Inspire with Mission

March 29th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

“No company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”

—Jack Welch

 How inspiring is your mission?

Most people prefer to have meaningful work. It’s natural to want to make a positive impact in some way. In order for your team or organization to be successful, you must help your staff focus on something bigger. Otherwise they will view it as simply a job and only due the minimum necessary.

Your organization’s success is dependent upon the engagement and commitment of your employees. You need them to bring their hearts and minds through the door each morning, not just their bodies. When your employees are fully engaged their critical thinking will improve as well as their ability to identify innovative solutions to the challenges they encounter.

On the flip side, when you have a team that is simply going through the motions, they won’t step out to take chances or solve problems. Instead they’ll simply drop their challenges in your lap and wait for you to solve them. If you create a team that blindly follows your direction and seeks your permission every step of the way, you’ll find your organization is incapable of keeping pace and your competitors will begin to pass you by.

An engaged workforce begins with a clear and compelling mission. You need to articulate the main purpose of your organization. Clearly identify how your services or products make life better or simpler for your customers. Don’t focus first and foremost on improving the bottom line. While critical to your organization’s sustainability, it isn’t your reason for being nor will it motivate your team.

Once you have clearly articulated an inspiring vision, help each member of your organization connect it to his or her role. Don’t assume they understand the connection. Help them understand how the mission would be impacted if they weren’t their to play their part.

Finally, make it a habit to discuss your mission on a regular basis. Don’t just frame it on the Board room wall never to be thought about again. Share stories about how employees have made decisions and took actions that exemplify the mission, reward those who take risks in service of the mission, and any time a decision has to be made ask how the potential solutions support the mission.

Your organization’s mission or purpose is critical to your overall success. Don’t blow off this important piece of your foundation. The more time and attention you devote to defining and discussing your mission the stronger your foundation will become. On top of this strong foundation you can build a successful organization full of energized and engaged individuals excited to do whatever they can to fulfill your mission each and every day.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Define the positive impact your service or product makes.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Keep Moving Forward

March 22nd, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

“Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.”

—Chinese Proverb

What are you doing to continue your growth?

Every year it seems as if the pace of change increases exponentially. In order to keep up, it’s critical to ensure you continue to make forward progress. There’s no such thing as standing still, you’re either moving forward or falling backwards.

One of the books I read in graduate school was We Are All Self Employed by Cliff Hakim. Hakim’s premise that we all enter into a contract with our employer, which can be revoked by either one of us at any time, had a big impact on me. There are no guarantees and we never know when our contract will come to an end.

Rather than worrying about if, or when, that day will come, you need to focus your energy on continuing to refine your knowledge and skills. Luckily there are many different approaches you can take allowing you to grow as quickly or slowly as you want.

One option you might explore is to earn a new certification. Whether you’re in HR, IT, project management, or health care there are often a variety of certifications you can earn to expand both your knowledge and skills. You could also choose to go back to school for a degree or simply attend a course that is of interest to you.

Another approach is to seek out a new project to work on within your organization. Look for an opportunity that will allow you to play to your strengths yet challenge you to apply them in either a new way or in a new domain. Gaining exposure and working with a different area of the business or industry will not only add to your knowledge base it will make you better at your core responsibilities.

Looking to challenge yourself to learn how to handle difficult situations more effectively or enhance your people management and/or influencing skills, then you might want to work with a mentor or coach. He or she can help you step back and consider different perspectives as you navigate challenging situations. This is also a great strategy if you are looking to develop and implement a vision for yourself and/or your team.

Finally, you could choose to pick-up a new hobby or read a book about a new topic that appeals to you. Taking the time to develop a new skill or read about a new topic will challenge you to use your brain in new ways. Again, you’ll probably find that through this experience you make connections back to your professional life, which will make you a better employee.

Change is inevitable but growth is optional. There is nothing you can do to stop it, yet you don’t want to allow yourself to get passed by either. Challenge yourself to learn something new this year and keep moving forward, no matter how slowly.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one strategy you are going to implement in 2015 to grow.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Hire Wisely

March 15th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

“You’re only as good as the people you hire.”

—Ray Kroc

How do you select the right people for your team?

Deciding whom to hire is potentially the most important decision you will ever make as a leader. Your success is dependent upon the ability and commitment level of your team. Without a capable and enthusiastic team you won’t achieve your goals or the organization’s goals. You must take this decision seriously in order to make strategic hires for the future rather than settling for a “warm body.”

When looking to identify a new member for your team, you need to start by challenging yourself. Look for someone who is stronger than you in one area or another. It isn’t realistic for you to be good at everything nor is it necessary to be an effective leader. Identify someone who compliments your abilities as well as the abilities of the rest of the team.

Additionally, look for an individual you won’t have to micromanage. While you’re responsible for helping them adjust to your organization and their new role, in addition to providing guidance along the way, you need to be able to trust them to fulfill their role. If you constantly have to look over an individual’s shoulder, there will be two people on your team who aren’t producing at maximum effectiveness.

Although it’s important for your new team member to have the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to do the role it’s even more important that he or she is a good cultural fit with your team and the organization as a whole. Regardless of how good their technical skills are, if they don’t get along with the team or irritate others throughout the organization, nobody will want to work with them. As people attempt to work around this individual inefficiencies and critical points of failure will begin to emerge.

Finally, look for someone who is passionate about the work you do.  Whether they get excited about the product you’re creating, the service you provide, or the people you impact it’s critical that they have a sense of enthusiasm for what they are doing. Otherwise, you will likely discover that they’re simply showing up for the paycheck. Without a sense of passion the individual will never go beyond what is defined in the job description nor take the extra steps to develop innovative ideas and ensure a first rate customer experience.

Each time you’re faced with a hiring decision, approach it as a strategic decision that could affect your team and organization for several years. The worst thing you can do is rush the process. Although you are likely overwhelmed due to the vacant position, don’t allow yourself to become desperate. If you settle for too many “warm bodies” you just might find that you’re the one interviewing for a new job.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify the complimentary skills you need as well as the attributes that would make a potential candidate a good cultural fit.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Rely on Inner Confidence

March 1st, 2015 § 8 comments § permalink

“He who is plenteously provided for from within, needs but little from without.” —Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Do you trust yourself?

I believe confidence is the single most important ingredient to anyone’s success. Without at least a modest measure of confidence in your talents and skills you’ll find it difficult to take the action necessary to achieve your goals in life. Rather than simply sitting back and depending on other people to provide you direction, you need to believe in yourself and chart your own path.

One of the worst things you can to do is to seek personal validation from those around you. We all need to feel like we’re supported and it feels good to be praised by our managers, peers, friends and families. However, we won’t always receive the praise we seek. If you stake your sense of worth and accomplishment on the praise of others, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. You may also create a self-fulfilling prophecy in which you continue to place more emphasis on your desire to be praised only to be repeatedly disappointed.

Your best source of confidence comes from within. Start by becoming crystal clear about your personal talents and strengths. Everyone has talent and you’re not an exception. The problem is that you likely take your talents for granted and don’t think they’re very important. This simply isn’t true. Step back and think about the tasks, behaviors, and ways of thinking that come very naturally to you. These are indications of areas of talent for you. Also take stock of all the knowledge and skills you have acquired over your lifetime. You’ll be amazed at how much you truly know.

Next, identify all of your accomplishments. Think about all the different jobs you’ve had and identify the projects you worked on, the problems you helped solve, or the customers you helped. However, don’t limit yourself to professional accomplishments. Think about the sports teams or clubs you were on in school as well as any community groups you have participated in. Every one of these experiences is a ripe source of accomplishments, talents, knowledge, and skill.

Finally, once you’ve identified all of your personal talents, knowledge, skill, and accomplishments it’s important to capture it all on paper. This isn’t the time to be modest! Capture in as much detail as you can, what you did, how it made a difference, and what talents you brought to the table. Also, think about the feedback you’ve been given from others. What praise have you received? What talent did others acknowledge you for? Capture all of this in the same document.

Whenever you’re feeling a little discouraged, open this document and review all that you’ve accomplished in your life. Relive the moments in which you felt successful and remind yourself that you have more than enough ability to persevere through whatever challenge you are facing. Make it a practice to revisit this document once a month to add any new accomplishments or feedback you have received.

If you want to be successful in life, then you have to be prepared to follow the path that is right for you. No one can tell you what is right for you, so the decision is completely yours. You have to believe in yourself. Achieving success isn’t easy and you are bound to stumble along the way but when you possess a reservoir of inner confidence you’ll always be able to pick yourself up and get back on the path.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Create your personal “Inner Confidence” document.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Leaders Maximize the Talent of their Teams

February 8th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

“A successful person finds the right place for himself. But a successful leader finds the right place for others.” -John Maxwell

How are you helping your employees maximize their talent?

As a leader, it’s your responsibility to cultivate the talent of your team. You need to understand and accept that each member of your team is a unique individual and it’s your job to capitalize on the talents and strengths they bring to the table.

You must first be able to recognize the talents of your various team members. Most people aren’t very good at recognizing their talents. Because these aspects of ourselves come so naturally, we take them for granted and assume they aren’t that important.

As a leader you need to be on the look out for evidence of talent and share your observations with your team members to help them appreciate the impact they make. Additionally, spend time coaching them to explore what tasks they enjoy as well as which ones come very naturally and effortlessly to them. Help your team identify how they feel while doing these tasks and why they enjoy them.

Once you’ve helped your employees begin to recognize their talents search for opportunities for them to develop their talents. You might send them to a conference or seminar where they can acquire knowledge or develop skills that will help them apply their talents. Or you could provide them with new assignments to give them an opportunity to apply their talents in new ways.

Finally, you need to take a few steps back and consider how to leverage all of the talents on your team. This could possibly entail rearranging the way work is completed in order to allow different individuals on your team to play to their strengths. As you become more aware of the talents on your team, you might even realize there is a need for some new roles. Your team might just have the talents necessary to address a unique need for your organization and/or customers.

Finally, you could come to the conclusion that the best opportunity for one of your team members to maximize their talents is to move on to another position either within or outside your organization. Good leaders realize that what is best for this individual is best for the organization. When they actively support an individual making the move that is right for them, these leaders demonstrate that they put their team first and create an environment of trust.

It’s the responsibility of a leader to nurture the talent of their team. The best leaders are adept at recognizing, developing, and leveraging talent in a way that achieves results and creates a foundation of trust.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one talent in each of your team members.

Make it an excellent week.

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Life is an Adventure

January 25th, 2015 § 4 comments § permalink

“An original life is unexplored territory. You don’t get there by taking a taxi, you get there by carrying a canoe.”  —Alan Alda

Are you charting your own course?

Life isn’t a guided tour. You can’t sit back and wait for someone to point out the direction you need to take. You’re the captain of your life and it’s up to you decide who you want to be, what you want to do, and take action to achieve the life of your dreams.

Your path is unique. There’s value in listening to others share about their experience and lessons learned. Although you can likely learn a lot from those who have gone before you, they can’t speak to what is right for you. Only you can determine what is right for you.

You have a responsibility to design a life that is right for you. You’re unique and here for a reason. Make time to get clear about your strengths and define the impact you want to make with your life. Once you have this clarity, you need to take action and use your strengths to be of service to others.

I believe you’ll experience fulfillment from being the authentic you. Once you begin to live your unique life, and make your unique contribution to the world, you’ll be filled with a sense of satisfaction and contentment.

That’s not to say your life will be nothing but smooth water from that point forward. You’ll inevitably experience some rough rapids, demanding courage and the willingness to make course corrections along the way.  Rely on your strengths and authentic self to guide you back on track.

The world needs what you have to offer. Everyone benefits when you are able use your strengths to be of service. Are you ready to pick-up your canoe and chart your own course?

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one action you can take to become the captain of your life.

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

A Leader’s Top Responsibility

January 11th, 2015 § 6 comments § permalink

 

“The responsibility of leadership is not to come up with all the ideas but to create an environment in which great ideas can thrive.” – Simon Sinek

What type of environment have you created within your team?

Effective leadership isn’t about giving orders or having all the answers. Although this might have been acceptable 30 years ago, it’s a recipe for failure today. Success as a leader depends on your ability to maximize the talent of your team in order to achieve results.

The key to getting the most out of your team begins with the environment you create. An increasingly complex business world leads to increased specialization. It’s no longer realistic to expect to be able to stay current on the latest knowledge and skills all by yourself. You must develop a team of empowered individuals you can rely on to be the experts in their respective areas.

However, you can’t just tell your staff that they’re empowered. Effective delegation requires you to clearly outline the objectives and parameters (keeping them as wide as possible) while allowing your team to determine the best route to take. It’s also ineffective to take a “hands off” approach. I’ve seen many leaders attempt to avoid micro-management by moving to the other extreme, failing to provide their team the support they need. Make it a point to check-in with your staff along the way to see how they’re doing and help address any obstacles in their way.

In addition to delegating to your team, it’s critical to spend time coaching them. When they run into obstacles don’t simply tell them what to do, rather ask questions to help them identify their options. This will challenge them to slow down and improve their critical thinking. It’s also important to coach when a task you delegated doesn’t go well, which is inevitable. Use open-ended questions to help your team consider what didn’t work and what can be learned from the situation.

Finally, seek and offer feedback to your team to help them grow. When you’re facing a challenge, ask for their ideas. They’re the ones doing the work every day and likely have several ideas about how to make improvements or new innovations. Also be sure to provide them feedback about their performance. Recognize their accomplishments and how their strengths make a positive impact on the team. And when they are struggling, coach them to figure out how to improve.

Your most important role as a leader is to create the environment in which your team can fulfill it’s potential. In Simon Sinek’s TED Talk: Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe, Sinek comments that when leaders fail to create the right conditions we’re forced to spend time and energy protecting ourselves which weakens the organization. When you create an environment in which your team is acknowledged for their strengths and empowered to make a difference, trust and collaboration are a natural by-product.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one action you can take to create an environment that fosters trust and collaboration.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC

Inspired Leadership

January 4th, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” —John Maxwell

What’s feeding your leadership?

Great leaders are driven by passion. A longing to make an impact in the world and for the individuals they serve. They aren’t in it for the power, prestige, and money.

The elements of successful leadership have changed in the 21st Century. Leadership is no longer about power and issuing directives. Having a sense of meaning in work is becoming increasingly important to employees. This is especially true for the Millennial generation which will account for 50% of the workforce in 4 years. Success is dependent upon an organizations’ ability to adjust their approach to leadership.

You’ve likely developed goals for the New Year, which you believe, will help your organization succeed. The question is whether your vision will inspire your team. You won’t be able to achieve your vision alone and without a team of inspired individuals, your organization will never fulfill it’s potential.

What impact is your team or department making? How does their work make a difference in the lives of others? Your ability to articulate this bigger picture for your team will make the difference in whether or not they are energized, excited, and engaged or simply going through the motions.

Finally, step back and ask yourself why you decided to become a leader. Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why, states “Inspired leaders think from the inside out.” Leadership is about making a positive difference in the lives of others. Whether it’s through the product or service your team delivers or through helping your team grow and develop, you need to remain focused on who you are there to serve. Once you are inspired, you will find it much easier to inspire your team.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Define whom you serve as a leader and the impact you want to make in their lives.

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

Trust Creates Leaders

August 3rd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

 

“When we tell people to do their jobs, we get workers. When we trust people to get the job done, we get leaders.” —Simon Sinek

Is your leadership style outdated?

Historically, we’ve been led to believe that leadership is about giving direction and telling others what to do. While someone in a leadership position may have been able to get away with this approach fifty, twenty, or even ten years ago, this is no longer an effective way to lead. Leaders that cling to this traditional leadership style will find themselves ill equipped to lead in the 21st century.

We are in desperate need of more leaders throughout the world. In our businesses, governments, churches, communities, and homes we need more people who are prepared to step up and exercise leadership. If you’re in a formal leadership position, you have a responsibility to develop those who choose to follow you so they too can step into leadership roles, whether formal or informal.

A sure fire way to stifle the development of future leaders is to dictate and micro-manage their actions. A traditional leadership approach discourages independent thinking and problem solving. When you fail to delegate responsibility for meaningful projects and challenge your staff to develop solutions for their problems, they become dependent upon you for every step they take.

Unfortunately, a sense of dependence is exactly what some leaders want to foster. They believe that if everyone has to come through them to accomplish their goals their power base will grow and they’ll never become obsolete. The reality is quite the opposite. As the business world becomes increasingly complex it’s impossible for one person to have all the answers. Additionally, in some cases your staff may have access to more information than you do and if you aren’t leveraging their knowledge then you’re team’s performance will suffer.

Finally, Generation Y simply won’t tolerate this style of leadership. They expect collaboration, transparency, and the opportunity to be developed. As this generation becomes the majority of the workforce over the next 5 – 10 years, they will demand this type of leadership approach or they’ll simply go where they can find it. Any leader, or organization, that doesn’t adjust to this style will find themselves stuck with a team of mediocre individuals and will soon become obsolete themselves.

Command and Control leadership is obsolete and now is the time to evaluate your leadership style to see if a makeover is in order. With the business world becoming more complex every day and the growing number of Generation Y entering the workplace, you can’t afford to delay. Your success, and the success of your organization, depends upon your ability to develop leaders that are independent thinkers, not on simply giving orders.

Here is this week’s Authentic Excellence Action Step:

Identify one step you can take to demonstrate more trust and independent thinking with your team.

Make it an excellent week!

J. Matthew Becker, M.Ed., PCC