Friday Leadership Ideas to Help You Finish the Week Strong for August 7, 2015

put it in contextEvery week I share a few ideas to help you finish strong. A great ending sets the stage for success next week.

1. Reinforce the Importance of Your Team’s Efforts to Corporate Strategies and Goals

People do their best work when they have context for the importance and impact of their efforts. In too many organizations, corporate and functional goals are discussed at the beginning of the year and rarely referenced other than in financial language during the balance of the year. Over time, people lose a sense of connectivity between their work priorities and the big picture, allowing the cadence to slow to a crawl and inviting less relevant side-initiatives to take root.

Sit down with your team members and review the firm’s updated strategy content. Be certain to showcase how your team’s efforts connect to the core strategies and key goals. Tie your group’s core metrics to the bigger corporate health metrics. Add an executive to the discussion to talk about the challenges the firm is running into with key strategies and encourage your team members to ask questions or offer ideas on how they can increase their support for the big picture.

2. Reach Out and Connect with Remote Colleagues

Having live and worked outside of the home city of my firm for many years, I am sensitive to the sense of creeping isolation that often comes with this set-up. Make time today to reach out by phone or video with a number of your far flung colleagues and find out what they’re thinking. If they operate in customer-facing roles…e.g. sales, services or support, pick their brains on what they are hearing from customers. Ask about how coordination and communication is working with corporate-based teams and colleagues and discuss and agree on opportunities to visit corporate or connect at regional meetings in the near future.

In my experience, most remote workers are incredibly dedicated to their work and they are hungry to engage and help the firm improve. A bit of extra effort to connect with these individuals will help you uncover their great ideas and remind them they are part of something bigger than the view from their home office window.

3. Weekend Reading:

Yes, weekends are for reading and thinking. What’s teed up on your nightstand or e-reader? Next up for me:

  • Humans are Underrated—What High Achievers Know that Brilliant Machines Never Will, by Geoff Colvin
  • The New IT—How Technology Leaders are Enabling Business Strategy in the Digital Age, by Jill Dyché, foreword by Geoffrey Moore.

I’ll loop back and share my thoughts on these exciting new books in the next few weeks.

For some short and insightful leadership writing, check out the August, 2015 Leadership Development Carnival hosted by LeadChange Group. I’m honored to be included with some of the most inspiring and thoughtful leadership writers out there. Enjoy this great resource.

That’s it for now. Remember to finish strong and come back next week prepared to conquer the world! -Art

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For more ideas on professional development-one sound bite at a time, check out: Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development.

New to leading or responsible for first time leaders on your team? Subscribe to Art’s New Leader’s e-News.

An ideal book for anyone starting out in leadership: Practical Lessons in Leadership by Art Petty and Rich Petro.

 

Friday Leadership Ideas to Help You Finish Strong for July 31, 2015

IMG_0600Every week I share a few ideas to help you finish strong. A great ending sets the stage for success next week.

The Truth is In the Field: Invite a Salesperson to Your Team Meeting

If you and your team operate somewhere other than the sales department, it’s easy to lose track of the realities of competing for business in your market. Gain some critical context for what customers are looking for and for what competitors are doing to try and keep food off your table by inviting one of your firm’s sales representatives to offer the latest market insights. This valuable external perspective helps everyone better connect to the reality that the firm is in business to acquire and keep customers and that everyone’s job is to support this effort. Kudos if you and your team identify an opportunity to better support the sales effort as part of this dialog.

Change Up Your Routine Today to Spark Fresh Energy

Many of us naturally gravitate towards a predictable, consistent routine in our work days. While there’s comfort in routine, in my experience, too much consistency lulls us into a semi-robotic state. Today, shake things up. Politely bow out of a few of those all too common Friday status update meetings and do something different. Take your team out for a long lunch and talk about what’s working and what needs to be strengthened. Catch up on professional development discussions. Leverage my idea above and invite a sales representative or three to share some market updates with your team. Find time to catch and talk with your boss and better align with his/her challenges and priorities. And most of all, enjoy a shift in routine as you wind down your week. It’s healthy to mix things up and you’ll leave excited to get back at it next week.

Take Time to Sketch Out Your Plan for the Next Month:

What two or three major objectives do you and your team need to complete in the next 30-days to make August a success? Take the time to refresh on where you are at with key initiatives and what you can do to better align resources with priorities. It’s too easy to let these months slide by with less than stellar progress on the activities that count. The urgent and urgent-unimportant get in the way of the bigger initiatives that require focused effort. Pull your core team members together for this discussion and write the plan and plan to stick to it.

That’s it for this week. Enjoy these fleeting Summer weekends and come back next week prepared to conquer the world! -Art

Don’t miss the next Leadership Caffeine-Newsletter! (All new subscriber-only content!) Register herebook cover: shows title Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development by Art Petty. Includes image of a coffee cup.

For more ideas on professional development-one sound bite at a time, check out: Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development.

New to leading or responsible for first time leaders on your team? Subscribe to Art’s New Leader’s e-News.

An ideal book for anyone starting out in leadership: Practical Lessons in Leadership by Art Petty and Rich Petro.

 

 

 

Friday Leadership Ideas to Help You Finish Strong for July 24, 2015

mountainEvery week I share a few ideas to help you finish strong. A great ending sets the stage for success next week.

Work some magic by re-approaching “What’s not working?” discussions.

All of us have been in the project wrap-up that focused on what went wrong or the team brainstorm meeting that emphasizes looking at where we have to improve. While there’s a place and purpose for those discussions, they emphasize the negative and frankly, they generate the same lists over and over again.

At the next occasion (why not today?) pull your team together for a creative dialog and ask, “What’s working well that we should do more of?” Be prepared for a slow start followed by a torrent of ideas, energy and enthusiasm. Take great notes and be certain to have the team prioritize those they believe are the most important. And then challenge them to put the ideas into action.

This simple framing change is an antidote to the negativity and frustration attached to too many of our team and group discussions. Try it and watch the magic unfold!

Shift the Focus to Your Own Professional Development.

I offer regular reminders in this series and in my other blog posts to take time and focus on the professional development plans of your team members. It’s challenging for most busy leaders and team members to stay on top of this, and kudos if you’re current. (If not, it’s time to catch up and refresh those plans and ensure progress. After all, the calendar year is more than half over.) Now, it’s time to look in the mirror and assess your own professional development progress.

Ask and answer:

  • How am I refreshing my skills?
  • What have I read that has challenged me to re-think my role and/or raise my performance level?
  • What new skills have I developed this past year?
  • Have I received feedback that has challenged me to change or reinforce key behaviors?
  • What was the last training session I attended that wasn’t mandated by H.R.?
  • Am I doing ostensibly the same work this year as last year?
  • What challenging new assignments have I completed this year?

If you’re answers are less than complete, it’s time to get to work. Take the time to talk with your boss and team members and solicit input and feedback. Explore external training courses that will challenge you to stretch and develop new skills. And importantly, sit down with your boss, ask for input on his/her perceptions of your professional development needs and jointly develop a plan. If your boss isn’t the sympathetic or thoughtful type on professional development, come to the discussion prepared with a plan and suggestions versus expecting him/her to generate the ideas. Last and not least, seek out opportunities to build new skills through job rotation opportunities or taking on challenging new projects.

As I reference regularly in my It’s Your Career” series, you truly do own your own professional development. Now more than ever in an era of constant change, the only security we have is the security of ensuring that our skills are refreshed and current. Don’t let your learning program go dormant.

That’s it for this week. Enjoy your weekend and come back next Monday ready to conquer the world. -Art

Don’t miss the next Leadership Caffeine-Newsletter! (All new subscriber-only content!) Register herebook cover: shows title Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development by Art Petty. Includes image of a coffee cup.

For more ideas on professional development-one sound bite at a time, check out: Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development.

New to leading or responsible for first time leaders on your team? Subscribe to Art’s New Leader’s e-News.

An ideal book for anyone starting out in leadership: Practical Lessons in Leadership by Art Petty and Rich Petro.

 

 

Ideas for Professional Growth for the Week of July 19, 2015

Problem is Opportunity Blackboard ConceptNote from Art: Every week I offer ideas to encourage you to stretch and grow. Use them in great professional health!

Do: Volunteer to Lead an Initiative to Solve a Lingering Problem.

In most organizations, the problems are well identified. It’s finding someone to do something about the problems that’s the issue. Listen carefully for one of those annoying, recurring issues that seem to exist in some gray area between functions, and volunteer to lead an initiative to stomp the problem out of existence. Make certain to recruit some help on the spot.

In addition to the chance to stretch your leadership skills with your volunteer team, you’ll quickly gain the attention of your senior managers as someone willing to go the extra mile to improve the business. What a great, positive way to grow your power and influence!

Make certain when the project wraps up successfully to both thank your team members and to reach out to their direct managers and offer your appreciation for the hard work of their employees. You’re team members will appreciate your support.

Rinse and repeat.

Experiment: Add Energy to Your Team by Rotating Responsibilities

Keep your team members fresh, challenged and learning by making assignment rotation a regular part of the working culture. Nothing builds empathy with others by spending some time walking in their shoes or navigating their tasks. I value team members who are competent and confident in stepping up and filling in for a colleague. Instead of waiting until it’s a necessity, be proactive and have team members teach and then step in for each other.

Explore: Take Your Team on a Field Trip

Chances are you haven’t been on a field trip since middle school. While you can skip the permission slips and leave the pb&j sandwiches behind, consider an opportunity to get your team off-site and immersed in an activity or environment that stimulates creativity and thinking. My favorites…a visit to a natural history or cultural museum; a symphony concert or a tour of a factory in a completely unrelated industry. Encourage your team members to jot down any ideas sparked by the trip and schedule a debrief meeting. While I can’t guarantee that a killer idea will emerge, the opportunity to rest and recharge and engage in a unique setting will be a positive for the team. And, remember, it just takes one idea!

That’s it for the early encouragement in our new week. Best of success as you do/experiment and explore! -Art

Don’t miss the next Leadership Caffeine-Newsletter! (All new subscriber-only content!) Register herebook cover: shows title Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development by Art Petty. Includes image of a coffee cup.

For more ideas on professional development-one sound bite at a time, check out: Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development.

New to leading or responsible for first time leaders on your team? Subscribe to Art’s New Leader’s e-News.

An ideal book for anyone starting out in leadership: Practical Lessons in Leadership by Art Petty and Rich Petro.

 

Friday Leadership Ideas to Help You Finish Strong for July 17, 2015

Thank YouEvery week I offer ideas to help you finish on a high note. Use the ideas to finish strong and set the stage for success heading into the new week.

Purge The Lingering Effect of Unfounded Criticism.

Feedback is important in our professional development, but not all feedback is credible and worth the space it rents in your mind. Authors, actors, playwrights all agonize over reviews. They are momentarily excited by the positive feedback and often crushed by the negative. It’s easy to let the opinions others have about you dictate how you feel about yourself. It’s a bad habit to take the positive reviews too seriously or to let the negative reviews crush you.

I learned long ago that I won’t win glowing reviews from everyone…in a workshop, an MBA course or a keynote. The batting average is great…high 90’s on a percentage basis who appreciate and benefit from the work. I value the ideas people proffer for strengthening the content or my approach. And then there’s the input from the 1 or 2 who it just didn’t work for. I look for the pearls of actionable wisdom in the negative feedback, and if there are none, I move on quickly.

Everyone has opinions…and not all of them are equal or worth the energy it takes to fret over them. If you’ve been on the receiving end of some undue criticism this week, take the time to explore the areas for genuine improvement. If it’s just hot air and toxic talk, purge it from your brain. It’s not worth the effort it takes to retain it.

Have You Said “Thank You” to Your Team Members Recently?

It’s easy for the months and even years to fly by in our workplaces without hitting the pause button once in awhile and offering a very well deserved “Thank you” to our team members. While it’s unlikely you take them for granted, it’s ridiculously easy to simply count on people being there to execute on their work and to solve problems and drive performance. I’ve known senior managers who skipped the “Thank you” step and found themselves sitting with a resignation letter in hand wishing they had done more to acknowledge their appreciation for the person along the way.

Take the time today to start working through your team members and offering your thanks for their hard work and dedication. Better yet, thank them for applying their own unique “superpower” to the team and firm. If appropriate, offer a minor token of your appreciation, but be certain to personalize it to the individual. And no, company logo-gear is typically not appropriate.

One business owner reached out to me and shared that he had rarely ever offered anything resembling positive feedback or a sincere thanks. Nonetheless, his team had remained largely intact over the years. (This was a positive sign that he had treated them with respect regardless of the lack of visible appreciation.) He wondered how his staff would react if he started this behavior. I assured him that after counseling them that he was neither ill nor leaving, they would appreciate the shift in style. It’s never too late until it’s over.

OK, that’s it for the week. Finish up in great style and come back next week ready to conquer the world! -Art

 

Don’t miss the next Leadership Caffeine-Newsletter! (All new subscriber-only content!) Register herebook cover: shows title Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development by Art Petty. Includes image of a coffee cup.

For more ideas on professional development-one sound bite at a time, check out: Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development.

New to leading or responsible for first time leaders on your team? Subscribe to Art’s New Leader’s e-News.

An ideal book for anyone starting out in leadership: Practical Lessons in Leadership by Art Petty and Rich Petro.