Archives For Strategy

Last week I re-read The Hobbit in anticipation of the movie launch. The reading was delightful and brought back many memories of images I had created over 30 years ago as I first read the epic tale. 

Team Building Hobbit Style

In the re-reading, I found many great analogies not only to effective teams, but also to leadership in a team enviroment. Thorin & Company plus Bilbo (and Gandalf at times) making up this illustrious team.

There are at least 5 lessons we can learn from The Hobbit about team building and leadership:

1. Choosing the Team

Why did Gandalf choose Bilbo? One lesson of effective teams found in this tale is membership. Why was Bilbo asked to join the group as the burglar? Why not another dwarf? Exactly, a 14th dwarf was not needed, but instead someone with skills differing. Those skills and talents unfolded as the book progressed – many not being revealed until the end. Several, Bilbo didn’t even know he had.

Was Gandalf a part of the team? Gandalf can be viewed as the team cham[……]

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If you want to be a smart manager, you need to use the SMA2RT tool. SMA2RT stands for Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Aligned, Realistic, and Time-Bound.SMART objectives and goals tag cloudIn my last post I covered the first four criteria. Here I’ll finish up with the last two, Realistic and Time-Bound.

R = REALISTIC: I find it very common in companies to establish ‘stretch goals’ for their employees.  How hard is too hard when putting some ‘stretch’ into an objective?  In his book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Mihaly Cziksentmihalyi describes a person’s optimal state of consciousness which he calls “flow”.

Cziksentmihalyi asks us to consider both the level of challenge of the work and the person’s skill level.  When people are “in the Zone” the activity is the right balance between challenge and skill.  If the assignment is too easy people become bored so they can lose motivation in their job. But, if people are given a task that is too difficult for their skill level, we throw them into anxi[……]

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The scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz  thought he didn’t have a brain. When he met the Wizard after helping Dorothy find her way on the Yellow Brick road, he found out he had one after all. Even still, it would have been a lot easier if he had used the SMA2RT Tool!

How to be a Smart Manager: Use the SMART Tool to Set Clear Objectives
If you want to be a smart manager you need the SMA2RT Tool!

After teaching new managers for over 15 years in several major companies, I’ve heard dozens of excuses why the objective-setting process doesn’t work. I’ve heard about the non-flexible IT systems HR keeps designing to store the objectives, or maybe it’s the cascade process that takes until the middle of a given fiscal year, or it’s might be that people see objective-setting as nothing more than paper work – not as a key capability of a great manager to get work done through other people.

Regardless of the ‘system’ HR requires you to follow, it’s essential that you as a manager set clear objectives with your people and create an on-going follow-up system to en[……]

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The first topic in this series on “Your First Year as a Leader-Manager” is: The Need for Setting Clear Objectives. It is absolutely essential that the objectives you set for your employees are CLEAR!

Need for Clear Objectives

Otherwise, the consequences might be pretty serious. In fact, your role as a manager depends on it.

Almost by definition, the core activity of being a manager is getting work done through other people.  Once you are promoted into management you are not only responsible for the work you deliver but you are also responsible for the work of everyone who reports to you.  They succeed – you succeed.  They fail – you…well… will probably no longer be a manager. This is why setting clear objectives is so important.

One of my favorite examples of setting clear objectives comes from a colleague of mine at Xerox.  While travelling on business, she called home to check-in with her family.  As she hung up the phone with her husband, she relayed the following story.  The objective given to[……]

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The goal of this series is to help you become a great Leader-Manager in your first year – so you get off to your best start possible!

Getting off to a good start in your first year as a managerAs a new manager you might feel a bit overwhelmed. What will your first year look like?What are the essentials you must know apply in the next 12 months if you are going to be successful in leading your team? Even as a veteran manager there may be a lot you wish you’d known or could do over.

I invite you to let me lead you through the next year as we tackle 12 key skills – skills that are essential for you to lead your people.  Each month I’ll introduce a new skill area – and support each skill area with 4-5 posts.

My company name is Leader Know How, so in these blogs you’ll get more than just an interesting idea, I’ll show you HOW to apply the idea to how you lead your people.  I’ll kick off each month with some theory and background, but then dig deeper into tools, case examples and practical exercises to help you immediately apply what we dis[……]

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wacky |ˈwakē| (also whacky)

funny or amusing in a slightly odd or peculiar way

eccentric, unconventional, uncommon, abnormal, irregular, aberrant, anomalous, odd, queer, strange, peculiar, weird, bizarre, outlandish, freakish, extraordinary; idiosyncratic, quirky, nonconformist, outré; way out, offbeat, freaky, oddball, kooky.

 Brain Ruts

Why do we get stuck in our ways of thinking, such that new possibilities keep eluding us?   Brain RUTs!  It’s as if the wagon wheels on our thinking trails just keep carving deeper and deeper ruts.

how to get unstuck in your thinking

 Try this to see how deep our “thinking ruts” are.

Ask people to give you a color, a type of furniture and a flower.  Did you hear a lot of red or blue, chair or table and rose or daisy?

Established patterns in our brains can be a good thing.  It helps us tie our shoes without thinking. It helps us attend to the whole and not have to painstakingly think about the parts.  It is why we can see the forest, and not just the trees. These patterns help us.  But sometimes these thinking patterns can get us stuck.  They can hinder us from finding that break-through idea.

Get out of the Rut:  Be Wacky!

Being WACKY can help us break out of our repetitive ways of thinking. Teams begin to see what was hiding behind their mental blinders when they take diverse, creative, and even silly perspectives. These out-of-the-ordinary perspectives can then be used to generate new paths of action.

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