Leadership Skills for Challenging TimesWritten by Ed Sykes
Leadership Skills for Challenging Times By Ed Sykes ©2003
We consistently face new and ever growing challenges in workplace such as reorganizing, downsizing, and “left out sizing.” We are faced with question, “How do we lead in this storm of change?” It may seem difficult at times and decisions we make define our short-term and long-term outcomes. I will share with you five leadership techniques guaranteed to keep you on track during these difficult times.
* Integrity. I put this first because lack of integrity will make or break you as a professional, as a leader, as a person in long run. The lack of this will turn yesterday’s heroes in today’s villains. For example, “MCI was apple of business community’s eye. High revenues, high profits, and high growth; MCI was beating competition hands down. Then it was discovered that there were gross accounting irregularities that accounted for astounding profits. You see, management made a decision, “Do I continue to sustain good growth and be able to look at myself in mirror or do I cook accounting books and spend rest of my time covering up this integrity deficiency? The real shame of MCI situation was that AT&T, Sprint, and others in industry had to cut costs and lay off thousands of employees to compete with MCI’s false numbers. The lack of integrity at MCI not only affected company but also livelihood of thousands and industry as a whole. I was recently speaking with a recently retired City Council member who is well respected in community. I asked her what secret was to her success while on council? She mentioned that one of her political adversaries said to her, “While you were on council, I didn’t like way you voted, but I respected way you voted because you were consistent with your votes and had city’s best interest in mind.” Ask yourself what decisions that you make are right for long term? Be consistent in your actions, whether it is with management, your team, or your family.
* Knowledge. With change happening faster and faster every moment, it is extremely important that you gain knowledge to master these changes. You owe it not only to yourself, but to your team and management. As I always say, “It’s not having right answer, it’s that you have right answer faster than before.” Many times during my teambuilding programs a student will say, “I didn’t know where to find answer.” Then I will say, “That is an unacceptable answer.” Because part of being a leader is acquiring skills to find right answers. With Internet, classroom and online training, mentors, etc., knowledge is at your fingertips. Challenge your team members to use same resources to acquire knowledge to master their challenges. By acquiring this knowledge, you will be able to navigate your team through ocean of change and achieve your goals.
* Decisiveness. You have seen them. They wait for information, then more information before making a decision. Then they need more information to support information they already have. Then they need a committee to analyze information. Then they wait for perfect time to make decision. Well, you know what I mean. Anyone you know? Make decision! Good things happen when you take action; you grow, you adapt, and your team grows. There is no perfect time to make a decision. Leaders make decisions based on past experience, putting into action decision, and staying and adapting decision if needed. But make decision. The worst quality you can show your team is indecision. What do you think your team sees when you can’t make a decision? Make decision and go for it.
How Appetizing is Your Feedback?Written by Ed Sykes
Recently, I was watching a rerun of successful television show, The Cosby Show. The patriarch of this professional family (He is a doctor and his wife is a lawyer.) played by Bill Cosby, was just told by his college-bound daughter that boyfriend she brought home to meet him was really her fiancé. He was disappointed with news. Disappointed not in young man or what he did (he was a “maintenance engineer”), but in way he was told about this engagement.
Mr. Cosby said that way he was told was like taking a sizzling, delicious, robust T-bone steak and serving it on a garbage can lid. It’s not too appetizing. You know steak is delicious, but would we really want to eat it? It’s not too appetizing.
I ask you, when you give feedback, do you make it appetizing for receiver of feedback? Or do you make your “steak” indigestible? We can be giving great feedback everyday and, unless we make it appetizing so others will digest it, our feedback will not acted upon.
The following are ten techniques for making your feedback more appetizing:
1. Prep for a Great Meal Just as you would prep for a great meal, you should prepare to give feedback. Mentally go over following:
* Is feedback important? * What do I want to accomplish with feedback? * Who are persons I will be giving feedback to? * How will they take my feedback? How can I make my feedback more appetizing for them? * How have they taken feedback in past? * Is there someone better I can enlist to “serve” feedback?
Just as you would expect to produce a great meal, mentally expect to have a great feedback session. Take time to visualize positive interaction and results by giving feedback. Know that you will improve lives of those you give feedback to and how you will accomplish your goals.
Note: Remember, all feedback, with goal of improving another individual or situation, is positive. It’s when we are not receiving or giving constant feedback that situations turn negative due to misunderstandings.
2. Timing Is All Important for a Great Meal Make sure you are giving feedback when it is needed. Giving feedback too long after there is need will dilute “hunger” for feedback. Giving feedback too early when there is no “hunger” for feedback will allow your meal, your feedback, to go to waste and not have impact on behavior that you need.