Sunday, April 28, 2013

Self-Confidence Effective Trait

One of the traits that makes a leader effective is self-confidence. Have you really observed a leader that is confident in the job they are doing? There is a calm, reassuring mantra given off to followers that makes them feel confident and self-assured that the jobs being done is adequate and that troubling situations can be overcome. Self-confidence is difficult to achieve. Many times this trait can morph into other ones like conceit, overconfidence, or bumptiousness. It is truly special to be around this type of leader, the trait is contagious. Here’s some examples of what makes this leader special. 

Communication-The words chosen from a self-confident leader is chosen carefully but with ease. Statements are inclusive and they let followers know that while a vision has been created the leader wants the team to choose the path to carry out the vision. There is a positive intent with the communication offered.

Non-verbal communication is usually open with a reassuring smile. When the self-confident leader needs to be direct the non-verbal communication displayed matches the message of urgency but not panic.

Belief in self-Part of the reason a self-confident leader can communicate and lead effectively is because there is a confident belief in their own capabilities. I heard once that a person that achieves self-confidence can ignore critics because of their inherent belief of their own effectiveness.

 Importance of Others-The self-confident leader makes others around them feel important. Team members will express that they are able to control their responsibilities, jobs, and daily routines which makes them feel like they can claim the work they’ve done. People that don’t know this leader or don’t report to this leader may say things like, “they make me feel like the most important person,” or “it feels like from our discussion that I’ve known them all my life.”

Self-confidence has to be managed. This trait can morph into things that erode effectiveness, validity, and credibility. Charisma can become spoiled. Here are some leadership flaws that can evolve from too much self-confidence;

Micro managing- Unmanaged self-confidence can develop into a leader that lets people do their work, making their own decisions to one that needs to be involved in every decision made, needs to be communicated with about everything occurring in the organization. This leader can develop a belief that success can be only achieved if they do the work themselves.

Superiority complex- This psychological leadership flaw can develop if confidence erodes and a feeling of being inferior is substituted. As situations in the organization change, attrition occurs and a leader’s network is replaced a sense of vulnerability or inferiority can occur. Confidence is superseded by arrogance to cover up the new feeling of inferiority.

These are just a few examples of how self-confidence can erode. The ability to influence people can become one of leveraging. Guidance can become disguised in manipulation’s clothing. Keep self-confidence in check because it can connect leadership effectiveness to organizational success.      

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Process Creation Is A Big Project

We all have had the feeling, as leaders, that something just wasn't quite right in our departments. Whether work flow isn't flowing as it usually does, or people in the department aren't in sync with each other, or the day and all its participants are tripping over one another. The leader knows that new processes are necessary to regain that departmental edge. If done properly these new procedures may even increase employee morale. Process creation is a necessary part of doing business but it goes much deeper than sitting down with Visio and creating a process flowchart and then communicating it to our teams. Lets take a look.

Process Chart Needed
It is true that we need to put our initial ideas on paper. We as leaders need to create a process flowchart that illustrates each step in our process. We need to make sure all variation that can create process chaos is accounted for. This is a time consuming exercise that can be rewarding and inclusive if due diligence is spent on its creation. There is nothing like creating a process, receiving group participation from a department, and then getting buy in and approval by the executives in an organization. A sense of accomplishment is felt once a date to start the process is agreed upon. Finished! Let the work flow properly and the department function like a well oiled machine, right? Not quite.

Changes Made
Its uncanny a new process is created and during this transformation outside departments communicate that no changes are expected. Except when a change of some sort arises. Equipment breaks down, attrition to a key player occurs, or a new vision comes down from the CEO which can alter any plan. This is where process creation can become time consuming. I can't tell you the amount of times I've heard a leader mention that they love a new process but that it may change because of organizational alterations. Leaders should be conservative in putting new processes into play. Research needs to be completed, meetings need to take place with any employee capable of derailing the best plans, and contingency processes needs to be developed to adjust to unexpected variation. Taking this precaution can add to a leaders credibility.

Conflict Arises
Creating processes can cause conflict at times. We need to face the reality that creating new processes may cause conflict over the resources needed. It may cause competition. A really good process may get noticed and that leader to receive recognition or a promotion. This is great news except for the leaders competing for praise and increased responsibilities. Many times leaders put a process in place, it works until conflict is born, and it is ignored. The conflict needs to be addressed so the process can flourish. Having the attitude that everything will work itself out is counterproductive.

Thoughts about Processes
Once a process is created try some of these things to keep them relevant
    •  Get participation from outside departments that will be affected by the new process. This will help avoid conflict and make others feel like they own the process rather than having it force fed to them.
    • Have a process contingency plan. Flexible processes have a longer life span than some rigid processes. Being open minded to unexpected change will make the process stronger and creative.
    • Put an expiration date on the process. Like dairy products processes have an expected life span. Define that date. Set up meetings to review departmental processes to see if they are relevant or if new ones need to be created.
Creating processes can be a creative, energetic time that gives multiple people a chance to be noticed. Leaders should spend the necessary time on this project to avoid unexpected pitfalls which can sour the whole experience.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Organizations, Leaders Should Pay to Retain

     Justin Verlander signed a 5 year extension worth $80 million to continue to play for the Detroit Tigers. The first thing that ran through my mind was wow that's a lot of money to pay one individual. That total is staggering to pay a person to stay with the organization to deliver the usual, high quality work that has been always delivered.

     This led me to a second thought which was the Detroit Tigers paid a current employee more money so they could continue to be successful rather than sign another player to replace him or to scout new talent they could groom for the future. This organization retained an employee by paying more now to save costs in the future. What an interesting concept.

     Thought number three for me was then why aren't more organizations following this model? I'm not saying that millions of dollars should be paid out to current employees. The dollar amount should be generous but realistic to the position and business revenues being brought in. The point is that leaders and organizations should look at paying current employees more money than what is usually doled out at year end evaluations or through performance bonuses. Spoiling current talent on your roster would be a pleasant surprise that would help decrease attrition, and increasing retention for those higher quality individuals. Am I wrong for feeling this way?

     As I thought about this more I realized that organizations expect more from their employees. More work needs to be completed using fewer resources to accomplish this. This may come in the form of receiving more work with an increase to responsibilities because of attrition, mergers, or more work coming into the company. These expectations of more work may come in the form of being on the clock outside of the usual, traditional work space. Being on call or working additional time outside of the usual 8am-5pm, Monday through Friday workday. More work expectations exist yet more dollars doesn't seem to flow the employee's way.

     I think organizations and leaders, at times, falls into gladly paying more for prospective, new individuals outside of the organization than paying to retain their own talent. Leaders, when interviewing, for open positions looks for candidates that offer everything they ever needed and pay more to bring aboard this "new toy", pardon my expression. People that tell leaders they can offer more of the skills they are searching for will be paid handsomely while current employees are at times taken for granted and paid modestly. This is my "new toy" theory. Leaders fall in love with the new toy out in the stores, pay an exorbitant amount of money for this toy, and cast away current toys to the corner of their rooms.

     I challenge leaders and organizations to break this model and line of thinking. Do what the Detroit Tigers have done. Identify irreplaceable, talented, current employees and pay them a little more money than business traditions dictates to simply retain them. The extra money being offered can be saved in recruiting, hiring, and training costs. Realize that a known commodity can be more valuable to revenues than a prospect can. Known talent can relieve leaders minds compared to wondering if that new prospect will pan out based on an interviewing process. Is it so wrong to want, expect more money if you're a tenured employee to deliver great work? I don't think so.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Communication Complications

I’m going to make a comment involving leadership that has been made continuously since the beginning of organized business. One of the most crucial elements in becoming a successful leader is by communicating effectively. Whew I said it! That has been bothering me for some time. I really needed to write that, and now I’ve solved all leaders’ misery around the globe. Time to try and solve for world peace. I’m just kidding about that last statement. Communication is easier to discuss. The statement I made about effective communication has been rehashed so many times. Classes have been developed and taught, books have been written, and studies have all determined that communication is an important cog in the leadership wheel. If so much time has been spent trying to master communication then why is it so hard to conquer? Here are some of my thoughts;

Message-One of the things leaders struggle with is in delivering an effective message. This mental tussle between the brain and mouth doesn’t occur with the type of message needed to be sent. I think the dilemma exists with how we want to state the communication. Is the message serious or light? Is it formal or informal? Should the leader be serious looking or smile? Serious messages have been communicated with humoristic overtones and loose, informal messages have been communicated with a serious expression and tone. Both faux pas have caused confusion, awkward moments, and have cause leaders to look aloof. The final result is an ineffective message and confused subordinates.

Scripted-In today’s politically correct society the business world has developed scripting to handle all situations customers may throw at us. Leaders have scripts, dos and don’ts, and are coached to avoid saying the wrong thing. There are just too many scripts to be able to communicate properly as leaders. The message is lost in translation because it is too prepared. Employees want honest, unrehearsed dialogue with their leaders. This shows management cares enough to communicate from the heart. Being personable lets the leader be creative, warmth, and an openness that helps people better relate to leadership. If it is discovered that the message may sound inappropriate create another way to say it but make it the leaders own words not created by others.

Succinct Message-No matter what position a person holds in the organization a short but sweet mantra for communicating must be practiced. A crisp delivery helps eliminate distractions, which there is plenty of in the workplace. Remember many people are vying for each other’s time to complete personal and departmental agendas. This is reality and being able to deliver shorter messages lets people know the content is important.

Mix up communication mediums-Deliver messages at different times of the day. Effectively use verbal and nonverbal communication. Try and send e-mails, instant message people, and text if possible. Change agendas, meeting times and places. Praise and criticize equally. All of these things add variety to employee’s days. It makes leaders less predictable and these different options will keep attention spans high.

Communication is a skill that can always be improved on as a leader. It is difficult to deliver an effective message to a diverse staff. Keep developing this talent and trying to discover effective means of communication. Good luck.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Leadership According to Mick!

I saw the attached link,clip when I watched the movie Rocky many years ago. Through the years this scene has always stuck out in my mind that it is relevant when speaking about leadership no matter the industry.

This will probably get leaders to chuckle sarcastically, doubting this message. How can a fictional character, Mickey Goldmill, send a message to business leaders? Listen to the whole clip before judging it and realize that there are some key topics of leadership he shares with Rocky that can be used in organizations today.

After Mickey small talks with Rocky he proceeds with his first lesson. Organizations absolutely need effective managers (leaders). The importance of good leadership is essential for a business to thrive. They set goals for employees and try to keep them focused on what's important for the business, and how they can achieve success. Leaders create a vision and then need the ability to be able to share this with a diverse group of people with unique talents, different values, and a variety of priorities and then buy into it.

About halfway through this clip Mickey suggests to Rocky about not drinking a beer before his fight. He then delivers a message to him explaining that he never had management to help protect him. His opponents were able to punch holes in his face and career because he lacked leadership. Mickey Goldmill then tries to persuade Rocky to allow him to lead him to be able to share his knowledge helping him avoid failure and allowing him to climb the rankings. Leadership does the same things in business. It guides us through effective communication and passing along key knowledge acquired. This shared knowledge will help guide people through the work day, maybe their personal lives, build networks, and help us career path properly to bigger and better jobs.

Rocky, like many of us, turns Mickey down saying management, leadership isn't needed. It would be a hindrance instead of being helpful. He was willing to go into his fight without guidance. Employees need to be responsible in finding the value effective leadership brings. They need to see that success is the goal for all not failure. The knowledge, experiences, and pain shared is the value provided.  

So as Rocky proceeds with his tirade about management, leadership. Yelling at Mickey as he leaves, asking him if he wants to be present as he gets pummeled know that business leaders face the same dilemma. They want to guide, we just have to want to put our hands out collectively, like Rocky at the end, to shake our leaders hands and accept the mentoring provided

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Detroit Leaders Need To Take Action!

I need to offer my two cents involving Detroit’s situation regarding the Emergency Finance Manager. Let me start by letting you know that my own opinion about the EFM working in Detroit is still being shaped. I’m not entirely sure that the leaders involved in this situation are being completely honest. There have been articles written about Detroit’s financial dire straits letting people know that in order for Detroit to be saved an EFM needs to be appointed. You then here about Mayor Dave Bing disagreeing with Governor Rick Snyder’s feelings about the necessity of an EFM to rescue Detroit financially. The city council, meanwhile, is prepared to challenge the legality of the Governor’s decision. Mayoral candidates feel an EFM isn’t necessary and that Detroit can pull out its financial Armageddon on its own. All of these differences of opinions tells me that all parties involved, from the beginning, aren’t acting like good leaders.

 In my opinion all parties involved are acting in their own best interests. It seems that these leaders have forgotten who their inaction affects and that is the citizens of Detroit and of Michigan. Political leaders, too often, act to preserve votes, try to accomplish part of their own agenda created as they try to enter the political arena, or are just greedy believing that a fire sale of Detroit assets will be held and they will lose something or that this is a hostile takeover of the city. Everybody knows the best route Detroit should take but too often don’t get the opinions of the people that matter, Detroiters and Michiganders!

So as I remember the articles telling readers the reason that Detroit shouldn’t hire an EFM or the theories of how to pull Detroit out of economic ruin. I urge leaders of Detroit and Michigan to do one thing which is DO SOMETHING FOR GOODNESS SAKE! That’s right please settle on a resolution, organize the resources that will allow a vision to be followed, and lets start to actually take action to make Detroit and Michigan better places. Too often over my four decades of life has nothing been done. Bickering, lawsuits, and sheer greed have gotten in the way of progress. Leaders have turned a blind eye to all of the conflict existing which often times results in bigger conflicts.

So please constructively settle the existing conflict, let’s get over self-serving statements like Charles Pugh had last week by telling people that he doesn’t want to work in City Council for free, let’s get all of the available resources together and lets start to rebuild Detroit. Leaders need to get in sync with each other and actually act as partners instead of their own personal hedge funds looking out for themselves instead of its citizens. So whether Detroit partners with the state to offer services, or it becomes an innovative city by getting more Campbell-Ewalds to join Detroit, or it just downsizes by demolishing empty houses and buildings and developing farmland please do one of these and create a new mantra for Detroit.  Over the course of a year I’d like to be able to write about how the leaders of Michigan became more organized and transformational in 2013 which helped all cities become a little better.    


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Customer Service and Leadership

My working life has been about servicing the customer to retain their business indefinitely. I have been able to teach a customer service class, and have done enough good and bad regarding service to understand that providing it in an outstanding manner is showing leadership.

I think customer service and leadership aren't linked together enough because the people providing it may not hold a management position. This doesn't matter because no matter what providing great service is offering leadership and it is becoming a lost art.

Think about some of the skills needed to provide great customer service. Listening skills have to be done effectively to be able to converse with customers. Communication should be controlled leading your customer to the product or service desired in a timely manner but this has to be done in a personable, unrehearsed manner. This is very difficult to achieve in a fluent way especially because of the diversity a customer base makes up.

A customer service provider must treat their customer base ethically. The ability to gain control of values, priorities, and responsibilities is showing leadership qualities. Power becomes intoxicating and offering customer service is powerful. Customers have to trust enough so they can be guided towards what is being offered and influenced by people they don't know. Many times the exchange of money is involved and the quest to earn more can influence the type of customer service we provide.

Many times customer service is making sure your base is listened to, talked with, making sure they receive what is asked for, and to make sure all services and products are available at all times. Providing this is showing awesome leadership.