Category Archives: Personal Development

How Not To Be A Crabby Leader


If you’ve ever gone or seen crab fishing, you will notice that large crates are used to catch them and hauled aboard when ready. The crates are often teaming full with crabs climbing all over one another.

What is probably the most interesting thing about crabs is that if you lift the trap lid to the crate, the crabs will not generally escape. The reason is – as one crab vies for the opening, the other crabs will grab hold of the lone wanderer and pull them down back into the pile. The aggressive nature of a crab makes the individual one venture forth, but the rest of the pack pulling them down.

In what ways does our leadership pull down and prevent others from standing out of the crowd? Here are some ways to prevent being a “crabby” leader:

  • Encourage people’s efforts. When an employee works to complete a task, no matter how great or small, acknowledge them. Instill the appreciation for the behavior by showing it’s welcomed. Let everyone know hard work is appreciated.
  • Talk up your team members. Build others up by letting them know you believe in them, how their talents are valued, and remind them why they’re on the team.
  • Don’t shoot down ideas. Any idea is a good one, even if it’s failed before. Validate people’s insight and willingness to contribute to making the organization better. Try to see the merits of each idea before they reach the feasibility stage.
  • Watch the non verbals. Perhaps the most elusive step here, it requires you to be self-aware. Do eyes roll when an employee interrupts with an idea or concern? When they talk to you, are you engaged with 100% undivided attention? Are your arms crossed? Be aware of the cues you’re giving off, they speak louder than your words.
  • Give opportunities to grow and develop. Find ways to develop others based on their needs, talents, and goals. Get your folks in the queue for promotions, increased responsibility, or personal and professional development. Help them stand out in the company and in their career.
  • Recognize constantly. Take time to “catch them doing something right.”  Find times to celebrate any achievement. Go to bat for your people when nominations for promotions or employee recognition time comes. Reward them in some way, any way possible, for their contributions.
  • Say “Thank You” all the time. Every time a task is complete (whether it’s done right or not!). When they leave for the day. When they tell you of a concern or issue. When they hold you accountable. A “thank-you” helps acknowledge them and tell them you appreciate them.

By building others up, you allow your people to climb out of the pack and beyond the crate of obscurity. Don’t pull them down. Fish for them and pull them out of the water.

(image: wikipediacommons)


How To Keep Your Company From Getting Ahead Of Your People

A good leader can't get to far ahead of his follwers- Theodore Roosevelt (1)

Over a decade ago a restaurant company had a change in executive leadership, with the former founder and CEO stepping down into partial retirement.

The new CEO vowed to take the company into a new direction, and promptly stepped on the accelerator. He implemented weekly initiatives, operational overhauls, off-hours conference calls, and a myriad of new strategies that were totally foreign to the managers in the field.

Beyond that, his vision for the company was taking the concept into a different direction in order to “modernize” the brand.

As these changes were being implemented, the new CEO took his leadership team around to tour all the restaurant locations. This included the former CEO who was on in an advisory capacity.

When they arrived at our location (with a lot of pomp) I asked the former CEO how he was doing in the transition. He quietly pulled me aside and said, “I retired to take it easy; I’ve never worked so hard in my entire life, and I worked hard to get this company on the map”. He also indicated to me that the managers and employees were feeling the same, and that something needed to change quickly or else the company was going to struggle.

Fast forward about 6 years later – the company had a mass exodus of managers leave (headhunters found the company to be ripe for recruiting), new restaurants with a modern design and lots of capital investment to build had shuttered their doors, and the company filed for bankruptcy. As of today, the organization has less than half of it’s locations from that time period, and is struggling to seek relevance in today’s marketplace still.

The overall reason for the poor performance? The company had a vision to transform their brand, but moved way too fast ahead of what they had for people resources and failed to connect their plans with what the employee base could understand and execute.

The leadership team determined to go after these changes, but failed to recognize that with already busy staff throughout the company, that the extra work and learning needed would have to require something more than just an “open the box and plug it in” strategy.

What also was a big miss was the new CEO gave weekly voice mail messages (calling them “hospitality chats”) on Sunday evenings. These were ill-timed for one as most general managers were off on Sunday’s (and could only access the calls from a work phone). But these calls were more of a theoretical motivator rather than giving the nuts-and-bolts of what needed to be done.

Also, the new leadership failed to bring everyone into cultural alignment. The managers came away with varying understanding of the new brand, the term hospitality, and how to implement the new steps into play. This created an inconsistent customer experience from unit to unit. Coupled with the fact that the manager’s struggled to find time to execute these initiatives properly, these factors led to a sharp performance and revenue decline.

Finally, the new CEO abused the Jim Collin’s term from Good to Great of “on the bus or of the bus” meaning (in his words publicly across the company) that if managers can’t execute these new steps we’ll just move on with new people. This sent a level of resentment to the managers and drove them to seek better opportunities elsewhere.

The lessons learned from this situation is to make sure that your strategy to grow and strengthen your market presence and brand meet the following criteria:

  • Understand the pace of your people and bring them along accordingly.
  • Make sure your newest employee and your most senior executive can be on the same page vision-wise.
  • Don’t think the new systems will ferret out “weak links” as you may lose good people who would otherwise be your champions with the right training and support.
  • Don’t alienate your core customer because you have a vision of something new and shiny. If at all possible, incrementally integrate these new initiatives, or consider a separate brand or segment to capture that new audience.
  • Stay connected with your culture and make sure you understand the pulse of your people.
  • As a new leader to an organization, your core first step is to build a team around your before you build a following.

Great leaders can know to build a solid understanding and team before making sweeping changes. Getting too far ahead of your people will result in collapse and failure every time.

7 Ways To Re-Energize Yourself For The Coming Year

Change Mgmt Not Everyone's Cup of TeaWe are in the time of year where we’re forced to consider many intersects of our work and personal lives.

End of year projects, budgets, and tasks getting resolved that overlap the increased activity of family, friends, and festivities. Not to mention time for shopping, winter chores, and cooking for the myriad of get-togethers in both home and office.

And yet leaders look to set themselves new goals and generate some excitement for the coming year when they are typically the most frantic and busy.

So how does a leader re-energize themselves? Here are 7 simple ways in no particular order to help us get ready for the coming year:

Relax. Block out some time for yourself. Have a quiet coffee shop break, or take a longer drive home to see the holiday lights. Book some quiet time for yourself and shut off your device to allow your brain and body to rest and alleviate tension. Sleep in at least one morning.

Reset. The coming year is a great psychological gift. Use it! What happened in the past year can either carry on for the new one or be a lesson to improve – it’s all up to you. Celebrate completed goals and write off those fallen short as object lessons, or use them with new focus, or replace them altogether.

Restore. This is a great time to clean and organize your office and home. This act of restoring order to a chaotic and frenetic year not only is symbolic, but allows you to operate in a calm baseline. Apply this to other areas – teams, goals, celebrations, etc – and return to the real cause of what you want to impact,

Reconnect. We can’t squeeze everyone in during this time, but sometimes reconnecting with old friends or colleagues and tell them how much you appreciate them can go along way in refocusing your relationships. Phone calls work best, but texts or social media messages can go a long way to start the ball rolling.

Refresh. Look over your core values and mission for yourself and your company. Read it every day for the rest of the year. Then make a “to be” list for WHO you want to become, not what you want to accomplish. Focus on character building and influence rather for the year to build yourself and others around you.

Remind. Look at past failures and vow to learn and never make them again. Look at your goals and build ways to make them a reality. Dream big daily and keep a clear vision for what you set out to do in your life.

Recharge. This should always be the last point. Once all other areas are tended to, then you should recharge. Or, more properly, re-Charge. Charge forward with new perspective and a healthier attitude for the coming year. Don’t wait until January 1st to do so; get a head start so it becomes more than just a New Year’s Resolution. Make it a habit early so as to instill a better chance for success in the long term.

While this is a great time to be others-minded, use the last couple of weeks of the year wisely for yourself. Enjoy the holidays, and the process to continue to grow.

(image: prokarma)

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