Wikipedia tells us that, “Delegation is the assignment of authority and responsibility to another person to carry out specific activities. The person who delegated the work still remains accountable for the outcome of that work. Delegation is supposed to empower a subordinate to learn and to make decisions.”
Poor delegation causes frustration and confusion to all of the parties involved. Or, to say it another way: When done poorly, “It can be a living hell!” It also cheats your team out of opportunities to develop their skills, which ultimately hurts you, your team and your organization.
So how do you get started on the road to becoming an effective delegator? First and foremost, you’re going to have to break out of your comfort zone and be willing to change. After that, following these simple 6 steps will get you going in the right direction: Continue reading →
From my coaching and mentoring experiences, one of the biggest challenges those who aspire to be leaders consistently face is how to improve their productivity by delegating tasks to other team members. Many do it wrong and eventually throw their hands up in frustration and end up doing the work themselves and then…complain about it.
So the “stuff” I’m thinking about this week (and you should be also) is how to become effective when delegating to others. Think – and more importantly act – on these key delegation points this week:
Poor delegation creates frustration and confusion, destroying any effort on your part to be productive. Train others to do the tasks that take you away from more important things. A team that can’t develop their skills fully will ultimately hurt your business.
Delegation, when done the right way, is one of the most effective tools that successful leaders have. If you can live with the worst possible outcome, then you can delegate the project.
When delegating, choose someone who has exhibited the right work ethic and attitude.
When delegating, be sure to describe the task as clearly and as simply as possible. Invite and encourage questions and feedback.
When delegating, set clearly defined expectations along with a target completion date.
When delegating, don’t turn your back on the project just because you think you’ve delegated it. Periodically check in to see how they are doing and whether or not they need your assistance.
Chris discusses the steps you must take to be an effective delegator. Delegation is a leader’s most valuable tool, yet many do not understand how to properly and effectively use it. Listen and find out what you need to know to raise the level of productivity for yourself and your team.
Chris Ruisi’s “Step Up and Play Big Moments” is all about personal and business success. Chris’s goal is to offer today’s entrepreneurs, CEO’s and business leader’s practical guidance, tips, strategies and tactics that work in today’s challenging business climate. Chris brings his practical and successful experience at senior level management and Board positions to help his listeners cut through the clutter to Step Up and Play Big. Also available on iTunes.
In one of my prior Wake-Up Calls, I wrote about the importance of the leader not being the only “go-to person” in their organization. I went as far to point out that one of primary responsibilities of a leader is to develop other “go-to people” to allow them to free up their time so they can focus on those tasks that they do best.
Developing other “go-to people” is one of the key people strategic issues (selection, development, utilization, and measurement of your team) that the leader needs to focus on.
Often, when I write about these people strategy issues, the common question I hear is, “How and where do I start?”Continue reading →
The recent actions of politicians can never be described as leadership
Over the course of the last several weeks we have witnessed a comprehensive display by our elected officials – at all levels, across all party lines – of what leadership is NOT. I have had the opportunity to observe, work for, and learn from some great business leaders. I also worked for some (not many fortunately), who held a leadership “title” on an organization chart, but had no clue about what it takes to be a real leader. They were an “empty suit”. They looked good, but there was no substance.
Over the last few weeks, we have seen an epidemic of “empty suits” posing as political leaders (is “political leader” a conflicting use of words?), standing behind a podium and microphone offering us “their” explanation of what is wrong (actually, what they offered were simple excuses, complex excuses and, well…excuses!).
As a result of this display of drama and missteps and artificially created chaos, I thought a leadership exorcism would be appropriate just in case (and I repeat “just in case”) any of you thought that what you have been witnessing was “legitimate” leadership actions.
1. Leaders know they are judged not by what they say but by what they do – Simply stated, leaders value actions over words. They know that they must lead by example. There is no place for verbal boasting or bullying. Leaders know that talk is cheap and that the right action, at the right time, gets things done.
2. Leaders define reality and responsibilities – Leaders see the world as it really is and “tell it like it is” to their teams. When a leader talks about the current reality there should be no “sugar coating” or omission of key facts. They know that one cannot move to a better place until they know and define the place they are in – in the most specific and honest way possible. Why? Because important decisions that need to move forward will be based upon the current reality.
3. Leaders set expectations, hold people accountable to get the job done,and accept responsibility for their actions – Leaders know that their primary role is to make things happen! The most basic responsibility of every leader is to set expectations – expectations that are clear, specific and measurable – not instructions like, “Hey you guys, go do that and let me know when you’re finished.” People perform best and are the most satisfied when they see themselves making progress. In holding people accountable, a leader monitors what they are doing, offers assistance when needed, and acknowledges and helps them see their progress. A leader is never an absentee manager. That’s called “abdication” and real leaders never do this – they accept responsibility. They know that accepting responsibility is what they get paid to do.
Follow this 3 step process to solve problems “There is only one way to solve a problem – the right way” – Chris Ruisi, The Coach and Business Motivational Speaker of Choice
“Get the cows out of the creek” is an expression I first learned about when I read an article about Meg Whitman, the then CEO of E-Bay (and now the new CEO of HP). She used the expression to describe her approach to problem solving. This approach is based on a 3 step process once you have learned that you have a problem that must be dealt with – i.e. the cows are stuck in the creek and cannot get out.
Step 1 – first, get the cows out of the creek
Step 2 – determine how the cows got stuck in the creek in the first place, and
Step 3 – fix it so that the cows don’t get stuck in the creek again
Let’s discuss each of these steps and let me give you my take on the meaning and application of each:
Step 1 – First, Get the Cows Out of the Creek
The first step addresses what must be done to start to move back to some form of normalcy in your operations. Clearly, while the problem persists there will be a continued disruption of operations and services. Money (the company’s) is either being lost or wasted. Future revenues may be at risk. An initial plan must be developed and implemented to stop its effect and start the movement towards a solution to the problem. Get your team involved. Get their input, they are on the front line and have an upfront perspective. Put an initial plan in place to start collecting the facts; duties and accountabilities need to be assigned with short deadlines set. This is not the time to “rush” into implementing “any” solution. You want to get the right information so that your eventual and permanent solution is right on target.
Step 2 – Determine How the Cows Got into the Creek in the First Place
The first step in correctly solving a problem is to understand fully its root cause. If you’ve handled it correctly, Step 1 should have given you most of that needed information. During Step 2, you will know in detail what the cause or causes were. Was it a procedural or business systems issue? Was there no system in place or was the one already in place inadequate? Or, was it an employee related issue related to poor training? Did the employee understand the task at hand? Did the manager use effective communication and delegation skills? Did the employee really understand what was supposed to have been done? Did someone try to cover up the mistake to avoid blame? Maybe, it was a customer related issue? Was the customer given the right information? Did the customer not follow our instructions? There are many other questions that can and should be asked during Step 2. The eventual goal is to end up with a firm grasp and understanding of what caused the problem.
Step 3 – Fix it so that the Cows Don’t Get Stuck in the Creek Again
With steps 1 and 2 successfully behind you, it’s now time to focus on moving to a permanent fix so that the problem will not be repeated. This fix may involve a new system or procedure; a change in operations or employee training; a restructuring of duties within a department or between departments. Maybe it might involve hiring new team members with different skill sets than those that already exist among your team members. What you’ve learned as a result of the problem must also be reflected into your fix or solution. We learn from our mistakes so long as we make the deliberate effort to apply that new knowledge to our business world. This will make you, your team and your overall company stronger and better able to respond to the many new problems you will face in the future. A question I am often asked is “what is the best way to learn from our past experiences?” My immediate response is to “watch the game films”. Watching the game films is a simple but highly effective process. Professional sports teams use this process daily and so can you. After a problem or “surprise event” ask yourself the following – “Based upon what we now know, if we had the chance to go through this experience again, what would we – – start doing; stop doing; do more of and do less of? I guarantee that if done correctly, this process will help you collect the right information to develop your permanent fix. Once you developed the fix, make certain that you include in your implementation of it comprehensive communications to your staff and, if applicable, to your customers so everyone understands what’s been done; why; how it effects them and how it will benefit them.
Bonus Step 4
Finally, before you close the book on this experience, be sure you give credit to your team for all of the “heavy lifting” they did to help you solve the problem. This is a critical last step that will pay you many dividends well into the future when you need that extra effort from your team again.
Effective problem solving skills, especially in today’s economic climate, are critical for success. When delivering a strategic keynote address on leadership, as a professional business motivational speaker, I stress this point as hard as I can to my audience. If you would like to learn more about how you can enhance your problem solving skills, contact me today
Albert Ellis, was an American psychologists, who in 1955 developed Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) once said, “The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny”.
Each of us, at one time or another, have made an excuse about a deadline we missed; work not done; or some other task that fell short of what we promised we would do. Some of us are so good at making excuses that it happens almost automatically or unconsciously as we attempt to avoid any responsibility for why something did not go well.
Maybe we do it because we don’t want to get in trouble or we don’t want to look bad in front of our co-workers; friends; family; boss or pet. We just don’t want anyone to think less about us. I guess it’s a part (a misguided part) of our emotional and psychological approach to how we try to defend or protect ourselves. We even go as far as to justify our excuse when we say –”But I have a good excuse”. From my perspective, there is no such thing as a good excuse. All excuses are bad. What an excuse means is that for whatever reason, you have made the decision to not step up and take ownership or responsibility for your actions or lack thereof. You are in essence saying – “It isn’t my fault, don’t hold me accountable“. Well, that’s just old fashioned “you know what”.
It’s amazing and scary just how much effort people put into coming up with what they think is a “good excuse”. If they directed half of that effort into doing what they did not, there would be no cause for alarm.One of the reasons, I think, people make an excuse is that they fear making a mistake. I read once that the greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearful that you will make one. An excuse is their misguided attempt to get others to sympathize with them and “cut them a break”. They are trying to portray themselves as the victim and not the cause.
But what really happens when you get into the habit of making excuses?
First, the very people who you are trying to gain sympathy and understanding from begin to see you as someone who just cannot be depended upon. They know that you always have a reason (oops! I meant to say excuse) why something didn’t get done.
Next, you are seen as being lazy and defensive.
Your constant self victimization becomes old and eventually others will not want to work with you or even be around you. In fact, the only people you will attract are other self-made victims, like you.
You become so good at making excuses, that your reality becomes distorted and you start to immediately identify why “you can’t” do something even before you fully understand what needs to be done. You run the risk of diminishing your self-respect.
Finally, your life becomes an ever decreasing circle of lost personal and professional growth and opportunities. In essence, you self-sabotage yourself and never maximize your full capabilities.
So, how do you become more resilient and a “no excuse” player? Here are the top 5 ways you can eliminate the temptation of making excuses:
Your level of perseverance needs to be such that you will do what you need to do to see something through to a successful end; and that you have faith and confidence in your abilities to essentially “learn on the job”.
You must develop a “no fear” attitude towards failure. You must demonstrate that you are willing to try something and take a reasonable risk.
You must be 100% committed to learn from your mistakes to help you be better the next time.
When appropriate, you must be willing and eager to seek the help of experts as you work through a challenge. With this additional knowledge, you might avoid failure or a mistake, thereby eliminating the temptation to come up with an excuse.
Finally, you must have in place an ongoing program of self development. No matter how good you may think your skills are, you can always get better. Thinking you know it all is arrogant and misleading to you and others. The better or more proficient you become, they less likely you will be put in the position to explain (make excuses for) your actions or non-actions.
Dr. Stephen Covey, an internationally recognized leadership authority and author has been quoted as saying “When you make a mistake, admit it; correct it and learn from it immediately”. Pretty good advice, right?
There is another aspect of excuse making that needs to be addressed also. Specifically, if you are in a leadership role, how do you handle a team member who is really good at making excuses? When I am asked to give a leadership keynote presentation as a motivational business speaker, I always stress how a leader can only be as good as his team and the team will only be as good as the leader. As a leader, to keep making progress, one of the things you need to focus on is building a “no excuse” culture within your team; easier said than done. If you have team members who are good at coming up with reasons why bad things are never their fault your ability to delegate and boost your team’s performance will be severely hampered. These folks will test every aspect of your leadership style. Shortly, I will be releasing another blog post on effective leadership techniques to handle the “excuse maker”. For now however, remember the importance of being consistent in the expectations you set for team members and how you hold them accountable. Excuse makers don’t like expectations and they really don’t like accountability – for anything! As I said, more to come but for now if you want to get a quick review on my prior posts on being a leader – then click leadership.
The next time you are faced with making the choice of offering an excuse or stepping up and taking responsibility and ownership for your actions, take a “time out” before you act. Consider for a minute if you are willing to put your courage, confidence, self respect and reputation at risk. Remember that others will judge you based on your actions. Do you want to be seen as the person who has the courage to take responsibility for their actions or the person who “always has an excuse”? Choose wisely.
Let’s be clear; effective leaders know that working “On” Your Business really means working on “You”
We have all heard about the importance of differentiating between working “on” your business versus working “in” your business. The concept is often discussed when I am presenting to business leaders as a business motivational speaker. Heck, I use this statement in much of my work as a business coach with my clients. However, I am quick to point out that when an owner or leader gets better, their business automatically follows and also improves. So, you are your business and your business is you. But, is that always a good thing? Let’s look at some indicators that will help you answer the question for you and your business. Okay, you know the drill – answer the question based on reality, not what you might “hope” it would be.
Do you find that during any particular week you waste time and money and still miss opportunities?
Do you find yourself involved in a fair amount of “fire-fighting” and moving from crisis to crisis?
Are you very busy, running from task to task and meeting to meeting but still see no measurable progress being made?
Are you pulled in multiple directions at the same time with little or no time for you?
Do your employees require constant follow-up; do what they want, when they want regardless of what you want them to do?
Do you, today, still have the same passion about what you do as when you first started?
If you answered “yes” to at least two of these questions, then your professional life (and maybe even your personal life) can best be described in the following way – “the bad news is you’re lost but the worse news is you’re making great time”. If you have a team depending on you, this type of situation will dampen any attempts to either properly delegate to them; set performance expectations or boost the team’s performance.
You are at a critical crossroads and you can’t stand there too long trying to determine which way to go. The choices are clear – accept the status quo, curl up into a complacent ball and accept the fact that you will forever be a victim of the circumstances you created. That’s right! You created! Often when one accepts this type of status quo, they are laying the groundwork for a future crisis. I remember discussing this point in a Managing Crisis presentation I gave to a medical management group when they hired me as a professional keynote speaker for their conference.
The other choice you can make, at the crossroads I mentioned, is to change the status quo and create a “new” reality and start down that road of becoming a “master” of the circumstances (and opportunities) that you create. That’s right you create!
You’re the only one who can make this decision. To help you, let’s get some brilliant advice from the wisest man I know – Yogi Berra. One of Yogi’s most famous statements is “when you come to a fork in the road, take it”. Here’s what Yogi meant by this brilliant tidbit of advice. According to Yogi (taken from his book with the same title) ”people are always afraid of making the wrong choice. But no matter what decision you make…you shouldn’t look back. Trust your instincts”. Yogi went on to say, “Make a firm decision. Make sure it feels right…don’t second guess yourself. But on big life decisions, get advice if you can”.
Bottom line; accept responsibility for your career (and life). If you don’t like where you are, then do something about it, now. Determine where you want to be; create your plan and take action and implement it, one step at a time. Click here to find the solutions for the questions I asked you at the very beginning of this post. Then, take the next step and contact me.
Self Discipline Is the Cornerstone of How You Manage Yourself
Self discipline is the single most important skill/ habit (after perseverance) that you need to develop to achieve any level of success. It doesn’t matter whether you are a business owner, a CEO or a corporate executive. Self discipline is a key ingredient to whatever you do. George Washington was once quoted as saying, “Nothing is more harmful to the service, than the neglect of discipline, for discipline, more than numbers, gives one army, superiority over another.”
The best definition of self discipline, I believe, was written by the famous biologist, Thomas Huxley (1825 – 1895). He defined self discipline as “doing what you are supposed to do; when you are supposed to do it; even though you may not feel like doing it (at that particular time). Self-discipline involves acting on what you “know” as opposed to how you “feel”at any given time. As a motivational business/keynote speaker, when I talk to my audiences about the critical need to “Be Fearless; Step Up and Play Big“, I explain that the absence of strong self discipline skills is the biggest barrier to their success that they will face.
How important is self discipline? It’s really important! As Stephen R. Covey once wrote, “the undisciplined are slaves to moods, appetites and passions (i.e. their emotions)”. Ever experienced this in your career or in your experience in running your business? Don’t look away or sigh. Admit it, you’ve been there! Did you like it? I doubt it.
Self discipline is the cornerstone of your ability to manage yourself. If you cannot manage yourself then how can you manage – I mean lead – others? Self discipline is a key component of leadership. Some confuse self discipline with time management. Those who are confused on this, mistakenly think that if you improve your time management skill, you will be in better control of your surroundings. Well, they have it backwards! Let me explain. If you cannot first manage yourself, how can you manage time? So, I don’t use the term “time” management” but rather, “you” management. It’s all about what “you” do with the time you have available to you each day. If your self discipline (and perseverance) skills are lacking, you won’t do much with the time you have, other than waste it! Wasting time in a leadership role also means that you are “delegation” challenged.
Self discipline helps you focus on your priorities and control your tasks. As you control tasks, you build more self-discipline. As you build more self-discipline, you build more and better “you” management skills. As your “you” management skills grow, you level of self-confidence develops further. And once this happens, your self-discipline habit grows stronger preparing you for the next challenge. That’s really what life is all about – every time you solve one challenge, you earn the right to a greater one.
Developing self discipline is hard; Courage is Needed
Don’t be fooled; self discipline is often a very difficult habit to develop and sustain. Personal courage is needed to help you push through the barriers you will face to develop your self discipline skill. However, as this skill develops and you begin to achieve small doses of success, the more courage you will have to tackle the bigger challenges waiting ahead for you.
So, with all of this as background, let’s talk about how you can develop and strengthen your self discipline skill set:
Focus on when you should start a task as opposed to when you need to complete it. When you focus on the completion date first, you leave yourself open to procrastination – and missed deadlines as well as missed opportunities.
Start to plan each day, the day before – make your “next day” plan the last thing you do before you go home. By having a daily plan, you give yourself a clearer picture of what needs to be done that day. The clearer the picture, the more likely you will hit your goals for that day.
Have goals: realistic and achievable ones. Why? Goals help you map out your journey. Goals are one of the key ingredients that help us build the resilience and courage to stay focused on what is possible and stake our claim to it.
When creating your daily plan, ask yourself two questions. First, what is the one thing I must get done today? Secondly, what could stand in my way of getting this key task done? By knowing your key task, you have more clarity. By thinking about what obstacle you might face, will give you time to figure out a solution to it or at minimum, a way around it. In addition, this process helps you to “own your goal.”
Start to take on those tasks or challenges, that in the past you would have avoided until the last minute or just completely ignored. These are the challenges that are within your level of ability but do represent a “stretch” to your limits. I don’t want you to leave your comfort zone, but rather start to stretch it. This is where your courage will come in to play.
In addition to these legitimate comfort zone stretchers, start tackling those things that you put off because you might be lazy; you don’t feel like doing it or just don’t like to do it.
It will require hard work and focus.
Above all, you must be persistent and not give up when you experience some failures or setbacks as you begin to stretch and strengthen your self discipline skill set. The risk of giving up is too great to you professionally and personally.
Some equate self discipline with mental toughness. Vince Lombardi, the legendary Green Bay Packers coach, stated – “Mental toughness is many things and rather difficult to explain. It’s qualities are sacrifice and self-denial. Most importantly, it is combined with a perfectly disciplined will that refuses to give in. It’s a state of mind; you could call it character in action.”
To develop and enhance your level of self discipline demands that you accept the fact that it will require courage, hard work, will power, focus and persistence. But the rewards of being in control of your circumstances and destiny far outweigh the sacrifice. Or, do you like being a victim and enjoy the chaos and feelings of being constantly overwhelmed that come with it?
Well, are you ready to “Be Fearless; Step Up and Play Big”? There is no time like the present to get started. First, get my six video series to show you how to step up your game. Next, contact me to help you develop and implement your plan to create a better future.
From my own business experiences and in my role as a motivational business speaker, I have learned that one of the most important tools a leader has at their disposal is trust. Without it, you’re not leading; you’re just going for a walk in the park. Think about it, if your team doesn’t trust you, why would they follow you or even listen to you? When I am in my role as a professional keynote speaker, I explain that without their trust, a team will not respond to even the simplest request from their leader, let alone the hard ones which require extra effort on their part. The fate of a business can be tied to the level of trust a team has in its leader.
So, if trust is so important, how does a leader go about earning it – that’s right earning it! Too many leadership “one night stands (ONS)” (ONS – these are the folks – not leaders – who think that they have earned the trust of their team because of their title – really dumb, right?). From my own career experiences and from those of leaders, I respect, I have come up with an initial list of things a leader needs to do to earn the trust of their team. Here it is (by the way, let me know what you would add to it) or if you’d like to view a quick summary of these tips click here:
When I am presenting as a leadership keynote speaker, I explain that you need to have a vision of where you want to take your organization. Effective leaders have a destination in mind (and then another one after the first one is achieved) and like to get there in the most direct way possible. While there may be some “zigging and zagging” to deal with obstacles, teams respond best when the leader is confident in the direction they are going. No vision = No trust.
From your vision, develop a set of clear values that you will adhere to in executing your strategy to achieve your vision. If you can’t place a high premium on things that will describe who you are – your core – and why you do what you do, you are creating a credibility and integrity vacuum in the eyes and minds of your followers. No values (consistently followed) = No trust.
Do what you say you will do or in other words live up to the promises you make. You’ve heard the old expression – you can talk the talk but can you walk the walk? Do I really need to explain this further? If you need further explanation stop now and go do something else. No walk the walk = No trust.
Listen to your employees so that you can build a strong reputation and relationship with them. Hold periodic meetings to keep everyone in the loop – I call them “huddles”; talk one-on-one with them; ask them about their career goals – I call these “EDM’s” or employee development meetings; ask them what is working and what they think can be done to make things better. No listening = No trust.
Equally important to your team’s development (as well as your reputation with them) is for you to spend some time daily or weekly catching them doing something right. Look for every opportunity you can to reinforce the right actions and behaviors on the part of your team. There is a geat book on the subject called “Whale Done” by Ken Blanchard. It’s a short but very valuable read. Go get it! No encouragement = No trust.
Get into the habit of admitting your mistakes when something goes wrong. If your team sees you doing this, they will know that you are human and they will begin to admit (and take responsibility for) their mistakes. When taking responsibility becomes the norm in your business culture, finger pointing episodes decrease and you are laying the foundation for building a “no excuse” culture within your company. No taking responsibility for your actions = No trust.
The example you set through your actions determines how you lead. Hence the concept “leadership by example”. As a leader you set the tone by what you do more than what you say. This is the single biggest factor in how trustworthy your team believes you to be. As the “boss’, you need to have a higher level of integrity. The industrialist, Andrew Carneige captured the concept best when he said, “As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do”. No setting the right example = No trust.
Finally, to help you earn the trust of your team (and boost your team’s performance), learn to take smart risks. In my role as a professional business speaker, I usually talk about the importance of taking smart risks. I use a turtle in my discussion by asking ‘how does a turtle move forward”? I get the usual answers of “one step at a time” or “slowly”. The audience usually has an “ah ha” moment when I respond that a turtle moves forward by “sticking his neck out”. The turtle understands all too well that making progress involves, in fact demands, taking risks. There is a lesson here for all who hope to be successful leaders. Once you get comfortable taking risks, “coach” your team how to take them as well. Set the parameters they need to stay within, set the performance expectations they must meet and then effectively delegate the task. Show them how there are no mistakes in business (or in life), only lessons. No risk taking = No trust.
So, what should you do now? Simple…conduct your own self examination to evaluate the level of trust you have earned with your team. To help you in this effort, let me give you the answer. You can do a better job. Create your own plan to get you started. Not sure where to start? Let me give you that answer also – call me. Maybe we can discuss how I can help you through a leadership coaching program or by some focused executive coaching. Whatever we do, will be designed to teach you how to improve profitability by boosting your team’s performance. it’s simple really. When you get better, your team and your company gets better.