Tuesday, July 27, 2010

If You’re “Just the Messenger” You’re also Not the Leader

hermesHave you ever noticed that the people who come to you with bad news often say, “Don’t blame me, I’m just the messenger” or “don’t shoot the messenger”? Creating an environment where people feel safe to share opinions, ideas or air disagreements is crucial for any leader. It’s seldom we ever move forward without some debate on important issues. That’s partly how we know they’re important in the first place.

When someone immediately slips into defensive mode of “don’t blame me” one of two things are happening.

One, you may have a reputation of ruling with an iron fist and that receiving bad news is not welcome. This is not a long term winning strategy by they way.

Or more often, the person sharing the “news” is being a busy body or worse, completely abdicating their responsibility.

Don’t let them get away with it.  No one is assigning blame.  Be professional.  This isn’t a whoever smelt it dealt it scenario. It can be enormously frustrating to work with these non-leaders, but as a leader yourself this becomes a teachable moment.

Don’t let them slink away without asking them for their ideas, suggestions or feelings on the matter. In the event they just are a busy body this with trap them in the realization that they are guilty of having no original thought which will cause them to fluster and quickly and leave.  Good riddance.

If they are merely shy or lack confidence, your prompts will provide a safe environment for them to potentially reveal some useful information that you didn’t previously have
access too.  Thank them for their contributions and move on.

When you have the chance to lead, lead.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Please Practice Acts of Random Kindness Today

PARK.001Today is a somber day for me and my family, but with your help I’d like to change that.

A year ago on this date I unexpectedly and shockingly lost my sister to a heart attack. It’s inevitable that the day will be seared in my memory, however I believe a positive remembrance revolved around the way Kathi endeavored to live her life would be more appropriate. She would routinely practice acts of random kindness. I’d like your help honoring her memory by practicing acts of random kindness today.  Here’s some ideas:

Smile today. Offer your seat or place in line to another. Feed a parking meter that isn’t yours. Buy a meal or an ice cream for someone. Call or write to a relative and tell them you’ve just been thinking about them.

Spend time outside and appreciate the grand and the sublime. Smell a flower, hold a rock in your hand. Feel the waves wash over you or the sand between your toes.

Get into a new adventure you can tell stories about. Laugh often and embarrassingly loud. Confront a fear or help someone else to do the same.  Celebrate life and all the wonder around it. Frolic with a dog or challenge a cat to a staring contest. Listen, really listen to the song of a nearby bird.

A life well lived is filled with triumph and tragedy; tears of sorrow and tears of joy.  Today, randomly and often, publicly or privately help bring triumph and joy to others.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Is it Half Over or Half Started?

hourglassIs it half over or half started? Either way it's July 1, 2010 and half of this year is in the history books and the next half has yet to be played out. How is your year going? Have you revisited the New Year's resolutions you wrote with such enthusiasm 181 days ago? Are you halfway to your goals for the year?

This is the time to take stock of your progress and make half time adjustments. If you're in great shape, this is not the time to get cocky or sloppy. If you're at your plan or behind, it's time to step it up. All is not yet lost. Most games are won or lost in the second half of play. It’s that time that most athletes train hardest on. If you’re on track, or behind but determined, you’ll soon bring an intensity of focus. You’ll need that if you plan to achieve all that you wish to achieve.

I'm a firm believer that many things (actually, most things) are possible. Which is why perseverance is an important characteristic to pursue. Half time is a good place to take a timeout, and assess your performance. Take a pragmatic look at your success and decide if you still want the things that you wanted six months ago. It could be that you don’t.  Give yourself permission to make a mid course correction. If what you want has changed, change your goals. It doesn't make sense to continue pursuing what you don't want. The calendar doesn’t care. Six months from today, you’ll be celebrating New Year’s.