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6 strategies how to not feel lonely on top of the leadership ladder

6 strategies how to not feel lonely on top of the leadership ladder 

Photo credit: Pablo by Buffer

Getting to be the boss is sometimes not at all what you thought it was going to be. You figuratively move up the ladder and the higher you step the less of a handrail you can hold on to for support and guidance. It can be outright lonely and while you are moving up, there is less and less support to grab a hold of. The stress rises and you are going to miss feedback where you stand with people. Watch out, because it can get worse. What you do hear may be carefully chosen, pre-filtered, and sometimes outright blatantly incorrect information. Candor gets rarer and rarer.

When you do a great job at work there is a good chance that you will progress up the career ladder. Before you know it you manage people, a department, and perhaps the whole company. All of a sudden it is like you have moved from one aisle in parliament to the other. People who used to be your colleagues are now your direct reports and their eyes are on you as well as from the people whom you report to. Game on: It is you versus them. You did not want for this to happen at all though.

Before you know it your stomach is in a knot because you may not know whom and what to trust anymore. Why do you think celebrities and really rich and successful CEO’s are in the news about their sometimes questionable public behaviors and organizational decisions? Sure, some folks cannot help themselves and it is their ego and narcissistic behavior that gets them into trouble. It just does not apply to the vast majority of leader-managers.

Does this sound like you? Painful, isn’t it? One powerful example how a successful manager avoided this dead end situation, was that he had been lucky enough to have an ex monk on staff. In the book titled “The CEO and the Monk” the monk became the spiritual adviser to the CEO more or less due to serendipity. Any of the CEO’s decisions – good, bad, or indifferent – had an impact on the organization and the monk provided extremely candid feedback that no one else felt safe conveying. The CEO was thus able making more long term sustainable decisions with a high degree of employee morale. He was in luck because he had had help. That is not what the average leader goes through though. You need not look for a monk though order to organize a well working support structure for yourself. With a few strategies you can do just as well on your own:

  • Listen well. Actually, what comes before that is to simply park your ego and ponder how you can make the life of your people better. When you do this the better listening part comes all but automatically. What does park your ego mean? Do not take yourself so seriously. It is not whether or not you succeed; it is about that your job is such that your team and team members succeed.
  • Seek candid feedback. Sounds easier said than done. Then again, you have the greatest impact on this. Candor can only happen when there is a trustworthy and safe environment for the people to actually share how they really feel and what they think is the best path moving on forward. That is your choice. Nothing is worse than reaming people out, chastising them in front of others, taking their information and immediately turning it on them or others, and many more of such examples destroy trust (remember: trust is what your organization sells and needs in order to survive and thrive). You just managed to never again get a good picture of what is going on again.
  • Walk through the office and shop floor from wall to wall. Get to know your folks. You think you may not have time, well, then make time. Not only is it good for your health to get up and move around at least every 90 minutes, but you have the prime opportunity to bond with people on a personal level. Sometimes you will notice people struggling with their jobs, calls, the striking scanner or printer. Help out and while you are at it you may want to ask what one the one most important thing that needs to change is in order for the department or company to survive. Be ready to do something with the knowledge and provide feedback.
  • When you mutter the words “open door policy” mean them. If your door is only left open because you like a fresh breeze or you like the view, I see some really intense self-reflecting and re-adjusting in your near future, or your chair may be facing a different occupant soon. Seriously, so much has been written about how important it is providing genuine and sincere one-on-one time for your employees. Put the phone on do not disturb, look at the team member and not your oh-so-important paperwork or Outlook schedule. Be there in the moment with the one who interrupted her day to speak with you. This is show time for some candor and fertile ground for growth of you, the employee and the organization.
  • Speak with your peer supervisors and leadership. Often, the people reporting to you would rather confide in other people. No need to get upset about this (remember? Park your ego!). Embrace the trust that your fellow manager enjoys. You two can really do wonders for the employees and the organization if you are using the information wisely and to the benefit of everyone. You can help the other supervisor by returning the favor. Keep in mind that the common denominator for all of the above measures is trust.
  • This is no time for favorites. Favorites are for TV shows, movies and perhaps sports. Here you do not want to only listen and speak to people that you are the most familiar with, or that you like dealing with the most. Favoritism will no doubt to an unsustainable form of leadership. People who need to listen to you all the time, will only do so reluctantly and at the end tell you what they think you want to hear. On the other side of the spectrum, folks that you normally do not speak with you, will be even less likely speaking with you if you do not make the effort first.

Hopefully you got a little comfort out of this blog post. Candor flourishes when you as the leader allow for it to happen without any, and I mean any, repercussions. Provide a safe, ethical and positive environment and you will be amazed how many problems seem to fix themselves. It is like nailing guard rail extensions to your success ladder. There is no way but up for your team, you, and the organization.



Do you like miracles? 2 ways initiating your own predictable miracles

Do you like miracles? 2 ways initiating your own predictable miracles 

Miracles occur when needs and solutions converge seemingly serendipitously. Convention says that miracles happen coincidentally. Is there such a thing as coincidence though? Most people just accept a matter as coincidence and do not think twice about it. Really smart folks dig a little deeper and follow up with the people involved. There are an increasing number of people who believe that it may even be possible creating circumstances leading to predictable miracles. Here are two ideas of how you can initiate them.

  1. In order to be able to creating a conduit for needs and solutions to emerge in front of you and still maintaining the element of coincidence (this is truly organic growth), you will first and foremost need to ponder what your purpose is. The moment you ask yourself this question, you will be on the path to a better and brighter future.
    Imagine what gives you energy and what you really want to be and do. Think about your future needs that will help pave the way to get there. Journal about this daily and reflect upon this list frequently. Develop a mental picture what the final result might look like in 9-12 months from now.
  2. Now comes the part that you need to feel comfortable with: Share this picture with acquaintances, friends, co-workers, family, etc. Do this freely. The more you think and talk about it, the more you think and solidify your own mental picture. You become intensely focused on what truly matters to you.
    Make a list of 9-18 people you look up to. Meet with these folks for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Do not ask for favors; ask for them to listen to you and to be candid with their feedback. Share your vision and mission, your purpose freely. Bring the future into the present by bringing it alive. Keep your journal up to date.

Now you have tilled the ground and sowed the seed of synchronicity – that is coincidence at its best. Because you know your intentions and you have shared them, people and opportunities will start crossing your path. This may not happen immediately, but in the long run this is a recipe that you can follow with almost guaranteed success.

What are you waiting for? Give it a go, you cannot lose here and how cool is it to create your own predictable miracles?


Busy is bad

Busy is bad 

Photo credit: Ralf Weiser, Brett Blair’s book “From Autopilot to Authentic”. It proves the point that slowing down is what we need rather than just doing more stuff

Multi-tasking is multi-wasting (click to tweet this). Perhaps it’s no myth to you, but it so pervasive in our culture that the vast majority of people probably do not even know that they overdo it. Multi-tasking is when you attempt carrying out all sorts of tasks and thoughts at the same time, or at least in close progression of each other. It has a few terrible side effects.

When your mind is racing because you want to get as much as possible of your stuff done, you no longer think about how much sense there is in doing them in the first place. When we are in motion we are just not making high quality decisions. Just think about the ruckus about texting while driving, and also being on the phone while driving. We are distracted when we do any of these things. Don’t just take my word on it. Here is Coach Brett Blair’s blog post on the same topic.

Here we are multi-wasting instead of multi-tasking and the time we saved may have been a total waste of time. It’s best to make a weekly and even better daily list the day before we actually have to do anything. Make sure to have some quiet time to really contemplate how important the tasks are. Assign a priority to them. Think about if you actually have to do them. Can you perhaps delegate it? Sometimes you may find that you don’t have all the information you needed in order to do the task. Some of the tasks will not end up on the list. You will end up erasing them because they no longer make sense now that you had time to think about them. Finally, some of the tasks take so little time that you get them done after your planning session (beware of scope creep though).

Don’t waste away precious time. Sometimes it is better slowing down instead of speeding up. Your friends and family will enjoy a happier you and at work you will be recognized for being extremely effective. Effectiveness beats busyness any day no matter how hard you think you work (click to tweet this).


It is not the critic who counts – just do the stuff you are meant to do

It is not the critic who counts – just do the stuff you are meant to do 

Someone whom I consider to be a good friend just shared the following quote from Teddy Roosevelt with me.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

I read it once and made so much sense to me. I read it again right away as it pulled me right back in. I have tried homing in on the things that only I should be doing. I used to care a lot about what other people would say and I often tried appeasing them. It did not feel right not being all-inclusive with everyone. I had to learn a hard life lesson that I cannot always avoid folks not being happy with me. Do not misunderstand me here. I will always attempt first figuring out how I can make everyone better off with what I am doing. I will just no longer compromise on things when I know that there is a better possible outcome just because there are critics out there who will spend ample time pontificating about what could be done rather than starting to do something themselves. I am with President Roosevelt here. I would rather be the one whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood. I need to be part of the solution and not the problem.

Are you with me?


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