Lessons in Leadership

The following scenarios are actual case studies from our clients in 2018.  These are examples of leadership we’ve run into with our own clients (within large and small companies).

“Everybody needs great leadership.” – Pete McDowell

Example #1:  A professional office setting

The current leader didn’t want to be the leader anymore.  So they put out an ad and hired a new person for the position.  Within a couple weeks, they realized the new person wasn’t working out (culture clash).  Then they found out one of their employees was causing some issues, which is why the first person didn’t want to be the leader.  They brought it to a head, the person causing the disruption quit, then the new leader decided she wasn’t right for the job.  She left, then two current employees came forward and said they wanted to share the leadership role.  And it’s working out perfectly.

The one disruptive employee had been doing this for a couple years and the other employees didn’t want to come forward.  So it’s important to have a good relationship with your employees so this doesn’t happen.

Leadership Lesson:  Be out there listening to your folks all the time.  Get out there at least a few minutes every day or a few hours every week, talking to your employees.

Example #2:  A construction based company 

In the last couple of years the company has grown 30%.  They have become extremely busy.  The business owner has very high standards, so relationships are very important, and as a result he has kept his hands on many things.  He used to work 80-100 hours per week. Working that much is a sign you need some help. So, we helped him hire a couple employees and one of them is now in a leadership position taking on some important responsibilities and is doing great.  The owner empowered her by saying, “I need your help.”

Leadership Lesson:  Be humble.  Be inspiring.  Be empowering.  Let go of tasks to ease your load and give others the opportunity to shine.

Example #3:  A rapidly growing company in Dallas

This company has grown 30-40% for the last five years.  The business owner loves to sell so he’s not in the office very much.  So he has someone at the office who handles a lot of details who often can’t get in touch with the business owner.  There’s a communication drop. So he started to send the owner a weekly summary. They are developing some discipline within this employee to make sure he does things in a very systematic way, and then communicates it to the business owner to help him sell (to grow the company another 30%).  

Leadership Lesson:  Create a system.  Look at your tasks right now and see where your time is going.  How can you take your time and decrease it with some things and increase it with other things?  Do this every 6 months!! What percentage of time should you spend on each task? As a leader, you should be spending more time with your people!!!

Example #4:  A business owner in a larger firm with a couple hundred employees

The owner is planning to retire within the next 24 months.  He wants to spend more time with his people.  He struggles with making himself do it. They want to do it, but it doesn’t get done.  He knows a lot and is really personable, so he committed to making a list with people’s names on it, so he can commit to an X number of hours of development time with those people.  

Leadership Lesson: Put a value on it. Decide what’s important and measure it!

What not to do/What to avoid:

  • Blanket Statements:  Example:  If you have a team of 10, and 3 or 4 people are always late, don’t make a blanket statement (or send a team email) saying “We have people late all the time.”  DO NOT DO THIS!!!
  • Lack of Knowledge as Leaders:  If everybody in your team is not performing, the first person you want to look at is yourself.  Who hired them? Who’s training them? Who’s inspiring them? Who’s meeting with them one-on-one?  How are you getting the message across?

If you’re having a performance based issue, ask questions!!!  Listen to your employees. Look at yourself first and then get with your team and have a great conversation.  Ask what you can do to serve them better to get there. Pull aside those who have the issues and talk to them individually.  Do not take all your employees and group them together and say “We have a problem” talking to a bunch of people who don’t have any issues.  That can be very frustrating and demoralizing to the team.  When you yell at everyone, you bring down the performance of your best performers and the entire team.  Leaders don’t yell and scream.  

Peg’s favorite leadership book:  The 5 Levels of Leadership – by John Maxwell

Our Challenge To You:  Read at least one book a quarter (we have a recommended reading list we can email to you).

If you want to schedule a coaching session with Peg or Pete, contact them at 614-306-7922 or contact them pegbuehrle@actioncoach.com or petemcdowell@actioncoach.com.

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