Team Success Depends on Everyone

Chef cooking over a fire. A good chef knows how to use each ingredient for the best dish. team success.WARNING! DON’T READ THIS WHILE YOU ARE HUNGRY! There are going to be a lot of food references here but they all have a point. It leads to what it can teach us about team success.

You ever watch any of the cooking competition shows on television, like Iron Chef America? In that particular show, chef contestants are given the same set of ingredients and asked to make a meal. Not just a dish – a meal. Oftentimes, the ingredients they are given to use will seem totally mismatched with one another. Yet they are required to use each and every ingredient. They can add but they can’t subtract. A judging panel evaluates them on taste and how they incorporate everything.

Sometimes the chefs find it challenging incorporating all the ingredients into the meal. They may barely use one item and overuse another. And when that happens, they are marked down for it in the final result. The winners are usually the ones who effectively utilize each ingredient for optimum taste and contrast.

The Leader As Chef

In much the same way, as leaders we know that our greatest team success comes when we utilize everyone on the team. If we are lucky, we had a say in who exactly is on our team. We were able to hand pick them and choose them for the special talents and skills they can lend to the effort. It’s a beautiful thing when that happens.

On the other hand, more often than not we are like the Iron Chefs. We are given the team members and told to make something out of it. We might be able to add but we can’t subtract. So we have to figure out how each team member can best contribute to team goals. Our success depends on finding the right combination.

And it’s important that your team members understand that as well. The more they understand the importance of inclusion and the value of each team member, the better they can appreciate what each person brings to the table.

Potatoes and People

potato with straw hat and glasses in a pile of golden french fries. Use uniqueness for team success.Here’s a cool exercise you can use with your team or with a group of leaders to help them understand inclusion.  I learned this with leader training we use for teaching Boy Scoutsto be effective leaders. Try this sometime as a lead-in to a meeting or as an exercise in a training session.

  1. You are going to buy a bag of potatoes (or gather rocks) and call your team or company together.
  2. Hand each of them a potato (make a very solemn occasion of it.  adds to the fun!)
  3. Send everyone off by themselves for a couple of minutes and tell them to get to know their potato. They want to examine their potato and notice all of its unique characteristics. Give it a name if they wish.
  4. When they gather back, you are going to ask each of them to introduce their potato to rest of the group.  They can have a lot of fun with this – that’s all part of it. But they need to describe their potato as completely as they can, including its uniqueness.
  5. After everyone has introduced their potato to the group, collect all the potatoes back in a bag and then randomly redistribute them.  Then challenge everyone to find their unique potato.
It will be a lot of fun, but they will also learn something about Inclusion.

Using Both Diversity and Inclusion

We hear a lot about Diversity and Inclusion these days but they don’t naturally go together in most organizations.

Leaders learn to use diversity and inclusion for team success.

Diversity is all about recognizing and celebrating the differences in each of us.  No two potatoes are exactly alike; they have different shapes, different sizes, different textures and skin colors, and even the placement of the eyes. Yet each one is still a potato and still useful.

Inclusion means I can bring two or more potatoes together and even though each is a different size and shape and color; when I put them together they make a tasty meal.  With inclusion in the workplace, we take the differences in each of us; the different skills sets and strengths, different backgrounds and attitudes, and we learn how we combine them together to be most productive for the team or the organization.
Many organizations practice diversity (mostly as a public relations mandate) but don’t practice inclusion.  That’s a waste.  It’s a waste of human resources, financial resources, and time.
Why spend the money hiring and training someone you aren’t going to make an integral part of the whole? When we practice both diversity AND inclusion, then we have produced a team that is productive, effective, and profitable.

four ways to create your inclusive and productive team

  1. CONNECT WITH YOUR TEAM MEMBERS – As a leader, it’s very important that you connect with each person and get to know them well enough to understand their goals and their dreams.  What do they see as their strengths? What do they like to do? What do they don’t like to do?  Where do they see themselves fitting into the whole?  Listen carefully! A lot of times they may very well be right. For this part, it is more important to listen than to talk.
  2. IDENTIFY STRENGTHS – Start with an assessment.  There are lots of great ones out there, free and fee-based.  If you’re not sure, give me a call and I’ll help.  The important thing is you want to identify those strengths because that’s what we are looking to use.  You don’t want to worry about weaknesses except in terms of how we can complement that.
  3. BUILD A STRENGTHS-BASED TEAM – Build your team based on the strengths of each person complementing the weaknesses of other team members. This is where the real Iron Chef leader comes out of you. You may find you need additional strengths you don’t have on your team. You may find you have too much of a particular strength. Still, you have to find a way to utilize all of it for optimum team success.
  4. FOSTER CONTINUOUS GROWTH – You want to build a mindset in your team for continuous growth and improvement of their strengths.  Continuous personal growth allows them to take the strengths that they have and making them stronger.  As a result, they will be more effective for the organization and happier. Your teams are going to be more cohesive, more productive, and you are going to see the results in your bottom-line.
Trying to get started as your own Iron Chef team builder? Are you frustrated with the challenges to being a leader? Looking to move you and your team up to the next level? Schedule a free Discovery Strategy Sessionwith me TODAY!
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The Decisive Leader has impact and influence

Making a decision can seem like the world in falling down on us.Have you ever let a pending decision freeze you? You know a choice has to be made. All of the options have pros and cons associated with them. You feel like EVERYTHING is hinging on this one decision you need to make. What do you do? The decisive leader knows how to make critical decisions and acts in the best interest of the team.

It seems one of the most difficult and terrifying things we do as an individual or a leader is making decisions.  In the background is this agonizing thought that somehow the decision we make is going to send us irrevocably in the wrong direction and it will lead to disaster.  

Over time, we find that it’s just not true. There will almost always be a way to recover.

Frozen by Fear

Why do we get that way? What is it about making a decision that can seize us up? To understand that more, let’s first understand three of the decision maker types that lead to mistakes.

  1. Snap Decision-makers who take immediate action because they think they need to act quickly. They fail to explore options or gather information before making a decision. They go on initial gut instinct. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t.  When it doesn’t work, it can be disastrous.
  2. Deliberative Decision-makers want to make sure they weigh all the options and have ALL the information before making a decision.  The problem is you will NEVER have all the information and often if you deliberate too long you can miss valuable opportunities. In fact, sometimes collecting too much data complicates decision making. We get “paralysis by analysis”.
  3. Never Decision-makers are ones who don’t ever make a decision. They feel the weight and importance of every decision. As mentioned earlier, they feel that everything is crucial and they fear the wrong decision. So they (often intentionally) don’t make the decision. Of course, not making a decision IS a decision and one that almost ALWAYS leads to disaster.

“Inability to make decisions is one of the principal reasons executives fail. Deficiency in decision-making ranks much higher than lack of specific knowledge or technical know-how as an indicator of leadership failure.”   -John Maxwell

The Decisive Leader

Cartoon of keynote speaker in 'be decisive' seminar, although speaker himself is indecisive.Being a decisive leader doesn’t always mean that you are the only one who can decide. Don’t fall into that trap! It’s what ties even the most decisive person up in knots and can lead to poor decision making.

It does mean, however, that you know when decisions need to be made and you influence having them made at the right time

The good news is that there ARE ways to make better decisions and make them faster and easier.  It will never be easy, but it can be easier.  And it starts with applying three keys.

Know your core values

Core values are the principles that determine who you are and what you are about above all else. Core values are the soul of the individual or organization. Your core values are unshakable – no matter what you will always reflect these values in everything you do.

They also help establish the non-negotiables. These are the things you will not give up or change no matter what changes around you. 

For a decisive leader, core values tell them which options to take off the table and which remain viable. If it violates a core value, it simply isn’t under consideration.

“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”  –Roy Disney

Here’s a key tip on core values. If they aren’t written down somewhere, you don’t really know your core values.  You want to have them written down where you can refer to them again and again.  Another advantage of core values is discussed here.

focus on your purpose or intent

You have likely heard of the book by Simon Sinek titled Start With Why. In the book, Sinek talks about how purpose – our why – drives what we do. When we look at our options and think about only about WHAT to do, it becomes strictly a balance sheet of pros and cons. Decision making can become harder, especially when the choice on the balance sheet just doesn’t FEEL right. 

The decisive leader knows that the best option is the one that matches up with our purpose or with the outcome we intended. it may not come out on the balance sheet, but it is more in line with who we are and what we are about. 

As you look at the options of a decision, examine each as to how they match up to BOTH your core values and your intent or purpose.  If they don’t match up to both, it is probably not the best option for you.

A while back I was approached with the opportunity to do a series of training programs. The opportunity would take time to develop and deliver yet would also be a good income generator. The challenge was that it was a subject matter I am not really expert on and it wasn’t really consistent with my focus area. On the other hand, as an entrepreneur, I don’t like to turn down money making opportunities when they come along. 

I said no. While the opportunity would not compromise any of my core values, it was not consistent with my purpose. Despite the chance to generate income, it was not consistent with my purpose.

seek wise counsel

Use wise counsel, such as an inner circle, to become a more decisive leaderBefore we talk about counsel keep in mind that every decision does not necessarily need to be made by you alone. The decisive leader knows when a collaborative or delegated decision is better than a command decision.

When the decision is yours alone that does not mean that other perspectives and feedback have to be excluded. In fact, the decisive leader takes advantage of the resources available to them to make better decisions. 

This is one of the advantages of having an Inner Circle. That’s a group of people you can rely on (and often they rely on you) for being a sounding board. They should have values similar to yours. You are confident in trusting opinions. They will not be “yes men” but will hold you accountable. Share your challenges and thoughts with them. Allow them to ask you questions.  They will then give you perspective and help you consider options. THE DECISION IS STILL YOURS TO MAKE! Yet wise counsel can help guide you in making better and more confident decisions.

Coaches make a very useful part of your inner circle. My motivation and purpose is to help you be successful. Schedule a free Discovery Strategy Sessiontoday and see how I can help you. or contact me atpsimkins(at)BoldlyLead.com  .

 

 

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nurturing employees Involves more than a paycheck

Is your organization living from paycheck to paycheck? I’m not asking how your financial ledgers are; I’m asking how your employee ledgers are. When the primary relationship with our employees is transactional we are shorting the ledger. Demand 40 (or often more) hours of work a week in exchange for a piece of paper with numbers on it or a direct deposit to the bank account. If we are not nurturing employees we are living paycheck to paycheck as surely as most of our employees are.

The Animal Nature of Nurture

trainer and killer whale. the relationship is similar to how we can be nurturing employeesOne of the benefits of living in Central Florida is all the attractions around here.  One of the attractions, of course, is Sea World.

Sherry and I love to watch the animal trainers work with the animals at Sea World. It’s really interesting how they can do so well with it.  There seems to be a very special relationship with the animal and many an animal trainer will tell you exactly that.

I discovered how they are able to work with them so effectively. I had the benefit of attending a special session with the some of the animal trainers at Sea World, including one of the whale trainers. They shared how they are able to create a level of predictability in performance when animal behavior can be so unpredictable.
When an animal trainer is going to work extensively with an animal, it is critical during a developmental time that the trainer spend one-on-one time with the animal.
  • They will feed the animal
  • They make physical contact
  • They talk to the animal and encourage it.

This nurturing, one-on-one time allows the animal and the trainer to build reciprocal trust.  The reciprocal trust and the nurturing that allow the trainer and animal to be able to work together effectively and safely.

Nurturing Employees as a Leader

If you want an engaged and productive workforce, you must include nurturing employees as a part of the relationship. It transforms the relationship from merely transactional to one of collaborative. It provides meaning and purpose to their job and not just a check. Without taking an employee beyond that transactional level, you will NEVER help them reach their fuller potential, when means they will never be as productive as they could be for you.

The Human Nature of Nurture

As humans we like to think we are different from the animals. We are more advanced, more sophisticated, more intellectual. And in many ways we are. However, in matters of emotions and needs, there are ways where we aren’t any different from the animals.  We need nurturing ourselves. Our desire for relationship supersedes all else and creates desires for more.
  • Our need to trust others and be trusted.
  • We are desperate for people to recognize that we are significant
  • For others to recognize that we have an impact.
  • We crave for them to encourage us
  • Our deep need for them to guide us.

As I have often said before, it’s all personal and it’s all emotional. If you keep it transactional your organization is living paycheck to paycheck. You can survive that way but it’s hard to really thrive.

Giving Nurture

The flip side is that we all have the ability to nurture other people, it doesn’t come out naturally.  It has to be intentional and it has to be developed over time.

Why would I want to bother to do that in a business environment or as a leader?

When you are able to nurture people, you are able to connect with people.  When you can connect with people, you can build influence with them.  When you can build your influence, then you can help them get the most out of themselves.  That’s what great leaders do. It’s the very nature of leadership: to get the most out of others.
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  -John Maxwell

Here’s some things you can do to build those nurturing relationships:

  1. COMMIT TO PEOPLE – you have to be committed to their development.  It doesn’t mean you are an enabler, it doesn’t mean that you take over their lives; it simply means that you provide the circumstances and that you are committed to helping them help themselves if they are willing to take the steps to go in the right direction.
  2. BELIEVE IN PEOPLE – If you don’t believe that they can become better or that they can achieve greater things, then you are not going to be able to get anything out of them because that belief will show through.  Whether you believe they are worthless or believe they are worthwhile, it will show through in everything you do.
  3. GIVE WITH NO CONDITIONS – Pour yourself into them and do it without setting any conditions.  A lot of people thing that giving is a reciprocal thing; I do something for you and you do something for me.  No conditions here.  Go in and pour yourself into them simply because you want to see them get the best out of themselves.  You will benefit in the long-run but you can’t go into it with the expectation of a tradeoff because there isn’t necessarily going to be one.

Build your relationship power! Develop the leader in you and see the profit in moving beyond the transactional relationship. Let’s work together to move you beyond paycheck to paycheck. Contact me today for a free Discovery Strategy Session.

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Having It All Together … Right!

You probably know someone who seems to always have it together.  They are everywhere and in everything. To the naked eye they always seem to excel at everything they do.  

There is no slowing down! Is there a committee? They’re on it. Have an event that needs organizing? Ready to go! They are raising 55 children and spent quality time with each of them. Working two full-time jobs. Volunteer at the local shelter. Raising money to fight some disease. Writing a book. And have the happiest spouse in the world.

Social media amplifies this picture. Not only do we get descriptions but also vivid pictures of their perfect life, perfect children, perfect job, and idyllic state of mind.

In reality, there are parts of their lives that are neglected. That’s not a maybe, it’s a certainty. The picture we see, often filled in with our own perceptions, is a flawed photo.  I exaggerated the description above intentionally because that’s what we often do when we think about those high achieving types. We make them bigger than they are. Then we compare ourselves to them, imagining that they have everything in their perfect life while our lives are hollow shells full of meaningless events and a cesspool of problems.  It’s unfair!

The law of sacrifice cannot be violated

It’s also unreal.  The truth is that people who seem to have it together are not living perfect lives.  They may be accomplishing more than we are right now, but that’s not because they have it all together.  It’s not because they are necessarily more talented than we are; in fact, often they may be less talented.  And they have problems too, they just don’t share them around as much as some others do. THEY KNOW THAT EVERY THOUGHT THAT HITS THEIR HEAD DOESN’T HAVE TO HIT SOCIAL MEDIA!

Applying the Law

But what they really have that helps them succeed is an good understanding and effective application of the Law of Sacrifice.  As one of my mentors John Maxwell says, “You must give up to go up“.  You have to let go of some things in order to have other better things.

That’s a scary prospect for many of us and perhaps even a little depressing.  When we think about the Law of Sacrifice or giving up, we picture big things.  We can become a CEO but our family life is non-existent. If we want to make a lot of money we have to get rid of our moral compass.

Again, it’s that penchant for exaggeration.  And it’s also good old resistance helping us find reasons to not make any changes.

Simplicity in the law of Sacrifice

Even a time turner can't save you from the Law of SacrificeIn truth, the Law of Sacrifice is actually pretty simple. It’s all about priorities. Every single one of us has the same 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week. Barring Hermione Granger passing down her Time Turner to us (which you can actually buy) we cannot change that restriction on our lives.

That being the case, we change what we can. If we can’t change time, we change how we invest our time. Most of what takes up our time aren’t major things, they are trivial things. Therefore, most of the sacrifices we have to make are not between two high priorities, but between a high priority and a low priority.

Giving Up Good for Better

You actually look at giving up lesser things in order to get greater things.  You sacrifice an hour of television time every day in order to read a personal growth book.  Give up a couple of free evenings each week to work on a master’s degree.  When you learn to really apply the Law of Sacrifice, what you are really doing is simply learning to

Say No to the Good So You Can Say Yes to the Best

My father excelled in the credit union business during his career.  He was President and CEO of several credit unions over the span of many years and also was a high demand consultant to credit unions nationwide for many years after that.  He was a pioneer in the industry. We have the largest ATM network in the country due to his efforts.

To get there, he had to spend long hours working. He gave up some evenings of watching TV to earn a GED and then a degree.  Yet, he was never an absentee husband or father.  He coached Drum Corps and Little League.  He was a Scoutmaster. We went on trips.  Dad was at dance recitals for my sister.  While there were sacrifices to reach the level he achieved the sacrifices were giving up lesser things to get those greater things.  He did not give up one great thing to achieve another. Was he perfect? Did he mess up the choices sometimes? Certainly. Yet he made the decision and honored the commitment.

Obey the Law and Love It

Know that you have to give up to go up. The Law of Sacrifice is alive and well and it is immutable.

Embrace that. While it sounds like you are being deprived you are actually being set free. When you apply the Law of Sacrifice and set your priorities it frees you from what isn’t a priority. When you shape your schedule around those things that are priorities, it frees you up to say no to scheduling lesser priorities.

Some laws are intended to provide liberty instead of tyranny. When you apply the Law of Sacrifice there will be hard choices to make. But the good news is that the choice is always yours.

do you have trouble finding clarity on your priorities? Not sure where to start? contact me today for a free discovery strategy session.

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This Multitasking Leader Comes to a Screeching Halt

About few years ago, my son and I were driving home from a Boy Scout meeting.  We turned through an intersection and proceeded a few hundred yards forward when I looked down to change the radio station.  At the same time, the car in front of me decided suddenly that they wanted to turn right into a parking lot and hit their brakes.  Lots of noise later, they have a beat up rear-end and my car is totaled.  Thankfully, no one was hurt. 

A Do Everything World

woman trying to multitask with two phonesWe all do it.  Folding laundry and watching TV.  Driving and changing the radio station.  Texting on your smartphone while talking to an employee.  Sitting in a meeting and sending an email.  Trying to do more than one thing at the same time because we don’t think there are enough hours in the day.  It’s called Multitasking and it is the biggest time waster of all!

Wait“, you might say, “multitasking is a critical part of functioning in work and life today!  How can you say that it is a time waster?

Because it is. The evidence is mounting and irrefutable.

And you need to stop.

The Overwhelming Case Against Multitasking

A multitasking leader may argue that multitasking is essential. You think you need to be able to do multiple things at once to get everything done. Too many hours per day are already spent at work, so you may believe that if you don’t multitask that you will spend even more time and get few things done.

But numerous research studies suggest that actually the opposite is true. It is BECAUSE you are multitasking that you aren’t getting things done! Here are some of the more recent studies and the conclusions they have made about why multitasking is detrimental.

  • You are MORE EASILY DISTRACTED. (Stanford Study)
  • Your MEMORY GETS WORSE. (same as above)
  • You become more ANXIOUS AND DEPRESSED (Plos One)
  • It actually makes you LESS EFFICIENT AND LOWERS PRODUCTIVITY (JOEP Vol. 27 Issue 4)
  • Evidence shows more mistakes are made when multitasking instead of focused work.

Your Bad Multitasking Self

The idea is that if we are multitasking then we are working on multiple things at the same time, juggling everything and keeping things going.  

But that’s not what happens.  In most cases what happens is it simply means that you are doing multiple things badly.

It doesn’t help that multitasking is encouraged by many employers today.  First, many companies advertise jobs where they specifically state in the job requirements that they want someone who can effectively multitask.  I guess my question is, how exactly do they measure that?  

Secondly, with layoffs and streamlining, employers tell the survivors they must learn to do more with less, which unfortunately includes less staff.  But not less work.  While they don’t explicitly say it, they expect you to pick up all the slack and still do it within the same time frames.  So your choices at either to put in twice as much time or “multitask”.

You are not Multitasking

multitasking in WindowsFurther, understand that what you are doing is not actually multitasking.  

It is actually just task-switching.  

What it reminds me of is the Microsoft Windows operating system on computers.  Early versions of Windows offered a way to jump between tasks. You could still only run one thing at a time, but you could jump between applications.  That was called task-switching. It wasn’t until later versions where Windows would allow you to actually run multiple applications at the same time.  

What we do when we allegedly multitask is the first one – we are simply task-switching.  Problem is, we aren’t a computer with an operating system designed to do that, so we have a lot more trouble than Windows did jumping from one task to another.  And that’s saying something.

Proof that multitasking takes longer

We are actually designed to focus on one thing at a time.  Again, lots of research to support this.  Health Magazine cites a 2013 University of Utah study that found the better you thought you were at multitasking, the worse you actually were.

However, you may believe you are an excellent multitasking leader. As I have presented this information to groups in the past, there many in the crowd who, despite the overwhelming evidence, maintain that they are an excellent multitasker.

Let’s put that to the test

This test is derived from Dave Crenshaw, author of The Myth of Multitasking

Part 1

  1. multitasking leader test part 1Get out a sheet of paper and lay it down so it is wider than it is high (landscape style).
  2. Draw four lines across the paper. 
  3. Get someone to time you on this. On the first line write “multitasking is a thief“. On the second line write the numbers 1-21. Record the time it took you to do both tasks one after the other. It should be about 30 seconds or less.

Part 2

  1. multitasking leader test part 2On the next two lines you will do the same thing, again being timed. 
  2. This time, you will write a letter on line 3 and then a number on line 4, then back to line 3 and another letter and then a number on line 4.
  3. Do this until done. Record your time.

You should find that A) it took you much longer, B) you likely made a mistake, and C) it was more stressful.

The Conclusion

In summary, you suck at multitasking.  

And so do I and so does everyone else.

So, if you were doing something else while you were reading this, stop.

Now leave your comments and thoughts.

Okay, now you’re done.  Go back to that other thing.

 

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