What can we learn about leadership from Jyn Erso?

This is the second in a series of posts focused on leadership and how it relates to characters in some of my favorite sci-fi movies. Jyn Erso may not be a character you are familiar with, unless you are a Star Wars nerd, like me. Jyn is one of the main characters in the movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Jyn happens to be the daughter of the man the Empire forces to design the Death Star. You don’t have to be a Star Wars fan to know the Death Star is not one you wish on. Her father hides her from the Empire, when she was fairly young, which makes her life very difficult. Through a chain of events, she ends up with the Rebels, who wants to use her connection to a man that has information related to her father. Jyn sees a message, made by her father, saying he designed a weakness in the Death Star. After the Rebels learn of the power of the Death Star, Jyn trys to convince the council to fight, but there is too much opposition, based in fear, to take action. This leads me to the first leadership lesson. Jyn spoke up for what she believed was right, even when everyone didn’t agree. She saw someone needed to end the threat, posed by the Empire, and it led to a small band of Rebels rallying to her side. Sometimes leadership means being the one person who sees what needs to be done and says I’m going to make it happen. This is also called courage. It may go against the wisdom of the room and what you face may be very scary, but if no one takes leadership over the situation, the alternative can be disastrous. As the band of rogue Rebels is about to land at the enemy base, she recognizes the heaviness of the moment and rallies the group. She lays out the plan of attack and gives them hope their mission will meet its objectives. It’s one thing to be the only person willing to step into a leadership role, but if you can’t rally anyone to your cause, you are going to have to fight your battles alone. I don’t recommend fighting battles on your own – even Luke Skywalker needed help. Ultimately Jyn’s mission to get the Death Star plans, to the Rebels, was successful, but it cost her her life. She knew that was a possibility going into the mission. Leadership doesn’t always include life-risking scenarios, but it does mean sacrifices may be necessary in order to accomplish the goal. Sacrifices may include time, energy, comfort, or finances, for example. There are no promises leadership will be easy, especially when you are facing resistance, or the Empire, but the results can have a lasting positive impact on more people than you will realize.

Are you struggling with a decision that is facing resistance? Working with a coach can help you develop a plan to lead through the challenges. Click below to request a free consultation and let’s work together, towards success!

What can we learn about leadership from Rocket Raccoon?

This will be the first in a series of posts focused on leadership and how it relates to characters in some of my favorite sci-fi movies. As an IT nerd, I can consider movie watching as research now, so don’t judge me! Rocket Raccoon is more recently know for his role in the Guardians of the Galaxy (GotG) and Avengers movies. His character first appeared in comic books, a.k.a. graphic novels, in 1976. He is a genetically modified anthropomorphic (human like) raccoon with attitude, and a gift for making weapons. So what can we learn about leadership from this somewhat crazed trash panda? First, Rocket’s ability to build weapons out of whatever is lying around shows creativity and ingenuity. A leader who possesses these characteristics is likely a great problem solver. They are more inclined to view a problem in ways others wouldn’t consider and then come up with a solution, even when others didn’t think it would be possible. Creative leaders tend to be more fun to work with. They are less likely to stick to the same things that got them there and will foster environments that attract talent. Rocket also demonstrates loyalty. He has a strong bond with Groot, which is evident when he tearfully proclaims Groot will die, if Groot continues transforming into a protective shell, covering the Guardians. He is also the only one who understands what Groot says with his limited vocabulary, comprised of ‘I’, ‘Am’, and ‘Groot’. “Exclusively in that order!” It takes time to develop that level of communication. Despite his gruff exterior, Rocket shows his loyalty by taking steps to keep the group safe, even if it means blowing them up (see GotG Vol2)! Leaders who are loyal to their team will have team members who are loyal to them, and each other. Loyalty doesn’t mean things will be perfect, but it does mean when things get difficult, loyalty can help you weather the circumstances, and maybe be stronger for it.

Does your leadership show creativity, ingenuity, and loyalty? Do you need to expand your leadership by developing in any of these areas? Rocket wasn’t the perfect leader, but he took on the challenges of the role and became better for it. Working with a coach can help you grow, without the pressure of having to save the galaxy, twice! Why not request a free consult and see how you can be like Rocket Raccoon?

What are you reading to help develop your leadership?

My friend Jeff Brown has a podcast called the Read to Lead podcast. We both believe reading is an essential path to becoming a better leader. In fact, the tagline for Jeff’s podcast is “Leaders Read and Readers Lead.” I am an avid reader myself – you might even say I have a book addiction, but I’m ok with that! I have several authors I think of as my unofficial mentors. People like John Maxwell, Michael Hyatt, Jocko Willink, Patrick Lencioni, Dave Ramsey and Simon Sinek have mentored me, even though I have only met two of them, in person. The books and blogs have provided an abundance of ideas and strategies which have helped grow my leadership. I don’t just take their word and run with it though, I think about what I have read and how it impacted me. If I just try to mimic the way they handle different scenarios, that doesn’t make me a leader, it makes me a robot! Robots will be our leaders soon enough, so let’s not be too quick to usher in our future overlords! Let’s be realistic though, you can’t think about how what you read will apply in every scenario. What reading does is to help you build a physical and mental reference for when you do find yourself in a challenging leadership scenario. Over time, you will have a solid foundation to rely on while you build your experiential knowledge. So even if you don’t have a strong leader, or mentor, to work with, consistent reading can be a great way to develop your leadership. Even if you do have a good support system, reading will only help to enhance your leadership. So tell me, what are you reading to develop your leadership? What are some of your favorite leadership books, or websites?

The One Secret to Being a Successful Leader

Let’s face it, leading people is hard. It can be very rewarding, but sometimes it’s messy. So if there is such a thing as a leader hack, delegation is the one secret you need to understand. If you can learn to properly delegate, it will change your world! Note the emphasis on “properly.” Delegation is not a dump and run game. When done correctly, it helps both the delegator, and the delegatee, grow. So how do you delegate properly? It’s fairly simple really. Let’s say you have a task you have done many times, and no longer have to think about how you get it done. This is a good time to consider delegating it to someone else, assuming it’s still necessary, and can’t be automated. If you don’t have the task documented, get it done before you assign it. The more detail you provide, the better. Remember the goal is to properly delegate and that won’t happen if you leave out details that might seem obvious to you, but not to the person who has never done it before. Once the documentation is ready, give it to the person you are assigning the task to and have them follow the documentation while you do the task. They should ask clarifying questions and making notes. The documentation needs to be updated to reflect the answers to those questions and to include any additional supporting information. Once both parties believe the documentation accurately reflects the process, the delegatee should perform the task, with the delegator present. This is the step that usually gets left out. Chances are the there will be additional questions, so why not have the person who can answer them available at this moment? When time is critical you don’t want to try to track someone down for the answer. This may lead to an opportunity to update the documentation, or it might even lead to an alternate (maybe better!) way of completing the task. This step may need to be repeated until both people are confident the task can be completed accurately and timely, without the support of the delegator. When you have reached this point, it’s time for the hand-off. These steps help ensure the delegatee won’t have to keep going back to the delegator with questions. Additional questions mean both parties are tied to the task, and will continue to spend time on it. Don’t take shortcuts! Invest the time necessary to do it right.

Here is a summary of the steps necessary to properly delegate:

  1. Document the process
  2. Delegator completes the process while the delegatee follows the documentation, to look for missing details.
  3. Documentation is updated to reflect answers to questions and missing details.
  4. Repeat step 2 and 3 until there are no additional changes necessary.
  5. Delegatee now completes the process, with the delegator present. There may be new questions, which require documentation updates.
  6. When there are no additional questions, and the delegatee can complete the process, without help, the process is ready for hand-off.

When done properly, delegation will free you up to do the things only you can do. It will give your team an opportunity to learn something new, and maybe even make improvements. It’s an opportunity for everyone involved to grow, and raise the bar!

Michael Hyatt goes further, on the topic, and talks about 5 levels of delegation. He includes a reference sheet you can download. I’m a big fan of Michael’s work and highly recommend you listen to the podcast, or review the transcript, and download the reference sheet. They are all found at https://michaelhyatt.com/how-to-delegate-for-perfect-results-every-time/

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the number of tasks you are performing and it seems like your team isn’t growing, it may be a good time to work with a coach. For more info, click the button below.

What can we learn about the importance of integrity from the leadership failures within the Houston Astros organization?

Major League Baseball handed down it’s punishment for its investigation of cheating allegations, against the Astros. The team’s current and former GMs, and their manager were all suspended from duties, effective immediately, ending after the next World Series. The team will also lose key picks, in the next 2 drafts, and will have to pay a $5 million fine. The bench coach, at the center of the issue, is now the manager of the Boston Red Sox, who are also being investigated. It’s very likely he will face a longer suspension, given his role in the matter. So what leadership lessons can we learn from this situation? First, you don’t have to know the details to know that the culture of the organization didn’t place a high enough value on integrity. There were leaders, higher up the chain, that could have killed the idea the first time it was mentioned. However, the pressure to win was apparently valued so much that the idea was allowed to root. As leaders, if we don’t emphasize and eximplify integrity, we’ll end up with a failure story of our own. The second lesson is leadership failures don’t just effect the leader, they effect everyone. In this particular example, the decision to go against the MLB rules, impacted the Astros and will eventually impact the Red Sox. Fans of both teams, and baseball, in general, will question the integrity of the game going forward. The fact both teams won a World Series, in the years they are accused of cheating will bring into question the validity of their titles. As a baseball fan, I think they should vacate their titles and all wins, but I digress. The point is a slip in integrity can cascade into something no one would have ever anticipated. The phrase, no one will get hurt is commonly how these decisions are justified. Finally, if you are instilling integrity in your rising and existing leaders, it’s a great time to start. Assuming they will do the right thing isn’t a good strategy. Creating a culture, which values integrity, begins today. Don’t let the story of the Astros, become a shared experience. Start by coaching your team now. If your organization doesn’t have coaching in place let’s talk. It’s always a good time to develop your leadership!

What is the ROI of Coaching?

Lots of reports tell us lots of people aren’t happy with their job. There are also lots of reports telling us how much of the workforce is made up by millennials. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that at a Gallup article says 3 times as many millennials changed jobs in the last year and only half see themselves staying with the same company a year from now! The same article estimates “millennial turnover costs the US economy $30.5 billion annually.” So why not do something to keep employees engaged and reduce turnover?! Coaching engages employees by giving them control over their personal and professional development. An HR Technologist article says “94 percent of Millennials consider career development to be the main reason for choosing and staying at a company.” You don’t have to be a math wiz to know 94% is really close to 100 and that $30.5 billion annually is a really big number! Can your company risk potentially losing half of a big group of its workforce, in just the next year? So why not invest in your team and offer individual coaching? It could be the difference between growing great talent, already in your organization, or spending your time sorting through a mountain of resumes. Request a free (that’s a good ROI BTW!) consult today!

How can IT leaders benefit from coaching?

Let’s face it, as IT pros, we’re not exactly known for our outgoing personalities. When you hear the term prima donna an image of someone you worked with comes to mind. If no one comes to mind there may be a change your face is the image in someone else’s mind. On the other side of the spectrum is the IT person who part vampire. The closest they will ever come to a suntan is created by the glow of their multiple monitor setup. They work with the lights off and the last thing they want is to have to talk to someone. Somewhere in between these two personalities is the IT pro that wants to grow personally, and professionally. The problem they run into is if they’re in a group of techies, who will spend time with them to help them grow? How many times have you seen a high performing team member get promoted into a position of leadership? How many of them were terrible leaders? It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone because no one was there to help prepare them for what was coming. Once they get into leadership there is usually no one there to help them either. Now you have lost the output of the high performer, their team is underperforming, and as a leader their performance is a disaster. Cue the coach! Coaching can help the leader identify a set of objectives and develop an action plan to grow in their strengths and make sure they are addressing any career limiters. Prima donnas and vampires can benefit from coaching, too, they just have to be ready to make the transformation into becoming someone you would place in front of your boss, or your customers. So why not take the first step, and click the button below, to book a free consultation to see how coaching can help you?

What is Coaching?

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Coaching is one of those terms people use, in a variety of contexts, and apply very different meaning to it. Outside of the sports world, coaching is frequently preceded with “life”, “executive”, “business”, or “health”. In each of these cases, the coach works with an individual, or a group, to take steps to overcome some issue. The issue might be dealing with stress, growing your leadership, starting a business, or losing weight. The coach will typically take 1 of 2 approaches to helping the client. The first approach is the coach shows the client how they can be successful, based on the coach’s experience. This can be effective, but a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for every client. If I tell a client I lost 10 pounds by eating Subway sandwhiches every day, that will work for some people, but what about the people who have a different metabolism than I do? How does that approach help the people who won’t go into a Subway at all? The second approach, is for the coach to help the client develop their own plan. I believe this approach works well, because the client is more likely to be invested in a plan they create for themselves. The coach is there to ask questions to help the client consider their options and formulate action steps that will help them accomplish their objective. If you’re an IT professional wanting to develop as a leader, or wanting to grow your leadership, why not work with a coach to help make that transformation?

Click the button below to schedule a free consultation.