Wednesday, 27 February 2013
Leadership and Courage Part 3
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Recently I saw a quote that says “What great thing would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?”  The quote was attributed to Robert Schuller, but I have heard many people say the same thing in slightly different ways.  It made me think about the reasons some are reluctant to take a risk—the fear of failure.  We don’t want to have to admit failure, or fix the problem(s) the failure produces, or start over with another solution.  There are, however, other reasons people are risk-averse, and one of those is fear of success.  What if I am wildly successful, and my life, my organization, my department will never be the same?  I believe that this fear of success is really a fear of change, and as we all know, change is one of the things we fear most.  We tend to get comfortable and don’t want to put in the effort, time and mental energy that change requires, even if the result is going to make our life/work/situation better.

We talk about building up “change muscles” so that when the change comes we are ready to deal with it.  I believe that we should also be constantly building up our “courage muscles” by exercising them whenever the need arises.  That way, we are ready for whatever comes our way.

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Posted on 02/27/2013 1:48 PM by Mary Fink
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Monday, 25 February 2013
Leadership and Courage Part 2
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There is one type of courage that is lacking at every level of many organizations, and that is the courage to speak up, especially if your position is different from everyone else’s.  Each of us has examples of times when our silence was harmful to the group we were working with, and the outcome would have been more successful if only we had spoken up.   It does no one any good if we have information, intuition or something else that should be considered in making a decision. 

The Abilene Paradox is a concept that suggests that managing agreement is much more difficult than managing conflict.  With conflict, everyone’s opinion is on the table and available for discussion.  When everyone agrees, or worse, is silent (which we assume means assent) we carry on without question, only to discover later that people did have opposing views that would have resulted in a much more complete discussion and a better decision.

It is in every group’s best interest that every member express his or her view, even if it lengthens the discussion.  In the long run it will lead to better relations and better decisions.

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Posted on 02/25/2013 3:47 PM by Mary Fink
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Thursday, 21 February 2013
Courage and Leadership
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We hear a lot today about leaders needing to make tough decisions and have difficult conversations with others, and what it boils down to is the need for more courage in the senior suite.  While it is critical that we nurture relationships and treat people right, it is not treating others right to hedge on the truth or not say anything at all.  Leadership courage can cut through a multitude of problems and in most cases is the right thing to do.  When we speak of difficult conversations we suggest that leaders consider how they might have contributed to an issue that now requires a correction of some sort, and often the issue originates with something the leader failed to do, such as failing to give strong directions, rather than something the associate did completely on his or her own. 

The next time you are lamenting the fact that you must have a difficult conversation, think about the problems you will be creating or allowing to worsen if you do nothing, and JUST DO IT!

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Posted on 02/21/2013 10:08 AM by Mary Fink
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Tuesday, 19 February 2013
Plan for a rainy day
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I am sure you have heard you mother say these words to you when you were growing up. It is good advice in business and in your personal life. We all hope that we will not experience that terrible rainy day but the odds are that you very well might, so think ahead.

Many businesses try to anticipate what might interrupt the business and build plans to deal with those things.  At Tractor Supply a distribution center was shut down with serious tornado damage. Our prior detailed planning allowed us to quickly begin shipping to the affected stores from other distribution centers with little or no loss of sales.  The prior planning covered labor availability, trucks and trailers, computer support, supplier shipments, and a whole lot more. Preparation yielded success.

No matter where you are in the chain of command in your organization it is always a healthy exercise to say “what is the worst thing that can happen to us?” and “do we have a plan to deal with it?” Don’t let your operation fail if disaster strikes.

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Posted on 02/19/2013 9:43 AM by Joe Scarlett
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Monday, 11 February 2013
If it is too good to be true.....
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When I was growing up one of my Dad’s key pieces of advice was “if it is too good to true it probably is not what it appears to be.” Yet it is easy to get persuaded to buy into something that is too good to be true. Turn on the television and listen to those commercials about wonder products selling at a tiny fraction of the logical price “and if you act right now we will double the purchase…” Back off.

When you are shopping for a used car beware of prices that are illogically low. The same is true for buying a house. Early in our married life we were very interested in buying a particular home and the price was better than we expected. Fortunately we did a little checking and found that the house floods whenever there is heavy rainfall. We figured it out in time.

The “if it is too good to be true” principle pertains equally in business. Whenever you are offered something that is better than you expect, dig deeply. Ask every question you can, do your research and talk it over with others. A heavy application of curiosity and skepticism will generally prevent getting into a bad deal.

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Posted on 02/11/2013 9:34 AM by Joe Scarlett
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Thursday, 7 February 2013
Look where others do not
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I once read a book titled “If ain’t broke, break it and make it better.”  The premise was that almost everything can be improved and made better.  If that was easy everyone would do it. Part of the process is looking at issues differently and asking what sometimes sound like crazy questions.

The biggest obstacle to uncovering better anything is an open mind. Your biggest enemy is “we have always done it that way.” As a leader you certainly cannot afford that mindset yourself and should try to eliminate that in your team.

Leaders ask good questions. Leaders challenge the status quo. Leaders ask what if…   Leaders make outrageous propositions in an effort to encourage creative thinking.  Leaders set targets that may seem unrealistic. Leaders inspire you to look where others do not. Leaders who do these things often achieve astounding results.

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Posted on 02/07/2013 8:38 AM by Joe Scarlett
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Monday, 4 February 2013
Don't let it go to your head
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One of the principle obstacles to executive growth is simply an outsized ego.  When you begin to think you have all the answers you are simultaneously beginning to cut off upward communication. When you talk about how good you are people turn off. When team accomplishments become your accomplishments you are losing the loyalty of the team.

Got the picture? No leader is so good they don’t need the dependability and backing of the team.  If you fall into this category, get a grip – you just are not that good.

We all need support to get the job done and when we alienate our team we lose that support. When you lose the support of your team your boss will see that and then your career will likely reach a plateau.  You are not superman so stay humble – you will go much farther in business and in life.

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Posted on 02/04/2013 2:36 PM by Joe Scarlett
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