Create Inspiring Presentations

As the hour draws to a close the speaker comments on what a great bunch your group has been. She was so concerned things would not go well because she was not sure what she had to offer would meet the needs of the of the team. She asks of there are any questions; there are none, and thanks you all for coming. You stand up hoping to sneak out of the room before your boss has an opportunity to corner you about the poor performance of your direct report during the monthly senior staff training. Too late. He yells across the room to meet him in his office in five minutes. What went wrong?

Leaders often make presentations. Use a presentation objective to stay on target and inspire your audience.
Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

Making presentations in the workplace is a common function of those in leadership potions. We all suffered though those that miss the mark time wise running so much longer than necessary, were totally boring, or left us wondering what the the point of the presentation was. These presentations are intended to keep fellow workers up-to-date on hot topics from a subject matter expert. Powerful presentations are not guaranteed just because the presenter possesses expert knowledge. Their lack of understanding how to create and deliver quality presentations deny the members of the organization the inspiration to do great things with what they learned. Even when the person makes a great presentation, they may end up talking about everything except the one or two areas of concern for your organization. Taking the time to identify objectives of what you want participants to learn helps you and the presenter focus on material that will enlighten, educate, and inspire. Steven Covey calls it beginning with the end in mind.

It may seem too simple to write out a comprehensive presentation objective. Doing so focuses the efforts of the presenter on the information which helps the audience achieve the final goal of the event. The end result is a focused presentation meeting the needs of the audience.

There are three important parts of every presentation objective, whether it is the capstone objective, or a smaller piece of the puzzle. The parts are action, condition and standard. The action is what you want the student to learn how to accomplish when they complete the training. An example might be something like, “The clerk will complete a telephonic customer order on the computer.” The conditions for the task or action to be completed should include the environment and any tools or resources available while completing the action. Finally spell out how someone will know when the staff achieved success by stating the standard. This can be performance steps, standards for a finished product, a score on an examination or any other means of measuring performance. Often in a staff development event this may be as simple as, “The employee responds correctly to questions during discussion.”

This is a sample of an objective for a staff meeting presentation where there will be no formal testing.

Action: Complete a telephonic customer order on the computer.

Conditions: During a staff development event and random questions from the instructor.

Standard: Correctly answer questions related to taking a customer order on the phone and entering the data into the computer.

Ideally action statements start with a verb. Conditions describe resources available to complete the action. Standards should be measurable and attainable, very much like setting SMART goals.

As a leader, it is important to talk with your people about your expectations before they present to a group. Teach them to create an appropriate objective.

Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

Establishing learning objectives when assigning someone to conduct training improves communication and enables the trainer to understand the perceived needs of organization. Given an objective such as the one above instead of some generic statement like, “Hey Smith, I need you to give a class on that new software at the next staff training conference next week.” With the first, employees should walk out of the training understanding how to take customer orders using the new software. Who knows what you will get with the second. When you are tasked to provide training, have an understanding of the process. It allows you to develop an appropriate objective so you can run it by the person who assigned it. The objective helps you focus your attention on what is necessary to meet expectations.

Developing objectives for your presentation helps you focus on sharing important information in the time allowed for staff to achieve a given task. When assigned, both the leader and the presenter create a shared expectation of the finished product. Quality learning objectives contain three parts, the action, the conditions, and the standards. When assigned by your leader to present to others, using a presentation objective ensures you and he understand what is expected. Do not let your next presentation flop. Take the time to develop an objective for the time you are given to teach others.

References

Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. electronic edition. New York, NY: Rosetta Books, 2012.

http://www.grayharriman.com/ADDIE_Writing_Learning_Objectives.htm

The Path to Great Leadership

The road to great leadership is not smooth.
Photo by Guillaume Meurice on Pexels.com

Have you ever noticed that the hero leader in any war movie is less than perfect yet seems to motivate and inspire their team to accomplish impossible things? Whether it is Gunny Highway in Heartbreak Ridge, Patton in his namesake movie, SGT Kelly in Kelly’s Heroes, or MAJ Charles Whittlesey in The Lost Battalion each leader is flawed in some way. It does not matter whether the character is real or fictional they, like all real leaders, have strong points that help them successfully lead others in great adversity and flaws they learn to overcome through their strengths and deligation. One could argue that the main characters in these movies are less than an ideal mentor or role model, but others would argue each is the very definition of a great leader. The military is full of commissioned and non-commissioned officers who are less than perfect yet meet the definition of great leaders. This article seeks to identify why the military successfully develops so many leaders who meet this definition.

Before looking at the reasons the military generates so many great leaders, a review of great leadership is in order. Great leaders build enduring greatness by placing the needs of the organization and their followers above their own. They blend humility with personal will-power influencing others to accomplish things they thought impossible. They do the things that need doing, establishing demanding standards. They allow mistakes but learning from those mistakes and continuous improvement. They bask in the reflected glory of the successes of those they lead. They create sustainable leadership development programs ensuring competent leaders continue their success long after their departure. Great leaders are well respected attracting others who want to follow them.

MAJ Charles Whittlesey. -By United States Army – United States Army, Public Domain

Even the real life leaders mentioned above are fictionalized for the entertainment value for their movie’s success. Their exploits might be exaggerated but typical of many military leaders. They are humble about their achievements by acknowledging the fact they could have only achieved success through the efforts of their followers and subordinate leaders. They set high standards and expect others to meet them not occasionally, but every day. They accomplish those things that need doing whether pleasant or distasteful. They demand their followers achieve excellence and continuously improve their performance. They provide junior leaders opportunities to lead, allowing them to make mistakes, hold them accountable, and permit them to try again until they succeed. These actions set an example for future leaders to follow when promoted.

In the movie Heartbreak Ridge, Gunny Highway’s first impression of CPL Jones and the other members of the platoon was unfavorable. As the new Platoon Sergeant, he established high standards and through his will-power influenced them to achieve those standards and succeed. The platoon went from being the laughing stock of the post to a well-respected organization capable of meeting any challenge presented. He developed other leaders such as Jones and his Lieutenant who tripped when presented problems but learned the value of adapting, improvising, and overcoming to achieve success.

Each of these leaders inherited teams that were expected to fail. They were given missions that appeared impossible but success was necessary to achieve victory. Each leader found ways to put themselves in harm’s way and set a personal example of expected behaviors. Each lived up to the standards they set and expected their people to achieve. Each worked to develop relationships with followers in their organizations. Each personally developed other leaders that ensured subordinate level organizations had reliable leaders and that someone was prepared to replace the top leader. Each understood how to build their teams through hard work and shared challenges. While each had flaws, they did not allow those flaws to hold them or their teams back. Instead, they used their strengths to overcome their shortcomings and found processes and people to make up for those weaknesses.

LG Patton meeting with a troop. -By Army Signal Corps – This media is available in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration, cataloged under the National Archives Identifier (NAID) 531335., Public Domain

The true measure of a leader is the legacy they leave behind. We can surmise that in the case of Gunnery Sergeant Highway he retired and CPL Jones went on to become a great leader. With SGT Kelly, he lost his gold and continued to fight the Germans. GEN Patton was killed in a post-war auto accident. His legacy lives on in the Third US Army. MAJ Whittlesey drowned while traveling to Cuba. The 77th Sustainment Brigade, the successor to the 77th Infantry Division still honors the accomplishments of Whittlesey and his Soldiers in 1918. You may not be perfect. Do not let that hold you back from accepting the challenges of leadership. Learn to lead from your strengths. Develop other leaders in your organization. Set and enforce high standards. Build your team through hard work. Find processes and people to fill the voids left by your weaknesses. Never quit. Following each of these principals will help you start on the path of becoming a great leader but it does require you to take that first step.

The Art of Delegation: Seven Steps to Delegating Better

Delegation is an art. Like a sculper, you begin by seeing what could be within the stone, not the stone.
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Leaders accomplish things through other people’s efforts. In order for others to accomplish a task or project, the leader needs to know what the project will accomplish when complete, understand why the task important and should be completed by someone else, establish dates for progress checks and project completion, establish authority and responsibility, agree with the person doing the task what success looks like, have the person back brief her understanding of the task, and write down the details of the project. That is a long sentence and sounds like lots of work. Both statements are accurate. Delegating a project to another requires the leader to think through lots of issues so he can effectively communicate certain details to the person receiving the work. Leaders fail at delegation because they do not think about what is involved in accomplishing the project. It is easy to acknowledge something is not working the way you want it to work. It is harder to tell someone what it would look like if it was working better. As a result, MANAGERS pick at the problem instead of delegating and the problem persists. Leaders make the time to think about these issues, identify someone who has the potential to complete the task, communicates that vision to the other and turns them loose to do great things.

Start with a clear understanding of what you want the end state to look like. I regularly report program information to my Board of Directors. We serve several communities. I was looking for a way to more effectively show which communities received the most services from us other than the table containing the names of the town and the number of services provided. I was looking at an annual report for another organization and noticed they used a map. The light bulb went off over my head. The next day I sat down with one of my people and explained to them I wanted them to develop a map the would allow us to present data about services provided by town that is easy to change for each board meeting. Once I understood what I wanted, it was easy to tell someone else.

Understand why you entrust someone else to do this task. Face it, you can do it better and faster than anyone else; or can you? In the map case, I could easily do it. I have some background in that kind of geographical work but I am not good at it. I also have other responsibilities that only I can do. This task can be accomplished by someone else. That gives me time to do other things that benefit the organization. That is why it is important for someone else to do it. It was an important task because the program report would be easier to understand by both members of the Board of Directors and our supporters. When I sat down and gave this task to the other person I explained both of these issues to him. As a result, he understood why he was selected and why the task was important. and communicate both with that person.

Follow these simple steps next time you delegate a task or project and your workers will more successfully meet your expectations giving you the freedom to do other things only you can do. Chart by the author.

I picked the individual because he was new to the organization. Working on this project allowed him to develop a better understanding of our customers and what communities we serve. He also possessed a level of technical expertise he learned in college but had not had an opportunity to use those skills on a real world project.  When this project was complete, this person had the opportunity to transfer classroom learning into real world skills and understood our service area better.

It is important to set time limits. Time limits are necessary for any real goal. Some projects can be completed quickly and only need an end date. Other projects last weeks or months. In the case of those longer projects establish dates to meet with your employee for progress reports. This provides you an opportunity to make adjustments to the time line, understand resource requirements, and provide input and guidance. It provides the worker with the opportunity to make sure the work is meeting your expectations, ask questions, and keeps them focused by determining what parts of the project need to be done by certain dates to meet the overall deadline.

When you delegate a task to someone, you also delegate authority and responsibility necessary to accomplish that task. That delegation may include authorization to spend money, use certain company resources to include people, and connect with others who may help move the project along. For a new person, this creates risk for the organization. However, you can place limits on the employee’s authority which allows them to grow and make mistakes without sinking the organization.

An example of this is selecting a new supervisor to plan and annual company party. You give him the authority to establish a ticket price, select a venue and menu, the date and time for the party and things like that. You provide limits by setting a desired price per person and an absolute upper limit, a window of dates that work best, and limit how far the venue is from the workplace.

As you work through the delegation process both you and your selected agree on what success looks like for this task. In this way you both understand what is to be done. You both agree on the limits of authority and responsibility. You establish what support you will provide as the employee works on the task and other relevant details. Do not place so many details that the person tasked becomes overwhelmed.

Like a roadmap, a written plan shows your workers how to successfully complete a task the way you envision it to be done.
Photo by Jessie Crettenden on Pexels.com

I was once tasked to develop a leadership development trip. My boss provided a date range, transportation requirements, target audience to include the maximum number of people who could attend, and a menu of activities to complete and venues to visit. Our company had written limits on lodging and feeding during such business related travel. The boss gave me the task about nine months before we made the trip. In this way he gave me the authority to make reservations, connect with other departments in the company, and the limitations of my power. We agreed on what a successful trip looked like which kept me focused on the important things and allowed me to ignore fluff stuff.

Once you give everything to the employee stop talking. Allow her to absorb what she just heard for a minute or two. Then ask her to repeat back what the task was, why it is important and why they were selected, what authority and limitations they have been given, the time line, and a summary of what success looks like. As she talks, write down the plan. The written plan is record of what you both agreed to do and what a successful project looks like. It forms the road map for the employee to follow and becomes the report card you can use to judge their progress.

Delegation is a critical leadership skill. Leaders who fail to learn this skill fail to develop others and end up doing too much work themselves. Following the simple process of identifying what the project will accomplish when complete, understanding why the task important and should be completed by someone else, establishing dates for progress checks and project completion, establishing authority and responsibility, agreeing with the person doing the task what success looks like, having the person back brief her understanding of the task while writing down the details of the project. When you follow these steps you have a better idea of the work that needs to be done. You know why someone else should do it to include understanding how the project helps develop that person professionally. You have more time to focus on those things that only you can do. You become a leader instead of a manager. Delegating is not easy but with some thought and reflection it can be effective.

Education and Training; Preparing People for What Happens Next

The world continues to spin wildly around us. In spite of all the turmoil leaders can do things now to set their people and organizations up for success when things begin to settle down and return to normal. Begin by identifying facts and assumptions. Use that analysis to identify possible courses of action in the future. Figure out what training and education are required so those you lead will be ready to jump when the light turns green. Using this uncertain time to train and educate people now sharpens your organization’s edge.

In periods of chaos, leaders use education and training to teach their people to find ways to work in the new normal. Photo by Ann H on Pexels.com

Let’s start by distinguishing between training and education.  Training are lessons taught to people with the intention of creating skills and behaviors that allow them to change. For example, teaching someone how to operate a machine is training because they develop the skills to make the machine do things. Teaching a person about the types of materials required to make the machine operate well, the mechanics the allow the machine to work, the theory of the machine’s operation, and such other information is education. Education teaches people information expanding their knowledge. That knowledge alone does not develop the skills required to execute actions. For instance, one can read about how to perform an appendectomy, but few of us really want the doctor that has only read about removing an appendix to perform such surgery on us. We want to know the doctor conducted some sort of training to develop skills before he cuts into us. So education is about imparting knowledge. Training develops skills through hands-on practice. Both are required to develop quality workers.

Let’s carry the medical example further. Doctors spend years gaining knowledge about anatomy before they every cut into their first cadaver. They learn where organs are, how muscles work, why certain genetic mutations cause cancer, and a host of other lessons.  It is important for the doctor to know anatomy as she seeks out the appendix in the abdominal cavity. Her knowledge of how skin grows, which direction the abdominal muscles run, and what organs are between the belly and appendix allow the surgeon to locate the problem, remove it, and return the body to a status that encourages healing.

In all areas of life education is important. Without certain knowledge one cannot complete tasks easily.  However, if one wants to become a surgeon one does not study auto mechanics.  Understanding how a fuel injector works does not provide the doctor with the required knowledge to execute surgery.  Medical students need doctors to teach them such things just like a mechanic needs another mechanic to teach him the principals of the internal combustion engine. Both jobs require specialized knowledge. It is important to ensure you have the right people educating your people in order for them to learn the right lessons.

Creating a quality training and education program for your organization requires leaders to do some work ahead of time. You need to identify the skills, knowledge, and attributes you expect people to know at the end of the training. Do this by complete a simple job analysis. Compare what is happening now with the way the organization what things to happen.  Develop learning objectives using the Task or Knowledge, Conditions, and Standards model. Develop a big learning objective that is supported by enabling learning objectives, little learning goals that make the big task easier to accomplish.

Using a template, like a stencil, helps create consistent learning objectives. From pxhere.com. Cropped by author.

Creating a learning objective is not as daunting as it seems. In the Task or Knowledge statement a simple single sentence stating what skill or knowledge you expect the student to have when the instruction is complete.  Continuing the medical example above, a Tasks or Knowledge Statement for conducting an appendectomy might look like this:

“Upon completion of this block of instruction the student will be able to successfully remove an appendix from a person following proper procedures to prevent death, infection, or other complications.”

In fact, creating the Task Statement is the easiest part. What follows is harder, developing the steps required to complete the task. I cannot begin to offer the steps required to remove a person’s appendix given the extent of my medical training, advanced first aid! However, I am sure that there are steps in a text book somewhere detailing the steps a young intern follows to complete this task. A common error when writing task steps is the authors assume the reader knows about implied tasks. 

Recently I was conducting an inspection before a movement of vehicles from one location to another. A new leader was assigned to lead the convoy. In his mind it was a straight forward task that simply required the other vehicles to follow him. I asked the leader to rehearse the briefing he was giving before their scheduled departure time. He could not because he did not know briefing drivers was a requirement as a convoy leader. There were a long series of implied tasks he did not know about because it was the first time he had led a convoy. We worked together to ensure he and the drivers were clear on what was going to happen and developed a briefing as well as a number of items to check before departure.  The senior leader who tasked this rookie to lead a convoy assumed it was something this person received in training and knew how to do the task. The company had written procedures about moving serials of vehicles. The senior leader reasoned everyone knows how to do it. Now the new leader knows where to find the written information and will do better in the future because of a little bit of training and education.

Even leaders need to learn.Without education and training, leaders will find they communicate ineffectively and influence poorly. Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com

Events seem out of control right now. At some point a sense of normalcy will return.  Even though many organizations are not able to operate the way the usually do does not mean you should do nothing. Smart leaders are using this time to analyze what the future holds, identify opportunities, the skills and other resources to take advantage of those opportunities, and training their people to be ready to take action when those opportunities present themselves. Training does not have to be a big wiz-bang production. Leaders can use simple techniques to educate and train their people. What they need is a clear idea about what tasks they what the others to learn, the steps required to complete those tasks, and an understanding about what the completed task looks like. Know the difference between training and education and how to use them together to change behaviors. Some of your competition has already started. Get ahead of those who have not and develop your people during these uncertain times. In the end, you will benefit from your effort.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

For more on developing learning goals click here: https://saintcyrtraining.com/2013/08/27/inspire-others-to-go-forth-and-do-good/

Focusing Power & Influence

Machiavelli cast a dark light on leaders who acquire power. However power is necessary to influence others. — By Santi di Tito – Cropped and enhanced from a book cover found on Google Images., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9578897

Wise leaders understand and obtain power at many levels. While the opening statement may sound Machiavellian and cause some to turn away, power is necessary to influence others to accomplish tasks that grow and improve the organization. Leaders set agendas. Without power, leaders cannot influence others to do the work required to accomplish organizational goals and mission. By definition, leaders do not work alone. A solopreneur is not a leader. If you are a solo act there are not others to lead. If you want to lead others, you need to acquire and harness power to influence others.

Influence is the tool required to use power to effectively inspire others. Think of influence like the lens of a spot light and power as the light source. The leader uses influence to focus the power like a lens focuses light illuminating the objective so followers know where to go and what to do.  Leader have five sources of power: referent, expert, coercive, legitimate and reward. Leaders who understand each power source and how to effectively weld it will successfully influence others to take actions that result in task accomplishment.

Referent power is likability. A more common word, is charisma. This source of power may get you in the door, but rarely lasts long except with those who are weak. A leader who relies solely on referent power loses followers when he has to start making unpopular decisions. Everyone wants a raise every year but sometimes raises hurt the organization. If people become upset because the leader made the unpopular decision not to give raises the leader loses all his power. Referent power is a great asset but must be supplemented with other sources of power if the leader expects to sustain success.

Expert power stems from one’s special or in-depth skills or knowledge about at topic or area. This provides power in two ways. The first is like the artillerymen of old who guarded the secrets of their craft so their skills would always be in demand by armies. If the battlefield commander wanted to use artillery, he had to rely on those with that special skill and knowledge. The second yet potentially fleeting source is through the ability to teach others your skill or knowledge. When you share those secrets that have made you successful, you have the potential to create rivals and replacements. Alternatively, you could also develop collaborators who desire to achieve more than either of you could alone. There is a saying that a manager is measured by numbers or things produced, sold, fixed and similar measures whereas a leader is measured by the number of leaders he creates. Even if others develop the same skills and knowledge as you, if you continue to perfect your skills and knowledge you will always be ahead of those you teach.

Legitimate, reward and coercive often go together but not always. Legitimate power is granted when someone is place in a recognized leadership position within an organization. A CEO, General Manager, or Shop Foreman all have legitimate power. It is power given to them by the organization to make things happen. With this power, people do things just because you say to do them.  Like referent power, this source is also limited. You lose control of people when they quit and go work with another organization. Consequently, leaders in positions of legitimate power use reward and coercive power.

Water uses the power provided by gravity to influence the motion of the waterwheel. Without the power of gravity water would not fall and the waterwheel would not turn. Focusing the power of gravity allows people to use the waterwheel to create a wide assortment of things. — Photo by form PxHere

Examples of reward power include the ability to dole out pay raises, promotions, cool assignments, and prime parking spaces. Examples of coercive power include employment termination, demotions, and selecting someone else’s pet project. Reward and coercive power does not solely rest with recognized organizational leaders. Sales reps can influence behavior by offering a better price or withholding the latest product based on previous purchasing decisions.

Each of these power sources have advantages and drawbacks. Sources of power are like tools; the more you have in your tool box, the greater your abilities. A leader who wields legitimate, referent, and expert power will likely be more successful than the leader who only has referent power. Good leaders learn which power sources to use in different circumstances. Their influence grows as they increase their ability to use each source of power enabling them to accomplish more and influence more people.

As leaders practice their leadership skills they increase the power options available. Using a variety of tools shape followers into quality employees, volunteers and future leaders. When they show those future leaders how to use the full spectrum of leadership tools, they prepare the organization for continued success well into the future as new leaders learn to adjust the focus and intensity of the organization’s spotlight.

Viruses, Riots, and Bears, Oh My! Providing Inspiration in Uncertain Times

That last few months have been trying for everyone around the world. The threat of plague, interpersonal violence, lack of certainty, economic collapse, and possibly war in particular regions cause many to lose sleep and suffer anxiety. If ever there was a time for leaders to step up, provide hope, instill trust, and inspire all of us to be better, it is now. There are no secrets about the actions leaders need to take to restore confidence, peace, and stability. They are the same principals leaders have used for ages.  Leaders need to assess the situation and how each crisis affects her team, identify a course of action to address the threats and seize opportunities, and communicate the plan to followers in such a way to reduce fear and create inspiration. There are no easy answers to any of the problems currently facing the world but leaders can still do things to make the situation better by following those simple steps.

In times of uncertainty, leaders create plans that allow others to begin to sort our the pieces and restore order. from pxhere.com

The most important thing leaders do in times of crisis is provide calm, calculated responses. Before selecting a direction leaders assess what is happening. During times when we are in an economic downturn, facing a pandemic, open violence in the streets, and complete uncertainty about how long each of these crisis will last, a calm response provides reassurance that at least there is stability in one part of the world. In addition to conducting a hasty Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis figure out what kind of problem you are facing from the Cynefin model.

The Cynefin model introduce in 1999 by David Snowden and Mary Boone breaks down problems into five categories, Simple, Complicated, Complex, Chaotic, and Disorder. Identify simple problems as those whose cause and effect are known. Apply best practices. If you have a problem whose cause and effect can be discovered with some analysis categorize it as a complicated problem. Apply good practices to complicated problems. The cause and effect in complex problems can only be identified in retrospect. Apply emerging practices to complex problems. If the cause and effect cannot be perceived, you are facing a chaotic problem. Novel practices are best for these situations. In the case of disorder, leaders must do something to restore some level of order before applying any solutions. Understanding the type of problem you face helps identify the best approach to that problem (click here for an infographic). 

In our current state, it appears the problem leaders appear to face a chaotic or complex problem because the cause and effect may be discovered with some probing or not perceived at all. However, leaders currently face several separate problems. True some of them are related such as the downturn in the economy caused by the pandemic. However, the economy was also affected by the riots. Each problem must be analyzed separately with an understanding of the cause and effect each has on the other. The most important assessment is the impact each problem has on your team.

Leaders find ways to navigate in uncertain times and inspire others. From pxhere.com

Once leaders identify the problem or problems, they need to develop ways to address the problem. Leaders do not have to come up with the solutions on their own. Turn to your people. If you are a smart leader, you surround yourself with people who are smarter than you in different areas of expertise. Rely on them to help find some ways to deal with the problems you face.  An example from a gun cleaning kit manufacturer is that they switched from making gun cleaning kits and accessories to creating protective masks, face shields, and hand sanitizer. They have been able to keep many of their workers employed and meet a growing demand for such products. Those leaders identified a threat to their current product line and an opportunity for a new product line and took action to keep their company viable until demand for their primary products return. 

Often in times of unrest, leaders do not know any more than their followers about what their followers know. However, those same followers turn to their leaders for messages of hope, reassurance, and inspiration. Communication during times of uncertainty is critical. Be honest. Many members of the press have pressured government officials to identify when life will return to normal. The best leaders honestly say they do not know. However, they also establish courses of action to begin the return to normalcy. They use milestones measured in data rather than time to trigger certain easing of restrictions. They tell people what is coming next and what the standard is for that next action to happen.

As a leader in your organization you should be doing the same thing. Tell your people the problems facing your organization. Tell them the steps you are taking to return to normal and what metrics serve as trigger points for those actions to begin.  You cannot take away the current pain people are feeling. If people know there is a path ahead and you are scouting that path, they will be inspired and follow you.

Leaders work with others to solve problems one step at a time. Before long all the pieces of the puzzle fall in place. Photo by Willi Heidelbach form PxHere

The current problems we face create difficult leadership challenges. During such times good and great leaders assess what is happening, identify a way to resolve the problem, and communicate their plan with others. As leaders deal with difficult situations in a calm fashion, they reassure their followers that things will become better. People who follow such leaders are better able to respond in bad situations because they know what happens next and can plan appropriately. Uncertainty becomes less scary. They know the night might be dark and stormy, but their leader goes before them making the path safer to travel.

Fine Tuning the 10 Minute Rule

The ten minute rule for changing habits is like time itself, relative. Ten minutes is not an absolute, rather it is an idea that you can do many things in a short time to change your life or organization.

Photo by David Bartus on Pexels.com

I introduced the 10 Minute Rule in my last post. I received some great feedback from readers through private messaging. The feedback caused me to reflect on some finer points not discussed in the original post that help make the rule most effective. This post will focus on using the 10 Minute Rule to build a series of habits into routines and improve retention. The important lesson in this post is that change takes time; whether you are making changes in your life or helping employees make changes in their work lives.

Recognize that during the change process there will be set backs. That is a normal part of change. Developing new habits helps build persistence and resilience but only if you are willing to begin again and forgive yourself and others when initial efforts fall short of success. Developing routines help improve success rates. It takes time to figure out what part of the habit cycle create the conditions for new behaviors to become ingrained habits.

As I began searching for ways to improve my life by changing my bad habits into good habits I found my first attempts failed. I would try to copy what someone I knew and respected was doing. The way they approached a problem was not always a good fit. Instead of throwing in the towel, I made small adjustments until the process was my own.

An early example of a ten minute habit I adopted was developing a time management system. I would often forget appointments, tasks assigned by my boss, and chores I promised to do at home. To be honest, I still do but far less often. After reading 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I started to carry my version of the Weekly Schedule shown at the end of the chapter on Habit 3: Put First Things First. This was ‘back in the day’ before reasonably priced laptop computers, cellular telephones, and even Palm Pilots. I used a word processor to create a version of the schedule, Xeroxed, and stapled a year’s worth of sheets together. It worked for some time but I found it just wasn’t right.

I began looking at alternatives and eventually found a commercially available calendar system I liked that was affordable. I used that system for many years, but eventually transitioned to a different calendar system that was easier to carry. I now rely on apps I can use with my phone and computer. I suspect I will be using something different in a few years as technology changes along with my preferences. The bottom line is I learned to control my time better which is the first habit you need to change to make other changes.

Calendars help you take control of time to accomplish important things. Find a system that works best for you.

Photo by author

Not everyone works in an environment where their time is easy to control. If your business is managing crisis, your time is often controlled by others and circumstances. Police officers, emergency room doctors, snow plow drivers, and those in similar professions need to respond to the current emergency. However, even those types of workers have periods during the day when they have control of their time. Plan tasks or projects to work on in those periods which in turn will help you begin to improve your habits. Planning improves execution.

Regardless of the planning tool you use, it only works when you use it. In order to build a house you need tools like hammers and saws and ladders. Just because a person owns a hammer, saw, and ladder does not mean he will build a house or anything else. Nothing will be build until that person picks up some wood, saws it to size then connects it to another piece of wood by using the hammer to drive nails.

In an earlier post I talked about the importance of developing organizational policies. They are important because they establish routines people use to make decisions when confronted by simple and complicated problems. Those routines establish a standard and allow people to figure out how to creatively implement standard answers to common problems. In your personal life you do the same thing with routines. As I began to gain control of my time, I started to study the habits of successful people. I found many had morning routines that helped them become emotionally, physically, and psychologically ready for the day. A common morning routine includes some sort of physical activity, some sort of spiritual or reflective activity, eating a healthy meal, and analyzing and adjusting their schedule for the day.

Likewise I learned that successful people have work routines that help them prepare to do physical, mental, or group work. For example a person might grab a coffee, hit the bathroom, log off their email account, develop a list of tasks to complete during the work session, and shut off the ringer on their phone. A person could write each of those items down on their calendar every day using. Alternatively, one can create a checklist used every time a routine is executed. Using the checklist ensures a person follows the steps necessary to have a successful work session.

Each item on your checklists becomes a habit. Returning to the morning routine, you can decide that when you wake up you want to make your bed, do some sort of morning exercise like walking, or lifting weights, and then eat a healthy breakfast. Start by making your bed. Do that for several days then add the exercise for ten minutes. After several days of exercising in the morning add the healthy breakfast. In this fashion you create a healthy routine that prepares your for your day. By adding only one habit at a time each task sticks better. As you become better at each, you can adjust the time to for those days you have off or have to leave early.

Developing a series of morning habits help create a routine that makes someone more successful all day long.

Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

I little leadership tip here, you can apply the same activity for a group meeting. The checklist is called an agenda. They help keep everyone focused on the important tasks of the meeting and honor everyone’s time.

As you integrate new habits into your life using the 10 minute rule, understand that the ten minute time is a concept, not concrete. You can make your habits one minute habits like Ken Blanchard did in the One Minute Manager, or 20 minute habits if you need 20 minutes to successfully complete all the tasks of a new habit you wish to adopt. Not everything can be done in 10 minutes.

It is not really possible to prepare a 45 minute lesson for a meeting at work in ten minutes. You can however set aside 10 minutes over several days to prepare the lesson. You will still need at least 45 minutes for your rehearsals and it is essential to do rehearsals in order to be a successful speaker or trainer.

The Ten Minute Rule is a valid method to change and adopt new habits in your life and to help those you lead create change. Remember that the ten minute part is a guideline. That number is not carved in stone. You may find you need to complete several short tasks to develop a new habit. Each may only take a few moments rather than ten minutes. Gradually build each new task over time until each is its own habit and all the tasks come together in about 10 minutes. Some things need more time to complete than ten minutes. The Ten Minute Rule is nothing more than practicing small changes in behavior that make a big difference. The longest journey always begins with a single step. Remember, if you find you failed to maintain a new habit, in about ten minutes you can begin again! Persistence is the key to the 10 minute habit, not time. I challenge you to set aside ten minutes today to begin a new habit that will make your life better. Also take ten minutes to teach those you lead about the Ten Minute Rule.

Ten Minute Rule: Adopt Habits of Successful People

Ten minutes of daily practice is better than 60 minutes of practice once per week. Photo from pxhere.com. No other photo information available.

“Go play your horn Joseph!”

“Mom I just want to finish this level.”

“Shut the game off and go practice your horn NOW!”

“But Mom I’m almost done.”

Dad steps in, “Hey, you know Joe if you practiced your horn 10 minutes everyday right after school we wouldn’t have to fight like this every Sunday night.”

“Oh yeah Dad, then how come you don’t run a mile everyday after work instead of running three miles on just Saturday and Sunday?”

…Crickets…

The story you just read is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty father who told me this tale. The back story is that he has to complete a physical fitness test on a regular basis and struggles to complete the run in the time allotted. However after this confrontation with his son, he changed his habit. Instead of running six miles over two days which was not helping improve his run time, he did what he told his son to do, he started running one mile everyday after work but still ran three miles on Saturdays. On his next fitness test not only did he pass, but he cut five minutes off his run from the previous test. It took Dad less than ten minutes after work to run a mile but the improvement was dramatic.

I unknowingly started to develop the Ten Minute Rule of changing habits several years ago. As I continued my lifelong pursuit of continuous improvement by studying the habits of successful people I noticed that many of them had similar habits and rituals. They did things like exercising regularly, journaling, meditating, making new connections, creating paths for achievement, reading often, learning about new people and places, and taking time away from work to be with family and friends. I recognized that if I adopted some of those habits I would become more successful by accomplishing more and becoming a better leader by extending my influence.

The habit of staying in touch with connections keeps your personal and professional network alive, well, and growing. Keeping connected is an example of a habit that can be done in ten minutes or less and have a great impact on your life.
Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

I started simply enough by writing a card or email at least once each week to someone on my contact list (back then it was an address book) that I had not connected with for a while. I found that I reinvigorated my professional network by reconnecting with people as they responded to my cards. Next I tackled journaling. I had taken a class that talked about how reflective journaling could help leaders find patterns in their behavior and the behaviors of others that were counter productive. I figured I could do that in about 10 minutes a day at the end of each week. I continued to add habits here and there as I found 10 minute activities were easy to add to my schedule and made dramatic improvements. I even added running a mile a day!

Ten minutes a day can make a big difference in many things you do as a person and as a leader. As described above, some of those habits are for personal improvement and fall into the category that Stephen Covey called “Sharpening the Saw.” Other habits expand your influence that allows you to have more resources and power to accomplish things for yourself or your organization. Some of the most important habits as a leader involve investing time to develop others. The best way to change a habit is to replace it with another habit. When you add the ten minute habit of spending time with your followers you make them better employees and set the example of making small behavioral changes.

You may wonder how to begin accumulating a series of new “Ten Minute Habits” when your day is already full from morning until night. Like all journeys, you begin with a single step. Pick one habit you want to add to your day that will make a difference. Examine your day to find ten minutes you can consistently engage in the new practice. You do not have to do it every single day but the more days you do it, the quicker the new habit will take effect. Alternatively, you can find a ten minute period of time and decide to add a few new habits and do one or two each day during the week.

Regardless of how you start, write down in your calendar, your journal, the notes on your phone the days you complete the new ten minute habit. Writing down the days you actually do the habit begins to form accountability to yourself for making that important change.

When you develop a new habit you displace old habits. Charles Duhigg encourages people to identify the cue that starts a bad habit and the reward you receive for any habit you want to change. Once you know the cue and reward, you insert a new response which eventually becomes your new habit. Once you change one habit you will find others that do not serve you as well as they used to and want to change those as well. Taking a few minutes each day helps you make those small changes that make your life better.

Apply this to leadership by helping your employees change their habits. Ken Blanchard tells a story about an executive that is so busy helping her employees solve all their problems she never has time for her own work. As she works with her mentor she learns that she developed the habit of solving employees’ problems for them instead of helping them learn to solve their own problems. As she works with her mentor, she learns to teach employees how to solve their own problem, teaches them their decision making authority, and frees up time during the day to work on the projects she needs to complete. When employees develop the habit of going to the boss every time they have a problem they become dependent on the boss to solve all their problems. That is good for no one.

Spending ten minutes with an employee to teach them a new skill, progress on a project, or to check in on life events sets a powerful example. They learn they can be self reliant and still have your support. They know you care. They learn important habits do not have to be time consuming. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Like teaching employees to set goals, teaching employees how to establish new habits helps them learn to help themselves. As a result every employee becomes more productive, learns things to make them better employees, and begin the process to become leaders in the future. Remember the old saying that you cannot be promoted if you are indispensable in your current position.

Before I wrap up, I want to point out that the ten minute rule is a target. My morning routine is a series of ten minutes habits I developed from learning about other successful people’s routines. Some mornings are shorter because of life and I’ve learned that some of those ten minute routines can be done in one or two or five minutes instead of ten when necessary. Recognize that sometimes a few dumbbell curls is better than not exercising at all in the morning. The next day you can workout for 15 minutes to make up for the short day.

Using the ten minute rule can be a powerful way to develop habits that create success personally and professionally. Leaders adopt habits such as journaling, meditating, reading, etc. to become better leaders. As they learn how to integrate ten minute habits into their own routines, leaders can begin to teach others how to benefit from the the ten minute rule. Not all change is fast like adapting to the new normal of corona virus. Change that sticks takes time as people learn new habits. Using the ten minute rule creates slow, small change that increases the likelihood the change will be lasting. Try the ten minute rule. If it does not work it only costs you ten minutes. When it does work the return on, your ten minute investment is enormous.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

References

  • Blanchard, Ken. The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do
  • Covey, Stephen. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • Duhigg, Charles. The Power of Habit

3 Steps Leaders Use to Teach Ethics

We have all been there. In that dreaded conference or classroom for the mandatory training on ethics. People drag themselves in at the last moment with a look of boredom before the instructor has even shown the first slide. We all know what is coming, the boring text based slides, the monotone speech, the guy in the back row who, while leaning back in his chair falls asleep and falls over bringing a few minutes of excitement and humor.

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

Ethics training is important. The only way people in the organization understand its guiding principals is to received both classroom and hands on training. But the training does not have to be like that described in the first paragraph. In fact, there are so many ways to approach ethics training that it is unethical to have bore people during training. Leaders should be prepared to conduct ethics training on three levels. The first demonstrate by training ethically. The next provide ethical training. Finally identify organizational behaviors that require change and train to change that behavior. This post presents a few ideas about how leaders can accomplish each of these goals without having to speak above the din of snoring in the classroom.

The first step, train ethically seems like a no brainer. Well if this statement was true, few of us would know the dread of sitting through one of those classes. Leaders tasked with providing ethics training have an obligation to use time well. Presenting instruction in such a way that students fall asleep and take away nothing to help them do their jobs better just is not ethical. In fact, it may not seem like much learning happens in classed like that buy employees learn their time is not valued and the organization does not value them as people.

If part of the reason organization train ethics is to avoid civil liability, then this kind of training encourages law suits. You can pull out sign in rosters and lesson plans but if students do not take the lessons with them into their workplaces you failed. Leaders should train employees to do the right things the right way for the right reasons. That is the best insurance against torts. Well trained employees help organization avoid liability. Value is added to employees when they understand how to apply guiding principals in their daily work habits and routines.

Good training is valued by employees. When employees know they will receive important lessons taught in an interesting way, they look forward to training. Everyone despises the torture known as Death by PowerPoint. The point of presentation software is to help make critical points powerfully. By showing everything you are going to say on the slide the importance of the points are lost. Be prepared to speak the ideas, not the slides.

Helpful supervisors have greater influence by living organizational values – Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels

Now you have demonstrated the ethics of the organization by valuing the time of people and keeping the engaged. That is great but content is still important, teaching ethics. Teach organizational standards, orders, policies or other written documentation governing behavior in your organization. Teaching does not mean reading. Have war stories to share related to when things both went well and when they did not. Such stories show why certain rules and expected behaviors were established. If the training requires students read organizational documents, assign them to read the documents before class. Formulate a series of questions that invites the employees to discuss how those rules apply. Good questions lead to the students sharing their own stories for others to evaluate. As students share their examples others can chime in about the nature of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. Facilitated classes are great opportunities to share ethical theory with students and show how their biases effect their reflection of organizational standards.

If the point of training is to change behavior then leaders need to include some exercises employees can execute to learn those new behaviors. Repetition is required for this training to be successful, but do not teach the exact same class to the exact same audience time after time. Both you and your students will become bored quickly. The point of this training is to focus student attention to voluntarily comply with the organizational mission, principals, expectations and norms. Use this time to explain what the mission statement means to their section. Talk about how the organizational principals support the mission. Express your vision for the future of the organization. Even if you are teaching the newest, lowest level employee remember that as some point that person may be selected to lead. Share your vantage point with others so they understand the why doing the right things the right way is important to them as well as the organization.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

As you work through the exercises and activities, employees will become aware of how the behavior of good leaders in the organization aligns with it guiding principals. As a leader people are always watching you. When you are doing the right things the right way for the right reasons employees notice. Every time you engage in desired behavior you are teaching others what is acceptable. The boss that uses the sea gull technique of leading will be shunned as they take about guiding principals.

You never heard of a sea gull boss? He or she is the one that is always hovering around above everyone else waiting for someone to make a mistake. When they see the mistake they swoop in, make lots of noise and then fly away pooping on people as they stream skyward.

On the other hand, the boss that is always around but not into everything also notices when employees make mistakes. He or she may watch the employee struggle a bit to see if she can figure out how to fix the mistake. Just before the employee does something harmful, this boss calmly arrives and coaches her through the process.

One of these two bosses will be listened to in ethics class. The other will be ignored. The one that act respectful receives respect. Employees in ethics class taught by that person begin to understand that the positive behaviors are aligned with the organization’s guiding principals and they try to change their behavior accordingly. They have a positive model to follow.

As you develop training for each of these areas, you will soon find you have far more material to cover than the time available. Newer leaders assigned to train will curse and try to squeeze everything into the allotted time. Experienced trainers recognize the opportunity to provide follow up training without repeating previous classes. This provides those leaders opportunities to improve attention and retention in subsequent classes. Focus on the three areas, ethically train, train ethics and change behavior. When you do, your followers will clamor for more.

Leading others to success in four easy steps

Setting goals is an important personal skill to achieve and measure success. Teaching others to set goals is an important skill for successful leaders to master. Teaching people to set goals ensures their personal and organizations success. Unfortunately, too many people work for bosses who do not know how to set goals, let alone how to teach others to set goals. If you read and put into practice any of the suggestions from my earlier post, you know how to effectively set personal goals. Learning to teach others and helping them along the way is pretty easy when you follow these steps.

Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

Once you understand the process for setting goals and achieve a few goals you develop an appreciation for the importance of goal-setting. The process is pretty simple. First assess things you do well, things you can improve, and what you want to accomplish. Next, figure out where you are in life and where you want to be. Third, develop a plan to move closer to your desired end state. It does not have to be a perfect plan. By the time you develop a perfect plan it will be too late, so take your imperfect plan and adapt is as you move along the path to success. Written goals are more effective than those that are not written. Periodically check your progress. You will find that as you change, other things change too. That requires you to make adjustments to stay headed in the correct direction. That is also why perfect plans are rarely effective. This paragraph is intended to be a review. For more on setting personal goals see my earlier blog by clicking here.

You have to set and achieve a couple goals before you begin trying to teach others. If you are in a leadership position you probably have done that. Maybe you never thought about how you go about setting and achieving goals so you do not know how to teach others. That is the point of this post. It is only a little harder to teach others to set their own goals than it is to learn to do it yourself.

Start by sitting down with your employee or protegee and explain the goal setting process described above to them. Share a story of your personal success following the goal setting strategy to motivate them. Explain the SMART model Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals. Share your version of a Goal Setting Worksheet to document their goal. Click here for an example.

When you introduce the goal setting process, take time to explain each step briefly. You will demonstrate each step when you spend time helping him set his first written goal. It helps to have a set of directions even if you do have a tour guide for the first trip. It also communicates credibility.

When you explain SMART goals, explain each term. Help them understand the difference between a specific and non-specific goal statement. There is a difference between saying, “I want to loose weight.”, and, “I want to loose 25 pounds.” It seems obvious on the surface and when the two appear side-by-side. People who have not successfully set and achieved goals think they are the same. Explain different ways to measure success when you talk about a goal being measurable. In the weight example you could measure fat lose by using a scale or waist size. The simplest way I ever heard to explain attainable is to ask the other person if someone has previously done what they want to do. If someone else achieved it then that person can as well. Relevant goals can be relevant. Explain that a work place goal is relevant to the workplace. Personal goals are relevant to their life. Relevance is the “Why” of the goal. When discussing time-bound explain it prevents or reduces procrastination.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Introduce your version of the Goal Setting Worksheet. I learned in the One-Minute Manager that a written goal should fit on one page, be less than 250 words, and reviewed in less than a minute to ensure people review it periodically. The worksheet becomes the map to achieve the goal. In my work, I found a simple set up makes writing down goals easy. Put the name of the goal at the top. Next list the person completing the goal, the start date, and the target completion date. If you have more than one employee, it helps to have their names on the worksheet when you follow up later with them. List the steps necessary to complete the goal. Identify some measurements of success and what the desired end state looks like.

Start to put everything together. Work with the employee to find a goal. Help them conduct her first assessment by asking questions that guild them to find out what they want to achieve. Questions should include answers that provide insight to the SMART elements. Work with them to write out the goal on the worksheet. If you are working on a workplace goal, you, as the leader, must agree the goal is worthy use of her work time. Once the goal is established and written up, make a copy for you. The employee keeps the original.

As part of the goal setting process establish when you will meet again to review the progress. I recommend daily or weekly for small, simple goals with inexperienced employees. Eventually employees will develop bigger goals. You need to meet less often to assess progress and success.

During the periodic review meeting ask for details about the progress of each task step. Inquire about problems he encountered and how they resolved those problems. Review the measurements to help them understand if he is doing what he set out to do. Before you finish the meeting, ask if he needs anything from you to continue. Find out what steps he will take between this meeting and the next. Wrap up by setting the next meeting date and praising his progress.

Learning to set and accomplish goals is an important growth steps for individuals. Learning to teach others how to set and achieve goals is an importation growth step for leaders. Leaders first have to understand the process used to set and achieve goals. You cannot teach what you do not know. When you sit down to teach someone how to set a goal, review the goal setting process of assessing what you want to achieve, identify where you are and where you want to go, develop a plan, establish measures of success, and evaluating and adjusting the plan periodically. Explain why goals are SMART. Introduce the Goal Setting Worksheet because written goals are more likely to be achieved. Take time to walk the employee through the process of setting a goal. Meet periodically to assess progress and provide support. Before long, your protegee will be teaching others how to succeed and you will be known as a successful leader.

Leading During a Crisis: Ensure Your Organization Survives COVID-19

Leadership is the most important thing right now for organizations. It doesn’t matter if you are a leader in a governmental organization, a non-profit, leading in the private sector, health care, or even a volunteer leader in a local club. Leadership during these rapidly changing times will be the difference between the organizations that thrive after COVID-19 runs its course and those that collapse during or shortly after things return to “normal”. 

The Corona Virus Pandemic is forcing leaders to rapidly implement changes in their organizations. Those who lead effective change will have advantages once the virus passes. Credit: Fusion Medical Animation from unsplash.com unsplash license 2020.

Change is inevitable. I have posted several blogs on leading change. Good leaders understand change is always happening and look to the future to ensure those they lead are ready when change happens. Most of the time that means change is gradual and like the hands on a clock, the changes are barely perceptible.  Sometimes, like the events surrounding the COVID-19 response, change is rapid and requires leaders to accelerate their leadership processes.

Joan Sweeney, Ph.D teaches there are five elements that need to be present for change to success fully happen. Those elements are vision, skills, motivation, resources, and plans (Sweeney, 2009). If any of these elements are missing effective change fails to happen. Whether you find yourself leading gradual change, rapid change, or in a crisis, you as a leader need to ensure each of these elements are in place to lead change.

SWOT

Start by assessing the situation. A SWOT analysis is common method of assessing. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. There are plenty of documents, books, and websites discussing the subtleties of conducting SWOT analysis. If this is the first time you heard this term, head to your favorite search engine. I provide a short answer about what SWOT is here. Divide a sheet of paper into four quadrants.  Label each Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Individually or with your team identify each area. Ask the simple questions of, “What are our Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats?” Use these answers to work on the five elements of change.

Vision

Most leaders understand the need to have a vision. In times of crisis, the vision is not about the distant future. The vision is about the days, weeks, and months ahead. The vision shares with your stakeholders your view of how the organization navigates the turbulent waters of the crises, in this case getting through the COVID-19 Pandemic. This element is essential so examine your strengths and opportunities so others have hope.

Leaders ensure the organization has people with the necessary skills to implement change and the motivation to use those skills. Credit: Allie Smith from unsplash.com with an upnplash license 2020

Skills

Take a look at the skills you listed in your strengths. Determine how you can use them to address the threats posed by the situation to create opportunities. Include this assessment in your vision statement. Doing so provides hope which is the basis of motivation.

Motivation

I learned on Jocko Podcast 207, that the root of the word motivation means to move (Willink, 2019). When you motivate others, you cause them to begin movement. To sustain movement, it is important for leaders to align resources with action plans. This alignment demonstrates to followers that the proposed action and change is both viable and attainable.

Resources

There is an old saying in the Army, “We the willing have done so much for so long we are now qualified to accomplish the impossible with nothing.” In times of crisis resources become scarce. If you have tried to by bathroom tissue or hand sanitizer in the last few days you know that is true in this current crisis. You may not be able to acquire the ideal resources is times of crisis so leaders need to be creative. What resources do you have that can be repurposed safely to accomplish the same thing? What resources can you obtain that come close to doing what you need done? What do you really need?

Leaders need to provide resources to implement change whether it is responding to Corona Virus or any other change in the organization. Photo by author.

In a TEDTalk in 2006, Tony Robbins encountered former Vice President Al Gore while discussing the importance of resourcefulness. He told the former VP that had he been more resourceful during the campaign he would not have needed to have his case heard by the Supreme Court. Rather he would have received an overwhelming number of votes to win the election without having to resort to a Supreme Court case. Leaders always have to figure out how to use the resources available to accomplish their organization’s mission.

Planning

Plans in crisis are important. Looking ahead and creating plans before crisis helps move that process along quicker. Even if you lack a plan for dealing with a pandemic, you probably have some emergency plans you can adapt. In the non-profit I run, we have plans to continue operations in the event of a disaster like the building burning down or other cataclysmic events. We did not have one for dealing with COVID-19. As the crisis escalated, I found it easy to re-examine our emergency plans and take relevant parts, piece them together to develop a plan that, so far, ensured we were available and able to continue to provide services to our clients.  Planning occurs rapidly in a crisis. Your plan must support your vision. You need to communicate so everyone remains motivated to apply their skills to overcome the crisis. The plan must include how to use existing resources and how you will find other resources necessary to survive the crisis.  Your plan does not have to be perfect.  Theodore Roosevelt said,

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The next best thing is the wrong thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.

Conclusion

In this current crisis, leadership is critical to meet the changes required for organizations to survive.  Leaders must ensure they communicate a vision, coordinate the skills of stake holders, provide motivation and resources, and create a plan that effectively coordinates the actions of the organization. Leaders everywhere are faced with important decisions during this pandemic. Following the basic principles of change management will ensure your organization prepares and responds effectively to this crisis and emerges ready for the future as things subside.

References

Robbins, T (2006). Why we do what we do. TED: Ideas Worth Spreading. retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/tony_robbins_why_we_do_what_we_do 3/18/2020

Roosevelt, T (n.d.). Unknown publication. retrieved from https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/theodore_roosevelt_403358 3/18/2020.

Sweeney, J. (2009). Organizational culture and change management. Command Training Series: Executive Development Course. Bristol, RI: New England Asc. of Chiefs of Police, Roger Williams University.

St. Cyr, C. (2019). Leading change. Little Leadership Lessons. Blog. available at https://saintcyrtraining.com/2019/07/

Willink, J (2019). Podcast 207: Live a life worth fighting For. Medal of honor recipient, Kyle Carpenter. Jocko Podcast. retrieved from https://jockopodcast.com/2019/12/11/207-live-a-life-worth-fighting-for-medal-of-honor-recipient-kyle-carpenter/ 3/18/2020.

Learning to Handle Leadership Power

Wise leaders understand and obtain power at many levels. While the opening statement may sound Machiavellian, power is necessary to influence others. Leaders need power to accomplish tasks that grow and improve the organization. Leaders set agendas. Without power, organizations deteriorate or cease to exist. Leaders do not work alone. If you want to lead you need to learn about, acquire, and harness power.

Niccolo Machiavelli has become synonymous with leaders who gain and use power to only benefit themselves. Good leaders learn sources of power and how to use them to benefit others and their organization. Machiavelli by Santi de Tito from Wikipedia.

Power focuses organizational energy. Think of power like a spot light. The leader focuses the light in the direction he wants the followers to go, illuminating the objective. Without a power source there is no light to focus, no objective to achieve.

In an organization leaders often have one or more power sources available to accomplish the goals of the organization. The common power sources include, charismatic, expert, coercive, reward, and positional. A short description of each and their uses follow.

Charismatic power is likability. A synonym d, is referent. This source of power may get you in the door, but rarely lasts long except with those who are weak. Leaders who only use this power must do things in order for others to continue to like them, or at least continue to receive their approval. There is nothing wrong with being likable. If this is your only way to influence others eventually you will find yourself held hostage to the demands of others to remain likable. This source of power does develop resilience if the leader uses his or her charisma like bait and follows through by engaging in behaviors that develop trust and a genuine environment of physical and emotional safety.

Expert power stems from ones ability to do well or have specialized knowledge. This provides power in two ways. The first is like the artillerymen of old who guarded the secrets of their craft so their skills would always be in demand by armies. The second yet potentially fleeting source is through the ability to teach others your skill or knowledge. When you share those secrets that have made you successful, you have the potential to create rivals and replacements. Alternatively, you could also develop collaborators who desire to achieve more than either of you could alone. If you are truly an expert, there will always be a demand for your skills and knowledge. As a result, you will always have power to influence others. Like Charismatic power, you need things to ensure this power lasts. Continue to study changes in your field. Share some of your knowledge with other with no strings attached. Doing so develops trust that you use your knowledge to benefit others rather than just yourself. They only way your skill and knowledge retain power is by sharing it. However when you share it, you enable others to also begin developing expertise. If you fail to keep up with the times and charge too much for what you can do or know, others will surpass you and have more power. Before long your followers will be following them because they trust (hum seen that word before) the other person will treat them fairly

Sources of leadership power include charismatic power, expert power, positional power, reward power, and corrosive power. Each is a tool, neither good nor bad. Image by Thomas Kelly from unsplash.com

Legitimate, reward and coercive often go together but not always. Legitimate power is granted when awarded a ‘leadership’; position with in an organization. Sometimes this source of power is call positional power. CEOs have legitimate power to run their cooperation. They also possesses the ability to dole out rewards such as pay raises, promotions and prime parking spaces. On the coercive side, is employment termination, demotions and selection of another’s pet project. Legitimate power is limited to only those within the organization that agree to follow that person. It weakens when the leader behaves in such a way that followers move onto other organizations because they feel the leader does not have their best interest in mind (they lack trust). Leaders in legitimate positions of power are only effective when they can also use other sources of power to influence people outside their organization. The CEO who runs a company that makes the best product in its class will not lead long if no one buys the product, or he cannot influence suppliers to provide material at a reasonable price. Only when a manager in a position of perceived power develops trusting relationship with those outside an organization does that manager become a leader.

To be clear on this point, this extends down the ladder from the CEO. If a shop foreman in the stamping machine area has a good relation ship with the foreman in the warehouse, he maybe given priority to receive rolls of material and have spaced cleared of finished products sooner that perhaps the foreman in the milling machine area of a factory. As a result of that foreman’s relationship, he secures greater production for his operators. They they receive piece rate bonuses they are happy. If he monopolizes the warehouse’s material handling equipment and other sections cannot get their parts moved, that foreman may find he is out of a job and then his workers suffer. He is the the big kahuna. He cannot demand others who do not work for him do things but he can have influence.

Reward and coercive power does not solely rest with formal leaders. Each of these can be used on their own by providing rewards and punishment to others or together to mold behaviors. Sales representatives can influence behavior by offering a better price to a favor customer. Alternatively, a phone manufacturer may encourage the purchase of new smart phones by withholding software updates to keep older phones operational even if the older phone would still function.

Power is a tool. If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem or opportunity looks like a nail. However the skilled carpenter with a small complement of basic hand tools tools is capable of building beautiful things. Between his experience and tools he can fashion wood into anything he can imagine. Take another person with a workshop full of the latest and greatest power tools but has no skills; he would not be able to build a simple wooden box.

When power is controlled and focus it can be used by leaders to accomplish great things that benefit many. When raw and untamed, power wreaks destruction. Image by Vance Osterhout from unsplash.com

As leaders practice their leadership skills they increase the power options available. Using a variety of tools shapes followers into quality employees, volunteers and future leaders. When they show those future leaders how to use the full spectrum of leadership powers, they prepare the organization for continued success well into the future. New leaders learn to adjust the focus and intensity of the organization’s spotlight so others can see their vision and follow them into the light and out of the darkness. Without power, there is no leadership. Power wielded poorly results in failed leadership. Only when someone masters the power of each tool, develops the necessary skills to use each tool, and develops trust with others does that power contain the potential for leadership.

Leaders need to develop a full complement of power sources to influence others. They must learn how to obtain, develop and use each tool. As they practice they will find that the tool they used to accomplish a task with one piece of wood, will not work so well with another piece. One version of a tool may not be capable of completing every job much like using a framing hammer to drive a tack. A tack hammer is the better choice.

References

McShane, S., Von Glinow, M. Organizational behavior: Emerging realities for the workplace revolution. 2008. McGraw-Hill