Reverse-Engineering Your Worst Management Disasters

reverseReverse engineering is taking apart an object to see how it works in order to duplicate or enhance the object.  – WhatIs.com

Reverse engineering our disasters means really examining them, rather than sweeping them under the rug in embarrassment.We may be leaders. We may be managers, even at a high level. But being human, we will blow it sometimes. Sometimes BIG TIME. Part of recovering from our failures is to determine to grow from them.

We grow when we learn to be honest, really reflect on our disasters and their repercussions and learn to ask ourselves good, hard questions. I recommend having your management coach, immediate supervisor or trusted colleague help by asking you good questions, too. Notice that none of them are “why” questions. They’re not off-limits but it is too tempting to do the parental “why did you break the lamp?” accusation for which there is no real answer.

For each question there are implied follow-up questions that for space’s sake I did not note here. For example: “Has this happened before?” should be followed up by “Give examples. Then what happened? How did you respond then? To what consequence, if any?”

Your answers lie in the follow-up questions. All of this takes courage and accountability to do well. Continue reading

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Courage, Part 2 – If You don’t have it, you can GET it!

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A courageous leader knows that there is a cost in genuine leadership

Malala Yousafzai is a teenage Pakistani school student who, in retaliation for her high profile campaign for education and criticism of the Taliban, was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman. Thankfully, she survived the  wound and has become a leading spokesperson for human rights and education for girls.

Becoming Courageous

You can only soar as high as your courage will take you. To think that you will be effective and still have everyone love you, avoid all conflicts, never make mistakes or fail, is to live in fantasy. Ask yourself, what action am I avoiding because of the cost? It could be an interpersonal, professional or financial cost. It might be the cost of a long and arduous fight or the cost of redesigning and re-engineering systems and processes. It might be the cost of alienating key staff people or even higher ups.  Choose just one area with a “minimal” cost to start with and do the hard thing. Say the hard thing. Once you realize the world hasn’t ended, move on to the next. You will realize that you are slowly but surely becoming courageous!

Need coaching to lead the way you were meant to?

 

Courage: If you don’t have it, you can GET it – Part 1

Wizard of Oz, CourageOne of the most memorable scenes in movie history reminds us that some attributes of character that may not be innate may be acquired. In the case of courage, this is an essential acquisition. The sooner the better!

What does a courageous leader look like and how can we become one?

One well known leadership writer said you wouldn’t need courage if the things you were facing weren’t scary to begin with. In fact, we need to embrace and face our challenges in order to grow courageous.

A Courageous leader leads from the “inside out”

Up until the 80s most management theory focused on external behaviors that helped leaders manipulate the people around them to get the results or productivity they were looking for. Dale Carnegie’s famous book from 1936, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is still popular today. The dichotomy between one’s public and private self have become so well accepted in the business world and other sectors of power that the transparent leader in business is both a marvel and an anomaly.

Becoming courageous – Take a personality assessment, learn your behavioral style, solicit and accept feedback from others. Dedicate a whole season to understanding and analyzing both what makes you tick and the impact of your default behaviors and reactions to the people around you.  Author and church leadership expert Pete Scazzero says, “As the leader goes, so goes the church” [fill in your own place of influence, i.e. company, staff team, etc.]  Face the ugly truth. It can be the best thing to happen to you and your organization in the long run. If you can face the truth about yourself, your real motives, your mistakes – you can face anything!

A courageous leader chooses the right thing over the popular thing

Is there a truth you are holding that may burn within but you can’t bear to speak up about? NASA scientists who tried to warn about the potentials for disaster if the space shuttle Challenger was launched in sub freezing temperatures were silenced by higher ups who feared the wrath of the office of the President more than the likelihood of the loss of life for the astronauts in peril.

Astronomer and Scientist Galileo Galilei, who chose to challenge the views of the powerful Holy Roman Catholic Church by agreeing with Copernicus that the sun was the center of the (known) universe, rather than the earth said this: “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”—  Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina

Becoming courageousThe knowledge of the universe we take for granted, including the discovery of the telescope, came a a great cost to a man who put truth over the prevailing opinions. Write a list of things that you know would improve productivity among your staff, debug a system, or help a team get :”un-stuck”. Then write down the reason you have been sitting on this knowledge. There is no better time to speak up than now.

Need coaching to lead the way you were meant to?

Coming soon: Part 2 – More traits of courageous leaders