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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Successfully Transitioning from Coworker to Manager

Dear Leader’s Digest:
How do you handle a job promotion when you are promoted from within your peer group? I was recently promoted to a manager position and oversee the team members that were once my peers. What is the most effective way to transition from team member to manager?
Dear Promoted,
When I was ten years old, I was chosen by our elementary school principal to be on the Traffic Squad. As a symbol of my authority, I donned a purple two-cornered hat emblazoned with the name of our school—Stephen Foster Elementary. I was feeling pretty full of myself until I discovered that my first assignment involved monitoring hand hygiene in the boys' restroom. My visions of leading troops into heroic battles were dashed. Instead, I stood by the sinks with a No. 2 pencil and pad of paper recording the names of those who did not properly wash their hands.
Tedium turned to terror when my own beloved teacher, Mr. Collins, completed his bodily duties, tucked in his shirt, then stalked past the sinks without so much as a rinse. I was torn. My responsibilities were clear. My authority immense. But could I hold a teacher accountable? And worse, would I rupture our relationship if I brought Mr. Collins to task?
It can be tricky to assume a new role in an old social system. It can be as hard for you to see yourself in the new role as it is for others. If you fail to accept yourself in the new role, you'll either shirk the leadership you have been asked to offer—or indulge your authority in a vain effort to convince yourself of your worthiness for the role. Neither option is good.
Likewise, if others have difficulty honoring your new assignment they may either resist or resent your authority. They may also expect special favors—assuming their former peer relationship with you entitles them to some of the benefits accompanying the new office.
How can you settle both yourself and others into the relationship? There are two important conversations you need to hold. The first is with yourself. You need to decide what it means—and doesn't mean—to be the boss. When you're comfortable within yourself, it would be wise to set appropriate expectations with others.
Conversation with self: Are you in your own way?
If you notice you are reticent to make decisions, hold others accountable, give assignments, or lead change, then you are getting in your own way. Similarly, if you find yourself needing to prove something by exerting your authority—making threats, giving orders, micromanaging—the problem is not others, it's you. I suggest you spend some time pondering one important question: What does it mean to have power?
Does it mean something about you? Does it mean you're smarter, more deserving, more experienced, or more important than others? Is it about privilege? Or is it about responsibility? And if the latter, what are your responsibilities?
I feel much more comfortable with authority when I remember that it is not power over but power to. It is not given to me as an intoxicating privilege, but as a special stewardship. When New York restaurateur Danny Meyer promotes a waiter to manager, he explains that his or her new position is like the gift of fire. "Fire is used in many ways—all analogous to your new duties," he teaches. "Fire can warm. Your duty is to encourage people. Fire is light. Your job is to teach. Fire can cook. Your duty is to strengthen and feed. Fire is a gathering place in many cultures. Your job is to build the team. Fire can also burn. There are rare times when you will need to use your power to give hard feedback. But do so carefully."
You will continue to be self-conscious about your newfound power so long as you think it is about you. When you come to understand that it is more responsibility than ornament, you will feel less self-conscious and more conscious of others. You'll worry less about what others think, and more about what you need to do.
Conversation with others: Are they in your way?
Once you've settled this in yourself, you may find that others are having a hard time accepting you in the new role. Don't feel intimated by that. Remember, this is not about you. Your responsibility to serve does not change because others don't think you deserve the job or feel bothered in some way by the need to respond to you differently than they did in the past.
If you believe others may have some difficulty with this transition, talk about it. Have an explicit conversation either with key individuals or with the full team to set expectations. Share with them:
What you expect of yourself. How you see your duties and what your team should expect in terms of support, guidance, feedback, etc. What are your goals? What are your standards? What will be different from the past? What will be similar?
What you expect from them. Describe clearly what behavior and results you expect from the team. If you've seen worrying signs of behavior that will impede your team's ability to perform, describe it. Describe why it is a problem. Be sure to frame the concerns in terms of performance and results, not ego and insult. Describe how decisions will be made. Lay out which decisions will be command (you'll make them), consult (you'll make them after involving the team), consensus (the full team must agree before proceeding), or vote (majority rules). Clarifying how decisions will be made will avoid future violated expectations or misunderstandings of your motives. Finally, if you think this transition will be bumpy, schedule in a follow-up conversation to check in with the team on how it's working and to give them feedback on your views as well.
As I watched Mr. Collins leave the bathroom, I pondered my response. Was he flouting my authority? Should I make a statement by writing him up? Would he be angry at me if I invoked my full powers against him? Amidst the turmoil, something in my fifth grade mind quieted enough that I could hear past the din of my ego. I had been given an assignment. The only important question was, would I do it?
I calmly added Mr. Collins' name to the list.
The next year Mr. Collins promoted me to Traffic Captain.
All the success with this exciting new growth opportunity!
Peter Mclees

Proven Ways to Inspire Excellence in Your Team

Motivation and engagement are vital to any organization's success. Take a look at these strategies for revving up your workforce.

In the midst of technological changes and dynamic environments, what keeps an employee inspired to analyze, discover, invent and innovate? In working with a variety of leaders in diverse industries, I have found the following 12 factors as being the most significant.

Use these techniques as a checklist to see where you can improve your impact as a leader. In order to get the very best from your team, you must give them your very best.
1. A long-term goal: "The world makes way for the man who knows where he is going," wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson. An employee who sets a long-term goal and has a directional sense of his efforts and achievements is motivated when his employer understands and supports his plan.
2. Short-term goals: As the Chinese proverb says, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a small step." Short-term goals are the building blocks for long-term goals. Achieving these milestones ingrains confidence and self-belief.
3. Planning: Good planning provides a clear-sighted vision to the employee. It doesn't require micro-management, and employees are able to assess the value of their contributions for a successful delivery.
4. Challenging work: Challenges sharpen the mind. "Smarter thinking" happens when intriguing work stimulates the brain cells and improves decision-making ability. Employees yearn for a sense of accomplishment. Those who develop innovative strategies are more curious and marketable than those who do tedious work.
5. Rewards: Recognition in the form of appreciation notes, monetary and nonmonetary awards, and verbal encouragement provides positive reinforcement. Looking at Maslow's hierarchy of needs, rewards help employees understand that they are respected by others.
6. Work environment: An employee spends a large portion of his lifetime at work, and work environment makes a big difference. A positive environment is made up of positive leadership, positive thoughts, positive approach, and positive people. In addition to healthy competition and intelligent negotiation, cohesiveness and teamwork are very important. Respectful relationships lead to emotional balance and open communication. A supportive team is a strong team. Support from the employer, especially during a personal crisis, generates security.
7. Regular feedback and training: Employees who receive regular feedback have the opportunity to work on their strengths and weaknesses. Easy access to training, reminders, and custom course suggestions are a positive catalyst. Negative feedback should be accompanied with learning opportunities and a chance to grow.
8. Interactions with leaders: If the leaders are accessible, employees feel connected and heard. Valuable employee surveys provide an avenue for voicing their opinions.
9. Mentoring: Through mentoring, employees can tap into valuable in-house resources. Employees can become multifaceted through cross-functional and cross-business unit mentoring.
10. Policies: Streamlined, clearly documented, and easily accessible policies encourage employees to stay informed and ask questions.
11. Equality: All employees must be considered equal. Favoring one employee may de-motivate another employee's performance. Factual and criteria-based performance evaluations motivate employees.
12. Camaraderie: Interactive sessions lead to networking and knowledge sharing. These are especially crucial for remote employees.
To me, the most important factor is knowing how my accomplishments are helping the community at large. How am I making a difference? When an employee is encouraged, he performs, but when an employee is inspired, he excels.
All the success!

Peter Mclees

Friday, February 1, 2013

Leadership Lessons from Lance Armstrong’s Moral Failure






“I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to earn back trust and apologize to people.”

Lance Armstrong made that statement to Oprah Winfrey in his public confession when he finally admitted to using illegal performance enhancing drugs. It’s the one statement that has stuck with me as I’ve tried to make sense of how and why someone would go to such great lengths to perpetuate a lie and intentionally deceive so many people.

Millions of people have admired Armstrong as an example of how to “Livestrong” and battle through life’s difficult circumstances. I've even used his inspirational video, "Who Says We Can't " in our leadership workshops (Not anymore). Oddly enough, even though his athletic success and personal brand image have been discovered to be a fraud, he’s still proving to be an example from whom we can learn.

Armstrong’s fall from grace offers some important life and leadership lessons:

1. Life’s not about you – Armstrong described himself as a narcissist and said it was his ruthless desire to win at all costs that drove him to be a cheater. I don’t know that I’ve witnessed a public character with such an intense self drive and singular focus (with the possible exception of Tiger Woods, and look at what happened to him) that caused him to be so egotistical and selfish. The joy of life is unleashed when we discover that true happiness comes from serving others and not ourselves.

2. Bullies eventually get what’s coming to them – A self-described bully, Armstrong vehemently condemned and intimidated anyone who stood in his way to success. He burned so many relationships on his way up, that now he finds himself alone in his shame on the way down.

3. If you’re going to say you’re sorry, you should actually be sorry – Several times Armstrong said that he was sorry and took full blame and responsibility for his actions, yet based on other comments he made and the unspoken words of his body language, he left me with the impression that he wasn’t truly remorseful for defrauding everyone. He was apologizing for the sake of apologizing, recognizing that it was the necessary first step in rebuilding his image.

4. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is – Armstrong’s comeback from cancer, Tour de France victories, and life as an anti-cancer crusader seemed to be the perfect tale. He admitted to Oprah that he had devised such a fantastical narrative that it was impossible to live up to the idealistic standards he created. And millions upon millions of people bought it – hook, line, and sinker. Everyone single one of us has our faults and it’s extremely dangerous to place anyone on a pedestal as the end-all be-all example we should follow.

5. The truth will set you free – Oprah closed the interview by telling Armstrong it was her hope that he would find “the truth will set you free.” Jesus spoke those words in reference to people who choose to follow his teachings (John 8:32), meaning they would find the freedom and protection that comes from adhering to moral principles outlined in the Beatitudes. We all need a moral compass that keeps us oriented to true north, and Armstrong is an example of what happens when you lead without morality.

Lance Armstrong has a long way to go to rebuild trust with his followers. Is it even possible given the scope of his willful deception? I think it’s going to be hard.

What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts.

All the success!

Peter Mclees

10 reasons to wake up early everyday, and surefire techniques for doing so

If you do some homework on the subject, you’ll find that many successful people get up early. It’s simply ingrained in them. If we want to be successful, we need to be working when others are not.
It’s like the classic sales quote: “Somewhere, right now, someone is selling in your territory while you’re not. When you compare commissions his or her check will be larger”
Here’s some of the benefits you can get from doing it, and, as a bonus, here’s how to actually do it. It's time to wake up and smell the coffee!
Top 10 reasons to get up early every day:
10. Learn. You can browse seven websites in a row (news, news, gossip, financial, gossip, sports, weather) or read a chapter in a book or an article without being interrupted by a single e-mail. You’re now smarter for your entire day.
9. This early, it really is all about you. You get a few minutes of pure “you” time. For me, it’s waking up and making coffee. While I’m doing that, I can pet Theo and Luke (Our German Shepherds), and not in just a “scratch behind the ears once because I’m late” way. I can sit with them as I drink my first cup of joe and enjoy the calming effect that a pet has on you. I have no doubt this helps to set my mood for the day.
8. We’re not as big as we think we are. In Portland, I can see the eerie ice fog illuminated by the sun. Very cool! We take certain things for granted. Light, air, clouds, etc. Get up one morning, and actually watch the sky turn from dark to light. It’s amazing. It changes your entire perspective from how big we are to how small we are when you realize that we’re nothing in the universe, just star stuff on a much, much bigger plane. That affects how you think, and it changes for the better how you look at things.
7. Opportunity to express gratitude—and feel happy. Gratitude fosters happiness, which is why some people keep a gratitude journal. Every morning, you can write out at least five things you're thankful for. In times of stress, pause and reflect on 10 things you're grateful for.

6. You’re automatically early. Getting up even a half-hour early eliminates the “rush” that comes with leaving the house in the morning. Get up earlier, and you’re calmer. You remember everything you need to take. You walk out without being stressed. This leads to a calmer day. Also, studies have shown that being on time is one thing that good leaders master, as well as demand. Want to be on time? Get up earlier.
5. Easier commute. I don’t have much of a regular commute, but for years I did. Get up early, get to the office, and your commute is done before traffic goes to hell. Easiest commute ever!
4. Be a player. Be a sales maker. Want to meet an important contact or prospective customer. Try scheduling 7 a.m. breakfasts with them. Why? Because they know that the demanding schedule they have won’t allow for lunches. What did Gordon Gekko say? “Lunch? Aw, come on, Marty. Lunch is for wimps!” He was right.
3. A chance to make real progress. If ask yourself every morning, “What are the top three most important tasks that I will complete today?” Prioritize your day accordingly and do not go to sleep until the Top 3 are complete. You then feel better because you made progress on the things that matter most to you.
2. Do something you “never have the time for.” When do you think I write a lot of these blog posts? When do you think I write training materials? Review new software? Write a friend? Study? Meditate?
[Cue the drum roll]….and, the No. 1 reason to get up early?
# 1 Change the world. Thirty minutes can change the world. Getting up early each day can truly make all the difference in your life. Imagine getting up early and just doing a few of the things listed above. Would you be more productive? Make more money? Reach more people? Get more important things done? I bet you would.
That was the “why.” Here’s the “how.”
Top six ways to make sure you rise up early.
6. Drink. Keep a giant glass of water by the bed. As soon as the alarm goes off, before you shut it off, drink the entire glass of water. Water is the most awesome wake-up tool for your body ever. Drink the water, it opens up brain cells, rejuvenates your eyes, allows you to come out of sleep. Drink water!
5. Move. Set the alarm clock somewhere you can’t reach it. Get out of bed to shut it off (after you’ve drunk your water), and you’re up and mobile.
4. Feed something. Get a pet. Seriously. Feed the pet one damn time at 5 a.m., and you’ll never sleep through 5 a.m. again for the entire life of the pet. Trust me on this.
3. As Yoda said, “Do or do not, there is no try.” Don’t think, just do. It’s amazing what we can rationalize at 5 a.m. “Oh, I’ll just sleep for an extra hour, then do the treadmill at double the speed for half the time so I can still make it into the office.” You know that’s B.S., you know you’re not going to, and you know there will be no working out for you today. Don’t think. Just get your bones out of bed. Think later.
2. Get out! The bedroom is for sleeping and romance. Once you’re awake, get out of it. Go to the kitchen for your coffee. Go to the living room or your home office for your computer You’ve slept. Now get out of the bedroom.
1. Sleep. The No.1 way to get up earlier? Get to sleep earlier. I know— I’m blaspheming here. How dare I waste a perfectly good night when I could go out and be a drunken fool, or go to a boring party? I like going to sleep earlier, because I know what it’s going to do for me on the flip side. I still go out, but not as much. Remember when you were a kid, and your parents made you go to sleep early on a school night? There’s a reason for that. Go to sleep earlier. Countless studies have been conducted showing that lack of sleep is hurting us, causing us to lose money, hell, even making us ugly! Chances are, not sleeping enough is the root of a lot of our problems.

All the success!

Peter Mclees