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Don’t Suffocate Your Staff

It always surprises me to see managers who suffocate their staff.   By suffocating their staff, I’m referring to leaders who are unwilling to let their employees out of their grips for fear of losing the employee or losing control.  These types of leaders are actually doing the exact opposite of what they are trying to do.  This tight grip and suffocating behavior will reduce performance, squash creativity and inevitably cause employees to leave.

When I was a young Warden, my mentor and boss would frequently tell me this regarding my staff members. “Scott, hold onto your team loosely, because ultimately they are not yours to hold onto.” That statement has always stuck with me!

If we hold onto our employees loosely, they feel the freedom of the open hands which ultimately increases productivity and develops more leaders.  This philosophy of encouraging your employees to “grow and go” will result in you losing some great ones from time to time.  The great thing about leading with the open-handed mentality, is the fact that those you loose will always be quickly replenished.

On the other hand, the employer who plants a suffocating scarcity seed, won’t reap a scarce harvest.  I have led several teams in which we lost key players to some higher impact roles; however every time they were replenished with some equally amazing team members without the team missing a beat.

Scarcity Mentality – Not enough good to go around vs. Abundance Mentality – There is more than enough great to go around.

If you are in an suffocating staff situation, encourage the leader to open their hands. If that doesn’t work, it may be time “to go and grow.”

Let Go! dream BIG. think BIGGER.

Share your thoughts and experiences with the suffocating approach.

Helping Others Win

Over the years I have found that Helping Others Win is a very important duty.  As leaders, our primary goal is to help those around us win.  As followers, our primary goal is to help those that we follow win.  If those around us are winning, the organization wins and that’s a win win.

As parents it’s important to help our children win. We provide environments, teaching, structure, systems, beliefs and assistance that help create opportunities for success.  As married couples, we must be wholly committed to helping one another win.

Helping Others Win is such a simple concept, but it’s often overlooked in this self-consuming day and age.  It’s much easier for a boss to fire someone, a coach to give up on someone and a spouse to hit the road than it is to commit to winning.

Charlie Sheen may be a little off of his rocker, but the one thing he gets is Winning. He was quoted as saying, “I’m not bi-polar, I’m bi-winning.”

We need to become more focused on being bi-winning…  In other-words, creating situations where everyone wins.  Help Someone Win Today!

Why are people not committed to Helping Others Win?  Share your thoughts on helping others win.

The Measure Of Success

Success: To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded!

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

When Organizations Bury “High Capacity” Talent

Most organizations and leaders would love to have “High Capacity” leaders to fill the slots within their organizations. The sometimes overlooked challenge is the fact that with “High Capacity” leaders, comes the need for those leaders to lead at uhh… a “High Capacity” in addition to releasing their creativity.

This will sometimes leave organizations scratching their head and asking the question what do I do with so and so?  They are knocking it out of the park, they have an entrepreneurial spirit, their potential is off the charts and they actually have the leadership margin to spread their wings.

Spreading their wings means different things for different leaders, but it boils down to how can I steward their talent/potential and continue to allow them to make a positive impact within the organization. Many times organizations make the decision to do one of two things: 1. Bury that talent and therefore putting a lid on the height of that “High Capacity Leader.” 2. Get rid of that team member because of insecurity or simply not wanting to deal with the challenges these types of leaders bring to the table.

It’s like the Parable of the talents: The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more.  The one with the two talents gained two more.  But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ 
“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?Matthew 25:25-26

If your organization, team, staff or business has been blessed with some great talent, Don’t Bury It!  There is a new type of harvest to be sown with this “High Capacity” seed.

If you figure out a way to maximize the potential of the “High Capacity” talent that you have been blessed with, you will be rewarded.  This may require you getting creative, dreaming BIG, thinking BIGGER and setting some clear expectations; however the potential of the harvest is immeasurable.

Take a look at Google, not only are they ranked the #1 Website, they have also been ranked as fortune magazine’s best place to work.  Not only is their work environment ridiculously amazing, they do a great job of not burying their talent.  They not only do they recruit and hire “High Capacity” talent, they seek ways to release and empower the creativity.

An example of releasing “High Capacity” talent and creativity, is Google allows employees to spend twenty percent of their time to work on their own project, independent of their workgroup. Google believes that no one should leave in order to pursue their personal passions. Letting employees do this results in over twenty percent of Google’s new product launches has stemmed from these personal projects.  There can and should be a marriage between “High Capacity” talent and great organizations; they are not mutually exclusive.

If organizations manage their talent wisely, they may get this response: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ Matthew 25:25

Don’t Bury Your “High Capacity” Talent!

dream BIG. think BIGGER.

Share your thoughts on burying “High Capacity” talent and the Google Strategy.

Manager vs. Leader

There has been this on-going argument of Leaders vs. Managers and which category people fall into.  After reading countless books and being in a number of leadership roles in the non-profit, corporate, political and ministry sectors I have definitely witnessed the difference between the two.

In it’s simplest form, Leaders Develop Followers and Managers Manage People and Things. Leaders don’t have subordinates, because they are in the business of developing followers and developing other leaders. Managers have subordinates, because with managers it’s all about positional equity and telling “Subordinate Joe or Subordinate Sally” to go make these widgets and make them this way.

A leader on the other hand is not worried about positional equity or formal authority, because they are in the business of creating followers and developing more leaders. Following is a voluntary action and often times managers don’t realize this.  The challenge for most managers is they confuse their management with leadership.  A great self-assessment question to determine whether you are leading or managing is this:

If my position, title, role and formal authority was removed, would the people that I’m leading gladly follow me? If you can’t answer that question, as those closest to you to give you a candid answer.

Managers tell their subordinates what to do, while leaders develop followers and develop leaders.  A manager points and says “Go!” and a leader points and says “Let’s Go!”

What do you think?  Share your thoughts on this post and/or your experiences with the difference between managers and leaders.

Leadership Tools For Success

Over the years I have been on the providing and receiving end of Leadership Tools For Success. The way I view Leadership Tools For Success is this:  We all have tools for success, often times we either have to learn how to use them or we have to dig deep down in our inner toolbox in order to find them.

Leadership is about allowing those you lead to utilize the existing tools at the top of their toolbox, while encouraging them to dig around to the bottom and find tools that they may have never realized they had. Again, as leaders we must provide opportunities for our team members to utilize the existing tools, while encouraging them to dig deep in the toolbox and find new tools.

The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” ~Harvey Firestone

Is leadership development the highest calling of leadership?  Share your thoughts and experiences on leadership development and the Leadership Tools For Success.

Chuck Taylor Leadership

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I’m riding down I-35 w/ a great group of guys on my way to Dallas to speak at the Dynamic Conference. I leave from Dallas in the morning headed to Baltimore to speak to pastors, denominational leaders tomorrow and Friday.

I decided to write a blogpost while riding and it is inspired by what’s in front of me at the moment. What’s in front of me is my Chuck Taylors and the road.

Chuck Taylor Leadership

Versatile: Chuck Taylor’s are the most versatile shoes around. You can dress them up or down, young or old… Chuck Taylor Leaders must be versatile, as versatility leads to productivity.

Variety: You can get Chuck Taylor’s in color or pattern imaginable, although each style and color is unique, they are all still Chuck Taylor’s. Leaders must be willing to embrace the variety and uniqueness of their team or followers. Just because they are different doesn’t mean they can’t be successful in your particular Chuck Taylor mold.

Likability: Everyone likes a good pair of Chuck Taylor’s and everyone likes a good leader.

I know this may be a stretch but I’m riding and this is all I got.

Share your thoughts on Chuck Taylor Leadership or Chuck Taylor’s in general.

7 Leadership Lessons From Phil Jackson’s Coaching Career

I have always been a fan of Phil Jackson as a coach.  I have always admired his style and cool, calm collected nature as a coach.  He seems to know exactly when to sit, stand, call a timeout and maximize the productivity of his team.  Phil will go down as one of the best coaches of all-time in any sport.  It appears as though he just coached his last game,  according to Phil Jackson, “All my hopes and aspirations are, this is the final game that I’ll coach.”  He will exit with 11 Championships and not other professional coach will come close to that.

There is a lot to be learned about leadership from Phil Jackson’s coaching career and coaching style. 7 Leadership Lessons From Phil Jackson’s Coaching Career:

  • 1. Willingness To Coach The Best: Phil was willing to coach the best and show the best how to sin championships with a supporting cast.  He was able to win championships with Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal & Kobe Bryant.  He’s not scared of leading the best and great leaders want the best on their team.
  • 2. Win Without The Coach: Phil was able to prepare his teams in a manner that allowed them to believe in themselves and get it done without his direct supervision.  He taught his team how to play through long stretches without timeouts or his direct interaction.   He taught his players how to be great leaders and confident thinkers rather than just executors. Great leaders prepare teams to perform at a high-level, even in their absence.
  • 3. Mastered The 3-Peat: Phil was able to 3-Peat several times with several teams.  He not only won championships, but he did it again and again and again.  He 3-peated 3 times and the one time he didn’t 3-Peat he repeated.  He even said it in his closing press conference today that the thrill of chasing the “3-Peat” is always a great challenge.  Great leaders don’t want their teams to win, but rather win again and again.
  • 4. Masterful At Creating A Culture Of Winning: Creating a culture of winning comes with extreme give-and-take, strategy, encouragement and believing in those that you lead.  It requires taking the best basketball players on the globe and meshing them role players and players with quirky personalities like Dennis Rodman and Ron Artest.  He created cultures that made all players valuable and maximized potential in everyone.  He creates a culture of focused chemistry.  The number one priority in coaching and leading is to create a strong culture by developing leadership, empowerment, communication, authentic care for others, relationships, trust, and motivation.
  • 5. Cool, Calm and Collected: Phil Jackson was one of the most cool, calm and collected coaches in the game.  He would sit on the sidelines as cool as the other side of the pillow.  He always remained cool under pressure, which translated to his team taking on that same persona. Teams feed off of their leader, if their leader demonstrates a “we got this” mentality, it’s destined to rub off on the players.
  • 6. He Knows When It’s His Time: Phil is going to retire into the sunset of Montana and relax.  He stated that he has had a good 20 year run of coaching and now it’s time to give some of the younger coaches an opportunity.  Some leaders don’t know when their time has passed and they make it rough on an entire organization.
  • 7. Great At Selling His Leadership Style To Players: Phil’s style and triangle offense was not an easy sell.  He was able to elevate the importance of his unique style of coaching and offense to a place of relevance that the best players to ever play the game such as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant bought into it.  If a leader has a style worth buying, team members will gladly buy it.  Phil Jackson never tried to be someone else, take it or leave it the “Zen Master” was the “Zen Master.”

Great leaders are more focussed with making those around them great.  Phil Jackson was a great coach and a great leader.  Kobe Bryant says it best in this quote, “He’s absolutely brilliant in bringing a group together to accomplish one common goal.”

Share your thoughts on any of these leadership lessons or things that you may have learned from Phil Jackson’s leadership/coaching style.

A Pot Full Of Boiling Leaders

Have you ever heard the phrase “My Supervisor Is Holding Me Down!” or some variation of it?   Most of us have either heard that phrase or uttered it ourselves.  The reality is this phrase can definitely be a harsh reality and many times it’s unintentional.

I am a firm believer that an individual’s success within an organization is directly correlated to what their immediate supervisor thinks of them.  In other words, the supervisor can put a lid on, or take the lid off of an individuals success.  Ultimately leaving an employee’s success in the hands of the perception/reality of their supervisor.

I call this the Supervisor Lid Principle (SLP) and I have seen it in full effect throughout my various careers and even within sports teams.  This principle results in individuals failing, not performing and even faced with termination. These negative effects permeate until they’re placed under the tutelage of another supervisor, whom has a different set of lids or removes the lids altogether.

The most effective way to combat against (SLP) is to merely recognize that it exists.  Once you recognize that it exists you can begin to identify methods, strategies and techniques to remove the lids that your supervisor may have either inaccurately or unintentionally placed on you. Overall, the removal of those Supervisor Imposed Lids will inevitably allow you to be more effective and free.

Supervisors need to be aware of the unintentional or inaccurate lids they place on their employees.  Both supervisors and employees need to recognize that (SLP) is real.  Dear Mr. or Mrs Supervisor, if you want an employee to fly, free up their wings or rather remove their lids.  If you want your employees to struggle, fail, be tentative, second-guess themselves and not soar… keep putting your unnecessary, narcissistic and limiting lids on your people.

The organizations and supervisors that tend to “Hold Their People Down” must begin asking these questions:  Do I live with an abundance or scarcity mentality?  Do I operate by freedom or control?  Am I secure or insecure?  The answers to these questions and making the necessary adjustments is key to raising up a pot full of boiling leaders, that nobody can hold down.  Let em’ Boil and Let em’ Fly!

“In any organization, you will only be as successful as your supervisor thinks you are or allows you to be.

What Do You Think?

If It Ain’t Broke, Fix It!

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It is an idiom that people, leaders and organizations say, which means if a system or method works well there is no reason to change it or it would be a mistake to try to improve something that works.

This is actually the quickest way to allow mediocrity, complacency and the status quo to reign supreme.  I say, If It Ain’t Broke, Fix It, which means if things are going well and you are having success is even more of a reason to make it better and change it along the way. Mix it up, change and change often.  It doesn’t necessarily mean changing what you do at the core; however it does mean that if you want to remain successful and ahead of the curve you must Fix It, improve it, make it better or make it different.

I would say that Chick-fil-A’s Classic Chicken Sandwich with toasted buns, two pickles in the foil white bag was far from broke.  The Spicy Chicken Sandwich was their way of fixing something that was already working extremely well.

Remember a company called Blockbuster Video that initially didn’t adjust to the Internet and Netflix type of companies.  People were renting movies from Blockbuster, always have, always will. Try Again!   No matter the city you are in, you can pretty much buy the fixtures from the going out of business Blockbuster stores.

Broke or not, you must Fix It!

Thoughts?  How have you seen this played out?

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