I would like to congratulate our Front Line Leader Spring 2021 graduates. We now have 20 more high performance leaders in the FLL alumni adding to 2000+ that are already alumni. This group rose to the virtual challenge and has demonstrated that good leaders can develop in any environment.
With their graduation, I will pass on some wisdom by Peter Drucker on Leadership.
The most important leadership decision you will make will be the decision to become a leader. Acceptance of the responsibility to become a leader is important. It means you must live with the fear of something going wrong. You may be blamed for actions that may not be fully under your control. It means living with the anxiety that followers may not follow you and that you may make the wrong decisions. You may have to live with the embarrassment and penalties of failure.
Many people who have the capability of becoming great leaders never accept this challenge. They live with the fear that limits the success they may achieve and the contribution that might make by helping others. The decision is yours to make.
Please let me know your thoughts.
Scott Smith at 12:35 PM
What Mary Kay Ash taught the world about leadership and problem solving
Monday, April 26, 2021
Mary Kay Ash built the global cosmetic empire Mary Kay which is now a $3.25 billion company. (Some of youmay recall Mary Kay’s signature pink Cadillac).
She built the empire based on the following leadership and problem solving approach:
1. Follow the golden rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you – in dealing with team members and employees. If you help them get what they want, they will help you get what you want.
2. The people are more important than the plan. Make them feel important, praise them, listen to them and let them contribute. In return you will get their best efforts and their support. Managers get their best ideas from their teams.
3. Manager must lead by getting their hands dirty.
4. Managers have a responsibility to their employees. They must instill in their employees a sense of pride and pleasure in the work and try to provide a low-stress environment in which people can do their best. All employees are called by their first names, regardless of title.
5. There are no ‘little people’ in the organization. Everyone is important to the organization’s success. (When Mary Kay was alive, she met personally will all new employees within the first month).
We are all facing anxiety right now – we are being overwhelmed with emails and information. We are practicing new public health protocols. We are concerned about what our future looks like. We can choose to sit and absorb it or we can do something very simple – go for a walk.
We all know that walking burns calories and gets your heart rate up (which can’t hurt with our new Skip the Dishes habit). Walking has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, especially if you walk in a natural or wooded area. No special equipment or membership is needed. You can walk anytime, anywhere - for a long period of time or just a few minutes for a break.
What you may not know is that walking also improves creativity. A Stanford study shows that walking increases the supply of blood to the brain and that walkers perform better on creative thinking tests. To illustrate this further some avid walkers included Aristotle, Charles Dickens, Ludwig von Beethoven, Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs. So while there are definitely physical health benefits from walking the mental health benefits are equally as important.
Walking is a means for you to clear you mind, take a break, refocus, solve problems and come up with new ideas. It is the easiest solution to help reduce the anxiety we are feeling both personally and professionally.
Start your new habit now while the fall weather is here. You will feel the positive effects immediately.
Tips on leading through the 'temporary' normal - Think to S.E.E.
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
As we move towards the ‘new normal’, our need to adapt the way we execute our work will demand an increase in our continuous improvement and innovation (CI&I) activity.
As you do this, I would encourage you to follow the logic I use for future state design – THINK TO S.E.E – Simple, Elegant and Effective.
When you approach CI&I, the focus should always be on simplifying how we do our work – it is much easier to make things more complicated than it is to simply them. Solutions should be elegant or well-designed following design thinking methodology. And finally, it is critical that processes are effective in delivering internal and external customer value.
Developing and executing future state design using the THINK TO S.E.E approach does take more thought and effort, but the effort will have a much higher rate of return. Quoting Mark Twain – “If I had more time, I would have written you a shorter letter”.
If you would be interested in attending a virtual skill development session on the THINK TO S.E.E methodology, please let me know.
Tips on leading through the 'temporary' normal - Create the Future
Thursday, May 14, 2020
One of my favourite management thinkers is Peter Drucker.
One of his many philosophies is “The best way to predict the future is to create it”.
In simple terms, it is up to you on how your future will unfold. By coming up with ideas about what you want to achieve, you begin to plan. As you plan, you begin to take action. As you take action, you begin to create your future.
As we approach the new normal, it is more important than ever for both individuals and organizations to embrace this thinking.
Leading through the temporary normal - all work and no play
Tuesday, April 28, 2020
“All work and no play make Jack a dull boy”. Originally a proverb, this phrase was made famous by Jack Nicholson in the movie ‘The Shining’. The real meaning of the proverb is that if you focus only on repetitive work, work that has limited challenge or if you do the same work every day, you will get bored and demotivated. In organizations, focusing solely on executing daily work can lead to reduced productivity and lower engagement.
Everyone needs meaning and challenge beyond their daily work. Getting teams involved in continuous improvement projects or problem solving will allow them to focus on activities that will contribute to the long-term success of the organization. If teams can get involved in improving their own work and work areas, it allows for increased levels of ownership, productivity improvement and reduced levels of frustration. All very necessary activities to prepare to move into the new normal.
Tips on leading through the 'temporary' normal - adaptability and resilience
Monday, April 20, 2020
We have moved from uncertainty to the ‘temporary’ normal. We appear to be moving through 3 distinct phases – uncertainly and adjustment, the temporary normal and the new normal. Most of us are now in the temporary normal phase (I know I am).
What is different about this phase? We are experiencing what it is like to work in a social distance work world, whether at home or at the workplace. We have figured out methods to execute our work and are falling into some form of operating rhythm. Most of us have moved to an acceptance phase and are trying to make the best of the current state. Some of us are learning valuable lessons that we can apply for this phase and for the new normal.
What is required to win in this phase? We are still dealing with a situation that is not well understood and has limited predictability. Our natural instinct is to try to predict or control the situation. In a complex situation, both are very difficult. Instead, we need to focus on adaptability and resilience. Adaptability is preparing ourselves to rapidly reconfigure how we do our work and how we engage with our team members. Resilience is developing the skills to step back, understand, regroup and then set a course to continue to move towards our long-term goals. In order to be resilient your team needs to have a positive but realistic attitude, to be able to use failure and set- backs as an opportunity to learn and grow and to execute a plan to adapt and move forward.
As leaders it is up to us to set the example for both adaptability and resilience.
Tips on Leading Through Uncertain Times - The Gratefulness Challenge
Friday, April 17, 2020
During normal times, it can be difficult to find things we are grateful for at work. As humans we tend to focus on the negative as a way to protect ourselves. The negative focus can lead to additional stress. The focus on the negative is magnified during times of uncertainty.
To help yourself, I am encouraging you to take on the gratefulness challenge.
As a first step in the challenge, identify what and who you are grateful for with your work. This will immediately help you focus on what is good, which should help reduce stress.
Second, there are many opportunities during this time to learn and develop your growth as a leader. During the temporary normal, identify what you are leaning and how you can use this to help you grow as a leader, so you are stronger and have additional skills when we get into our new normal.
Finally, as a reminder, place a post-it-note where you can see it as a reminder – “What am I grateful for?”.
For the challenge, please share what you are grateful for and what you are learning that will help you grow as a leader.
It is a good time to engage our teams in identifying improvements
Tuesday, April 14, 2020
For most of us, we are now in week 4 of the ‘new normal’. It also appears that we may be in our current situation for the unforeseeable future. One of the last things we typically think about in an uncertain situation is continuous improvement.
As we get used to our new working environments, we develop habits, tools and methods that help make our work easier. We also identify those things that make our work more difficult. In a continuous improvement culture, we encourage our team members to share and adopt these best practices. As well, we also encourage our teams to identify the blockers in how they perform their work and possible solutions
As a leader, now is a good time to engage our teams in identifying improvements and best practice sharing in the ‘new normal’. Ask a few simple questions – what have we learned? What are we doing that works well? What is blocking our ability to be more effective? Remember to engage your team in solutions, get them involved with the implementation and don’t take all the work on yourself.
Tips on Leading Through Uncertain Times - Lead with Empathy
Wednesday, April 1, 2020
It goes without saying that this is an extremely trying time for all of us. We are all experiencing a high degree of emotion as we try to understand and navigate what this change means for us. Now more than ever it is critical to Lead with Empathy – to walk a mile in an other’s shoes to get an understanding of what they are experiencing.
How we react as leaders and organizations will be remembered by our people long after the world resumes to whatever the new normal will be. It is important that we don’t leave our team members, our customers and our communities with the impression that we have an ‘empathy gap’ or that we do not care.
Here are a few things you can do to help avoid the empathy gap.
1. Communicate with simple, clear and sensitive messaging. The fewer words the better as it leaves little room for interpretation. Approach the message from the position of those that will receive it and try to anticipate their reaction.
2. Keep the goal clear and your communication focused. Always keep in mind our team members safety and what we are actively doing to help our organizations come out of the crisis as best as we can.
3. Connect at all levels of the organization to understand the climate or mood of all our team members. Don’t just depend on your immediate team for their interpretations, go and see (virtually) different areas of the organization.
4. Be seen and heard. Make sure that people can see you when you speak whether in person or by video and speak without notes were possible.