Tensions: Maintain high standards…cut them some slack. Focus on the task at hand…don’t lose sight of the big picture. Be yourself…continually improve yourself. Be consistent…know when to make exceptions.
The Power of Tension
The human thumb is an amazing appendage shared by only a short list of other animals. Its power comes by working in opposition to our other fingers. Imagine how limited we would be if our thumbs just lined up parallel to our other fingers. The tension created by our thumb opposing the other digits creates extraordinary new capabilities.
I grew up around the construction trades. Before I was even a teenager I owned my own power tools: A drill, jig saw, and circular saw. I still have the jig saw. But the circular saw had a problem. It was misaligned and it was hard to cut straight with it. I learned then that bad tools get bad results.
Good tools, on the other hand, make getting good results easier – assuming you know how to use them well.
We’re going to mix things up a little. Instead of my typical one-page blog article, I have a video blog for you. One of enLumen Leadership‘s clients, Action Property Management, publishes a video blog directed primarily at the leaders of the homeowner associations they serve. I recently had the privilege of being interviewed for one episode of this blog.
Join us as we explore topics like leadership styles, characteristics of a healthy culture and how to create one, why a culture where no one gets offended isn’t necessarily healthy, and the relationship between leading and managing.
Do you ever secretly wonder why you really need a strategy? The business gurus all say you should have one. But come on, you know what you want to accomplish, just jump in and get it done! Why go through the effort to gather the team, hash through it all, get something written down, then keep revisiting it in meeting after meeting all year?
You may get a measure of success by just throwing the team in the lake and saying, “swim that way!”. They’re likely to move in the general direction you pointed. But it takes more if you want the level of success that comes from everyone rowing together at the same time toward the same objectives.
Technology changed a lot over my thirty-three year technology career. I started as a programmer who knew how every piece of hardware and software in our environment worked. At the end I was a VP who was tailed by IT staff when I entered the server room to make sure I didn’t touch anything (only partly kidding).
I couldn’t execute my strategic responsibilities and still keep up with the operational details of the evolving technology. I had to learn to trust others with the expertise that I lacked. But my neck was in the noose if they failed. Continue reading Leading When You’re Not the Expert
I’m not going to pretend tough performance reviews should be easy. And if you’re stressing over a review you must give tomorrow, most of what I’m writing here won’t help you much. But laying the right foundation can take some of the pain out of future difficult conversations. Continue reading Difficult Performance Reviews
You’ve just promoted a rising star. Now you’re wondering how long before someone else comes knocking at your door with, “I’ve been here longer – why haven’t I had a promotion yet?”
Like most leadership problems, the best solutions come before the problems arise. That’s because these situations are just symptoms of more systemic problems related to organizational culture and hiring practices (which are inextricably linked). Continue reading Promotion Grumbles
I once had responsibility for a large technology project that never delivered on its objectives. We had a team of highly skilled people with a great track record of successful projects. They used processes that had succeeded repeatedly in the past. But we never got the traction to make this project take off.
The reason, I believe, lies in an unintentional shift that had occurred in the organization’s culture. That change sucked the energy, passion, and motivation from this highly competent team. They had always been passionate to succeed but now they were just trying to get a job done. Continue reading The Challenge of Changing Culture (Pt. 1)
Stewarding an organization’s culture is a core responsibility of every leader. Weak culture can bury the strongest strategy and vision. But a strong culture will put even a mediocre strategy on steroids.