17 Truths from Above and Below

Inc. Magazine is one of my favorite “pick up and reads” when I have a little down time. I always seem to walk away with a few nuggets that I can tuck in to my own leader’s locker.

And then as I go through varying experiences, I’m able to pull those nuggets right back out of the locker and use them.

In the last 48 hours, I’ve had four different development discussions with mentees and colleagues, each of which centered around awareness of what was happening above and below them.  Meaning – situations that involved their boss, their employees, or both.

Often in these discussions, a number of questions surface – like “Why doesn’t my boss understand me?”, “Why am I being micromanaged?” or “Why won’t my folks listen?” and “Why can’t they just get it done right?

To get to their answers, some times all you have to do is sit and listen and they work it out themselves. Some times they need a little prompting or encouragement. And some times (albeit few) they need to be told that they are causing the problem.

Regardless, the solutions usually revolve around them being more aware of the people they follow and the people they lead. Where you sit on the bus offers you a different perspective as compared to where someone else sits. Taking the time to understand where they are coming from or their perspectives often cures a lot of ills and misconceptions.

These discussions reminded me of an article I read in Inc. Magazine last month by Jeff Haden called 7 Things Your Employees Will Never Tell You. This was a great article chalked full of right-on-spot information. So, I set out to find it for you.

As I searched, I came across another Inc. Magazine article written by Haden a couple days ago that was trending in social media called 10 Things Bosses Never Tell Employees. As I read it, I was like, “This one’s true. Yep that one too. True. True. Oh, that’s just funny – but true.” Haden is a genius! In two brief articles, he provided the answers to many of the questions that were asked during my discussions – as well as many more.

So, my suggestion for you is to check out the two links above to the 17 truths inside Haden’s articles and get a good perspective of what’s going on above you and below you. Then use your new found knowledge to improve your understanding of your own work environment. You’ll also find that in your own role today as both boss and employee that you probably have these very same thoughts yourself.

What are some other things that a boss or employee will never tell you? (but should)

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Steve Jobs: Don’t Settle

As my daughter and I were getting ready to leave the soccer fields tonight, my iPhone buzzed.  It was a text from our local news station letting me know that Steve Jobs had passed away.

When I arrived home, I grabbed my Mac Book Pro and sat down in our family room to surf for some more news about the tragedy.  As I looked around the room, my wife was on her iPhone, my 8 year old was playing on her iPod, and my 3 year old was watching a movie on our iPad that she launched from iTunes.

It was a profound moment of realization at the impact of what this one visionary had created.

Jobs was a visionary.  He created things that will impact us for generations to come.  He laid an amazing foundation from which even greater innovation will come.

He didn’t just create things that we wanted.  He was able to create things we never dreamed about.  Things that stretched imagination.  Things that made our lives better.

But why?  How?

Then I found it.  Buried in an interview he conducted somewhere along his journey, two little words.

“Don’t settle.”

He didn’t settle in the way he designed and innovated.  He didn’t settle when he was losing millions of dollars in Apple.  He didn’t settle when the naysayers were their loudest.  He didn’t settle when there was an easier path.  He didn’t settle in developing a great culture and company.  He didn’t settle in developing others.  He didn’t settle when it came to his customers.

He didn’t settle…       …and ended up doing the impossible and building the improbable.

Interestingly, he also said, “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.”

And it’s through this relentless pursuit and passion that he created a legacy that will live for decades ….perhaps forever.  He was inspirational.

There are many leadership lessons to learn from the life of Steve Jobs.  But for now, I will simply say we will miss him.

What kind of legacy will you leave?

Three Lessons From My Great Race

I blame my parents for my competitive nature.  While not the most athletic lad growing up, I certainly was taught to “strive for excellence”, “do my best” and to “never give up”, which fuels this competitive fire inside of me.  While I wasn’t great at sports, I most certainly learned some valuable life lessons from sports, of which I will use this post to share three.

When I was a teenager, two friends of mine convinced me that I should take up long distance running.  There was a 5k race approaching and they talked me into training for it.  My friends were on the cross-country team at school and had much more experience than I.  I trained hard and prepared for race day, but was still nervous about the race.  I didn’t know what to expect or how I would perform.  I just knew that I would do my best and try not to embarrass myself too badly.

Before the race, as most young men do, we ribbed each other and I remember one of them saying, “Just try to keep up.”  Of course, I responded in kind.

As the race was getting ready to start, my parents reminded me to “do my best”.

As we lined up with the crowd of racers at the starting line, I looked at the other racers in admiration, hoping and believing that my mind and body were ready and they would not fail me. I reminded myself to just do my best.  The announcer started the count and at a gunshot, we were all off and running.

I was excited in the beginning because I was keeping pace with my friends.  I think I was full of adrenaline, because I felt great and wasn’t winded!

At about the one-mile mark, one of my friends started stumbling and slowing.  He complained of side pains and started breathing heavily.  Because he was slowing, my other friend and I started to outpace him.  He started yelling that we needed to stay together (which meant that we would have to slow down to stick with him).  The faster friend and I decided that we needed to “run the race” and not slow down.

We told him what we were going to do and started pulling away.  Our friend was clearly not happy with our decision.  His curses grew softer and softer as he faded into the distance behind us.

The two of us were moving at a pretty brisk pace when, at mile two, my friend (the more experienced runner) started to slow. For a moment I didn’t know what I was to do, but was comforted when my friend told me that I needed to go on and do my best.  I nodded and started to pull away from him, but this time I didn’t hear curses.  I heard him cheering me on saying, “GO! GO! GO!  You can do it!”  This fueled my pace.  And I heard his encouraging words grow softer as he faded into the distance as well.

Now I was by myself.  I had outlasted my two experienced friends.  I was moving at a good pace, but didn’t really have a gauge for whether I was doing good or bad. The only thing I could do was increase my own speed and focus on what was in front of me.  So, I ran faster.

I started to pass other runners, which quickly gave me new purpose.  After I would pass a runner, I would set my sights on a new target in front of me and try to run past them.  I did this over and over.  So, I ran faster.

Finally, before I knew it, I was in the home stretch and I could see a crowd of people.  I could hear them cheering.  So, I ran faster.

Before long, I was sprinting as hard as I could almost to the point of hyper-ventilating.  Yet, I kept the sprint up until I passed the finish line.

My parents were probably more surprised than excited at my achievement.  My mom didn’t get any pictures at the finish because they didn’t think I would finish that quickly.  I definitely surpassed everyone’s expectations.

I finished third in my age bracket with a time of around 20 minutes.  Not a super fast 5k race time, but not to shabby for my first race.  It was a very proud moment for the Jackson household.

I share this story with you not to relive a glory day (although some great memories came back while writing this), but rather because sports always seem to provide great life lessons and this parable had some for me that I’ve applied in both my personal and professional life.

So what did I learn from My Great Race?  Here are three lessons:

PLAY TO WIN

When you’re in the ‘game’, you have several choices.  Among others you can choose not to play, play not to lose, or play to win.

Each choice has a different mindset behind  it and each elicits different results.

My personal opinion is that if you are in the game, ‘choosing not to play’ really isn’t an option.  Although, I can think of countless stories where I have watched people sit on the sidelines and/or give up along the way.  Not playing is simply not acceptable.

‘Playing not to lose’ is an example of what I would call an incremental (and sometimes mediocre) effort.  It falls in line with other choices where you set a specific limit or goal and then play only to that goal and then stop.  For example, if I set the goal of doing 30 pushups in my morning workout.  I will almost always hit 30, but rarely go beyond that.  In business, it may mean performing to match or stay slightly ahead of a competitor’s performance.  Or performing to a specific number (e.g., comp sale, volume number), but not blowing it away.

We often have to set incremental goals in our mind or on paper, but how we truly view that goal is what will determine our level of success.  There is a time and place for setting these types of performance goals, but if you constantly ‘play not to lose’ you will rarely meet your FULL potential.

Playing to win means that you ‘show up’ and strive for the greatest result possible (doing your best) regardless of the goal.  Doing so will propel you towards meeting your potential and surpassing everyone’s expectations – even your own (as happened with me)..

In the race, had I stayed with either of my friends as they slowed, I would have met my goals of finishing the race and not embarrassing myself, but I never would have met my true potential that day.  So, ALWAYS do your best!

BELIEVE IN YOURSELF

Believing in yourself is something that I am sure you have heard many times before.  Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, the author of the Power of Postive Thinking, captured it well when he wrote, “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”

This is often easier said than done.  There are many factors that contribute to whether or not you believe in yourself.  A major factor is what those around you say.  Depending upon your sensitivity to others’ comments, they can lift you up to the highest of highs or bring you down to the lowest of lows.

Few roles open you up to more scrutiny than the role of a leader.  People always have opinions and comments about your performance.  Sometimes good, sometimes bad.  As I have told many, you can’t control what someone says, but you can control how you react to it.

Part of being a leader is learning to listen to others, determine the value of the information and then choose a course of action and drive forward.  You can ignore it, ask for more information, change your behavior, or let it fuel you.  Regardless, you have to learn to accept the cheers and the jeers.

Thinking back to the race, my first friend (perhaps out of frustration) cursed us for outpacing him.  He tried to hold us back and guilt us in to staying with him, which would have hindered our performance.  My second friend, cheered me on when I outpaced him and encouraged me until I couldn’t hear him anymore.  Two very different reactions to my performance, but because I believed in myself it was easy to process the information; one I ignored and one I let fuel my efforts.

SET YOUR SIGHTS FORWARD

There was an interesting point during the race that I found myself without a benchmark.  When I was in the last mile by myself, I entered the “okay…what now?” phase.  I didn’t know how I was performing, but instead of just running down the road aimlessly, I decided to set my sights forward on beating the next racer, then the next, then the next.  This helped me go faster and achieve greater results.

This definitely has application to how we function in the business world.  While we need to be aware of our surroundings, we should constantly be looking forward at how to achieve even greater results and higher heights.  Don’t be satisfied with the status quo.  Don’t run the race at the same pace as others.  Run faster.

I hope that you’ve found these three life lessons to be valuable.  I know that I have and practice them regularly in my career, leadership, and life.

What life lessons have you learned?

Enjoy!

~Jason

Return from a Short Hiatus

If you’ve wondered why there hasn’t been any new content posted on The Leaders Locker or new emails in the last couple weeks, it’s because I was away on vacation.  And the kind that doesn’t allow you much contact back with the digital and social world.  While this is always a shock to my system for the first few days, it starts to become kind of nice when you detox a bit because you lose connection with the outside world (namely the workplace).

Going away for a bit is always a great idea.  It’s always good to let your batteries recharge a little.

While I was hanging out on the deck of the cruise ship, my mind went to a place where it could free flow ideas. This “place” was mainly due to relaxation and not caused by some artificial state of induced euphoria – in case you were wondering.  It was that state where your worries and stress just seem to melt away.  Fortunately, I had my iPhone close by to take notes and jot down thoughts and ideas for future posts and articles.

I thought this would be a fitting first article upon my return, because it highlights a key (yet often forgotten) tenet of being a leader.  What is this great piece of wisdom you ask?  It’s not so much great wisdom as it is common sense – and here it is:  Leaders need to take breaks.  If nothing else, to refresh the mind.  However, there are many benefits of vacations or “time away” from the daily grind.

In doing a little research, I pulled these thoughts from an article written by Elizabeth Scott on the importance of vacations for stress relief, productivity, and health.

  • Vacations Promote Creativity: A good vacation can help us to reconnect with ourselves, operating as a vehicle for self-discovery and helping us get back to feeling our best.
  • Vacations Stave Off Burnout: Workers who take regular time to relax are less likely to experience burnout, making them more creative and productive than their overworked, under-rested counterparts.
  • Vacations Can Keep Us Healthy: Taking regular time off to ‘recharge your batteries’, thereby keeping stress levels lower, can keep you healthier.
  • Vacations Promote Overall Well Being: One study found that three days after vacation, subjects’ physical complaints, their quality of sleep and mood had improved as compared to before vacation. These gains were still present five weeks later, especially in those who had more personal time and overall satisfaction during their vacations.
  • Vacations Can Strengthen Bonds: Spending time enjoying life with loved ones can keep relationships strong, helping you enjoy the good times more and helping you through the stress of the hard times. In fact, a study by the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services found that women who took vacations were more satisfied with their marriages.
  • Vacations Can Help With Your Job Performance: As the authors of the above study suggest, the psychological benefits that come with more frequent vacations lead to increased quality of life, and that can lead to increased quality of work on the job.
  • Vacations Relieve Stress in Lasting Ways: It should come as no surprise that vacations that include plenty of free time bring stress relief, but research shows that a good vacation can lead to the experience of fewer stressful days at least five weeks later! That means that vacations are the gift to yourself that keeps on giving
There are two things that I would like to add to this post about vacation.
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The first is that of duration.  One of my mentors told me once that while the short 3 or 4 day weekends are great to help give you a little extra rest, extended vacations (week or more) help you really relax.  While I am sure that this is different for everyone, I must admit that my experiences support my mentor’s comment.  It seems like its usually day 3 or 4 on my vacation before I can truly start to relax.  Its the right amount of time for me to get past the anxiety of having to know whats happening at work.  And while I usually don’t take my company Blackberry on vacation anymore, there is still that nagging voice in my head that wants to know what’s happening at work.  He goes away after 2-3 days, which is when I really start to relax.
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The second is that of perspective.  While vacations hopefully allow your mind, body, and spirit the opportunity to relax a little, I always find that my mind becomes less noisy.  And when there is less noise, I have clearer perspective on life.  Things that may have had me wound up at work, just don’t seem as important any more.  It allows me time to help assess my current priorities and reprioritize if necessary.  I know I did a little of that in this last trip.
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So, with the vacation season upon us, I hope that you are able to slip away and enjoy some nice quite relaxing time that allows you to enjoy family and friends and lets you shed the worry and stress of the daily grind.  Hopefully, those quiet moments will also grant you clarity and perspective as well.
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Now that I’m back, I’ll probably get back in the regular cadence of weekly posts and articles.   This week, we’ll also be closing out our series on Mentoring Basics, so make sure to keep a watch out for that.
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I’ll close by borrowing a Swahili phrase made popular by Disney:
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Hakuna Matata (there are no worries)
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~Jason

I am NOT afraid!

Fear.  It gets the best of us some times.

There are so many things to be afraid of.  Bad relationships, rejection, “the dark”, flying, heights, illness and death to name just a few.

For me?  SPIDERS!  Yeesh….I do not like spiders.   They creep me out.

But what about at the workplace?  What are you afraid of?

Public speaking?  Your boss?  A co-worker?  Competition?  Public humiliation?  Getting fired?

Or perhaps the greatest fear of many people: failure.

Again…..there are plenty of things to be afraid of.  However, they all have something in common.

Do you know what that is?

They all require COURAGE to get over the fear.  Whether I am merely living with a fear or trying to outright overcome a fear, it all requires courage to do so.

Today, I want us to focus here.  On COURAGE.

Leaders should be courageous!  It is a key skill.  It is a key differentiator.  Leaders need to be courageous in the day-to-day situations they face AND they need to be courageous in how they approach their business.

Have you heard the term “courageous leadership”?

When I hear this term, it’s often spoken of in reverence.  It’s almost like someone is whispering it in awe or surprise.  “She showed courageous leadership.”  “He led with courage.”  It’s also something that I hear far too infrequently.  I don’t hear it every day or even every week.

This is odd to me.  If courage is a key skill of leaders, why aren’t there more displays of courage?

Courage in Day to Day Situations

You know what this looks like.  You’ve seen it before.

Most of us immediately think of  “ethical courage”; doing the right thing in the face of adversity.  This also has a strong link to integrity, which is paramount for leaders.

However, situational courage takes on many forms.  Do you have the courage to:

  • Tell a direct report that they are underperforming?
  • Tell a peer that they were a bit harsh with one of their employees?
  • Tell your boss that they are wrong?
  • Tell a vendor or business partner that they are going to lose their account?
  • Seek forgiveness and admit that you were wrong?
  • Champion an associate that you believe in that’s on the verge of being fired?
  • Go against the grain and the many?
  • Swim upstream?

These situations all require courage to take an action.  To do what you know is right.  Not what is popular, but what is right.  What is best for the associate.  What is best for the business.

In addition to courage, they require the skill to read the situation, make a judgment, determine an action, and follow through.  It often requires common sense and finesse, especially when dealing with controversial and unpopular topics.

Do you show courage in your daily actions?

Courage As an Approach to Business

Courage is not always situational.  It is not always the snap judgment that needs to be made in a split second.  It can be a very deliberate way to approach the way you do business.

I read a white paper by Keith Carver who talked at length about deliberate courage as a way of business.  In his paper, he quotes a Harvard Business Review written by Kathleen Reardon titled “Courage as a Skill.”  She said:

“…courage is rarely impulsive. Nor does it emerge from nowhere. In business, courage is really a special kind of calculated risk-taking. People who become good leaders have a greater than average willingness to make bold moves, but they strengthen their chances of success – and avoid career suicide – through careful deliberation and preparation.”

What Carver loved about this quote  was that it captures courage as a skill—one that encompasses risk-taking, decision-making, and experience.  He went on to say that courage is essential to business excellence in execution; crucial to ensure a thriving, high performance culture.

The question you should be asking yourself is “How do I apply courage in my business?”  Carver outlined five ways:

  • Exploring the unknown. It’s unsettling for many to navigate uncharted territory. But stepping out of the box, the silo, the rhythm or the status quo is a necessary discomfort to realize the next big idea.
  • Trusting one’s ‘gut.’ A leader’s intuition and instincts are honed by years of experience. Sometimes trusting them is a necessary leap of faith.
  • Nurturing the creative. Also potentially scary: removing boundaries, enabling time to think provocatively, and the breathing room needed to uncover a great idea together.
  • Taking measured risks. This calculation is often built on years of experience, but ultimately leaders must be able to pull the trigger and commit to an uncertain plan with potential but no promises.
  • Contingency planning. When the measured risk falls short, then what? Is there another direction to take, or a lesson to be learned. Courageous leaders think it through.
Do you show courage in the way you approach your business?
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Final Thoughts on Courage

Gus Lee, who wrote Courage:  The Backbone of Leadership said, “[A leader] without courage is a captive of fear who cannot lead others across the river (the challenge).
 
Getting over a fear doesn’t have to be a lonely journey.  Smart leaders know their fears, understand their fears, and look for ways to overcome their fears.  This may include having the courage to ask others for help.  There are a number of people that can be your strength; mentors, supervisors, colleagues, pastors, counselors, spouses, friends, etc.  If your fear is great, don’t go at it alone.
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So what are you afraid of?  Do you have a fear that is holding you hostage?  Do you have the courage to overcome it?  
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Do you apply courage in daily situations and in your business approach?
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How are you perceived as a leader?  Are you characterized as showing courageous leadership?  Or do you fall short?
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If you do fall short or are a captive of fear, repeat after me:
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“I am NOT afraid.”
“I will overcome my fears.  They will not hold me captive.”
“I will be courageous in my daily decisions.”
“I will be courageous in how I run my business.”
“I will lead with courage.”
“I am NOT afraid!”

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Enjoy!

~Jason

A Lesson in Graciousness and Servant Leadership

A friend of mine shared this story that was posted on CNN and I thought it was a fantastic display of servant leadership and graciousness.

In reading the below story, I wonder if the participants ever would have thought this would have ended up in national news.  Think what kind of story this would have been if the participants would have been snobby, uncaring or arrogant.

It doesn’t matter how great you think you are or great you may be, true leaders understand that serving others is the greatest way to lead and then act on it.

What kind of story are people telling about your actions?

Enjoy!

~Jason

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4-star general, 5-star grace

CNN -February 13, 2011- Written by Bob Greene

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Graciousness can pay priceless dividends.

And it doesn’t cost a thing.

You may have heard the story about what happened between White House adviser Valerie Jarrett and Four-Star Army Gen. Peter Chiarelli at a recent Washington dinner.

As reported by the website Daily Caller, Jarrett, a longtime Chicago friend of President Obama, was seated at the dinner when a general — later identified as Chiarelli, the No. 2-ranking general in the U.S. Army hierarchy, who was also a guest at the gathering — walked behind her. Chiarelli was in full dress uniform.

Jarrett, apparently only seeing Chiarelli’s striped uniform pants, thought that he was a waiter. She asked him to get her a glass of wine.

She was said to be mortified as soon as she realized her mistake, and who wouldn’t be? But the instructive part of this tale is what Chiarelli did next.

Rather than take offense, or try to make Jarrett feel small for her blunder, the general, in good humor, went and poured her a glass of wine. It was evident that he wanted to defuse the awkward moment, and to let Jarrett know that she should not feel embarrassed.

As Chiarelli wrote in an e-mail to CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr:

“It was an honest mistake that ANYONE could have made. She was sitting, I was standing and walking behind her and all she saw were the two stripes on my pants which were almost identical to the waiters’ pants — REALLY. She apologized and will come to the house for dinner if a date can be worked out in March.”

Now, even if you’ve never met Chiarelli or followed him in the news, you have to be impressed with him after hearing that story. With his lofty rank in the military, he could have given Jarrett the deep freeze, reproached her and corrected her. But he poured her the wine — “It was only good fun,” he wrote to Starr — and invited her to a meal at his home. He came out of the incident as a decent and magnanimous person.

It’s easy to do, if you care about other people’s feelings.

[There are more examples in the original article, which you can access via this link to CNN.]

What Gen. Chiarelli did though was to demonstrate, instinctively and in an instant, what it means to be a big person.

The rest of us may never reach the exalted status of those three men. But kindness knows no social stratum. Every day, we’re given the choice. Consideration? It’s free of charge. It can echo forever.

47 Minutes Well Spent

I love great leaders.

Even more, I love great leaders that are also great story tellers.

Hearing the stories of their successes and failures, joys and tragedies, fears and courage makes me a better leader.  It helps me internalize the lessons.  And some times, helps me find the strength to persevere in my own challenges and struggles.

I am fortunate to have a great leadership team that really takes the time to pass down the stories and lessons to make the next generation stronger.  They hold discussions on leadership tenets every other month for all of the senior managers and above in the department.  The last session was a couple weeks ago on communication.

I wanted to share with you the learning’s from 47 Minutes well spent….

I’ve always admired Tim Yatsko (SVP at Sam’s Club).  I knew him when he was in transportation, consulted him when I was thinking about making a career change, worked with him as a partner, and now have the pleasure of working under his leadership at Sam’s Club.  Tim led the meeting that I am referring to.  Below are a few key lessons/reminders that I took away from this session.

Tim said, “Knowledge is power” (we’ve all heard that before), but he followed with “So, share it”.  Leaders don’t keep all of the information for themselves, but rather share it with others for the greater of the organization.  Granted, there are some things that we are required to keep confidential based upon the position that we hold, but do you withhold other information to leverage it as power?  Or, do you share it with those that need it so they can succeed?

Tim also said, “Leaders share how they make decisions”.  They don’t just make decisions, but teach others how to make good decisions.

Think before you speak” is something many of us have heard since childhood, but many of us don’t practice.  How many times have you fired off that email in haste that you wish later you could have recalled?  How many times did you respond out of emotion to a challenge that you wish you could have retracted later?  There are times that we THINK we must respond quickly and urgently, but in reality there are very few times that don’t allow us an opportunity to pause (even if for a second) to stop, think (and is some cases rethink again) and then respond.  Taking a moment to be thoughtful may be what differentiates a good manager from a great leader.

Another tenet that acts in parallel is our ability to listen, which is the #1 communication technique.  Have you ever watched Doug McMillon (CEO of Walmart International) when he is listening to someone?  He has great listening skills, but what he is doing is absorbing what is said and formulating the questions that he is going to ask you next.  His questions are often very thoughtful, but they are also open ended, which elicits a better response, which gives him time to absorb and continue to think.  Using the time that you are listening to who you are talking to formulate thoughtful questions and/or responses to the topic at hand is another great way to set yourself apart.

When dealing with written communication, thinking and rethinking is especially critical.  Why?  Written communication is documented, archived, held forever and often times is the most misinterpreted of all the communication methods. Without having the benefit of body language to observe, or tone of voice to listen to, people often try to “read between the lines”, add emotion, and speculate about the purpose of your communication.  More importantly, written communication doesn’t require an immediate response.  While it may feel that you need to be immediate, you still have extra time that you don’t have when someone is face to face with you.  So writing, pausing, rewriting, and having someone else proof the email are all possible before you hit that send button.  Be brief.  Tell them what they need to know, not what you know.  A personal trick that I use is to keep the TO line blank until the email is ready to send so that I don’t accidentally send it before I am ready (I’ve made that mistake one too many times).

Tim told a story about when he worked for Lee Scott (our former CEO) back when Lee ran Logistics.  Much earlier in his career, Lee (wisely) had Tim proof a memo that he was sending up to elicit an action from his leadership.  Tim said that Lee was being way too detailed in the document (e.g., using logistics lingo that others wouldn’t recognize) and that in the end he basically said, “…and if we don’t do this, we’re stupid”.  Tim challenged back to Lee and through the story, here were my takeaways:

  1. If your leader has you proof something, be honest, help them win.  There is a reason they brought it to you in the first place.
  2. Make sure that your audience will understand what you are saying (lingo).
  3. Be brief.
  4. If you want approval, don’t call people stupid (even if it is masked nicely in flowery language).

While there were many other good lessons, I will close with this one.  As a leader, “Don’t assume people know things”.  Tim was clear that you have to tell them and set the appropriate expectations.  If you don’t, how do you ever expect them to do things right?

Cameron Geiger (VP at Sam’s Club) added, “It is our responsibility to share our culture.  If we don’t and it isn’t passed down, then it’s our own failure as leaders.”

This article was much longer than I originally intended, but is full of great information to absorb and pass on.  I’m going to post (in a separate article) several bullet points they had in a handout on communication.

My question for you is what will you do with this information?

Enjoy!

~Jason

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