Recently I ran across a situation that reminded me of leaders needing to delegate responsibility while remaining engaged with what the team is doing. At one of my former employers we had a particularly thorny issue which required multiple groups to work together to address. It was important that I delegate resolution of the issue to the team, but it was also important that the team had a glimpse into some of my thinking on the issue. When I delegated the issue to one of my managers for resolution, I also articulated some guiding principles that the team needed to keep in mind while resolving the issue. What this allowed me to do was not only provide some considerations for the team to noodle over while coming up with a resolution to the issue but also empower the team to make the decision as to what to do about the issue.
When I wrote my first book in 2004 my publicist told me, "you've got to write articles to get your message out and sell books!" Being a good soldier I saluted and contemplated how I was going to get it done. My publicist turned me on to a ghost writer who wrote an article under my guidance. After paying way too much for the article and seeing the finished product, I vowed never again to have someone else write for me. I decided that if I had crappy articles it was going to be because I was the one who wrote them, not because I paid someone to write crappy articles for me.
When I wrote my first article, I decided on the topic and just started writing. It was a disaster. The content was disjointed, lacked focus, and made no sense. It also took me hours and hours to produce a piece of garbage. There had to be a better way. Fortunately I found it after a lot of trial and error.
Over the years I have been on both ends of constructive (and not so constructive) criticism. Quite frankly, I still struggle with doing this flawlessly every time, but I've put together some guiding principles that I try to work under and thought might be helpful to you:
If you're like many people, the thought of speaking in front of a group of people is like bamboo under your nails. Truth be told, the audience wants to see you succeed and doesn't want to see a crash-and-burn on the stage. The audience is rooting for you.
Next time you have to take to the podium, keep the following in mind:
As a child and young adult I was very independent. Regardless of the situation, if I was doing something I was determined to do it myself and not ask for anyone's help. In my eyes asking for someone's help was akin to admitting defeat or somehow showing others that I was weak or incompetent. My attitude was "If someone else can do it, I can do it". How Naive.
What we learned was more than what we had anticipated; not necessarily about their purchases, but about how they worked and the importance of urgency versus importance in their jobs.
When I screw up, I have one way that I have found effective at helping me get through it and learn from it.
I write about it.
This is one of those royal jerk screw-up times.
Patty and I stayed at a hotel where we paid about $300/night. The room was clean and the location good, but the service and amenities were definitely substandard, certainly not something we’d expect from a $300/night room. The night before we checked out, we put together a number of issues and I sent it to the hotel’s customer service site, requesting a reduction in our room rate. The next morning, I talked with the hotel sales director about some of our issues. She was pleasant and empathic and said she would talk with the general manager. A couple of hours later while driving we got a call from the sales director informing us that the hotel would not make any adjustment.
This is where the jerk part comes in.
Recently I received two LinkedIn requests to connect, one from a rep at a well-known insurance company and the other from a financial planner at a well-known financial services company. In the first request the rep told me that the insurance company notified him that my construction company is eligible for a special program that grants an immediate discount.
Sounds great; the problem is I don't own a construction company.
Twice I asked him to tell me who at the insurance company notified him. He finally responded with a “nobody notified us,” even though in his original message he was “notified by <insurance company> that my construction business qualifies for the discount.”
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