Leadership Article


Leverage Your Resources and Increase Your Flexibility

When we think of resources we tend to think of employees, money, time and energy. There are other resources that many people tend to disregard as real resources perhaps due to the nature of them. The resources would include the hard to quantify but just as important qualities and skills that we and our team members have, such as innovation, diverse perspectives, deep understanding of your industry both historically and technically at multiple levels, your intention, your gut feeling, the vision, mission and goals of the organization. All of these plus many more internal structures are resources or tools or skills. I like to call them resources.

The more access we have to our internal resources the more flexible we are, especially under stress. When we are on the firing line and need to make decisions quickly without having all of the information available, it is critical that we have access to our inner resources of our gut feeling. Leadership in these moments requires us to take strategic risk, and have the courage to put into motion those actions that can create outcomes of wins, loses or marginal developments.

We don't face these kinds of challenges daily but do have routine circumstances that challenge us with solving very complex issues with the goal of achieving exceptional results. One of the greatest resources each of us has is the ability to learn and have direct experience with solving great challenges. One presupposition that I would like to introduce is that each of us has all of the inner resources we need to be successful in some context. The question is: can you take that resource in the context of your personal life (or other context) and apply it to your work life?

We tend to compartmentalize our thinking so learning doesn't always wash over to other contexts of our experiences. For example, I had the opportunity to work with a key sales person who had very harsh behaviors with co-workers. Imagine this, a person who by the nature of his job had to have excellent relationship building skills to enroll and retain customers, which was verified when talking with him. Because he was so focused on pleasing the customer, he developed two behaviors that were problematic. First, he disregarded the company's policy and procedures about how work was to flow and who did what. Second, he became a bully on behalf of his customers and would intimidate co-workers to comply with the positive intention of responding to customer requests. Needless to say, this situation created legal exposure to the company, a lot of conflict within, and havoc with schedules. In addition, the customers were trained to believe their priorities would be satisfied regardless of how unreasonable the request might be.

I worked with him and in short order helped him to identify his positive intentions to meet his customers' needs and how his behavior was disrupting the factory. Using proprietary techniques, I helped him transfer his relationship building resources into the context of working with his co-workers. Four months later, he was selected as "Employee of the Month" which is a distinction made by all of the workers at this company.

Skill Building Exercise
What resources do you most need in effectively answering your challenge? Think for a moment - if you had ________ (what or who), then you could confidently move forward with ease. To get the most out of this exercise, use the resource of your inner voice which means trust it and don't censor it or judge it. Once you know 'the what' or 'the who' in this statement, you can begin thinking of a time that you demonstrated having it or being effective in enrolling her or him to help. Then, begin imagining using that resource within the context of your current challenge. What would be different? Notice how you would be thinking and feeling about it. Next, take it into the next time you need to answer the challenge and see, hear and feel how it is to have this resource in this specific situation. Before you know it, you will have the resource in the context you want.

Leadership Tip
Manage your expectations and reactions to your team members. Sometimes we over react to a situation because of stress, fatigue, or overwhelmed. Remember to clean it up when you were unkind or had other inappropriate behaviors with a team member. If you find yourself faced with errors and are not in a resourceful state of mind, it is better to delay your evaluation of the worker involved rather than respond badly. Waiting a day until you are clear about the issue, how you would prefer it to be the next time and how to say it can save you from embarrassment, instill trust within the relationship and perhaps increase productivity.