How to Connect With Your Team When You Don’t Have Time

Connecting With People

“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”  ~Carl Sandburg

Having The Time To Connect

A client and I spent about 50 minutes during a recent session talking about all the things he was concerned about—meetings, motivating, and accomplishing the goals and objectives for his team. He had developed a good plan and way ahead, but something was still troubling him.

Toward the end of our call, he said, “You know, I just do not have time to connect with my people.”

“Brad,” I said, “We have talked for about an hour about how you can be a better leader.  Most everything we’ve talked about can be delegated, especially the technical work.  The one thing that can’t, however, and the thing that is the most important thing in helping you become a great leader, is connecting with your people personally, on a regular basis. You just can’t delegate that.”

He said he had never considered that.

Connecting with People 

In his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You, John Maxwell talks about the Law of Connection, and that successful leaders are always the initiator of connections.

In it he says, “They take the first step with others and then make the effort to continue building relationships.”

So how does a busy leader, who feels that they don’t even have time to take a lunch break, find the time to make that personal connection with their team? (I feel that this is the MOST important thing they do!)

Coach and author of the book There’s Not Enough Time….and other lies we tell ourselves, Jill Farmer, says it starts with getting intentional:

“There’s not going to be a magic windfall of more time falling from the sky. It’s a matter of refocusing attention and intention.”

Getting Personal

3 Things To Try to Make It Happen

1) Hone those delegation skills.

If you are a perfectionist (or a recovering one, like me), you know that no one can accomplish tasks quite like you can. After all, by the time you show someone else how to do something the way you want it done, you could have it already finished. This is a common complaint I hear all the time.

But consider this: If you don’t delegate, they don’t learn.

You only grow your team or organization when they learn to do things without you doing it for them.  Time spent up front, teaching and coaching them to accomplish tasks that they can not only learn to do, but will help their growth, is well worth the investment.

2)  Try bagging it.

Try hosting a brown bag lunch in your office, if you have the space, or in a conference room if you don’t. Invite one team at a time, or mix it up to help people connect with people from different teams. Tell them to bring their lunch—it’s informal.

This isn’t about work, so you don’t have to prepare anything, but you might invite them to ask you questions if they desire.

If you are an introvert, and don’t do well with chit-chat, ask them a couple of questions such as: “What would you do if you couldn’t have this career?” or “If money were no object, what’s the one thing you have always wanted to try?” You will be surprised at how little you have to say and how much you learn about people.

 3)  Block out the time

When you have an important meeting, you schedule it on your calendar.  Since these are important meetings, schedule them just as you would any other meeting.  Block out a few minutes every day, or even twice a week, to visit a different work team.  Even if you just to stop and say “Hello, how’s it going?”–that’s a connection.

By scheduling it in small time increments, you don’t have to worry about the day getting away from you and realizing a week has gone by without connecting with anyone on a personal level.  You might want to add a few minutes in to take a walk, or have some quiet time to yourself (really?).

Schedule at least one 30-minute meeting with your direct reports once a month, depending on how many you have.  One executive I know schedules all her team members for an hour with her once a quarter, because that is the time she can afford.

Time Is On Your Side

Nothing can replace the precious time you spend with your team–it affects morale, productivity and your business culture.  It can raise a team from one that is mediocre to one that excels in pushing your organization to the next level.

Earl Nightingale said:  “Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.”

What ideas and recommendations have you used to help you make some time to connect with your people? How have these benefited you, your team, and your results? i would love to hear your thoughts!

******

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———————–
Susan (Chandler) Foster

Susan C. Foster is an Master Certified Coach & Owner of Susan Foster Coaching
She coaches & facilitates in Leadership, Motivation & Building Great Teams
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Leadership and Conflict: Deal With It Now or Pay For It Later

No one likes conflict (no one normal, at least). The feeling your body gets when it knows you have to address the awkward situations, the humongous elephant in the living room, or the long dreaded “talk.”

Dealing with conflict can sap the energy out of you, increase your stress, decrease your performance and your productivity.

In some cases, experiencing conflict can make you feel down right ill.

Labels and Leadership

It’s funny how some people are labeled or referred to as conflict – when in reality no one (in their right mind) would say they are conflict chasers. So now that I’ve merely reinforced what you already knew about conflict (that it stinks); why in the world am I writing about the importance of dealing with it?

My answer is simple; dealing with conflict is a mandatory part of leadership.

The Danger of Not Dealing with Conflict

Conflict can be like a virus; it will continue to aggressively spread as long as it is unattended to or passively addressed. As leaders we cannot afford to take passive approaches to dealing with conflict, nor can we avoid conflict and escape it’s impact.

As a good friend said recently,  “Let’s face it, awkward conversations are awkward. There’s never a time when they will not be awkward.”

This is often the approach many take when it comes to dealing with conflict;  I call this the “wait for the right time approach.” With this type of thinking, we convince ourselves that we’re trying to do what’s best by being considerate of the situation. Look I’m not saying be inconsiderate and ignore opportunities to best handle situations.  What I am saying is handle the situation! And handle it as quickly and diligently as possible.

When conflict is left unattended or avoided, it usually spreads its influence,  increases its intensity,  and deepens its complexity. Much like forest fires, un-addressed conflict will continue to cause more damage while becoming more difficult to handle.

Seeing Conflict from a Leader’s Perspective

While there are serious dangers to un-addressed or avoided conflict; a leader must also see conflict in the way that few are able to see it; as a necessary part of progress and growth. Leaders must remember that although conflict should not go unattended or avoided, it should also not be prevented.

Let me clarify: Conflict for conflict sake should be prevented and avoided at all cost because there is nothing of value in that.

However,  conflict for the sake of going through the healthy friction necessary for developing clarity and cohesiveness is essential to any team or organization. I have seen leaders and groups suffer because they did not understand this concept. They would have conflict, not deal with it, experience the consequences of doing nothing, and as a result try to prevent future conflicts from happening (which usually created conflicts anyway).

As a leader you must be able to recognize healthy conflict and unhealthy conflict AND be committed to addressing them appropriately and in a timely manner.

Practical/ Unorthodox Ways of Dealing with Conflict

1. On the count of 3. 1…2…3…GO!

If you find yourself avoiding and constantly putting it off. Don’t give yourself time to thinking about it..do it! Schedule a text message to request a time to speak with the person or better yet, just hit send now! Or pick up the phone and just dial their number and don’t give yourself time think about it (you’ll have enough thinking to do when they pick up). While there could a right time, there’s rarely ever a perfect time.

2. Create a Healthy Culture for Awkward Conversations

Have team members learn and practice critically critiquing team ideals and approaches together. Recognize and encourage individuals who ask the tough questions and constructively test the status quo of thinking. Pass on the mantra, “An awkward conversation will always be awkard…get use to never getting use to it.”

3. Allow Passion a Voice in the Room

Often people who engage in conflict are aggressive and passionate about their thoughts and views. Recognize passionate people’s passion, tell them that you value what they have to say because you value that they care.

Often this can reduce tension in the room because overly passionate people often don’t think people hear them or care about the issue as much as they do. This will help them see that you’re not enemies, but teammates fighting for the same cause

4. Address Conflict In a Solution Oriented Manner

Too often people say they’ve addressed conflict among team members or people by mentioning the issue publicly in an announcement to the group. This is talking about conflict not addressing conflict.

The goal is not to say, “I said something about it” but to see the conflict resolved to the best of your abilities.

Usually this means first addressing individuals on an one on one basis where dialog can take place.  In the context there should be more questions than statements being made to the individual with the goal of getting as much context about the situation as possible. Keep details of conversations confidential which allow people to really talk.

Address and correct accordingly, but leave the room valuing the individual no less as a result of your talk. This approach shows your personal care and your professionalism, which will help individuals see the importance and the benefit of addressing issues well.

Remember, dealing with conflict is one of the non-negotiables of leadership. Deal with them now, so you don’t have to pay for them later. I only prefer to pay for things that I actually want; I can assure you that conflicts are not on my wish list.

So I choose to deal with them instead!

So how do you deal with conflict as a leader? Do you tend to avoid it at all cost? Or do you tend to deal with it quickly? What are some ways that you can learn to better deal with conflict in the workplace that will yield better performance by everyone? I would love to hear your thoughts!

******

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———————–
Dr. Tommy Shavers

Dr. Tommy Shavers is President of Tommy Speak LLC. and Unus Solutions Inc.
His lenses are Teamwork, Leadership, and Communication
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Books

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L2L: How Major Companies Motivate Their Employees

This infographic is brought to you by
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On Leadership, Inspiration and Leading With a Modern Flair

Creative Problem Solving

Great leaders are always looking for ways to inspire their team, engage others in conversations and generate an exchange of ideas in new and creative ways.

There is a big difference between what people do out of compliance and what they do out of motivation and personal investment.

The goal is to move beyond compliance and provide a fresh approach to inspiring professional growth.

Inspiring Employees

In an article entitled, “10 Ways Not to Motivate Employees”,  the author writes:

“Employees are feeling unmotivated, uninspired, unconnected and just burned out with work. Part of that is possibly because management is not connecting with their employees, encouraging them and finding out how to inspire them and help with whatever they might be struggling with.”  – Conselium and Compliance Risk, July 17, 2013.

As a new Assistant Principal in an elementary school, I was searching for a way to inspire teachers and invest in their professional growth. What I did not want to do was add another time consuming meeting to their already full plates. My goal was to provide inspiration, thought provokers, and conversation starters in a unique and simple way.

I wanted to “break down the walls” of our organization and facilitate a more global perspective on what is important in our line of work.

Leading With A Modern Flair

In this age of digital tools and social media, I turned my attention to creating a platform that is engaging and quick, yet provides relevant content and timely information that is shared in a creative, fun, and motivational way.

Harnessing the power of the web-based platform S’More, social media site Twitter, and the curation tool Paper.Li, I designed a weekly professional development vehicle just for our staff which delivers relevant content and the sharing of ideas and latest trends in our profession-contributed by others from around the world.

I also provide a space for comments, questions and feedback from staff, which proves to be a great tool for collaboration and the back-and-forth exchange of ideas.

The weekly “S’More From The AP” is delivered to staff via email each Friday. This allows for the staff to access it on their own timetable and allows for conversations to develop and build throughout the upcoming week.

What Goes Into The Creation?

Throughout the week, I collect tweets, articles, blogs, and videos which I think would be of interest to my staff or that are important to our own ongoing growth.

Somewhere around mid week, a “big idea” either starts to develop from the material I have been collecting, or it is something that is more personal and tailored to our personal organization needs.

I start looking through my collection and seeing what ties in with the “big idea” for the week, and soon the S’More begins to take shape.

Format

I tinkered around with a few ideas, but here is what I finally settled on:

  • Mini blog post (big idea)
  • Worth Reading (blogs/articles related to idea)
  • Worth Watching (videos that go along with the idea and articles)
  • Tech Corner (A quick shout out to a favorite app, website, or platform that teachers may like)
  • Tweet of the Week (An idea captured in a tweet I have saved. Usually motivational).
  • Scenes From Our Week (pictures of teachers I have taken throughout the week as they are teaching).
  • Link to Staff Weekly Magazine. This is a paper.li that I publish every Thursday, and I include the link in the S’More. It contains articles contributed by members of my Professional Learning Network on Twitter which may or may not be “big idea” related. This platform is very user friendly; you can create a magazine in minutes and set your own publishing schedule. The free service does most of the work for you! You simply select the items you want to include from the pre-published version the website initially creates for you. All content for the magazine is pulled directly from your own Twitter feed, and you choose the contributors.

Keeping Focus

I do not include anything like upcoming dates, events, announcements, or anything of that nature because my principal communicates that information.

This is more of just a professional learning investment, for those who want to partake!

The final touches I usually do on Thursday night and I send it out through email at the end of the day on Friday. I have received very positive feedback on this from our staff!

Final Product

Here is a link to this week’s S’More:  https://www.smore.com/93jab

You can also look through my other weekly S’Mores to see the shape it has taken each week. With a little bit of initial set up, you can create your own personal vehicle for bringing inspiration and new ideas to your own team. This is the type of modern flair that you can bring to your team!

This helps in opening up a global perspective and moving your team beyond compliance into satisfying and rewarding professional growth in which they are truly invested.

What creative ways have you found for sharing motivational ideas or delivering meaningful resources to your employees? I would love to hear your suggestions!

**********

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———————–
Traci Logue

Traci Logue is an educator at Northwest ISD
She has twice been named Teacher of the Year
Email| LinkedIn | Twitter | Blog | Web

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On Leadership and People, Process and Production

People Process Production

Regular readers know that I try to help both newcomers and experienced project management practitioners and other leaders to achieve above average results using what they have at their disposal.

Because very few projects have the luxury of having the best of the best, the kingpins, or the people who make things happen on their teams, project managers need to be exceptional people managers and motivators. (Projects by nature are risky, so organizations usually keep the best people focused on the known, the proven and the established.)

The leadership method described here is not well documented – nor is it recognized as an “official” management or leadership strategy – but I can guarantee that it is a principle that will work in both management and leadership environments.

People, Process and Production

People

Most people have lives outside of work, ambitions, aspirations, hopes and dreams. If you follow one simple rule – EVERYBODY IS IMPORTANT – you will move mountains.

Acceptance, appreciation, interest and above all trust are the highest forms of recognition. If you expose your team members to these (genuine) affections, they will find ways to align themselves to your goals, they will search for ways to excel and I promise you that they will search for the plate to step up to.

If someone is wanted, regarded and trusted, they reward such positive treatment with the behavior that is suitable. If your team is made up of the “second-best” or even not that flattering groups, you will be able to show that their behavior, dedication and hard work is appreciated, recognized and NOTICED.

Superseding the once “best-of-the-best” has happened to many of the people who were on my teams. The moment they get used to the good behavior = good results programme, they are hard to stop…

What do you have to lose? Give it a go…

Process

In its narrowest form, a process describes how we move from one point (state) to another. If we think about the common understanding of a process, it can be likened to a roadmap.

What is hidden from view are:

  • Departure point – Known
  • People responsible for each action / task / node –Known
  • Information required to complete each action / task / node – Known
  • Input requirements for each action / task / node – Known
  • Output requirements for each action / task / node – Known
  • Success factors for each action / task / node – Known
  • Documentation for action / task / node – Known
  • Completion requirements for entire process – Known
  • Success factors for entire process – Known

If people know and understand what they are required to do, by when and to which standard, they will do whatever is required to achieve the result (successfully). If they understand who will take something forward, they humanize the situation, they treat others as clients, and your example (above) is sound, they will treat each other in the same way.

If you look inside you – you will be able to attribute each failure that you have had to the absence of clearly defined goals and objectives – internal or external.

Production

The sentence that people DO NOT want communicated inside an organization is this:

>>> IT IS ACCEPTABLE TO FAIL.

The reason organizations try and avoid this is because they have not learnt that the correct statement should be this:

>>> IT IS UNACCEPTABLE NOT TO TRY!!!

Bloopers, failures and whoopers can be repaired – with honesty and integrity.

If everybody is allowed to try their best, fail, learn, and move forward – progress in every sense will be staggering.

Fear is one of the most negative emotions that people can experience. If they are required to perform any function within a basis of fear you can predict the results.

Q: So if your team is motivated, know what they need to do, and they know that their best will be acceptable – what should the manager or leader do?

A: Stay out of their way!!

The only way that a leader or manager can enhance the performance would be through enablement – Make sure they have what they need, help where they need help, encourage when the day is dark and praise when the sun is shining.

THE ABSOLUTE PPP RULE:

Superior production (delivery of agreed results within time-frames, budget and materials consumption frameworks) is achieved by positively motivated people, doing what is expected of them, and working without fear.

GUARANTEE: If this does not work for you – Let me know!!! I will publicly renounce the statement!!!

Please feel free to comment, share and re-post this…

**********

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———————–

Anton van den Berg is a Project Professional at Aveng Limited
He serves Organisations to Advance to the Next Market Level
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog

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How to Lead Stupid People

Stupid People

“How to Lead Stupid People” as an article title… Offensive, right? Who would think that the people that work with them are stupid?

Well read these statements:

“I was just promoted into management and am shocked at how stupid my employees can be. I give them directions and then they do 18 things I didn’t want. I’m getting really frustrated and curt with them. How do I make sure they do tasks the way I want them done?” – Actual question sent in by recently promoted manager (Source)

“My organization has tripled the number of employees I supervise, and I’m exhausted with how many stupid mistakes they make. I make every effort to train them, and yet they still manage to misunderstand nearly everything I say. How can I make the job to clear to them and not waste so much time with their mistakes?” – Yes, another real question sent into a newspaper! (Source)

Not only do people think that their direct reports are stupid, they are also willing to ask for advice about them… And “experts” are willing to answer.

But take a different look at the equation:

What if the reason that a team is “stupid” has more to do with the person in charge than the people on the team?

People Are Only As Stupid As Allowed

We are the masters of how we interpret the world. That’s why people can see the same glass as half full or half empty – the glass isn’t different, the perspective is. It’s a phenomenon called confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is a trick our brain plays, only looking for evidence supporting our preconceived notions or strongly held beliefs.

In one my first real jobs, my first manager struggled to identify three positive attributes in my first quarterly review. Right after that, I got the opportunity to do the same job for another leader in the organization. In three months, I was given a huge project to reduce attrition in a key area. It was successful and I was promoted to manager of the group.

  • Was I smarter while working for the second manager? No.
  • Did I make mistakes and fail while working for the second manager? Absolutely.

But for manager two, I was a capable and resourceful employee. For manager one, I was a total screw up. I didn’t act differently work any harder. The difference was in their perspective…

Do you think that the people who “work for you” are brainless? It likely has more to do with your view of them than their performance.

If Your Employees Are Stupid, That’s On You

Teams are only good as their combined abilities. Leaders aren’t always given the opportunity to pick the people, but they can shape a high-performance team culture. This culture encourages people to step up or step out. Either is fine, as long as everyone is rowing in the same direction.

During a promotion, I “inherited” a team that wasn’t doing so well. I interviewed the team. They were passionate and diligent about doing a great job, but the previous manager assumed their jobs were mundane and they must be “simpletons” (his words, really). He also didn’t deal with a single performance issue.

I took the following actions immediately:

  1. Started to promote the wins of the team
  2. Met with all the business partners to realign goals and projects
  3. Had a tough conversation with the person that was not performing their duties

The team’s performance turned around dramatically.

On Leadership and Culture

Shadow of a Leader

Did the team change? Not really. I didn’t rejigger their processes. It was really a matter of what I thought of the team. It’s the notion of “shadow of the leader.”

Essentially, the team will emulate the leader’s actions, and will be a reflection of the leader’s perception of the group. Think about a person you were in a relationship with that didn’t work out, then they end up great relationship. It’s likely they didn’t really change much.

What’s more likely is that they found someone that saw their inner greatness.

You shape how the people around you show up. Unless you are in a war zone (and research tells us sometimes even then), you control how great people show up.

You Can’t Fix Stupid, But You Can Fix You

What does this all mean for the stupid team that you are forced to lead?

It means if you think you are leading stupid people, look in the mirror. The likely cause of the collective stupidity of the team is that you haven’t answered/addressed some very important questions:

  • Do you really know what the team does?

    • Not just the “they process form 47” level, but the impact on the end customer or bottom line – if you can’t clearly articulate that, then how can your expect your team to know the impact of their actions?
  • Do you know how your team impacts and interacts with other teams?

    • Part of overcoming the label of “stupid team” is understanding the interactions between teams.
  • Do you know what motivates your team members?

    •  Not the fluffy stuff, but the underlying motivation – this insight enables you to see why they act the way they do.
  •  Do you know their strengths?

    • Far too often, leaders don’t really know what their team members’ strengths are – they constantly give them either crappy, mundane work or tasks they struggle with. I’m 5′ 1″ tall – if my manager gave me the task of being the center of a basketball team, I’d fail no matter how hard I worked.
  • Do you know what they want to do with their careers?

    •   Its vital to know what folks want out of the time they are working. Is it to be the manager, to get a paycheck, or to start his or her own business? All of those are awesome. This gives you insight into how you can work with them to achieve those goals and frame tasks or projects. You will really have to think about why you are assigning things (and to whom) when you’re assigning them.

Are the people on the team you have the privilege of leading really stupid? Probably not. A team being “stupid” has more to do with the leader than the members of the team. Everyone is masterful at something – it’s just a matter of finding out what.

  • A leader actively looks for the greatness in each and every person on the team.
  • A non-leader just complains that the team is ineffective because the people on their team are stupid.

Which one are you?

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Anil Saxena is a President & Senior Consultant Cube 214 Consulting
He helps organizations create environments that generate repeatable superior results
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A Recipe For Failure: Focusing On Success

Great Recipe

When cooking food, a little too much or too little of an ingredient can ruin a dish. So if you are cooking from a great recipe, it is vital to focus on every aspect of building that recipe in a way that will yield success.

Great meals don’t come from great recipes; they come from great execution of a great recipe.

Great Recipes Do Not Equal Great Results

At first, I couldn’t understand how someone could have a great recipe for a great meal but still not be able to produce a great meal. With that reasoning, everyone should be master chefs (and we know that’s not the case). I have come to realize in my ignorance and oversimplification of cooking that the problem lies not so much in the recipe as it does in the placement of focus.

Let me explain, great chefs have great focus and an innate ability to place focus on the right things at the right time. A masterful meal is the byproduct of placing great focus on the details and the processes. The reason many fail at making great meals is because they are focusing too much on… making great meals.

Notice Your Focus

As a youth football player I tried being a kicker (kickers are cool in little league). I couldn’t make the cut and had to settle for a skill position. Who knew playing a position other than kicker could be a demotion! The reason I kept failing as a kicker was because I was focusing too much on trying to make successful kicks rather than the actual process of kicking.

Q: So what does a successful kicker, cook, and company have in common (if only “kicker” was spelled with a “c,” my alliteration would be classic)?

A: The answer is, they all do well when they focus on the details and not the results.

They don’t focus on success because they recognize you can’t place focus on results; you place the focus on the details and processes it takes to produce results. Great kickers have an incredible ability to avoid the temptation of wanting to look up and see if their kick in going to be a successful kick or not.

Similarly when it comes to organizations, I have seen where leaders really wanted to be successful but were not able to stay focused on the details and processes it took to produce success.

Recipe for Disaster

Here are a few examples of how recipes for success can come up short:

1. Missing Ingredients

A team wants to be successful, yet no one brings the focus down to the real issues that preventing or hindering its success. Take the time to find what’s missing; could very well be the key ingredient to your success.

2. Half-Baked Plans

An example of a half-baked plan would be having a long-term strategy that you abandon when the early results are not what you hoped for. If this is a long-term process, then stop assessing it by short-term indicators.

Indicators are important, but they are not results.

That’s like pulling the chicken out the oven half-baked and tossing it in the trash because it’s taste was not what you had hoped for. News flash, don’t expect half-baked chicken to taste like anything other that half-baked chicken! You don’t pull out half-baked chicken to taste it, you pull it out to see if it’s cooking according to plan.

Leaders can feel the pressure to show immediate returns on their work that they fall into taste testing their approach and not merely assessing it. This can lead to constant abandoning of incomplete plans and approaches. This can also lead to high turnover and instability within an organization or group. Be sure to keep checking on you plan, just remember that it’s still not finished yet.

3. Wannabe Master Chefs

Don’t try to get creative until you’ve mastered the basics.  People often view creativity as if it is the opposite of order and discipline. Creativity should actually be an expression of high level mastery of the fundamentals. Many try to go out and start with this new creative, out of the box approach only to fall well short of all expectations. Before we become creative, let become competent. Once you’ve mastered your understanding you can begin to apply it in unique, and innovative ways.

What’s your recipe for success? Once you have your unique ingredients, turn your attention to the details and process of following your plan, strategy, or approach. This will help you have the success you’re looking for. My wife (who’s a wonderful cook) at times would ask me how I would make such wonderful dishes on the rare occasions that I do cook? My reply is usually the same,  “I followed the directions from the recipe, Sweetie.”

******

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————–
Dr. Tommy Shavers

Dr. Tommy Shavers is President of Tommy Speak LLC. and Unus Solutions Inc.
His lenses are Teamwork, Leadership, and Communication
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Books

Image Sources: brooklyn.mamasnetwork.com 

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