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Lost in the Woods? 5 Ways to Get Back on the Trail and Finish Your Project

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When was the last time you were lost? I’m not talking about missing a few left turns in an unfamiliar town, but actually, bewilderingly lost - as in out you’re on a hike in a park or forest and you can’t find north, much less the way back to the parking lot where your car is parked. I believe getting lost in a work project - unable to find your way - can be just as bewildering (if not as life threatening). But you can always get back on the right trail with a few timely creative tricks!

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How To Be A Good Leader during the Inevitable Downpours

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When it rains - it pours. True for mother nature and true in business. As a leader, it's easy to get so focused on the 'tasks' involved in working through a packed To Do list - that we may stop making time for our people. Sound familiar? If so - here is what I've learned over the years about how to keep people first and still get work done.

Leading a smaller company like Creatis with 130 employees is much different than the executive marketing roles I had at Carlson Companies and Caribou Coffee. I work much more often 'in' the business than 'on' the business with a need to manage WAY more details. The urgent routinely pushes out the important - and my choice to prioritize my coaching and mentoring quickly falls by the wayside. And while my ability to 'get things done' during these task-laden rainstorms is admirable, it has significant impact on how others perceive what's important to our business. It needs to be People First - Tasks Second, but it's not always easy to work that way.

During my 12 years at Carlson, I had the privilege of participating in a year-long coaching program called Perception Choices with Carol Keers and Tom Mungavan from Change Masters Incorporated (www.changemasters.com). That was more than 20 years ago (hard to believe - yes I was 15 at the time), and yet I still use many of the coaching tips I learned from them. If you are struggling with how others perceive you as a leader - I highly recommend you check them out. Or - pick up a copy of their book entitled "Seeing Yourself As Other Do" as it is a great read.

 Here are some great things I learned from Carol, Tom and others over the years:

  1. Lean In - Literally and Figuratively.  Body language speaks WAY louder than words ever can, so as a leader we need to physically demonstrate our engagement during one to one conversations or during meetings. Lean toward the person, make eye contact, respond with verbal cues that show you are listening and understanding what is being shared. 

  2. Your Face Says It All.  So apparently I become very stern-looking with a closed down face and narrow lips when I am listening intently - which creates the perception that I was not open to someone else's ideas. Who knew? This was actually the oppositive of what I intend - this is when I am fully engaged and genuinely trying to understand the other person's POV. Know what your face is saying as it isn't always what you are trying to communicate.

  3. Multi-Tasking is No Go. I pride myself on my ability to get a lot done all at the same time. It's a talent, right?  Wrong! Giving someone your full attention is a must. Put down the cell phone. Turn away from the computer. Don't take any calls when one of your team is asking for your help. It's not only the respectful thing to do - it's also the productive thing to do as your full attention can solve the issue being presented so much faster.

  4. OPPOV - The tool I have pulled out most often is the OPPOV tool - looking at things from the Other Person's Point of View. This tool helps you look at the driving forces of someone else's behavior based on what he/she is rewarded for, motivated by and fearful of. Taking a quick 5 minutes to think about this first has really helped me increase my effectiveness in engaging with others. Amazing how thinking about something based on how someone else might view it can really help your own perspective.

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Spring Cleaning. How to Clear Away The Clutter so Good Ideas Rise to the Top.

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I love Spring Cleaning. For some reason as the snow melts and the temps rise, I just get a wave of new energy to clear away the clutter. Could be because at home it makes it easier to find the golf clubs that I stashed away last fall. But whatever the reason, it's healthy to clear away the clutter to find the most important things to keep and the less important stuff you can throw away.

One the of things I like most about EOS (the Entrepreneurial Operating System - www.eosworldwide.com) that we use to run our business is that EOS helps to clear away the clutter so you can focus on what's important. It let's great ideas rise to the top and provides an efficient and effective way to identify and resolve issues that are getting in the way of achieving your goals

I find the Five Leadership Abilities they define to be particularly compelling. When you and/or your team have hit a ceiling and are feeling stuck, overwhelmed or frustrated, it is a good time as the leader to STOP and clear away the clutter. This lies with your ability to deploy the five disciplines of good leadership which are:

  1. Your ability to simplify. The bigger you are, typically the more complex and chaotic your operation becomes. But I found that even in smaller organizations like Creatis it is easy to make things harder than needed. To clear away the clutter you should simplify messages, processes, structure and communications. Ask yourself, "Is it as simple as possible?"

  2. Your ability to delegate and elevate. I find myself way too often working "IN" our business versus working "ON" our business where I can have the most impact. EOS has a very helpful tool around delegating the clutter that is eating up your capacity so you can elevate your focus on moving the company forward. It's simply putting where you are spending your time into four quadrants: "Love/Great", "Like/Good", "Don't Like/Good" and "Don't Like/Not Good". If you are spending most of your time in the last two, you probably need to clear away some clutter.

  3. Your ability to predict. Running a small, dynamic company like Creatis has pushed my focus to be much closer into a one year and even a 90 day horizon. As leaders, our ability to see what's coming for the long-term matters but being able to do so in the short-term could matter even more. Invest time so you can see what's coming - as your ability to provide clear direction, focus and prioritization for your team is what matters most.

  4. Your ability to systemize. I was lucky enough to be trained in Six Sigma while at Carlson, but today I find all that great process mapping can actually create more clutter for my team. Systemize simply means to document, simplify and get everyone following the top core processes that make up your differentiating way of doing business. Per EOS, you have to systemize the predictable so that you can humanize the exceptional.

  5. Your ability to structure. Both inside and outside of EOS, I have found that really nothing else matters until you have the Right People in the Right Seats.  EOS has a great toolkit around developing a clear Accountabilty Chart to determine the right structure for your organization. Start with the seats - then add great people. Because really talented and exceptional people in a seat that allows them to do what they do best means they are constantly clearing away their own clutter which enables them to be excellent.

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Easy + Quick. What Business Leaders Can Learn from the New Rules of Golf.

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I love to work - I really do. But if push comes to shove - I gotta say I think I love golf more. Lately I've become fascinated with the new Rules of Golf that were released this year by the USGA and R&A which are the governing bodies of golf. In the most sweeping revision in more than 60 years, they have reorganized the rules to make them easier to understand and to speed up pace of play.

Now it may be a bit of stretch, but I think business leaders can learn something from these new rules as well.  First - don't be afraid to change even if there is a 60-year history of how it's always been done.  Second - ALWAYS look for new ways to run your business in ways that make it easier for your employees and allow them to have a faster 'pace of play' in terms of how they get things done. Finally, be sure to know the rules of whatever 'game' you are playing. More than one professional golfer has lost a tournament because of an avoidable rules infraction, and just like in business that can lead to the loss of a LOT of money.

So even for you non-golfers out there (hey - you can at least appear smart to your golfing colleagues) - here is an overview of some of the key rules and changes:

  1. Flagstick In or Out. You can now have the flagstick in or out of the hole while putting - it is the player's choice. 

  2. Take a Knee. When you drop the ball while taking relief - you now must do so from knee height. 

  3. Ready. Set. Play. You now don't have to worry about whose turn it is to hit during stroke play - it is now fine to hit your ball when you get to it as long as you can do so safely. But - order of play does still matter in the Match Play format because remember that your opponent can make you replay a shot if you hit out of turn.

  4. Go Ahead and Pick Up Sticks. Or stones. Or other things similar which are all called loose impediments. You can now do this without penalty from Bunkers and Penalty Areas (previously called Water Hazards) - so clean away but don't move your ball when doing so or you'll incur a penalty.

  5. The Dreaded Double Hit. A double hit (when your club hits the ball twice during one stroke) is still likely not a very good shot - but at least now there is no penalty and it counts as only one shot.

  6. You Can Search Just Do It Quickly. To improve pace of play, golfers now have just three minutes to search for a missing ball rather than five minutes. Thinking is - if you haven't found it in three minutes, you likely weren't going to find it anyway.

  7. I Swear It Was the Wind. If a natural force like wind or water moves your ball - that's OK. There is no penalty and you play the ball from its new spot. However, if you are on the putting green and have already marked/replaced your ball and then the wind moves it - in that case there still is no penalty but you move your ball back to its previous spot.

  8. Taking Relief is as Easy as A-B-C. Take a drop from a Penalty Area or when you have Declared Your Ball Unplayable is still as easy as A - B - C (although all incur a one-stroke penalty):
    1. - All the Way Back (also known as stroke & distance) - go back and drop the ball from within one-club length of your previous spot. 
    2. Back-on-the-Line Relief - go back as far as you want on a straight line formed by the flag and the reference point; drop the ball. 
    3. - Two Club Lengths Relief (red stake penalty areas only + for unplayable balls) - drop the ball within two club lengths from your reference point, no closer to the hoel.


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