Balanced Leadership

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“Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character.  But if you must be without one, be without the strategy”.

(Norman Schwarzkopf)

I try to leverage things I’ve learned over time from diverse leadership principles daily.  This quote signals leaders are concerned with positive outcomes not who should receive the credit.  How many times have you heard a leader exclaim what ‘they’ did but maybe not provide full credit to the team who helped along the way.

Balanced processing is an Authentic Leadership variable that encourages leaders to seek the ‘big’ picture within the work environment before making decisions.  This concept provides a ‘full view’ of the current situation and solicits input to ensure decision making is done with sound information.  Leaders can leverage balanced processing to build trust, encourage professional growth for direct reports and provide the organization with reliable decision-making techniques.

How can leaders initiate balanced processing in the work environment?

  • Look at both sides of a situation
    • Positive and negative
  • Show the ability and willingness to gather multiple viewpoints
    • Not just what you want to hear
  • Actively seek different views and professional opinions
  • Eliminate a defensive or negative position when receiving information

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Work place impact of balanced processing

Leaders who leverage balanced processing actively seek information from others (direct reports, colleagues, etc.) then make decisions based on collected information.  This decision- making model highlights the importance of feedback to direct reports and encourages them to seek feedback for themselves.  Balanced processing helps build trust in the work environment—it emphasizes ‘all’ opinions are valued and expected.  The concept also eliminates personal bias from the decision-making process, everyone in the organization has input prior to the final decision.   Finally, balanced processing allows for the development of objective action plans in decision making.

Balanced processing encourages direct reports to be engaged in the work place.  Leaders are viewed as approachable, trusted and influential because they want and seek feedback in the decision-making process.

*Leaders should also explain they value input from all but the decision made must be the best for the organization. *

My Authentic Leadership research identified balanced processing as the variable that best explains job satisfaction for direct reports.  They want to be involved!

How can you leverage balanced processing in the work environment?  What impact would a leader who displays balanced processing have on your daily outcomes?  Curious, thanks!

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(Play chess, not checkers!)

Leaders Build People

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How often do you make the time to encourage others?  What benefits can a kind word from you have on the daily outcomes for someone you know?  How do leaders build direct reports into valuable team members and future leaders?

Encourage them and watch them grow!

I look for ways to reach out and help my tree continue to grow daily.  Some days it’s just a simple text to say hello and other days jumping on a phone call may be a better option to be a people builder.

A simple ‘check-in’ can be the catalyst to help someone experiencing a difficult challenge in their day.  This approval process can be what they have been craving but didn’t know they needed.

Leaders can bring this concept into the work environment by having a complete understanding of their staff members. Knowledge of strengths and weaknesses can enhance this process.  Look for ways to emphasize and cultivate the strengths of your team to unlock hidden potential.  Also look for opportunities to encourage team members to stretch their skills for additional growth.  Leaders who encourage their people to test their limits and provide a foundation for growth are ‘people builders’.

I make it a point to tell direct reports, “I don’t care if you make a mistake, just don’t make the same mistake twice”.   This statement is my way to let people know they are encouraged and should explore additional ways to get things accomplished in the work environment.  We constantly hear about work place diversity but at times hinder the process of diverse thoughts, ideas and concepts.

‘Never let your ego get so close to your position that when your position goes, your ego goes with it’. (Colin Powell)

Everyone wants to be valued—plant the seeds today and watch the people around you grow.  Show an authentic belief in them and their overall success.  This concept can be utilized in the work environment and with daily interaction with family, friends and others you cross paths with.  Take the time to showcase the ‘positive’ when communicating throughout the day.  Go ahead and give that vote of confidence to someone who is considering making a big change in their professional or personal life.  Your encouragement may be the thing they need to move forward.

You become a ‘people builder’ when you provide the nudge, advice or encouragement needed to help them Walk into The Future.

Who can you build up today?

Running Traveler

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2018 allowed me to develop a robust running program as part of my Walk into the Future.  I set an aggressive (for me) goal to increase the number of Half Marathons I would run in 2018.  This newfound aggressive scheduling allowed me to travel to multiple locations and experience 13.1-mile courses in fun and culturally significant places.

Running a race allows you to experience a location in a more intimate manner than simply driving around.  Running provides opportunities to fully engage the city since you don’t have to worry about cars, traffic or obeying signs.  The course gives you the freedom to look around, admire architecture or even stop to take a picture of landmarks.  My goal is to run as fast as possible, but 13.1 miles provides a lot of sightseeing time.

New Orleans, LA. (March 2018)

My first 2018 race was the Humana Rock ‘N’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon.  I’ve been to New Orleans multiple times, but this was my first time running a race in the city.  Running friends identified this as a fun race and a fast course since New Orleans is relatively flat.  The race and the course really lived up to the prerace hype.  Everything about New Orleans is festive and the course sponsors, volunteers and cheering crowd made sure all runners enjoyed their time in New Orleans.  New Orleans is known for Mardi Gras and having a good time.  A lot of runners use this race as an extended opportunity to get dressed up in costume.  You see all sorts of outfits for this race and beads are everywhere.

The race starts downtown and winds throughout the city.  We spent a lot of time on tree lined St. Charles Avenue.  Residents, business owners, spectators and brass bands lined the street to cheer runners.  There are a few ‘beer stands’ available even though it’s 7:30 am—of course you have to get a beer in New Orleans.  The rest of the race winds through the Garden District, the French Quarter and finishes at the Fairgrounds.  The race after party is held at the Fairgrounds with music, food, beer, snacks and hanging out with runners from around the world.

New Orleans is a great city and I’m happy to have experienced it as a runner.  Got to see the city from different angles and have a deeper appreciation for the culture there.

Recommend visiting River Walk New Orleans (shopping), Mulate’s (Cajun Restaurant) and Bourbon Street (music) while in New Orleans.

Nashville, TN. (April 2018)

Nashville is one of my favorite places to visit because I love live music and some of the best music is generated there.  The St. Jude Rock ‘N’ Roll Nashville Half Marathon is one of the largest races in the series.  The Nashville entertainment draws a lot of runners from around the world to ‘Nash Vegas’.  The food, music and shopping in Nashville provides a convenient backdrop for runners to meet up and enjoy the city.

A real treat for runners during this race is a different musical act EVERY mile.  Most of the acts are local talent (singers, musicians, bands) who are all very good.  The course starts downtown Nashville and winds through college campuses and residential neighborhoods before ending at Nissan Stadium.  A unique feature happens right at mile marker #6.

Mile marker #6 is the entrance to the Westgrove neighborhood.  The unique and special feature of this part of the running course is the people who live in the neighborhood provide the entertainment to include sound stage, costumes and refreshments.  The entire neighborhood gets involved during the race and they have FUN.  My first encounter with this neighborhood came in my first Nashville Half Marathon in 2017.  I stopped running to soak in the entertainment and the energy from the people there.  Truly amazing experience to see so many people want to help entertain and energize runners.  This is my favorite spot on the Nashville course every time I run there.  I didn’t stop in 2018 since I’m use to the experience now.

Running in downtown Nashville is a true treat!  The history, entertainment and music venues there make for a unique visual experience.  I always discover new things to view every time I run the city.

Recommend visiting the Wild Horse Saloon (food, live music, line dancing), Crazy Town (live music), Tequila Cowboy (live music, food, cold beer), Jack’s BBQ, Opryland USA and The Hermitage (Museum).  There’s a lot more there, Nashville is a great place to Walk into the Future.

Boston, GA. (October 2018)

The Boston Mini-Marathon is a local race the town of Boston, Georgia uses to invite people to visit over the weekend.  Festivities include the Mini-Marathon (Half), Parade, Ms. Boston pageant, a Boston Butt BBQ competition and local vendors.

This race had the smallest number of runners for my 4 races but was the friendliest place I’ve ever run.  Everyone in town seemed to enjoy the event and the runners who descended on their town.  The course was very flat and with the cool October weather provided an opportunity to run fast.  I signed up for this one as a ‘training’ run but ran my fastest half marathon ever.  Believe the cool weather and flat course were instrumental to my fast (for me) time.

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Amelia Island, FL. (December 2018)

Decided to take a flyer and run the Reindeer Half Marathon on Amelia Island.  I had never been to Amelia Island and thought this would be a great way to see the beach and downtown areas.  The course was described as flat and fast and it lived up to the billing.  The run starts and ends right on the beach.  In between it winds through nature preserves, neighborhoods, downtown and the Fort Clinch state park.  Unfortunately, the weekend weather was not great, so I didn’t get to explore as much as I wanted.  I spent a lot of time at SLIDERS which has a great menu and ice-cold beers. Was able to venture out on the beach the day after the race before the rain started again.  Will look to make it back to Amelia Island to get a better feel for the area.

2019

Looking to add a few additional cities to my Running Traveler program.  Will run the Philadelphia Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon in September—never been to Philly.  Also looking at running the Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) Half Marathon again in December after taking a year away from this race.  May add a few others to round out my running schedule for 2019.

Currently committed to run:

  • Gulf Winds Track Club 15k (January)
  • New Orleans Rock ‘N’ Roll Half (February)
  • Winter Park 10k (March)
  • Nashville Rock ‘N’ Roll Half (April)
  • Philadelphia Rock ‘N’ Roll Half (September)

Looking forward to catching up with friends and drinking beer at all these races!  See YA’LL soon!

Goal Setting—A Reverse View

 “Do or do not.  There is no try.”  Yoda

Goal setting has been a major factor in my personal and professional life for as long as I can remember.  I stopped generating New Year’s resolutions since the concept of SMART goals provides a different level of self-accountability.  My self-accountability is increased by sharing yearly goals with trusted mentors who conduct ‘check-ins’ to see how much progress has been made throughout the year.

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One of my most adventurous 2018 goals was to:  Run 4 Half Marathons.  I say this was an adventurous goal for me since the most half marathons I had ever run in a year was two (2017 Nashville Rock and Roll Half Marathon and 2017 Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) Half Marathon).  Neither of these races produced a finish time that would awe other runners.  In fact, my times from these races were considerably slower than times I’ve run before.  So much for getting better with repetition.

My fix to improve my running times and training routine was to challenge myself to run more races which would lead to more training sessions.

Again, my written goal was to run ‘4 Half Marathons’.  I didn’t initially write down specific races, cities or dates where I would accomplish this goal.  I utilized the concept of ‘4 Half Marathons’ as my base goal and then worked my way in reverse to identify when and where I would run these races.

Things I considered when selecting the specific races were:

  • Travel distance
    • Drive or fly
  • Weather
  • Course conditions (hills, pavement, gravel, bridges, etc.)
  • Registration costs
  • Hotel proximity to event
  • Things to do after the race

These factors helped me identify races I could train for and reach in a reasonable amount of time (fly or drive).  I also used these factors to pick races that gave me some down time from training without feeling guilty.  Spacing these out allowed for full recovery from one race to the next and provided time away from running to recharge mentally and physically.

My reverse goal process allowed me to select, register, train and complete the following half marathons in 2018:

  • 2018 New Orleans Rock and Roll Half Marathon (February)
  • 2018 Nashville Rock and Roll Half Marathon (April)
  • 2018 Boston, GA. Mini-Marathon (October)
    • Personal best time: 2:13 (2 hours, 13 minutes)
  • 2018 Amelia Island, FL. Reindeer Half Marathon (December)

I stayed away from summer races because of heat and humidity.  I still trained over the summer but didn’t feel any pressure to work on speed, just logged miles early in the morning to beat the heat.  The races earlier in the year allowed me to gain my running focus while also enjoying two cities with cultural and entertainment districts.  A benefit of running larger races is the music, food and beer you get to enjoy once you cross the finish line.  Hanging out on Bourbon Street in New Orleans and line dancing at the Wild Horse Saloon in Nashville was my reward for completing those races.

The Boston, GA Mini-Marathon was close by and I heard great things about the course (flat and fast).  It lived up to the billing of a fast course since I was able to run my fastest half marathon time EVER during this race.  The funny thing is I was using this race as a training session—cool weather and a flat course provided me with a perfect opportunity to push myself.  It didn’t hurt that my training program had increased my weekly miles and endurance leading up to this race.

The Amelia Island Reindeer Half Marathon was selected simply because of a flat running surface and I had never been there before.  Running races allows me to travel and explore, so this was the perfect last race to meet my stated goal of 4 Half Marathons.

I was able to meet this 2018 goal by challenging myself with an increased race load (for me) and then working in reverse to identify/select/train/complete the races needed.  This was a major upgrade in my running program since I finally put a different level of accountability on myself.

Benefits of meeting this goal:

  • Satisfaction of meeting a written goal
  • Increased speed
  • Increased endurance
  • More travel
  • Hanging out with friends
  • Lost 7 pounds!

Working on my 2019 goals right now—thinking about 6 Half Marathons in 2019.  Will leverage my reverse goal process to determine the races needed to meet this goal.

How can working backwards (reverse) help with your 2019 goal setting process?  How much progress have you made on your 2019 goals?

FYI–I finalized my goals this week!

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Happy New Year

Happy New Year 2019

‘None of us can change our yesterdays but all of us can change our tomorrows’ (Colin Powell)

2018 was a great year and looking forward to having a great 2019 as well!

I’m sure you will hear Happy New Year for the next few weeks, so I decided to get my version in via a blog post.  Positive thoughts lead to positive actions so let’s use the New Year vibe to create a road map for your personal and professional success.

I’ve never been a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions because the construct behind these resolutions have an air of whimsy.   Most resolutions are stated with an almost ‘either/or’ prospect without the foundation for future growth or success.

I sit down each January and generate a list of goals I will accomplish in the New Year.  These goals range from travel locations, fitness targets, professional pursuits, community involvement and reading plans for the year.  Generating SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Based) goals provides a template to determine progress towards meeting a specific goal.  The ability to gauge progress towards stated goals provide a level of satisfaction and accountability to meet or exceed a goal.  I also leverage an accountability partner who receives a copy of my goals and checks on progress throughout the year.

 

smart goals 2019

I routinely advise direct reports and mentees to generate 3 SMART goals in the following areas:  professional and personal.  This process has helped them set goals to ensure the new year will bring the success they seek.  Please note:  3 SMART goals are the minimum I request from my tree; most create a robust number of goals in these areas and others depending on their professional and personal needs.

Use the early days of 2019 to get organized and create goals that will enhance your entire 2019!  Don’t wait, get moving towards the productive year and outcomes you want to see!

Let’s energize your Walk into the Future!

What goals do you have for the New Year?