12 Habits of Exceptional Leaders

03/24/15 0 COMMENTS

One of the most popular Dilbert comic strips in the cartoon’s history begins with Dilbert’s boss relaying senior leadership’s explanation for the company’s low profits. In response to his boss, Dilbert asks incredulously, “So they’re saying that profits went up because of great leadership and down because of a weak economy?” To which Dilbert’s boss replies, “These meetings will go faster if you stop putting things in context.”

Great leadership is indeed a difficult thing to pin down and understand. You know a great leader when you’re working for one, but even they can have a hard time explaining the specifics of what they do that makes their leadership so effective. Great leadership is dynamic; it melds a variety of unique skills into an integrated whole.

Below are 12 essential behaviors that exceptional leaders rely on every day. Give them a try and you can become a better leader today.

1. Courage

“Courage is the first virtue that makes all other virtues possible.” —Aristotle

People will wait to see if a leader is courageous before they’re willing to follow his or her lead. People need courage in their leaders. They need someone who can make difficult decisions and watch over the good of the group. They need a leader who will stay the course when things get tough. People are far more likely to show courage themselves when their leaders do the same.

For the courageous leader adversity is a welcome test. Like a blacksmith’s molding of a red-hot iron, adversity is a trial by fire that refines leaders and sharpens their game. Adversity emboldens courageous leaders and leaves them more committed to their strategic direction.

Leaders who lack courage simply toe the company line. They follow the safest path—the path of least resistance—because they’d rather cover their backside than lead.

2. Effective Communication

“The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.” —Joseph Priestley

Communication is the real work of leadership. It’s a fundamental element of how leaders accomplish their goals each and every day. You simply can’t become a great leader until you are a great communicator.

Great communicators inspire people. They create a connection with their followers that is real, emotional, and personal, regardless of any physical distance between them. Great communicators forge this connection through an understanding of people and an ability to speak directly to their needs.

3. Generosity

“A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.” —John Maxwell

Great leaders are generous. They share credit and offer enthusiastic praise. They’re as committed to their followers’ success as they are to their own. They want to inspire all of their employees to achieve their personal best – not just because it will make the team more successful, but because they care about each person as an individual.

4. Humility

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” – C.S. Lewis

Great leaders are humble. They don’t allow their position of authority to make them feel that they are better than anyone else. As such, they don’t hesitate to jump in and do the dirty work when needed, and they won’t ask their followers to do anything they wouldn’t be willing to do themselves.

5. Self-Awareness

“It is absurd that a man should rule others, who cannot rule himself.” —Latin Proverb

Contrary to what Dilbert might have us believe, leaders’ gaps in self-awareness are rarely due to deceitful, Machiavellian motives, or severe character deficits. In most cases, leaders—like everyone else—view themselves in a more favorable light than other people do.

Self-awareness is the foundation of emotional intelligence, a skill that 90% of top performing leaders possess in abundance. Great leaders’ high self-awareness means they have a clear and accurate image not just of their leadership style, but also of their own strengths and weaknesses. They know where they shine and where they’re weak, and they have effective strategies for leaning into their strengths and compensating for their weaknesses.

6. Adherence to the Golden Rule +1

“The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become.” – Jon Wolfgang von Goethe

The Golden Rule – treat others as you want to be treated – assumes that all people are the same. It assumes that, if you treat your followers the way you would want a leader to treat you, they’ll be happy. It ignores that people are motivated by vastly different things. One person loves public recognition, while another loathes being the center of attention.

Great leaders don’t treat people how they themselves want to be treated. Instead, they take the Golden Rule a step further and treat each person as he or she would like to be treated. Great leaders learn what makes people tick, recognize their needs in the moment, and adapt their leadership style accordingly.

7. Passion

“If you just work on stuff that you like and are passionate about, you don’t have to have a master plan with how things will play out.” – Mark Zuckerberg

Passion and enthusiasm are contagious. So are boredom and apathy. No one wants to work for a boss that’s unexcited about his or her job, or even one who’s just going through the motions. Great leaders are passionate about what they do, and they strive to share that passion with everyone around them.

8. Infectiousness

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” —Reverend Theodore Hesburgh

Great leaders know that having a clear vision isn’t enough. You have to make that vision come alive so that your followers can see it just as clearly as you do. Great leaders do that by telling stories and painting verbal pictures so that everyone can understand not just where they’re going, but what it will look and feel like when they get there. This inspires others to internalize the vision and make it their own.

9. Authenticity

“Just be who you are and speak from your guts and heart – it’s all a man has.” – Hubert Humphrey

Authenticity refers to being honest in all things – not just what you say and do, but who you are. When you’re authentic, your words and actions align with who you claim to be. Your followers shouldn’t be compelled to spend time trying to figure out if you have ulterior motives. Any time they spend doing so erodes their confidence in you and in their ability to execute.

Leaders who are authentic are transparent and forthcoming. They aren’t perfect, but they earn people’s respect by walking their talk.

10. Approach-ability

“Management is like holding a dove in your hand. Squeeze too hard and you kill it, not hard enough and it flies away.” – Tommy Lasorda

Great leaders make it clear that they welcome challenges, criticism, and viewpoints other than their own. They know that an environment where people are afraid to speak up, offer insight, and ask good questions is destined for failure. By ensuring that they are approachable, great leaders facilitate the flow of great ideas throughout the organization.

11. Accountability

“The ancient Romans had a tradition: Whenever one of their engineers constructed an arch, as the capstone was hoisted into place, the engineer assumed accountability for his work in the most profound way possible: He stood under the arch.” – Michael Armstrong

Great leaders have their followers’ backs. They don’t try to shift blame, and they don’t avoid shame when they fail. They’re never afraid to say, “The buck stops here,” and they earn people’s trust by backing them up.

12. Sense Of Purpose

“You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.” – Ken Kesey

Whereas vision is a clear idea of where you’re going, a sense of purpose refers to an understanding of why you’re going there. People like to feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves. Great leaders give people that feeling.

Bringing It All Together

Becoming a great leader doesn’t mean that you have to incorporate all of these traits at once. Focus on one or two at a time; each incremental improvement will make you more effective. It’s okay if you “act” some of these qualities at first. The more you practice, the more instinctive it will become, and the more you’ll internalize your new leadership style.

Dr. Travis Bradberry

Lennar Between The Lines

03/24/15 0 COMMENTS

http://www.builderonline.com/newsletter/lennar-between-the-lines_t?utm_source=newsletter&utm_content=jump&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=BP_032015&day=2015-03-20&he=0e52b82328976db98ee2c03e1c12ba38885505d1

Claire Spence, Equity Partner Congratulates her client Hayden Homes!

03/24/15 0 COMMENTS

Claire Spence, Equity Partner would like to say how proud she is of the leadership team at Hayden Homes, LLC.

http://www.hayden-homes.com/pacific-northwests-largest-private-homebuilder-advances-leadership-team/

Hayden Homes LLC Acquires 1200 Residential Lots from Copper Basin Construction

03/24/15 0 COMMENTS

http://www.hayden-homes.com/hayden-homes-llc-acquire-1200-residential-lots-copper-basin-construction/

Lennar Earnings Beat Estimates as Peak Buying Time Begins

03/23/15 0 COMMENTS

http://www.builderonline.com/newsletter/lennar-earnings-beat-estimates-as-peak-buying-time-begins_t?utm_source=newsletter&utm_content=jump&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=BP_032015&day=2015-03-20&he=0e52b82328976db98ee2c03e1c12ba38885505d1

The Career Advice I Wish I Had at 25

03/17/15 0 COMMENTS

In the future, when we turn 50, we will each be given a ticket to a time machine and, just once, we will be able to go back in time and talk to our 25-year-old selves.

Even then, time travel will be expensive and wreak havoc with frequent flyer programs. So there will only be one trip. So what if we could? What would we say? What advice would we give?

I often wish I could do this. Just once. So, just in case the time machine ever comes along, this is the career advice I would give my 25-year-old self.

1. A career is a marathon, not a sprint

Chill. When we are younger we tend to be impatient. As you get older you realize there is no real rush. Life, and the careers we pursue to fill it and pay the bills, needs to be approached on a long-term basis. If you sprint you will wear out or start to resent work that you previously enjoyed. Allow yourself time to breath and grow. Things will come if you work hard and allow yourself time to get good at things. Always rushing only leaves you empty, and tired. It is fine to give yourself permission to take some time in the slow lane with the hat people. You will find yourself seeing things on the journey that you didn’t realize were there.

2. Most success comes from repetition, not new things

I remember hairdressing legend Stefan Ackerie telling me this in 2003. I had never really thought about it before. A few years later Malcolm Gladwell’s brilliant book Outliers was published, promoting the idea that you needed to spend 10,000 hours on something to become truly expert at it. This applied to the Beatles and their Hamburg gigs and Bill Gates who, through a series of fortuitous accidents, ended up spending more time than almost anyone else on a computer.

The lesson here is get good at things before you try to move to the next thing. Genuine expertise belongs to an elite few. They seldom have superpowers. They usually have endurance, patience and take a long-term view. They also love what they do. If your find that, don’t let it go.

3. If work was really so great all the rich people would have the jobs

It is well established that almost nobody laments on their death bed that they didn’t spend enough time at the office. This seems obvious. Yet still we let contrived circumstances and fairly trivial issues keep us from important events like school sport days and kids getting badges for picking up rubbish. I wish somebody had schooled me about these priorities at 25. I can remember every sport day and certificate presentation I missed. I can’t remember any of the reasons I missed them.

4. De-prioritize your career when your kids are young

If you have skills, commitment and passion, careers tend to take care of themselves. Over the long haul, it really doesn’t matter if you have a few years when your career is in canter mode while you prioritize young children. This should apply to men and women. I was watching some video of my kids when they were little last week and I realized, again, that the little people in that video don’t exist in that form anymore. They have grown into pride-worthy adults but the tiny people with wonder in their eyes were just passing through. If you miss that time meeting deadlines and finishing reports, you never get it back. Childhood is fleeting. When it is in its formative stages, you get one chance.

You can also miss the chance to learn. Children teach you a lot more than you teach them. They give you a second chance to see the world for the first time through their eyes. And you will be astounded what you miss in the clutter of life. Hold onto those times while you can. As the nun sang in The Sound of Music, you can’t keep a wave upon the sand. And you look kinda ridiculous trying.

5. In the workforce, always act like you are 35

A recruiter gave me this advice some years ago. It is quite inspired. What she meant was, when you are young in the workplace, don’t act as a novice. If you are smart and competent, step up and do whatever you are capable of doing in a mature way. Similarly, when you are an older worker, don’t act like it. Approach your day with youthful energy. To quote a famous Frank Sinatra song: “You’re 35 and it’s a very good year”.

6. Management is about people, not things

It is easy to fall into the trap of believing that all people are equal, behave the same every day and have a generic capacity to perform. Humans are simply not made like that. Business guru Jack Welsh says the workforce consists of 20 per cent of people who are high performers, 10 per cent that you should get rid of and 70 per cent who do okay. The problem is the 70 per cent. Most managers want everyone in the 20 per cent. We need to be careful not to believe that the 70 per cent are under-performers. Sometimes we need to celebrate the competence of the masses not the superpowers of the elite. As managers, we are not managing things, we are empowering people and making the best use of whatever it is they bring to the table.

7. Genuinely listen to others

It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking we have all the answers as individuals. We don’t. As a group we are far more powerful. We need to learn to genuinely collaborate and really listen to the opinions of others. And we need to ask our own people first. So many managers and firms fall into the trap of asking external consultants for answers and then trying to implement the recommendations over the top of tried-and-true employees. In almost every case, our own people already know the answers. We need to avoid letting familiarity blind us to the talent sitting around us.

8. Never work for horrible people

Life is way too short to tolerate really bad bosses. If you find yourself working for one, unless you are desperate or starving, start looking for a new job. Immediately. Then sack the bad boss. By leaving.

9. Recognize that staff are people with finite emotional capacity

This is one I really wish I had known earlier. It is clear to me now that humans have a finite emotional capacity. If there is something challenging happening in their personal lives, they have limited capacity left to deal with issues at work. In nearly 100 per cent of cases I have dealt with of people suddenly under-performing at work, it has nothing to do with work. When good people have problems, managers and companies need to carry them. This should be a personal mission. If we learn to carry people when they most need it, we become a stronger community and we empower people in ways that we probably can’t imagine when we are young. A re-invigorated broken employee is a corporation’s most powerful force. They become a slightly better version of themselves without the need for an energy drink.

10. Don’t just network with people your own age

Beware the whiz kid syndrome. Smart, young people have a habit of forming communities of other smart young people and feeding off each other’s energy. In the older world they are seen as “bright young things” that give confidence that the future is in good hands. Argghhhh. How many times have you heard that? Youth enclaves can actually be restrictive. Smart 20-somethings should make sure they network with older people too. In fact their networking should be about meeting useful mentors and career champions who can open doors and fast track careers. Similarly, older, successful people shouldn’t just sit in musty clubs talking about the 1970’s. They should be proactively seeking out smart, young people who can shake them out of their comfort zone and open their eyes to new ideas.

11. Celebrate cultural differences in the workplace

One of the big mistakes we make in Australia is failing to adequately recognize the value of overseas experience and people from a variety of cultures. Diversity brings a richness to our workplaces that benefits all of us. Overseas experience is real experience. We should take every opportunity to inject new thinking into our workplaces. It is where the magic begins.

12. Take the time to understand what your business does

I love the story of President J F Kennedy’s visit to NASA during which he asked a cleaner what his job was. The cleaner replied that he sent rockets to the moon. All of us should feel part of what our organizations actually do. We should take the time to be part of the big picture and always feel connected with the true objectives of our workplace. Don’t wait for someone to tell you or lament that internal communication is crap. Find out for yourself.

13. Don’t put off working overseas

Geography is becoming less relevant. We are all citizens of the world. President Obama made the point during his University of Queensland speech that the world was becoming smaller and even the Pacific Ocean was now just a lake. If you get the chance to work overseas, and you aspire to do that, take it. There is never a right time. And we always regret the things we don’t do far more than the things we do.

14. Work in an office where you have friends

You will spend a lot of time at work. You should work with people you like. I used to be a bit skeptical about a question in employment engagement surveys asking people if they had a “best friend” at work. I realize now that work is much better if you are among friends. The happiest people are those who do things they are passionate about with people they really like. Further to that, if you find you have taken on a job you hate, ditch it quickly. Your career can survive a few well-intentioned detours and mistaken pathways.

15. Never sacrifice personal ethics for a work reason

Crucial to workplace happiness is value alignment. If you work somewhere that compromises your personal ethics and values, get out of there as quickly as you can. Good people will be unnerved by things that don’t feel right. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Bad things only manifest when good people don’t take a stand.

16. Recognize that failure is learning

As bizarre as it might sound, failing is not failure. Researchers recognize that failure is just part of a process to eliminate unsuccessful options. To misquote Woody from Toy Story, when we make a few mistakes, we are not failing, just falling – with style. Even fairy-tale princesses recognize that you need to kiss a lot of toads before you find a handsome prince. Thomas Edison articulated this best: “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” If we fear failure we tend to take a minimalist approach to our jobs and the opportunities around us. Takes some risks. Sometimes failing spectacularly is the best evidence that we are alive, human and serious about aspiring to the extraordinary. There is no value in being ordinary when you have the capacity to be remarkable.

Now, to get started on that time machine…

Shane Rodgers

You are the CEO of your life

03/10/15 0 COMMENTS

I’ve been touring preschools recently. One of the things I ask for is specific examples of how they deal with discipline. The director of one preschool provided the following example:

Jack and Jill are playing. Jack hits Jill and she informs the teacher. The teacher goes to Jack and asks him to apologize, coaching him to own what he did – not just “Jill, I’m sorry,” but “Jill, I’m sorry for hitting you.”

Jill will likely say “It’s okay” because that’s what she’s heard the adults around her say. The teacher says: “Jill, you shouldn’t say that. it’s not okay. It’s never okay for someone to hit us. If you want, you can tell Jack you accept his apology.”

Jill is no longer the victim. She has the power – she is empowered – to accept Jack’s apology on her terms. Needless to say, I’ve enrolled my daughter at this preschool. Hopefully she will learn to feel empowered earlier in life that I did.

As the debate around leaning in, opting out, having it all, etc. swirls around us, I’ve been trying to articulate my point of view. I believe it boils down to 3 things, all related to feeling empowered.

1. It’s your life. Set the vision and the strategy. It’s not easy to know where you want to go and what you want to achieve, but the only person who can decide this is you. Make the time to think about your vision for your life. What will give you fulfillment? What is the right balance for you – at work and at home? Once you know this, figure out how you can make it happen. Remember this is a process. It takes time. Some people can do it alone, others work with a friend or coach. Also, the answer is different for everyone.

2. Take charge. Stay empowered. This is easier said than done. The important thing is to deal with the bumps in the road. Take charge. Don’t let someone else dictate how things play out, both at a macro and micro level.

For example, do your research when you negotiate an offer. Don’t let the person you are negotiating with sway you when you don’t want to be swayed. This doesn’t mean you should be pig-headed; just that you should stand your ground when you have the information to back it up.

Don’t let others bully you. Recently, I was in a meeting with fifteen other people, where someone literally spoke over me and told me I was wrong about something without providing a reason. My instinct was to retreat – but I knew I had to deal with the situation right away, mostly because I would feel horrible later if I didn’t. I found my voice and let it be known that I disagreed, and provided my reasons. Others in the room weighed in and we resolved the situation. I can’t remember what the ultimate decision was – the important thing was that I didn’t let someone take my power away from me.

3. Be honest with yourself. Change the situation if needed. When I hear people complaining about being victimized in the workplace – for example through bias – my first instinct is to ask “why are you still here?” I know I’m being somewhat naive about it, but ultimately I believe that one should have the power to leave when a situation is not working for them. In order to make this happen, two things need to be true: (1) you need to have skills that are in demand so you have other options; and (2) you need to have a contingency fund so you can survive for six months to a year if you choose to leave. If you don’t have these, build them up! It gives you the safety net to make the call if needed.

I’ve spoken about this as a solo journey. It’s not. I believe it’s critical to have the right support system, advisors and mentors in place. However, the CEO job can be lonely. Ultimately, while it’s really important to hear from others, you are in charge. And ultimately you need to make the calls.

Minal Mehta

The Simple Power of Genuine Kindness: A True Story

03/03/15 0 COMMENTS

My client acquired a large company and I went along for his initial meetings with his new employees.

In the afternoon he planned a company-wide address. That morning we met for several hours with top executives. (Talk about emotions on full display: ego, anxiety, obsequiousness, defensiveness, fear, excitement… when the new sheriff comes to town all the icy-cool corporate masks quickly come off.)

The meeting ended at noon and when we walked out fifteen minutes later he noticed a big buffet set up on the other side of the atrium. There were plenty of people standing around in white coats and black slacks but no one in line or sitting at tables.

“What’s that for?” he asked a person walking past.

“The company arranged a meal for after your meeting,” she said. “A local restaurant closed for the day to come here.” She paused. “I think the chef and her staff were really excited about it,” she said, her voice trailing off at the end.

“Has anyone eaten?” he asked.

“Um, I don’t think so,” she said.

He stood looking a few moments. Even from a distance it was evident the catering staff was confused and disappointed.

“Come on,” he said to me. “We’re eating.”

And we did.

But he did more than just eat. He spent a few minutes talking to every — every — member of the staff. Many already knew who he was and while initially hesitant they quickly warmed up to him.

And why wouldn’t they? He complimented the food. He complimented the service. He joked and laughed. And when we had finished eating he said, “We can’t let great food go to waste!” and borrowed two white coats so we could serve them. Then he made the rounds of the tables and happily leaned into all the selfies.

When we finally left, he waved and smiled.

They smiled bigger.

Sure, it took a lot of his time. Sure, it took him off point and off focus and off schedule.

Sure, they loved him for it.

I already knew the answer but as we got in the car I still asked. “I know your schedule,” I said. “You didn’t have time to stop to eat. Besides, no one else did, so no one would have noticed.”

“I felt bad for them,” he said. “They tried hard to do a good job and everyone blew them off. How bad must that feel? So it was the least I could do.

“Maybe my staff thought they were too busy,” he continued. “Or maybe they thought they were too important. But clearly they were too self-absorbed to notice they were hurting other people’s feelings.”

He thought for a few seconds. “And maybe they’re the wrong people for the job, ” he said.**

Much of the time we want famous people to be so humble they don’t recognize there’s a fuss, or a special buzz surrounding, or that people are excited to see them. We want them to be oblivious to their fame or importance. (After all, if they’re too aware… that means they’re too full of themselves.)

But what we should really want is for famous or notable people to recognize that in the eyes of others, they are special — and that other people might want something from them, even if that something is the simple recognition that what they do matters.

Because it does.

Picture a CEO walking into a building for an important meeting. Maybe he says hello to the receptionist. (Maybe.) Otherwise he only has time for the people at his level. It’s like no one else exists; they’re just unseen cogs in a giant machine.

Unfortunately, at times, we all do the same thing. We talk to the people we’re supposed to talk to. We recognize the people we’re supposed to recognize. We mesh with the cogs in the machine we’re expected to mesh with, but there are many other important cogs.

So go out of your way to smile to everyone. Or to nod. Or to introduce yourself.

And when someone does something to help you, even in the smallest way and even if it’s their job to do so, go out of your way to say thanks. Make it your mission to recognize the people behind the tasks: the people that support, that assist, and that make everything possible.

Even though most of us aren’t famous or notable, by recognizing people — especially those who have been conditioned not to expect to be recognized — we add a little extra meaning and dignity to their lives.

And that’s the best reason to go off point, off focus, and off task.

Although, when you think about it, you really aren’t taking yourself away from an important task. You’re just shifting to an equally important task: showing people they matter — especially to you.

** Six months later only three of the original 22 remained.

Jeff Haden

Be A Father First…

02/25/15 0 COMMENTS

Or, of course, a mother….

There are very few situations in life where you only have one chance.

If you fail your driving test, you try again. If you get fired, the next job always offers potential salvation. Even marriage is sadly not so sacred these days, for some unhappy souls a “new model” is always a temptation (although I have been happily married for 13 years). For many people the thought of “ah well, I’ll try harder next time” is always a fall back position in most cases.

However, there is one situation where “I’ll try harder next time” is not an option….

I sat in that delivery room eight years ago with my first-born daughter in my arms, looked into her eyes and made her a promise. “I will do my best to give you everything that I can in life. I will make you the meaning of everything that I do.” My wife had gone to get cleaned up, and I was alone with this little bundle of joy.

I was over the moon, but at the same time slightly worried. Could I really deliver on this promise? She stared back at me with “my” eyes, and I resolved that, no matter what, I would make sure to put her first.

If you are a follower of my blogs, you will have read that I have had a bit of a roller-coaster for the past eight years. Running a successful Retail search business while she was in nappies (tick for the Daddy box), hardly seeing her for a year while I commuted Mon-Thu from St. Petersburg to Moscow in Russia (huge cross for the Daddy box), up to the last two years when I have been building my own writing business at home in sunny Leigh-On-Sea (enormous tick for the Daddy box).

However, I have only recently realized what “putting her first” means…. It is not about the amount of money in the bank, it is not about buying her toys or doing loads of interesting stuff on the weekend, it is not even about her going to the best schools…. It is just about being there for her and her brother, being “present.”

So, even though I work at home and I need my time and space for my writing, I work around their needs. I work early in the morning and late at night. If they are sick from school, I make sure that I spend as much time as possible with them. If a client rings up while we are playing Monopoly, I won’t leave my kids in the lurch mid-game. I’ll ask to call the client back. I never, EVER turn down a game of table football or a chance to murder some song on karaoke.

I am lucky to work at home, I know that not everyone has that option, but I would just like to say one thing…. In all the distractions of life, with all the gadgets and apps in the world to make our lives better, there is only one real “fuel” for your life – your loved ones, and if you are lucky enough, your children…. so be there for them.

To amend a quote from Dirty Dancing, “don’t put your kids in the corner.”

Put them first, in whatever you do. You won’t get another chance.

Paul Drury

Hey Leaders; Don’t Ignore the Baby Elephants

02/17/15 0 COMMENTS

You are no doubt familiar with the expression, “ignoring the elephant in the room.” It refers to a big issue that no one in the organization talks about, but everyone knows exists.

Some elephants are thrust upon an organization by external forces (e.g., economy, regulatory issues, etc.); however, many are the direct result of allowing baby elephants to mature in front of everyone’s eyes.

Perhaps it’s a project that is doomed, but so much energy and political cache has been invested in the effort that no one is willing to scrap it – so, good money is thrown after bad.
Maybe it’s an unhealthy or unprofitable customer relationship that was so difficult to acquire in the first place that termination is unspeakable.
Possibly a manager who treats everyone poorly, but delivers results – he needs to go before a lawsuit arrives; however, we choose to ignore the bad behavior in hopes that it will stop on its own.

Here are four things for you to consider about the baby elephants in your midst:

Little Things Become Big Things: A few years ago New York City authorities put sizeable effort behind graffiti removal and stopping subway riders from jumping turnstiles. Many credit the decision to focus on small infractions as key to the precipitous decline citywide of more serious crimes. Small things matter – sweeping them under the rug typically leads to a bigger mess that will need to be cleaned up by someone.
You’re Not Too Busy, It’s Your Job: Many leaders spend their days rushing from meeting to meeting or digging through a virtual email pile. These activities may be important, and certainly keep one busy, but they also cause distraction from more critical issues. Consider the restaurant manager who walks past trash on the floor because he has paperwork to attend to or the production supervisor who sees a minor safety issue but says nothing because she is racing to a meeting. They may rationalize their lack of action or be so preoccupied that they failed to notice the problems – either way, they are feeding baby elephants.
Know What Right Looks Like: A leader can’t address a baby elephant if he or she doesn’t know what right looks like. Leaders must invest time in learning standard procedures. They need to understand how jobs should be done or how something works. Stepping out of the comfort zone might be required, but we learn nothing when we are comfortable.
Learn How to Give Feedback: Another reason that people ignore baby elephants is because they aren’t comfortable giving feedback to employees much less peers or supervisors. An organization will spend significant money installing a performance management system yet fail to invest time teaching people how to give open, candid feedback. Sure, a talent management system s important, but it doesn’t outweigh the ability to directly address issues.

Are you caring and feeding for a baby elephant?

Have you even stopped to consider if any are wandering around the office?

Take time to address them now before one grows into a 13-foot tall, 15,000 pound pachyderm that no one can ignore.

Patrick Leddin

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