Thursday, January 31, 2013

Musings about Leadership

My middle daughter, Maya, has assumed a supervisory position, and she asked me for advice.  Over the years, I've given advice to people I mentored so it was really special to create a list for her too.   Here are my thoughts.  I decided if I blogged about it, I wouldn't have to recreate it again.  :-)

  • Celebrate something every day.  Even if you only celebrate that the day is over, remember to do it.  The bad events always crowd out the successes so celebrate them.
  • It’s OK to make mistakes.  The Navajo used to weave a mistake into every rug they wove so just plan that there will be at least one mistake and then be ready to solve it. 
  • If something is a huge success, give the credit to your team.  If it’s a big flop, take the blame. 
  • Be a good listener.  Sometimes there is a gem of an idea buried in a great deal of trivia.  Listen for it.
  • If someone is “in your face”…remember it is not about you.  It is their bad day and/or their bad opinion of themselves. 
  • Never feel pressed to make a quick decision.  Someone else’s emergency is not your problem.  Give yourself time to think it over. 
  • Remember you can’t make broad decisions for one special circumstance.  Always ask yourself if you can give the same answer to another person who needs/requests the same thing. 
  • When you need something from your boss or you are having a problem, think of a solution too. If you don’t have any suggestions, you might get an answer you don’t want.
  • You can’t be friends with everyone you lead.  You want to be respected and thought of as someone that will support them and be fair. 
  • If someone comes to you and says, “Do you know what the teachers or a certain person is saying about you”…just stop them and say "I already hear enough bad things so no thank you." 
  • It’s the same when someone approaches you about a problem and says, “We are all unhappy about”…,Just stop them and say – “Let’s discuss what you are unhappy about.  If others feel the same, they need to come and see me directly.”
  •  Don’t be afraid to get advice from your boss (s).  It is not a sign of weakness or insecurity to ask for help.  That’s why they are paid the big bucks!
  • Give praise often, but meaningfully.
  • When you have to criticize, keep the “I” statement – I believe, I think, I recommend and try to also include something positive too. 
  • Don’t expect praise from the people you supervise.  Assume you are doing well.  You always hear about it when you aren’t!
  • You have to lead by example.  Be on time.  Be prepared.  Be positive.  When no one is looking, then go ahead and kick a chair or two.
  •  Pick your battles.   When something upsets you, take time to analyze the issue.  Then decide what you are going to do about it.
And remember, not to take yourself too seriously.  The job survived before you, and it will survive after you.  Just do no harm!

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