7 Bad Habits that Made Me a Bad Boss

The MOR Associates Tuesday reading from Nov. 4 is based on an article written by John Brandon which first appeared in inc.com

1. Expecting good communication from others but not practicing it: Do you expect others on our team to provide updates on challenges and milestones but not do they same for them? Just as it is important to know the status of projects your team is working on, it is important for them to know the same. What challenges are you having? Where are your milestones slipping? Transparency does not show weakness. By sharing with your team you will not only create a sense of trust but they may even be able to help you!

2. Promoting people before they are ready: Promoting someone before they are ready simply to keep them from leaving is not the answer. If you sense someone on your team is unhappy or feeling unchallenged have a conversation. Remember: Initiate, inquire, show interest and influence. If they are not ready think about what training or opportunities you can provide that will give them the skills they need.

3. Charging in with guns blazing: Think scaffolding. Coming into a meeting and threatening people is typically not the answer. This is not the way to build relationships and trust. Instead Initiate, inquire, show interest and influence (I see these keeping coming up over and over again). Take the time to gather information, learn what the issues are and together come up with a solution.

4. Not doing a needs analysis before purchasing: Always, always do a needs analysis before purchasing equipment and take the time to talk to our customer. Share your knowledge but think about how you question. Don’t try to bring them on to your side. Take the time to help them understand what their needs are.

5. Too much pride in role: As a verb pride is defined as feeling proud of a quality or skill. As a noun it is feeling pleasure from one’s own achievement. It is good to feel proud and a sense of accomplishment but don’t forget everyone else’s role in your accomplishment. Who made this achievement possible. Be sure to show gratitude.

6. Thinking you know it all: Be cognizant of the abilities of everyone around you. It could be someone below you or above you that has the knowledge needed to accomplish your goal. This is where networking and relationship building helps. Ask around and see who the experts are. Don’t discount anyone.

7. Not sharing vision: Don’t ever assume and communication is key, we all remember hearing these two statements along the way. People are not mind readers. Make sure you are communicating your vision clearly, frequently and with transparency. Your team shouldn’t be left guessing, or worst second guessing your intentions. If you want to build a coalition people need to know where you are going and why. It’s not enough to communicate your vision, make sure you team knows why that is your vision.

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Listening

The November 18 MOR Associates Tuesday reading focuses on listening. It is based on a Leadership Reflection written by Zachary Jacques. Jacques says, “…if I want to improve my presence, I must focus on listening skills as well as speaking.” Sometimes the most obvious, is the most elusive. He goes on to discuss an exercise they did where the “listener” is intentionally acting distracted and then asked the speaker how they felt. Not surprisingly they felt emotions such as anger, frustration and irritation. Can any of you relate? We’ve all done it, and likely been on the giving and receiving end. Maybe not as frequently in a one to one discussion but certainly during a staff meeting or presentation. We may justify it in any number of ways, but here is a chance to practice  seeing things from the perspective of the other. Practice turning off your devices and listening. If you must check your e-mail do so before the presentation and after, if needed exit the room. You may find that what you thought was “boring” or “irrelevant” only seemed that way because you weren’t really listening. You may learn something new! There is a time, place and method for feedback. If after intently listening you found the speaker could do some things to make their talk more engaging then simply go up and ask, “may i give you some feedback”?

Gratitude

The MOR Associates Tuesday Reading for Nov. 25 was about Gratitude. While I’ve always thought of gratitude as saying thank you and showing appreciation, I haven’t thought of it from a perspective changing lens. We are encouraged not only think about how we can change our own perspective but how can we help others. Each of our colleagues has work frustrations, but they also have personal frustrations. Whether these are related to money, health or something else how can we help them see the “positive”, to be grateful for what they do have. This is not always easy as we don’t always know the personal circumstances of those we work with. This may be a lead by example situation. If we always try to see the positive, to show gratitude for what we do have, and not complain maybe we can help those around us do the same. Although it is well past Thanksgiving it is always the right time of year to show gratitude!

How can I change my perspective and look at the positive? Instead of “complaining” or looking at something as a limitation, how can I instead look at it as an opportunity? We all have processes and procedures and best practices. We all are experts in our field. Rather than approach someone who isn’t doing things the way we think they should be done with a negative thought look at it as an opportunity to build a new relationship. Through the act of building a relationship you will naturally look at the situation from their perspective, see things the way they do and understand where they are coming from. Rather than just jumping in and telling them how things should be done, take the time to ask questions, and get to know them. Before the meeting think about what image you want to portray, how should you approach the situation? How do we do this? The 4 I’s are a great way to start! Initiate, Inquire, show interest and influence.

The Pursuit of Less

The Tuesday Reading from Dec. 2 discusses our never-ending thirst for always doing more. It is based upon the HBR.org article by Greg McKeown “Why we Humblebrag about being busy” and Jim Collins’ “undisciplined pursuit of more”.  We are called to be essentialists, or in the words of Jim Collins, the one key to being successful today is developing “a ferocious understanding of what you’renot going to do.” How does one design their life around only the essentials things? In a world full of constant information, meetings and never ending e-mails how do we find the “stuff” that is meaningful to us? One tip is taking the time to walk, allowing yourself quite time to think and reflect. Another reason to get our there and walk! Greq McKeown suggests:

1. Schedule a personal quarterly offsite: Every three months take three hours to come up with three things you want to accomplish in the next three months. Of course the key here is to keep them essential and achievable. I can also see the need to schedule in time to accomplish these and to create milestones. First I need to schedule in my three hours to reflect on what three things do I want to accomplish. A new year seems the perfect time for this! They are on my calendar, that’s the first step.

2. Rest Well to Excel: Am I getting enough quality sleep? The easy answer to that is no. The question is how can I take the concept of being an essentialist and use it to enable me to get more sleep? How can I make better use of my time?

3. Add expiration dates on new activities: Even though an activity is successful does it need to become a “tradition”? What “traditions” are nice but not essential. McKeown says, “The next time you have a successful event, enjoy it, make the memory, and move on.” I’m not sure this always applies. Surely some repeating events are worth repeating. I think assessing at the completion of every event and discussing what the goals and objectives would be for repeating the event would be important.

4. Say no to a good opportunity every week: “consider what you would bring to the table, what you might drop to take this on, etc.  If you don’t have time to do this evaluation, you don’t have the space to do it if you accept.”  I love this statement and have shared this advice with many people already. The new behavior I need to work on is not immediately saying yes, but “that sounds really interesting, let me look at my load and see if I have the time to fit it in”.

Personal Priorities

This week’s MOR Associates Tuesday reading focuses on not just setting priorities, but honoring them.  I wrote my Tuesday reflection on how difficult it is to do just that. I commented on how easy it is to let the week go by and not spend any ELP time. I made a commitment to block out time every week and even said that I was immediately going to put that on my calendar. Yet what actually happened? As soon as I finished the reflection I had to run off to a meeting and told my self I would do it when I got back. Well, here I am a month later and I still have not blocked out the time on my calendar. This weeks reading was a good reminder for me. There, I just blocked out the time. Now I need to guard it and honor the priority. I feel I’ve been given an amazing opportunity, being a part of this program, and it is important to me to make the most of it.

The other thing that struck me in this week’s reading was how one spends their lunch time. In the past I used that time for walking. At some point I started sitting at my desk working rather than going out for a walk. I’ve been using the time to read  articles,  and catch up on e-mail.  Rather than choosing between reading or walking I’m going to try and combine the two and listen to a book while walking.

I created this blog to serve the purpose of keeping me accountable and doing more than just reading. Blogging forces me to really listen to what is being said, think about it and respond on how I will involve, change and follow-up. Listening doesn’t just have to be in real time.