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Top Management Resource - 2012

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Do YOU Tell Stories?

storytellingAre you a storyteller? Before you protest and assure me that you do not tell lies, consider the question. I asked - are you a storyteller? Not are you a liar? Some people equate storytelling with telling lies. That is not where I am going with this. I want to know if you can tell a good story. I want you to be able to tell a good story. A good story might accomplish any or all of these:
  • Defines a vision
  • Teaches a lesson
  • Motivates
  • Fosters understanding or empathy
That is why I want you to tell stories. A good story starts with some new situation or new information. Typically the protagonist(s) face a challenge. Sometimes the challenge is of their own making or stems from some unresolved issue in their past. In order to overcome this challenge our protagonist(s) must push themselves or dig deep and master some skill or knowledge that he or she has never mastered before. A happy ending means that our protagonist either rises to the occasion or becomes an ever better person due to his or her failure. An unhappy ending occurs when he or she does not meet the challenge and does not become a better person because of it. As a leader you tell stories. Maybe every story is not an award winning drama, but the stories that your team remembers grab their attention and keep their attention. The stories that your team remembers stay with them because they relate to or emphasize with a character in the story. Something like this: “Do any of you know Danny? I bet some of you do. Danny works in our customer service center. If you have ever called in early, it was probably Danny who took your call. He always opens up the office. Well two days ago Danny opened the door and was knocked over by a flood of water. He said he practically body surfed it out to the parking lot. He’s Ok. But as you might have guessed, the office is not. Danny and his team are doing their best to work remotely and our customers are being fairly understanding. Of course we want to help and if Danny can body surf a wave to the parking lot, we can put in extra time to help him and his team have the equipment in place to do their work.” It takes practice. You will know when a story is good when you hear your team members retelling it later or when it comes back to you from another source or even better when your story fosters a change in the behavior in some or all of your team members. Happy Story Telling!  
If you enjoyed this blog posting, then you may enjoy our bi-weekly ezine Turning Point for FREE tips and insights to discover A Path to Peace……!
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The Art of Planning

Planning-word-art-photoArt is not about thinking something up. It is the opposite - getting something down.” - Julia Cameron You have heard it said that project management is both an art and a science. The above quote helps reinforce this, or at least to me it does. It reminds me of planning. Sometimes planning is about getting something down. There are those who will not move forward until every detail of the project is planned. There are those who move forward with no plan. The right person can make a strong case for either approach. It is not easy to make a convincing case for no planning. It is also not easy to make a case for knowing every single detail before you begin to execute your plans. But to those of you who help plan open-heart surgery and nuclear reactors and airplanes, thank you for having detailed enough plans so that the rest of us may live to enjoy your work. For many of us the plans we make at the beginning of our projects will change. That does not mean that we do not try to create meaningful plans. It means we create plans that provide enough information in order to determine whether or not we can meet project objectives and map out an achievable approach to meeting those objectives. When I am teaching a class I like to remind everyone that good planning does help to save time, money and reduce errors. But if plans did not change, we would not have project managers and project management courses. We would have planners and courses on creating the perfect plan. Then we would be done, because nothing would change. That’s not how it works. Good planning is about getting something down. (Did you wonder when I was going to come back to our quote and the comparison to art?) We do the best that we can with the information we have on hand at the time. We do our research and we confirm as much as possible and we get it down in our plan. Then when things change (and they will), it is not about lamenting the change. It is about looking at the plan and the whole plan and understanding how the change impacts our ability to meet project objectives. We update our plan and artfully move on. This week, be artful.  
If you enjoyed this blog posting, then you may enjoy our bi-weekly ezine Turning Point for FREE tips and insights to discover A Path to Peace……!
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Time for an Attitude Adjustment? Make These 3 Changes Today

attitudeAdjustment250x225You want to continue to grow in your career and add to your success. That means adding to your knowledge base and to your toolkit. It means that you exhibit the right attitude. Your success often comes down to who you are as a human being and how you behave. On that note and with a brief imaginary drum roll… here are 3 attitudes to help move your forward. Be Flexible – The way to the top is not always straight up. Sometimes you move sideways, and then up. While you remain in the same position waiting for that promotion, others who are more open minded are moving ahead. Before you disregard an opportunity, consider what you have to gain. Does it allow you to learn something new about your organization or industry, add new skills to your portfolio, expand your network or help you build stronger working relationships? You will be compared to others who have shown that they are not afraid to try something new. Be Likeable - Being likeable is a skillset. You have the ability to be liked. Ability is something you can cultivate it is not an all or nothing trait. Project work is accomplished through people. When everything else is equal, people choose to surround themselves with people who they enjoy. When people enjoy working for you, they are willing to go the extra mile for you and you have a better selection of the most qualified resources. How? Think before you speak. Be sincere and be kind. Treat everyone around you with respect. Be a leader whom others admire. Be Low-maintenance - Ask yourself this: “Do I make life easier for the people I work with, or do I make life more difficult, am I high-maintenance or highly valued?” If you do not know the answer, ask someone you can trust. Napoleon Hill said, "It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed." No matter how important your title may be or how high your salary is, you are serving others. When you come to the office you are there to serve others. When your actions depict service, others will take notice. There it is, 3 attitudes you can adopt right now, today, this week and from this point forward. If you already do all of this, then way to go AND how about teaching this to one of your team members?  
If you enjoyed this blog posting, then you may enjoy our bi-weekly ezine Turning Point for FREE tips and insights to discover A Path to Peace……!
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Squash the Rebellion do you do when you have a rebellious team member? What do I mean by a rebellious team member? I mean the team member who does not want to follow the rules. Nothing makes this team member happier than to fly in the face of authority. If you ask her to be early for a special client presentation, she is going to just barely show up on time. If you review the company dress code with her she is going to push the limits of the dress code. “What is wrong with my blouse, it has a collar, it just doesn’t have any sleeves. The dress code says wear shirts with collars, there is no mention of sleeves.” Right, so now we need to update the dress code to remind people to wear sleeves and to have pant legs in their pants. Don’t drive yourself crazy, she is always going to find a way to get around the rules. Don’t let a rebel take up all of your time and energy. Don’t spend too much of your time checking up on your rebel to make sure she is following the rules. This will most likely trigger her to be even more rebellious. After all it is usually more fun for her if she is rebelling against someone and if someone is objecting to her behavior, well that is perfect. When necessary correct her behavior. If she refuses to follow the rules, then she must bear the consequences. Approach this in a matter of fact manner. If she decides to violate the dress code, then send her home to change or home for the day. If she does not show up at the requested time for client presentations, don’t invite her. Do not become upset. She made a decision, now she must accept the consequences. You might just be able to leverage her rebellious streak in a productive manner. Let your rebel be the one who tries to break the system or find the chaos in a process. Allow her to review policies and procedures and find flaws in them. Have her show you how easy it is to work around a specific security check. In this way you can channel what comes to her naturally. Of course this does not mean that she will stop rebelling against your requests for status reports and time tracking, but at least you will reap some benefit from her tendencies.  
If you enjoyed this blog posting, then you may enjoy our bi-weekly ezine Turning Point for FREE tips and insights to discover A Path to Peace……!
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Turn Around!

No matter how long you have traveled in the wrong direction, you always have the choice to turn around.” – Anonymous Choice-decision-planA-planB300x232What is worse than a bad decision? Refusing to acknowledge that a decision is bad and insisting on sticking with it. Even worse than that is instead of changing direction, looking for someone or something to blame when things go wrong. There is really no reason to keep pursuing the wrong path. It is actually a mark of a strong leader to be able to admit that a direction or a decision isn’t what we thought it should be. Unfortunately many people don’t see it this way. They make a decision and set a course of action and they cling to it no matter how badly it’s going. They begin to say things like ”If you just stick with it we will come out okay on the other side.” Or, “Imagine how much worse it would be if we had not used this approach.” What their teams are imagining is how much better it would be if they could just stop pretending that everything was going to work out. I hope these people change direction if they are about to be involved in a head-on collision. But you and I know that some of them would not. That is an unfortunate waste of resources. It is bad for business and bad for morale. To be fair you and I also must accept that there are some corporate cultures where admitting that anything is a mistake is politically incorrect and therefore career limiting. That does not mean you do not change your direction when you know you are going the wrong way. It just means that you come up with some valid reason for the new approach. Most people will be relieved and will be supportive of the new direction and may not even ask too many questions. Nor will they expect any type of discussion or admission that the previous direction was wrong. See, even in difficult environments there is no reason to keep heading in the wrong direction. When you realize you are going the wrong direction the sooner you enact a course correction the sooner you will get back on track. You will have plenty of time to review how you all wandered off the path later. The first priority is to stop and honestly assess the situation. Next you need to reconfirm exactly what is it you hope to accomplish. Then you can work to chart a new course or plan of action. Make sure everyone understands this new plan of action. Now it is time to change direction. Move forward confidently. Nobody selects the right direction all of the time. The smart, successful leaders understand this and are not afraid to turn around. Go-ahead turn around.  
If you enjoyed this blog posting, then you may enjoy our bi-weekly ezine Turning Point for FREE tips and insights to discover A Path to Peace……!
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