Author Archives: Paul LaRue

Keeping Yourself Accountable

One of the most important concepts for leaders to personify is the willingness for to accept accountability.

Too many times the concept of accountability is a very one-sided mindset. Leaders should hold their people accountable, that’s for sure, but it goes far beyond that. In order for any organization to have full trust, engagement, and synergy, each leader themselves must be open to being held to account for their actions and attitudes.

The book “The Oz Principle” brought accountability in organizations to the front of the list and was correct in doing so. But as with any leading thought, if not fully brought into practice, and not just vogue, these principles will cease to have an impact of any lasting effect.

In my article for Smart Brief on Leadership last year entitled “Leadership Accountability – A Positive, Simple Approach“, one of the themes I identified was for leaders to have a willingness to be held accountable in all things.

At the core of every leadership impropriety is the lack of willingness for a leader to be held accountable. Whether individuals like Bill Ackman’s failure on the Board of Directors at JC Penny or leadership teams such as Enron’s, leaders must show themselves available to be held to standards of behavior and conduct.

My first conscious thought of this concept was early in my career when I needed to redirect a shift supervisor whose performance was tanking. I noticed he was getting heavy hearted during my part of the conversation, in which I stopped and changed my tone. “Domingo, tell me honestly, am I being a jerk?” “No, Paul,” he replied. “You’ve always been straight with us, and if this is an issue then I need to fix it.” I followed with “I want you and your team to let me know if I’m ever unreasonable or if you don’t agree with me. We’re on the same team and need to work together.” What resulted was a tremendous turnaround in Domingo’s performance; not because I addressed his opportunities but because I was willing to be given feedback on my performance as their leader. This allowed him to have a voice in work matters and broke down any barriers to trust and intentions.

The reasons for willing leadership accountability are simple and clear:

  • Everyone is accountable for their performance and behavior, leaders as well
  • Trust is solidified
  • Integrity is founded
  • Teamwork prospers
  • Open communication develops
  • Meaningful connections in the workplace are established

The greatest leaders are not the ones with the best results, or the enduring legacy of culture.  They are the most respected in their industry, among those they come in contact with. They are known to serve, develop others, be humble, and be teachable – all of these have their roots in being accountable to everyone around them. While they hold their people accountable, they allow themselves to be held to the same standard, and sometimes even a higher one.

Choose to be accountable in order to be your best for yourself, your people, and your organization.

(image: pixabay)

#ThursdayThought – Born To Work

I love leisure time. Most people do.

Playing strategy board games, watching movies (especially those of French director Jacques Tati), reading, hiking and golfing are the activities I look forward to.

And while my leisure actives give me joy and keep me well-rounded, there is always a longing afterwards for the one thing we all need – meaningful work. As I understand that in myself, I’m sure most of us do as well.

Work may seem like a curse, but it’s actually a blessing.

A great article from Fit For Work shows the benefits of working and why the need to work is innately manifested in all of us.

Work provides not only income, but meaning. Our lives and identity are tied to what we do – parent (which is the most meaningful work!), pastor, manager, elected official or volunteer. What we produce is a reflection of who we are, how we feel and what we’re good at.

When lack of employment becomes reality, there are two roads to take. Work in some capacity – produce, volunteer, fix up the house or invent something – or stay disengaged from being productive.

People who retire and continue to be productive have been shown to live longer lives. An article in Harvard Business Review discusses that being engaged after retirement helps keep your mental and physical faculties sharper and more intact.

If my uncle Pret is any indication, working is the key to a purposeful life.

Enjoy the ability to work. If you’re out of work, become productive and find ways to contribute. Don’t begrudge the need for meaningful work. It’s the main purpose to what defines us.

(image: pixabay)

Where Are You Growing?

Regardless of whether times are good or bad, there is always a charge for a leader to grow their business, audience, sales or position.

When times are good we want, or are asked to, make more, get more, increase more. During difficult times, the pressure often increases to not lose stock price, market share, or your position.

In both challenging and prosperous times, where do these charges leave a leader in their personal growth? It seems that almost always the pressure is so prevalent to perform to metrics that leaders many times forget to look to grow the most important thing, themselves.

Organizational priorities can divert focus away from where a leader should be developing the most – their whole self.

So where, and how, are we growing?

There are different focuses and areas that are unique to each individual and each person’s gifts, desires and needs will vary. While not an exhaustive list, think about where you need to go in your personal and professional life to grow better.

  • Industry Knowledge – What are you learning about your industry? Not just as it applies to your company, but to the market in general, your niche, your customers, the economy and other ancillary and connected industries.
  • Technology – Our age is filled with technological marvels. Some may apply professionally such as SaaS and CRM solutions. Others apply to your personal life like IoT appliances and smartwatches. And others are just cool gadgets like drones and 3D printing.
  • Finances – Are you learning how to manage your money and investments better? How to gift for community organizations and non-profits? How to be even sharper with living debt-free and having the wherewithal to withstand economic downturns? Learning more about money should be on everyone’s list to learn.
  • Leadership – There are so many places to grow your leadership and be more positively influential not in your company, but in the community, your church and most importantly, your family. Use the tools available to you through books, podcasts, webinars and other tools that we are privileged to have access to today.
  • Mentally – How are you providing mental stimulation that enables you to grow? Reading, learning and watching are the usual go to mediums, but also being able to engage your brain through home projects, puzzles and games, and listening to music that allows you to think and process.
  • Physically – Do you break up your long days by going for a walk, or starting your days off by working out? Eating right, drinking water, proper breathing and exercise are ways to grow physically, and help you mentally.
  • Emotionally – Happiness is a great value, but being content and being at peace are even more critical to your overall growth and well-roundedness. If you find yourself growing in contentment and peace, thankful for what you have if nothing else is gained, then you will discover a development path along an area that eludes most people.
  • Spiritually – Focusing on your faith and serving others in your faith community are huge development areas that we often neglect. Spending more time examining your belief and discovering the truth can be quite refreshing for honing a true perspective on yourself and the world.
  • Community – Giving of time and knowledge will create a satisfaction of contributing and feeling that is more valuable than just giving financially. Although monetary contributions can assist greatly, the person who gives of themselves as an individual usually finds that they grow both their community and themselves in ways that finances cannot.
  • Socially – Connectedness to others is the great antidote to not feeling emotionally isolated or inferior. Whether in-person or online, being able to converse and connect with people with fun as well as serious conversations is what makes us human and stronger as a society.
  • Recreationally – Taking the time to pursue your hobbies and passions is key for resetting yourself and relieving stress. Some of your hobbies may still be professional based (like research and writing), while others can be purely for fun, such as riding horses. Allowing yourself the time to let up and have some fun contributes to your physical, mental and emotional growth as well.

Leaders many times forget to look to grow the most important thing, themselves.

Many of our areas can have an overlap with others. For instance, growing in a community area in your life may also impact the social, recreational, mental, physical and emotional components as well.

While we need to be unselfish and remember we’re not the most important person in the room at any given time, we do need to understand how the magnified impact of growing ourselves can be beneficial to so many other people. Rather than just keeping our focus on gaining position, stature and wealth, we will find that growing in areas that serve others always has a more profound way of developing and improving our world from the inside out.

Find what direction you need to grow in and follow those routes to a destination that impacts others.

(image: pixabay)

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