Decisions fascinate me. Occasionally they come easily. Sometimes they are difficult. Oftentimes they’re stressful. Some have huge implications. Most have a variety of influencing factors. Some decisions turn out perfectly. Some blow up entirely.
Leaders are responsible for making important decisions that by nature aren’t easy. In fact, in a certain sense the essence of one’s leadership is the sum of the decisions he or she has made over time. Unfortunately, many leaders struggle with the decision-making process. I’ve written before about the need for leaders to have the courage to step up and make the tough calls. I’ve also shared an insightful decision-making process I’ve found.
Fortunately, decision-making skills are a lot like public speaking skills. The more you step up when others shy away, the greater your influence will become.
Below, I’d like to include a variety of factors I consider when making decisions that will have significant organizational impact. These are factors I often use – and encourage those I’m responsible for to use as well.
How exciting is decision-making?? I’ve always enjoyed the logic that goes into navigating the personal and professional crossroads of life. Sometimes things work out. Other times it’s a disaster. Did we make the right call? How can we know for sure?
I read a book a couple years ago that took decision-making to a whole new level. It was Decisive by Chip & Dan Heath. I don’t think I’ve heard as comprehensive (or creative) a thinking process as it relates to decision-making. And the best part is that is applies to nearly all circumstances, from business (should we sue a bigger company? offer a discount on our products?) to personal (should I break up with my significant other? let my adult child move back home? buy a new TV?).
Here is a brief summary of the WRAP decision-making process the Heath brothers use:
What comes to mind when you think about continuous improvement? Hopefully you believe it’s a leadership responsibility we all share each and every day. “CI” doesn’t discriminate based on seniority, title, pay grade or job function. Good ideas can come from everywhere. And in a changing environment where what worked yesterday may not work best today, there is all kinds of opportunity.
That being said, continuous improvement isn’t easy and it doesn’t happen by itself. It requires the active involvement of as many people as possible… which brings me back to the question: how do you think about continuous improvement?
“I’ve got a guy.”
That was one of the key messages of a sales training event I visited recently. The new sales consultants were supposed to realize they didn’t need to know everything about the services they were providing – they had plenty of other “experts” to support various parts of the deal. It’s a lot easier to sell when you don’t have to know everything yourself.
Which leads me to ask the question: whose “guy” (or gal) are you? And do they know it?
Here’s why it matters:
What happens when you fall down? I have a pastor friend whose church plant recently had to shut its doors after a couple years of financial, emotional and time sacrifices. Another friend’s restaurant wasn’t able to renew the property lease and now it’s closed. Several colleagues have had high profile work projects in both the recent and distant past overlooked, postponed or shut down after significant mental and emotional effort. What comes next?
There’s no question that setbacks are a part of business – and a part of life. We can minimize some of them, but we won’t be able to avoid them completely. Once they happen, it’s what comes next that is the crucial part. If you find yourself encountering a setback, here are some next steps.
A new year is often a great opportunity for new beginnings. But the truth is, we can get a new start anytime. New jobs, new projects, new goals, new hobbies – the possibilities are endless. When was the last time you started something new? If you’re just getting started now, here’s a game plan to get you moving fast!
Zig Ziglar once said that “a goal properly set is halfway reached.” I don’t know about you, but I always figured if I could get a 50% head start in anything, I’d take it! Of course it can take a lot of effort to slug through the dog days of execution, especially if your goal is to run a marathon or something tough and long-term like that. But the greater battle is usually for clarity at the onset.
So how do you get clarity when it comes to goal-setting?
You’ve probably heard about SMART goals before. If you haven’t, this little model could change your life. If you have, it’ll be a good refresher. Here are the steps to transforming regular, ordinary goals into SMART goals.
“I don’t like to micro manage,” my friend lamented. “But even when I set clear expectations and deadlines, I find myself having to guide the entire process or else the ball gets dropped. Is that an employee issue or a leadership issue?”
It’s hard enough to want to delegate in the first place. Many leaders lack trust, are insecure or are control freaks. But once you get past those barriers, what happens when your followers can’t pull their weight? Let’s talk about a few ways managers can guide their projects so that everyone can contribute.
You’ve just been assigned to fix a problem or design a solution for an organization, department or team. Maybe you’ve been brought in as a consultant or joined a cross-functional task force. Regardless, management wants results. Where do you start?
Just like in medicine, the last thing a change practitioner should do is prescribe before diagnosing. You don’t want to “fix” the wrong problem. That usually just makes things worse and hurts your credibility.
So how do you diagnose an organization?
All of a sudden you get put in charge of building a new training course for your organization. It could be leadership training, professional training or technical training. Doesn’t matter. So you do the hard work of analyzing the learning needs, developing objectives, designing content, coordinating the event and finally delivering the course. Mission accomplished! That is, until management asks for the evaluation results to find out what difference the course made. Now you’re just insulted. After all the hard work you put in, management thinks your course may have been a flop? The nerve!
This may be how you feel about evaluation… unless you have a built-in evaluation plan. In that case, you’ll be ready to hand over the results of your training before management even asks for it.
So how do you evaluate learning programs? In this post, I’d like to summarize the Kirkpatrick Four Levels of Learning Evaluation.
When you were growing up, you probably spent hours sitting in a classroom listening to teachers deliver lecture after lecture in school. Now, as an adult employee, the thought of sitting through company training seems boring, unproductive, pointless and wasteful compared to actual work you could be doing. And if that’s what you think, your colleagues are likely thinking the same thing. The great news is that learning organizations are shifting their methods. But tactics aren’t the best place to start. They never are. First, your organization needs a new learning mindset. Here’s how you can get one.
Following are six specific ways many organizations have traditionally thought about training – with a culture “shift” for each one.
Hopefully you’ve given significant thought to the questions “what is a leader?” and “what do leaders do?” Almost everyone has an opinion. Folks who value execution say, “leaders should drive results.” Folks who value relationships say, “Leadership should inspire others to reach their potential.” Folks who value authority say, “leaders should run a tight ship,” while folks who value team development simply say, “leaders serve.”
How do you answer the question?