Know Thyself; Lead Thyself

I have rediscovered the power of knowledge. Not just generally learning something new, or going to school or reading a book. I discovered that knowing yourself is the most powerful knowledge you can ask for.
I posted about the Strengths-Based leadership book and philosophy a few weeks ago. Recently, in addition to learning about my strengths, I was introduced to the DISC personality profiles. This was another piece of the puzzle for me. I knew people were unique, but having a name for their tendencies helped me know how to better relate and communicate with others.
I learned that I have a stabilizing personality. I learned about the abilities I have in that regard and also the challenges that I bring upon myself.
I also learned how people are different. If you recognize that people respond differently to certain situations and why, it can help in leadership tremendously.
The DISC profile is divided into four categories, and one person may have any combination of these in varying degrees:
D: is Decisive. Quick to action, not overly concerned with people’s feelings.
I: is Influencer. Engages with people readily, and people are drawn to their personalities. They are funny or just talkative.
S: is Stabilizer. Great listeners, careful of others feelings, methodical decision makers.
C: is Cautious. The ultimate rule-follower. Studious and has great concern for “the right way” of doing things. Detail-oriented for sure.
When I learned about these types of personalities, I could see where my results were accurate in myself, but I could see where my wife’s results were spot-on for her too.
It opened up a new vocabulary to me, and I could see things and name personalities right away.
I had my team take the profile quiz, and we learned about how we can work together better. And we do. It’s great to be able to communicate about this with our team, and regarding how to communicate with clients. We have a language we can use now that was untapped before.
Learning about my own personality has helped me open up and communicate with my team more effectively. They have also learned how to work more effectively with me and each other.

Have you ever taken a personality test, like the DISC test? Were the results accurate?


Get Your Team On The Map

I had to help a staff member change jobs a few months ago. I had to do it because they didn’t do the work I needed them to do. I know that I probably was at fault partly for hiring them in the first place, and also for not communicating with them effectively. But they also couldn’t do the required work, like our team needed.

In ninth grade, I had a great geography teacher, Ms. Uribe. At the first of the year, we drew a map of the United States free hand. After our first semester, we had to draw another map. Once I had learned the names of the details of the states, I could draw so many more specifics. Because I knew the names of the peninsulas, lakes, rivers and cities, I could name and draw them all on the map.

What would your team members’ maps look like, if they had to draw the “map” of their jobs?

I had to face that question a few months ago, when I learned about KRA’s from Chris LoCurto and Dave Ramsey. A KRA is a Key Result Area. They teach that it is the scoreboard, it’s how a team member knows he’s winning.
I asked each of my team members what they thought their goals were for their job. we compared their answers to what I had planned for them in their position. Sometimes they matched up, and other times there was a gap in understanding.
When we filled in some of the missing pieces, and gave our team a goalpost to shoot for, things felt so much better in the office. There had not been conflict directly, but there was definitely confusion. Now that has been minimized dramatically.
The best thing about it was the clarity we all had about our goals. The “map” we drew together with the KRAs is going to lead our team to our goals. And keep us from going crazy at the same time.

Do you use job descriptions, or KRAs on your team? If not, what do you use and why?

Pride vs Communication, Don’t Fight With Your Team

The Hatfield Clan

I watched the Hatfield and McCoy miniseries this weekend and was disturbed by the events portrayed. I had heard of their feud, but I hadn’t learned much about them.
These feuding families lived in West Virginia and Kentucky in the 1800’s. their feud lasted for almost 50 years. So many unnecessary deaths resulted.
The patriarchs and leaders of the families were ultimately responsible for this feud because of decisions they made. Two major factors that I observed in my brief study of their fight were:

1) Pride
2) Lack of Communication

The leaders of the families were too proud to forgive. They were too proud to ask for forgiveness when they made a mistake. This pride led to deaths on both sides. They were too proud to admit they were wrong, and to appear weak to the other family.
On the side of communication, their pride played a role here too. If they would have humbled themselves to explain their positions, if they would have communicated what was happening, they may have been able to avoid some of the bloodshed. For instance, one of the fathers, Anse Hatfield, took his son out “fishing” and he fully intended on killing him because he thought his son was spying for the McCoys. He didn’t, it ended up being a miscommunication, but still, the thought that he could even go to that point made me think hard. I thought, how clearly do I share information with others. The stakes were high back then, and problems arose because they didn’t communicate.

I know I have let myself get defensive (or prideful) when receiving criticism. I immediately try to explain why I did something, even if, after looking back, it was wrong. My first instinct is to defend myself, “How could I make a mistake?” That’s something I have to overcome for sure.
I have been taught to over-communicate. When in doubt, I try to share more information with my team. They may be able to help solve a problem I’m facing. I have a tendency to keep things to myself for the most part, so this takes some effort for me. I have found when I try to over-communicate, usually, it ends up being just enough info for people.
I have had feuds in my office due to pride or low levels of communication. It has gotten pretty ugly at certain times, enough that once there was a judge involved and surprise witnesses and a twist to finish. But that is a story for another day.
I want my clients and team to be invested in my vision, but I can’t do that if I don’t share it with them. While the stakes are not as high in my business as they were in 1880’s West Virginia, I still need to pay attention.

How do you handle criticism?
Do you communicate enough with your team?

Don’t Excuse the Interruption

I loved my DVR when I had cable. Not only could I watch my shows when I wanted to, but I could do something even more profound.

I could skip the commercials.

Photo credit Pablo Torvinen

I could circumvent the negative side of television. It felt like I was cheating, almost. Why is that? What is so disdainful about the commercial breaks, and their attention-grabbing tactics?

It’s the interruption.
I’ve been reading Seth Godin’s 1999 book, “Permission Marketing“, and even though it is a little dated, he describes some concepts that are more true now than ever before.
Seth describes the dilemma of all marketers. He says that they are trying to grab the limited time and attention of the public. He says that “interruption marketers” try to take your attention away from your interest any time they can. If you are watching TV, they interrupt your program. If you are reading a magazine, they try to grab your eye as you turn the page. Or they pop up on your computer. I think of it as the type of marketing that people complain about. The annoying ads…
On the other side, “permission marketers” are trying to build a relationship with you. Instead of counting on love at first sight and running off to the wedding chapel, a permission marketer would go on a few dates first and then ask you to marry him.
In permission marketing, the person has to “opt-in” in order to receive material from you as the marketer. They have to give their permission because they are interested already. You have provided something of value for them, information, entertainment…and now they want more.
This process takes time, Seth Godin says you build these relationships by turning strangers into friends and friends into customers. He also says that this takes a leap of faith. It takes faith to put away the TV ads, the direct mail, and actually get to know people. Slow down and build trust with people, it can pay off in the end.

This can apply to a leader and her team as well. If she spends time with and gets to know the members of her team, they will trust her. She can help them reach their goals.



How can you focus on relationships to turn strangers into friends, and friends into customers?