Ask yourself, who is the best boss you ever worked for? If you were asked why they were the best, you would probably say things like:
“She was so positive.”
“He made me feel appreciated.”
“She took the time to know me and coach me.”
“He listened carefully.”
“I felt like she would do anything for me.”
Most likely you wouldn’t say things like:
“He was really good with processes and numbers.”
“She knew how to really keep us on task.”
“He was good at sticking to rules and plans.”
“She was great at making sure we always came in under budget.”
“He could really dish out consequences if something went wrong.”
The former set of statements speaks to a leader, the latter speaks to a manager. While the skills of managers are important, to be considered a great leader, you have to be and do so much more. You must focus on improving productivity, but you must deeply care about improving people’s lives. Changing numbers and processes is part of your duties, but changing lives is your calling.
When you deeply care about those you lead, they will deeply care about you. And it is always easier to lead a group of people who care. It’s what I call heart based leadership. And heart based leaders create loyal and results focused teams and organizations. Managers create a following of people that do just enough to get a paycheck. They protect themselves from getting in trouble and do just enough to stay out of trouble. Heart based leaders create a following of people who believe and are willing to give every bit of focus and energy they have to accomplish the team and organizations vision and goals.
If your team was asked what kind of leader you are, what would they say?
Do you need a book that literally changes every member of your team from the inside out to commit and work harder? Check out Michael’s best-selling book “You Are the Team—6 Simple Ways Teammates Can Go from Good to Great.” CLICK HEREto get your copy now. A book for you, your team and entire organization.
At the heart of most dysfunctional teams are team members who are individually more concerned about about their own aspirations and gain at the expense of the teams goals and gain.
Such team members believe it is all about them and only about others if they can get something for themselves. These types of selfish team members frustrate what a team is capable of achieving.
If that is your team or anywhere close to your team, you might want to consider sharing the following story.
There once was an anthropologist who was studying the culture of a remote African tribe. He had concluded his studies and was waiting for transportation to take him to the airport.
While waiting, the children of this tribe had gathered around him as they had done many times before.
He decided to gather the candy he had collected from a town he had visited on his way to study the remote tribe. Taking a basket, he put the sweets he had gathered in it and then placed it underneath a fairly large tree. He then walked about 100 or so yards from the tree and drew a line in the dirt.
The children were told that when he said go, they were to run as fast as they could and that the first one to the basket would win all of the candy for themselves.
So, the anthropologist gave the signal and then something surprisingly happened. The children took each other’s hands and ran together to the tree. Once there, they sat in a circle and shared the candy.
The anthropologist was a bit shocked. He asked them why they all went together when one of them could have had all of the candy for themselves.
One of the younger girls looked up at him and said, “How can we be happy if all the other ones are sad?”
Africans use the term “Ubuntu” to describe what this girl believes. Ubuntu simply means that “I am, because we are.”
South African activist and humanitarian leader Desmond Tutu said once in a 2013 Templeton Prize interview, “You can’t be human on your own. We believe that a person is a person through other persons.”
Tutu also shared that his “humanity is caught up, bound up, inextricably, with yours.” And that when someone dehumanizes someone else they are dehumanizing themselves.
Teams that focus on the word and philosophy of Ubuntu are primarily concerned about each other. They are more focused on what they can do together than what they can do alone. Egos, money, and career aspirations take a back seat to the success of the entire team.
There is no such thing as a solitary individual. When one succeeds, it is the success of everyone, because everyone had role in it.
Can you imagine the power of teams, organizations, and even entire nations practicing Ubuntu? It is a complete and powerful game changer for sure.
Feel free to share this post with your team(s) and organizations or anyone else. Bring the philosophy of Ubuntu to them!
A number of years ago, I was brushing my teeth one morning when two of my kids informed me that my two-year old son had used the very toothbrush that I was using the night before!
While that may not gross out some people, I am sort of a germ freak and don’t like other people’s things in my mouth, even if they belong to my kids. That being said, I immediately spit the tainted toothbrush out of my mouth and threw it in the garbage.
Now, my kids could have said they were joking. They could have said my two-year old had never used it, but it didn’t matter. That toothbrush would never be the same again.
Gossip on teams has the same effect and eventually erodes team trust. Whether it’s true or not, it taints a teammate’s character and reputation forever, as those on the team hearing the gossip never feel quite the same about whoever is being talked about. In addition, the teammate who is spreading the gossip begins to be trusted less and less by his teammates. It is a lose-lose activity.
What can you do as a leader to prevent the spread of negative gossip on your teams? It’s simple… State it, Prevent it and Nip it!
1. State it. Leaders are responsible for setting clear expectations on their teams. Those expectations aren’t only about performance, but should also include expectations around behaviors.
Make it clear that gossip is not healthy nor acceptable on your team.
2. Prevent it. Preventing gossip on your team is about building relationships on your team. When team members spend time with each other, they start understanding each other more and are less likely to gossip at work.
There are a lot of healthy behaviors that come from teams spending time and engaging with each other. Create more opportunities for this and you will find your team not only gossiping less, but drawing closer together more.
3. Nip it. Research shows that gossip stops if it is immediately challenged. Encourage your team to nip it and model nipping it yourself.
Please share and spread this message and post by using one of the buttons below. Thanks Teamwork and Leadership Friends!
If you don’t deeply care about those you lead, you shouldn’t lead.
One of the most powerful lessons that I learned about leadership was taught by two of my children when they were very young.
Kelli was five and Jeffy was two. Both of them were very afraid of the dark, like many children at that age. They believed monsters were hiding when it was dark.
We had five children at the time and the three oldest had gone off to play and left the two youngest on the couch watching TV in the living room of our then small house.
My wife and I were reading in another room and Kelli had come in with a little bit of panic in her voice. Jeffy fell asleep on the couch and it had gotten dark. She was very worried about that.
We told her it was okay, he was fine and there wasn’t any such things as monsters. We tried our best to reassure her as she left our room.
After about ten minutes or so my wife decided to check on them. When she came around the corner she saw something that she would never forget. There on the couch was Kelli, laying over her brother protecting him from what she really believed might harm him. Tears had been running down her small cheeks.
As parents we learned a very valuable lesson – our children’s fears and concerns were just as real as ours. We made a choice to never again be that insensitive to our children.
Second, I learned one of the most powerful lessons that I had ever learned as a leader. Kelli, our daughter, cared about and loved her brother so much that she overcame her greatest fear at the time in order to protect him.
Courage isn’t a lack of fear, it is caring more about something than what you fear. And if you don’t deeply care about those you lead, you shouldn’t lead.
When leaders deeply care about those that they lead, they almost always do the right thing. They do the right thing because they are putting the people they really care about first. Courageous leaders do what is right, not what is easiest. And they do it because they care.
See the above story in a video that you can share with your leadership team. It comes with a discussion guide. CLICK HERE.
Please SHARE this post with others by sharing on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Email by using one of the buttons below. Thanks Teamwork and Leadership Friends!
The only mistakes most of us make are the ones we fail to learn from. Everything we learn is through failure of some sort.
When we learned to walk for example, we took that first step, fell down and then evaluated what we did wrong in our little minds and tried again. Our parents encouraged us to continue to keep trying and even found it fun to watch us fail over and over again.
Eventually we were not only walking, but running, participating in athletics and doing more and more complex things with our ability to walk. And through it all, we have never given walking a second thought – we just do it.
Can you imagine what would have happened if when we took our first step and fell down, our parents became upset and told us, “that was terrible.” Or, “I don’t ever want to see you fall again.” We most likely would have delayed our walking skills, or perhaps never walked!
As leaders of teams and organizations, when we don’t celebrate errors and fail to encourage progress, that is exactly what happens to those we lead as well. We create teams and organizations where people fail to learn, or at least learn as quickly as they are capable of learning. Companies lose out as a result.
When we neglect to embrace failure, those we lead hide things in fear of being rebuked. They avoid feedback because failure is seen as so negative.
Avoiding feedback hurts teams. Team members abstain from bringing up concerns in meetings because they don’t want to take the risk. Team members are more likely not to ask for help. Collaboration, open communication and trust all suffer as a result.
In the below video, Spanx founder and and CEO Sara Blakely shares a story about how her father approached, taught and celebrated failure in their home. She also talks about how she approaches failure personally as a leader. It is a great example of how we can approach failure at home, on our teams and in our businesses.
Spanx CEO Sara Blakely offers advice to redefine failure - YouTube
Please share this post with others by sharing on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Email by using one of the buttons below. Thanks Teamwork and Leadership Friends!
Servant Leaders Unite, Not Divide – Inspiring Leadership Story
The story is told of a wise Sunday school teacher who brought a set of very large clear plastic bags for her class. She told them they were going to play a game.
After distributing the bags, she then pulled from behind her chair a large bucket of potatoes. She asked the children to take one potato from the bucket for each person they really disliked and to write the name of that person on each potato.
The number of potatoes a child took depended on the number of people that child really disliked.
Explaining the rules of the game, the teacher instructed them to carry the bag of potatoes every they went for one entire week, whether that was a soccer game, a restaurant, to bed or even the bathroom.
As the days passed, the children begin to complain about the smell that was being let out by the rotten potatoes. Those who were carrying more potatoes complained at a greater rate due to the weight and the higher dose of lots of bad smelling potatoes.
When the end of the week had come, the children were relieved to throw their slimy and rotten smelling bags into the trash. It was then that the teacher taught them an important lesson.
She said: “This is exactly what happens when you carry hatred for somebody inside your heart. The weight and stench of your hatred will go with you wherever you go. If you can’t tolerate the weight and yucky smell of potatoes in your bag for just one week, especially those of you with more potatoes in your bag, can you imagine what it is like to carry a bag like this around for a lifetime?”
What potato burdens are you carrying? Those who are truly servant leaders are those who diligently work on not carrying rotten potatoes. They work on uniting, not dividing. They focus on understanding, forgiveness and service. They build bridges between people of strength and trust instead of bridges that are never built or are fragile and easily destroyed.
Recently I found this VERY interesting way to exercise for those over 50.
First, stand on a comfortable floor.
Take a 5-pound potato sack in each hand and then extend your arms out from your side horizontally. Hold that position the best you can for one minute, then relax and repeat two more times.
Each day it will get easier and you will find that you can hold this position a little longer.
After two weeks, increase your strength by holding 10-pound potato sacks.
After one month, try 50-pound potato sacks.
Eventually, you will be able to lift 100-pound sacks in each hand, holding your arms out for one minute.
After you feel confident at this level…put a potato in each sack!!
Isn’t that like teams and leadership? We think we are doing pretty good, only to find we have no substance or value to what we are doing.
Many believe they are focused on the right things only to learn that they are failing to provide any real value. Leaders may believe that they are strong communicators, but if you asked others to be honest they would tell you there isn’t really much to be inspired by. Teams may look and think they are impressive, but when they fail to execute, they simply fail to be of value to their organization.
Many teams and leaders are lifting 100-pound potato sacks with not a single potato in the bag!
A simple thing leaders can do on teams is check-in from time to time to ask if the team believes there are potatoes in the sack. How are we doing as a team? Are we truly strengthening others around us? What could we improve and how can we continue to get stronger? How are we providing value to the larger organization? What are others saying about us?
It is a simple activity and simple questions, but it is a powerful exercise when done consistently and with honest team discussions.
Doing this one thing will ensure that potatoes are regularly in your sack and your team is getting better at providing value.
Please feel free to share on Facebook, Twitter and/or LinkedIn below.