What Bad Habits?

bad habitsHow often have you heard someone criticize another when you know that they have the same bad habits themselves? As a team leader, it’s best to foster an atmosphere that isn’t judgmental. I think it was John C. Maxwell that summed it up when he said: “Most people’s natural inclination is to judge themselves according to their best qualities while they measure others by their worst.”

For example, just because someone is late all the time doesn’t mean you have to talk about it endlessly when he or she isn’t around, or even when that person is around. If a team member gets into a habit of being late for meetings, business outings, and/or conferences…after the second or third time you should address it directly with that person. The team shouldn’t waste time and build negative energy by complaining about it before the person gets there, or even later in a smaller group. Make it clear to the person when he or she finally arrives that they’re late and that being late is unacceptable. The offender should be put on notice that if the poor behavior continues there will be consequences for being late.

Don’t let meetings devolve into a place where people sit around and talk about others viciously. Unfortunately, it’s a part of human nature to try and pump oneself up by bringing someone else down. But this personality trait isn’t attractive at home or at the office. It’s your job as a team leader to squash this behavior before it grows out of control.

What kind of things do you do, to help tame the “bad habit beasts?”

Stacking The Team

stacking the team All of us can look back and think of times when we appreciated the one person on the team who just got the job done. When the company car broke down, he was the one who took control. When the projected numbers weren’t making sense, the go-to guy picked up the phone and got the clarification from the finance department.

Find these people and stack your team with them. Then when you ask them to go the extra mile, you won’t have to worry about the task getting complete. Better yet, you won’t have to do it yourself because you’ll know it will be taken care of.

When you are fortunate enough to have the get-it-done people on your team, let them do what they do best. Don’t request that they work on a report about a certain thing is used, and then right before they finish, tell them what the found. People with a track record of making things happen despise doing double work. They want to find out the answers for themselves.

Let these team players act as role models for other people who insist on jumping through hoops before they take on a task. Sooner or later, they will eventually learn: it’s best just to dive right in!

The Entrepreneurial Rift

entrepreneurial riftEntrepreneurs throughout the world are looking for the missing link in an industry, a rift so to speak, as marketing guru Seth Godin describes it, an opening waiting to be filled. Successful new businesses often fill a need that no one else knew even existed.

Many times new rifts open as industries progress. Take the television, for example. The Digital Age forced analog televisions owners to purchase a converter in order to tune in to the digital television world. Hands-free headset manufacturers made a fortune once lawmakers made it illegal to drive and talk on their cell phones at the same time.

Where do you think the next rift will be? Seth Godin has come to the conclusion that “Most people who build important businesses build them on a rift, usually one that they find by accident, and usually only once.” Today’s marketers are looking for the rifts where businesses can address the aging baby boomer.

Seth Godin has filled a rift, partly as the author of several bestselling marketing books. He has fully embraced the computer age, writing a popular marketing blog and founding a “recommendation” website. Although someone else will come along and replace Godin’s ideas as fast as you can hit Ctrl/Alt/Delete, his early entry into the Web community brought marketing into a contemporary world.

Seth Godin became remarkable by taking a clear look at the age of technology and assessing exactly what was going on. Then he was able to make sweeping statements about how businesses had to think about this new world, not only to succeed but to stand out. Godin was a small business owner who has churned out books that have made him a big success. Try adding these concepts into your entrepreneurial mix:

The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit– Godin promotes the theory that there is a dip in the road that is either the entrance to superstardom or the signal you are hitting a dead end.

Small Is the New Big– Godin discusses the backlash against bigness after several pivotal events, including the Enron debacle. He talks about how “small” can move faster than “big” and how that can mean the difference between success or not.

All Marketers Are Liars– Godin gives countless examples of marketing people “stretching the truth.” But he makes one thing clear: “Your story won’t spread (which is the whole principle of marketing) if the facts don’t back it up.”

Survival Is Not Enough– Successful entrepreneurs embrace change… and change is only happening faster with the Information Age.

I’m really interested in your feedback and comments. If you have anything you’d like to add or express, please comment below.

John Robert Wooden — October 14, 1910 – June 4, 2010

coach john woodenJohn Wooden was the greatest college basketball coach in history. The record winning streak of the UCLA Bruins of 88 games, including 10 NCAA titles, gave John, the “Wizard of Westwood” plenty of statistical and practical evidence that the players who start the game are not a big factor in who’s going to win. What counts is staying in the game, playing at full capacity, and doing your best.

Do what you do best and stay persistent!

And so it translates into the game of business. Let’s say you don’t launch a new product or discover a new sales technique before the competition—it doesn’t mean you’re going to lose. Don’t let somebody else’s innovation inhibit you! Remember that your ability has gotten you where you are today. Concentrate on what you do, and don’t slow down because you didn’t get to market first.

Knowing when other’s can help pave the way, take note of their mistakes and learn from them.

Take advantage of being second. Capitalize on the lessons learned from your competition and use the valuable knowledge to make your product or service better. Heck, think about Apple’s success. They didn’t even the MP3 player; they simply created one that a community fell in love with. Focus on continuing to deliver excellence, and you will not only gain from the experience, but it’s entirely possible you’ll win the market.

Intellectual Capital

intellectual capital Warren Bennis, the founding chairman of the Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, believes that organizations don’t realize that they possess a vast source of untapped knowledge, what he refers to as “intellectual capital”. If even a fraction of the organization’s employees contributed their knowledge to creating solutions and/or growth potential, an organization’s overall results would skyrocket! Unfortunately, with the current overwhelming lack of employee engagement, studies are showing that employees are frequently griping that nobody listens to them.

To increase growth and employee engagement, take a hard, long look at the way managers are handling employee input. With today’s world being technology driven, “knowledge workers” need to be retained and challenged. When you continuously marginalize creative thinking within an organization, morale suffers greatly. Even the most highly motivated employees will eventually stop sharing their ideas. This then leads to a turnover and a host of other avoidable problems.

A good leader should acknowledge the contributions of the team on a routine basis, because as Warren Bennis said, “Leadership is the key to realizing the full potential of intellectual capital.” Get creative with recognition and it won’t be long before you will be swimming in intellectual capital.

How do you add value to your organization?

Nobody’s Perfect

nobody perfectNobody is perfect. Every person whether they are a manager or leader puts a foot in his mouth once in a while. When it happens more than once, a least once in the memory of the team, respect is quickly lost, and the leader begins paving his own road to ruin.

I’ve found this to be able to happen quickly when a manager gets to comfortable. maybe you want to talk about a movie you just saw or regale a colleague with a funny vacation story–everyday conversation shows your human side. That’s all well and good until you slip into discussing a risky topic like the attractiveness of a particular celebrity or his/her shenanigans at the city’s latest hot spot. Now the conversation includes potentially offensive material, the kind sure to be repeated by those listening or others within earshot. Soon you develop a reputation you don’t want.

Don’t use tact solely when you deal with people directly affiliated with your business. Show discretion during all professional conversations. Give the choice to berate an employee for a big mistake or build him back up now that the mistake is old news, you may well feel it’s within his job description to punish as a means toward correction. By taking frustrations out on team members you will undoubtedly reduce or eliminate any confidence that you’ve already worked hard at establishing.

Discover Your Strengths

discover your strengthsIt’s a common practice for people to try and cover up their weaknesses, it happens all the time–especially when it might mean getting ahead or left behind in the business world. However, despite the effort to minimize them, weaknesses tend to reveal themselves when you are under pressure. Spending all of your time managing your weaknesses is pointless. Instead, a better approach is to concentrate on your strengths.

Building on your strengths makes sense because, ultimately, it will pave the way for a less stressful way to achieving your goals. First, you will have a proven track record that demonstrates the skills you already do well. Second, playing to your strengths allows you to experiment within your comfort zone. When trying to branch out and expand your business, it helps to know that you can build on what you have already done. Third, by relying on your strengths, you’ll find the inspiration to set attainable goals. By seeking more challenges, your leadership will inspire others to do the same.

When you think about it, how are you currently looking at others?