Posts filed under ‘will’

Don’t be the Battleship

A battleship had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy weather for several days. As night fell, the captain noticed the patchy fog and decided to remain on the bridge.

Shortly after dark, the lookout on the wing of the bridge reported, “Light bearing on the starboard bow”. “Is it steady or moving astern”, asked the captain? The lookout replied, “Steady, captain,” which meant the battleship was on a collision course with the other ship.

The captain called to the signalman, “Signal that ship: You are on a collision course. Advise you alter course 20 degrees.” Back came the answering signal, “Advisable…YOU change course 20 degrees.”

The captain said, “Send another message: “I am a senior captain. Change course 20 degrees.” “I am a seaman second class,” came the reply, “Change your course at once.”

The officer was furious. He spat out, “We are a battleship. Change YOUR course 20 degrees.” Back came the flashing response: “I am a lighthouse.”

As a boss…or a manager…a parent…or a spouse, have you ever been the battleship? The better question might be, “how many times this week have you collided with reality…when you were sure you were right and that you knew everything there was to know! You immediately jumped in and began coaching or correcting, only to find that you were woefully uninformed and on a collision course with disaster!

Habit 5 of Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” is “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”. Unfortunately, this habit doesn’t come naturally – most good habits don’t! As human beings, we often don’t see the world as it is, but as we are. We act as if it’s all about us, that the world revolves around us until a startling encounter with a “lighthouse” shakes us to the realization that we’re not bigger than the realities and natural laws of life.

Some examples of the “lighthouse” include: The free-will of others, circumstances beyond our view, limited resources, others’ perceptions and attitudes, natural laws of human behavior, and universal principles…principles that can’t be broken. As Dr. Covey said, “we cannot break a principle, we cannot break a natural law; we can only break ourselves upon them.”

None of us are bigger than life, and so we cannot just will the world to bend to our whim and accommodate our “reality”.

Truly successful leaders seek first to understand, and allow that understanding to light the way to safer waters and effective relationships.

Lead on…

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July 23, 2018 at 2:35 pm Leave a comment

“Leadership Begins with a “W”

Many managers became managers suddenly and unintentionally. And while it’s gratifying to be tapped out as “the guy” (or gal) best suited to take over the reigns of leadership when there’s a void, it can also be intimidating, especially when one doesn’t feel prepared! After all, how many managers of teams took the “management class” before they were handed the keys? Relatively few, so it’s natural for newly appointed managers to do the natural thing – to emulate their managers…who mimicked their managers…and so on! The problem is that this “legacy” of managing as it’s always been done, often finds its roots in the industrial age. For eons the accepted definition of management was “getting people to do what you want them to do”. That’s it! In the “old days” The typical worker didn’t have many choices and mobility and communications were restricted, so managers could get away with industrial age management techniques – those of directing, threatening, correcting, and controlling.

However, times have changed and so has the world. Today there are more choices: where to work, what to do, how to do it…the possibilities are endless. Add to that an entirely new and different generation of workers. Today, old management attitudes, such as “my way or the highway” just don’t fly! People have more choices, they’re more connected, better informed, and they expect to be respected, want to participate and to matter.

As a result, instead of “management” the focus has shifted to “leadership”, the definition of which is related to, yet vastly different from the definition of “management”. While management was getting others to do what you want them to do, Leadership is different. As Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Leadership is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do…because they WANT to do it”!

THIS is one of the most valuable lessons a new manager can learn. Unless people WANT to do the work they will not fully engage in the work. It’s a matter of free will (another important “w”). And here’s the second most valuable lesson: Until your employees have a vision and understanding of WHY they’re doing the work – how it helps – how it makes a difference – how it effects the customer, the team, and the organization, they won’t truly WANT to do it. Yes, without these you might get temporary compliance…when you‘re present, but as soon as you’re not, free will takes over and you lose their hands…unless you’ve won their hearts (WANT). The minute a manager thinks, “no one needs to know the plan, the details, or the results but me” he’s already lost!

To truly win the hearts and hands of any organization’s most flexible and valuable resource, the human resource, the effective leader begins with the WHY (the vision). This inspires the WANT (the heart), thereby engaging the will and hands of the team! There is no other sustainable way!

Lead on,

Cliff

February 4, 2016 at 10:09 am Leave a comment


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