support team. [family, friends, coaches, colleagues, & customers]

Twenty-three amazing people, and myself, are about to wrap up a two year commitment in pursuit of our MBA’s and I recently found myself pondering “how did we make it?”

Easy — commitment and SUPPORT TEAMS

Every single one of us brought different challenges and obstacles.  Yet it was our support teams, and maybe a little commitment and motivation, which kept us in check and moving forward.  While I can not speak for my MBA-mates, I know the heartache and difficulties in my own accomplishment.  Why with a full time job, school work, and a young beautiful family at home; it has been hard to say the least.

But without that family, or my classmates, or my colleagues at work, and even my customers; I probably would not have been able to make it and finish, very successfully, what I started in August 2012.

Undeniably, my wife has been the true champion.  Through many trials and tribulations, ups and downs she has held strong and been a consummate teammate.  Always taking care of our two children and making sure we had meals in front of us.

While my family was always at the culmination of my support team, I had much more support through others:  friends, professors, colleagues, and even customers, were great assets to me in my journey.  For example:  one of my top customers always asks me to go to lunch, and more times than not I’d decline to get some studying done at lunch.  While he deserved my undivided attention, he always understood the choice and never questioned my motivation.

As I could go on for days, it is the collaborative work of often unknowing individuals who lent me the greatest support when I need it most.  And for that I’ll always be grateful.  Thank you!

And to my fellow MBA’ers, congratulations on our success, and good luck next week on our last final exam.

What were some of your stories?

communicate. [effectively]

“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate” – 1967, Cool Hand Luke

Let’s face it, communicating effectively is often very difficult to accomplish.  What we so often forget to realize is that communication is an extremely multi-layered and multi-faceted task.  Communication skills can consist of verbal, non-verbal, written, listening, adapting, and audience considerations.

Leaders must master communication, and guide their reports to do likewise.  As leaders are not just communicating tasks to direct reports, they are communicating the organizations overall business strategy, delivering the company’s mission/objectives, and passing on information to both internal and external stakeholders.

And it is not just about the words, but often about the delivery.  And in today’s world of Social Media, smart phones, and mass communication on the go; leaders must be ever so much more diligent in making sure their messages are clear and to the point.  It is too often, in our world of rushing, that meanings and translations are misunderstood.

So it is the ‘key’ task of a leader to make communication a top priority.  Without that clear vision, through communication, organizations will struggle to exist.

What are your experiences, and how do you communicate effectively?

Thank you.

trust.

trust

noun

  1. reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.
  2. confident expectation of something; hope.

trust. (2014, January 1). Dictionary.com. Retrieved July 30, 2014, from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/trust

Above is part of the definition of “trust” offered by Dictionary.com.  TRUST is the foundation of any great leadership.  As without trust, there is no basis for leading.

When we choose to follow (a factor of leadership) a true leader, we undeniably trust this leader (not your manager or your boss, but a true leader) to teach us something and lead us to great success.  But what are we truly saying?

When we follow, we are saying to our leader “you have proven time and time again to be reliable”.  Whether through knowledge, skill, steadfastness, or character; you are someone in which we find great hope; exuding the confidence to help us up that ladder and we expect you to get us to the top.

Without TRUST, we, the followers will not follow.  A leader must be trustworthy to create a vision which brings employee satisfaction; which in turn bring great success.

  • Success to the individual
  • Success to the team and
  • Success to the business and its customers

So build trust, and you will lay the foundations of becoming a solid leader.

Expectations of a Leader

“Rock”; no not Dwayne Johnson (The Rock), nor the 1996 movie with Sean Connery (The Rock); but rather “Like a Rock”, Bob Seger’s 1986 hit song and Chevrolet’s long running theme song.  Last evening, in between my career, my MBA, and life, I managed to take some casual time with my family; so we visited downtown Reno and listened to a cover band of Bob Seger.

During their rendition of “Like a Rock”, one of the line caught my attention “And I held firmly.  To what I felt was right.  Like a rock”.  While Mr. Seger’s meaning for the song were different, it somehow got me thinking about the expectations we have of leaders.  We expect our leaders to, as Seger says, to hold firmly – like a ROCK.  And yet, when the media speaks of leader – politician, corporate executive, community leader, etc… – who falters, we, the masses, find it comforting and amusing.  After all, we, in general, are obsessed with drama; whether in the new, or as in reality TV.

How do quality leaders find their ‘center’ to become the “rock” we expect?  Maybe this is a beginning?:

  1. Support Center – they hold close to the one which keep their lives in check.  It could be professional advisors, spouse, children, and much more.
  2. Patience – much as a parent, I believe leaders have to have an over abundance of patience.  It is essential in teaching and in professional development.
  3. Listening Skills – while a support center is important, we must also be willing to listen to what they say – concerns, issues, questions, and so on.  Additionally, you can’t be a teacher or mentor without listening to the needs of your followers.

Thank you.  And I’d appreciate your input.  Please comment.

Limitations, and Time Management

How do you spend your waking hours?  My wonderful wife would say I try to squeeze too much into too little time.  And I do.  Unless watching a movie, or cycling on television; I rarely sit idle.  However, I do still have descent time management skills.  Rarely do I miss deadlines, and I’ve dramatically made leaps and bound…virtually eliminating any procrastination.

To what point do I mention this?  Well over the past two (2) years I’ve invested my ‘free’ time into earning my MBA.  This endeavor, coupled with a full time career (minimum 50hrs/wk), a wonderful wife and two beautiful children, cause me to plan for zero error in my time management.  Meaning, I’m not afforded he luxury of wasting time… if I want to see my family – school work must be done; if I want to earn great grades (and I do) – I must put in time for learning; and if I want career advancement – I must be proficient a my job.

So how do you plan your time?  My system is a little loose, as I try to be flexible for my numerous demand.  However, I’ve found a great list, which I believe is a solid base for those wishing to manage their time… and learn their limitations.

6 Tips to Improve Your Time Management Skills

By DONNA M. WHITE, LMHC, CACP

http://psychcentral.com/lib/6-tips-to-improve-your-time-management-skills/00015735

  • Make a list. The thing about making lists is that you actually have to use them.
  • Set deadlines. Again, there is no point in setting deadlines if you make executive decisions to always push them back.
  • Stop multi-tasking. Multitaskers often seem to think they get more accomplished, but it’s not always the most productive or efficient route.
  • Delegate responsibilities. Find competent, reliable people and share some of the responsibilities.
  • Use your downtime. This tip requires some balance. Using all of your downtime for planning and prioritizing is bad and can lead to increased stress and burnout.
  • Reward yourself. When you accomplish something, celebrate it!

How do you manage time?

Thank you.

“The True Leader Is Also A Seeker” – Larry Spears

“The True Leader Is Also A Seeker – alert to new possibilities, open, listening and ready for whatever develops”

– Larry Spears from the flyleaf of Robert K. Greenleaf’s “Servant Leadership”

 

In my blog “Define Leadership.” from July 12th, 2014, I mention my parents and their leadership throughout my life.  The quote above reinforces my sentiment and pushes home the similarities between being a parent and being a leader.  Sans the ‘unconditional’ love a parent offers.

Similar to parents, a leader must first and foremost be calm.  Successes rarely come from a frantic disposition; therefore patience and the ability to think before emotionally reacting are instrumental.  Or better yet, being open to what “is” rather than irrationally trying to make it what “you imagined”; sort of a rolling with the punch.

They must also be great listeners.  Paying attention to what is taking place in their surroundings.  And more specifically, listening to what their employees want, desire and need in order to grow as employees and people.

The best leaders I’ve met in my life have held these qualities, and they often conveyed a caring mentality similar to that of a parent.  This is compassion without the a familial obligation.

Who have your greatest leaders been?  Thank you!

Define Practical Professionalism

As defined by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated:

pro·fes·sion·al·ism

noun \prə-ˈfesh-nə-ˌli-zəm, -ˈfe-shə-nə-ˌli-\

: the skill, good judgment, and polite behavior that is expected from a person who is trained to do a job well

OR

As defined by the US Department of Labor

Professionalism does not mean wearing a suit or carrying a briefcase; rather, it means conducting oneself with responsibility, integrity, accountability, and excellence. It means communicating effectively and appropriately and always finding a way to be productive.

 

For most of us, professionalism is something to strive toward.  It is a way of life.  A means for us to improve and move forward in our careers.  So how does a true professional react in extremely difficult situations; where frustration, anger, disapproval, and disappointment?

We often hear the best way of reducing stress is to let out emotions and get it off your chest; however, this seems to be the opposite of what might traditionally define “professionalism”.  I do know that we can look toward numerous “professional” athletes for a book of what not to do for increasing your professionalism.  For example:  Terrell Owens, Oscar Pistorious, Aaron Hernandez, and I’m sure many more…[OK, maybe it is not fair to Mr. Owens in putting him in this company; after all, he never allegedly murdered anyone]

How is it that if a business leaders were to act such as Mr. Owens, he would probably be fired immediately; however fans, owners, leagues, etc.. are willing to overlook similar issues with “stars”?

I’d love your opinion and how do you personally define professionalism?  And how might you, as a professional release extreme stress during an extremely difficult time at the office?

Journey of Learning

Today I spent a good portion of the day working on a final project with some very good friends.  And it made the monotony of hours focused on a singular goal a little bit of fun.  These friends and I started a journey two years ago to earn our MBA through the University of Nevada, Reno.  Our time today caused me to reflect on the past two years and all of the wonderful people we’ve had the privilege to meet.

Although our program was online based, we had the honor of spending time with many of our cohorts and professors.  This time, while limited, was extremely valuable and something I will cherish always.  Each of us had our ups and downs, but the education and camaraderie were something incomparable.

So to my fellow 2012 UNR MBA Cohorts, thank you!  It has been a hell of a journey, and in just a few short weeks, we’ll all be able to get some much needed R&R.

If you’ve ever had such a journey, I’d love to hear your story.  Thank you.

Office Stress vs. Open Space Offices

We all have rough days, no doubt about that.  Let’s face it, you can be in your perfect dream job, and there will still be days filled with frustration and stress.  How can you battle back?  If you’re in a space with closed offices, you might be able to shut your door for 10 minutes and take a deep breath.  However, what about those in an open office space situation?  There are no doors to shut, no moments of possible quiet for you to take that deep breath.

My sales office is one of no door, no rest; where we succeed with when the doors are wide open and phones are constantly ringing.  But it does not promote emotional stress release.  Often times, we have to hold back until the breaking point; then all of our teammates know it’s been a rough day for us.  Each of my teammates does their best to restrain themselves, but then again we all hit our limits.

Lucky for us, we have a very understanding team; and for the most part that stuff rolls off our shoulders, but I can’t imagine it is optimal for personal sanity.

Have you had experience in any similar situation?  How have you and your staff dealt with finding ways to release that frustration and stress?

Define Leadership.

From Dictionary.com (7/12/14)

lead·er·ship [lee-der-ship]

noun

  1. the position or function of a leader, a person who guides or directs a group: He managed to maintain his leadership of the party despite heavy opposition. Synonyms: administration, management, directorship, control, governorship, stewardship, hegemony.
  2. ability to lead: As early as sixth grade she displayed remarkable leadership potential. Synonyms: authoritativeness, influence, command, effectiveness; sway, clout.
  3. an act or instance of leading; guidance; direction: They prospered under his strong leadership.
  4. the leaders of a group: The union leadership agreed to arbitrate.

The above excerpt from Dictionary.com defines leadership in the traditional sense, but truly what is leadership?  More to the point, what does leadership mean to you?

In my experience, I’ve never found two leaders to be identical in style.  I find that leadership is an extension of our personalities; and our personalities are an extension of our upbringing.

Recently I posted about “Mentor(s)” and I mention my father.  While he was my very first mentor, it was the joint effort of him and my mother who instilled the personality.  They harvested it from infancy, and I developed it over a lifetime.  And it is this personality which has enabled me to learn and become what I am today.

It is through this history that I define what I believe to be a good leader, and often times a great leader.  Things such as: high morals, high ethics, caring, demanding, guiding, educating, so on and so forth…

How do you define your opinion of a quality leader?