Sunday, April 27, 2008

Great leaders need to win

Take a look at the great leaders in history and you'll get to see a common trait. They all find a way to win or achieve their goal. Some did this over a relatively short time while others spent years grinding away to eventually find the right formula.

What is interesting is that these leaders wouldn't accept defeat, sure they had set-backs and some took different approaches, but the thing they had to show us was their perseverance to come out the other side having met their goal.

Next time it's us in the box seat, even though we have carefully considered the options and explained our vision to the team - when things go wrong we need to take a leaf from these leadership hero's and take another look at the problem, consider some alternative options and most of all we need to be prepared to try and try again until we emerge with the solution.

The tough part of this is to maintain our winning attitude, yes we may have some problems along the way, we need to learn from inspire our team to move forward with next option and keep the team focused on the goal. If we fail to maintain this positive attitude then the team will waiver and our efforts will be dramatically reduced.

When you're the leader, hold your head up high and take your winning attitude with you and you'll make those goals.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Are you empowered?

Are you in a position to be the leader? One of the great limitations to stop us taking control and leading in our position is our feeling of empowerment. Does your organisation make sure you know that you're empowered to take the lead. Are you confident that regardless of the outcome you will be supported.

Your empowerment is one of the cornerstones for you to feel confident to take your leadership to the next level. People who do not feel empowered will either withdraw into their shell and treat the situation as if they are just a number doing their job, others will become disillusioned and leave the job to find an environment where they gain the empowerment they need, so they are able to act in the leadership role they seek.

How do you know when you're empowered to be the leader you can? Talk with your boss your supervisor, do they give you the feeling that they will support you? Are they prepared to let you do your thing without meddling? Are they prepared to step back and not micro-manage you and your efforts to get the job done? Hopefully the answer to all these questions make you feel the confidence that they will let you do your best to lead.

Perhaps you're feeling a little vulnerable, if that's the case why not ask your boss/supervisor to act as your mentor, you'll quickly find out how much they want you to succeed by offering to take time to spend with you. Mentoring is a great way to walk and talk through situations with a more experience person and get feedback on the good and not-so-good so you can learn to be the best leader you can.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Honesty the best policy

Well what a long week! I had the misfortune to be caught in the mass groundings of planes across the United States. The one shiny light was a young man who demonstrated some great leadership to those of us stranded. Let me recount what started as a straight-forward trip.

Sitting in the lounge relaxing, I've been though the fun of checking my luggage to my overseas destination I have my boarding passes in hand, an hour to wait for the first leg from Chicago to LA at 6:00 pm, with two hours to change to my international flight. Here I come home sweet home. Around 5:00 pm most of the flights suddenly come up as cancelled and we all rush to the service desk - feels a bit like a rush to get into the football finals. After years of practice at the said football games I get to the front of the queue and am lucky enough to get another flight leaving at 7:00 pm.

With this small hick-up behind me I board my new flight all set to go, surprise surprise we are delayed another 20 minutes - getting tight for my connection in LA, but I'm confident I can make it. We taxi out and then sit as a lightning storm comes across O'Hare airport closing all the runways for about 30 minutes.

"This is your Captain speaking" starts the announcement, our co-pilot doesn't have enough flying hours left to take us to LA we need to return to the terminal and get another co-pilot, so back we head to the terminal. Eventually we taxi back and the airline staff come on board.

Ladies and gents we don't have another co-pilot for this type of plane in the area and we will have to wait for one to fly in from another city! A hundred plus passengers groan in unison. After this announcement we were escorted from the plane to wait.

The one silver lining in this whole debacle was this young man from the airline who every 30 odd minutes gave us an update on what was happening. While the message was not one we wanted to hear, at least we knew what was going on. Sure there were upset passengers and about 20 of us who would miss our on-going flights.

To cut a long story short we eventually took off well after 1:00 am the next morning. Arriving very early in LA the airline representative bundled us off into a corner and advised us to wait. Lucky us some four hours later they eventually came up with a plan what to do with each of us who were stranded. In the four hours we sat around we had 3 contradicting stories and the staff continually wandered off. By the end of the four hours the group was very upset and hostile towards the staff and the airline. Yes I did get home - just a day late!

On reflection if our hosts in LA had of taken the initiative, shown some leadership and kept us informed as our host in Chicago had, we would have been in a much better frame of mind and maybe more accepting of our predicament.

What can we take away from this? When things go bad, whether its our fault or not. We need to take stock of the situation and talk to the people involved and tell them how it is and show them how you are taking steps to correct the issue and make things right.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The easiest leadership style to adopt - The Self-Confident Leader

We often here and see so much information on leadership styles and wonder what style suits us? Actually, probably several will fit you. As you want to improve your leadership style, this style is by far the easiest to make big inroads in a short space of time. It will still require you to be bold and take a plan of action but you will see most of us can relate to this style.

So what are we talking about when we say a "Self-Confidence" style of leadership? We are talking about your style that is probably most prevalent. A self-confident leadership style exist when we are acting as a leader in an area where we are confident we know much of the situation through support and learning or through the recognition of natural talent.

To recognise a leader utilising this style consider the following:

Do they follow a passion for that field,
Are they positive in their behaviour in this area,
Always supportive of others who seek knowledge or help in this field,
They want to build a point of difference in their expertise in this area, and
They speak out when required.

I expect we all know people who are like this and now you're aware, sit back and watch and you'll see people follow their lead. Notice as these guys are in their realm they are happy and positive and this is very infectious to those around them. These guys are acting as leaders in this area, of course many are not the managers or team leaders they're a regular person like you or me. However they are acting as Self-confident Leaders.

What is your area or expertise, what is the area you're most passionate about, this is the time for you to spring from these areas - the areas your confident in, and show your leadership potential. Speak out to ensure things are done right, help others learn about this area, be positive in your actions and talk then before you now it, you'll see others following your lead in this area. Give it a go and look to see your supporters lining up to help you.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Your expectations on where to find Leadership

An interesting experience the other day had me to consider - where do we expect to find Leadership in action in our business dealings.

I have a customer who had presented me with a project that had few unique requirements, this caused me to set out and find the manager of a different department. After some investigation I finally tracked down the person and set up a meeting to work out how we could collaborate to satisfy the customers requirements.

So I briefed the guy on the project requirements and clarified if this was the right area to fulfill these additional packets of work, to my disappointment he straight out said - No way we can't do this! I asked for him to explain why he couldn't do this, well firstly our schedule doesn't fit, and we've never done it this way before, plus I'll end up with more work for my team and on and on... some hours later after offering to adjust the schedule, provide the facilities, purchase additional equipment, this guy was still adamant that this project was not going to happen.

Feeling like I was stuck in a time warp, I asked the question, How do your customers access your services then? Well first they submit this application from the Web page and supply funding approval, we'll allocate someone to the job, raise a schedule and then we tell the customer when we can deliver. What if I fill out this application and I provide funding will the job be accepted, sure! provided you fill out the application from the web page and tell us how to complete the billing from your department, and don't forget to tell us when you need delivery on the application form.

Suddenly I had the solution and my customer demands could be satisfied.

Funny that I went to see the guy thinking he would want to collaborate to please this customer with a seamless solution, when in fact I would have been better off to sit in office and compile the application on the web like an external customer.

Now I look back I can see that I had an expectation of this other person purely by his position. I had expected that once I had briefed this guy on the customer requirements he would have assisted me to satisfy our shared customer. What I got was a person caught up in routine and processes.

I guess this demonstrated to me that people in our hierarchy don't necessarily display many leadership characteristics, and it also tells us that we don't need to be in the management tree to think and act as a leader providing unique, flexible and creative solutions.