Do You See Your Team? by Jim Johnson

Do you see your team? Do you see them as people, individuals?  Do you make personal connections with them?

Or do you see them merely as a position or someone to get something done for you?  When we do this, our staff, as human beings, can feel invisible or not valued. 

If we take the time to get to know our teams as individuals who have hopes, dreams, needs, and aspirations, I believe our teams will become better teams. As we work to connect with them on a personal level, our professional connections deepen as well. They will see that you are working to add value to them not only as an employee but as a human being. And when that happens, they will be more dedicated and more willing to buy into our vision.

Years ago I had the honour to be on the USS Nimitz – a nuclear aircraft carrier in San Diego. I had the privilege of meeting Captain Mark Manzier and hear how he interacted with the 5,000 to 6,000 men and women who served with him on that ship.

Every day he would connect with the crew in different ways and in different places. One day he met a young man and asked who he was and where he lived back home. The young man told him and then explained to the captain that his wife had just had their first baby. The captain asked if the baby was a boy or girl and learned the name. 

Later the captain was in a meeting with his commanding officers. And he asked the commanding officer who was over this young man, “What recently happened in the life of this young man can you tell me about it?”  I was told by another officer that in these circumstances, the superior officer had better have a good answer for the captain.

The captain built-in accountability into his lead staff. He found value in his leadership team knowing about the personal things that we’re going on in their crew’s lives. The captain also found value in making that personal connection himself. As the captain explained it, “There will be times when we go into battle and I will call on these men and women to do things that they naturally would not want to do. At that point of decision, they need to know I have their best interest in mind and that they trust me.”

Today, make a personal connection with your team. I’m not asking you to become their best friend. But I’m asking you to personally invest in them. Do you know what their family life is like? Do you know about their kids? Their hobbies?  Their interests?

Be intentional about “seeing” your staff.  

Adding Value – Kindness & Consideration

Leaders seek to add value at every opportunity.  Some tend to think of this as primarily offering advice or come up with a solution.  I want to encourage you to look to add value by doing this:

Demonstrate Kindness & Consideration

We life in a harsh world.  Sometimes that harshness creeps into our team members’/coworkers’ lives when least expected.  Add value to them during these times by showing some kindness.

How do you do that?

  • Listen – not as a counselor, but as someone who cares.
  • Encourage – write a short note to say “thank you” to someone you noticed has been working hard and getting results
  • Praise – don’t underestimate your spoken praise for a team member. This simple action can carry them for many days (weeks?)
  • Share – share a resource that might be of help to someone you know is struggling (I had the privilege of doing just this today!).

What else could you do to add value to someone who truly needs it? Be creative.  Share addition ideas in the comments below.

add value

Leadership Event on May 19

http://leadusa.org/#lead-usa

Are you looking to raise the “lid” on your leadership skills and gifts? Maybe you are looking for an event to take a team of leaders to. Or you would like to host a remote site at your offices.

Follow the link above to get more information on Lead USA’s leadership event. Great speakers are lined up. The event last just a half of a day which makes this investment affordable and doable. 

Here’s a partial list of the speakers:


How Do I Build My Influence? by Jim Johnson

I had the privilege of speaking with our branch managers last week on the topic of leadership influence.  I want to share here part of that presentation.

John Maxwell defines leadership as “influence – nothing more, nothing less.”  If this is true (it is, and I love this definition), then how do you build your influence?  Influence must be earned.  It will not be merely given to you.

Here are some of my thoughts on how you can build your influence with your team, coworkers, and your community:

  1. Help your team become better by becoming a better leader.  What a great gift you give to your team when YOU work to become better!  But how do you do that?
  2. Expose yourself to materials that will help you grow as a leader (books, blogs, podcasts, articles, conferences, one-on-one meetings).  There is a seemingly unending  mountain of information available to us all today.  Use it!  Read it! Listen to it!  Immerse yourself in it!  Grow yourself!
  3. Network in your community.  Your community is full of effective leaders.  Find them.  Interact with them.  Take them to lunch and ask them good questions that will help you understand what makes them the effective leaders they are.
  4. Add value to those around you everyday.  We all have plenty of opportunities every day to add value to others.  Leaders who are influential look for these opportunities.  They add value intentionally.

What have you done to broaden your influence?  Share your thoughts with us all in the Comments section!

when leaders become beter

I am Accountable – are you sure?  by Michael Cahill

All along my employment journey, I have had positions that had varying amounts of responsibility, and I believed I held myself very accountable. If asked in the summer of 2008 (when I became CEO of a publicly traded company), how accountable I held myself, I would have answered that I held myself extremely accountable.

I was wrong.

That is hard to say, and it took me a few years to see the light, and probably another year or so to admit it. What happened?

I was in front of the very same board (I was CEO of the company’s largest subsidiary prior to the summer of 2008). I knew all the details and activities of the company. However, there was now no one between me and the directors. One of the directors sole focus was holding the CEO accountable – period.

At first, I thought it was about blame. Then I thought is was just about picking on me. Then I thought is was personal.

Once again, I was wrong.

This director did not care about blame. It was not personal, and he was not picking on me. He just cared about what I was going to do to correct things going forward and to insure poor results did not reoccur.

He did not care how it happened, or who did it. He did not care if 15 of the 16 key metrics were good. He wanted to know why all sixteen were not good. What was I doing about the one bad metric?

I could not play CYA. I could not say that overall we were good. I could not use any other tactic to get around it. I had to own everything. I was CEO because a great majority of my decisions were good ones. I was CEO because a great majority of my actions were the right ones. I was CEO because I had selected the right strategies. However, as CEO I had to be held accountable for 100% of what is going on. It was the board’s job to hold me to that standard.

A funny thing happened along the way. I became more and more comfortable with this level of accountability. I recognized it was not about blame. It was about always getting better. It was about improvement. It was about be able to face adversity and take on that challenge versus hiding from it. The more accountability I took, the easier it became.

Errors or bad results are just challenges to overcome. Bad things happen – always. It is not about avoidance, but honestly admitting these ‘bad things’ and coming forward with solutions and actions to overcome them.

So how do you respond when bad things happen? Do you blame others? Do you divert attention? Do you CYA? Do you hide, or do you own it, see it as a challenge, and come back with solutions, ideas, and tactics to overcome the issues?

I want to work with people who hold themselves and others accountable. Easier said than done, but it is so worth it!

As an aside, as I was working on becoming more accountable and less defensive, I would sometimes say in a board meeting – “Thank you for pointing that out. I am sure I will appreciate it tomorrow.” I was half kidding, but once I got over my defensive posture, I knew I would be a better person for it.

The cool thing? The more accountable I became, the less fear I had. The less fear I had, the more accountable I was. It was a self fulfilling prophecy.

So next time something bad happens to you or to your company, or division, or team, go down the checklist. Did you hide? Did you blame? Did you CYA? Did you divert? Or did you state the issue and lay out how to correct the problem and keep it from happening again?

Who would you rather be around?






Take Action by Jim Johnson 

Leaders are faced with decisions and calls-to-action all day long:

  • Staffing decisions
  • Vendor decisions
  • Strategic plans
  • Customer resolutions
  • Team members needing feedback

At those critical points where YOUR action is required, ACT.  Don’t rely on good intentions.

  • “I’ll put off that difficult conversation with that team member…”
  • “I’ll call that vendor back next week…”
  • “Everyone knows where we’re going, right?…”
  • “That customer can wait…”
  • “Someone else probably will handle that question…”

Many times, it is the action of the leader that can begin positive momentum within their team/company.  Action can help initiate  great momentum.  Inaction can end up causing you and your team to stall out.  John Maxwell says:

“If you’ve got all the passion, tools, and people you need to fulfill a great vision, yet you can’t seem to get your organization moving and going in the right direction, you’re dead in the water as a leader.  If you can’t get things going (ACTION), you will not succeed.” (from The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership)

action always beats intention

So today, when facing a decision, ACT.  Get things moving.  Get your team moving.  ACT.

“Leaders always find a way to make things happen.”  John Maxwell

 

Bearing Gifts by Jim Johnson

Many years ago, I had the privilege of traveling with a musical group, The Continental Singers.  For 10 years, I traveled throughout the United States as well as Europe, Great Britain, southeast Asia, and Korea.  I clearly remember many instances where our group was the guest of a large school or in the presence of a community’s leadership group.  Gifts were always exchanged.

This all came back to me this morning as I was getting ready for work.  One of my leaders invited me to a luncheon with her and our city’s mayor and his wife.  I count this an honor, and I look forward to our time together.


Yes, we will be bearing gifts.  One of our colleagues at work wrote a book about the rich history of baseball in our city.  This is one of our gifts.  The other is the new book from John C. Maxwell entitled No Limits.

I share this to encourage you to adopt this practice.  My fellow leader and I are honored to be able to have lunch with our mayor.  This is a gift to us.  It shows honor to Mr. Henry and his wife to give gifts in return.

fort wayne

Our beautiful city – Fort Wayne, Indiana