Sunday, August 25, 2013

Unexpected Leadership

My wife had just viewed a video and could not wait to share it with me.  It was a video about a female college softball player who had never hit a home run in a game . . .that was until one special day against her team’s conference rival.  In a game her team needed to stay in the hunt for a championship, she came up to bat with 2 players on base. With one mighty swing she hit the ball farther than she ever had and she looked up in time to see the ball go over the fence. In her excitement, she missed touching first base and quickly turned back to touch it. Her sudden pivot back toward first proved to be too much for her knee and with a torn ACL, she collapsed on the ground, writhing in pain.

As the runners came around and touched home plate celebrating, she still was on the ground.  It became clear that although she had hit a home run, she would not receive credit unless she circled the bases.  Her team could not help her in any way, because the rules state that she would be called out and her run would not count.

Then the unthinkable happened; one of the opposing players went up to the umpire and asked if she could help her?  The umpire said yes.  And with the help of another team mate the two opposing players picked her up and carried her around the bases stopping at only long enough to allow her to touch each base with her good foot.

After surrounding the bases the two players put her gently down on home plate, and the girl with the one good leg was mobbed by her teammates for hitting a 3-run homer that proved to be the game-winner.

When asked why they offered to carry her? One of the players said she had done it because her opponent deserved it, and it was the right thing to do.

Not only did the players display character, but tremendous leadership. By doing what was right in the face of the temptation to sit back and watch was going to happen, they, without thought for themselves, did what many others could not, or would not, do with the game on the line. I believe both girls are champions!

Our political leaders could learn a lot from these young girls. Doing what is right—because it is right—even if it means working with the other side, is what real leaders do.

You can watch the whole story for yourself right here.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Everyone's a Leader

Many times when I speak to people about leadership, they say, “I am not a leader.” I then ask them the following questions, and if they say yes to any one of them, then I say YOU ARE A LEADER:

Are you married? Then you are a leader. It does not matter if you are if you are the husband or wife. You are leading in some way, no matter how small.

Do you have kids? Then you are a leader. Your children will look to you for direction and in many cases their lives will be shaped by what they see in yours.

Do you work? Then you are a leader.  Whether you are an employee, a supervisor, or a manager, you are leading those employees who work alongside you or who report to you. I believe that the front desk receptionist is also a leader. People are influenced by his or her attitude and character, and some will emulate what they see.

Do you have friends? Then you are a leader.  Your friends are looking at you and your influence is being felt. You can influence them in many ways, so don’t take your leadership lightly.

The question then becomes ‘what type of leader are you?’ There are good and bad leaders. I am sure for every good leader you can name, you can equally name bad ones.

Leaders influence and, as result, people will follow.

So, what kind of leader are you, or what kind of leader do you want to become?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Stretch Yourself

One of my pet peeves is when people just do enough just to get by. I think they cheat themselves and others when they don't stretch themselves to be their best.

When I worked for Owens Corning, the management team would get together to develop our operating plan for our respective regions for the following year. Part of the operating plan was to develop goals that would support our plan. During this process, a manager would invariably develop goals that would not challenge his/her team.  We called it "baking the plan," which meant that achieving those goals was a sure thing.

When this happened, the rest of the management team would challenge the manager to develop "stretch goals." These are goals that are designed to provoke managers to push not only themselves, but also their teams to raise the bar on their performance.

Leaders challenge others to be their best. If left alone, many will only do what they are told or only what they think there are able to do.

Good leaders always look for ways to encourage and challenge their teams to rise above mediocrity.

Good leaders demand that their teams stretch their abilities to achieve results they never thought they could achieve.

In weight training a good trainer will get you to do just one more push up and lift that weight just one more time.  In order to achieve excellence in anything you will need to stretch yourself beyond your self-imposed limits, and when you do, the achievement will be so much more satisfying.

Don't just get by, STRETCH YOURSELF!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Leadership - Cool Under Pressure

It was 6:30 AM. I had just gotten out of bed and was having breakfast when I got a call from a sub-contractor who was doing some work for me. With panic in his voice, he said, "I don't know what to do." I asked him what was going on. He said the job had gone wrong, and he thought we needed to call the job off. I said, "Hold on, and I will be right there." When I arrived on the job and assessed the situation, I said, "It will be alright," and I calmed him and the rest of the crew down.

One of my guys looked at me and said, "That's why he's the boss. When he says it will be alright, it's all right."

Once we were able to decide on a course of action, I said, "Let's get it done." The very important job then went off without a hitch.  My team just needed me to keep a cool head and to be the stabilizer.

What they did not know was that I was concerned. This was a very important job with a lot of eyes on it, and I needed to get it done and done right! However, in order to get the job accomplished, I needed to calm the team down and to show confidence and decisiveness (never let them see you sweat).

I remember the San Francisco 49ers’ Joe Montana, the multiple Super Bowl winning quarterback whose nickname was "Cool Joe" because of how cool he was under pressure. His leadership, his ability to make good decisions, and his gift for instilling confidence in his team in the midst of adversity made him and his team World Champions!

The reason I could be cool under pressure is because of my team and my trust in their skills and abilities to meet the challenge and to get the job done.

Your ability to stay cool and calm and to trust your team during tough times is a winning combination  that will lead your team to victory.