Tag Archives: leadership

When the obvious leadership call is the wrong one.

“Management rounded on the nurses and saw they were all tired looking. Their response? Cut the over time rate. “

I had no idea what that last sentence meant when I heard it the first time too…

I was sitting with a friend who told me about his wife’s working situation at a hospital.

“What do you mean?”

For the last few months, management had put in a special overtime rate for the nurses at their hospital. When they walked around the building, they found that the nurses looked tired. Discerning eyes decided that they couldn’t have tired nurses because of patient safety. The added pay for overtime was then canceled.

Sounds about right, doesn’t it? Great leadership decision, right?

Except, maybe not. Here’s why.

Maybe the nurses are tired from working too much overtime because they aren’t making enough.

Maybe your base salary isn’t sufficient to meet their needs.

Maybe by cancelling the overtime bonus, nurses will actually work more hours, not less.

Leadership isn’t about solving obvious problems. Leadership is about big picture perspective to get to the root of a problem.

So the next time you see an obvious problem with a quick solution, so what my boss used to tell us.

“Measure Twice, Saw once.” That’s what a leader does.

What Jeff Gordon’s new Pepsi Max Commercial teaches about leadership

Have you seen the new Pepsi Max commercial with professional driver Jeff Gordon? If you haven’t, you probably haven’t been online the last few days. A Journalist named Travis Okulski sounded off about how the first video Gordon made was fake. His friends gave him a wake up call.  Go ahead, watch it if you haven’t.

Did you notice something? At the end of the new video, Gordon offers the big mouth journalist another ride. Okulski jumps on the opportunity.

Maybe he didn’t know that the echoes of his girly screaming would be resonating across the internet. Maybe he hadn’t seen how bad he looked on video, or how Jeff Gordon probably didn’t want brown stains on the front seat of his car.

In a brief nanosecond, the trust changed. Instead of fearing for his life, this journalist was now ready to jump back into the car with the guy that moments before he had been convinced was insane.

What changed?

Trust. Trust in competence.

The guy didn’t care that Jeff Gordon had just scared 5 years off his life. Knowing that you were in the hands of one of the best race car drivers of this generation rather than an ex-con made all the difference.

Want total strangers to trust you? Want trust from those closet to you? Develop competency. And prove it over and over.

BTW: Money well spent Pepsi Max.

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The difference between kissing up and a giving good compliment.

 Life Lesson #30 Learn to give good compliments.

I know that people like different things. But a good compliment someone will remember for a while. Say, 50 years at least. Mark Twain said “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”

The Anatomy of a bad compliment.

  1. Lie. “Go get’em Johnny, you’re the best.” Doesn’t ring true when Johnny is #15 on the depth chart. He knows it, and so do you.
  2. Repeat what others are saying. Wow, nice Game Johnny. Nice speech, nice hair, nice jacket, nice… Yeah, by the 3rd time I’ve heard it, the compliment looses impact.
  3. Use vague words. Nice. Good. Impressive.
  4. Be insincere. Force yourself to find something good to say. Kind of like complimenting your sister after cutting her down. “Find something nice to say, Johnny!” “I like your hair.”

Anatomy of a memorable compliment.

  1. True for you. Even if the recipient wants to deny it, give them a personal compliment from your experience. A lady at a certain church once came to me after a speech and said “if we didn’t have our pastor, we would want to have you.” I know her pastor. In my mind, he’s a great man. That’s a solid compliment, and it was true for her.
  2. Specific. Johnny might not be the best, but he might be the only one who could hit a curve call. Or have the nicest handwriting. You’d be amazed the things people remember. Notice the small and specific
  3. Public. Now, I know not everyone likes to be the center of attention. But everyone likes to be bragged on publicly. Not every compliment should or can be given publicly, but if the people important to me hear that compliment, the noise factor increases significantly.

There are many others I’m sure. But in 40 years, I only remember a few compliments. So try to make them memorable, will ya? Over on Facebook, or in the comments, would you share the best compliment you’ve ever received? Or other ways to compliment people? If you liked this post, you might want read http://lifecartography.net/dont-give-gift-certificates-life-lesson-19/

How to connect with absolutely everyone. Life Lesson #12

Not everyone succeeds. But everyone hurts.

I’ve done public speaking for years. Communicated, written, told stories. Judging by the general response, I’m not boring. My wife, on the other hand, dislikes the public stage passionately.  Crowds of more than 20 people are uncomfortable to her.

But in 2005, almost a decade before I write this, she was conned into speaking at a women’s tea. Her expectation was for maybe 50 ladies to attend. Imagine her terror when we arrived to find a tent set up for 500. Completely packed.

Tahnya simply told her story of pain. Of infertility and depression. To this day, people still consistently mention that event. No one ever mentions a sermon I preached. I mean, we really can’t go anywhere in Minnesota where someone doesn’t talk to her about that speech. And they speak of it as if she gave it last year.

Why? Because not everyone succeeds, swims with sharks, skydives, lives in radical environment. But everyone, from presidents to nursing home residents, we all hurt. We all experience pain. And when someone is authentic (there’s a buzzword for ya), it opens up others to experiencing life together in a meaningful way.

If you want to lead, if you want to connect, if you want to make a difference, remember. Pain is a megaphone that everyone can hear.

Don’t quit that loser job: 40 Life Lessons I learned before I turned 40: #11

Don’t quit your job, even if it’s a bad one.

My great Uncle Donny grew up in remote Arkansas. He tells of going hunting with friends for squirrels. On their way out into the woods, the boys passed Grandpa, holding his shotgun just sitting in a plastic folding chair in front of an enormous oak, right along the tree line.

“Grandpa, come with us.”

“No, thanks boys. Ya’ll have fun.”

And they did have fun, hunting all afternoon, walking miles upon miles.

Sundown saw them coming back up the back forty to meet up with grandpa, their day’s haul proudly displayed. Grandpa smiled knowingly, and showed them his squirrels, shot from the folding chair. You know the end of the story now, even though its true, right?  Grandpa had just as many squirrels as the boys who had taken the long loop around the valley.

You’ll never get the perfect job because face it, you’re not the perfect person. Finding that perfect position means that you’ll only screw it up. Sorry.

For 20 years, my pattern was that of many young adults. Eighteen to twenty four months and I’d need a change. Change apartments, change jobs, change, change. I could never seem to quite “get there.” My ideas were working, I felt I was makjng a difference, but the breakthrough, both personally and professionally, just wasn’t coming.

As I look back, that fascination with change is endemic of my generation and the one that comes after. Except we aren’t climbing the ladder. We’re broadening our experiences. (Read Code for “not going anywhere.”)

Here’s the truth. At some point, your experience is broad enough. I don’t currently employ someone, but if I did I’d rather hire someone who worked their way up from the mail room to the marketing department than someone who got their degree in marketing and has had 5 jobs in 6 years.

Stick with that bad job for four or five years. You’ll be amazed what you learn and how you will grow. When you make the shift, you won’t be shifting from menial to menial but from mid-level to mid-upper-level.

Retro-gunge-hippie is only cool for a decade or so. Trust me. Or don’t. We’ll hang out in your parents basement and watch TV on your huge TV, play some video games and then I’ll go home to my wife, kids and life.