Autopilot Leadership?

Your boss doesn’t know he’s acting like an idiot. Your business partner doesn’t realize she’s grumpy.

They’re on autopilot. You probably are too sometimes…

It’s natural.

All activities can be put on automatic after awhile.  Even leadership.

I drive around in my truck eating, tweeting, singing, and watching out for cops…all at the same time.

Those skills are on autopilot.   The same goes with talking, typing, thinking, and reading while on a conference call.   Even complex skills like leadership can become automatic with enough repetition. That’s why only perfect practice makes perfect.  Every repetition matters.

After a certain number of days, emails, calls or meetings, people are wired to autopilot the activities they’ve mastered.   That’s sometimes a good thing.  Sometimes not.

It depends if you’ve been practicing perfectly or not.

If you’re angry for a long period of time, anger is natural.  If you’re growing, growth is natural.  If you’re respectful, respect is natural.   It’s all in how you train your autopilot.

Are you thinking about your leadership?

Are you letting anger or frustration define you slowly?  Are you letting a bad situation change you?  It’s not worth the autopilot anger.  Every day matters.  The slope is slippery.  The risks are real.

This autopilot leadership problem is exactly why I like social media and blogging so much. It wakes me up.  Sends me alerts.  Slaps me in the face sometimes.

I’m learning a lot from my fellow 8pm Warriors.  Thank you.

Have a perfect practice night!

Aaron@Biebert

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Celebrate the Little Victories Today

Your best memories…

Most involve a celebration.  Right?

People look forward to celebrating.  It has the power to motivate, uplift spirits, and create treasured memories.

So why don’t we do it more?  Why wait for big things to celebrate?

The greatest leaders I know remember to celebrate the little victories in their organization.  A successful sales call, new team member, or positive feedback from a client are all great reasons to buy lunch, grab drinks, or simply make an announcement.

It’s a simple way to keep your team happy, motivated, and loyal without hurting your budget with new raises, bonuses, or fringe benefits.

Who wants to leave a team that creates positive memories?

No one.

Regardless of who you’re leading (even yourself), remember to celebrate the little things today.

Have a celebration tonight,

Aaron@Biebert

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4 Leadership Skills Every Organization Should Teach

Everyone is a leader of something.

With skeleton crews and new leaders everywhere I look, leadership has never been more important for your organization.   To make an organization successful, we all must lead and it’s not as simple as giving orders, training, or asking for daily TPS reports.

Here are four skills that every leadership-centered organization should teach to their valuable staff members:

1) Self Leadership

It starts with you. If you can’t lead yourself, you can’t lead others.

This one is easy to understand, yet so hard to execute sometimes.  I still can’t get myself to do things I need to do sometimes (shhhh, don’t tell anyone).  Self leadership is the base for every great organization and should be widely understood.

Anyone looking to advance their career must lead themself first.

2) Delegation

Classic leadership.  You pick tasks that need to be done and ask one of your direct report team members to do it.  Simple, right?  The three big challenges are knowing what to delegate, how to communicate, and letting go after you delegate.

(Disclosure: This one requires people to report to you.  Don’t delegate to peers or higher level leaders.  It doesn’t work well.)

3) Empowerment

This is simple.  You hire/keep good people and get out of their way.  You don’t tell them what to do (delegate), but instead set a vision for what goals need to be met. The hardest part?  Hiring the right person.

Higher level leaders must learn to empower their best team members and delegate everything that isn’t a core function.  Then they can focus on the leadership activities that make an organization soar: vision setting, relationship building, collaboration with others, and self leadership.

Yes, self leadership.

The funny thing about empowerment is that in order for it to be successful, the person being empowered needs to keep working on self leadership. The higher you go, the fewer people telling you what to do.

Self leadership isn’t just for the entry-level.

4) Collaboration

This one isn’t usually included as a leadership function, but I think it should be.  

It’s a hybrid of self leadership and empowerment between two or more leaders.  On one hand, you empower the other party, help set a vision, and then get out of the way.  On the other, you lead yourself to complete your side of the collaboration.

It’s a sort of shared leadership that requires a lot of skill to keep a collaboration moving forward without hurting egos or losing vision.  We’ll see even more demand for this leadership skill as more and more small business leaders look for inter-organizational synergies.

Summary

I truly believe “leadership” is not just for the top people in an organization.

Every member of your team should become proficient at one of more of these leadership skills.  Entry level team members with an eye on promotion need to be self leaders.  When those same entry level leaders work with other self leaders, they need to become skilled at collaborating.

An organization of leaders will be a leading organization.

Be a leader tonight,

Aaron@Biebert

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6 Reasons Why “Conflicted” is Good for Your Life and Organization

If you want to do great things in life, being conflicted is good.

My last blog post and the one before it had a lot of generous people asking to help me because I seem conflicted.  It’s true that I’m conflicted sometimes, but here are six reasons why that’s a good thing.

1)  Conflicted means you don’t trust yourself

If you’re internally conflicted, it means you’ve realized you’re not always right.  That’s smart.  I’ve made many mistakes and the day I stop watching myself with a leery eye is the day I accept failure.  Anyone who trusts themselves completely is on their way to disaster.

Whether it’s personally or as a team, it’s important to regularly question your practices, ideas, and policies in a changing world.  The day you stop questioning is the day you fall behind.

2)  Conflicted people are moving.

By nature, a “conflicted” person is in a state of unrest and is more likely to be moving. Somewhere.  Once you stop, it’s hard to start again (inertia) and so successful people learn to keep moving.

3)  Peace is not always a good thing

Peace in an organization is not great for advancement.  In peace, there is groupthink, complacency, and a lack of creativity.  People ask, “Why change a good thing?”

Change is good.

Observe the accomplishments and discoveries that happen when governments or companies are conflicted internally or externally.  Look at the discoveries that NASA made while racing the USSR to space.  Look at the technologies developed while defending our country in World War II.  In conflict, people are forced to be at their best.  It pushes us further.

The same goes for individuals.

4)  Conflicted means you’re learning

Conflicted people or organizations are usually hunting for a resolution.  The act of searching for answers keeps us learning, sharp and educated along the way.

5)  Conflicted is good communication

The world is full of conflicts on the inside and outside.  If you seem conflicted to outsiders, you are doing a good job of communicating reality.  Various studies and my own research show we’re in an age of increased transparency and people prefer to work with people, leaders, and companies that are transparent, vulnerable, and humanized.  If you seem conflicted, you also seem more real, approachable, and trustworthy as long as you keep your emotions in check.

6)  Conflicted means you don’t settle for your first impulse

I think people should change their minds.  Even though your first choice might be right currently, it  may not be correct in 5 days or 5 years.  Settling isn’t a good thing.

 

I realize that this may seem ludicrous to some (peace is bad, conflict is good business, etc.), so I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on the issue.  Good or bad, let’s have a discussion about this topic.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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Good or Bad, It Takes Two to Tango

I’m celebrating seven (mostly) wonderful years of marriage today with Jenni, but wanted to make a public confession:

Every argument we’ve ever had is my fault.

Yep, I’m making this public.  Come to think of it, I’ve been a big part of every single problem I’ve ever had with anyone, not just my wife.

I’m not sure why I’ve ever denied it, or why anyone ever denies involvement in a bad situation. Rarely is a conflict one-sided. Arguments take two.

So do solutions.

Now that I’ve got that out of the way I can focus on fixing issues with others and finding compromise, not judging who started it or was at fault.  I was.

Fault is a distraction.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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The Google+ Directory (add yourself here)

So you’re on Google+ and it’s so quiet you can hear a pin drop?  Do not fear, your fellow 8pm Warriors are here!

Since the search tool isn’t helpful for finding new people, I’m starting this Google+ directory to help us find each other.  This method might be the only way, a sort of #FollowFriday for this new network.Google Plus Logo

Want to help out and connect with others?

Just follow the three steps below!  I look forward to connecting!

Step One:

Post the link to your Google+ profile in the comment section below. Mine looks like this:

https://plus.google.com/115187953339340278872/about

Also, include some key topics in your comment so that others can easily determine if you’re a good fit for their network.

Step Two:

Share this directory. It will only work if we get enough people to contribute to it. Take a minute (literally) to share it with the share buttons on top or bottom of this post.

 

Step Three:

Take some time and connect with your fellow 8pm Warriors!  Enjoy!

If you still need an invite, I will continue to invite email subscribers to Google+ on a regular basis.

 

Have a great day connecting!

Aaron@Biebert

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There’s So Much More than Independence

While celebrating Independence Day this afternoon, I got to thinking…

Why do so few people talk about the next step after independence?  When do we get to celebrate interdependence?

As much as I love independence, there’s so much more.  Before I continue, let me define three stages of dependence as I see them:

  1. Dependence – You need someone
  2. Independence – You don’t need someone
  3. Interdependence – You choose to need someone

Every major success I’ve had in my life is because of otherwise independent people who chose to give up some independence in order to make something great…together.  That’s interdependence.

When I was younger, I focused on independence and sought it at every turn. I went to college five hours away. I started my first business when I was 24 so I could work for myself.  

I was obsessed with independence!  In my immaturity I thought it was the goal, not just a step.

Those days are gone now.

Together we can always achieve more and that’s something to celebrate.  Major achievements require synergy.  Greater success requires interdependence.

Let me know if you agree.

Have an interdependent night,

Aaron@Biebert

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5 Things to Do After a Business Breakup

“John Smith is no longer with the company. Please forward all phone calls to me.”

This is not one of them.

In one of my first jobs after college, the company I worked for would send out emails like this every time someone got fired or left. No discussion. No explanation. Simple and cold.

The problem is that even your best employee inserts their name into John Smith’s place.  No one wants all their time, relationships, and energy summed up with the simple phrase “John or Jane Smith is no longer with the company.”
 

Most jobs come to an end, but we all want to believe that we’d be missed, celebrated, and respected.

It’s an emotional situation.

If someone leaves, is fired, or laid off, it should be traumatic to you as the leader. After all, it probably means you failed.

You hired the wrong person, didn’t build the relationship, or made decisions (or didn’t make decisions) that led to a need for downsizing. Obviously, people sometimes do unexpected things that make everyone feel good about a firing, but most times a firing ought to be the toughest thing you do as a leader.

But not for everyone else.

Those who are left behind need to feel like they are safe, appreciated, and respected.

Here are 5 things to do after a business breakup:

1)  Be Honest

Don’t say much more than the basics, but what you do say should be honest.  When you answer questions tell the truth.  It always gets out and you don’t want to ruin your trust with the remaining team members.

2)  Be Respectful

Focus on the positive things the former team member did.  Be thankful for the good things and do not bash them.  How you speak of the former team member is how others will picture you treating them if they’re gone.

3)  Talk about the Future

Just like any relationship, people know that a relationship is intact when you talk about the future of it.  Understandably, some of your team may be nervous if you let someone go, so it’s important to reassure them that the future is fine and they are part of it.

4)  Pay Attention

If one of your team members is close to the former employee, make sure you pay special attention to them. Pull them aside to discuss the situation and ask them to share their feelings with you.  Listen.

5)  Be Human

Let your team know that you have feelings.  Don’t be a strong leader, be a human one.  You just used the big stick, now it’s time for the quiet voice.  It’s time to share some emotions and make people comfortable again with you.  The more they know of you, the safer they feel.

Whatever you do, do not treat it like a regular day.  It is not.  It is the day you lost a part of your team.

How you act will show the world what you think of your team.

Have a great night!

Aaron@Biebert

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