The Better Leader Newsletter (February 6, 2020)
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The past two weeks have been special. I hosted a team meetup for one of our products, and the energy was amazing. It was invigorating to see people aligned toward a common mission and values. We left with a clear vision of what’s best next.
I then spent time at Disney World with my family for a much needed vacation. It was my son’s first time experiencing the wonder of Disney. He loved the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom! Laura and I had a wonderful time together with him. Keep reading for some pics!
On to the content…
REFLECT ON THIS
Pause and consider what’s truly important.
How will you measure your life?
When you think about “success”, what comes to your mind?
Is it having more money than your peers?
Is it a paid off mortgage?
Is it a degree from a prestigious university?
Is it having a seat at the top of the corporate ladder?
Is it having a loving marriage?
Is it making an impact on people?
Choose your yardstick wisely, because you get what you measure.
In the words of Clayton Christensen, the late Harvard business professor:
“This is my final recommendation: Think about the metric by which your life will be judged, and make a resolution to live every day so that in the end, your life will be judged a success.”
What’s on my mind.
How often do you find yourself doing things outside of your comfort zone?
As a leader, I am often confronted with situations that push me to grow. I’m certain you can relate:
- You need to deliver a poor performance report to a person on your team but struggle with giving critical feedback.
- You know you have a big deadline approaching but sabotage your time with unrelated, “important” tasks.
- You are required to submit a proposal before starting your work, but your modus operandi is “Ready.. Fire!.. Aim”.
- You commit to updating a critical business process, but you delegate the task you know you should do to someone else.
One such situation that pushed me to grow was our team retreat. Although I have been part of many retreats, this was the first one I organized.
To be honest, I was stressed. My natural abilities as a leader do not extend into event planning, and although the bulk of the planning was assigned to people more capable than me, I was responsible for its execution.
Event planning and execution is out of my comfort zone. It would be easy for me to absolve myself from this responsibility, but given the retreat was the first of its kind, I knew that I needed to step up and lead.
So what does it look like to grow in those scenarios?
Over time, I have discovered a few cascading techniques that make leading outside of your comfort zone possible:
- Start with a mindset shift. “I’m not good at this” will always result in poor leadership. Alternatively, “I’m committing my best talent and effort to this” greatly increases the probability of you leading well.
- Plan diligently. Confusion is the enemy of execution and a natural by-product of being uncomfortable. Make plans with someone who is strong in your area of weakness, and you will learn how to navigate more clearly and confidently.
- Communicate expectations ahead of time. Talk it out beforehand with a helpful, unaffiliated party. Clarify your message, then communicate expectations before you begin.
- After the fact, reflect on what went well, what didn’t go well and where improvements can be made.
I applied this process to the retreat, from planning to coordinating to execution. Below is a small list of what it produced:
- A 10-page retreat guide with clear instructions and expectations for all attendees. Because I had done the hard work of planning ahead of time with others who excelled in that area, there were very few questions about the retreat details.
- A master retreat information guide for myself and the other assistants. It included the retreat guide, as well as every piece of contact information for vendors, outings and attendees.
- A brief walkthrough of the retreat guide on the night of arrival. Even if the attendees chose not to read the guide, I could be assured they knew important details and where to go to get their questions answered.
- A detailed agenda with dedicated time blocks for each day. Time blocks lead to zero confusion about what someone should be doing at any given point in their day.
- A dedicated channel of communication to quickly communicate with all attendees if changes needed to be made (and they did).
The next time you find yourself leading outside of your comfort zone, take a deep breath and follow the process.
You may discover that, over time, your comfort zone grows.
FOR THE CURIOUS MIND
Broaden your horizons.
Curiosity is vital for growth. In each newsletter, I share a few resources tangentially related to leadership. I’ve found them interesting, and they’ve in turned expanded my capacity as a well-rounded leader.
I briefly touched on this topic earlier in the newsletter. Clayton Christensen was renowned for his work on disruptive innovation. His book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, is widely regarded for predicting many of the disruptive trends caused by technology today.
But, Christensen was more than his theories. During a battle with cancer, he learned that the metric you choose to measure your life is more important than anything else. And more than anything else, he wanted to be measured by the people he helped.
The article is a great read and filled with great content. One of my favorite quotes from the article:
“The lesson I learned from this is that it’s easier to hold to your principles 100% of the time than it is to hold to them 98% of the time. If you give in to “just this once,”… you’ll regret where you end up. You’ve got to define for yourself what you stand for and draw the line in a safe place.”
It’s true: some people are more productive than others, and habits are an integral piece of that productivity engine.
This is a no-frills, straight-to-it article with 6 actionable insights for improving productivity. In particular, I like the references to time blocking and achieving more with less.
Every leader experiences setbacks. Great leaders know how to bounce back.
It’s called resilience.
My favorite quote from the article on recovering from setbacks:
“There is no setback so severe that you cannot recover in some way, but it takes a certain mindset to make that recovery possible. I speak often of failing forward—learning from mistakes in order to become better. That same mindset is critical for resilience. You cannot let your setbacks defeat you…”
MY LATEST CONTENT
Enjoy the pics!
In the last two weeks, I have spent time with one of the teams in our company (OptinMonster) as well as gone to Disney World with my family. I thought you might like some photos from the Disney trip.
Learn and grow by listening to others.
I particularly enjoyed these 2 podcasts last week!
- Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink is a must-read book for any leader. His interview on the Entreleadership podcast, “Setting the Standard”, is nothing short of inspiring.
- Simon Sinek recently held an interview on John Maxwell’s Leadership Podcast about his latest book, The Infinite Game. One great quote from the book: “Leaders are not responsible for the results. Leaders are responsible for the people who are responsible for the results. And the best way to drive performance in an organization is to create an environment in which information can flow freely, mistakes can be highlighted and help can be offered and received.”
A QUESTION FOR YOU
Until we meet again…
At the end of each newsletter, I conclude our time with a thoughtful question designed to bring the best out of you.
How are you measuring your life?
Until next time,
P.S. I’d love to know what you are reading and listening to! Reply back with your favorite leadership insights and finds. I’m confident the rest of the BLN community will thank you for it!
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