Creating Magic

Every individual in your organization should clearly and completely understand what he or she is responsible for, what level of authority he or she has, and how he or she will be held accountable.

Each layer through which information is filtered multiplies the inaccuracies and distortions, making it much more likely that something minor will snowball into a serious problem.

…The better your direct reports, the more of them you can have. Why? Because they need very little supervision.

…People don’t always recognize the merits of change right off the bat. But if you persist, they’ll soon come to see why breaking the mold is not only in the best interest of the company but in their best interest as well, and they may even follow your example by initiating changes themselves.

Whether they’re called rules, procedures, policies, or operating guidelines, processes define how employees should interact with other people–coworkers, customers, and external business contacts–as well as with the physical environment and technology in order to accomplish specific tasks in the best and most efficient way. Effective processes make the routine things run smoothly and consistently, freeing employees to do the extra things that can turn a good business into a great business.

…You ignore the details at your peril.

…”We’ve always done it that way” could mean that you’ve been doing it wrong all along.

As a leader you have to keep your ear to the ground and listen for the sound of complaints from your staff. It helps to have a process in place to root out process problems and then follow up to make sure they’re resolved.

Being poorly organized is one of the biggest problems leaders run into, and they don’t always recognize it. Crises keep erupting around them, and they don’t realize that many could have been averted if they’d been better organized in the first place. And the more fires they have to put out, the more they resist getting organized, because they can’t stop long enough to take stock of their routines.

When a problem arises, seek out the process failure; don’t just look for someone to blame.

If you don’t appreciate, respect, and encourage those you lead, they’ll give you only halfhearted effort or, worse, sabotage you or leave you high and dry. Great leaders know that, and they look for opportunities to give out the free fuel of ARE in an authentic, specific, and timely manner.

Be conscious of the impact of your presence and your interactions with people.

You never know where your next great idea will come from.

You simply can’t lead if you can’t stand before a group and explain your vision in a way that inspires people to do what needs to be done.

Like parents, whose every word and action are lessons to their children, leaders have to model appropriate behavior at all times. Whether we like it or not, we’re always being watched and evaluated, and we’re always teaching–not just when we’re giving speeches or running meetings, but also when we’re walking down hallways, or leaving parking lots, or talking on cell phones to our kids.

…you have a different reputation with every person who knows you. Work hard to make each one a good one.

Professionals continuously raise the bar and help those they lead leap over it. But that’s not all. By setting higher and higher performance expectations, they inspire the people they lead to set even higher standards for themselves. At the same time, they are not unrealistic; their standards are lofty but reachable, and they hold people accountable for reaching them because they’re all about performance and results. So … make sure you’re crystal clear about what each person’s responsibility is, what his or her authority is, and what he or she will be held accountable for. Tell the people you lead exactly what will happen if they don’t meet performance standards, and be prepared to help poor performers get better.

You’ll never hear a true professional whine, complain, or make excuses. You’ll never see one mope, or act pessimistic or hopeless. It’s not that he or she is in denial when things aren’t going well; professionals are always grounded in reality, and while they can be visionaries, their visions are fact-based. But even when there are challenges to overcome, their attitude is always positive, and they never stop looking for solutions to problems that other people would give up on.

Like great parents, great leaders don’t wear the effects of bad days in front of others. It not only hurts your reputation but triggers worry and fear among your employees, rather than optimism.

Professionals keep a sharp eye out for the warning signs and move quickly to resolve tensions and restore trust by finding solutions that satisfy everyone concerned. They also choose their battles wisely; they don’t waste their time on petty disagreements and annoyances, but rather save their energy for issues that have real consequences.

You’re never as good as you think you are.

What do you stand for? What are your core values? Where do you draw your lines in the sand?

Honesty: We deal with one another in a straightforward manner.

Integrity: We act in a manner consistent with our words and beliefs.

Respect: We treat others with care and consideration.

Courage: We pursue our beliefs with strength and perseverance.

Openness: We share information freely.

Diversity: We seek, value, and respect differences among our fellow Cast Members.

Balance: We strive for stability and vitality in our lives.

…People will not be committed to you until they are certain you are committed to them.

…young workers want flexible, nonauthoritarian environments, where they are respected as individuals and allowed to develop to their full potentials. They want meaningful work, interesting challenges, and balanced lives, and they expect to be involved and appreciated from day one on the job. They also won’t tolerate the kinds of disrespectful treatment that many workers my age put up with early in our careers. They don’t want to be regarded as subordinates by their so-called superiors; they want to work with humble leaders who are focused on their work rather than on their status.

…20 percent of the people in an organization are active change agents, another 30 percent or so resist change, and a full 50 percent have the potential to go either way, depending upon how they are led.

Everything you say and do matters, perhaps more than you realize.