Don’t Focus on Results

April 25th, 2016 § 2 comments § permalink

“As a leader, we are not responsible for the results. As a leader, we are responsible for the people who are responsible for the results.” —Simon Sinek

What’s your priority as a leader, results or building a team to achieve results?

Leaders are ultimately evaluated by their ability to achieve the organization’s goals. However, it’s impossible to reach the goals without the help of their team. Many leaders put the cart before the horse and primarily focus on achieving results.

Failing to recognize the importance of building a team, leaders often resort to issuing orders and forcing compliance. They fail to recognize that their top responsibility is to create an environment that enables team members to contribute the best they have to offer. I recently read an article referring to this tendency as over managing and under leading, which I think is very fitting.

Without a great team, and environment that inspires them to give their best every day, long-term goals will remain out of reach. Rather than obsessing on results, the best leaders focus on hiring the right people and fostering a sense of commitment within the team. They understand that once they have a committed team in place the results will naturally follow.

Let go of your desire to control the outcomes. Instead, focus your energy on building a spectacular team and unleashing their creativity. You will be amazed at what they can accomplish.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

You Always Have a Choice

August 24th, 2014 § 4 comments § permalink

“We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” —Carlos Casteneda

What kind of life do you want?

It’s within your power to choose how you want to live your life. You can choose to approach life with a pessimistic attitude and walk around as if the sky is falling. Maybe things are going pretty well but you find yourself waiting for the other shoe to drop on your head. Or, you can decide to have a more positive and optimistic outlook. While you recognize that life is not without challenges, you trust in your ability to persevere and emerge in a better condition.

Life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes it can even feel like quite an emotional roller coaster. One minute you are excited about a new opportunity and a few hours or days later you are drained by a significant challenge. These high and low moments are unavoidable. However, you can decide how high or low you want to allow yourself to become.

It’s all about where you focus your energy. Some people choose to spend their time and energy complaining about their situation. They spend countless hours looking for people or reasons to blame for their predicament. Additionally, they are on an endless quest to find people who will listen to them weave their tales of woe in an effort to convince everyone that it simply isn’t their fault. Individuals like this have a knack for sucking the energy out of a room.

In order to be happy and successful in life, you need to focus your energy on learning from every situation. Begin by identifying your part in the problem. If you can’t determine what part you play, you have little chance of resolving the situation or learning from it. Maybe you inadvertently did something to lead to the situation. You might have made a decision that you knew in your gut wasn’t right. Even when thrown into a difficult situation that wasn’t of your making, your part in the problem is determined by how you respond to the situation.

Next, find someone you trust to share your problem with. It needs to be someone who won’t judge you but will also challenge you to consider your part in the problem. They won’t allow you to wallow in self-pity and victim hood rather they push you to determine what you can do differently in order to make a change. The focus of this conversation is learning, not commiserating.

Life isn’t always easy. With every situation you face you have the power to choose how you want to live. You can choose to stay stuck in anger and negativity or you can decide to focus on the positive and look for opportunities to learn regardless of the situation. Approaching life with a positive attitude will provide a sense of relief and make life easier, especially during the difficult times.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Look for at least one positive in every situation you encounter this week.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Process Over Outcomes

March 2nd, 2014 § 2 comments § permalink

“Glory lies in the attempt to reach one’s goal and not in reaching it.”

—Mahatma Gandhi

Is your goal helping or hurting you?

Possessing a goal for yourself can sometimes be a double edged sword. While a goal can often provide motivation and keep you moving forward you have to be careful not to become consumed by the desire to achieve a specific outcome. The challenge is to leverage the benefits goals have to offer without becoming too rigid in the process.

The best goals are built on a foundation of purpose and passion. Rather than concentrating on simply starting a business or going back to school, you need to maintain your focus on the greater purpose behind your goal. Remind yourself daily about the service or product you want to offer and the difference you hope to make.  Maintaining your perspective about why you want to be in business, or go back to school, will motivate you to persevere through the ups and downs as well as remain open to opportunities to fulfill your purpose you might otherwise miss.

Start by creating a personal vision for how life will look and feel like when you accomplish your goal. What does a perfect day in your business or new career look like? Who are you helping? What are you doing for them? Take a few moments at the beginning of each day to think about your vision and visualize your perfect day. As you go throughout your day, watch for moments in which you feel the same sense of fulfillment you get when thinking about your perfect day. Notice what you’re doing and whom you’re doing it with.

Finally, at the end of each day reflect on those moments in which you felt fulfillment and identify potential themes. As you consider the ways in which you are already living your vision you may discover that your desired outcomes have changed. By choosing to consciously consider the purpose of your goal each day you will find yourself motivated and fulfilled on a daily basis. You’ll also remain flexible to new opportunities for fulfilling your goal that present themselves.

Goals are wonderful motivational tools that keep us from becoming complacent. Without a meaningful goal in life, your chance of realizing fulfillment is significantly decreased. However, it’s important to keep your goals in proper perspective. Rather than becoming consumed by the outcome you believe you should achieve, staying focused on the deeper purpose of your goal will ensure that the journey is rewarding regardless of the outcome.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify the deeper purpose behind a personal goal and pay attention to how you’re fulfilling that purpose each day.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

One Day at a Time

January 5th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

“The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.” —Abraham Lincoln

What steps are you taking each day to create the future of your dreams?

We’re almost a week into the New Year and if you’re like most people you’ve probably fallen off track already with your resolutions. Frankly this is normal. The key is not to give up and to reset your expectations of making a perfect transition.

Bottom line: making a personal change is hard. Recent research has determined our brain is actually very elastic. So the popular adage, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, simply isn’t true. Although we’re very capable of learning new things and making changes in our life, it doesn’t happen easily.

Significant change whether starting an exercise routine, eating better, starting a business, or changing jobs contains inevitable ups and downs. Successful navigation of these challenges is dependent upon your ability to maintain a high level of energy and focus. This level of enthusiasm can only be sustained if the change is important enough to you. Focus on the areas that are truly meaningful for you and create a compelling image of what it will look like when you achieve your change.  This vision will keep you moving forward when the road gets tough.

Once you have a meaningful purpose and clear vision of what success looks like, approach the change one day at a time. Identify steps you can take each day to move forward and don’t get discouraged when you fall short or step backwards. You’re human and every path to change is full of twists and turns. Simply pick yourself up and make progress the next day.

One very true cliché is, “It’s about the journey, not the destination”.  Making the decision to take action and move forward will have a positive impact on your life, regardless of whether you ultimately reach your goal. It’s never too late to begin taking positive steps toward living the life of your dreams and you’re worth it! Make 2014 a year you look back on as a turning point in your life. Contact me if I can assist you in achieving your dreams. I’d be happy to partner with you on your journey.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one step you can take each day to move forward with your goals for the year.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker M.Ed., PCC

 

 

Leaders Cultivate Talent

July 28th, 2013 § 1 comment § permalink

“It is a fine thing to have ability, but the ability to discover ability in others is the true test.” —Elbert Hubbard 

Do you focus on your team members’ talent or weaknesses?

Each of us possesses talent in some key areas. Likewise there are many areas in which we are week. However, for most of us our areas of talent are overshadowed by our weaknesses. As a leader, there is ample opportunity to focus on the weaknesses of your team members but this won’t inspire success.

While a manager is focused on ensuring his or her team follows the appropriate processes and achieves the stated outcomes, a leader cultivates talent. I’m not suggesting a leader doesn’t care about the outcomes but they don’t become so consumed with short-term results that they overlook the glimpse of talent demonstrated right before their eyes.

The book StrenghtsFinder 2.0 defines a talent as a natural way of thinking, feeling, or behaving. Unfortunately, because our talents come so naturally we often overlook them within ourselves. As a leader you need to watch for evidence of talent at play. For example, you might have an employee with a natural ability to validate the concerns of others and make them comfortable in difficult situations. Or maybe a member of your team has an uncanny ability to see around corners and anticipate issues long before others do.

Taken at face value, it would be hard to argue these aren’t valuable talents. However, imagine if the individual with talent for validating the concerns of others is in position where he is expected to work independently most of the day. Or the woman that can naturally see around corners is expected to follow a very prescribed process without deviation. When forced to work in an area of their weakness they aren’t likely to excel in their assigned roles.  If you view the situation as a manager, you’re apt to become quite frustrated.

However, a leader doesn’t simply focus on a staff member’s inability to meet the expectations of her current role. They look to uncover where her talents lie. Leaders recognize it’s often a simple case of the individual being in the wrong position not that they are a bad person or employee. Instead of simply letting the person go, they consider how to leverage the individual’s talent and realize that by doing so both the individual and the organization will benefit.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Commit to identifying at least one talent in every one of your team members.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker M.Ed., PCC

Embrace Your Authentic Excellence

April 7th, 2013 § 4 comments § permalink

“Our business in life is not to get ahead of others, but to get ahead of ourselves – to break our own records, to outstrip our yesterday by our today.”  — Stewart B. Johnson

How are you capitalizing on the attributes that make you unique?

It’s a popular cliché to say that life is a journey. Although the metaphor may be a tad overused, it’s quite accurate. Each of us has a path we must travel and like any path it’s full of twists and turns. The important question is which path have you chosen. Are you following the path that is right for you or have you become beholden to the expectations of somebody else?

Deep down we all know it’s important to follow our own path rather than trying to live up to the expectations others have for us. Unfortunately, we are continually confronted with subtle pressures, which often prevent clarity about what is best for us. Even when we have chose to follow the best path these same pressures may cause us to become distracted and stumble.

We are constantly bombarded with messages that reinforce the societal definition of success, which is based on the amount of money we make, the size of our house, and the number of cars we drive. Coupled with this unconscious pressure many people also experience the subtle push from family and friends encouraging them to follow a path that is deemed most lucrative and/or stable.

Fortunately you don’t have to accept society’s definition of success. I encourage you to reject the stereotypical view of success and embrace your Authentic Excellence instead. You’ve been put on this earth for a reason. Likewise, you possess a unique combination of talents, knowledge, and skills that the world is waiting for you to share. Your ability to fulfill your potential and achieve your Authentic Excellence, depends upon your willingness and courage to follow the path designed for you.

When you choose to embrace your Authentic Excellence and follow your path you’ll experience a great sense of freedom. I’m not suggesting the path won’t be full of ups and downs. However, once you’re confident about who you are and what is right for you, the need to compete or compare yourself to others will begin to diminish. Rather than worrying about the need to prove yourself to others, you’ll challenge yourself to stay focused, put one foot in front of the other, and fulfill the potential that lies within you.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Take an hour to reflect on the path you’re currently traveling and determine if a course correction is needed.

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Why Should People Follow You?

March 10th, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

“The manager asks how & when; the leader asks what and why.”—Warren Bennis 

Why should your team follow you?

This is a really important question that many leaders have probably never considered. It’s not enough to simply state they should follow you because of your title. This philosophy might motivate people to do the minimum necessary to keep their job but it will never garner the level of commitment necessary for your team to be successful.

I was recently introduced to a powerful concept called the Golden Circle by Simon Sinek.  (You can listen to Simon himself at Ted.com and get more info on the concept at startwithwhy.com.)  Through his research, Simon has discovered that although all organizations can tell you what they do and many can describe how they do it, very few of them can clearly articulate why they do it. The “Why” for an organization is a purpose or cause that explains why the organization exists. It is this sense of purpose that will inspire people to buy from or work for an organization.

As a leader, you need to discover the “Why” for yourself, your staff, your department, and your organization. Start by reflecting on your “why” as a leader.  What drives you go get up in the morning? What impact do you want to make as a leader? Your answers to these questions comprise the foundation of your leadership legacy and serve as measuring stick of your success.

Once you’re clear about your personal “why”, think broader about what the “why” is for the organization as a whole. What is your organization’s reason for being? As you start to clarify the organization’s purpose consider how your team contributes to that “why”. Finally, begin to explore with each of your team members about their personal “why” and how it can be leveraged to make a positive impact for your department and the organization.

As you and your team become crystal clear on the “why” you will unlock a host of possibilities. Your staff will be excited to get out of bed because they see the purpose behind what they are doing and how they can make a meaningful contribution. Additionally, they will willingly follow you and commit themselves to the organization because they understand who you are and what is most important to you. You will no longer need to worry about them doing just enough to keep their jobs.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Define your personal “why” as a leader.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Relationships are Key

February 17th, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.” —Mahatma Gandhi 

What type of relationships have you developed with your team?

Take a minute to reflect on the quality of your relationships with your team members. Are they built upon a foundation of mutual respect? Or are they rife with fear and resentment because you’ve relied on your authority to get things done. Success as a leader today is predicated on your ability to build productive relationships with your employees.

Unfortunately, many leaders choose to rely on formal authority or technical superiority for their source of power. This sense of power is only an illusion, as today’s employees won’t accept this management style. They may comply with your wishes in the moment, but their resentment will grow and it’s simply a matter of time before they have had enough and decide to leave.

One of the keys to your success will be your ability to cultivate respectful relationships with the members of your team. I’m not talking about being liked by everyone. If that is your desire, you will avoid the difficult discussions or unpopular decisions that must be made by effective leaders.

Rather, you need to approach everyone you interact with from a foundation of respect. Make a point to recognize and validate the knowledge, skill, and abilities your team and peers bring to the table. Seek out opportunities to leverage their strengths and remain open to their viewpoints. You must let go of the belief that everything has to be done your way.

These relationships won’t be formed overnight. It requires intentional and consistent action on your part. Meet with your staff at least once a month to understand what’s working as well as their concerns and pain points. They need to trust that you want to help them grow and achieve their personal goals. If the only time they hear from you is when something is wrong, they’ll begin to get defensive from the moment they see you coming towards their desk.

Leadership is not a solo activity. It is impossible for you to accomplish your goals without the assistance of your team. Don’t concentrate on your personal success or agenda; rather remain focused on what your team needs from you in order to help the organization achieve its goals. Success for the organization, your team, and yourself as a leader is sure to follow.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one thing you can do to develop better relationships with your team.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

No Overnight Success

January 20th, 2013 § 4 comments § permalink

“One half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it.”  —Sidney Howard

What are you willing to give up?

I hate to break it to you, but you can’t have it all. This runs counter to popular belief but in reality success is a result of hard work, determination, focus, and choice. Bottom line; if you want to be successful in your career and life you’ll have to decide where to focus your energy and what to walk away from.

Success doesn’t happen overnight. We love to hear about businesses, musicians, or athletes who seem to burst on the scene out of nowhere. These stories create for great drama and instill hope that our big break is right around the corner. However, most of these so-called “overnight success” stories were preceded by years of hard work and non-glamorous moments.

In the book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000 Hour Rule, proposing it takes 10,000 hours of practice before one can master a task. Dedicating 40 hours a week to one particular task, which virtually nobody can do, it would take approximately 5 years to reach 10,000. For most of us, it’s more realistic to expect to spend 7-10 years achieving this level of mastery.

One popular example cited by Gladwell is the Beatles. The Beatles spent four years playing over 1,200 sessions in Hamburg, Germany before they burst onto the American music scene in 1964.  Playing in front of a live audience virtually every day helped them hone the style and sound that would later take the world by storm.

A more current example is Rovio Studios, which created the game Angry Birds. Angry Birds has become one of the greatest selling iOS games of all time and without a doubt a huge success. But, did you know that Rovio developed several other games for 8 years before they hit it big with Angry Birds.

The question is; are you ready to dedicate yourself to a particular task or role for a minimum of 20 hours a week for the next 10 years. That is the price of success and this level of focus can be quite challenging to achieve in a world filled with an infinite number of distractions. Unfortunately, many of the options vying for our attention are good opportunities, forcing us to choose between multiple attractive possibilities.

Finally, it’s important to focus on a task or role that ignites your passion. When you’re honing your craft in something you enjoy it doesn’t feel like work. You may get physically exhausted but you aren’t likely to get bored or burn out. I’m passionate about coaching and it never feels like work to me, even after a full day of 6 or 7 sessions.  Without passion, it’s unlikely you’ll be willing to put in the work required to reach 10,000 hours.

Don’t waste any more time getting started on your 10,000 hours.  Get clear about what you enjoy doing and are willing to dedicate yourself to over the next 10 years.  And if you focus on your passion, you probably find you have several hundred hours of practice already under your belt.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify the task or role you’re prepared to dedicate yourself to over the next 10 years.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

 

 

 

Are You Believable?

October 21st, 2012 § 2 comments § permalink

“People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.”

John Maxwell

Why should your team believe in you?

A couple of weeks ago in my article Look Forward, I talked about the importance of having a vision.  Without an inspiring vision for the future you might be an effective manager of the status quo but you aren’t a leader.  However, as the quote above by John Maxwell indicates, vision isn’t enough.  It is impossible to accomplish your vision without the assistance of your team and you can’t convince them to follow you unless they trust and believe in you.

Great leadership begins with self-awareness.  You need to be crystal clear about who you are and what’s important to you.  Start by articulating your core values and determine how they shape your leadership philosophy.  Next, discover your strengths and become willing to let go of your weaknesses.  These insights will help you determine where to focus your energy as well as the areas in which you should ask others for help.

While self-awareness is important you can’t truly harness its power unless you are willing to share it with your team.  Ensure the members of your team understand what is important to you, what you expect from them, and what they can expect from you as their leader.  Likewise, let them know where they can depend on you to make an impact and which areas you will depend upon them for assistance.  This level of clarity eliminates any confusion that might exist about what it will take for the team to be successful.

After you have let your team know who you are, there is only one thing left to do, follow through!  You must walk the talk or you have no chance building the trust needed to achieve your vision.  However, once you have cultivated your team’s trust and articulated an inspiring vision for the future the possibilities are endless.  You will unleash a creative energy and commitment that can surmount practically any obstacle and potentially create results that surpass your wildest dreams.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Spend one hour journaling about who you are and what is most important to you.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC