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Posts Tagged ‘Prioritizing’

Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader. Don’t fall victim to what I call the ready-aim-aim-aim-aim syndrome. You mist be willing to fire. ~T. Boone Pickens

In the late 1980’s, Paul O’Neill became the first outsider to run Alcoa (aluminum manufacturing). When he took the helm of this highly cyclical manufacturing business, it was having significant difficulty weathering the troughs of its normal cycle.

O’Neill had spent his career up to that point largely as a government civil servant. When he stepped into the CEO role at Alcoa, he did something that seemed totally counterintuitive in business. Rather than focusing on production and finance, as many new CEO’s would do when needing to turn a company around, he focused on what was considered “soft issues”: safety and teamwork.

While Alcoa had the industry’s best safety record at the time, and had been making strides in reducing injury rates each year, O’Neill let his Safety Director know that the only acceptable injury rate was ZERO! His belief was that ”You can’t get safety unless you really understand your processes.” And by diving deep into the work processes in every aspect of the business, the company was able to shed light on all of the behaviors surrounding how people did their work…behaviors that led to high quality and poor quality, behaviors that lead to strong teamwork and no teamwork, behaviors that led to safe work practices and unsafe work practices.

In essence, he set his sights on the one thing that inarguably affected every single person in the operation, and around which everyone shared common ground: Every person should go home from work each night in at least as good of condition as when they arrived for the beginning of their shift. By focusing on this one aspect of their business, they were, in effect, focusing on all aspects of their business. And, by improving performance around safety, the company improved its quality, production times, loss due to waste, financial performance, and customer relations.

The point here is that O’Neill had a vision, strategies to support it, he identified common ground, rallied his employees around the goal, and took initiative not only to set it all in motion, but did it in a very unorthodox manner…and he started down this path on his very first day at work.

The story of Alcoa’s turnaround is used as a case study in many management programs. Here is just one article about it. It’s an interesting read if you have the time.

As we begin our third week of focus on taking initiative, it’s important that we understand this basic concept: Initiative allows a leader to uproot problems before they balloon into crises.* When you are proactive in the short-term, it allows you to also see the big picture.

Think about what’s going on within your team/organization right now. What issue could you deal with now, that will prevent having to put out fires later?

Once you’ve identified the issue(s), think through how you can best approach it, and schedule time to deal with it before it becomes something much bigger.

*From Intentional Leadership booklet, by Giant Impact.

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What are you discovering this month, with our focus on Initiative? Are you often the initiator or do you wait for others to take the lead?

Will you take initiative on something this weekend that you’ve been putting off?

What do you have planned for your weekend?

I’m looking forward to some rest, some reading, planning for the Igniting Souls Conference next week in Dublin, Ohio, and family time.

As you prepare for your weekend, consider these questions:

Who really need your attention this weekend? You? Family? Friends? People you’ve not yet met?

What really needs your attention this weekend? Is it projects, rest, relaxation…?

What is on your calendar in the coming weeks, and on your mind, that you need to prepare for, set aside time for, think about?

Set yourself up for success and plan for those things…otherwise, all those distractions (aka real life!) will take you off on some detours.

Have a great weekend, and I’ll “see” you Monday!

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For the past four weeks, we’ve been focused on Strategy, and now it’s time for this month’s wrap-up. Hard to believe! And we have only two months left on this Intentional Leadership Journey.

In an early blog post, I shared the story of my encounter with a young man working at the MAC counter in a mall I was shopping in. We got to talking and I shared that I had moved to the mid-west from Washington State and he talked about how he hoped to live in Seattle one day, soon. My response was that “hope is not a strategy,” which startled him back to reality, I think. He said he’d never thought about it that way. I asked how he thought he would get to Seattle — realize his dream — if he didn’t have a plan and take some action. We talked for a while longer, and as I left the store I could see the gears in his mind turning and turning…

Without a plan, our dreams will vanish. As a leader, we must be able to develop an actionable strategy for our team’s/organization’s vision to become a reality. And while it’s certainly crucial to your future success, having a strategy isn’t enough. Once you’ve cast the vision and engaged your followers, you must develop the strategy and then move forward to the next step: Execution. Great leaders don’t simply have a plan, they make it happen!*

So what does a sound strategy entail? It needs to be clear enough to give direction and flexible enough so you can adapt to changing conditions and unforeseeable events along your journey. As we’ve discussed, the only constant is change. If you aren’t moving forward — and I mean intentionally moving forward with a destination in mind — you are falling behind; in today’s world, that will result in the demise of your organization.

My mentors have told me — and I share it with my clients, as well — that leaders must deliberately and consistently set aside time to work ON their business, not just stay mired in the daily effort of working IN their business. I encourage my clients to schedule in “think time” as often as they need it — some do it daily, some weekly. Whatever the cadence you need, you need to do it and you need to make it a priority. In fact, I have some clients who have told me that when our coaching or mentoring engagement has concluded, they have maintained what they’ve referred to as the “Sacred Laura Time” (meaning our coaching/mentoring sessions were high priority and not to be messed with) as their thinking time, as they were already in the habit and had trained their colleagues and staff that they were engaged in important work during that time.

Be mindful, as you develop your strategies, to take into account the strengths of your team/organization, and work that knowledge into your plans, which will give you and even stronger chance of success down the road. The best strategies exploit an organization’s finest qualities.* In this way, you can prioritize your limited resources and use them to the most advantage for your organization.

As we conclude this month’s focus on strategy, spend a little time with your journal and reflect on what you’ve learned.

How are you thinking about strategy differently?

What steps do you need to take now to fully engage your organization, leverage their strengths, and propel yourself forward?

Are you disciplined enough to develop and stick to your strategy, even in the face of inconvenient circumstances and conditions?

Your answers to these questions will dictate the nature of your influence in the years ahead.

“See” you tomorrow, when I’ll introduce next month’s topic. In the meantime, have an intentional day.

 

*From the Intentional Leadership book by Giant Impact. 

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As you go about your daily business, it’s reasonable to assume that you and the members of your team / organization are coming up with a variety of ideas for new things you can do, or how you can do what you are already doing differently, in an effort to improve your products and services. What do you do with these ideas?

How can you manage them so you are working in a proactive posture, rather than a reactive posture?

Here’s one way of managing and sorting through them*:

Record all the current ideas that seem worth further consideration. Run several through this review process and prioritize the ones that pass.

Does the idea support your vision, goals, and values?

Does it fit with your core strengths?

Will the idea make your organization better? How?

To what extent is the organization willing to support the idea and dedicate resources to it?

Would you be personally willing to stake employees’ job and your own to bring the idea to fruition? Is it worth that level of risk?

At your next team meeting, set aside some time to discuss implementation of the most compelling ideas that made it through the review.

Where will it take your organization if you follow through and are successful?

*From Intentional Leadership booklet by Giant Impact. 

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Good morning and Happy Friday! It’s been a great week for me; I’ve been productive and focused and moving forward. This progress didn’t simply happen, and it certainly wasn’t immediate. It’s taken a lot of work over many days, weeks, months, and I am building momentum. It feels great! So nice to be centered in my purpose, operating in my passion zone, and focused on what matters most.

So, as I prepare for my weekend, I know exactly what I need to focus on: First, family time. I think we need a field trip to the farmer’s market or the WV Zoo (yes, I was surprised to discover this, but apparently there is a zoo in WV). Second, preparation for a couple of workshops I have booked  mid-October — one focused on communication fundamentals and one on Laws of Growth and Laws of Leadership. Third, catch up on bookkeeping. Fourth, some reading, writing, and studying. Oh, and yoga!

Next week, I will spend time planning for an upcoming team building and communication workshop, hold several coaching appointments, and prepare for a new Mastermind Group on John Maxwell’s newest book (to be launched October 10th with a live webcast — more on this in a separate post) Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn.

You know what’s coming next, right?

What’s your plan for the weekend?

Whom do you need to spend time with?

What do you need to do for yourself?

Do you need to focus on work, learning, projects, or rest?

What do you need to do to prepare yourself for success on Monday, in the coming weeks, and even months?

How much better do you feel when you are intentional about how you spend your weekend time and how you prepare for the coming days and weeks?

I would love to hear if you are following this practice and what affects it’s having on your life.

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It’s Friday, again, and these four weeks of focus on attitude are coming to an end.

As we begin this weekend, what’s on your list?

Who do you need to spend time with this weekend?

What do you need to do for yourself this weekend?

What do you need to do to prepare for Monday, the coming week, and the weeks beyond?

My weekend will be similar to many…some writing, family time, a little more rest, and preparation for some upcoming teaching and the next Empowerment Mentoring Lesson — Drama this week, and reflection time.

It’s been a full but quick week. Several coaching sessions, including working with my coach, a team-building/strategy session, and was blessed to teach a lesson on attitude, being present, having fun, and making someone’s day.

Whatever is on your agenda for the weekend, I encourage you to spend it intentionally!

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Happy Friday! What attitude have you chosen for yourself today? I choose “having another great day!”

I’ve spent the past few days participating in the WV State Chamber of Commerce Annual Business Summit. There are approximately 800 business leaders and legislators in attendance, so you can imagine that it’s a busy event with a full agenda. Healthcare and education issues are hot on the agenda.

It’s been a great opportunity to reconnect with some friends from my Leadership WV class (2011), catch up with some business associates, and meet some new people. I’ve had some unexpected insights, and realized this week that a certain era in my life has just come to an end. It was a somewhat bittersweet moment, this realization, but I know it’s time to make this change. All in all, it’s been time well spent in a beautiful and unique location (The Greenbrier Resort, White Sulphur Springs, WV). And this afternoon, I will zoom home to my family.

By now, you know the Friday drill, right? It’s time to give some thought to our weekend agendas. For me, it will be family time; I’ve been traveling quite a bit these past 6 weeks, or so, and that means not as much time with my family as I’m used to. So, for the holiday weekend, we will have some fun together; very much looking forward to it.

I will spend some time preparing for Tuesday’s Empowerment Mentoring lesson — You Are Perfect — as well as working on my calendar for the next few weeks. I have some teaching opportunities coming up, so need to polish up a couple of lessons, and I have several coaching sessions scheduled.

So, what’s on your weekend plan?

Who do you need to spend time with?

Will it be a fun weekend or a work weekend?

A personal time weekend or a family time weekend?

What do you need to do to set yourself up for success in the new week? And in the coming weeks?

Whatever is on your agenda, I hope you spend the time intentionally.

“See” you Monday!

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