Anamcgary's Blog

Leadership thoughts from PeopleFirst HR

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The Power of One

I’m not sure if this is about leadership, but I’m going to write about it anyway.  This past weekend I walked 30 miles across Atlanta with nearly 700 other walkers and hundreds of volunteers in the Atlanta 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer.  This group raised more than $650,000 in individual donations for breast cancer organizations dedicated to serving Georgia communities. Walkers and volunteers at this past weekend’s event included men and women from 137 cities and towns in Georgia and 20 other states.  The power of this weekend and the people I met and spoke with truly humbled me.  The reasons were sometimes far and wide.  From walkers that wanted a challenge of walking 30 miles, to individuals undergoing treatment, to family and friends supporting loved ones. And then there were those who just want to make a positive impact in this world.  The incredible spirit of the walkers and volunteers dedicated to doing something to help those affected by breast cancer is overwhelming and I for one am proud to be a small part of this event and organization.

Thanks to all who sponsored and supported me and consider joining me at next year walk, which will be our 10th anniversary walk.


Employee Engagement Equals Success

People who are engaged are more successful, and success helps people engage in their work.

To be engaged, you need to identify with the mission and purpose of your company. You’re great at some things and won’t ever be very good at others. If
you have the materials and equipment you need to do your job right, you’ll care more about the fate of your organization. You are naturally inclined toward
success at some things, and by adding skills, knowledge, and practice, you’ll be much better at them.

To some people, this message seems all too obvious should go without saying.  But you might be surprised at how many people don’t know these things or
haven’t given them much thought.

That’s a shame, and it’s all too common. If everyone knew and understood these secrets — which are more properly called elements of employee engagement
and strengths — they’d be much more successful at everything they do.

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Becoming a Better Person

Great post from Gregg Hake that focuses on looking at ourselves first, before we blame others for situations in our life.  The next time you face a challenge in your life ask yourself “How can I handle this in the most effective way given the present limitations in myself and those around me?”

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Do you Lead?

When we first ask ourselves this question, many people may blurt out a quick “yes“. Of course, in many ways and areas of our lives to lead, we take charge of situations. However, being a true leader is an amazing ability to have and to use effectively.

But, as many of us know firsthand, there are times that we have had to deal with so-called “leaders“, who have proven to be nothing of the such and not being able to lead. Working under someone who thinks they lead, but prove otherwise, is one of the most detrimental positions you might find yourself in.

Therefore, true leaders that actually lead are very hard to come by. Being a true leader means that you have the perfect combination of all of the necessary leadership ingredients. These would include knowledge, compassion, drive and ambition, and the personality to pull it all together… Lead.  Truth is, some people may just have a charismatic and inviting personality that will guide them into positions of leadership and to Lead.

Some of us may wake up one day and realize that we want to do more or be more than we are right now.  And now have the life experience and years under our belt to handle a leadership position that we were not ready for in the past to take on.

Maybe there was a critical turning point in our lives that have made us come back as a stronger leader, wanting more and knowing that we could do more.

To lead others effectively, you need to be the kind of person that inspires and leads others – and who others will see as a visionary leader. They must be confident enough to make tough leadership decisions, and to take control and take charge of doing what needs to be done when necessary.

One of the most important traits of a leader to have is to live their lives honestly, respectfully and ethically. If you are leading people, you must always lead by example. This cannot be done if you do not hold true to core values and behave in manners that would be inappropriate – whether in your business or your personal life.

If you truly lead others, make sure you guide them and teach them to grow in their positions.  A true leader does not just “manage” people or “supervise” people. Rather, he is a mentor for others to look up to – and to learn from.

True leaders are not selfish. Part of their job is to empower others to do their jobs to the best of their abilities to lead and to hold others accountable.  Being a leader is a large pair of shoes to fill. But for this rare and elite group, holding the title of leader is to be considered a true honor. Unfortunately, in society today, too many people who are in leadership positions have shown us what happens when you let the power at hand make your ego too large. When someone in this position thinks that they are “entitled” or better than those around them, they are no longer upholding the title of being a great leader.

It can take a lifetime to establish a great rapport and reputation, and a matter of seconds to lose everyone’s confidence and respect. Being a leader is not for everyone. However, if you are one of the few who feel able to answer to this calling, go after it with all you’ve got.

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Collaboration vs. Teamwork…What’s the difference?

Leaders want to get people to collaborate and think as one company. But managers in different functions or different business units seem surprisingly reluctant to work together. Why does collaboration fail? There are lots of reasons. Collaboration can be time-consuming. It creates risks for the participants. Competing objectives can be hard to resolve. But in my mind the biggest problem is that people confuse collaboration with teamwork.

To understand the difference, think about what a team is. Teams are created when managers need to work closely together to achieve a joint outcome. Their actions are interdependent, but they are fully committed to a single result. They need to reach joint decisions about many aspects of their work, and they will be cautious about taking unilateral action without checking with each other to make sure there are no negative side effects.

As long as the team has someone with the authority to resolve disputes, ensure coordinated action and remove disruptive or incompetent members, teams work well. Team members may dislike each other. They may disagree about important issues. They may argue disruptively. But with a good leader they can still perform.

Collaborators face a different challenge. They will have some shared goals, but they often also have competing goals. Also, the shared goal is usually only a small part of their responsibilities. Unlike a team, collaborators cannot rely on a leader to resolve differences. Unlike a customer-supplier relationship, collaborators cannot walk away from each other, when they disagree.

So a collaborative relationship is necessary when  you cannot use a team or a customer-supplier relationship. It is a form of customer-supplier relationship in which the participants have all the difficulties of contracting with each other without the power to walk away if the other party is being unreasonable or insensitive.

So be careful about relying too much on collaborative relationships except when a company objective is important enough to warrant some collaborative action but not so important as to warrant a dedicated team. For example, you might want to rely on collaboration if you need to get geographic business units to work with a central product development team or where business units share a sales force or a brand.

In these circumstances, success depends on whether:

  • The participants have committed to work together — collaboration requires emotional engagement;
  • The participants have high respect for each other’s competence on the topic of the collaboration or a natural first-among-equals exists amongst the participants, because of technical knowledge or experience;
  • The participants have the skills and permission to creatively bargain with each other over costs and benefits.

Before setting up a collaborative relationship, assess whether it is really necessary and whether the conditions for success can be created. And don’t think of it as a permanent solution. You should be looking to transition to an easier form of interaction, such as a team or a customer-supplier relationship. In these forms there are clear mechanisms for resolving disagreements.