Monday, July 15, 2013

Vacation - and Lessons Learned

Well, as I posted the day before Independence Day, I was in a location with spotty internet. I was on vacation and traveled to see my in-laws; in Denver, Colorado.  I didn't want to post online, for security reasons. There was internet access, but I ran into internet firewall issues, and then no connection at all. We spent the first couple of days at the sister-in-law's house, then camping in the mountains, to return back to the house and then home to Houston. If you want to see some cool pictures, go to my wife's blog: Erin's Creative Energy. But here is a quick family photo:

wife and kids
It was the kids first camping trip, and they had a blast.

Okay, now on to the leadership lessons:

1. As I mentioned on the 3rd of July, I didn't have a bank of blog entries and that meant you were without content. In my mind, that is a failure on my part. I should have a ready bank of entries prepared and scheduled, so that if I ever run into an issue with connectivity, a family emergency, or a vacation, then my readers are taken care of.

2. When a leader goes on vacation, make sure that your team knows what they should be accomplishing while you are away, as well as what work the leader has accomplished in advance of the vacation, and finally, what work you would normally do that they may need to cover. Outside the team, your stakeholders should know who to contact to answer questions or resolve issues. if you don't do this, you leave a vacuum in leadership that doesn't reflect well on you or your team. Don't set them up for failure. 

3. The final lesson is that there are leadership lessons in everything. My example:

While we were in the mountains, my kids and my in-laws two kids played a lot. During one particular moment, while at a scenic overlook, my niece and nephew were starting to wrestle over a set of stationary binoculars. I have a loud commanding voice and used it to get them to stop wrestling, largely because they were traveling as part of my group. However, there was a snag...

The father of the children (Joey) was at the overlook. He asked me to step aside and as we did, I realized my error. I am not their father, Joey is. I should have let Joey handle the situation, but I stepped in because I saw a situation and didn't want my kids to join in on the wrestling. Also, because they were with me, I felt responsible for them, and their behavior reflected on me. It was a mistake, and one that I tried hard to not repeat through the rest of the vacation.

Now the leadership lesson. You need to be careful when working with another team. Often there is no designated leader, and things can get difficult. When two teams work together, the actions of the teams reflect on both leaders. If you are collaborating, you need to work with the other team leader, not overrule them. In the case of the niece and nephew, the other leader was Joey. I overstepped, and should have waited for him to act. At best I should have pointed out to Joey what the kids were doing and (if necessary) ask him to deal with it because I didn't want my kids to think it was okay.

In a work related environment, if there are tasks to be assigned, then COMMUNICATE with the leader to distribute the assignments. Make sure that you distribute the assignments to your team, and them ASK the other leader to do the same with his. If the other team is acting inappropriately, or making decisions that are not inline with the objectives of the total group, then you should COMMUNICATE with the other leader to determine the cause and potential solutions. Jumping in can burn bridges.

I know that this can be tough... especially depending on personality types (I tend to be rather dominant). In the long run, you will be less likely to step on someone's toes, which will maintain the relationship. After all, you need to work with that team now, and may need to work with them in the future.

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