Category Archives for "leadership"

Renewed By The Heart Of Leadership

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.”

Margaret Fuller

In one form or another, I’ve been leading for nearly as long as I can remember. In first or second grade, I led my Sunday School class in a newspaper drive. I don’t remember what the newspapers were for, but I remember walking around my neighborhood with my red wagon collecting used newspapers. In fourth grade, I directed and acted in a classroom play about a scarecrow. In fifth grade, my friend, James, and I were the lead editors for a publication known as “The Presby Press.” In high school, I participated in student government. In college, I led in several organizations. Since college, I’ve led countless small groups, I’ve led through my involvement in organizations like Toastmasters and Rotary, and I’m a recognized leader where I work as the Branch Operations Manager for Projects at Siemens Smart Infrastructure Philadelphia Branch.

While leadership has been part of me for a long, long while, I’m realizing (again) that I still have so much to learn. Thankfully, there are great leaders around me and great leadership resources to help me as I stretch in my leadership.

I recently came across an excellent leadership resource which is included in my Audible subscription – The Heart of Leadership: Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow by Mark Miller. Listening to this book renewed by sense of leadership and my responsibility to continue to learn and grow. Here are the main things I learned as I listed to the book:

  • Leaders must Hunger for wisdom. There is still more to learn. We must be students of leadership. If you’re looking for a place to start, I’d encourage you to pick up this book.
  • Leaders must Expect the best. Having a positive outlook is important, and expecting the best from those around you is a significant marker of someone who has developed leadership character.
  • Leaders must Accept responsibility. Leaders take the blame when necessary, and they share the praise when something goes right.
  • Leaders must Respond with courage. Leading is not always easy. In the face of adversity or change, a leader must be courageous.
  • Leaders must Think of others first. It’s not about me. It’s about my team members. How can I help them? What can I do that will help them succeed?

These lessons represent the HEART of leadership.

In this year of renew, I’m thankful for these reminders. I want to lead well. I want my leadership to leave a mark. And I want my leadership to make a difference.

What leadership lessons have your recently learned? How are you experiencing renewal in your leadership?

Renewed Through Celebrating Work Milestones

The safest road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.

C.S. Lewis

On Friday, I celebrated a work milestone. January 8, 1996 was my start date at what is now Siemens. That means I have been working for the same organization for the past 25 years.

I still have working years ahead of me, and I trust there will be other milestones along my career pathway. Nonetheless, it’s healthy to pause for a few moments to celebrate this milestone.

In my year of renew, I have actually discovered renewal by thinking about my experiences so far. Reflecting on these experiences remind me that we can find joy and satisfaction in our work. Sometimes we lose sight of this when we dwell on the day-to-day challenges we face.

With this in mind, I wanted to list here some of the things I’ve experienced as a result of my time at Siemens:

  • High Performance Leadership (HPL) Siemens Leadership Excellence (SLE) – A few years ago, I was nominated to participate in which I traveled to Chicago for a week to meet with 23 other participants from North and South America. This week gave me the opportunity to learn more about leadership and about me. It also gave me the opportunity to establish important relationships with five other participants who have virtually met together monthly ever since. This was probably the best week of my 25 years at Siemens.
  • Professional of the Year Award Trip in 2002 – I had the blessing of traveling to Hawaii with my wife to be celebrated along with other award winners. It was such an incredible experience to enjoy the beauty of Hawaii with colleagues and their spouses.
  • MBA from Penn State University – While it took a lot of time and effort, I’m thankful for Siemens support in my journey to earn this degree back in 2005.
  • Professional Engineers (P.E.) License – This also took a lot of time and effort, but I’m thankful for Siemens support to earn this licensing in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
  • Speaker at NSPE Conference – Siemens was extremely supportive in sending me to Atlanta, GA to speak at the National Society of Professional Engineers annual conference. I spoke on the topic of Engineers Managing Engineers to an audience of ~100 engineers from around the country.
  • Winner of first Siemens Shark Tank competition – I had the opportunity to present an idea in front of 400+ top Siemens leaders. As the winner of the competition, I was awarded $50,000 to implement my idea. What an incredible experience!
  • Annual Management Meetings (AMM) – I’m thankful for the opportunity to attend these meetings in Boston, Palm Springs, Fort Lauderdale, Phoenix, and Tuscon. These multi-day meetings have given me the chance to meet with other leaders from the company and to be recharged on the technology we use to serve our customers.
  • Toastmasters and Rotary – Siemens has been very supportive of my involvement in these two organizations that have helped further my leadership and communication skills and allowed me to connect more broadly with the community.
  • Countless building automation project experiences – As an engineer, project manager, and operations manager at Siemens, I’ve had the privilege of working on all kinds of different projects for a wide variety of customers: Princeton University, Merck, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Sharp, Agere Systems, Lucent Technologies, North Penn School District, and the list goes on and on. It’s remarkable to think about the different buildings I’ve seen throughout the years.
  • Interviewing, recruiting, and representing Siemens at various job fairs, colleges, and conferences – Most recently, I’ve had the privilege of talking directly to students at Drexel University, Lafayette College, and Grove City College. I’m thankful for the opportunity to connect my work experience and company with students and young engineers. I definitely could see myself growing into greater roles related to these kind of connections and interactions.
  • People, people, people – Siemens has afforded me the opportunity to meet and interact with so many people – my peers, my team members, my customers, my industry colleagues. The people is what I will remember and cherish most in my experience at Siemens.

I’m sure I could list many other specific experiences from my time at Siemens so far. This list will do for now. It has reminded me of the blessing of my job. I’ve had a place to grow, to learn, and to leave my mark. While I don’t know what the next 5, 10, 15, or even 25 years may bring as I continue down my career path, I’m excited to step back into the office tomorrow as I continue on at Siemens.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)

What blessings have you experienced as a result of your job?

5 Questions That Will Take You To The Next Level

So I say to you, Ask and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.

Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:7)

Can I ask you a question?

To late, I just did.

Learning to ask questions is the key to opening the door to countless opportunities, experiences, and relationships.  Kids typically do a great job asking questions.  If you have ever been with a young child, you’ve heard this question over and over again:  “Why?”

Kids are curious.  They want to learn.  They want to grow.  They want to try new things.  And they seem to know that asking questions is the key to getting what they want.  Kids also don’t let the fear of sounding stupid stop them from asking questions.

Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, most of us forget the power of asking questions.  We lose our curiosity.  We don’t want to appear like we don’t know all the answers.  And we’re afraid we might be told “No” when we ask for something.

I’ve learned something recently:

The answer will always be “No” if we don’t ask.

This is why we must learn the discipline of asking questions.

In the writing and speaking world, there are many opportunities available to those who ask.

If I want to speak, I have to ask.  If I want to write on someone’s blog or platform, I have to ask.  If I want to be on someone’s podcast, I have to ask.  Sure I may get an invitation from time to time without asking, but this is not the norm.

You may not be a writer or a speaker, but you still have a lot to gain by asking questions.  When you practice the discipline of asking questions, many things happen.

  1. You get to know people better when you ask questions.  Where were you born?  What do you like to do in your spare time?  What do you want to accomplish in the next five to ten years?  What’s your favorite color?  How did you get to where you are today?  When you ask questions, you get to know people.
  2. You come across as more interesting when you ask questions.  Questions are the gateway to great conversations.  And when you have conversations, you automatically increase your “I’m interesting” factor.
  3. You show people they matter when you ask questions.  When people ask me questions, I feel valued.  When you ask questions, you show others they are valued.  By asking questions, you have the opportunity to show people they matter.
  4. You learn new things when you ask questions.  Be curious.  Questions will take you to all kinds of new places and new information.  I’ve learned a lot about blogging as a result of the questions I have asked other bloggers.  In my career, I grown a lot and seen new opportunities as a result of asking “How can I do this better next time?”
  5. You clarify your path forward when you ask questions.  Sometimes we get stuck.  We develop a type of paralysis, because we aren’t sure how to proceed.  Asking the right questions can give us clarity on the direction we should be taking.
  6. You can move more quickly when you ask questions.
  7. You become a better leader when you ask questions.

“Who questions much, shall learn much, and retain much.”

Francis Bacon

I have used a set of questions that have helped me grow personally and professionally. If you begin using these questions, you will grow as well. These questions require an open mind and a willingness to take action.

5 Questions That Will Take You To The Next Level

  1. How are you? This seems so simple, but people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Asking this question provides an opportunity to connect at a deeper level. I have learned so much by asking this simple question. When it comes to leadership, I have learned when my team members are going through a tough time or when they have something to celebrate. I have learned more about my customers and about the things that make them tick. Start your conversations with this simple but very important question.
  2. How can I do this better the next time? Asking for feedback is the best way to learn. Especially if you will be doing similar activities again, this question can lead to massive growth for you and can lead to tremendous loyalty with those whom you ask this question. As an engineer, I used this question repeatedly to become a better engineer – to put out designs that were more useful for my installers, my start-up technicians, and my customers. As a leader, I use this question to grow in my leadership.
  3. What else can I do? Asking for more work when you have a lull in your current workload is an excellent way to demonstrate work ethic. This question demonstrates to others that you are a team player and you are not lazy. When I was fairly new to my company, this question led to my assignment on a high profile four year project that propelled my reputation and my career. I learned so many things by simply asking “What else can I do?”
  4. Can you help me? Asking for help takes humility. Many of us don’t want to appear as if we can’t do it ourselves. Here’s the reality, we can’t always do it ourselves. Sometimes our knowledge and skill limit us for the time being. We need to ask for help to expand our knowledge and skill and to make sure our task is executed as necessary. Sometimes our schedules limit us, and we need to ask for help because we cannot get to everything on our plate. More recently, I have realized that this question is a very important leadership question. As leaders, we must as for help in an effort to delegate. Delegating tasks to others gives them a chance to expand their experience, it prepares others to take on more responsibility in the future, and it frees up the leader to address other issues and tasks.
  5. How can I help? When people come into my office, this is the question I try to ask. What can I do to make your job/life easier? What direction or assistance can I provide that will keep you moving forward? This question breaks down walls. This question is the key to collaborative solutions. Everyone faces obstacles, and these obstacles seem smaller when there is help.

One thing worth noting, once you’ve asked your question(s) make sure you stop to listen.  The real learning happens when we listen to what others have to say in response to our questions.  And if you’re asking yourself the question(s), make sure you take time to reflect and process your responses to your own questions.

Win Every Day – A New Book by Mark Miller

“Greatness hinges on execution. Everything we do should ultimately contribute to superior levels of execution.”

Mark Miller – Win Every Day p. 16

Everyone wants to win – at least I would like to believe this.

I want to win in my marriage. I want to win in my parenting. I want to win in my career. And I want those around me to win – my wife, my kids, and the team I lead.

Mark Miller does it again with an excellent allegory about leadership, business, and life.

In Win Every Day – Proven Practices For Extraordinary Results, Miller lays out three keys to get the results – the daily wins – you seek. Execution is not just about the end product. Executing with excellence involves executing at a high level throughout the entire journey.

This is the second book I have read by Mark Miller, and I really appreciate the thought he puts into each and every page of his writing. He helps enlighten readers on foundational leadership wisdom through the stories he tells. (Here’s a link to my review of Win The Heart.)

I walked away after reading this book with practical advice for taking my team to the next level.

If you desire excellence and results in your business and your life, I’d recommend you pick up a copy of Win Every Day. The book officially releases on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, and you can order your copy TODAY by clicking here.

Please note: I received a pre-release copy of Win Every Day in an exchange for an honest review. I was not required to positively support this book. I truly believe this is a book that could help you win every day! Also, I could receive a few cents if you order Win Every Day by clicking and ordering through one of the links in this post.

Win The Heart (Book Review)

As a leader in my company and the head of my department, I believe I have the responsibility to create and influence our culture. I want to build and be part of an organization that makes the world a better place, that grows and attracts talent, and that provides a place where people are proud to work.

When I was asked to participate in the book launch of Mark Miller‘s new book, Win the Heart: How to Create a Culture of Full Engagement, I had no hesitation in saying yes. Miller, who also wrote Talent Magnet, Chess Not Checkers, and Leaders Made Here, is a leader at Chick-Fil-A. Having seen the culture that Chick-Fil-A promotes first hand (both my kids have worked for Chick-Fil-A at one time or another), I’ve seen how culture is an important focus for this organization.

In Win he Heart, Miller tells the story of CEO Blake Brown as he sets out on a journey to discover the secrets of a fully engaged culture. Miller uses story telling to teach four main truths:

C – Connection – If you want people to CARE about your organization, you have to make sure they are connected to the organization, the mission, and the team.

A – Affirmation – If you want people to CARE about your organization, you have to affirm your team members through your words and your actions.

R – Responsibility – If you want people to CARE about your organization, you have to make sure they have responsibility and are empowered to make decisions and take actions that will move the organization forward.

E – Environment – If you want people to CARE about your organization, you have to create the right environment making sure team members have the right setting to get things done and to draw them into the organization.

Win the Heart is all about helping people CARE about the organization and about moving their hearts into a deeper level of engagement.

This book was rather simple. Sometimes simple is exactly what we need to inspire us, to motivate us, and to push us forward to lead our organizations to the next level.

[Note: I was given a free copy of Win the Heart in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to endorse this book. I believe leaders are readers, and there is definitely value in this book to help you grow as a leader.]

3 Things You Should Be Asking

​I have the opportunity to interview many young engineers, HVAC technicians, and project managers.  After listening to their stories and their explanations for why they are the best for the job, I ask them if I can give them a few suggestions for getting ahead whether or not they join my team.

If they say “Yes” to my question, I tell them these three pieces of advice:

​3 Things You Should Be Asking

​Ask for Help

​Too often people are too pround to ask for the help they need to get ahead.  They don’t want to appear as if they don’t know what they are doing.  Humility is necessary if you want to get ahead.

​Ask for Feedback

​”How can I do this better the next time?”  This is a great way to learn more for your future endeavors, and it’s a great way to establish a connection with someone.  When you ask for feedback, you demonstrate a curiousity that is sure to produce results (as long as you follow through on the feedback you get).

​Ask for More Work or More Opportunities

​Don’t wait around for someone to give you another project or task.  Be proactive.  A hungry spirit will give you opportunity beyond your wildest dreams.

These are the questions I have used to grow (or STRETCH as I like to say) in my career.  It’s not rocket science, but you’re sure to launch your career and your life when you incorporate these three questions into your regular routine.

​What questions have helped you go farther?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Thoughts on the Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Situation

Last week while I was on vacation, I caught recent news about Willow Creek Community Church, Bill Hybels, and the leadership at Willow.

To get you up to speed without all the details, Bill Hybels, who started Willow Creek Community Church and led it to become one of the biggest mega-churches in the United States, retired “early” a few months ago following growing allegations of sexual misconduct, affairs, and mistreatment of women.

When reports initially surfaced several months ago, the leadership at Willow protected Hybels (and themselves) while discounting the accounts of several women who accused Hybels of inappropriate actions.

Over the past week in the wake of a tenth woman coming forward with specific details of Hybels’ misconduct the elders and lead pastors at Willow resigned finally apologizing to the women who had been hurt by Hybels (and the board’s previous discredit of their testimony) and to the congregation for poor leadership and even misleading.  And they called on Hybels to apologize and state the truth about the accusations.

While we were on vacation, we ran into a couple who go to Willow Creek Community Church.  When we spoke to them early in the week, the elder board resignation had not yet happened.  It was interesting for me to listen to them as they blamed the women (Nancy Beach and Nancy Ortberg in particular) for the recent problems at Willow.  They seemed to have the same mindset of the board prior to their resignation.  (We did not see them again, so I don’t know if their perspective changed following Wednesday night’s resignations.)

On the way home from Arizona yesterday, we “ran” into famous baseball pitcher, Randy Johnson, at the Phoenix airport.  (I actually spotted him from across the security check-in area.  I’m pretty sure he didn’t see me.)  It’s easy to get excited when we run into someone we consider famous like Randy Johnson, Lynn Swan, and even Bill Hybels (these are some of the “famous” people with whom I’ve crossed paths).

I’ve had the opportunity to hear Bill Hybels preach and speak in person, and I’ve been to Willow Creek several times for small group leadership conferences.  I’ve also read a couple of books by Bill Hybels.  Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Community Church have had a profound impact on many, many people.  Thousands of people have been introduced to Jesus as a result of Hybels and Willow.  And Willow Creek as been a model for many, many churches across the country and around the world.

This is good on one hand, but it is also scary on the other hand.

I don’t write about these kinds of topics very often.  I honestly am afraid to say something stupid (maybe I already have in this post).  But I’m supposed to be stretching myself and others, so I think it’s important for me to explore my thoughts on topics like this from time to time.

Here are a few things that scare me and/or stretch me about the Bill Hybels/Willow Creek Community Church situation:

  1. Many churches and ministry-based organizations are build on a singular person/personality.  Willow Creek is known as Bill Hybels’ church.  North Point Community Church is known as Andy Stanley’s church.  Life Church is known as Craig Groeschel’s church.  Saddleback Church is known as Rick Warren’s church.  Even my own church, Christ Church of the Valley, to some extent is often known as Brian Jones’ church.  Many of these men have done great things, but I’m quite confident they have also made mistakes.  When we allow our churches and ministry organizations to be known more for a person than for the person of Jesus Christ, we are walking a dangerous line.  I’m thankful for these individuals, but I need to be enamored with Jesus and not Bill Hybels, Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, Rick Warren, or Brian Jones.
  2. While I think it’s important for pastors to have a supportive leadership team behind them, I think a hand-picked elder board may present a bit of a problem when problems with the pastor arise.  From what I read, the board of elders at Willow Creek was more or less hand-picked by pastor, Bill Hybels.  Will hand-picked elders really hold the pastor accountable and will they be strong enough to take action to remove a pastor when the situation calls for such action?  I’m not sure.  I think Willow Creek provides a pretty clear example of the challenges faced by these kinds of boards given these situations.
  3. Boundaries are important.  Hybels apparently helped break down some of the boundaries women faced in ministry leading to upfront leadership opportunities for women at Willow.  Unfortunately by appearances, Hybels struggled to set appropriate personal boundaries.  I’ve heard people say that personal boundaries shouldn’t be set so firmly as they prevent women from leadership opportunities.  I believe there is a way to set boundaries that protect and provide equal opportunities for men and women.
  4. Women have a voice, and they must be heard.  We all need to listen.  We need to listen to their wonderful ideas.  We also need to listen to their cries for help, and we need to take action.
  5. Leadership is tough, and leaders will be judged for all their words and actions in and out of the spotlight.  This scares me as I consider what the Bible says about leaders and teachers.
    1. “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”  James 3:1
    2. “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the Lord.  Jeremiah 23:1-2

I’m not an expert by any “stretch”.  I don’t know the intimate details surrounding the Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Community Church situation.  I’ve read some of the news articles and opinion pieces (New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Relevant Magazine).  I’d encourage you to read for yourself and STRETCH yourself to think about how you can and should respond.  I’d also encourage you to watch this video of Willow Creek Elder Missy Rasmussen:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/100031181-132.html.

Stretching is not just about growing our brains by filling them with more information.  Stretching is about challenging our minds and hearts and about taking actions that take us out of our comfort zones.  Stretching also happens when we pray.  I’d encourage you to pray for Bill Hybels, Hybels’ family, Willow Creek Community Church, and the women and their families who have been impacted by this situation.  I believe God works in the midst of our messiness, and I believe God will work in this situation.

If you are a pastor or are in church leadership, I’d encourage you to talk about this.  Even if your church or ministry is in a healthy place right now, you can learn and grow.

I certainly don’t have all the answers related to this situation.  I’d love to read your thoughts.  I’d encourage you in your thoughts and comments to seek to be productive and healing.  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Engineers Managing Engineers #PECON2017

Here’s my talk for today’s presentation at the NSPE (National Society of Professional Engineers) Annual Conference:

NSPE 2017 Conference

Engineers Managing Engineers

Jon M. Stolpe

Friday, July 21, 2017

When an optimist looks at a half-filled glass, he sees the glass half full.  When a pessimist looks at the same glass, he sees the glass half empty.  When an engineer looks at the same glass, he sees the glass as being twice as big as it needs to be.

As engineers, we look at the world through a different set of lenses than the rest of the world.  Engineers want to get to the bottom of how things work.  They tend to be technical in nature.  While the rest of the world may see us as robots, we are more than mechanical devices going through the motions.

Engineers are people too!

For the next 50 minutes, I want to help you better manage the engineers who work for you.

Here’s our agenda for our time together.

First, we’ll look in the mirror to get a better understanding of who we are.

Next, we’ll spend some time talking about how you can get to know your team members better.

I’ll give you some tips for managing performance for your direct reports, and I’ll give you a powerful tool for managing your team members.

We’ll spend some time helping our team members develop a plan for their future.

And we’ll finish our time together brainstorming ways to encourage your team of engineers to be innovative.

Before we get started, I wanted to share a few things about me.  I graduated from Grove City College in 1994 with a degree in mechanical engineering.  After graduating, I worked for a small building automation company in north Jersey and Manhattan as a project engineer.  During my year and a half with the company, I installed building automation systems on the top ten floors of Rockefeller Center and the Liz Claiborne World Headquarters.  I moved to Landis and Gyr Powers which eventually became Siemens Building Technologies where I have been for over 21 years.  I started as a project engineer and became a project manager which gave me opportunities to work on projects all over the Greater Philadelphia area.  In 2000, I went back to school to work on my MBA at Penn State University.  For the past 10 years, I’ve been an operations manager.  I lead a team of engineers, project managers, technicians, and installers.  And I love my job!

I’m married with two teenagers.  And I have a passion for personal growth, leadership development, writing, and speaking.  I’m excited to be here today to share some of the things I have learned along the way which have helped me (an engineer) lead my team of engineers.

Getting to Know Yourself

If you want to be successful managing your team, it’s important that you get to know yourself first.

When we think of becoming better leaders, we think of tools and techniques. We think of books and seminars. We think of skills we must add or improve to connect with those we are leading and to help others navigate their paths to becoming stronger contributors to the overall good of the team. Much of our leadership development is externally focused.

How can we get our team member to do this? Or how can we get our team member to stop doing that?

In our quest to become better leaders, we often forget to look in the mirror.

Becoming a better leader starts by learning to lead ourselves first.

I don’t know about you, but my podcast feed is full of podcasts about leadership. My nightstand is full of books about leadership. And my blog reader is jammed with blog posts and articles about leadership. It’s great to feed our minds with great material, but we must learn to step back from time to time and develop habits to lead ourselves.

As a leader trying to figure it out, I believe self leadership starts when we take time to STRETCH ourselves. To help you see what I mean, here’s an easy way to remember seven keys to leading yourself:

  1. Still yourself.

Too many leaders believe busyness is a badge of achievement. In the rush to hustle more than the next guy, leaders forget how to stop and be still. Learning to still yourself takes practice. Start with a minute every hour. Or start with 10-15 minutes in the morning before the days responsibilities take over.

  1. Take note.

Become an observer of life. Keep track of what is happening. Keep a journal. Spend a few minutes at the end of the day capturing the details of the day. If we don’t write it down somewhere, we’ll forget it.

  1. Reflect.

It’s not just enough to still yourself and take note. You have to take time to reflect. For me, this means getting away for a couple of days once or twice a year. Reflection provides the opportunity to gain wisdom from what we have just experienced, and it gives the chance to ponder the future.

  1. Engage in key relationships.

One of the best ways to lead yourself is to open yourself up to feedback from others. When I think of key relationships, I think of my family, my close friends, and my boss. Who are the people who will help you see the things you need to see when you look in the mirror? These are the people who can help you take your leadership to the next level.

  1. Try something new.

It’s easy to fall into a rut when we are leading. In order to break out of our patterns, we must be willing to take a risk. Leading yourself requires you to willingly move past unproductive routines. Trying new things on a regular basis helps leaders learn things they may have otherwise overlooked.

  1. Community. Community. Community.

Whether you or an introvert or an extrovert, you need community and community needs you. By involving yourself in community, you gain opportunities to lead others outside your team. Community is also the place where you can be led by others outside your normal circle of influence. When you lead in the community, you gain valuable insights to lead better in your organization. If you want to lead yourself to become a better leader, get involved in your community today!

  1. Help others.

Leadership too often is a race to see who climbs the corporate ladder more quickly. If you want to be an effective leader, you must analyze your motives. Why are you leading? When your season of leadership is over, what legacy will you have left? The best way to lead with impact is when you lead with a servant’s heart. Find ways to help others, and your leadership will advance to a whole new level.

If you paid attention, you may have realized that these seven keys encourage leaders to S.T.R.E.T.C.H. As you lead in your organization, don’t forget to STRETCH by leading yourself first.

Getting to Know Your Team

Piece of Paper Exercise

Learning to Look for Differences Exercise

Tools To Help You Learn More About Your Team Members (and About You)

Myers-Briggs Temperament Index – My MBTI (I am an ESTJ.  I’m more of an Extrovert than an Introvert.  I rely on Sensing as opposed to iNtuition.  I’m much more of a Thinker than a Feeler.  And I’m more likely to Judge than to Perceive.)

Wikipedia:  The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is an introspective self-report questionnaire designed to indicate psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions.

The MBTI was constructed by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. It is based on the typological theory proposed by Carl Jung who had speculated that there are four principal psychological functions by which humans experience the world – sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking – and that one of these four functions is dominant for a person most of the time. The MBTI was constructed for normal populations and emphasizes the value of naturally occurring differences. “The underlying assumption of the MBTI is that we all have specific preferences in the way we construe our experiences, and these preferences underlie our interests, needs, values, and motivation.”

16 different types

StrengthsFinder 2.0 (Get book) – My Strengths (Harmony, Achiever, Responsibility, Disciplined, and Analyzer)

DISC Profile

Wikipedia:  DISC is a behavior assessment tool based on the DISC theory of psychologist William Moulton Marston, which centers on four different behavioral traits, which today are called: dominance, influence, support, and conscientiousness. This theory was then developed into a behavioral assessment tool by industrial psychologist Walter Vernon Clarke.

There are many different versions of the questionnaire and assessment. Some date back to the 1940s while others are more recent, more accurate, and more advanced.

Communication Style Assessment

 

Whether you are a manager of direct reports or not, I hope you’ll find this list helpful in understanding ways to get better.  Success doesn’t happen by accident.  Success happens by being intentional, and this list offers suggestions – no, essentials – for being intentional with the performance management process.

10 Essentials for Enhancing the Performance Management Process:

  1. Start with regular one-on-one meetings. It’s important to meet with your employees on a regular basis.  These meetings provide an opportunity to touch base on performance issues and other business and non-business related items.  You can read about the power of one-on-one meetings in a guest post I wrote for Matt McWilliams.  Several years ago, I started having monthly one-on-one meetings with my team, and it’s been helpful for my team members and for me.
  2. Set performance targets. It’s critical that employees have SMART targets.  Targets should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.  At the beginning of each year, I sit down with my team members to set targets.  These targets align with our overall business objectives, and they also provide opportunities for individuals to grow personally.
  3. Quarterly review progress towards targets. It shouldn’t be a surprise at the end of the year when doing a performance evaluation.  I sit down with my employees once a quarter to review their progress in achieving their targets.  Doing this once a quarter provides an opportunity for my team members to make performance corrections that will help them meet or exceed their targets.
  4. Get feedback from others. I encourage my team members to ask for feedback from their peers.  And I get feedback from other managers and supervisors regarding the performance of my team members.  Before completing the annual performance management process, I meet in a roundtable meeting which helps to calibrate my overall assessment.  This meeting also provides extra insight into developmental action items I might want to suggest to my team members.
  5. Take time to write an honest and detailed assessment.  When I write evaluations for my team members, I want them to be fair, well-thought, and encouraging.  Writing this kind of assessment takes time.  I schedule time to carefully review the past year of activity.  I look at notes from my past one-on-one meetings.  I review previous results from the quarterly updates.  And I take into account comments shared by my fellow management team members.  A written record provides employees a tangible document to review as they seek to grow and improve.
  6. Meet with employee to review results. At the end of the year, it’s important to let your employees know how they have done.  Feedback provides information necessary to help them improve.  Feedback also keeps them doing the right things.
  7. Remember the good things. Make sure you praise your team members for the good things they have done throughout the year.  A pat on the back goes a long way towards encouraging the right behavior.
  8. Create a development plan correcting issues. As managers, it is our responsibility to help our team members succeed.  We have to give our team members help in getting better.  The performance review process is the perfect time to help employees get better.
  9. Discuss career progression essentials. Most employees want to know what it will take for them to get tho the next level in their career path.  It’s important to talk regularly to employees about their plans for the future.  What are their goals for the next 5 years or 10 years?  What do they need to do in order to be ready for the next steps?  These are questions that will help you help them.  Are their expectations realistic?  How can you help them?  The performance review process provides an opportunity to discuss essentials for career advancement.
  10. Do it again. It may seem repetitive, but you have to do it over and over and over again.  Doing this for only one year does not demonstrate a long-term interest in the performance of an employee.  Repeated year after year is essential to a successful performance management process.

Thinking About the Future

Mentoring

Cross-Training

Delegation

As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.

Bill Gates

Being a leader isn’t always easy.

If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.  Right?

If leadership stress, exhaustion, and inadequacy are common, there has to be a solution.

I’m sure we could point to many things that make leadership easier – getting more sleep, exercising regularly, reading, learning, and finding a mentor.  These are all valuable actions a leader can take to improve their leadership capabilities.  There another solution that too easily gets overlooked and sometimes misused.

Delegation is what I’m talking about.

I’m not talking about pawning off all the unpleasant tasks on someone else and acting as a dictator.  I’m talking about spreading out the work, so a leader and team can be more effective which will lead to less stress, less exhaustion, and a deeper feeling of adequacy and fulfillment.  Delegation is “the assignment of responsibility or authority to another person to carry out specific activities (Wikipedia).”

It seems rather simple.  Spread the work out.  Ease the load of the leader.  Use the leadership talents of others in the community.  And make the community happier.

Why is delegation so important?

Here are six reasons leaders should delegate:

6 Reasons Leaders Should Delegate

  1. Delegation relieves stress and overload on the leader. Leadership can be lonely, and it can be a heavy weight to bear alone.  Delegation disperses the weight, so the strain isn’t so great on any one person.
  2. Delegation allows leaders and teams to get more accomplished in less time. If a leader tries to do it all my himself, it will obviously take him longer.  “Many hands make light work.”  By getting more people involved, more can be accomplished.
  3. Delegation frees up leaders for other tasks. When a leader is overwhelmed, he will often miss out on other tasks he could and should be performing.  By delegating, a leader opens up time and energy for other priorities.
  4. Delegation buildings a better team. When a leader tries to do it all by himself, he demonstrates a lack of confidence in his team.  This will demoralize a team.  Delegation done right provides an opportunity to motivate your team.  It also provides an opportunity to develop the skills and abilities of team members which will ultimately lead to a better team.
  5. Delegation generates more success. When a leader gets others involved, he taps into the ideas and skills of other people who might otherwise be overlooked and underutilized.  When a team is used to its fullest, success is a natural byproduct.
  6. Delegation prepares for the future. A leader will not be around forever.  Eventually, he will retire or move on to another opportunity.  It is good stewardship for a leader to prepare the next in-line leaders.  Grooming successors is an essential part of delegating, and it’s the best way for a leader to leave a legacy.

If you want to overcome stress, exhaustion, and feelings of inadequacy in your leadership, it’s time for you to start delegating.

Educational opportunities

Keeping Our Teams Engaged Through Innovation

My Shark Tank Experience

What other companies are doing

  • ATT Foundry
  • Adobe Kickstart
  • Linkedin [in]cubator
  • Whirlpool
  • Ericsson Ideaboxes

A chance to brainstorm

Confirming Your Learning

  1. Why are regular one-on-one meetings with your direct reports important?
  2. What is one thing you can do to encourage innovations among your direct reports?
  3. Name three (or more) things you can do to improve the performance management process for your direct reports.

Remember, you are not leading a team of robots.  You are leading a team of people.  Be intentional as you lead and manage your team!

Questions, Answers, and Contact Information

9 Essentials As I Transition Into A New Leadership Role At Work

“Switching from one career to another can be scary, but it also can be a thrilling experience. Look at it as an opportunity to really go after what you want to accomplish in life and make a difference in the world. The key is to take small, conscious steps and prepare yourself for a successful transition.”

Jack Canfield

Today is a significant day in my career.  I officially start a new position as the head of a department responsible for providing building automation solutions throughout Eastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey, and Northern Delaware.  I’m excited about this step and opportunity to serve and lead at a greater level.  As I head into this new adventure, I’m working through a number of things I want to mark my leadership in this position.  Today, I’ve give you a glimpse into my head.

9 Essentials As I Transition Into A New Leadership Role At Work

  1. Stay humble.  It’s important to understand the legacy left by my predecessors.  It’s also important to recognize the experience and knowledge of those around me.  I must lean on my team.  I can’t do everything, because I don’t have time and I probably don’t have all the skills that my team members bring to the team.  I must set up a pattern for delegation and empowerment, so my team feels like they are part of the solution and like they are prepared to take on a greater leadership role in the organization when the time is right.  How can I lift others up today?
  2. Stay positive.  It’s easy to let the stresses and challenges of our work bring us down.  As a leader in the organization, it is critical that I remain positive.  I can be realistic in the face of adversity and still be positive.  What was great about today?
  3. Stay grateful.  Obviously, I’m thankful for my new job.  I need to make sure I express my appreciation to those around me.  I want to continue my practice of writing handwritten thank you notes as I move into this position.  I want those around me to know how much I appreciate them.  Who do I need to thank today?
  4. Lead with integrity.  Be truthful.  Expect integrity from my team.  “Always hand out the credit and keep the blame.”  Dave Ramsey  Recognize, admit, and take action to correct my mistakes.  Get others to hold me accountable to leading with integrity.  Have a led with complete integrity today?
  5. Have fun.  “They don’t call it [work] fun for a reason.”  Have you ever heard that statement?  There is some truth to that.  Work will not always be fun.  There will be challenges and serious conversations along the way.  As a leader, I have the opportunity to make sure my team knows it’s okay to have fun while getting the work done.  How can I have fun at my job today?
  6. Keep serving.  Moving into a bigger leadership role does not remove me from the responsibility (and privilege) I have to serve my co-workers and my customers.  In fact, an attitude of service is important to having a correct perspective when it comes to your team.  I am not just advancing my career and providing income for my family; I am responsible for my entire team and their families.  I want to lead from a servant’s perspective.  How can I help my team today?
  7. Keep listening.  A successful leader listens and gathers facts before giving their input.  In the midst of a demanding schedule, I must make sure I take time to listen to my team.  Keeping my door open as much as possible and having regular one-on-one meetings with my team members will be two of the ways I practice listening as I move into this new role.  What is my team trying to tell me today?
  8. Keep learning.  Leaders are readers, and leaders are learners.  I’ll continue to plug into leadership resources to help me become a better leader.  Thanks to a recommendation from a friend, I recently picked up two books which will help me as I transition into my new position:  The First 90 Days (Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels) by Michael Watkins and The New Leader’s 100 Day Action Plan (How to Take Charge, Build or Merge Your Team, and Get Immediate Results) by George B. Bradt, Jayme A. Check, and John A. Lawler.  What did I learn today?
  9. Keep stretching.  If you aren’t stretching and growing, you aren’t really living.  I look at this new career transition as an opportunity to stretch.  I don’t know what will happen in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead, but I know that embracing the stretch will be critical to the success of my team and me.  Part of this stretching experience requires me to take action.  My leadership cannot be based on lip service; it must be based on action.  Actions speak way louder than words.  What do I need to do to stretch today?

“Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions.”

Harold S. Geneen

 

What am I missing?  What steps have you taken to become a better leader in your organization?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

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