It Took a Virus

It took a virus . . .

to remind us of the importance of relationships

to encourage us to check on our neighbors

to help us to practice gratitude

to get us to return to family dinners and game nights

to help us value others

to push us to innovate

to motivate us to be creative

to get us to be appreciative

to help us to reflect

to make us slow down

to get us to redefine “essential”

to force us to be observant

to help us realize who the real heroes are

to find new ways to connect with others

to make us to change the way we do business

to help us find new ways to learn

to get us to appreciate what’s around us

It took a virus, something so small, yet able to impact all of humanity, to remind us it doesn’t matter who you are, or how insignificant you might feel, in order to make a difference in the life of someone else. What are you doing to make a difference?

Why is Accountability in Leadership Important?

I have mentioned before I love baseball. I have been an Atlanta Braves fan since the late 80’s and even had a chance to try out for the team in 1991. In an earlier post I talked about integrity in light of the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal. Today, Major League Baseball (MLB) commissioner Rob Manfred handed down “punishment” for the Boston Red Sox. The stories are connected because then Red Sox manager, Alexa Cora, was a former Astros bench coach named in that team’s punishment. Manfred’s punishment for the Red Sox is focused on their video replay operator. He says the operator used some in-game feed data which was only relevant in a limited scenario. He also briefly mentions a limited number of players were involved, but doesn’t call them out by name. Here’s the part I want to highlight – Manfred goes on to say he did not find Red Sox coaching staff, front office, other players, or Cora “should have known” the operator was using in-game video. As a leader, you are ultimately accountable for the actions of your team. You are responsible for leading by example and continually communicating the values of the team. If someone is acting unethically, and you don’t know it, I would argue it’s a failure in your leadership. You either didn’t set a strong example, or you let your team decide what they think is right, or you’re out of touch with your team. I think it’s unrealistic to say Red Sox leadership didn’t know, or at least have a feeling, something was wrong. If the replay operator were the only one who knew, it might be possible he could keep it secret, but the report says other players knew. I believe this was a case of looking the other way. I also would like to make the case Rob Manfred needs to be held accountable. He is the leader of MLB and his approach to handing out punishment for the sign stealing findings shows he’s not willing to hold other leaders fully accountable for their actions. As a result, he is showing he is a weak leader. As long as weak leaders stay in positions of leadership they will be a lid for their organization. As such, it’s time for Manfred to be held accountable for his actions, which means he should be removed from his position so a strong leader can take the reigns.

Is your leadership setting a good example, in your workplace, or at home? What would your team, or your family have to say? Maybe it’s time to raise the lid on your leadership so you can be held accountable for the great things happening around you. A coach can help you get back on track. What are you waiting for?

Leading with Vision During a Crisis

There is a lot of focus on what you should be doing right now, for good reason, but what about the future? Can we look to the future at a time like this? No doubt it can be difficult, but being able to see through the current challenges can set you apart from others. In his blog post titled “Making Vision Stick,” Michael Hyatt says, “Vision, by definition, is an unseen future reality.” That can sounds a bit like fortune telling, and in a way it is. In his book “The Vision Driven Leader,” Michael describes how John F. Kennedy gave America a vision for going to the moon. He didn’t know exactly how it was going to happen, but he knew it was necessary and he was able to eventually convince people it was the right thing to do, and he made sure they had the resources to make it happen. Kennedy wasn’t alive when we finally reached the moon, but it serves as a reminder that a good vision, well executed, doesn’t need the visionary, in order to be successful.

So, how do we provide vision for our teams, our organizations, or our families, during a crisis? In Michael’s blog post he goes on to say, “Make your vision concrete, specific and inviting, and other’s will join you in making it a reality.” Let’s apply that criteria to JFK’s vision and then list some ways we can follow his example. First, his vision was concrete because American’s would be able to know when it became a reality. Conspiracy theories aside, it would become a reality when we put a man on the moon. He also said he wanted “this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement.” Another item which could be clearly measured. He went on to provide specifics when he said America should land a man on the moon and return him safely. The second part of that is really important if you want buy-in! Kennedy’s vision was inviting for a number of reasons. One reason the Soviet Union was kicking our collective butts and Americans were ready for a victory. Second, he said being the leader, “in many ways may hold the key to our future on earth.” No pressure there! Third, he said, “it will not be one man going to the moon. . . it will be an entire nation.” I’m in! Who is with me?! Many people didn’t buy-in right away though. It took time, money, resources and continually casting the vision in order to gain momentum and convince people it was actually possible. In our own lives, both personally and professionally, we have an opportunity to look past our current state and begin to imagine what is possible and develop a plan for getting there. What about the current crisis could we have done differently? Your vision may involve becoming debt-free in the next 12-18 months, or it may be to develop a contingency plan if resources become scarce. It may be to continue with changes you implemented during the current crisis, that you would like to integrate into your everyday life, once the crisis subsides. These are just a few of the many ideas you could come up with. Remember to make the vision concrete, specific and inviting, so others will join you in making it a reality.

If you are already casting vision for life after the pandemic, let me know, in the comments, some ideas you are coming up with. If you are stuck trying to cast vision, let’s talk about how we can work together and get clarity on your idea.

Dealing with Fear in a Global Crisis

Fear can be crippling! Fear is also natural, particularly when there are so many unknowns, conflicting messages, and a constant barrage of negative information. How you choose to respond to fear will be the difference between giving fear more power than it deserves, or taking control of your life. If you haven’t heard of the Stockdale Paradox yet, it’s an interesting story. Essentially it talks about having a balance between realism and optimism. If there was ever a time to understand the importance of maintaining balance, now is the time!

I have some suggestions I think will be helpful to minimize the impact of fear, but they are definitely not a compressive list, so comment on what you are doing to prevent fear from taking control.

  • Give yourself permission to have some fear. It’s a natural response and trying to bury it isn’t healthy.
  • Talk about your fears with someone else. There is a good chance just about anyone is feeling something similar.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable talking with someone, write down your fears. Seeing them can help put them into perspective and take away the power they have over you.
  • Limit your social media consumption. A lot of things just aren’t factual, or are old. At this point there is very little you haven’t seen already. This is true of the memes, too. They are just a constant reminder of what we’re going through. We don’t need reminders, we are living it every day.
  • If you can’t limit social media consumption, curate your feeds. For example, in Facebook you can snooze people for 30 days. If someone you know is just posting Coronavirus memes and political opinions, snooze them and see how much it impacts your experience. You can also unfollow someone without unfriending them. This removes them from your feed completely, but without the awkwardness of getting a friend request from them later.
  • Many people will be impacted financially. If you have been trying to payoff debt and have lost income, or are at risk of losing income, it’s time to push the pause button. You need to take care of what Dave Ramsey refers to as the four walls: Food, Shelter, Clothing and Transportation. Once you have these covered, if you have anything left, pay the minimum payments on your debt and pile up cash. If you don’t need to touch the pile, put it towards your debt after things return to normal.
  • Get outside! Many people have transitioned to working from home. While it’s nice to not have to deal with a commute, it’s easy to become isolated. You can still walk, or go for a drive, you just have to keep a safe distance from other people. Going outdoors, even for just a few minutes, a couple of times a day, will have a big impact on your mental health.
  • Develop a routine. You may have had one already, but chances are it has changed a bit. You may not have in-the-car time to listen to a podcast, but if you still get up at the same time, you can listen to the podcast in your home, or on the porch, or while walking around the block. Routine will give you power over fear.
  • Educate yourself. Trust, but verify. Your friends and family have good intentions, but they probably aren’t experts, and like so many people, usually blindly sharing information that hasn’t been verified. Go to a trustworthy source and get facts from multiple sources, just like you would if you were writing a dissertation.
  • Do something for someone else. This will take the focus off of your own concerns, for a time, and put your energy into someone else. You may have an elderly neighbor who needs groceries. See if you can pick something up for them, while you are shopping. The grass won’t stop growing, so mow a neighbor’s yard. Doing something nice for someone else will also lift your spirits.
  • Finally, find a quiet place, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. No one knows when it will pass, but we can still be optimistic it will pass soon.

If you find yourself struggling through your current situation, working with a coach can be very helpful. It may also be necessary to work with a professional counselor. A good coach will refer a client to counseling when it becomes apparent coaching either isn’t right for the client, or the client would benefit from having the additional option. If you are ready to see if coaching is right for you, let’s talk.

How does a crisis help develop leadership?

Nashville night skyline - Photo credit @yellowumbrellaphoto
Photo credit @yellowumbrellaphoto

I live in the Nashville, TN area, which was struck by a devastating tornado earlier this week. 25 people lost their lives and numerous structures were destroyed, or severely damaged. Nashville has dealt with tornados before and a severe flood, so it’s no stranger to nature’s destructive side. What is amazing is how quickly communities rallied to support complete strangers, in their time of need. One great thing about the support is even during an election cycle it didn’t matter what political party people affiliate with, or what candidate they support. People were there to just offer a hand, or to be a shoulder to cry on. Crisis has a way of forging leaders, and bringing some down. In the midst of a crisis, new leaders may emerge because they feel compelled to do something – either because they can’t just “sit on the sidelines”, or they feel the people in charge aren’t doing a good job. One thing you will notice about an emerging leader, in a crisis, is they are directly involved. They are on the ground, doing the work, right along with everyone else. In many cases you will see them working in one area, then moments later they are somewhere else because they are showing people how to do the work, and not waiting for someone else to take charge. In the moment, they probably aren’t thinking about being a leader, they just see a problem and attack it. The “leaders” who are hanging on the fringes giving orders and directing people may think they are doing their job, but how many people are looking at them thinking, “Why don’t you roll up your sleeves and jump in?!” Too many times leaders fall into the trap thinking managing and leading are the same thing, and that leaders can still lead when they are working alongside of their team. The benefit to the involved leader is their team will trust them more as a result. Teams that trust their leader just perform better. If you don’t believe that, watch what happens to a team when the leader doesn’t get directly involved, in a crisis situation. They will lose respect for the leader and stop giving their best efforts. Right, or wrong, they will justify their lack of effort, because of their loss of respect for the leader. You don’t have to wait for a crisis to get more involved with your team. If you have been giving orders from the sidelines you can be more effective by working in partnership with your team. Your example, will be one of the best ways to raise the bar on your leadership. If you’re struggling with how you can make this shift, click the button below to setup a free consult for us to talk about how coaching can help you get back to a good position.

What can we learn about leadership from Jean-Luc Picard?

The answer is “A lot!” There is so much we can learn from Captain Picard’s leadership, throughout the Star Trek series, it could take a whole series of posts to cover. I’m not going to do that here. Instead I’m going to focus on a recent example, SPOILER ALERT!!! If you are planning to watch the new Picard series, or plan to read the book Picard: The Last Best Hope you have been warned! So… welcome back to those who have now watched the series, or read the book, we missed you! Captain Picard is now Admiral Picard! So he’s finally promoted to the position we knew he would eventually achieve, at least in the current reality. His peers, such as Captain Crunch and Captain America, can look to him as an example of how perseverance is key to reaching the next level. All joking aside, perseverance is important. The challenges leaders face can’t always be resolved inside of a 60-minute window. Let’s be realistic, leadership can be messy. We have to lead people with different personalities, backgrounds, and opinions. That means we may have some moments where we want to set phasers to stun and go crazy. It also means we have to look at leadership like a marathon, at times. Stay on course and keep pushing ahead! In the Picard television series we learn Jean-Luc was instrumental in helping relocate Romulans who would be in a path of destruction, created by the result of their star going supernova. Never mind the leadership necessary to coordinate the logistics of moving roughly a billion lives – the Romulans were enemies of the Federation! The Romulans weren’t exactly happy about receiving help from their enemies, but they had little choice. They also didn’t make it easy for those wanting to assist them. In addition to perseverance, Jean-Luc shows us how important it is to have a group of people willing to be honest with him. He is no longer on the Enterprise, because of it’s symbolic nature for the Romulans, so he also has a new crew. His new Number One, is Raffi Musiker. She isn’t afraid to give her opinion and isn’t enamored by the reputation that follows Jean-Luc. In other words, she’s not a “yes-man”. Jean-Luc also has input, from a Bajoran woman, who had personally been part of a refugee relocation. She was valuable in providing experiential knowledge of something Jean-Luc, and his crew could only speculate about. So even when Jean-Luc was making a decision, based on what he though was right, she would be able to tell him how it might be received, by the refugees. The final individual I will mention is a Romulan woman named Zani. Her group of refugees are referred to as warrior nuns. In my mind I imagine her a bit like a Romulan version of Yoda, without a lightsaber. She is different than typical Romulans, who are very secretive and suspicious. In fact, she is very open and insightful and proves to be a valuable resource to Jean-Luc, even after her relocation. She provides a sounding board for him to allow him to share thoughts and concerns that he might not want to share with others. It can be lonely at the top, right? In fact, I think Zani is a great of example of what a coach looks like. She doesn’t give Jean-Luc answers, she asks him questions to get him thinking about his response. A good coach will be curious and will partner with the client to go where the client needs to go, not where the coach might want to go. If you would like to partner with a coach to work on an area of your life, or leadership, contact me for a no obligation consult.

What can we learn about leadership from Star-Lord?

This is the next article in a series based on my favorite sci-fi movies. Star-Lord, a.k.a. Peter Quill, is another character from Guardians of the Galaxy (GotG). Previously I wrote on Rocket Raccoon, who actually gets into a competition, with Peter, about who is the true leader of the crew. Like a lot of characters, Peter isn’t ready to take on the mantle of leadership, in the beginning. For Peter, we really don’t see him start to step into a leadership role until the end of the first GotG movie. Peter has operated alone for quite some time, so he has to adjust to working with others. Because of his reluctance to be a true leader, this leaves a void in the crew. Rocket’s personality is to blow things up and ask questions later, so it’s not surprising that he sees a need for someone to step up, so he starts acting out and challenging Peter’s authority. He even goes so far as to call himself captain, of Peter’s ship, in Avengers: Infinity War. This leads to our first lesson about leadership. It’s said nature abhors a vacuum, so where there is a lack of leadership, someone will step in to fill the void. On one hand, this could be good, if the person stepping in has been prepped for such an opportunity. This assumes they aren’t an evil overlord bent on destroying all life as we know it, but that’s another discussion. On the other hand, having a void could mean the leader isn’t doing their job. So if you’re a leader feeling like someone is coming for your job, it could be because you are creating a leadership void! This would be a good time to do a self-analysis, but more importantly it’s time to get some feedback, maybe in the form of a 360-review. I would be remiss not to mention it’s also a great opportunity to work with a coach. Peter has moments where he takes charge of the situation, but it’s usually out of necessity – like a life or death scenario. This can work at times, but in the real world, if your leadership is inconsistent, or sporadic, your team will stop trusting you. Eventually they will stop following you. This brings us back to the void problem. So before you find yourself in an epic battle for the protection of the universe, it’s a great time to look at your leadership and ask yourself the following questions: “Am I consistent?”, “Do I ever feel like someone might be challenging my leadership?”, “What am I doing to grow as a leader?” If you find you’re not happy with the answers to those questions, or already know your leadership is not where it needs to be, it’s time to do something about it. Request a free consultation to see how we can work together to develop a plan to get your leadership headed in the right direction. The universe may just depend on it!

What is your company doing about its leadership crisis?

You’re probably thinking your company doesn’t have a leadership crisis, especially if you’re a leader. If your company, or team, isn’t currently developing the next generation of leaders, congratulations you have a leadership crisis! The good news is now is the right time to do something about it. Before I go too far, let’s acknowledge there are a lot of bad “leaders” running amok. You can still do something, if you are willing to put in the necessary effort. Either way the best thing you can do to solve the leadership crisis is to create a leadership culture. This means you are developing a group of ready-now leaders to fill gaps in your organization, when the opportunity presents itself. It doesn’t mean you pick one rising star and put all of your efforts into developing them. They may go on to be a great leader, within your organization, on another team, or even another company. So why not create an abundance of people who think, and act, like leaders, even if they aren’t in leadership roles? The truth is even without a title, team members can be leaders in a lot of ways. They could be tasked to organize a committee, or represent your team in a large project, or coordinate a team activity. A lot of opportunities can be overlooked as ways to give team members leadership experience. Do you want them going into these situations without the proper skills? Keep in mind, if you are their leader, they will give others insight into your ability to lead. That shouldn’t be the main reason you want them to succeed, but if you’re a leader who isn’t developing other leaders, you’re just a manager.

So how do you create a leadership culture? First, you may need to do a self-analysis and ask yourself if you are growing, as a leader. If not, fix it! If you’re not growing, you aren’t setting a very good example. John Maxwell says leadership is more caught, than taught! This means your actions may say more about you than anything you are trying to teach your team. Next, you need to equip your team members. If they can’t make a decision, without your input, you are either a micro-manager, or your team members are leeches. Yes, I called them leeches! They are leeching your time and energy, because you let them! So if they are capable, equip them to make decisions on their own. This doesn’t happen overnight, you have to start them out with small decisions and work them up to larger ones, as they prove they are capable. If they can’t do this without you, one of you is redundant! So which one of the people in that scenario do you want to move on? Next, you need to delegate. I am a big fan of delegation done correctly. I think if there was only one thing a successful leader had to do well, delegation would be at the top of the list! Proper delegation means you are freeing yourself up to do the things only you can do. It also means you are giving team members the ability to be stretched, and hopefully grow. When they prove they are capable of handling the extra responsibility you can give them more. You also want to be sure they are looking for opportunities to delegate, because if they aren’t, they are going to have a bandwidth problem. Finally, you need to advocate for the team members. If they have gone through the process successfully, they will be in a good position to take on a larger role. Invite them to leadership meetings so other leaders can get to know them. Talk to other leaders to see what leadership challenges they are facing and let them know about a team member they might want to talk to, from your team. In the end, if your team is stocked with ready-now leaders, you become a bit of a farm system, like in baseball, for the organization. That will reflect very well on your leadership ability, but it will also place team members, who know this model, throughout the organization. Like a virus ( a good one, if there is such a thing) your organization will be infected with the leadership bug.

A great way to help accelerate the development of these potential leaders is to work with a coach. Coaching has a great ROI, so why not learn more by requesting a consult?

What can we learn about leadership from Spider-man?

In Spider-man: Far From Home, Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-man, is struggling with the loss of his mentor, Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man. Tony was one of the main, although somewhat unconventional, leaders of the Avengers. Peter is torn between the desire to just be a teenager and the pressure he feels to take Tony’s place. Peter spends much of the early part of the movie dodging calls from Nick Fury, who Peter assumes is trying to get him to take Tony’s place. He even manages to avoid joining Fury’s team to fight a coming group of enemies, for a while. Fury manages to highjack Peter’s class trip to Europe and eventually Peter has no choice, but to get involved, if for no other reason than to protect his classmates. Sometimes leadership opportunities will follow you, no matter whether you are ready for it, or not. You don’t always have to go looking for a chance, but when the times comes will you be ready? A good mentor will display good leadership, by preparing the next generation of leaders. In Tony’s case, not only did he try to bring Peter along slowly, but he left a set of AI powered glasses, for Nick Fury to give to Peter. These glasses would give Peter access to resources he never would have know. Tony figuratively and literally equipped Peter to take his leadership to the next level. Later in the movie, Peter learns that Quentin Beck, a.k.a. Mysterio, is not who he claims to be – a refugee from an alternate earth, that was destroyed by the same creatures about to destroy Peter’s earth. Quentin is actually just a guy with some mad special effects skills, who fools everyone into believing he’s a superhero. Quentin uses his special effects to lure Peter into a fight where he ends up catching a train, the hard way. When he wakes up Peter calls for Tony’s trusted assistant Happy Hogan. Happy turns mentor when he sees Peter feeling sorry for himself for the mistakes he’s made. Happy tells him Tony wouldn’t have trusted Peter if he didn’t think he could handle the responsibility that goes along with it. He also tells Peter he’s no Tony Stark – which seems a bit harsh, but he says it somewhat tongue-in-cheek. In other words he tells Peter not to try to be Tony, but to be himself. This is enough to inspire Peter to create his own Spidersuit and go on to kick Mysterio’s butt. Even when you have a great mentor, you can’t duplicate their style and success. There are too many factors preventing that from happening. What you can do is take elements of what your mentor has given you and weave it into your own leadership style. In the end you will be able to be genuine and authentic with your team. If you try to be someone else it will stress you out and your team will either call you out, or leave! So if you’re struggling to find your authentic self, why not work with a coach to get back to your true identity, even if you’re a mask-wearing superhero!

What is the best way to lead someone who doesn’t accept feedback?

Let’s face it, many people aren’t the type to take constructive feedback, no matter how good your intentions might be. It usually doesn’t happen enough that they are used to the idea, and most people aren’t good at delivering feedback, in a way that doesn’t seem like an attack. So what do you do when a team member isn’t open to feedback? The short answer could be the best way to lead them is in the direction of the door. Even with a poor delivery, a reasonable person should recognize the truth within the message. If you truly have someone on your team who is not open to feedback, this should be a sign they are not open to growth. Don’t invest in someone who doesn’t want to grow. Cut them loose! Once you do, you will probably see a positive change in the rest of your team. You will probably have a personal sense of renewed energy, too. The other side of this issue is your team member may be open to feedback, just not from you. If you can’t deliver feedback in a way the team member will want to receive, the problem is you! You have to know the team member well enough to determine how they prefer to receive feedback. If nothing else, ask them how they want to receive feedback. This is mind-blowing advice, right?! There may be some clues to help you recognize when the feedback isn’t connecting though. Does the team member lean back, or try to create distance? You may be leaning into them, or talking loudly, or eating too much garlic! Do they seem distracted? Maybe they have personal issues they are dealing with, or maybe giving feedback 5 minutes before the end of the work day is not great timing. Consider rescheduling for a better time. Finally, if you give feedback and don’t see any change, it may be the team member is not clear on your expectations (your fault and theirs), or they are not capable/willing to take the necessary steps to change. You will have to follow up to determine the root cause, but if the team member is incapable and/or unwilling, it’s time to let them go. In my experience, if the person is incapable, the best thing you can do for them, and your team, is to help them move on. They are probably stressing so much already that getting fired will seem like a blessing to them. As I said before, if they are unwilling, it’s time to let them go, no matter how much you may, or may not, like them. Nice people can be unwilling people, but keeping them on the team is negatively impacting the entire team. I guarantee it! So if you’re struggling in this area and need help determining if you are part of the problem, coaching is a great way to develop a plan to improve your delivery. Coaching is also a great way to help a willing team member grow. So why not request a consult to see how we can work together on next steps? Click the button below to request a free consult.