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Leadership Insights | The 8 Principles of Effective Delegation

What’s Your Delegation Score?

Delegation isn’t just a handoff so you can walk away and do something else. It is a critical leadership skill that you must master if you want to expand your reach, take control of your time and achieve the work-life harmony you’re seeking.

Learn the 8 Principles of Effective Delegation.

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How often have you failed with delegation?

How often have you wondered why a project went wrong, or why someone never finished the task you were counting on them to finish?

How many times have you complained about projects that you’re managing … missing their deadlines, going over budget (not under budget very often, huh?) and not getting done as you expected?

How did you feel when you were called on the carpet by YOUR boss wanting to know why the project you’re handling is stalled?

Why didn’t your delegation succeed?

When we’ve delegated some or all of a project to someone else, we’re embarrassed … and probably a little teed off … but we’re also too often thinking about the wrong things like …, “damn that John, he just can’t be counted on” … or, “she doesn’t get it” … or something like, “they can’t ever seem to follow through” as we tick off all the reasons why the people on our team have let us down. (more…)

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Leadership Insights | Do you really think you’re Resourceful?

blue-ball-in-a-maze
On a recent morning, I headed to a favorite place just down the street to fetch a couple of lattes for my wife and me.

Our forbearers would have awakened in woolen underwear, stepped in the dark onto a cold dirt floor, and stumbled outside to chop some wood to start a fire in the cook stove balanced on the rocks outside.

They would have tossed some coffee grounds into a beat-up metal pot … grounds that had already been used for several days … filled the pot with water, boiled it … and at some point, would finally get that first bitter cup of java.

No coffee house down the road, no car to get there, certainly no latte or cappuccino. Eat what you kill, literally. If you ain’t got it, you ain’t gonna get it.

Lots of resources but ….

The secret of success is constancy to purpose.” Benjamin Disraeli

In many ways, we’re much less resourceful than our forefathers.

While we may have expanded the definition of community in many positive ways, using our physical and social media “mobility” to create unimagined connections, we’ve also become more dependent on external resources to get through our day.

In some ways it’s probably better that we’re co-dependent. (more…)

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Leadership Insights | The Prizefighter & The Preacher

Dad’s Christmas gift to me of an ornament he thought I’d like. The cow sings, too!

 

Dads never get any credit

Among some of us dads, we often remark, “Dads never get any credit.” Dads teach their kids how to play ball, run, catch, dodge … but if they score a run, a touchdown or a basket … and the camera zooms in on them, don’t they always say, “Hi Mom!”

Have you ever heard the phrase, “… as good as Dad and apple pie?.” I doubt it. I never have. How about, “the father of all storms” … nope … I think you catch my point.

The Prizefighter & The Preacher

I’ve written several articles over the years, including a recent one about lessons I learned from my 94-year-old mom, but Dad deserves at least as much credit. I lost my Dad on Nov. 16, 2001, and I still miss him every day.

Perhaps my most striking memory is that he had the most unusual combination of careers of anyone I’ve ever known … a world-ranked professional boxer with a record of 82-5-0 who became a minister when he heeded the calling.

An extraordinary combination …

All his life, he loved boxing with great passion and practiced his ministry with great compassion.

He believed deeply that boxing’s demand for discipline, training and sacrifice was a way out for “street toughs,” a route through the gym and into a productive life that would be otherwise inaccessible.
He knew that every soul was worth saving and he never wavered from that commitment.

Brevity is the soul of wit …

One good teacher in a lifetime may sometimes change a delinquent into a solid citizen.Philip Wylie


He had a great sense of humor, too, and it reflected his vision of life as a joyful journey. I’ve still got a copy of a parking ticket that I may have forgotten to pay while in college.
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Leadership Insight | Lessons learned from my 94-year-old mom

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

Winston Churchill

 

 

Yes, I know Mom doesn’t look 94. (This picture is only 2 years old, so she was just 92 then. 😛 ) Why do you think I don’t like to stand next to her among strangers? She looks so young they may think we’re the same age. That’s not possible, of course, but do they know that?

Patience, Perspective & Preparation

In our infancy, mom and dad made sure that our clothes were clean, that we were fed, that we got our vaccinations and regular checkups. They made sure our clothes were mended, our beds were made and we were as safe as possible.

Some 40 … maybe 50 years later, it’s our turn. We make sure our parents have clean clothes and linens, that they get to their doctors’ appointments and take their medications according to schedule. We make sure they’re safe and nourished and we visit regularly.

When this cycle makes its turn, we are reminded of life’s fragility as well as our own mortality, aren’t we? (more…)

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Leadership Insight | What are we doing to help you?

“There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result.

Winston Churchill

Why do you have your own business?

Winston Churchill could have been an entrepreneur to have so eloquently dramatized the thrill associated with building a business.

Whether you own it yourself or share it with partners, it’s yours to build, to mold according to your dreams and values.

You may be building it from scratch or seeking new opportunities to jumpstart a mature company. In either case, I hope this will help you on your journey.

Want to build your own boat?

Why do you have your own business?

Independence, many will say, the chance to run my own show?

Be my own boss?

Do things my way – maybe because you’ve seen them done the wrong way and you can do better? (more…)

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Leadership Insight | Collaboration Won’t Overcome Poor Communication

“Communication is something so simple and difficult that we can never put it in simple words.

~ T. S. Matthews

 

Communication = Collaboration ≠ Consensus

One of the most popular words in the business lexicon these days is collaboration.

Everyone seems eager to flatten the organization, get rid of hierarchy, eliminate command-and-control structures and collaborate across broad multifunctional teams.

Wow! That’s quite an objective, isn’t it. But do we really understand collaboration and why it’s become such a ubiquitous battle cry?

(more…)

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Leadership Insight | First rule of a mistake: Admit it

“A lie will easily get you out of a scrape, and yet,

strangely and beautifully, rapture possesses you

when you have taken the scrape and left out the lie.”

~ Charles Edward Montague

 

Everyone makes mistakes. 

We know this for a fact, don’t we? It’s pretty clear —like crystal.

Why are we are so unwilling to admit our mistakes?

So, why do so many persist in their insistence that they did no wrong?

Despite the lessons that cover the waterfront — from Watergate to the Catholic Church — the cover-up is always worse than the crime.

What appeared to be minor tributaries turned into a rushing river of a failed presidency and international scandal, yet the stream of lies and denial from those who fail to heed these lessons continues unabated in both our public and private lives.

The truth will never come out … will it?

For some reason, we persist in believing that the truth will never come out. (more…)

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Leadership Insight | Don’t Gamble with the Storm Clouds

Fly to the Light!

Just after obtaining his pilot’s license, a dear friend from the Midwest found himself surrounded by unexpected thunderstorms. He clambered for every streak of sunshine he could find, ultimately zigzagging his way to a safe landing:

“That principle is a metaphor for my life. It seems that I have always flown to the light. If there was resistance or a combination of obstacles, I just vectored my way between them or around them. That approach is superior to flying blindly into clouds. You never know what’s in the cloud or on the other side of it. There could be another plane or there could be a bolt of lightening. You just never know. Flying in the light allows the pilot to see what’s coming and take evasive action. I commend that approach to you. When given the choice between taking a chance in the dark or flying in the light, choose the light. At least you have a chance if you can see what’s coming and have a chance to avoid it. Fly to the light, live in the light and avoid darkness, whenever possible.”

“There is only one time that is important – NOW! It is the most important time because it is the only time we have any power over.” ~ Leo Tolstoy

For every storm cloud, there’s a ray of sunshine. I remembered this message from my friend, who regularly writes to his family and friends, as I was diving deeply into our upcoming video series about the kind of metrics that will serve as our life-saving instruments. In the contrails of my previous column about the risks of flying blind, it seems like the perfect time to share his wisdom.

Since the circulation of his letter is both limited and private, no one would know how much I have plagiarized his words … but I have chosen to use quotation marks so that his voice is clearly heard because his spare prose more eloquently describes his philosophy of “flying to the light” than anything I could muster.

What if there is no light in the sky?

But what if there is no light at all? How do we navigate a dark sky when there is no visible alternative? Allow my friend to offer his observation: 

“That’s not to say that living in the light is always possible. There are times when obstacles must be confronted. Generally, that will be necessary where there is no light to fly to. When that happens, you must stiffen your spine, take a deep breath and engage the obstruction. When there is no other option other than retreat or capitulation, charge. I don’t like to retreat. Retreat leaves me with a dissatisfied feeling about myself. I try to avoid that.”

Are you your own worst enemy?

I know that in the early days of my career, I was much more inclined to charge even when the path of sunshine was radiant for all to see.

Today, I recognize that it was more a function of arrogance and hubris than wisdom or insight. Sometimes I charged because I knew I could and bore little desire to leave much on the table for the other party.

At other times, I vainly sought any ray of light to avoid the inevitable disaster I saw coming. But, I wasn’t very practiced at it, and my hard-charging tendencies inspired the resistance that hastens rather than dispels the storm clouds.

Who’s your copilot? Is someone in the jump seat?

It’s never easy to navigate when the light is barely visible or accessible. Our success requires that we are both relentless and resourceful, with a positive attitude as our copilot and determination in the jump seat. We must grasp that ray of sunshine like an elusive thread drawing us to the Golden Fleece.

Every week, we’re sharing valuable and practical leadership tips and tools to help you BECOME a better leader. Why not get these valuable tips and techniques sent directly to your inbox every week so you don’t miss them?

I wish I had my friend’s wisdom in those days … and today, for that matter. His is a simple but powerful philosophy that is well recommended to all of us. Just like pilots, we must either fly to the light or be dead certain that our instrument panel is an unfaltering guide.

Being dead wrong is just not an option. 

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Leadership | Flying blind? Assume Crash Position!

What you can’t see can do the most damage

Weren’t you heartbroken over the death of John F. Kennedy Jr.?

We recently finished a three-day soiree with our long time friends from Boston, who we have visited frequently on Martha’s Vineyard where their family has had a home for more than 100 years.

As usual, the conversation turned to island lore, Fall from Grace, the mystery novel from Richard North Patterson, which takes place on the island (andwhich I highly recommend), … and inevitably to the Kennedy folklore and the tragic death of JFK Jr.

Is it hubris that drives us into the storm clouds?

“Vision is the art of seeing the invisible.” ~ Jonathan Swift

My wife has had a lifelong interest in the family side of the Kennedy dynasty, so she was enthralled by a factoid we hadn’t heard before … (more…)

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Leadership Lessons | Do you need your own “Bonfire of the Vanities”?

“There are no grades of vanity, there are only grades of ability in concealing it.”

– Mark Twain

 

Do You Need to Start Your Own Bonfire?

Barely 500 years ago, Girolamo Savonarola was an outspoken and strident critic of the current order, angrily vilifying the worldly possessions that tempted people to become sinners.

He was ultimately excommunicated from the Catholic church, condemned for heresy, stripped of his priestly garments, hanged, and his body burned in the town square in Florence, Italy, a stark and ignominious ending to a life committed to vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. (more…)

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