Final Thoughts on Leadership

Final Thoughts on Leadership

Over the last several weeks I’ve taken a look at a few topics about leadership that are near and dear to my heart and I hope that you’ve been able to find some good takeaways to apply to your life.  Whether you’re a leader, manager, parent, whatever, I feel like there’s something in there for everyone.

When it comes down to it, in order to be a great leader, you have to be great at relationships.  Now, of course, there’s a long list of attributes that makes for a great leader, but if you have no idea how to connect with people, regardless if you’re an introvert or extrovert, then you will have no followers.  And what’s the basic definition of a leader?  Someone who has followers of course!

I want to leave you with a final thought on leadership.  This is not going to be easy for many of you.  Especially for those of you like me who just really want to help others.  As a leader, if you are trying to develop leadership in adults, you have to get used to not helping.  Chances are, you work with an amazing group of people who are incredibly talented.  So, get out of their way and let them do their jobs.  This is a challenge for me because my brain is really good at figuring out systems and processes and so it’s hard to not dive in and tell everyone how to do something.  Who knows?  Maybe their way is better than mine, but I’d never know it because I’m in the way.  Your role as a leader is to be there if needed.  This is also hard when your team gets stuck.  If you are trying to build leadership skills in your team, then you have to stop yourself from jumping in and fixing problems.  Now, if you are working with teenagers or young adults, you have a bit more leeway because chances are, those folks just don’t have the experience yet and need some guidance.

This is partly why when I was teaching in the traditional classroom that I loved and also hated rubrics.  Rubrics can be the death of creativity.  Yes, there were those students who wanted to know exactly what was required (admittedly, I was one of them) and when I wouldn’t give that to them, they struggled really hard to get projects done and had 10,000 questions.  It truly breaks my heart to see creativity stolen away from students through the use of rubrics because it’s cuts corners on critical thinking.  I believe this is why so many Gen Z struggle in their first jobs.  School beat the creativity out of them and instead they were told exactly how to perform every task if they wanted that A so when they get out into the real world, they don’t know how to do work on their own.  Another reason that we should do away with grades, but that’s a topic for another day.

The point is, as a leader, sometimes you have to step back and let the chips fall as they may.  If you’re always doing to the work for your team, how will they ever learn to do it for themselves?  You have to be ok letting them “fail” so that they can pick up the pieces and start again.  It’s how ingenuity happens.  It’s also how team synergy happens.  You can’t always force the creative process as much as you might like to.  Finally, stop waiting for or expecting perfection.  It doesn’t exist.  If you are the type of leader who requires perfection out of your team, you’ll soon find you’ll be a team of one.

Let’s wrap this series up!  Here are the key takeaways:

  • Great leaders have integrity, are honest, and humble
  • Get to know yourself and your team
    • How do you work?
    • How do they work?
    • What motivates them?
    • What motivates you?
  • If you’re stuck in a toxic work relationship or environment, it’s time to move on – life is too short for you to be unhappy.
  • Looking to find a mentor or how to become one? Go back and listen to my interviews with Sheri Hart
  • Get used to not helping – even when you really really want to
  • And finally, when life’s challenges get tough remember that some things are just “over the L”

Episode 22: Final Thoughts on Leadership

In today’s episode, I’m wrapping up my short series on leadership and leaving you with my final thoughts.

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • How to stop helping
  • Why rubrics kill creativity
  • Key takeaways from the series

 

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Is Your Boss Like a Sex-Crazed Cardinal?

Is Your Boss Like a Sex-Crazed Cardinal?

Today I want to tell you a story.  Before the high heat of summer set in, I had my brother install new tint on our windows to keep the heat out.  We have 9 huge windows on the south side of our house that heat everything up in the afternoons.  The type of tint he used is highly reflective on the outside, which is great for reflecting light, however, it created 9 individual mirrors on the outside of our house.  Now, you’re probably wondering what the big deal is, so here’s the deal.  The Northern Cardinal mating season runs from May to July and the females are extremely territorial.  For several weeks, we had a female cardinal repeatedly slamming herself into her own reflection because she saw it as a threat to the pretty male birds in the yard that she was interested in hooking up with.

My husband and I both figured she’d eventually catch on and give it up but not until the mating season was over, did the incessant pecking stop.  And I say pecking like it was this cute little tap, tap, tap on the window.  It was really more like she was body slamming herself into the glass.  This got me thinking, how often do we feel the sense of someone encroaching upon our territory and get our feathers all ruffled up, as it were?  Or, how often do we make the same mistakes over and over again never learning the lesson?  We tried several different ways to get this bird to move on but no matter what we did, that thing just wouldn’t, or couldn’t figure it out.  Also, you clearly don’t want to mess with female Northern Cardinals when they are trying to get some.

Too often humans behave just like the cardinals; we see our reflection aka fear and we let it stop us from moving forward to get what we really want or need.  The same can be said about toxic relationships.  Some of us stay in relationships we know are unhealthy but like that cardinal, we keep bashing our faces against the window hoping for a change that will never come, and what we don’t realize is that the relationship we desire is waiting for us in the next tree over.

Lately, I’ve been discussing my thoughts on leadership and by now you know I strongly believe that in order to be a good leader, you have to be good at relationships.  Part of building strong relationships involves letting others in.  A lot of managers struggle with this because they fear if they give an inch, then their people will take a mile.  Or, they let their egos get in the way and they can’t relish the idea of giving over control to their team.  I think it boils down to self-esteem issues.  Rather than working together with folks as a united front, they’d rather call all the shots for two reasons.  First, they worry about being viewed as weak by their superiors.  Second, they get comfortable or complacent and change equates to more work.  How often have you been involved with a group of people who have “this is the way we’ve always done it” tattooed on their foreheads?  It’s called the comfort zone for a reason, it’s comfortable there.  It’s like a big, fuzzy, warm blanket where new ideas come to die.

But, what if as a manager or leader, you were to let your team in?  Let them be part of the decision-making process.  Ask them what is working or not working.  If you are doing reviews on their work, have them reciprocate on your work.  This is no easy task because, for most of us, it’s hard to hear that our people are unhappy.  And, for a lot of people, it is really hard to accept the fact that they need to change or evolve.  My comeback to the people who say “this is how we’ve always done it” is “well, that doesn’t make it right.”  If you are a manager of people or a leader in your group, I encourage you to get to really know your people and bring them into the fold.  Be transparent.  Be honest.

This brings me to the final thought I want to address.  Sometimes, relationships are flat out toxic whether in your professional life or your personal life.  If the reason you’re not keen on sharing the load with your teammates is that there’s what I like to call “a snake in the grass” amongst you, then it is time to consider moving on and ending that relationship.  You know the type, they take credit for all the ideas, they say one thing and do another, and you flat out can’t trust them to ever do the right thing.  In this case, in my opinion, you have two options.  Either you find ways to cover your ass such as keeping a file that documents your interactions, or you call it a day and get the heck out of there.  Trust me, it is not worth it to waste your energy on those hellbent on bringing you down.  There are other lovely places to work and better opportunities to share your knowledge with people who are truly invested in you and helping you grow as a person.  Don’t be like that cardinal slamming its body into the window hoping to scare off the competition.  Rather, look around.  See what’s out there.  You might be pleasantly surprised at the new opportunity that’s waiting for you to reach out and grab it.

If you’ve ever been in this situation, I’d love to hear about it and what you did to overcome it.  You can either leave a comment below or you can email me at cj@adultingwithcj.com.

Episode 18: Toxic Work Relationships

In this episode, I’m sharing with you the story of the sex-crazed cardinal that wouldn’t leave our backyard and how her story is like toxic work relationships I’m sure you’ve experienced.

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • Why you don’t mess with female Northern Cardinals during mating season
  • How fear can motivate workplace behaviors
  • What to do if you’re in a toxic relationship at work

Connect with Me:

Please leave a Rating and Review:

If you enjoyed this episode, I would really appreciate it if you would take a few minutes to do a review on Apple Podcasts.  Reviews on Apple Podcasts are one of the best ways to get the word out about podcasts.

 

Are You an Effective Leader?

Are You an Effective Leader?

Today I’m starting a short leadership series.  This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart as being the first-born I’m a natural leader, and because I’ve always been curious about what makes for a great leader.  In my short time on this planet, I’ve been witness to people who should never have been put into leadership positions.  You know the type, communication is a foreign concept, they expect you to be a mind reader, you must never question their judgment, and they expect blind allegiance.  On the flip side, I’ve been very fortunate to work with some amazing leaders, the ones who lift you up, and want to teach you and help you be the best version of yourself.  They are your biggest cheerleader.  And although they still expect excellence, the same as the first example, the difference is you don’t want to disappoint the second.

This series is going to cover how, as a leader, you should start working on your relationships if you haven’t already.  We’re going to discuss the Enneagram types, how rewards don’t always work in the way we want them to and why this happens, and we’ll finish with a guest interview on mentorship – how to find one if you don’t have one and how to mentor someone else.

Frankly, I believe that to be a good leader you must first take a hard look in the mirror.  This is not an easy task – especially if you don’t like what you see.  According to a 2018 Forbes article, “It could be easily said that a great leader is someone who possesses a vision and the courage to follow through, who has integrity, honesty, humility and continues to be focused in the face of adversity.”  Those are some powerful words. Let’s start with integrity.

Having integrity means that you possess strong morals and an ethical conviction.  In other words, you always try to do the right thing even when no one is looking.  It also means that you recognize when you screw up and own your mistakes.  If your subordinates are calling you Dexter behind your back, this could mean one of two things.  Either they’ve figured out your dirty little secret/pastime or more likely, it means they think you are a sociopath.  This is not a good thing my friend.  I once worked with a woman who was the very definition of a sociopath with a good dose of narcissism mixed in.  She would lie, cheat, and steal to get what she wanted.  Driven by her lust for power is ultimately what did her in and in the end, she was fired from her position. Bosses with integrity have no need for power because they know they are good at what they do meaning they are natural leaders who know how to keep things organized and running smoothly.  They are also willing to show appreciation to their staff for a job well done.

As children, we heard the tales of Honest Abe and how he was known for always telling the truth.  Everyone who knew him said the same thing, they trusted his judgment and knew they would always get the truth even if it was something they didn’t want to hear.  Do your employees trust you?  Effective leaders are generally viewed as honest by their employees.  They keep everyone apprised of the goings-on within the organization regardless if it’s good or bad.  Leaders who are transparent and have an open-door policy are viewed much more favorably than those who conceal information.  Also, a trustworthy leader is a person who sees the best in people and believes that most people want to do the right thing.  They are approachable and supportive of everyone, not just the people they like.  We’ve all had teachers who played favorites.  When I was in high school there was this one teacher who I swear must have been the most unpopular person when they were in school because they always let the popular kids get away with everything.  In fact, this teacher actively participated in students stealing things because she would accept the items as treasures!  And, she was highly jealous of another teacher who was very well-liked by all the student body.  These traits do not make for good teachers or leaders.

And this brings me to humility.  Leaders who come from a place of humility use their success for the greater good, rather than for their own personal gain.  As a leader, how can you show humility?  First, you have to be willing to get your hands dirty.  Your team needs to know that you are willing to get down and dirty in the trenches with them.  Let me give you an example.  At a company I previously worked for, there was this one leader who could never be bothered to do any task she deemed menial.  She wouldn’t even load paper into the copier when she was in the middle of printing something.  And you bet your butt that if you suggested a new way of doing things that wasn’t her idea, it was never going to happen – even if it would make her life easier.  At this same company, you could always find the CEO doing any job that needed doing.  Pallets in the warehouse that needed unloaded? She was in there getting hot and sweaty working with the warehouse workers.  Toilet was overflowing in the restroom?  She went in with a plunger in hand.  The receptionist had to go home sick?  She was at the front answering phones.  Can you guess which one of these women everyone respected?  She removed her ego from the equation.  No task was beneath her.  She led by example and people loved her for it.  I know that we sometimes hear that being humble is a weakness.  But having humility is what helps us learn and opens us up to new opportunities for self-improvement.  You either want to grow and develop or you don’t and guess what?  The people you lead pick up on which one you choose.

One of the best bosses I’ve ever had embodied all these traits.  She was always willing to dig in and do the work, her door was always open, and she gave credit where credit was due.  She treated everyone the same and she tried to see the best in all her people.  She led by example and we loved her and would do anything she asked of us.  She is the kind of leader I aspire to be.  Are you that person for your people?

If you have a story you’d like to share about your favorite leaders, you can leave a comment below or you can email me at cj@adultingwithcj.com.

Next week I’m discussing the first four types of the Enneagram, which if you want to check out ahead of time, you can visit here: https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-descriptions.

See you next week!