Five Minutes That Can Change Everything

As you lead you need good judgment. You also cannot afford to be judgmental. That’s never more important than when considering the potential of the people on your team.

If you’re like most leaders you’re always watching your team to determine how effective they are in their roles. That’s good leadership. But good leadership is not good enough if your goal is to grow your organization.

Growing an organization requires great leadership and great leadership requires more than simply watching your people. It requires consistent two-way communication.

If you’re not “out there” interacting and talking with your people in an intentional manner then you’re probably missing out on the information that you need to advance from good to great leadership.

When I say “intentional” I mean very very intentional. You must make it a point to invest time each day, every single day, to learn something about someone on your team. Here’s one way to do that:

Every day invest the time to conduct an innerview, no I didn’t mean interview, I really meant innerview. An interview is what you do when you’re hiring someone. An innerview is what you do when you’re interested in keeping them, and building their success. You must see their motivations and lives from the inside to truly understand why they do what they do.

Invest five minutes a day, every single day to innerview at least one member of your team. Ask about them personally, about their goals, their challenges and most importantly, how you can help them get to where they want to be.

Way too many leaders have told me that the “innerview” is a nice thought but that they just can’t afford the time. This is often right after they have told me that their people are their most important asset.

If you want a great organization then you are going to have to be a great leader. Put your time where your mouth is and don’t just say your people are important, show it. Show it by using the innerview to make certain that when you’re making judgements about your people you know exactly who you are judging.

When you use your point of view to judge your people you’re almost certain to be judgmental. When you use your people’s point of view you can leave the “ment” behind and more clearly judge.

It requires just five minutes a day but it’s five minutes that can change everything about how you evaluate and lead your people.

Live Your Own Life

I am what I am and that’s all that I am.Popeye the Sailor

Are you living your own life or are you living the life that other people or some other person, expects you to live?

It’s a big question. If you’re living your life the way you want to live it then you have the opportunity to truly succeed. If you’re living the life of a poser, trying to be something or someone your really not, then despite what you may gain in life you’ll likely have trouble thinking of yourself as a true success.

Popeye had it figured out. He lived his life, his way, and that was that. If that wasn’t “good enough” for someone then they didn’t need to be part of his life. He was perfectly fine with that. No person’s opinion of him mattered more than his own.

That is a pretty healthy way to live.

Now, a few caveats. Living your life your way doesn’t mean you get to ignore all societal norms or the laws of the land. It doesn’t mean you aren’t required to share the planet with all it’s other inhabitants and it doesn’t mean you don’t have to use the resources of the planet responsibly.

Living your life your way just means that you don’t have to “adjust” your core values to meet the expectations of others. It means that you don’t have to look a certain way or believe anything that you don’t want to believe.

It means that you get to be you. It also means you get to have everything that comes with being whoever you want to be. Of course it also may mean that you don’t get to have some things that you might be able to have if you were different than you are. But hey, we all make choices.

No one can take your self-respect unless you’re their accomplice. Other people can think what they want of you but they can’t make you think less or more of yourself … unless you let them. So don’t allow other people to judge you; ignore the haters and naysayers and live the life that you choose for yourself.

Now, here’s the part of the post that’s meant as much for me as it is for anyone else. You might not like the second part of the post as much as the first.

If you’re not going to let other people judge you and you’re going to live your life as YOU see fit then you must stop judging other people and stop trying to get other people to live their life the way you think they should.

You’ll be better off in most every way if you stop judging people and start trying to understand them instead.

The moment you judge someone your judgement about them becomes clouded. You’re using your life experiences and your life values to determine how they should look, act, and behave. But they ain’t you. It’s highly unlikely that they view life through the same lens that you do. It’s their experiences, background, issues, hopes and goals that make them who they are. And they ain’t you!

So stop thinking they should be, or worse, that they need to be. You will find it far easier to accept who you are when you learn to accept others as they are.

Just accept it!

Authentic Leadership Doesn’t Pigeon Hole People

Authentic Leadership is a balancing act. 

An authentic leader must understand the strengths and weaknesses of their people. They must make judgments about their people and make certain that they are giving their people the best chance to succeed. 

It’s a balancing act because authentic leaders can’t afford to be judgmental while making the judgments required to help their people succeed. Authentic leaders know better than to apply their own life’s circumstances and values to the situations and decisions of their people. Authentic leaders accept most everything at face value. 

Authentic leaders know that judging a person does more to define themselves than it does the person they judge. They also know that every person is in someway unique and gifted. Authentic leaders invest the time to discover what those gifts are and find a way to put them to use.

Authentic leaders are realists and they are fair. There will always be a person or persons who a leader “prefers” working with but that preference shouldn’t mean “extra” benefits or opportunities for that “preferred” person. Rules and policies apply equally or they don’t really apply at all.

Most of all, a leader should never pigeon hole their people.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term “pigeon hole” it means to decide that someone or something belongs to a particular type or group, especially without knowing much about them.

This is where authentic leaders really separate themselves from the more common leader: They know their people. They know what motivates them, they know their challenges and goals. They see their people as PEOPLE and not merely a resource to be allocated. 

They invest the time everyday, yes everyday, to understand them as people. They work to understand their environment, backgrounds, past successes and failures. They can make judgments without being judgmental because they know where their people are coming from. 

If you’re a leader who believes (accurately) that your own success is dependent upon the success of your people then don’t judge what you don’t know. If you’re a leader who believes that your organization’s greatest asset is it’s people then invest your time with your greatest asset. 

People want to matter and when they know that they matter to you then and only then will you have the opportunity to truly lead.