At Deckplate leadership blog, I found some interesting elements that really hold true through projects and leading groups. Read some of the ideas I liked or the blog itself at http://deckplateleader.wordpress.com/
“There are a lot of “Be”s in “Being The Chief”, “Being The Leader”, or just plain “Being Successful”, but I believe these five “Be”s to be the most important in creating success:
- Be BOLD
- Be CREATIVE
- Be RELEVANT
- Be READY
- Be RIGHT
I think of these five “Be”s as being very dependent on each other much in the same manner as the Triangle Of Fire, where heat, oxygen and fuel are all the three mandatory ingredients for there to be a fire. You remove one element from the equation and it is impossible for a fire to happen. You remove one of these “Be”s from the equation and the result is failure.
If you apply these “Be”s in everything you do, whether it be at home with your family or achieving personal and professional goals, you will be successful in your ventures. If something fails however, or if you or your team fails at something, then take a look at this list and figure out which principle was not applied to the best of your ability and work harder in that area to prevent failure the next time around.
Being bold is NOT:
- Being a jerk to get things done.
- Being combative with everybody who disagrees with what you do in an effort to stand your ground.
- Taking unnecessary risks.
- Sticking out your neck for someone because you feel obligated to do so as a boss.
However, being bold IS:
- Getting out of your comfort zones.
- Being visible.
- Taking on the hard jobs.
- Being vocal up, down and across the chain of command.
- Laying it all out on the line every single day.
- Making a decision.
- Not being afraid to make mistakes.
Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zones
You want to avoid being a one-trick pony and diversify your skill sets. When you stay within the confines of those things that you are comfortable with you become complacent and short-sighted. Worst of all, you will stymie your personal and professional growth. Get out of your comfort zone by taking the lead on projects that you may not have much experience in, or those jobs within your organization that you think you may not particularly like too much. In the end, the education you receive by learning how to do those things you might not have done otherwise will be priceless.
Speaking of getting out of your comfort zones, get out from behind your computers. Roll up your sleeves and get dirty from time to time. Walk the front lines, visit the troops. This will make yourself available for mentorship and development of your people. Remember, you will set the tone as the Deckplate Leader, and your actions will always….always….speak louder than your words. By getting out from behind your computer and spending time with your people you will be demonstrating their importance in your life because you are a busy person with a busy schedule, yet you still found time to see what life is like in the trenches first hand. And, hey, you might just learn something new about your field from one of your people that you may not have learned otherwise.
Taking The Hard Jobs
The hard jobs aren’t necessarily the jobs that are physically difficult to do, but rather the jobs that are important and need to get done with nobody willing to do them. This is what I like to call “Embracing The Suck” or “Leading In The Suck”. You have to pay your dues in order to gain credibility and increase your sphere of influence. And more often than not these will be those jobs that are WAY outside of your comfort zones.
Doing the right thing is easy when everybody’s watching, it is much harder to do when nobody is looking though. I would argue that standing up for what is right is even harder. But you must be willing to speak your mind and provide valuable insight up, down and across the chain of command. Remember the analogy of the lumber jacks. They are ordered to cut down a group of trees, so they get all their equipment, figure out the overhead costs, and develop a timeline. Then they run out and start cutting down the trees in a forest. The leader is that person who speaks up and says, “Hey, we’re in the wrong forest!”
Laying It On The Line…Everyday
When you suit up in the morning you must be willing to play ball. I grew up playing baseball and football, and one thing that you learn early on is that once you commit you have to go all out. A half-assed effort will produce half-assed results. Part of what makes people successful is their passion. They show up to do business day in and day out. Mix this with a positive attitude and now you have a potent solution that will be infectious, and spread down to your teams. The Deckplate Leader sets the tone. They set the pace.
Making A Decision
Inaction is a horrible cancer that can bring an organization down to its knees. A successful leader must be able to make a decision. There comes a point when the analysis is complete, or as complete as it can be, and it is time to make a decision and execute. Sometimes, if not most times, you will have to be able to make a decision and hope for the best, with a 50/50 shot of your decision being the right one.
“The most difficult part of creativity, or innovation, is having the change last. You have to have sustainable innovation. How do you do that? Well, first, you can’t make changes just for the sake of making change. You know the addage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Everybody wants to make their mark and leave their legacy. But if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it. Maybe your legacy is that you kept a successful program from falling apart and passed on a good product to your successor. I will argue, though, that things can always be better and processes can always be improved. After all, times change, technology improves, old ways of doing things and normal routines become obsolete. It is our creativity that allows us to move with the times.
The second part of sustainable innovation is keeping it simple. The KISS rule applies here. Keep It Simple Stupid. Too much change is a shock to the system. You must manage it and pick away at the battles that you can win. Make sure that your change doesn’t create more work or cost more money. The goal is to become more efficient and cost effective, thereby producing more output with the same level of quality as there was before.
Another part of sustainable change is what we call “buy in”. This is not your father’s world anymore. It’s not a situation where the boss gets to bark the orders and the worker-bees just do it. There must be buy in from your subordinates. This means that you have to solicit the input and creativity of your replacements, our future leaders, to come up with a solution that the majority will approve of so that you have their buy in. More than likely, the workers will still be there after you leave. If you want your change to stick, then it will be those workers that carry out the job and pass it on. And if your successor ends up making a change just for the sake of change then it will not be well received, in a way forcing your successor to continue with your way of doing things or improving on your idea.
Now, I’m not talking about always going with the “group think” mentality. You are “The Chief” after all. If you know your people well enough then you won’t always have to consult them when implementing change because you will already know what the reaction will be. “Soliciting” in this case means talking to your people. Asking them questions and listening, really listening, to what they have to say.”