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    Entries in Relationship (3)


    How to Lead: Influence By Relationships

    Leadership is influencing and motivating others to work towards an established goal that furthers their organization and/or movement. Where there is any strong leader, there is a group of followers willing to be led. As such, it is the leader ‘s responsibility to establish goals to measure the progress of their leadership, in turn allowing those being led to evaluate themselves within the context of the group.

    The use of autonomy and ownership harness group enthusiasm and allows group members to work towards a mutually established goal rather than the goal or solution assigned by the leader. Motivation allows leaders to use the skills within the group, freeing them up to oversee the group and cast a continuous vision as progress is made. A leader is ultimately measured by is effectiveness, and because of that, the team surrounding them must be equipped and managed to support the goals of that leader.

    The act of managing fulfills many principles of leadership. Motivating and mobilizing workers, bringing out team strengths and working through team weakness ‘ are just two small aspects to the role management undertakes. The role of the manager can often be overlooked in the name of team leadership, as teams breakdown barriers and help to balance the disbursement of duties. Although effective, teams without a central vision and visionary behind it risk losing focus and developing large inefficiencies.

    One of the key oversights that leaders fail to release is their responsibility to cast vision and set organizational goals. Although managers require leadership skills to motivate subordinates to complete the task at hand, leading as a concept maintains a much more macro view of any given situation of conflict.

    The responsibility of a leader is to maintain a ‘trailblazing ‘ attitude, paving the way for others to follow, casting vision that sets the direction for organizations ranging from 10 to 10 million people. Leaders must have a diverse skill set and have the ability to prioritize and conceptualize solutions in order to maximize and define their role as a leader, differentiating themselves from managers who focus more on keeping teams on track and motivating employees. Servant leadership essentially elevates others to greater levels and motivates the team as a whole, increasing employee moral and developing inter company relationships.


    Management By Walking Around (MBWA)

    There are many different "styles" to management.  Some good, some bad, and others just pointless.  One of the styles (or better: strategies) that I employ is MBWA: Management By Walking Around.

    There's are many ideas about what this form of management entails (like HERE, HERE, & HERE), but one of the things that I these examples lack is the the discussion surrounding the intentionality and depth of relationship that can come about through MBWA.

    One article discusses the risks of employees feelings "spied on" while the other two place the focus largely on "chit-chat."  I believe if done correctly and with a goal in mind, MBWA can be one of the most effective forms of management around.  Here's why:

    - Focus on people AND product
    - Measurable & promotes accountability
    - Keeps dialogue open and constant, without clogging communication lines
    - Allows management to maintain a pulse on the front lines of their department

    I have developed 3 specific connections that I look for out of any MBWA conversations I have.  They are:

    1. Be Personal.  Relationships are not built on professional connections alone, but rather through connecting on issues or discussions of common ground.  From sports, to family to <gasp> politics...these help to create a basis for the other 2 connections to have legitimate depth and substance.  How can I ask for transparency through accountability with no trust or goodwill.

    2. Be Productive. Monitoring staff productivity is just a part of management.  Not babysitting, but true managing.  Based on the foundations of the personal connection, it is actually easy to simply be updated on what is going on at that snapshot in time.

    3. Be Proactive. Most people want to manage a team that is full of passionate and hungry employees.  Staff that are eager to learn, work hard and enjoy (most of the time) their job.  I believe it is a managers job to push their staff to think proactively and always be looking to pick up the next; file, client account, idea, opportunity, etc.  Without being distracted from the task at hand, having a team that does not sit idle does not just encourage growth in the bottom-line, but helps promote value on the balance sheet, creating teamwork and a climate of innovative discipline.

    When it all gets boiled down to the basic, MBWA is effective because it uses the benefits of spontaneity (if a meeting is planned, people have time to come up with their B.S story of why the work isn't done) why channeling the personal touch of being in relationship (to varying degrees) with each person you manage.

    The big DISCLAIMER on this whole post however is that obviously, each situation requires a "made to fit" approach.  MBWA works with an informal, yet structured work environments with teams more than 3 but less than 15.  If a manager of 100 people tried MBWA, it wouldn't be would be exercise!


    Trust With Caution

    The ability to trust someone is really tested on a pass-fail basis.  You can’t really “sort of” trust someone.  My mind instantly jumps to the the "Trust Test" that many of us did when we were kids and some still do as adults at corporate retreats run by people that...don't know how to really build trust or teamwork.  That fact is, real trust isn't proven by the fact that someone catches you when your falling or built by your willingness to see if they think its funnier to let you fall than prevent it.  Building trust (like any element of the team building process) requires 3 separate litmus tests to be taken before engaging in a relationship that requires trust.  Each test on their own just acts as an indicator rather than a predictor of someone's trustworthiness.  For this reason, I try to examine each test on its own and then how they relate to each other.

    1. History & Experience. How long have you known this person or group?  How have the behaved in the past?  It's pretty much a certainty that if they have not exhibited trustworthy behaviour that promotes honesty and integrity; they're not about to start now.  Your experience with someone can be situational (i.e I trust this person's judgement from a business standpoint, but wouldn't go near them for anything regarding my personal life).  This is potentially dangerous, so one must proceed with caution when placing people in experiential or situational boxes of trust. 

    The simple fact is this: Trust is a track-record game.  Hard to build, easy to break.

    2. Credentials. Does this person or group align with your business and personal goals/objectives/principles?  What characteristics in them will enhance or limit your objectives?  I don't believe that these answers can necessarily be found on a resume, but must be gleaned through the process of getting to know someone.  As in Test #1, trust isn't built overnight, and neither is reputation. 

    The simple fact is this: Align yourself with like-minded individuals, as the process of trusting someone lends itself to people chasing the same things.

    3. Intuition & "Gut Feel". How does surrendering your trust to this person or group sit with you? This test is the most important, but the hardest to quantify.  Intuition is often over-rated and routinely misused (mainly to justify conclusions or feelings that are illogical or misplaced).  Within the context of the other two tests however,  your "Gut Feel" offers a tipping point as to how one should proceed.  If the situation doesn't sit right with you, the history doesn't offer a clear picture and the credentials are just not  I can vividly remember times when my gut feeling on a specific situation or individual said: "Don't go there" and not listening cost me financially, reputationally or both! 

    The simple fact is this: If your gut feel says run...listen.

    Trust (or a lack of) is often a pivot point in any relationship.  You can only go as far with someone as your trust will allow.  Marriages, business partnerships, friendships...they all require trust at some point.  When a fork in the road comes, trust will be what gets you to the otherwise of the issue.