leading people

Who's the man now, dawg?

Hi, my name is Jonathan, and by the end of this post, my hope is that you realize I am the next John Maxwell. Really a hybrid of John Maxwell and Stephen Covey, with the jawline of Tony Robbins.
If I haven't captivated your attention by now, I'm not sure what gives. Was it the jawline comparison? Too much?
In all seriousness, leadership can be a funny thing. Perhaps much like my personal comparison to the three listed above.
I was thinking about this post earlier this week, so I decided to take my dog for a walk. I figured maybe the aroma of Walter(my bowling-ball shaped English Bulldog) and the gray, hazy aesthetic of Seattle would really get the creative juices flowing. Doesn't it sound inspiring?
As I was walking him down our steps, I had this funny thought. In some ways, walking your dog is a lot like leadership. (Another great comparison!)
Please, let me try and explain.
I think the analogy is closer than you might realize.
Here are a couple of parallels.
1.  Dogs, like people, need direction. Unlike animals who run in packs, people run in tribes, and tribes have _____ (leaders!)
        When not enough leadership is present in a dog’s life, they can become very chaotic. In the wild (or like people in any group situation at any point in time throughout history... follow?), dogs will always identify a pack leader who sets the tone for the entire group. That alpha dog dictates when they go walking, how and where they walk, how many times they pass by a place that gives free treats, etc. As a leader, set the tone. Know where you are going and be confident, but also be open to unexpected paths that could lead to great adventure.
2. Dogs, like people, will try and "train" you if not enough leadership is present.
         I think there are probably a few ways to look at this, but I am going to go with the one that sticks out most to me. As a leader it is imperative to know your people. In order to lead them effectively, you need to know what makes them tick, what drives them. As with dogs and rewarding good behaviors, what traits will cause your group to trust you and give you their best? All the while, making those tough decisions like pulling your dog's leash when they try and go back to smell their crap. (yeah, it happens with people too) It typically takes the form of past failure, taking an offense, or fill in the blank with any number of things. People have a tendency to dwell on things that can be incredible time wasters, and they need you as a leader to pull their proverbial leash and say, "hey, time to leave that behind and keep going. Besides, I think I hear that ice cream truck just ahead." With your people, be sensitive to their needs, but at the same time be what they want you to be. Their leader.
Just call me Jonathan Milan. The Dog Whisperer in waiting.
Jonathan and his wife Christie are coming up on their first full year in Seattle, Washington where they moved to from Kansas City.  He will enter the final stretch of a two-year program at a Bible College there, and his wife is working to pay the bills. (ha, only partly kidding).
He also helped a church open a coffee shop where he works through the week. He's grateful that Seattle isn't really known for coffee, so the job is pretty laid back.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter for more great advice!

The Apostle Paul: freakin brilliant

When leading a community of people it's critical that the leader can say, "this one thing is what it's all about." Have you done this?

The apostle Paul when leading a new community of ragamuffins reminds them that they are to use their gifts and that they have entered a time and space where they will operate within three things: faith, hope and love.

How many of us wish we had a job description where the key result areas were just three things?

But then it gets even better because Paul says, "But the greatest of these is love."

Ugh, he's good.

(Somehow in the this post I have abandoned paragraphs, very Rob Bell-ish of me)

My point is that every team finds freedom in the "one thing". For the community that Paul was speaking to it always, when it doubt, boiled down to one thing: Am I demonstrating love? That's freakin brilliant leadership.

What about your team? What one thing does everything else hinge on? If you haven't communicated this you need to.

Please leave that child behind

The problem with management is that everything is measured by the least performing _______________.  Could be an employee.  Could be attendance.  Could be a student.  Could be you.  At what point did the Western culture get more addicted to the caboose (last car on a train).

and forget about the engine (what drives the train)?

Teams are no different than trains.  To every team there is an engine and a caboose.  The stronger the engine the stronger the entire train if everything is linked together.  The caboose is the caboose, it's along for the ride anyway.  Can you pep talk the caboose?  Can you encourage the caboose to pick it up?  Can you drop a hemi in the caboose and expect it to now push the train?  Then why do we do that with teams?  Focus on strengths, including strong people!  Encourage the strong people to bring someone with them instead of spending all your leadership energy trying to get the caboose to become an engine.

I have this fear that a train professional is going to blow this post up.

What a tool!

I was flipping through the channels recently and came across a infomercial that caught my attention.  It wasn't the product that put a jack move on my remote but a testimony.  A testimony from a man whose  job title was...Professional Tool Evaluator.  To a mature person this means nothing.  To an immature person it means glancing around an empty room looking for someone to giggle  with like a school girl.  Oh Infomercials... [youtube C2PVYMBQMfw]

Let's be honest with one another, when you hear the words "personal evaluation" what thoughts and emotions come up?  Failure?  Incompetencies? Pressure? Anxiety? Fear?

Now, imagine if the intent of the evaluation was feedback on what you do really well and how you add value to the organization?  If you knew that was coming, would you still have the same feelings?   Of course not, which means we need to learn how to better evaluate our people.  A lot of managers see personal evaluation as an opportunity to criticize.  And not just a small critique here and there. Oh no, they have  a long list of wrongs that has been stockpiled over time for this said evaluation meeting.

Leaders, on the other hand, see scheduled evaluation as an opportunity to build people up.  Peter Drucker's One Minute Manager is an incredible resource on how to reprimand people. Drucker has a great chapter on reprimand, his main point being that it shouldn't last longer than a minute!  If leaders were one minute reprimanders than evaluations wouldn't be such a drama.

Too many leaders make the mistake of seeing themselves as a "professional tool evaluator",  someone who is constantly trying to fix people or get rid of the "tools".  More often than not the person isn't the problem but the process is.  Don't evaluate people without evaluating your process as well.  Do you spend more time evaluating your team's strengths or weaknesses?  A weakness will always be a weakness compared to a strength (thank you, andy stanley.)  If your people are spending all of their time trying to improve on their weaknesses instead of working out of their strengths, you will never help them reach their potential...which means neither will your organization.

What has caused you to grow most from an evaluation?