Are You Holding the String?

I shared some of these thoughts with someone just a moment again via email.  I thought I would share this with you.

Are you the CEO, VP, Director, Manager, etc. on your team?  If so, your team needs something from you.  If you are in a team meeting, departmental meeting or all-company affair, don’t discount your impact in those moments.

plumb bob

I’m sure you know this is a plumb bob.  It is used to insure accuracy in construction.  A carpenter’s eye can deceive him.  But a plumb bob cannot be “off”.  The weight and gravity work in accordance with laws of physics.  The plumb bob always shows what is in line/accurate.

Your team does not intend to ever “get off” the line (expectations) in their daily work.  But it happens.  Life events push in on them.  Relationships in the office can become strained.  We all can have bad days.  Sometimes, a customer can be a jerk.

Our teams get off-kilter.

When you have your time in front of your team, it is a perfect time to help them re-calibrate.  To hear and see the vision again.  This is their plumb bob.  And you get to hold the string.

You believe in your company’s vision/mission.  Like it or not, your team looks to you at these key events to hold the string, remind them of their “calling”, spray a little Windex on the vision, and point all of your team’s ships in the same direction.

Be great at this.

That’s what your team needs from you.  To be your best self.  Your team all loves that, wants that, and needs that.

How to Get out of a Funk

Last week, I had a doctor’s appointment.  I was not happy with my check-up.  Over a year and a half ago, I was diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes.  I began to make life changes.  I lost over 30 pounds.  I changed the way I ate (yes, I cheated from time to time).  I made other changes as well.

From a recent wellness exam we do at work, I saw that my blood sugar numbers actually went back up a bit.  Also, I’m in the middle of some heart tests now.  And I’m back on medication.

This put me in a funk. I was doing things that were supposed to help, but I’ve gone backwards.  I know genetics are at work, but this “set back” has not been good.

So, how do I get out of this funk?  I know the eating regimen I’ve been on is good for me.  I just need to ramp it up.  I need to change my exercise to something more rigorous.  I need to follow my doctor’s orders.

I found the following this morning.  It’s good advice.  I need to follow it.  If you’re in a funk or have been in one, perhaps this may help you or someone you know.  Share this!

  1. Connect with people. As I wrote in a previous post, How To Pull Good Things Out Of Others, who we are and how we experience ourselves often has more to do with who surrounds us than anything else. When feeling low, one of the fastest ways to pick yourself up is to connect with specific people you know bring energy out of you.
  2. Commit to a new goal. Sometimes my listlessness is purposelessness in disguise. Human beings are not only intrinsically driven by a sense of purpose but also seem to require a sense of purpose to lead a satisfying life. It needn’t be a grand purpose, but it must be a purpose that feels important to you.
  3. Read an engrossing book or see an emotionally powerful movie. Both have the power to transport us, to provide a perspective far removed from our own, and in doing so, unlock emotions we want to feel: joy, hope, warmth—even sadness. When in a funk, what we feel doesn’t seem to be as important as finding a way to feel something.
  4. Travel. Though travel has never been one of my favorite things to do, it does accomplish something important when I’m in a funk: it takes away familiar environmental cues and replaces them with unfamiliar ones. And as most of our behavior and emotions are cued by our environment (from turning off lights when we leave a room to the sinking feeling we may get as we approach our place of work), if we want to act and feel differently, changing our environmental cues is a good place start. Not that you can escape yourself by relocating geographically. But you can be helped to access different parts of yourself.  Jim’s note:  traveling doesn’t have to take you far.  It can be traveling to a state/national park and hike.  Just get out of your surroundings for a bit. 
  5. Wait patiently. No mood lasts forever. And life won’t leave you alone but will eventually present you with new challenges that activate you. And even if such challenges are difficult, they will often bring out your best self.

Resource for these steps:  How to Get Out of a Funk

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Brainstorming & a Shock Test

In a little over an hour, my leadership team and I will gather in a room to start a brainstorming session.  We’re going to talk about how we can become better/do better.  But instead of talking about ethereal topics, we’re going to put a timeline on our path to improvement.  We’re going to get specific on how we plan to improve.  We’re going to own our journey and our results.

MS Leadership TeamLast week, we all attended the Global Leadership Summit (#gls17, #fwgls) here in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  We were exposed to a lot of great content.  It’s time to put that content to work for us.  Today’s brainstorming session will kick-off this process.

Shock Test?  Yes.  We’re going to discuss what we would do/be differently when a deadline is applied to something we are expected to provide every day.  More on this later…

Today is about being intentional, creative, and influential.

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It’s about leadership.

Become More Valuable

A few days ago, I shared how to create a great customer experience.  Today, I want to use those same steps to show you how you can become more valuable – to add value – to your team and others in your company.

LISTEN

When a team member or colleague brings you an issue, problem, concern, question…take time to truly listen to what it is they are saying.  Don’t jump to a conclusion or give them a fast answer.  Listen carefully.

ASK

Ask great questions to get to the core issue.  Avoid asking yes/no questions or “why” questions.  Asking great questions will get you to their core issue the fastest.  It also demonstrates that you are actively listening to them.

FEEL

If the person in front of you is frustrated, angry, tense, etc., take the time to empathize with them.  Don’t merely sympathize (“oh, I’m sorry”).  Don’t make light of their situation (“today sucks to be you!”).  Feel what they are feeling and identify with that.

THINK

Once you have the core issue clarified, think.  What resources do you have that can help resolve your team member’s issue?  What resources do you know about that can help?  Who else can you call on for assistance?  Think.

ACT

Once you’ve listened carefully, asked great questions, empathized with the person, and really thought about the best way to help, then (AND ONLY THEN) act.  Far too often people jump into action too quickly.  Act with intention and purpose.

FOLLOW-UP

Following up a couple of days later says that you care about how the resolution is working or not working for the person you helped.  This can be a great learning opportunity for you.  It will create stronger relationships at work as you demonstrate your willingness and ability to invest in someone else.

Make your work interactions better.  Follow this process to add value to your team and your company.

Remember, when you get better, your company gets better.

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What Great Mentors Do

I attended a meeting a week or so ago on mentoring.  At this meeting, several people shared about mentoring from different points of view.  One of the speakers was a young man, Brad Thomas.  He shared how being mentoring has changed his perspective and life.  His presentation was outstanding.

He shared that he believed a great mentor does 4 things for their “mentee”.  Here is it:

Great Mentors

So, leaders, are you a mentor?  If not, find someone today!  Our company promotes this and many of us are actively mentoring.  When you get this privilege, don’t forget Brad’s words:

  • Expand – a great mentor will expand someone’s world-view.  They will expand knowledge and help point to resources.
  • Engage – a great mentor will cause the “mentee” to think and act.
  • Encourage – a great mentor will build up the “mentee” and help them build on their strengths.
  • Empower – a great mentor will reveal to the “mentee” that they have power to act and make an impact.

Make the investment to pour yourself into the life of another.  It is so worth it!

A Great Customer Experience by Jim Johnson

If you are in business, you deal with customers all the time.  You want to provide a great customer experience, I know it!  And your customers want a great experience as well.

But it doesn’t happen automatically.

Providing a great experience for our customers must be done intentionally.  I created the following to help my team understand how they can deliver a great experience with our customers (we call them members at credit unions).  Does this make sense in your business environment?  Comment below.  We all would love to read your insights.

a great customer experience