Month: December 2010

When Only The Best Will Do- There’s ME…

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Vanity… if we’re honest, we’ve all been there.

We’ve looked around our neighborhood, our church, our workplace and surveyed the landscape.  At the conclusion of our perusal, we’re convinced of one thing… “I’m glad I’m me, and not them.”  Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being satisfied in your life, or with yourself.  That’s simply having a healthy and productive self-image/self-esteem in place.  If you do, then good for you!

But what happens when that “feel good feeling” starts to multiply and grow out of control?  It becomes a dangerous, even deadly cancer called Pride, and it can kill your ability to work with others effectively to achieve amazing results, whether that be in your family, social or work life.

I mentioned the  “7 Deadly Sins That Kill Synergy”… They are:

  1. Wrath(Anger)- I’ve tried to work with others before, and they just end up hacking me off!
  2. Greed(Selfishness)- I don’t want anyone else affecting my project, my job, my stuff… it’s mine….
  3. Sloth(Laziness)- I’d rather just do it myself, rather than hassle with input from other people.
  4. Pride(Arrogance)- I don’t want anyone’s help, or need it. I’m good enough without them!
  5. Lust(Unhealthy Craving)- Leave me alone! It’s my way! It’s my idea! It’s my project!
  6. Envy(Jealousy)- What if I look stupid asking for help, or someone else shows me up?
  7. Gluttony(Selfishness)- If I’m going to work this hard, I don’t want anyone to get credit but ME.

Pride does several things to attack our effectiveness and undermine our success, and all of them have one thing in common… they are all the result of the damage that Pride causes to our ability to SEE CLEARLY… Pride is a Vision Killer…

Pride will hinder and eventually destroy our ability to SEE OUR OWN WEAKNESSES.  If you turn a blind eye to something long enough, eventually that “thing” begins to fade into the background.  If those things you fail to see are your own weak spots, you’re in trouble.  Pride tells you that you are good enough without help or advice from anyone else.  It dims your vision to your own failures, lack of skill and even your lack of objectivity.  Pride pokes a stick in your eye when it comes to putting a critical eye to your own abilities and performance.

Pride can also BLINDS US TO THE SKILLS OF THOSE AROUND US  There are people that we interact with daily that can enrich both our professional and personal lives, but pride clouds our view of the positive impact that their involvement can bring.  What we SHOULD be doing is evaluating them like a coach would the players on his team, determining whose strengths would best be suited for the project, duty or even the moment.  Instead, pride encourages us that we can be the coach, player, team manager, trainer & water boy, and do it all better than anyone else can.  Can you picture a one man team on the field, wearing a self-imposed blindfold, running around the field against a fierce opponent, while there are able, strong and talented players sitting on the sidelines?  It’s ridiculous, but it’s what Pride causes you and me to do!

Finally, Pride will KILL OUR ABILITY TO SEE “WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN”.  One of the primary roles of a leader is to catch and cast a vision for his team.  But is there truly only ONE vision for any given situation or organization?  I say NO!  Thousands of possible visions exist for any particular situation or setting… but a Proud person typically only sees one vision- their own.  And that vision usually involves putting their own skills, talents and performance center stage, with all resources, energies and influence resting in their control.  They are blinded to any vision that involves giving away authority, influence or control to others.  Call it “cataracts of leadership”… the slow build up of a film of pride across their perspective and judgment.  Until they get those “pride-aracts” removed, they’ll never see the wealth of talent and potential that surrounds them… and any synergy that could have been created from bringing those energies together will never be realized.
So how do you help someone whose Pride keeps them from seeing the potential synergy of working with others?
If it’s YOU, and you’ve figured out it’s you, then it’s simple.  STOP IT!!! YOU NEED HELP!!!  Really, it’s that simple!  Realize that you do better, go farther, succeed more often, and accomplish more when you synergize with the talents and efforts of others as a part of the process!  It doesn’t mean that you are not good enough… what it means is that you have greatness within you, and the only way to unlock that leadership is with the key of synergy that others bring with them to the task

Pride... it's a killer of Synergy!

!

If it’s SOMEONE ELSE that is allowing their Pride to hinder or block their vision to the value of working with others, then the job is slightly more complicated.  Your options are:

1) Just talk to them… lay the problem out simply, but without attacking them.  Share what you see as the value of working with others, and include in that discussion that others are also missing out on successes and growth, because the person in question is not sharing himself/herself with the group.  Remind them that they have much to offer to others.

2) Encourage them to give it a “test run”.  Encourage them to open themselves up to work with others on a short-term project, task or event.  Before this trial run begins, have them break down a list of the potential benefits and pitfalls of working with the group, and then to journal along the way to see if their expectations were correct.  They will most likely be surprised when they see the benefits far outweighing any negatives they might encounter.

3) If you feel qualified, offer to mentor them in this process.  Involve them in a team project that you are leading, and help them see the “play-by-play” issues of delegation, communication, accountability, assessment & reassessment of the task and plan, and so on.  It’s very possible that Pride is simply a mask for the true underlying issue of Insecurity.  It may be that no one has ever modeled synergy for them before, and they are simply afraid of the unknown.


So be encouraged… Pride doesn’t have to be the killer of your organization, of your team, or even of your own career!!! Face it head on, and don’t let it blind you to the unlimited potential that lies ahead!


Get Your Lazy Buttocks OFF the Leadership Couch

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Leaders… we all need them, and maybe you are one… but one common challenge leaders face is the challenge of including those they lead in the work they are a part of.  For many leaders, it’s so tempting to just “do it myself.”   Ignoring the fact, as I said before, that we’re better, more effective, more affective and over all just get more results as a group, than we could expect from the simple sum total of our individual energies and resources.  I mentioned the  “7 Deadly Sins That Kill Synergy”… They are:

  1. Wrath(Anger)- I’ve tried to work with others before, and they just end up hacking me off!
  2. Greed(Selfishness)- I don’t want anyone else affecting my project, my job, my stuff… it’s mine….
  3. Sloth(Laziness)- I’d rather just do it myself, rather than hassle with input from other people.
  4. Pride(Arrogance)- I don’t want anyone’s help, or need it. I’m good enough without them!
  5. Lust(Unhealthy Craving)- Leave me alone! It’s my way! It’s my idea! It’s my project!
  6. Envy(Jealousy)- What if I look stupid asking for help, or someone else shows me up?
  7. Gluttony(Selfishness)- If I’m going to work this hard, I don’t want anyone to get credit but ME.

I think it’s ironic that I’m picking this post back up after a couple of months to talk about the next “deadly sin”… SLOTH!  Mind you, I haven’t been just laying around the house all the time, munching on bon bons and watching reruns of “Dancing With The Stars”.  I’ve been busy with work, with my family, with church, and with about 5 other side projects.  But I’ve had my share of SLOTHFULNESS, or “laziness” in this lifetime.  Much of that “lazy time” was applied to those times when I should have been working to help others or work with others in a team capacity.

Why, I wonder?  After all, I was going to be working with other people, so MY share of the work would be less, so I ought to be able to pour of myself into my smaller piece of the pie, right?  Not so, grasshopper! Didn’t happen!  So the question begs to be answered, “Why not?”

As I scan back across the littered trail of my laziness with teams, I would say there are several reasons.  First, sometimes working with the team genuinely is more effort than just doing it by myself.  Working with the group requires more communication, more coordination, more preparation by thoughtfully determining WHO does WHAT.  Just let me do it, and I’ll let you all know when it’s done!

Another reason I’m lazy is that I just don’t have the energy for the drama.  Working with a team can suck the life right out of the leader.  Infighting on the team, strong opinions, turf wars over resources- all are issues over tension in the life of the leader that take a lot, and I mean A LOT of work.  I won’t be nearly as spent at the end of the project if I just do it ALL… ALONE.

Finally, and this may be the biggest reason for my laziness, is regarding building the team itself.   If someone else gets to build the team and then dump it on me to lead, I am not motivated at all about leading this group of draftees.  They may be great people, but they aren’t MY people.  Can you sense the passion and dynamism just bubbling out of me?!

Then there’s the flip side- I DO get to enlist my team.  Now, this is obviously the better of those two scenarios, but again, it’s not an easy task.  Building a great team requires the artistic flair of Michaelangelo, the endurance of Lance Armstrong, the sensitivity of Mother Teresa and the wisdom of Solomon.  There are conflicting leadership styles and work ethics among team members.  There are personality clashes and power struggles to deal with.  Add to this mess the need for determining job descriptions, clarifying expectations, evaluation, conflict resolution, resource and asset management, schedules and about a thousand other things, and again it becomes overwhelmingly obvious why many leaders, me included, have opted to fly solo rather than sail with the team.

So why bother with the team?  Is laziness in this area really all that bad?  YES. IT IS.  It’s been said of love, “At the end of your life, it won’t matter how many have loved you, but how many you have loved.”  I believe the same is true of leadership, and the synergy of working with the team.  Your truest success is not measured in how many projects you’ve single handedly completed, or solo projects you’ve breezed through.  Eleanor Roosevelt said, “A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader; a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.”  That’s what being a leader is… Creating the future by working teams in the NOW, and challenging and leading teams NOW, preparing them for the FUTURE.

Yes, it’s hard work, and there can be way more drama than you want to deal with.  Yes, it might even be easier to do it yourself, alone.  But avoiding the lazy, slothful route will pay off huge dividends in the future.  Commit to yourself and to the teams that you lead that no matter how tough it gets, the synergy that comes from working together is and always will be worth more than the price you’ll pay.

Still not convinced?  Then I’ll leave you with this exercise… think back across your own development as a leader.  If your mentors and guides had been lazy in their approach to influencing or involving you, where would YOU be today, and what would YOUR leadership quotient look like?  Yeah, I thought so…  so don’t be lazy.