Decision-Making, Mistakes and Leadership

— If you ain’t failin’, you ain’t tryin’


mistakesMistakes. Nobody likes ‘em, everybody makes ‘em. Yet it still sends a quiver up the spines of leaders everywhere, hearing “you made a mistake.” Our minds start racing, searching for pieces of memory that could reveal where we may have stretched a bit, or perhaps were a bit unsure in the decision we made.

“Crap! Now what…?”

We investigate our mistake, searching minute details in hopes of ensuring we never make that mistake again. Or any mistake, frankly. Many of us spend numerous waking hours fretting over the possibility (and reality) of making one mistake or another, incorrectly believing that error-free efforts are the minimum threshold of success for leadership.

How’s that working for you? I’ve got some suggestions that may help you be more successful — and less frustrated — in your leadership decision-making. First, a newsflash: you will make mistakes. Get over it. Mistakes are not inherently bad; our reactions to mistakes are much more telling than the mistake itself.

So, here we go… The 3 Principles for Avoiding Death through Mistakes: (more…)

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The Simplicity of Leadership

quit complicating the uncomplicated

By that, I mean that leadership is not complex. Can it be difficult? Certainly. But we need to remember to keep things as simple as humanly possible.

We read books, articles, white papers, etc.… All in search of a silver bullet, a magic wand, or something that will allow us to leapfrog common sense and simple leadership techniques. We study “The Five Principles of Employee Engagement;” we listen intently to the webinar, “How to Increase Employee Commitment;” we read books on “Motivating Millennials.”

And we don’t get any better. In fact, many could make a good argument that as we study these “new and innovative” techniques our ability to actually lead people gets worse. In other words, the more we “know,” the less we do.

My advice then is simple: just stop it! (love me some Bob Newhart…)

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Leadership and Playing Favorites

   — It’s what good leaders do!

One of your best employees (by whatever performance measure you use) needs an extra day of bereavement leave for the death of a grandparent who raised her near single-handedly. This employee has been with you 6+ years, with no attendance issues, no unreasonable demands, and you can’t even remember the last time she asked you for something. (more…)

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Leadership—Empowerment Done Right

   — Put ‘em in a box and learn to say ‘yes’

I used to believe that empowerment and delegation were the same thing… that we just invented the term “empowerment” because so many managers sucked at delegating.

I was wrong. I try not to say that too often (just ask my family), but it’s a certainty here. I was wrong. (more…)

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The 5 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

   — and they’re non-negotiable, folks!

(My most read article–I try to republish it at least once each year.)

Leaders, new and old, sometimes lose sight of the most fundamental tenets of leadership. Here’s a reminder…

I frequently tell executives that leadership – its concepts, theory, and core applications – haven’t changed in a millennium. Some our demographics may have changed, forcing us to use alternative applications of those concepts, but the basic concepts and theory remain.

So, why don’t we “just do it?” Sometimes we aren’t motivated; sometimes the “time” just doesn’t seem right.  Maybe we simply forgot some of the basics… hence this article.

I use the following rules for both new managers/leaders, as well as for any level of leadership when taking on a new role – some good things to not forget… So, here goes…

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The King of Malicious Compliance

Henry VIIII was the King of Malicious Compliance, and I wore the crown proudly.

Not familiar with the term? It’s a kind of organizational sabotage where the demise of the organization’s leader is the goal.

  • I’ve been known to rigidly comply with an instruction in a way that I knew would cause embarrassment for the instruction giver. (Ask me about my M&M watch sometime.)
  • Knowing I had the answer, I might deliberately withhold my contribution in a discussion unless asked a direct question.
  • I could adhere strictly to office hours – just the arrival and departure times, of course – while spending the intervening hours in decidedly unproductive ways.
  • Even worse, I might do something I knew was counterproductive, just “because you told me to.”

And I was pretty effective, because malicious compliance is contagious.

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