Some of my favorite quotes:
“Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it.”
– Winnie the Pooh
We have all felt like this at some point in our career, we find ourselves doing something a certain way because that is how we have always done it, we often think “there has got to be a better way” but we are so busy we never take the time to actually think through it and come up with that better way. Take the time to think through those problems, figure out a better way, it will cause a lot fewer headaches for everyone and will probably be much more efficient.
“When confused about how you are doing as a leader find out how the people you lead are doing and you will have your answer.”
Your team is a direct reflection of you as the leader; there is no better test on how you are doing as the leader than by taking the temperature of the team.
“Contrary to popular belief the key to creating a team is not better communication, the same vision, cooperation, or good chemistry. The foundation of a good team goes much deeper, the basis for teamwork is genuine respect for what each person brings to the table. A respect that goes beyond stature, gender, race, or economic stature, even beyond ideologies and disagreements, with respect comes all he aforementioned attributes.”
– Doug Cartland
Does this genuine respect flow throughout all levels of your organization? That is when you will know that you are firing on all cylinders. No organization is perfect; everyone and every organization can always improve. As Vince Lombardi used to say, in order to get excellence you have to chase perfection knowing full well that you will not be able to catch it.
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the women and men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders, instead teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exopery
The people that work with you have to understand their responsibility and buy into the vision, if you just have a group of people that are checking things off of a “to-do” list then the best that you can hope for is mediocrity.
“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both.”
– James Michener
“I contend that all other things being equal we will work harder and more effectively for people we like. And we will like them in direct proportion to how they make us feel.”
– Barry Posner
Sitting in a lot of interviews for people applying to be a manager I often hear “I am not here to make friends” or “They don’t have to like me they just have to respect me.” I have tried very hard to never hire any of these people. First of all you cannot force someone to genuinely respect you, that has to be earned by being kind, disciplined, fair, and showing respect for all those you come in contact with; if you are these things you need not worry about respect, that will come on its own. As for the comment about “I am not here to make friends” this sounds good on the surface… however it implies that the person doesn’t care if anyone likes them or not and as the manager I subscribe to the above quote. There is nothing in the job description of a manager that requires you to not be liked by those that work for you. If you have the right people on your team it is in fact critical that they like you. If they like you and respect you then they will work harder than if the opposite is true.
“When we move on, people do not remember us for what we did for ourselves. They remember us for what we did for them.”
– Jim Kouzes
When we think about building our own personal legacy for others to remember us by, it is important to remember this quote. It is not how much power we ourselves can accumulate or how much wealth but about service to others, who we helped to lift up along the way.
“Despite faith and belief the caveman still made a tasty treat for the saber-toothed tiger. The moral of the story is that romantic notions are nice but sometimes you need a club with a nail through it.”
I have always liked this quote because it fits so well into the business world. There are bookstores full of books on management techniques and there is value in those books but the reality is that sometimes you just have to get in there, get your hands dirty to solve tough problems, work side by side with your team and get feedback from them. You can learn how to be a good manager but a good leader knows when to throw the text book away and get in there and solve a tough issue, the reality is those tough issues that come up so often do not come with a manual.
“Loyalty means not that I agree with everything you say, or that I believe you are always right. Loyalty means that I share a common ideal with you, and that, regardless of minor differences, we strive for it, shoulder to shoulder, confident in one another’s good faith, trust, consistency and affection.”
– Dr. Karl Menninger
People often hear me talk about a collaborative approach to management and leadership. Sometimes the collaborative approach of getting others ideas and gaining consensus is mistaken for indecisiveness or not wanting to make tough decisions that will not be popular. That could not be further from the truth. I believe in most situations you can gather the team together and come up with a workable solution better than any one person could have come up with. There will be times that a consensus cannot be reached; it is in those times that this approach to leadership has its biggest positive impact. As the leader you will have to make a decision that at least some of the group does not support initially; however, if the other 9 times a tough decision had to be made they were involved and did have buy in to the solution then they respect the decision you made, trust you as the leader, accept the solution provided, and work to make the solution successful.
“Gentleman, we are going to relentlessly chase perfection, knowing full well we will not catch it, because nothing is perfect. But we are going to relentlessly chase it, because in the process we will catch excellence.”
– Vince Lombardi