, something to be endured only when a firm is in desperate shape. They subconsciously torpedo change … until it’s too late.

Extraordinary bosses see change as an inevitable part of life. While they don’t value change for its own sake, they know that success is only possible if employees and organization embrace new ideas and new ways of doing business.

7. Technology offers empowerment, not automation.

Average bosses adhere to the old IT-centric view that technology is primarily a way to strengthen management control and increase predictability. They install centralized computer systems that dehumanize and antagonize employees.

Extraordinary bosses see technology as a way to free human beings to be creative and to build better relationships. They adapt their back-office systems to the tools, like smartphones and tablets, that people actually want to use.

8. Work should be fun, not mere toil.

Average bosses buy into the notion that work is, at best, a necessary evil. They fully expect employees to resent having to work, and therefore tend to subconsciously define themselves as oppressors and their employees as victims. Everyone then behaves accordingly.

Extraordinary bosses see work as something that should be inherently enjoyable–and believe therefore that the most important job of manager is, as far as possible, to put people in jobs that can and will make them truly happy.

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Team Building: Leaders Make It Safe to Collaborate by John Baldoni

Jun 14, 2012

In order for your staff to effectively collaborate, you have to define what it means to help. Here’s why.

What does it mean to help?

Ronald Reagan used to have fun with the statement, “The most dangerous words in the English language are ‘I’m with the government and I’m here to help.'” It seldom failed to get a laugh. But in reality the issue of help, or specifically how we help, is no laughing matter.

So often executives will ask their teams to collaborate more closely with one another. In cross-functional teams this means the marketing person has permission to offer advice to someone in logistics. Or a finance exec can weigh in on an engineering issue. Interdisciplinary collaboration is much talked about but too often it does not work because managers are not certain how to act.

An executive who attended a program I taught made this clearer to me. His questions focused on: How can I ask a question of a colleague without showing him or her up? And if I make a comment about a colleague’s work, do I come across as a know-it-all or self-promoter?

Tough questions indeed and they get to the heart of why colleagues sometimes hold back. The proper response is for leaders to make it safe for staffers to collaborate.

Here are some suggestions:

Define help.

What does it mean to offer help? The first step is to define what help is not: one-upmanship. The person asking for help must be given assurance that he will be listened to. The person giving help will know that he will not be asked to provide extra manpower, unless the boss says to. Help therefore may be as simple as asking a clarifying question or as detailed as assigning a work team to solve a problem.

Define the lingua franca.

High performance teams also develop their own rules, or language. They know what it means to listen and to collaborate. Collaboration means sharing and so members do not view it as an opportunity to power grab or micromanage a colleague.

Defining what it means to help extends to meetings, particularly since we spend so much in them.

Define the purpose of collaborative meetings.

All meetings are not created equally. Some may be procedural (to get updates) and others may be strategic (focused on long-term issues). Mixing these two intentions inevitably overruns the deliberative process in favor of pushing through agenda items. One thing I have observed is that managers limit procedural meetings to quick get-togethers (where everyone stands) by putting them first in memoranda form for email distribution. Consider the strategic meeting as the opportunity to deliberate.

Destinations

 

I heard something once in church that really got me thinking:

 “Your direction, not your intentions, determines your destination.” 

Andy Stanley

   What does this mean?  Let me share with you some examples that I heard.

  •    Your intention may be to lose weight, but if you keep “super-sizing” fast food meals, will you get   to your goal?  No.
  • Your intention may be to grow closer to your kids, but if you work longer and longer hours or pay little attention to them while you’re home, you won’t reach your destination.

There were other examples, but I think you’ve got the point.

I began to ask myself if this principle also applies to life as a manager/leader?  I think it does.  Many team members intend to provide a superior customer experience.  They really want to go above and beyond in hitting goals.  Managers want to become better leaders and help their team develop to the next level.  There are a lot of great intentions all around us.

But how many of us fall back into our normal patterns and keep doing the same-0l’-same-ol’?

In order to get to your destination, you have to focus on your direction – the behaviors and actions that will get you there.  Good intentions (without focus) will not be good for anything.  If you are in Chicago and intend to drive to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, you won’t get there if you begin driving westbound on I-80.  If you intend to be successful as a manager/leader, you won’t get there by doing things that have proven to result in little impact.

Your destination is about results.  Your company is expecting you to produce meaningful results.  Your efforts must positively impact the bottom line.  The way you develop yourself and your staff will greatly impact your results.  Results happen by doing more than just showing up.  You make it happen.

You know your areas of opportunity more than anyone.  If you desire to head in the right direction, be very honest with yourself and where you are at this very moment.  Be courageous enough to seek help from mentors.  Be resourceful enough to read books/articles that will help you develop those weak areas in your life.  Be realistic enough to know that lasting change does not happen overnight.

The right direction means that you begin taking the steps in that direction.  Make the most of those steps.

A Janitor’s 10 Lessons in Leadership by Col. James Moschgat, 12th Operations Group Commander

William “Bill” Crawford certainly was an unimpressive figure, one you could easily overlook during a hectic day at the U.S. Air Force Academy.   Mr. Crawford, as most of us referred to him back in the late 1970s, was our squadron janitor. 

While we cadets busied ourselves preparing for academic exams, athletic events, Saturday morning parades and room inspections, or never-ending leadership classes, Bill quietly moved about the squadron mopping and buffing floors, emptying trash cans, cleaning toilets, or just tidying up the mess 100 college-age kids can leave in a dormitory. 

Sadly, and for many years, few of us gave him much notice, rendering little more than a passing nod or throwing a curt, “G’morning!” in his direction as we hurried off to our daily duties.

Why? Perhaps it was because of the way he did his job-he always kept the squadron area spotlessly clean, even the toilets and showers gleamed.  Frankly, he did his job so well, none of us had to notice or get involved.  After all, cleaning toilets was his job, not ours. 

Maybe it was his physical appearance that made him disappear into the background.  Bill didn’t move very quickly and, in fact, you could say he even shuffled a bit, as if he suffered from some sort of injury.  His gray hair and wrinkled face made him appear ancient to a group of young cadets.  And his crooked smile, well, it looked a little funny.  Face it, Bill was an old man working in a young person’s world.  What did he have to offer us on a personal level? 

Finally, maybe it was Mr. Crawford’s personality that rendered him almost invisible to the young people around him.  Bill was shy, almost painfully so.  He seldom spoke to a cadet unless they addressed him first, and that didn’t happen very often.  Our janitor always buried himself in his work, moving about with stooped shoulders, a quiet gait, and an averted gaze.  If he noticed the hustle and bustle of cadet life around him, it was hard to tell. 

So, for whatever reason, Bill blended into the woodwork and became just another fixture around the squadron.  The Academy, one of our nation’s premier leadership laboratories, kept us busy from dawn till dusk.  And Mr. Crawford…well, he was just a janitor.

That changed one fall Saturday afternoon in 1976.  I was reading a book about World War II and the tough Allied ground campaign in Italy, when I stumbled across an incredible story.  On Sept. 13, 1943, a Private William Crawford from Colorado, assigned to the 36th Infantry Division, had been involved in some bloody fighting on Hill 424 near Altavilla, Italy. 

The words on the page leapt out at me:  “in the face of intense and overwhelming hostile fire … with no regard for personal safety … on his own initiative, Private Crawford single-handedly attacked fortified enemy positions.”  It continued, “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty, the President of the United States …”

 “Holy cow,” I said to my roommate, “you’re not going to believe this, but I think our janitor is a Medal of Honor winner.”  We all knew Mr. Crawford was a WWII Army vet, but that didn’t keep my friend from looking at me as if I was some sort of alien being.  Nonetheless, we couldn’t wait to ask Bill about the story on Monday.

We met Mr. Crawford bright and early Monday and showed him the page in question from the book, anticipation and doubt on our faces.  He starred at it for a few silent moments and then quietly uttered something like, “Yep, that’s me.”  Mouths agape, my roommate and I looked at one another, then at the book, and quickly back at our janitor.  Almost at once we both stuttered, “Why didn’t you ever tell us about it?”  He slowly replied after some thought, “That was one day in my life and it happened a long time ago.”  I guess we were all at a loss for words after that.  We had to hurry off to class and Bill, well, he had chores to attend to.

However, after that brief exchange, things were never again the same around our squadron.  Word spread like wildfire among the cadets that we had a hero in our midst-Mr. Crawford, our janitor, had won the Medal!  Cadets who had once passed by Bill with hardly a glance, now greeted him with a smile and a respectful, “Good morning, Mr. Crawford.” 

Those who had before left a mess for the “janitor” to clean up started taking it upon themselves to put things in order.  Most cadets routinely stopped to talk to Bill throughout the day and we even began inviting him to our formal squadron functions.  He’d show up dressed in a conservative dark suit and quietly talk to those who approached him, the only sign of his heroics being a simple blue, star-spangled lapel pin.  Almost overnight, Bill went from being a simple fixture in our squadron to one of our teammates.

Mr. Crawford changed too, but you had to look closely to notice the difference.  After that fall day in 1976, he seemed to move with more purpose, his shoulders didn’t seem to be as stooped, he met our greetings with a direct gaze and a stronger “good morning” in return, and he flashed his crooked smile more often. 

The squadron gleamed as always, but everyone now seemed to notice it more.  Bill even got to know most of us by our first names, something that didn’t happen often at the Academy.  While no one ever formally acknowledged the change, I think we became Bill’s cadets and his squadron.

As often happens in life, events sweep us away from those in our past.  The last time I saw Bill was on graduation day in June 1977.  As I walked out of the squadron for the last time, he shook my hand and simply said, “Good luck, young man.” 

With that, I embarked on a career that has been truly lucky and blessed.   Mr. Crawford continued to work at the Academy and eventually retired in his native Colorado where he resides today, one of four Medal of Honor winners living in a small town.

A wise person once said, “It’s not life that’s important, but those you meet along the way that make the difference.”  Bill was one who made a difference for me.  While I haven’t seen Mr. Crawford in over twenty years, he’d probably be surprised to know I think of him often. Bill Crawford, our janitor, taught me many valuable, unforgettable leadership lessons. Here are ten I’d like to share with you.

  • Be Cautious of Labels.  Labels you place on people may define your relationship to them and bound their potential. Sadly, and for a long time, we labeled Bill as just a janitor, but he was so much more. Therefore, be cautious of a leader who callously says, “Hey, he’s just an Airman.”  Likewise, don’t tolerate the O-1, who says, “I can’t do that, I’m just a lieutenant.”

  • Everyone Deserves Respect.  Because we hung the “janitor” label on Mr. Crawford, we often wrongly treated him with less respect than others around us.  He deserved much more, and not just because he was a Medal of Honor winner.  Bill deserved respect because he was a janitor, walked among us, and was a part of our team.

  • Courtesy Makes a Difference.  Be courteous to all around you, regardless of rank or position.  Military customs, as well as common courtesies, help bond a team.   When our daily words to Mr. Crawford turned from perfunctory “hellos” to heartfelt greetings, his demeanor and personality outwardly changed.  It made a difference for all of us.

  • Take Time to Know Your People.  Life in the military is hectic, but that’s no excuse for not knowing the people you work for and with.  For years a hero walked among us at the Academy and we never knew it.  Who are the heroes that walk in your midst?

  • Anyone Can Be a Hero.  Mr. Crawford certainly didn’t fit anyone’s standard definition of a hero.  Moreover, he was just a private on the day he won his Medal.  Don’t sell your people short, for any one of them may be the hero who rises to the occasion when duty calls.  On the other hand, it’s easy to turn to your proven performers when the chips are down, but don’t ignore the rest of the team.  Today’s rookie could and should be tomorrow’s superstar.

  • Leaders Should Be Humble.  Most modern day heroes and some leaders are anything but humble, especially if you calibrate your “hero meter” on today’s athletic fields.  End zone celebrations and self-aggrandizement are what we’ve come to expect from sports greats.  Not Mr. Crawford-he was too busy working to celebrate his past heroics.  Leaders would be well-served to do the same.

  • Life Won’t Always Hand You What You Think You Deserve.  We in the military work hard and, dang it, we deserve recognition, right?  However, sometimes you just have to persevere, even when accolades don’t come your way.  Perhaps you weren’t nominated for junior officer or airman of the quarter as you thought you should-don’t let that stop you.  Don’t pursue glory; pursue excellence.  Private Bill Crawford didn’t pursue glory; he did his duty and then swept floors for a living.

  • No Job is Beneath a Leader.  If Bill Crawford, a Medal of Honor winner, could clean latrines and smile, is there a job beneath your dignity?  Think about it.

  • Pursue Excellence.  No matter what task life hands you, do it well.  Dr. Martin Luther King said, “If life makes you a street sweeper, be the best street sweeper you can be.”  Mr. Crawford modeled that philosophy and helped make our dormitory area a home.

  •  Life is a Leadership Laboratory.  All too often we look to some school or PME class to teach us about leadership when, in fact, life is a leadership laboratory.  Those you meet everyday will teach you enduring lessons if you just take time to stop, look and listen.   I spent four years at the Air Force Academy, took dozens of classes, read hundreds of books, and met thousands of great people.   I gleaned leadership skills from all of them, but one of the people I remember most is Mr. Bill Crawford and the lessons he unknowingly taught.  Don’t miss your opportunity to learn.

Bill Crawford was a janitor.  However, he was also a teacher, friend, role model and one great American hero.   Thanks, Mr. Crawford, for some valuable leadership lessons.

from :  http://www.homeofheroes.com/profiles/profiles_crawford_10lessons.html

Delegate with Meaning

You’ve got this team member who you believe can become more than they are today.  They are productive.  They are positive.  Others like to work with them.  They “get it”.

Take a look at your own work load.  Are there things you habitually do that someone else could be doing?  Things that would free you up to do the real work of a leader – develop the next leader.  How do you delegate work and develop new leaders at the same time?

It’s not a garbage dump.  If you plan to assign someone a new task, a new report, etc., just don’t dump it on their desk, give them minimal instructions and then walk away.  That person will feel…well…like they’ve been dumped on…

Delegate with meaning.  If you plan to assign someone something new, tell them why.  Explain that this new task will help them learn a new part of the business.  Maybe it will give them the story behind the numbers.  Inform them that by taking on this new task, it frees you up to be more available for leadership development for them and others on the team.  You may need to take a task away from them to free them up for this new activity.  Make the delegation effective, realistic, and purposeful.

One of the obstacles to delegating this way may be YOU.  We all tend to hold tightly to those things we like to do and are comfortable doing. Perhaps you will need to let go a bit for the good of the team and personnel development.  It’s not a bad thing!

Don’t forget to follow-up regularly with this upcoming leader.  Ensure they can be successful at the new task.  They will be learning much and you will get a fresh set of eyes on a routine task that you may have become blinded to over the years.

Six Enemies of Greatness (and Happiness) by Jessica Hagy

 

The Six Enemies of Greatness (and Happiness)
These six factors can erode the grandest of plans and the noblest of intentions. They can turn visionaries into paper-pushers and wide-eyed dreamers into shivering, weeping balls of regret. Beware!

 

1) Availability

We often settle for what’s available, and what’s available isn’t always great. “Because it was there,” is an okay reason to climb a mountain, but not a very good reason to take a job or a free sample at the supermarket.

And sadly, we'll never know everything.

2) Ignorance

If we don’t know how to make something great, we simply won’t. If we don’t know that greatness is possible, we won’t bother attempting it. All too often, we literally do not know any better than good enough.

3) Committees

Nothing destroys a good idea faster than a mandatory consensus. The lowest common denominator is never a high standard.

4) Comfort

Why pursue greatness when you’ve already got 324 channels and a recliner? Pass the dip and forget about your grand designs.

5) Momentum

If you’ve been doing what you’re doing for years and it’s not-so-great, you are in a rut. Many people refer to these ruts as careers.

6) Passivity

There’s a difference between being agreeable and agreeing to everything. Trust the little internal voice that tells you, “this is a bad idea.”

 

From:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/jessicahagy/2012/02/28/the-six-enemies-of-greatness-and-happiness/