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How Quality Leaders Get Out of the Way

How Quality Leaders Get Out of the Way

(Note – this is a 2017 summer addition ‘best of the best’ blog from the archive.) Leaders Prioritize – Leaders Respond Recently, a friend was in some slow moving employment contract negotiations. There was no animosity and both sides were excited that the contract was offered. After the initial flurry of emails that led to the offer, the employer became very slow to respond to emails when the fine-tuning negotiating started. The employer would send an email. My friend would respond in a few hours and then days would go by before she would hear back from them. It turns out, most of the time, the gentleman representing the employer was travelling or waiting for more information before getting back to her. Both are perfectly normal reasons for not having a decision right away but no excuse for not sending a short email, letting her know why he couldn’t provide the decision in a timely manner. In the silence, my friend was growing more and more stressed that the employer was going to back out of the contract. In reality, that was not the case at all. In the end, it all worked out but in the process, considerable time and energy, and a little respect were lost. Had the employer acknowledged the receipt of the corresponding emails and either responded with an answer or mentioned when he would get back with a proper response, the trust and respect level would have remained high while eliminating unnecessary anxiety. If he could not write a complete answer to the email in an appropriate time, a simple one-line explanation why and...
How to Make Yourself Indispensable

How to Make Yourself Indispensable

(Note – this is a 2017 summer addition ‘best of the best’ blog from the archive.) In today’s outsourcing, downsizing, volatile economy, people are more worried than ever about losing their job, no matter the position they hold. Here is one way to make it less likely you will lose your job and even if you do, this practice will greatly help you move on to your next job or a freelance career. The late, great personal development expert, Zig Zigular, famously said “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” Too often, we find ourselves living in the world of ME, with constant thoughts of how is this going to help ME, what have they done for ME, and I need to cover my ass so it doesn’t affect ME. Well, I am here to tell you, you are not as important as you want to believe. So, stop worrying about ME and focus on how you can help others. By shifting your thoughts and subsequent actions to always look for a way to help others, you start making yourself indispensable. You can even learn a great deal along the way. By constantly helping those above you get what they want, they will directly see the value you offer and become an advocate for you, potentially defending your position when the next downsizing rotation comes around. You are providing them support in order to earn your way up. This is fine because you are earning it! Think of everything you do for others as an investment in your...
8 Ways to Create Pride within a Team

8 Ways to Create Pride within a Team

Before I get to this weeks post I thought I would let you know daughter #3 finally did come into this world last Sunday, July 9. Here is Aspen Stratton in her 2-day old passport photo.   (Note – this is a 2017 summer addition ‘best of the best’ blog from the archive.) When pride is present at work, it inspires individuals and teams to achieve more, communicate better, and build upon each other’s strengths. When it’s not present, it can get ugly, really ugly. Most successful teams carry a high level of pride to the work they do and whom they do it with. But as a leader, how do you create pride within a team. Surely it is not a given any time a team forms to take on a significant goal. Pride for a team or organization has to deliberately be developed and massaged by the leadership. It comes from a conscious effort and genuine love of the team and its purpose. Pride helps people enthusiastically do their job and get through hard times. I always saw that developing pride within an expedition team was an integral part of my role as an expedition leader. During the extended backcountry expeditions I led, I would be getting my clients and students to regularly push their comfort zone mentally and physically while challenging their tolerance for adversity and uncertainty. No, these moments didn’t happen every day but when they did come about I needed the team members to feel the pride in what they were trying to accomplish and who they were doing it with to launch themselves...
Update – On The Move… Again With A New Addition

Update – On The Move… Again With A New Addition

Summer is here and it is time for a short update before the summer ‘Best Of’ blog schedule kicks in next week. As I write this, my wife is 6 days overdue with our third child. It is a very exciting time and waiting is driving all of us a little nuts. She will come soon enough, when she is ready. It has been a year since I have written a short update on the life of Shawn. In my last update, we (the family) were about to leave Calgary and visit family and friends in St. John’s before moving to Oxford, England for a year. It is hard to believe our year in Oxford is just about up and we are about to be on the move again. It has been a wonderful year in England. Wanting to invest in more experiences and less stuff we have been able to travel extensively around the U.K. and a little in Ireland, mainland Europe and the Middle East. We have survived a year without owning a car and put many miles on our bikes with the kid trailer. The kids now have cute English accents and we have enjoyed making friends from around the world who are living here. We are excited to be moving back to Canada and a new city for us, Ottawa. With Alexandra’s medical training now finished we are looking to put down some roots in Ottawa and make it our home for the foreseeable future. I have many exciting business plans for the fall that will allow me to add more value to help you...
When Team ‘Storming’ Has Gone Too Far

When Team ‘Storming’ Has Gone Too Far

Working with Opposites: Focus on the Behaviour and not the Personality A couple of years ago, I wrote about managing the ‘Storming’ phase of Team Development and to-date it has been one of my most popular posts so I have decided to address the topic again. In this post I discuss how to detect that storming has gone too far, hindering productive team growth and potentially causing lasting damage. I will also discuss leading your team out of unproductive storming. [Related Post: Now, You’re Storming: Managing the Storming Phase of Team Development] If you are not familiar with psychologist Bruce Tuckman’s popular theory on the stages of group development, i.e. Forming,  Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning, please read my previous post on the topic linked above. When to Step In… The storming phase, when team members are no longer trying to just “fit in,” they are now trying to establish themselves within the group, is a natural progression that most teams go through. But can the ‘storming’ get out of control? Yes, absolutely. Like a parent with two fighting kids, there comes a time when you need to step in before someone gets really hurt. Protecting values, defending options, resisting change and struggling to establish norms are all commonplace in the storming phase. Most adult groups with an effective leader can work through these issues without too much resentment, hurt feelings and lost productivity. In fact, weathering out the storming phase with little leader intervention usually makes the team closer, stronger and more trustworthy in the end. Gone Too Far How can you tell when storming has gone too...
Why Now Might NOT Be the Best Time to Resolve a Conflict

Why Now Might NOT Be the Best Time to Resolve a Conflict

This week, I address another conflict resolution question that came from an audience member at a recent presentation. “Is it a good tactic to avoid the conflict while the things cooled down and talk about it later with a clear and open mind to others position?” I believe the person is suggesting the ‘conflict resolution’ session be ‘avoided’ until things cooled down and not the conflict should be avoided. I don’t believe any conflict should be avoided, good or bad. It should always be managed, which may involve some type of intervention if it escalates. [Related: 5 Tips to Manage the Storming Phase of Group Development] As I was attempting to facilitate the resolution of a conflict between two clients, Mike and Frank, I had on a wilderness expedition it became clear to me this was not the right time. The conflict had been brewing for a few days and was gradually escalating in intensity. Their behavior was starting to affect the whole team, making everyone feel uncomfortable when Mike and Frank were around each other. As the leader, I knew their behavior couldn’t go on if our team was going to perform at its best, which would be needed to achieve our lofty goals. I wanted to resolve the conflict so I brought the two guys together to run through a conflict resolution model (download a detailed description of the model). The first step in the exercise is the Ventilation stage, where both parties have an opportunity to vent all their frustrations by detailing the exact effect that other person’s behavior is having on them. It is important...
7 Ways to Manage Conflicts with your Boss

7 Ways to Manage Conflicts with your Boss

In a recent conflict resolution webinar that I was presenting to 1400 project managers, I had several people ask me the same type of question: how do you manage the conflict when your manager’s poor leadership skills are a significant source of the conflict? One thing is for sure: it’s not fun having a manager with poor leadership skills. I once worked for a director who was a poor leader and it was disheartening, especially when I would speak with other employees of the company and hear how great their director was to work for. My disgruntled feeling working for this director had nothing to do with the company. I actually loved the organization. If my contract had not ended, I don’t think I would have stayed at the company much longer if I had to continue working under that director. If at the time I had known of the skills listed below for working with poor managers, my time could have been much productive and enjoyable. I was clearly headed down the road to live up to the saying ‘People don’t leave companies, they leave managers.’ But what if you don’t want to or are not in a position to leave the company and your best option is to stick it out with this manager? If you find yourself dealing with a difficult boss, some of these tips should help you alleviate a part of the conflict and stress that the boss has created. This is often referred to ‘managing up’. 1.    Be Sure About the Real Issue In any conflicting situations, it is essential you look all...
Don’t Lose Respect this Way!

Don’t Lose Respect this Way!

You have cleared your schedule, did your preparation, made arrangements for others to cover what you are supposed to be doing during the time, and drove in traffic for an hour to get there. As you get out of the car, you get a text on your phone saying they had to cancel the meeting that was due to start in 10 minutes. Just about nothing frustrates me more than wasted time and resources. (The one thing that may get to me, even more, is the complete meltdown my kids throw as we try to head out the door, but that is a topic for another day.) When my time and resources are wasted, I start plucking out any hair that’s left in my head in frustration. If you commit to a meeting time and place DON’T CANCEL IT! If you are at all concerned about the value of the meeting and wonder if you should cancel, you may want to download my The 7-Step Blueprint for Meetings That Actually Add Value! PDF. Outside of an emergency, the only time you should cancel is well in advance of the meeting date. Few excuses would be acceptable for a late cancellation of a meeting. If you do have to cancel… If you do have to cancel you had better, be clear and transparent to why. This is not a good time to gloss over your reason for the cancellation. You have already frustrated the attendees and now you risk losing their respect. The one way to hold on to any sort of respect for a late meeting cancellation is to...
How Quality Leaders Get Out of the Way

How Quality Leaders Get Out of the Way

Leaders Prioritize – Leaders Respond Recently, a friend was in some slow moving employment contract negotiations. There was no animosity and both sides were excited that the contract was offered. After the initial flurry of emails that led to the offer, the employer became very slow to respond to emails when the fine-tuning negotiating started. The employer would send an email. My friend would respond in a few hours and then days would go by before she would hear back from them. It turns out, most of the time, the gentleman representing the employer was travelling or waiting for more information before getting back to her. Both are perfectly normal reasons for not having a decision right away but no excuse for not sending a short email, letting her know why he couldn’t provide the decision in a timely manner. In the silence, my friend was growing more and more stressed that the employer was going to back out of the contract. In reality, that was not the case at all. In the end, it all worked out but in the process, considerable time and energy, and a little respect were lost. Had the employer acknowledged the receipt of the corresponding emails and either responded with an answer or mentioned when he would get back with a proper response, the trust and respect level would have remained high while eliminating unnecessary anxiety. If he could not write a complete answer to the email in an appropriate time, a simple one-line explanation why and when to expect the response would be the appropriate thing to do. Get Out of the...
How to Make Yourself Indispensable

How to Make Yourself Indispensable

In today’s outsourcing, downsizing, volatile economy, people are more worried than ever about losing their job, no matter the position they hold. Here is one way to make it less likely you will lose your job and even if you do, this practice will greatly help you move on to your next job or a freelance career. The late, great personal development expert, Zig Zigular, famously said “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” Too often, we find ourselves living in the world of ME, with constant thoughts of how is this going to help ME, what have they done for ME, and I need to cover my ass so it doesn’t affect ME. Well, I am here to tell you, you are not as important as you want to believe. So, stop worrying about ME and focus on how you can help others. By shifting your thoughts and subsequent actions to always look for a way to help others, you start making yourself indispensable. You can even learn a great deal along the way. By constantly helping those above you get what they want, they will directly see the value you offer and become an advocate for you, potentially defending your position when the next downsizing rotation comes around. You are providing them support in order to earn your way up. This is fine because you are earning it! Think of everything you do for others as an investment in your personal development. Clear a path for those above you to create an eventual path for yourself....