Tag Archives: Leadership Tips

Urgent Is The Enemy Of Important

After a few months in business of rather full days,  clients all over the globe (meaning somewhere, someone is always awake, wanting something) and looming deadlines, I’m discovering that the urgent is the enemy of the important.

What’s important is the innovation, the development and getting things out the door.  What’s urgent is the situation that pops up that demands immediate attention, but means that for someone, or some people, the innovation and development cease.

Seth Godin wrote a great piece on how to tell if the urgent is King in your day: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2005/08/hurry.html

The solution? Make room for the urgent in your day – but don’t let it take your day. Plan in time for the important – and stick to it like glue.  If the urgent always gets the front seat soon there won’t be a product to be urgent over.

 

 

Less Aggression Please!

Ladies.

This one is mostly for you – but trust me the men will benefit too.  Unfortunately it’s something though that only a woman can say to a woman.

Aggression does not equal strength.  Bitchiness does not equal business savvy.

Somewhere along the road many of us found that business can be a man’s world, and a quick route to getting our way is to be an all-out hard-nosed fire-breathing force to be reckoned with.

Somewhere along the road we forgot the unique gifts we bring to the table as women and lost our femininity.  But aggressive behavior is just an easy way through a tough environment, stripping us of our strengths and appeal.

Managing fairly but firmly, keeping an eye on what is best for the individuals without ever losing sight of what is best for the company, understanding situations through discernment and bringing creative solutions, charming clients whilst sticking to our guns, juggling the push and pull of finances without ever losing control of the bottom line – these are to name a few areas that we excel in as women.  None of these areas – nor any others for that matter – are better managed with the fire-and-brimstone act.

It’s also a sure-fire way to stay single… or to end up that way.

I’m not talking about meekness and submission, but embracing your femininity and using your skills to your advantage.  Let your confidence be in knowing you know what you’re talking about, that you’ve been here before, that you CAN run this company.

Not in proving you can shout the loudest.

 

 

Say It To My Face

Ah the power of email.

You can scream, swear, call your mother names, demand my way IN CAPITAL LETTERS and write threatening things I’d never dream of saying – all without the risk of you leaning over and punching me in the face.

 

Ah the power of text.

You can break-off long term relationships, fire me, address that ‘thing about me that has always driven you crazy’ call off plans last-minute or apologise that you stood me up – all without having to face the disappointment in my eyes.

 

Ah the power of twitter, facebook and the like.

You can pride yourself in all the relationships you have, the people in high places who retweet your tweet, like your facebook post and comment on your holiday photos– all without having to spend a single moment putting any true effort in to those relationships.

There is and will always be value in the face to face.  No matter how “connected” we are, nothing ever takes the place looking someone in the eye.  Harder though it may be, it’s how relationships – the ones that last in life, in business, in love – are built.

So go on – say it to my face.

What’s Weighing You Down?

personal development, relationships, leadership

Flip Flippen (his name – really!) recently tweeted that “We all have constraints. What is important is that you’re not the same person, constrained by the same things, year after year”.

I’ve had to recently look at my life as new additions (husband & job) meant that a ‘spring clean’ of my plans and habits was in order.  Painful.  Just the accumulated hours of television watching over a week makes me cringe.

More than just time poorly spent though are the habits – actions & reactions – that weigh me down and hold me back.

Image the one thing that you know is your greatest weakness.  Not chocolate (unless it really is a struggle and harming your health!), but a real weakness.  Now imagine life without it.  Imagine how it hurts the people in your world and how making a change would benefit them.  Or how it hurts you, and making a change would benefit you.  Or both.

Try working on just that one thing.  Don’t try to quit smoking as well, or lose weight, or cut out sugar and alcohol.  Don’t overwhelm yourself to the point of defeat.  Just face this one weakness, knowing you are absolutely able to defeat this if you truly put your mind to it, and go for it.  Give it up, let it go, stop.

I will if you will.

 

Life Is More Than A Checklist

Why is it that we often find our greatest sense of accomplishment in simply ‘getting lots of things done’?

I’m a ‘make-it-happen’ person, which is a wonderful skill, but also can be my downfall.  Last week, my first week in my new job, I managed to not only get up early for the gym every morning, but book myself out every night, and all weekend.  Priding myself on good health and a steely determination I didn’t question that I could pull the week off. Why though?

Sometimes life is full, granted.  But sometimes I make life full unnecessarily, leaving no time for creativity to blossom, for reflection, for contemplation.  One thing I’ve learned, though I have to constantly remind myself, is that more is accomplished in an hour of contemplation than in a week’s worth of checklists.  Not chanting ‘om’ or assuming the lotus position necessarily, but allowing your mind to clear, to wade through the mess of surface thoughts and dive down in to where your genius lays.  And yes, we all have genius within us.

Try it.  Book an hour in to your diary for a date with you.  Put away your phone, your iPad, your laptop and all the other devices that grab for your attention, and allow yourself to be quiet and just think.

I promise you’ll be amazed at what you are capable of.

 

Influence

‘Influence’ is a buzz word at the moment.  Online influence and how to measure it are very hot topics, but what does day to day influence look like?

It’s a well known fact that people buy in to people before vision.  If you’re wondering why your team aren’t coming alongside you in your adventure towards your goals consider the example you set.  Whilst I’m no expert, here’s a couple things I have found helped significantly:

  • write the vision down and make it clear.  give tangible goals that your team can engage with
  • encourage often
  • care.  ask questions and then actually listen to the answers; ask about what matters to them (yes you’ll have to find that out)
  • maintain a transparent approach to conflict resolution.  if it’s not working, talk about it
  • communicate, communicate, communicate

Nothing earth-shattering but often forgotten.

Look around you – is anyone with you on your journey, or are you just out taking a walk?

The Princess And The Process


Creative Commons License photo credit: Roebot

I am a self-confessed process junkie.  Love the stuff.  Anything that takes longer than 30 seconds I am convinced there must be a process for to make it go faster.

Process is what Happy Endings are made of.  Creating process, taking vision for the future and carving a way, makes the pauper in to a princess.  And if you’re really good, process can make you a linchpin.

Not convinced?  Check out this excerpt from the Harvard Business Review post “The Right CEO Personality for Process Improvement”

“As I think about companies that compete on consistent, low cost, reliable operations, most have or had leaders who were process innovators, such as Herb Kelleher at Southwest Airlines, Sam Walton at Wal-Mart, Ray Kroc at McDonalds, Jeff Bezos at Amazon.com, and Fred Smith at FedEx. Before he was co-CEO at Citigroup, John Reed came out of IT and operations. In companies where process excellence is a competitive advantage, he’s the kind of candidate CEO that more boards should be looking for. Boards need to ensure that an operations orientation is a key criterion for succession planning in organizations where process improvement is a strategic imperative.”  – Brad Power

Process can seem like it could be constricting, controlling, imagination-less.  In actual fact it frees you from the hamster wheel of doing twice as much due to a lack of process.  Once you streamline your product, your service offering, your internal strategy, you in return gain the freedom (and time) to be truly creative.

Haste

Golden Gate

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.  ~Lao Tzu

If it’s the right career decision, you won’t need to make it this minute no matter how urgent the offer (well, more often than not).

I excel at gettings things done.  My last boss called me the ‘relentless implementer’ or something along those lines.  It’s a good skill.  Yet I can get so accustomed to making fast, decisive calls and moving on them that it is easy to forget that there’s always time.

Now I’m not suggesting you mull over every decision however big or small for days on end, but if it’s your career, your company, your equity, your reputation there’s always time. If  your head is spinning and you feel pressured (from within or out) to make a decision just breathe, get a cup of coffee and count back from 10.  The greatest of my wrong decisions have always been in haste.

Creative Commons License photo credit: h.koppdelaney

The Writing’s On The Wall (Unless you get it in writing)

“‘The writing on the wall’- an idiom, is a portent of doom or misfortune. It originates in the Biblical book of Daniel—where supernatural writing foretells the demise of the Babylonian Empire” – Wikipedia

I’ve never known any business venture (in my admittedly rather young career but nonetheless) to at some point not struggle when the ground rules are not put in writing.

People change.  People leave.  People forget.

However painful it may seem to put contracts and written agreements in place in your 2-man operation, you’ll be grateful later when one wants out and suddenly a whole host of problems arise.  Who owns what?  Who works for whom?  Who worked harder, longer, more often and is there such thing as ‘sweat equity’ in our agreement?

It may seem laborious now, but when the writing is on the wall for you and your business partner, your business, your boss, your suppliers, your landlord, and all the copious other relationships that can go awry, you’ll be thankful you got it in writing.

The People-Pleasing Disease

Maybe it starts at school, or maybe it comes from getting ice cream when you do good things.

Who knows, but many of us are plagued most of our adult lives with the people-pleasing disease.

It’s easy to catch and hard to cure.

When I was gigging (in my youth : ) I discovered that the key to not constantly being deflated is to not focus on the one person scowling whilst the other 99 clap and enjoy themselves.  Funny how something in us can’t let go of the one person who just doesn’t like us.

In online/digital promotion there is a rule of thumb; 10% will love you, 10% will hate you, and 80% will be positive in sentiment.  The key is to not drain your resources and energy on the 10% that will never be happy.  Acknowledge them, thank them for their feedback and move on.

I’m convinced that if we take the same rule of thumb and apply it to our lives things would be much more straight forward.  If we factor in 10%  of the people in our worlds to never be our greatest fans, then maybe we can embrace their place as just that – the 10% – and focus on the other 10% who ARE our greatest fans, and the 80% who “Like me  – Yes they really like me  (Sally Field).

Or possibly it’s something deeper in learning to set my own expectations of myself, to decide for myself what is my best, and hold myself accountable to my own standards, not someone elses’.  The only real obstacle between me and greatness isn’t my critic but myself.

Or, possibly, it’s a deep-down desire simply to please people in hopes of getting more ice cream.  If in fact that is the case, I’d suggest you just buy your own.