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Champion Leadership Blog

Leaders Are Either Inspiring or Sabotaging Confidence & Expected Success!

I have to chime in here about the decision made by the leadership of the National Football League’s Indianapolis Colts this past Sunday in their game against the New York Jets.

The Colts, with a 14-0 record and a chance for an undefeated season on the line had the home field advantage through the entire playoffs up to the Super Bowl already clinched for the upcoming post season. They were playing a team, the Jets, needing a win to keep their playoff chances alive and knock some of their competitors out of playoff contention.

With a 5-point lead and 17-minutes remaining on the game clock the Colts leadership decided to take their best players out of the game to save them from potential injury to be healthy for the upcoming post season coming up in three weeks. The Colts second string players were dominated by the Jets first stringers and the team lost for the first time in 24 regular season games, ruining their chance for a perfect regular season.

Their star quarterback, Peyton Manning, remained on the sidelines with his football helmet on and the chin strap snapped as if he were going in to the game at any moment, but the call never came.

I believe this was a poor decision on behalf of the Colts leadership. Athletes are paid to win. They show up and take the field expecting to win. Teams win by putting their best players on the field until victory is virtually certain.

In facilitating a management team’s meeting yesterday at which we crafted a “team agreement” as to how they were going to interact with each other and show up to work, one of the team members suggested that first and foremost on their list of agreed upon behaviors was “expect success.”

If leaders and teams are to be successful they must show up expecting to be successful. Expecting success changes the outlook of everyone on the team. Leaders have to expect success and their job is to ensure the best players (employees) are on the team to allow the team to be successful.

As soon as the personnel change was made by the Colts in the third quarter of the game on Sunday, the entire team and fans in the stadium stopped expecting success, and as such, they didn’t get it.

If you’re a leader, expect success; communicate and act “as if” you expect success and your team members will show up the same way.

It’s the only way to play the game

Happy New Year!

Champion Leadership Tip #8 – Shun Credit for Successes, Take Responsibility for Failures

In a few weeks the Olympic torch will be lit signifying the opening of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. When the first team sport crowns its medal winners, the coach of the teams will not be on the medal stand having a medal draped around his or her neck.

Although uncertain of the genesis for this policy, it is consistent with this week’s Champion Leadership Tip. Leaders should shun credit and recognition for the success of their teams while taking responsibility for failures.

The best coaches in sports always operate this way. They recognize that regardless of the coaching, inspiration and preparation provided to their players it is the players who have to effectively put it all together to successfully perform.

On the flip side, if a team fails or loses, the argument could be made that it was the team’s coaches that did not do everything in their leadership role to provide the resources necessary to succeed. The best leaders recognize this and take the responsibility for it. In this area great leaders know the “buck stops with them” and would want it no other way.

Great leaders, who ironically also become highly recognized leaders,understand that the recognition and thus future opportunities will come from this type of leadership approach.

As you move forward in your leadership development adopt the Olympian’s approach; save the medals and recognition opportunities for your team members who’s efforts allowed your team to succeed and take responsibility for the setbacks to take the pressure off your team members publicly or at least within your organization. This is foundation of heartfelt leadership that will make you an even more successful and attractive leader.

This Champion Leadership tip is a subset of the three key strategies Champion Leaders must develop and consistently apply to be successful, to learn what they are you can download the free white paper report at this link

This will be the last Champion Leadership Tip for 2009 as we take a break over holidays. Best wishes for a great holiday season and we’ll be back with our first tip on Monday, January 4th.

The $5 Million Mail Clerk – How Do Your Employees Make a Difference?

A new client shared a story with me a couple of weeks ago that was very powerful in terms of employee engagement and workplace morale. I’m a big proponent of organizational leaders doing things that let their people feel like they make a difference.

Here is one great example:

One of the largest law firms in our region, Finkelstein & Partners, had a personal injury case in which their client was severely handicapped in a car accident, the injuries turned him into a paraplegic.

As the firm was preparing its case to go to court a FedEx package arrived at the office late on a Friday afternoon. Rather than wait until Monday to deliver the package, a mail clerk understanding the significance of a FedEx package, but with no idea about its contents, took the package directly to the attorney for whom it was addressed knowing it may impact a client’s interests.high morale leads to high employee intiative

Inside was an offer from the defense attorney offering a $5 million pre-trial settlement. The offer came with one caveat, a deadline of 5 p.m. Monday afternoon.

This mail clerk’s actions provided the attorney and his client the entire weekend to evaluate the offer’s merits, instead of just a stressful few hours contemplation the offer could have received if the mail clerk had less initiative.

The offer was accepted before the deadline and a client who desperately needed significant financial resources to address his new lifestyle and health challenges was able to find resolution without a having to deal with a costly, stressful and uncertain court trial.

A mail clerk made a $5 million difference in the life of a client. This is just one example of how regular, front line employees make a difference every day in the lives of customers and help companies of all sizes fulfill their visions, mission and purpose.

How are your employees making a difference, and how are you letting them know they do?

What is your $5 million dollar mail clerk story?

Next week I’ll write about recognizing and rewarding this type of initiative on behalf of your team members.

5 Traits of a C.H.A.M.P. Leader

The 5 Traits of a CHAMP Leader

These five characteristics of a CHAMP are to be applied inside organizations in two ways:

1. A standard for how organizational leaders must lead;

2. As a standard against which all potential team members are measured for during the hiring process and are held accountable to after becoming a part of the team.

These are same characteristics expected of all within an organization although they are applied slightly differently. This article will outline how leaders should apply the five traits. For an overview of how individual team members should be expected to appy these CHAMP traits view the article titled, The 5 Self-Leadership Traits Expected of Employees in a High-Performing, High-Morale Workforce.

Leaders need to know how to gain commitment to a compelling vision and the strategy to achieve it. This also includes investing the time and energy in creating that compelling vision and strategy and having the courage to ask for help in achieving it. This comes from leaders who know how to communicate in a way that influences their team members in a positive way. It’s a way of communicating that shows how each individual team member benefits when the organization fulfills it vision and strategy, gaining buy-in from all.

Leaders must lead by example in setting the expectation of constant and never ending improvement, and they show it by being open to feedback from all sources. Being open to feedback means more than just proclaiming there is an “open door” policy. It must be shown by actually taking feedback and true appreciation for that feedback by saying “thank you’ without rationalizing and justifying the present situation and then communicating back to the individual who offered the feedback with what is being done with it (it doesn’t have to be implemented, it just needs to be shown as being truly considered, to have been effective).

Leaders must set the tone that there is accountablityto responsibilities and roles throughout the oganization. Leaders must set up systems for identifying realistic goals and outcomes with accountability to them (in all sports there is a Scoreboard in the arenas, a Scorecard for everyone involved to track progress in a game and a Box Score in the newspaper for all to see the results the next day).

Leaders must be exemplars in showing they are motivated in nuanced ways. It is usually easy for leaders to look motivated by showing up early and staying late and expecting others to do the same. But motivation is more than just “hard work” and “long hours.” It means being motivated to take action on difficult decisions and in challenging situations. This means avoiding procrastination at all costs and refusing to tolerate things that do not improve the organization and support the best efforts of team members.

Leaders must understand human motivation and apply the following assumptions in their approach:

* Everyone on the team wants to do a good job

* Actions/decisions are always done with positive intent with the best resources indivdiuals have available to them at the time

* People want to be recognized for their contributions

* People are motivated by intrinsic factors

Leaders must also lead by example and set the tone for their organization that preparation is vital to an organization’s success. It means that leaders should be certain any meeting they hold are designed in a way in which all those invited to a meeting are aware of their role in the meeting and the purpose for their inclusion, agendas and meeting outcomes should be clearly communicated. Schedules should be well maintained and projected as far in to the future as possible while offering enough flexibility to allow for reasonable adjustments.

The leader should be continually looking for ways to raise the bar on individual and organizational preparation. This includes punctuality, meeting deadlines, returning phone calls, and planning the year, quarter, month, weeks and days to maximize results.

To learn more about applying these 5 Traits of a C.H.A.M.P. Leader to your style of leadership and throughout your work environment you may want to consider a private, 1:1 Breakthrough Leadership Strategy Session. You can learn more about them here.

‘Til next time, make it a great week!
skip weisman, transforming leadership and workplace communication to deliver champion level results

Champion Leadership Tip #7 – The 4 Rules of Effective Delegation

Delegation is like flossing your teeth.

It’s something we are told we need to do regularly but instead we do it infrequently and not thorough enough. Thus, we get poor results from it and refrain from doing more frequently. It’s a downward cycle we need to turnaround.

Great leaders delegate for success!

The best way for leaders to grow into better leaders themselves is to invest in delegating to their direct reports, yet so many are challenged by it.

The challenge comes from fear. Fear of their direct reports not fulfilling the task as comprehensively at as high a level, fear of a lack of follow-through, fear of being seen as dumping grunt work downward, fear of giving too much responsibility to someone not ready for it, fear of having to invest too much time to train/coach someone when the leader could just do it themselves. Which excuse have you used?

Yet, if leaders want to grow their departments or their business overall the number one skill they have to master is delegation. Effective delegation can provide a multitude of results, such as:

  • Improved productivity for the leader
  • Greater opportunities for strategic thinking by the leader
  • Improved self-confidence and self-esteem of the direct reports
  • Improved motivation as the direct report begins working on hire level projects and decisions
  • Higher levels of trust between the leader and direct reports

There are only 4 Key Rules to Effective Delegation leaders need to keep in mind to do it successfully:

Delegation Rule #1
Its about delegation, not abdication – leaders will continue to have ultimate responsibility for the delegated activity getting done and must check-in regularly and possibly coach and mentor until direct report masters the required task. Depending on the level of the person being delegated to leaders will need to balance the accountability with giving too much respect and autonomy.

Delegation Rule #2
Specificity in instructions, directions, details and expectations a MUST – without all of the above leaders offer their direct reports nothing but fear and uncertainty in moving forward to learn the task and what is expected from them. This will guarantee a failed delegation experience, preventing a desire for further opportunities on both sides.

Delegation Rule #3
Its about a successful result, not a specific process – too many leaders are in love with their methodology and tactics. There are more ways than one to skin a cat. Allow the person being delegated to to do it their own way at first and they may surprise you with their ability. They may even have a better way. Either way, debrief after to decide the best way to do it next time, and if it really doesn’t matter let them do it their way.

Delegation Rule #4
Failure Is Just a Learning Opportunity – Both the leader and the direct report must be open to allowing failure. Growth comes through learning and learning comes through failure. Allow failure, use it as a teachable moment and build from there.

Have fun!

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