Showing posts with label Quote. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Quote. Show all posts

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday's Food For Thought

"He who fails to plan is planning to fail"
Sir Winston Churchill 

There are many quotes that are constantly changed/misinterpreted. This is one of them. Usually it gets paraphrased to "Failing to plan is planning to fail." Either way the statement is correct. A plan is a necessity for a leader. As well as a "plan B" for when the inevitable happens and something goes wrong. In Project Management (and the military) there is a Risk Assesment Matrix that is also part of the plan. The plan should be detailed, should be in chronological order, and should be made available to everyone who will be impacted by it. At the very least the plan is an exercises to identify the tasks necessary to complete the project, and in what order they need to occur.

The plan can be a writeup in a notebook, a checklist in Outlook, a detailed project plan in Primavera, or anything in between. The only thing I can tell you for certain is that if you don't plan you will miss something and then have to scramble to fix it (that isn't to say that you won't miss something; but with a plan you will miss less).

Of course, no plan is perfect. Things will happen and the leader needs to know how to adapt. A quote to talk about later will be "No plan lasts past first contact."

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday's Food for Thought

A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.
- Lao Tzu

There are many leadership quotes that seem cliche. This is one of them. Another version of this is: A leader's job is done when he is no longer needed. Sounds trite, right? Who wants to be obsolete?

Well to be honest, I agree with the quote. Leadership is empowerment, not just of yourself, but of your team. You provide the direction, but the team provides the action (Bushwhackers, from the previous post?). The team should grow and develop under your tutelage, with the end state being that the team will know their jobs and how to do them without your constant direction. In fact, a good leader will make sure that his/her personnel knows not only their own jobs, but also the jobs of the person above and below them. That way, when somebody decides to move on, there is no gap; no matter whether that person is the one who gets coffee for everybody, or maybe the leader himself/herself. In the Army this can be even more critical, when a person is suddenly no longer capable of performing his/her duties while in a combat situation. In Good to Great,  by Jim Collins, this type of leader is a Level 5 Leader (great book, a must read!).

So, then the question for today would be: What have you done today to grow your team? Ask it everyday.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Friday's Food For Thought

“A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader, a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves”
- Eleanor Roosevelt

So often a leader is thought of as the beacon on the hill, guiding the others toward action. That one person who through shear presence can influence people to move in the direction he/she wants. As odd as this may sound, he/she is only a good leader.

What is the difference? The difference is that a great leader will build his/her team, ultimately to the point where the team doesn't need him/her anymore. In Good To Great Jim Collins writes about Level 5 leaders. I won't go into the details here, because the book is worth the read; but one of the main characteristics of a Level 5 leader is training/preparing your team (after finding the right people in the first place), as well as finding and grooming your successor. In this day and age, many may think that this is suicidal for your job prospects; but the truth is, how can you move on to bigger and better things until your team is ready to work without you, and your replacement is on-hand and ready to take over?

A great leader grows his team, working with them to expand their interests and provide the motivation to try new things. If you aren't doing that, if you are pointing fingers and telling people "go that way" then you are only a good leader. Take a look around you, find out what your team wants/needs to grow into, and start providing the opportunities for them to do just that. Then you will be a great leader.

Also, I apologize for this blog post being late. I hope that the topic is enjoyable.

P.S. I found out that last week's quote actually came from John Quincy Adams. My mistake.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Friday's Food for Thought

A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not.
Author: Unknown

How often do you pay attention to your shoes? You could consider that an odd question based on the quote above, but I am going somewhere with it.

When you are a leader, your team is most likely much more observant than you think they are. Have you ever walked by a safety violation? Somebody not wearing his/her safety glasses when they should? How about a moment when the entire team knows a person went the extra mile (landed a big account, created a new tool that saves a lot of time, whatever) and you didn't recognize it? Or maybe you did catch the safety issue and publicly congratulated the person for good work. The point is that your actions are noticed. If you missed the safety glasses, then your team may think you don't care about safety and start getting lax about their glasses (or other things). What if the person who went the extra mile is recognized, the team will know you value the extra work that people put it, and work that much harder and smarter.  

As a leader you are leading every time you are out there, in front of your team or not. And the actions you take or don't take can and will impact your team; whether the impact is intentional or not. My point is: Try to pay attention to the details, because your choices will impact where the team thinks your priorities are.

Still wondering about the shoes? Are they polished? Are they scuffed? Are the non-slip soles worn so thin that they now can be used on a slip and slide? What message are your shoes sending? Is it the message you intended for your team? Little details can really impact how you are perceived. Take a moment to go over your appearance and choices; and ask if that perception is what is intended. Then pull out the shoe polish, and put a nice shine on your shoes this weekend.

Have a good one, Monday we will talk about what Conceive means!