Teams

Four Words I Say to Jerks

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Someone once taught me four words that you should say to jerks.

They are simple, they are easy, and they are not that fancy.

Whenever someone is a jerk to me, I always say, “You might be right.”


This accomplishes a few things:

1. It admits that maybe they are right. I make mistakes. Maybe I did something wrong. Could this person bring it up without being a jerk? Sure, but just because they were a jerk doesn’t mean they were wrong.

2. It ends the conversation.

3. It releases me from carrying it around all day.

It’s over. I’m done. You might be right.

Maybe you’re not, but I didn’t say, “You are right.” I said “You might be right.”

I’m just not going to give you anymore of my life to figure out if you are.

I’m out.

10 Ways To Kill A Good Idea

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Ever watched a really good idea crash and burn? Me too.

Here’s some brutal honesty: Entire movements have gone down in flames because of boneheaded approaches to good ideas. This isn’t to say we can’t afford to make mistakes. In fact, the only way to know we’re taking risks is to make mistakes. We can’t afford not to make them. But we also can’t afford to ignore common-sense leadership practices.   
In honor of our most fatal leadership mistakes, here are my “from the hip” ways to kill great ideas. (Warning: sarcasm ahead)
1. Form a committee. In this way, you’ll be able to devote more time to empty note taking and less time to solving problems. Also, we’ll be able to prevent a single great leader from running with the idea without feeling the need to check with several people with different opinions before proceeding.
2. Be sure to control it. Before you even start executing a good idea, be sure to write plenty of rules and parameters so that no one feels the freedom to run too fast with it. Freedom is the enemy when we’re trying to kill good ideas.
3. Devote a lot of time to calculating the costs. Be sure that everyone understands just how much failing can cost us so that we inch along, paralyzed by fear.
4. Assume it’s everyone’s responsibility. If we’re able to say, “Our organization should really be doing this,” it takes the pressure off anyone in particular who might actually take ownership. In this way, no one gets blamed for the death of the idea … at least not individually.
5. Assume it’s your responsibility alone. If we get help, we’ll just saddle people with the burden of investing their time into meaningful pursuits rather than having more free time to not develop their skills and talents.
6. Vote on it. This will give everyone a sense of power and let them decide that they’re “against” the idea even if it isn’t something they understand. After all, majorities of people are usually smart, right? Besides, in the end, it’s really about keeping as many people as possible happy.
7. Avoid learning from others who have acted on similar ideas. Never ask people who have succeeded or failed before. It’s better to re-invent the wheel, take full credit (or blame) in the end and brag on how much we’ve been able to do (or not do) all on our own.
8. Keep young people out of it. They’re all too inexperienced and unwise to lead anything. Besides, do the voices of the young really matter? I thought they were meant to be seen and not heard … or valued.
9. Keep old … advanced … experienced people out of it. After all, they’re just all grumpy, afraid of change and set in their old-fashioned ways. Their years of wisdom and experience will just complicate matters.
10. Take a little more time to talk about your intentions for the good idea. As long as you’re intending to do something good, it’s as good as doing it, except that it never gets done. But you will have meant well when it’s all said and not done.
I’m guilty of at least a majority of these at one time or another in my own leadership, so I’m not writing out of arrogance but in confession.

What Teams Really Want from Their Work

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What do you really want from your work?  
Inspired and engaged team members have reasons why there are making an impact compared to those not fully engaged and motivated.   Other than the basic requirements – food, shelter, health care – on the hierarchy of needs, what do people really want from their jobs?
Based on a study by Peter Cappelli, a Wharton professor and thought leader on talent management, where he addressed that question.   These are the top five things that a large group of people say they want from their work:
1. Friendly environment

2. Chance to use my skills

3. Chance to do something worthwhile

4. Feeling respected by coworkers

5. The opportunity to learn something new
Is there anything on the list that’s really that surprising? If you stop and think about it, you probably want those things from your own work.
Here’s the catch on the data that Cappelli shared. He presented it in the content of a talk on managing the older generation of workers and the data comes from a study that AARP conducted on what older workers want.
Is the list really that different that what workers of any age would want? My experience and observations tell me no. People want to work in an environment where they feel respected and appreciated, where they can learn and do their best work.
What does your experience tell you? What’s on your short list of the most important things that leaders can do to create a place where people want to work?

6 Ideas on How to Deal with Difficult People

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No one likes a Jerk.  And truthfully, I’ve had to spend significant amounts of energy increasing my emotional intelligence so I wouldn’t be one of “them.” 

But what if you work with one?   What if you live next to one?

Whether it is at our place of employment or in our family circle, we all have to learn how to deal with difficult people. Each of us can name names of difficult people that we have to interact with on a regular basis.


While there is much advice out on there among relationship experts, I am just going to share with you some leadership tips that I have learned over the years.
(And no, I am not writing this post because I am currently dealing with a difficult relationship. I just thought it would be a helpful topic after my previous post.)    

How to Deal with Difficult People

Assume the best in others. This can be hard to do at times, but I think it is an important life skill to master. We do not always know what is going on in the lives of other people. Sometimes people behave badly because of deep personal struggles that are going on in their lives. We ought to instead choose to see the best in others. A good question to ask is “What do I admire about ________?”

Make room for other people’s faults. This concept piggy backs off the first point. If you want to learn how to deal with difficult people, then you must learn the art of making room for other’s faults. Just like it is discussed in the Bible, we as humans are so quick to judge others when we have glaring weaknesses of our own. We need to make room for other people’s faults and be more critical of our own shortcomings instead of just making excuses for our own behaviors.

Let them face the consequences of their own decisions. This may sound harsh but it is not intended to be. Some of us feel the need to always fix other people. That does not always work. Sometimes allowing them to face the consequences of their decisions is the best route to take. They will learn more through their own failures.

Be determined to find common ground. I just believe down deep that there has to be something that we can agree on. When you are dealing with a difficult person ask the question, “Where is the common ground among us?” Then you can start from there.

Create a distance if necessary. There is nothing wrong with creating a healthy distance between toxic people. You must do this with the right motives and intentions. It is not because you are better than they. You do this because you choose to not let their attitudes and actions impact yours.

Surround yourself with positive people. You need to counter-balance the negativity by surrounding yourself with people who are spirit-filled and display positive thinking. This will help you from falling into the same downward spiral as others.

Those are some of the ways of how to deal with difficult people.  Use them all or just take a few. Start applying them today to the difficult relationships that you maybe currently facing.

Why Your Team Could BAIL OUT….

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I was talking with a successful leader recently,  and she wanted to bail out, quit, resign…you get the point.   Thankfully, she didn’t….. not yet anyway.

 Often, highly productive people just won’t say so because they like getting paid. But when they go home at night, they spill their bile about their taskmaster or “boss” who does nothing but drive them crazy (isn’t that what you do too?).
Here are a list of common behaviors that frustrate others, but often aren’t addressed (unless someone is brave or just doesn’t care if you go off on them).  If some of the points do resonate, I’m asking you to commit to rectifying some of these behaviors. We’ll all be happier that way. To assist with that, I’ve offered some suggested behavior modifications for each of the ten.
Full disclosure – I’ve been plenty guilty of some of the below behaviors. Fortunately I’ve had talented folks around me help me work on many of them. I’m not perfect by a long shot yet. I guess what I’m saying is all of these things apply to all of us even in some small measure.
So here goes… 10 Reasons Why Your Team Wants to Bail Out on You:
10. You don’t prioritize. Everything is important. When you do this, you remove your team’s ability to say no to less important work and focus their efforts on critical tasks. The fix: write down all the tasks you have folks working on and FORCE yourself to assign a H, M, or L to each task (and treat it as such). Thou shalt only have 33% of all tasks in each of those three categories – you can’t assign everything a “High” importance.
9. You treat them like employees. You don’t know a darn thing about them as a person (which makes them feel like nothing more than a number). 
8. You don’t fight for them. When is the last time you went to bat for a team member? And I mean went to bat where you had something to lose if it didn’t work out? When you don’t stand up for them, you lose their trust. The fix: identify something you should have gone to the mat for recently and get out there and fight. Get someone that raise they deserve. Go fight for them to get that cool new project.
7. You tell them to “have a balanced life” then set a bad example. You tell them weekends are precious and they should spend them with their family then you go and send them emails or voicemails on Sunday afternoon. The fix: either curb your bad habit of not being in balance or learn how to do delayed send in Outlook so your messages won’t go out until Monday morning.
6. You never relax. You walk around like you have a potato chip wedged between your butt cheeks and you’re trying not to break it. When you’re uptight all the time, it makes them uptight. Negative or stressful energy transfers to others.The fix: laugh, get a remote controlled car or tricycle to drive around the office, etc.  When you relax, your team knows it’s okay for them to relax too.
5. You micromanage. You know every detail of what they’re working on and you’ve become a control freak.  They have no room to make decisions on their own (which means yes, they’ll make a mistake or two). The fix: back off. Pick a few low risk projects and commit to not doing ANYTHING on them unless your team member asks you for assistance. It’ll be uncomfortable for you. Give it a try you micromanaging control freak.
4. You’re a suck-up. If your boss stopped short while walking down the hall, you’d break your neck. Your team hates seeing you do this because it demonstrates lack of spine and willingness to fight for them. It can also signal to them that you expect them to be a sycophant just like you. The fix: try kicking up and kissing down instead.
3. You treat them like mushrooms. Translation: they’re kept in the dark and fed a bunch of crap. Do you ration information? Do you withhold “important” things from them because it’s “need to know” only? All you’re doing is creating gossip and fear. The fix:  stop acting like James Bond 007 and be authentic.
2. You’re above getting your hands dirty. You’re great at assigning work. Doing work? Not so much. They hate watching you preside (and they hate it even more when you take credit for what they slaved over). The fix: get dirty.  Roll up your sleeves and pick a smaller project you can handle in addition to your other responsibilities and DO THE PROJECT YOURSELF.
1. You’re indecisive. Maybe. Or not. But possibly. Yeah. No. I don’t know. OH MY GOSH MAKE A DECISION ALREADY! That’s what you get paid to do as the leader. You drive them crazy with your incessant flip-flopping or waffling (mmmm waffles… oh. Sorry… still writing). The fix: Do Something.   Acknowledge you might make a mistake but do something. A team is much more likely to follow a leader who makes decisions (even some bad ones) than a leader who makes no decisions at all.
There they are: 10 reasons.   Do any of them fit?   Probably the only way you’ll know for certain is if you print off or email this post to your team members and ask them to anonymously circle any of the above behaviors that apply to you. I then further challenge you to fix the one or two that have the most votes. Trust me – it’s less painful than the alternative – them bailing.

4 Team-Building Steps

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Legendary Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski told an audience of business executives how he builds winning teams. Here, from a panel discussion at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles Monday, are a few of his pointers.
  • Leadership isn’t singular. No one leads alone, Krzyzewski says. When he was building the team that won gold at the Beijing Olympics, he relied on Lebron James, Jason Kidd and Kobe Bryant as the team’s “internal leaders.” They had tremendous sway on the rest of the team. “If they said it, it’s pretty much going to go,” he says.
  • Soaring egos need a higher purpose. Talented players often have outsized egos. It’s not Krzyzewski’s style to break them down, but he has to keep ego from blocking improvement. To get them working as a team, Krzyzewski first meets with each player individually, lays out what he expects from him and instills in each a common purpose. Fellow panelist Pete Carroll, head football coach at the University of Southern California, said it best: No matter how huge the ego is, a star player needs to feel he is part of something bigger than himself. “You have to look every one of them in the eye, respect that they’re unique and figure out where they’re coming from,” Carroll said. “You have to give of yourself to figure them out.”
  • Great players learn best from each other. When Krzyzewski met with Lebron James before training for the Olympics began, James told him that he wanted to learn the secret of Jason Kidd’s excellent passing, and how Kobe Bryant, whom he considered the best player in the sport, prepared off court. James forged close relationships with both men and has become a better player because of it, Krzyzewski says. The trick for the coach, he said, is to create an environment in which the players learn from each other without having to expose vulnerabilities. “The guys who are really good in our sport don’t want to show weakness,” he said.
  • Love them after they leave you. College players, like rising young executives, will move on. Fulfill your commitment to them by maintaining your ties, Krzyzewski advises. His players have gone on to play in the NBA, to coach at influential colleges or to new endeavors. “We maintain a relationship of being a friend and part of their family for the rest of their lives,” he says. It’s a form of networking that he finds particularly rewarding. He suggests looking for ways to make it easy for former protégés to ask for help without losing face.