Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hopeful - The 5 Hope Fillers (Part 1)

In the last BLOG entry we looked at Hopelessness and the 5 Hope Killers. Just to summarize – beware, they’ll literally SUCK THE LIFE OUT OF YOU! Hopefully you were able to identify with them and draw some conclusions. So let’s go! Let’s kick these nasty, little leaches to the curb and focus on how to move forward and get FILLED with hope. That’s right, it’s time for the 5 Hope Fillers.

Filler Leadership
Killer Leadership and Filler Leadership couldn’t be any different. Filler Leaders engage both their own hearts and the hearts of others (I know talking about emotions is dangerous and I may lose a few of you, but come on for the ride. It’ll be fun.). This brings us back to John Maxwell’s Law of Connection. He says, “You’ve got to touch a heart before you can ask for a hand.” Guess what? He’s completely right. When you connect with people at the heart level you build trust and GENERATE HOPE!

Filler Leaders relentlessly cast vision because they know that an often, well-communicated vision fills people with hope. The crew must understand where they’re going, the benefits of the sacrifice needed for the journey, the direction you plan to take, and how you plan to get to the final destination. People want to be part of something special that makes a difference. Your vision must pinpoint that difference.

Small wins are big. One of the things I’ve been told I am known for in my organization is celebrating wins. When something great happens – large or small, we celebrate it. That positive energy builds momentum and in the words of Jim Collins (author of Good to Great) “makes the flywheel spin faster and faster.” Don’t miss out on those little opportunities to make a big deposit of hope.

Some decisions are easier than others, but it is the tough ones that are made timely and courageously that electrify hope in your team. Many times those tough decisions center on your staff and overall performance management. Your top performers know who is invested and dedicated to your team’s success and who’s not. You make the tough staffing decisions to grow and move forward. The first day leading my team I interviewed each person and one of the questions I asked was, “If you could make one change, what would it be?” Anyone want to guess what I found? Yes, you in the back! That’s right; each person said they would get rid of someone else. No one said anything about money, status, hours, or perks. The problem was that their former leader struggled with making the tough decisions in order to grow.

The bottom line is it’s either them or you – that’s what one of my mentors told me years ago. You either make choices that benefit you understanding that those decisions also must be good for the business. The moment you make decisions solely based upon peoples’ desires – you’re dead. You can’t make everyone happy. Good people want you to make good decisions. Therefore when you do belly up to the bar and terminate a mediocre performer no one on your team should be surprised.

I’m sure you’ve heard the old proverb, “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime". Filler Leaders teach their crews how to fish. These rock stars are relentless about developing and equipping those around them. What typically gets lost in the process and doesn’t get a lot of press are the feelings of the student. The learner develops a true appreciation, connection, and deep hope because of the Filler Leader’s investment in them. Wouldn’t you feel more hopeful if you had someone pouring themselves into you?

We’ll hit the other 4 Hope Fillers in Part 2, but I want to be clear that working for Filler Leaders who generate hope make you feel like the sky’s the limit and nothing is impossible. Hopefully you either work for a leader with some or maybe all of these qualities or you ARE the leader with some or all of these qualities. Either way, hope is out there. Go make it happen and fill up!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hopeless - The 5 Hope Killers

The topic of Hope continues to dance around in my brain. I see its application everywhere I look. As I have been paying attention to life and taking notes I have come across what I call “The 5 Hope Killers”. Take a peek:

Insecure Killer Leadership
Now I’m not talking about the work killer in the sense of “Killer wave dude! When we’re done let’s go to Sharkeez and get some killer fish taco’s!” I am using it in the context of people who kill other peoples’ hope. Seriously…it’s not a cool thing. Killer Leaders have no vision or anything that would go with it like milestones, strategy, etc. They don’t try to connect with their people because they see no need for it. When it comes to timely, informative communication and encouragement Killer Leaders feel it’s a waste of time. These people don’t think it’s their job to equip people – that’s HR’s role. Finally, making the tough decisions needed to grow provides them too much discomfort and they’d rather live with the dysfunction. John Maxwell was right when he said, “Everything rises and falls with leadership.” If you work for one of these priceless gems, hope is a vapor floating around in the atmosphere. Good luck ever finding it. Sorry.

Intense Burnout and Fatigue 
When there is little or no hope you get tired…tired of the grind, tired of the people, tired of the bad jokes, tired of the bad numbers, tired of being short-staffed, and tired of the long hours. One of the best things you can do is eat right and stay fit. Your physical fitness plays a major role in your outlook and energy level. Feeling fit will allow you to defend against the onslaught of hopelessness.

Invisible Improvement
Have you ever felt like you lose more than you win? If you could just catch a break things could turnaround. It is in those times that little victories become monumental. When hope is getting crushed there are things that can plug the leak and begin to turn things in the right direction. The problem is that most leaders fail to celebrate those small wins and they remain invisible to the team and those little nuggets of hope are lost forever.

Individual Results Overshadow Team Success
I asked someone a question the other day, “If you could have anything come out of adding a new person to your work group what would you pick?” Without hesitation she said,

“That the person would care more about the team’s results than their own and that they would view the group’s collective work as their own.” Wow! What a powerful statement! You see she could have talked about less of a workload, or some financial benefit, but instead she sees success defined in a selfless team who cares about each other first and foremost. When people care more about themselves a loud sucking sound can be heard miles away removing hope from the work environment and replacing it with anger, frustration, resentment, and politics. Pat Lencioni cited this idea in The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team when he put it as the last part of his dysfunctional pyramid.

When I am part of a team that’s losing hope, one of the worst things that can happen is to begin to feel like both you and your team are the only ones who can’t get it together (cue Barry White – cuz he can get it together for sure!). Other business units, teams, churches, and companies are finding success but as hard as you work nothing changes. This feeling of isolation slowly extracts hope from the environment and replaces it with a debilitating attitude that can result in losing your people completely. “Poor Me” and “Poor Us” dominates the conversations at team meetings and performance reviews. The longer these feelings of isolated failure and decline go on the more hope seeps out of the team.

Take a moment and see where you and your team stand. Don’t worry though, my next entry will be the positive side of the equation addressing how to build hope. You’ll need this in order to right the ship and start heading in the right direction.