Do you know a leader who says yes to everything? Their team just finished a significant and stressful month to get an “urgent” marketing experience out the door and the leader agreed to deliver something else urgent on a compressed timeline. Where was the boundary between the finish and start of the next project. It never materialized. Take a more concrete example. Do you ever block time off on your calendar to get work done and people just schedule right over that without any care or thought? Is it ok to get a meeting scheduled for the same day? As leaders, we have a responsibility to set boundaries to protect our team and as employees we have a responsibility to protect ourselves.
Dusting off the vision statement
Read the most recent company vision statement. What grade would you give yourself on pursuing the vision? I must say when I did this, I didn’t get a high mark. It is one thing to have a vision out there, quite another to pursue it. Each employee should have the responsibility for understanding what that vision is, but the accountability of the visionary pursuit falls upon the leadership of the organization.
In order for a vision to be successful, it has to be more than words in an email pulled from the last year archive or a web page refresh. If you have one focus point in the job that you are in, is it based upon the vision? If the vision accumulates dust, how valuable is it?
Communicating the vision
Communicating vision requires several leadership skills that range from getting buy-in, showing themselves as the model of the vision, and developing the passion in others to pursue the vision. Books have been written by great men and women on this topic. Here are some keys that I think are valuable to communicating vision.
- Collaborate and don’t commiserate. Help others to embrace the vision that you share, but don’t spend a lot of time convincing persons who don’t find the vision valuable. It is better to cut and replenish, than to beat your head against the wall trying to convince the inconvincible.
- Share early and often. While many people may take a while to grasp on to the vision, the more a leader shares will provide a consistent message and direction.
- Make it personal when possible. It takes effort, but sharing the vision personally will develop champions for the leader.
- Celebrate accomplishments even if they are small. There is a lot of negative information and messaging in many companies. Share the accomplishments frequently and again try to make if personal.
- Communicate outside the normal channels. People are influenced by environments other than the workplace. Meet them where it is most personal.
Review your vision and communicate the progress of how the vision is being met at least once a month. What would you add to communicating the vision of your company? Let me know in comments.
Wouldn’t be nice if all you had to say was “Focus” and everything just fell into place for the rest of the day? Do you feel that your day spins out of control as you get randomized? If you stray from a normal routine, do you frequently feel that something was missed? I have seen that great focus leads to great results.
Short Term Focus
Yesterday was a totally randomizing day, constant interruptions combined with a lack of resolve to “start” anything that wouldn’t result in completion. I know that if I had 30 uninterrupted minutes to work on 1 task, it would have been knocked out and there would be a sense of accomplishment. This type of short term focus is very intense. It requires no distractions.
- Make sure that you know the end goal of the short term task.
- Make sure that you have everything you need to accomplish the task at hand before starting.
- Allocate time to get “into the zone” and “reflect”. Jumping right into a focused task can sometimes lead to disaster because you are still thinking about the previous work.
- I have used a Pomodoro timer to help me out. My son sets the timer on the microwave for his reading and I have seen great focus in that realm. It is OK to continue on if you are staying focused.
When I do development, my most enjoyable work is when the goal is known and the task is fully completed. There will be times when I tune out the world around me and just focus on that.
Long Term Focus
I had the opportunity to work with some very smart people who were envisioning what Space would look like in 25 years. They developed a long range plan that would act as that guide. I have to say that when I look back, it is amazing how accurate that plan was. That was because the focus was on the plan. We often hear in the workplace a concept of focusing on the North Star. As you probably know, sailor’s used the North Star as a way to navigate. Having long term focus is the ability to navigate to complete a goal that is out of reach at that particular time.
- First you must have a goal to focus on.
- Focus takes prioritization. You will have to make hard choices in order to meet that goal.
- When you go off track and you will, how do you get realigned? Make short term focus points to get back to the direction you want to go.
- Pick your head up from the short term once in a while. Try walking 100 yards with your head down. Most likely you will miss your end destination.
Spring is upon us. The sun is shining, my wife saw a hummingbird at the feeder the other day, and the tulip fields are in full bloom. Now is the time for that annual endeavor called Spring Cleaning. You know what I am talking about. Look around for the “junk” that is building up, open the windows to let fresh air in, and scrub away the dreariness that was winter. Everyone understands this routine when it comes to your personal abode. But how about when it comes to work? Whether your spring, is April or August, here are three Spring Cleaning tips that you can use as leaders in the workplace.
A local radio show this morning was having a conversation about using a scorecard for children’s behavior for parents. Green mean that all criteria had been met, Yellow that a good attempt had taken place, and Red that it was probably a bad day for Johnny. Each color had a rewards or consequences section.
Everyone must serve somebody, even if it is yourself. As employees, we server our managers or company. As a husband I serve my family. I state many times that I strive to be a Servant Leader, like the way Jesus was in Philippians 2:5-12. Great leaders embrace the mindset of serving. John F. Kennedy summed it up in a tremendous quote:
It is almost a certainty that you and the company that you work for will go through a major change. With every change comes fear, doubt, tension, uncertainty, and anxiety. Good leaders recognize these emotions and work to institute meaningful conversations to reduce the levels. Great leaders empower their employees to overcome these emotions which enables transformational change. Here are a couple of ways they do this.
Did you get that memo about shifting the way we work? Have you heard about how the company is focusing in on one mission in the halls? Are you all in to make a difference for a better workplace? Is your answer maybe, or I’ll believe it when I see it? If so you are not alone. Changing a culture is a monumental effort that takes the very essence of what we are today and breaks us with the intent of rebuilding. Leaders must ensure that breaking existing culture is done with care while reshaping and molding the brighter future.
The storms of work are always around us and can flare up at any time from any direction. In our jobs, hopefully there are sunny warm days with only a few scattered showers. Every so often though we hear the call for “man overboard” or feel the waves filled with pressure crashing in on us. We become overwhelmed, distraught, anxious, and stressed over our work situation. It is times like this when we need our leaders to create a safe harbor for us to reside in.