Tag Archives: Leadership

The Secret of Getting Your People to Perform for You.

Have you prepared your people for success? If not, why not? If the purpose of management is to equip your people with that which they need in order to succeed, you need to provide them the tools that will help them relate to you.

Soldier

In Soldier: The life of Colin Powell, Karen DeYoung provided Powell’s “How to Survive as My Aide–Or, What Not to Do” list. The list was originally provided to William Smullan after he became Chairman Powell’s communications aide and press spokesman.

This type of tool is invaluable because it creates standards and expectations. Here are Powell’s rules:

—Don’t ever hesitate to ask me what to do if uncertain.

—Don’t ever sign my name.

—Never use your money on my behalf.

—Avoid “The General Wants” syndrome—unless I really do.

—Provide feedback but be tactful to those who ask—talks between you and me are private and confidential. Alma (my wife) has nothing to do with the office.

—Never keep anybody waiting on the phone. Call back.

—I like meetings generally uninterrupted. I ask a lot of questions. I like questions and challenges.

—I like to remain enormously accessible. I like to do things with people.

—I will develop ways of getting to know what’s happening.

—Don’t accept speaking engagements without my knowledge.

—Keep track of whom I have seen.

—I tend to get moody, preoccupied. I will snap but that clears the air.

—Be punctual, don’t waste my time.

—I prefer written information rather than oral.Writing tends to discipline.

—I like to do paperwork—and I do a lot.

—NEVER, NEVER permit illegal or stupid actions.

—No surprises.Bad news doesn’t get any better with time.

—If there is a problem brewing, I want to know of it early—heads up as soon as possible—I don’t like to be blindsided.

—Speak precisely—I often fudge for a purpose. Don’t over-interpret what I say.

—Don’t rush into decisions—make them timely and correct.

—I like excellent correspondence—no split infinitives. (pp. 187-188)

Know Yourself and Help Your People Know You Too.

Powell’s rules are not absolute. There is no one size fits all system, but the idea of providing this kind of guidance is brilliant.

What is the secret of getting your people to perform for you?  The secret is simple. Set expectations for your people to follow. Be clear and help them help you.

Were I to write a list, it would look something like this:

-I believe that you know more about your job than I do and I expect YOU to come up with solutions.

-You are a professional. I trust YOUR judgment. Use it.

-You will never get in trouble for speaking your mind. Do not keep your opinions from me.

-I want to talk, but put it in writing first. I make decisions when we talk. The writing clarifies thinking and creates a record.

-I hate paperwork but I want you to leave a paper trail for documentation.

-If there is a conflict between two rules, we do no harm to our students (as in baseball, the tie goes to the runner).

-I only measure productivity. I do not measure time in your seat. Just be accessible by phone or email.

-Anticipate what needs to be done. Do not wait to be told.

-Free me from day-to-day administration so I can focus on moving forward.

-Everyone is entitled to an off day once in a while.

I had not previously created a written list, but I am working on one now. I believe that the administrators with whom I work would recognize and even say similar things about how I operate if they were asked.

MBA CHARLESTON SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY

On my first day on the job, I distinctly remember saying “You will never get in trouble for speaking your mind. Do not keep your opinions from me.”   Over time, they have learned how much I hate paperwork and that I only measure productivity. To their credit, they have adjusted to the way that I operate.

While some ways of operating are better than others, there is no one best way to lead. My list is not the right list. It is customized to me. It may not work for you.

What Is On Your List?

Do you have a list? If you manage anyone, you probably should. Maybe it is time you developed a list.

[If you read this far, you probably do care about leading your people well. See my Top 10 Leadership Books.]

So what is on your list? What is on your Boss’s list. I would like to hear your thoughts.

-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.

December 26, 2012

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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How To Deal With Difficult People.

Recently I have been reading about leaders in various organizations and I have been struck by the fact that in every organization–business, government, military, education, ministry–the vast majority of problems are interpersonal. People cause a lot of trouble.

How to manage Difficult people

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

There is a reason that books like Don’t Let Jerks Get the Best of You and Dealing with People You Can’t Stand exist. 

How to Deal With Difficult People.

Get your MBA at Charleston Southern University

In the 8th Habit, Stephen Covey wrote: “The soft stuff is the hard stuff and everyone is coming to know it. That is why leadership is the highest of all arts; it is the enabling art.”

If people problems are the primary issues in organizations, then leaders need to learn to deal with people effectively. Two books I have used for years in my leadership and organizational behavior classes are The Truth about Managing People and Principle-Centered Leadership

Truth about managing people - How to deal with difficult people

The Truth about Managing People is a short little read. It  is like a textbook stripped of all of the unnecessary words. I believe that this is how it was developed. After all, Robbins is known for his best-selling textbooks.

The book is excellent. In it, Robbins explains simple concepts like why “telling your employees to ‘do your best’ isn’t likely to achieve their best,” (p. 47) and  why “the essence of leadership is trust” (p. 87). If you are just starting out in management, read this book. It will help you detect the landmines that you cannot see.

Principle centered leadershipPrinciple-Centered Leadership is one of best books on leadership that I have ever read. [For more, see my Top 10 Leadership Books] The book winds and meanders, but it contains so many gems.

Covey focused on how leadership only exists in the context of a relationship. He explained that: “there are times to teach and train and times not to teach. When relationships are strained and charged with emotion, attempts to teach or train are often perceived as a form of judgment and rejection” (p. 82). As a professor, that passage spoke to me.

In another place he wrote, “there is nothing on earth that can buy voluntary commitment. You can buy a man’s hands and back, but not his heart and mind” (p. 179). How many millions of dollars have been wasted because management did not understand this concept?

A major theme of the book was the simple idea that, “you can be efficient with things, but you must be effective with people” (p. 189).Effectiveness is not the same as efficiency, and confusing the two can lead to disaster. When dealing with people, the shortest path to an agreeable outcome may take more time, but shortcuts seldom work.

If you see the wisdom in these few passages, read the book. You can get it on Amazon for less than $5 on Kindle (immediately) or for a penny (+ 3.99 shipping)  if you can wait a few days.

Want to know how to deal with difficult people? These are the best resources I can suggest. What are your suggestions?
——————–
References:

Covey, S. R. (1991).  Principled-centered leadership. New York: Free Press.

Robbins, S. (2013). The truth about managing people, 3rd Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall

-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.

December 22, 2012

Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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What Navy SEALS Can Teach Us About Teamwork.

Why are Navy SEALS so effective?

110121-M-2339L-074

US Navy SEALS Freefall from Air Force C-17. Photo courtesy of U.S. taxpayers (from .gov website).

SEALS  go anywhere (Sea, Air and Land).  They are the best conditioned, best trained, best equipped fighting force on Earth.  But is there is more to the story?

One often overlooked element is an unsurpassed dedication to the team. This is not the kind of “teamwork” that we talk about in business or sports.

In business, teamwork often happens begrudgingly. In many organizations, there is little or no alignment between people or departments. What we often call teamwork is more like the strained alliances of fractious parties in a parliamentary government. Each individual protects his own turf, viewing others suspiciously while contributing as little as possible to the team. This is not real teamwork.

SEALS on Teamwork

SEALS view teamwork differently. Teamwork is a force multiplier. Teamwork is a matter of life and death. Teamwork is born in training and demonstrated when members give their last full measure for the team.

Lone-Survivor

In his book, Lone Survivor:  The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and The Lost Heroes of Seal Team 10, Marcus Luttrell illustrated how SEALs understand teamwork.

After their position was exposed by a goat-herder on a mountain in Afghanistan, Luttrell and 3 fellow SEALS fought off an overwhelming Taliban force.

Soon after the firefight began, Lt. Mike Murphy was shot in the stomach, but he “was ignoring his wound and fighting like a SEAL officer should, uncompromising, steady, hard-eyed, and professional.”

Shortly thereafter, Marcus wrote that he saw Danny Dietz’s thumb “blown right off. And I saw him grit his teeth and nod, sweat streaming down his blackened face. He adjusted his rifle, banged in a new magazine with the butt of his hand, and took his place in the center of our little gun line.”  Danny would continue to return fire in spite of each of the five wounds (including one to the neck) that would eventually take his life.

When Luttrell saw Matthew “Axe” Axelson  shot in the chest, he recorded:

This could not be happening. Matt Axelson, a family fixture, Morgan’s best friend, a part of our lives. I started calling his name, irrationally, over and over. Privately I thought Danny was dying, and all I could see was a stain of blood gathering in the red dirt where Axe was slumped. For a brief moment I thought I might be losing it.
But then Axe reached for his rifle and got up. He leveled the weapon, got a hold of another magazine, shoved it into the breech, and opened fire again, blood pumping out of his chest. He held his same firing position, leaning against the rock. He showed the same attitude of solid Navy SEAL know-how, the same formidable steadiness, staring through his scope, those brilliant blue eyes of his scanning the terrain.

After being shot in the stomach earlier, Lt. Murphy was hit again–this time in the chest. He asked for another magazine and continued to fight. Then, what happened next was simply unimaginable. Luttrell wrote:

He groped in his pocket for his mobile phone, the one we had dared not use because it would betray our position. And then Lieutenant Murphy walked out into the open ground. He walked until he was more or less in the center, gunfire all around him, and he sat on a small rock and began punching in the numbers to HQ.
I could hear him talking. “My men are taking heavy fire…we’re getting picked apart. My guys are dying out here…we need help.”
And right then Mikey took a bullet straight in the back. I saw the blood spurt from his chest. He slumped forward, dropping his phone and his rifle. But then he braced himself, grabbed them both, sat upright again, and once more put the phone to his ear.
I heard him speak again. “Roger that, sir. Thank You.” Then he stood up and staggered out to our bad position, the one guarding our left, and Mikey just started fighting again, firing at the enemy.
He was hitting them too, having made that one last desperate call to base, the one that might yet save us if they could send help in time, before we were overwhelmed.

Only I knew what Mikey had done. He’d understood we had only one realistic chance, and that was to call in help. He knew there was only one place from which he could possibly make that cell phone work: out in the open, away from the cliff walls.
Knowing the risk, understanding the danger, in the full knowledge the phone call could cost him his life, Lieutenant Michael Patrick Murphy, son of Maureen, fiancé of the beautiful Heather, walked out into the firestorm.

Greater love

 His objective was clear: to make one last valiant attempt to save his two teammates. He made the call, made the connection. He reported our approximate position, the strength of our enemy, and how serious the situation was. When they shot him, I thought mortally, he kept talking….
An act of supreme valor. Lieutenant Mikey was a wonderful person and a very, very great SEAL officer. If they build a memorial to him as high as the Empire State Building, it won’t ever be high enough for me.

A memorial was built. The guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) was commissioned on October 6, 2012.  Murphy was also awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112). Photo courtesy of the U.S. Taxpayer (from .Mil website)

The guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112). Photo courtesy of the U.S. Taxpayer (from .Mil website)

What Motivates This Level of Dedication to the Team?

Get your MBA at Charleston Southern UniversityMaybe it is because the SEALS are selective. After all, they only take recruits who are in top condition.

Maybe it was because these men had endured some of the most difficult training that the military has to offer. SEAL training (BUDs) lasts 25 weeks.  By all accounts, it is grueling both physically and mentally.  All a recruit has to do is ring a bell to make the pain stop, and this is quite a temptation when recruits are cold, wet, and exhausted.  Two thirds of those selected for BUDs wash out of the program. Or, maybe it is something more.

For me, two primary lessons stand out.

The first lesson was revealed in the following  passage of Luttrell’s book:

One time during Indoc while we were out on night run, one of the instructors actually climbed up the outside of a building, came through an open window, and absolutely trashed a guy’s room, threw everything everywhere, emptied detergent over his bed gear. He went back out the way he’d came in, waited for everyone to return, and then tapped on the poor guy’s door and demanded a room inspection. The guy couldn’t work out whether to be furious or heartbroken, but he spent most of the night cleaning up and still had to be in the showers at 0430 with the rest of us.
I asked Reno about this weeks later, and he told me, ‘Marcus, the body can take [expletive deleted] near anything. It’s the mind that needs training. The question that guy was being asked involved mental strength. Can you handle such injustice? Can you cope with that kind of unfairness, that much of a setback? And still come back with your jaw set, still determined, swearing to God you will never quit? That’s what we’re looking for.’  (p. 102)

The lesson being taught was mental toughness. In the academic literature, it is called “grit.”  Dedication was developed by training that required SEALS to be comfortable with the hard realities of warfare–to recognize that life is not fair.

The second lesson is the actually the first lesson that SEALS learn in BUDS training. It is drilled into every SEAL.

The SEAL creed:

I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight. (p. 7)

I wonder how different things would be if individuals in organizations had even a fraction of this mentality.  What if we acted like teammates and we defended one another with our eyes fixed on the mission? What would happen if  we determined that we would never quit. What if  we decided we would “draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect our teammates and accomplish our mission.” I think we would have fought our way out of the recession by now. What do you think?

The Professor’s Recommended  Reading:

Seal of Honor

and

No Easy Day

If you are interested in additional leadership lessons from the military, you might also want to read the article: Love the Suck.

-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.

December 7, 2012

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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The Lazy Manager’s Way to Effectiveness

If you will not delegate for the right reasons, at least give your subordinates the assignments you do not want (and do it for all the wrong reasons).

Ya Got to Grow Buddy

Photo courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer (from .gov website)

The Right Reasons

Peter Drucker was once asked if leaders were born or made. His response: “Leaders grow, they are not made.” Drucker was absolutely right. Leadership is an organic process and your people need the opportunity to grow.

Get your MBA at Charleston Southern UniversityIn fact, your role as a manager is not to gather as many followers as possible, but to help your followers grow into leaders. You should seek to expand their capacity. Nothing expands capacity like challenging opportunities. Delegate.

The Wrong Reasons

There is also a pragmatic reason to delegate. Let’s assume you are just a lazy boss. Delegation can reduce your workload, freeing up precious time for more critical tasks like golf.

Want to cut your workload in half and gain the salutary results of effective management? Try this: Assure a subordinate that you are going to empower her. Let her know how much you trust her. Tell her that, within the parameters you have established, she has creative control over the project. Then, go play golf.

Moreover, when your boss asks you why you were on the golf course instead of working one the XYZ account, you can look him in the eye and tell him that you had to be out of the office in order to provide a meaningful leadership experience to a promising subordinate. You are, after all, interested in the company’s long-term growth.

I am only half-joking here.

A businessman once commented to Andrew Carnegie, the great American industrialist, that he must get to his office at the crack of dawn to complete his day’s work. Carnegie laughed and told him:

You must be a lazy man if it takes you ten hours to do a day’s work. What I do is to get good men, and I never give them orders. My directions seldom go beyond suggestions. Here in the morning I get reports from them. Within an hour I have disposed of everything, sent out all of my suggestions, the day’s work is done, and I am ready to go out and enjoy myself.[i]

 This is the art of delegation. A good leader assigns a task and then allows the subordinate to operate in her own way.  Stan Lee of Marvel Comics fame put it this way: “I have a theory. When you work with artists and writers, any kind of creative people, you get their best work if you let them do it the way they want to do it.”[ii]

So go and give away that difficult assignment. Tell her what needs to be done and assure her that you will not interfere. Then go play golf. It may be the best thing you’ve done as a manager.

By the way, if you are really interested in learning to lead more effectively, see my Top 10 List of Leadership Books. Read them if you care about your people. If you don’t care about your people, put them on your bookshelf to make yourself look like someone who takes leadership very seriously.  Either way, review the list.

Darin Gerdes

December 5, 2012

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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[i] Nassaw, D. (2007). Andrew Carnegie. New York: Penguin Press. p. 184.

[ii] Zakarin, S. (Director). (2002). Stan Lee’s mutants, monsters, & marvels [Motion picture]. United States: Sony Pictures/Creative Light.

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How to Boost Morale Without Spending a Fortune

In these tight economic times, would you like to know how to boost morale, increase motivation, and decrease turnover without breaking the bank?

How To Lead in Tough Times

When the economy is down and business is tough, a manager’s first tendency is to seek new ways to be efficient. Efficiency is good, but pushed too far, the human cost can outweigh the financial benefits of efficiency.

Life_vest

Perhaps you should stop trying to run a tight ship and start thinking about the welfare of the crew members.

It turns out that your people are less enamored with your business acumen (e.g. that you can move them around on a spread sheet to squeeze out another couple of bucks) than they are with your concern for them.  When they know that you will look after their best interest, you will have their loyalty.

Motivation as the Key to Efficiency

Hug Your PeopleJack Mitchell wrote a wonderful book for leaders who reject the idea that efficiency is all that counts in management. In Hug Your People: The Proven Way to Hire, Inspire, and Recognize Your Employees and Achieve Remarkable Results  he suggests the following:

Treat your Employees like Associates: No, seriously–treat your people like colleagues that deserve respect (because they do). And, don’t just talk about it. Let your actions speak for you.

Get to Know Them Professionally and Personally: Your associates will gladly support leaders who care. They will be cautious with cold-hearted managers who would kick them to the curb to save a buck.

Have Fun with Your People: You can enjoy working with your associates, and if you do, they are more likely to be more motivated.

Have Expectations and Standards, Not Rules and Regulations: Rules are stifling, but expectations breathe life without crippling motivation. Bad managers love to enforce rules. In contrast, good leaders let expectations manage people.

Know the Difference Between Employees “Working For” You vs. “Working With” You: The former is hierarchical. The latter is collegial. In the former, you check up on them to make sure they are doing their work. In the latter, you check in to see how you can help.  

Discourage Reliance on Yourself: Good leaders want their people to grow and succeed without them. They encourage decision-making because they want followers to grow. Good leaders are pleased when their people succeed (with or without them).

Would You Want To Work for Jack Mitchell?

Get your MBA Now from Charleston Southern University

Who wouldn’t want to for a manager that truly cared about his people? Wouldn’t your manager get the best out of you if he treated you this way? But these are not techniques to trick employees to be motivated for the sake of efficiency. They are heart attitudes and they must run as deep as familial affection or patriotic ardor. You cannot fake concern for your people.

Mitchell summed up the core of his philosophy as follows:

Relationships are personalized–this means that people engage one another as real people rather than as job responsibilities. They get to know Ralph not as a shoe buyer but as someone who likes to go Kayaking and has eight-year-old twin girls. Michael’s not accounts receivables, but a marathoner who loves mango pudding.

When you care about your crew, you will not have to worry about running a tight ship. Take care of Ralph and Michael, and they will take care of you.

-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.

December 3, 2012

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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What is Leadership? – Part II [Video of short lecture – 10 Minutes]

In part II, I continue to discuss the nature of leadership based on a review of the academic literature. See Part I here if you missed the introduction.

Here we discuss the following:

  • Get your MBA Now from Charleston Southern UniversityRelationship
  • Emotional connection
  • Change
  • Leading by example

In the lecture I talked about a fantastic book, It’s your Ship I have linked it here.

Because he understood leadership, Captain Abrashoff  transformed one of the worst performing ships in the Navy into the best of its class. I highly recommend the book.

WARNING: As a sailor, Captian Abrashoff has a salty tongue, so the book gets a PG-13 rating. But, I recommend the book because he understood the fundamentally empowering nature of leadership. Here are a few brief passages to illustrate:

its_Your_ship

I found that the more control I gave up, the more command I got. In the beginning, people kept asking my permission to do things. Eventually, I told the crew, ‘It’s your ship. You’re responsible for it. Make a decision and see what happens.’ Hence the Benfold watchword was ‘It’s your ship.’ Every sailor felt that Benfold was his or her responsibility (p. 6).

I was determined to create a culture where everyone on board felt comfortable enough to say to me, ‘Captain, have you thought of this?’ or ‘Captain, I’m worried about something,’ or even ‘Captain, I think you’re dead wrong and here’s why.’ Yes-people are a cancer in any organization, and dangerous to boot (p. 89).

How much more effective would our organizations be if all leaders thought like this?  Have you ever worked for someone like Captain Abrashoff?

Darin Gerdes

December 2, 2012

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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What is Leadership? – Part I [Video of short lecture – 5 Minutes]

This is part one of a two-part introduction to my discussion of the nature of leadership in my MBA Classes at Charleston Southern University.

In this video, I provide an overview of the core elements of leadership according to the academic literature.

Then I briefly discuss:

  • Get your MBA Now from Charleston Southern UniversityVision,
  • Influence
  • motivation

Want More? Watch Part II of What Is Leadership? Part II will be the best 10 minutes you spend today, or your money back (actually, that is not much of a claim since it is free, but I stand behind my content).

invisible-employeeThe Wayne Gretsky story comes from Adrian Gostick’s book, The Invisible Employee.   At the time of this writing,  used copies are selling on Amazon for as little as a penny.

His other books are linked below on the Amazon page. I would recommend that you read everything Gostick writes.

 

Darin Gerdes

December 1, 2012

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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