There’s Smart – And Then There’s Smart Enough

“You don’t have to know everything – You just need to know where to go and look it up” – I love that quote by Albert Einstein. Those are great words to live by – especially for first time managers, team leaders and supervisors. I wish I would have come across that quote earlier on in my management career. It would have saved me from myself on more than one occasion. What I lacked in competence in those early days I sure made up for in self-confidence. I suffered from a chronic case of  “foot-in-mouth” disease. I figured if I looked like a manager, and talked liked a manager, people would think I was a manager. I was always afraid that someone was going to find out that perhaps I wasn’t as qualified to be a manager as they thought I was.

When I was first promoted to a management position I thought that being a good manager meant that I had to have all the answers. I thought that being a good manager meant that I had to be an  expert at doing everything. After all – isn’t that what good managers do? Wasn’t that why I was promoted to manager in the first place? Thank goodness it didn’t take me too long to realize that – that was the farthest thing from the truth. The fact of the matter is – You don’t have to be the smarted person in the room to be the most successful manager in the room. For most careers – intelligence is highly over-rated. You only need to be smart enough.

You won’t always make the right decisions purely based on what you know – unless you know for certain – that you have all the facts. I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve made a decision before I had all the facts and then ended up saying to myself, “Well if I had known that – there’s no way I would have done this”. Hindsight is always 20/20. Successful managers understand that managing is a team sport and they don’t have to take the lead all the time for the team to be successful. Successful managers understand when it’s time to lead and when it’s time to follow. Geese figured that out a long time ago. When the geese fly in formation, the leader does not remain the same. In the course of flight, several in the flock will take turns moving to the front of the formation. As the leader tires, it falls back and takes its place with the other followers, while a new leader emerges at the front of the V.

Be a sponge. Learn all you can from the people around you. Good managers know what they know. And more importantly – they know what they don’t know and they’re not afraid to admit it. Don’t play a game of smoke-n-mirrors. Don’t make up the answers as you go along. You don’t have to have all the answers – but you do have to know who to go to find out. “A specialist is someone who does everything else worse” – Ruggiero Ricci

Is Your Cup Half-Full or Half-Empty? Attitude is Everything 6

Sir Winston Churchill once said “For myself – I am an optimist. It does not seem to be much use being anything else.” Do you walk around thinking that your cup is half-full or half-empty? I choose to see my cup as half-full. I choose to see the positives in everything that happens to me and around me – because I believe that everything in life is a learning opportunity. Even the negative things that happen to you, and trust me there will be plenty of them, are really positives if you choose to look at them from a different point of view. (It also helps if you believe in fate) I believe everything that happens to you in life – happens for a reason. Whatever happens today is preparing you for what is going to happen tomorrow. (It may not be obvious at the time as you are going through it – but you’ll be able to connect the dots looking back)

I am without a doubt the most optimistic person you’ll ever meet. But besides being an eternal optimist I’m also a realist. (I do have my Dr. Phil moments of clarity) I know that I can’t control everything that goes on around me. I know most outcomes are out of my hands. But I do know that I can control how I choose to react in any given situation. I know that in that space between stimulus and response that Dr. Covey talks about is choice.  I know that I must choose to react in a way that is going to get me what I want.

Everything you do is a choice. You may not like the choices that you have to pick from – but it is a choice. You can choose to do nothing – and see what happens – or you can choose to do something and hopefully end up with what you want. You always have a choice. Only you get to decide how you want to react to any given situation. Your attitude is 100% in your control. “If you change the way you look at things. The things you look at will change”.

The next time you are faced with having to make a choice try asking yourself:

  • What’s my WIIFM? What do I want the end result to be? (You’ve got to name it to claim it)
  • What do I want the other person’s response or reaction to be?
  • Is there a lesson here? What am I suppose to be taking away from this so I don’t end up doing it again?
  • What do I need to do to get what I want? How am I suppose to react?

Once you decide what you want – the how will reveal itself. So remember – the next time that you have to make a choice – take a deep breath – ask yourself a series of questions for clarity – and then react in a way that will get you what you want. Attitude – Your attitude – will make all the difference in the world. – Cheers, 🙂

Park Your Ego At The Door – It’s Not About Being Right 3

“Drop the idea that you are Atlas carrying the World on your shoulders. The world would go on even without you. Don’t take yourself too seriously.” – Norman Peale. Managing people is not about proving your right. If you’re bent on proving that you’re right and they’re wrong, then you need to pick a different profession. Managing others is about doing whatever it takes to accomplish what it is you need to get done.You’ve got to give up control to get control.

Managing is a team sport. (Together – Everyone – Achieves – More) You and I both know that there are a number of ways to accomplish the same task. Does it really have to be all your way? You have the title of manager. You’re going to get the credit for job well done anyways. (Of course the opposite is also true but don’t let that stop you from allowing your people to do it their way) Try not to get too caught up on the process. (How they go about completing the assigned task) The more that you allow your people to be involved in putting the plan together, the more likely it is that they will be interested in the results. If that means letting them win by doing it their way – as long as it doesn’t compromise the end result – then do it – it’s no big deal.

“Bury your ego. Don’t be the star. Be the star maker.” – Bud Hadfield.

Remember – everyone likes to put their personal stamp on things. You should be prepared to do what ever it takes – to reach your goal – to get everyone on the same page and going in the same direction. If that requires you parking your ego at the door – then so be it. You need your people a great deal more than they need you. You’re going to look pretty silly doing everything yourself. Managing others is about inclusion – not exclusion.

There’s More to Listening Than Hearing 1

“In the industrial age, the CEO sat on the top of the hierarchy and didn’t have to listen to anybody … In the information age; you have to listen to the ideas of people regardless of where they are in the organization.” – John Sculley. Active Listening? What images conjure up in your mind’s eye when you hear that? Who do you think is the most important person in the conversation – the sender or the receiver? Active listening (receiving) is as important to communication as effective speaking (sending). If the receiver doesn’t receive the message the way it was intended then whatever was said means absolutely squat.

Active listening is described as a process in which the listener interacts with the speaker. Effective communication takes two. To really listen to what is being said requires mental and verbal paraphrasing and attention to non-verbal cues like tones, gestures, and facial expressions. (We communicate 93% of the time non-verbally – 38% by the tone of our voice and 55% by body language alone.) The next time you have an opportunity to listen try being actively involved in the exchange by developing/demonstrating these five skills to become a more active listener.

1. Restating and Summarizing: You should be able to restate what the speaker said and or summarize the discussion. The speaker should hear their own words being played back to them. (So what you are saying is …)

2. Paraphrasing: You are paraphrasing what the speaker said by repeating it as accurately as you can – using your own words. If you met someone in the hallway after the discussion could you tell that person what the discussion was about?

3. Non-Words: Listeners can show the speaker that they are listening by verbally and non-verbally acknowledging the speaker. (The Fraser Crane – Hello – I’m listening) Use non-words like “ah-ha – yeah – hmmmmmm – oh. Smile, nod and make eye contact.

4. Supporting Statements: Another way to verbally acknowledge a speaker is to use supporting statements. Examples include “Go on; tell me more, and then what happened?, OMG you’re kidding?

5. Non-Verbal Messages: Remember – We communicate 55% of the time non-verbally. Your body language is speaking volumes and you haven’t said a word. Your non verbal messages must be the same as your verbal messages so that the speaker feels that you are being sincere. People believe the non-verbal messages you send to be more accurate. Your verbal responses should include non-verbal responses such as: body angle and stance, facial expressions, arms, hands, legs and feet. Your body language should appear open and receptive. Put your hands down at your sides not across your chest. Rolling your eyes, yawning, looking around the room, looking down at your watch or tapping on the floor with your toe should be avoided at all costs.

We aren’t born good listeners but we can learn how. Try adding these five skills to your active listening toolbox. You’ll find out everything you need to know about the people you work with and interact with by actively listening. 🙂 – Cheers,