Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

Grinding Toward Green: Getting staff to buy in and jump in

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012
Chase LeBlanc R.L. ASKS…
How should I go about training green kitchen practices to stubborn, entrenched kitchen staff?

THE STAFFING DOCTOR ANSWERS…
The most basic mistake that fast-moving organizations make over and over again is starting a discussion about proposed organizational changes (of any kind) by asking, “How do we get them to do X?” Ideally, you should begin to approach systemic change with the question “How do we get them to want to do X?” which is also known as creating easy workflow.The first step to answering that question is to ask the constituency. Gather all the facts and figures that make the best case for the proposed changes and have a meeting with the kitchen leaders/forepersons/ defacto leaders or the whole traveling gypsy kitchen band and frame the problem in the following manner: “We have to climb up this green mountain together.”

Contrary to the usual approach, leave out the part where you dictate the “proper” path. In the beginning of a change cycle, you will be far better served by asking for suggestions and allowing for group wisdom, experience, and skills to build a path forward. This frames the desired outcome as “our” problem, not “your” problem.

See what suggestions they might have on the best path to get to where you’d like to be. Maybe they have been waiting for someone to ask them to open up about going green and they’ll have tons of ideas, or maybe your effort will just be met with stone silence. No matter, kick the whole thing off with a nondirective- infected conversation. If you invite ideas and participation in the planning stages, it will almost always be met with a warmer welcome than simply telling employees how it’s going to be.

Eliminating input from those who do the work greatly diminishes your chance for buy-in and, in reality, any chance for the team to personally self-identify with the coming changes (“Hey, we thought of that…”).

Secondly, you have to grease the skids. After all of the priorities, standards, and procedures have been decided, it is imperative that you provide the training, support, and tools to do the job (in the new fashion) correctly. How will you make it easier to follow the transition? Of course, incentives will help if uniformly applied, but most folks wish to do the job right.

Clarity in a fast-paced, everchanging environment can be hard to come by. If you wish to enable a smooth transition from where you are to where you’d like to be, paint a clear picture of what a “win” looks like in the new phase, why it matters, how much the efforts of the contributors count toward success of the program, and the compelling logic of doing the new procedures within the new priorities paradigm.

I know that while many organizations and individuals will balk at the above suggestions and have a list of reasons why it’s not practical for their situation, ANYTHING that narrows the gap between “us” and “them” increases your chances of realizing your green dream change objectives.

Chase LeBlanc is the founder and CEO of Leadagers, LLC, and is a hospitality management performance coach with more than 25 years of experience. He is also the author of High Impact Hospitality: Upgrade Your Purpose, Performance and Profits!

 

Leadership is Like Ice Cream

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

The words “leader” and “leadership” used to be widely accepted definitions of person(s) at the very top. Now, they have been widely broadened to reflectively include those who contribute to the process of moving things forward at any level, in any business setting.

 I like to think of it this way, leadership is like ice cream, and the specific business, industry or circumstances are the flavors. It is impossible to use chocolate chip and make it work when pistachio swirl is required, unless you only care about the fact that you used “leadership ice cream” and not about the outcome or how it tastes. Now you know why poor leadership leaves such a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

The mixing of flavors (or leadership styles/skills) is a creative endeavor, because it has to be. The quest of all leaders, doing the right thing – at the right time – time after time – is not a science; it’s the repetitive capture of quicksilver. An enlightened/contemporary approach demands different leadership tactics for ever-changing circumstances and roles. You can be a lead cook, server or busser (out in-front-modeling the job in a stellar fashion) but that is different than a General Manager, battlefield leader or neighborhood political leader. Hone in on what will work best for your situation, circumstance, and timeframe.

Leadership (at any level) is simply a role. It can be definitive or derivative, but still just one of many roles that are played out within any human enterprise. Management is, in most situations, a job, with an accompanying job description. (Try to find a formal company job description for “leader.”)  Leadership and Management are properly awesome together — like ice cream and a cone but they aren’t the same thing!

In the hospitality industry leadership is sought, recognized and cultivated at all levels. If someone is the best busser/cook/server/bartender they can become a “lead” and leaders at all levels are the lifeblood of any hospitality organization. I am not a top–down leadership school-of-thought adherent, although it has had its place in history.  Enlightened organizations currently seek bottom-up/sideways/criss-cross leadership involvement and engagement. They rotate and align the best people, ideas, practices and future “potentials” to positions out in front.

Present day business environments are shockingly fluid and demanding of skills that previously were not essential requirements. At the top of this skills list is learning on-the-fly and adapting to ever-changing conditions.

How do you develop adroitness, awareness and capacity? With seasoning! How do you accelerate seasoning? Hopefully, with the complete backing of the entire organization toward leadership development, and by accepting that “mistakes” are part of the process. As many have stated before, not pushing your limits to the point of making some mistakes is a mistake, especially when you’re attempting to create engaged leaders at all levels of your organization. Please keep this seasoning logic at the forefront of your mind as you attempt to accomplish one of the major components of any leadership role – identifying and developing future leaders.

 A Quick Sidebar on Seasoning –

Some ol’ school professionals will remember a time when cast-iron cookware was the tool of choice, and all of those pans needed to be seasoned prior to use. There were formal steps that had to be undertaken prior to actually using the pan — a thorough cleaning, heavy coating of the proper oil, and measured heating. Seasoning is/was required in order to make the pans less sticky and to stave off rust.

In other words, formal steps are taken to make them work better and last longer. Might there be an equivalent body/mind/spirit process to accelerate the seasoning of your leaders? Perhaps, accelerated seasoning methodology is something to think about/act upon in your near future. It is, after all, the element most missing in the newly anointed at any level.

Individuals who use their “all,” and use it correctly, have accomplished many a success in business, athletics, and warfare. This, by the way, is the foundational reasoning smart folks use for hiring and promoting people who can draw from demonstrable military, sports, or previous business success.

All business owners/leaders attempt to develop a “strategy” for their business, which simply comes down to the decisions they make to maximize all available resources to gain success, however they define it. If working leaders have had limited life experience, their strategies are usually limited in scope. If you get the chance in life to participate in something that fully challenges you and demands physical and/or maximum mental effort, sign up. This life “seasoning” directly adds value in a business environment.

Leaders, you must try to create the most impactful flavor of leadership (ice cream) that works best for your situation/team and you’re going to have some bad batches along the way. Many of you already have faced the fact that some folks on your team will come up with a “dirt” flavor of team leadership when you asked them for cool-mint. However, you will be pleasantly surprised at the number of positive outcomes if you embrace the quest for engaged leadership at all levels as if it were both a business necessity and a creative flavor endeavor.

 

TEBOW & TURNAROUNDS

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Greetings from Tebowland,

Unless you have been living in a cave or immersed in the opening of a new international property, you have heard about the polarizing and perplexing story of Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos. Now, you may not follow the NFL or even like sports, but most anyone in our/any business can appreciate the turnaround of a brand name franchise and creating “fandemonium.” I thought I’d pass along a quick note from the eye of the Timmy-Typhoon.

The NFL’s Denver Broncos turnaround story (worst to first – in the same season – after years of irrelevance) is being written by many contributors. There have been clutch stops, picks, runs, throws, catches, kicks and fumble recoveries. As is almost always the case in a team sport, (read as your business) it takes a united team effort (“running on all cylinders – in the zone”) to win.

As the early season losses mounted and the Bronco “brain-trust” was feeling as if there was nothing left to lose – they unleashed Tim Tebow. What was initially significant about this “strategic” move was that the seemingly 3rd string quarterback leapfrogged over the 2nd string quarterback to become the starter. It was the harbinger of many strange and wonderful (if you bleed orange and blue) things to come such as – downgrading the playbook to a High School level and trading last year’s leading receiver and starting QB mid-season.  Now, we have the incredibly fashioned string of wins, and a self described “higher-calling” individual playing his position in an unorthodox manner – a truly compelling drama for fans and non-fans of all persuasions.

I have no idea how many more rabbits will be pulled out of the hat by Tebow & Co, but up to this point, there are a few practical turnaround-takeaways & leadership affirmations worth sharing –

  1. Attention leaders: it never hurts to have created a multitude of rabid fans in your last position
  2. Past behaviors/come-through-in-the-clutch-success – by an individual – should never be overlooked when attempting to predict future behaviors/come-through-in-the-clutch-success
  3. Great leadership is the dynamic influence/impact on others – and what you do & who you are (together) are more powerful than either alone
  4. A new way (read as a new right way) hardly ever comes from re-doing the same things, unless you dust off a playbook so old that everyone has forgotten how to defend it
  5. If you hope to be successful as a leader, you’ll need to rely on more than yourself to pull it off
  6. If you wish to have a widely accepted & rapid leadership transition – “selfless” leadership (serving others, accepting personal responsibility for failures, spreading credit for accomplishments, humble in victory and defeat) lies in stark contrast to “selfish” leadership
  7. Talent, hard work, unity and faith (a potent team combination) – can create more than your fair share of luck – AKA  culture & chemistry matter much
  8. Just one “right” person – at the right time – can make all the difference in the world, but then… you knew that already…

Chase LeBlanc

 

 

Leadership: @ or 4 | Are You and Your Team Working Hard at Being Both?

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

“Low-down, dirty, good for nuthin…”

I still remember the first time I heard my Grandfather deliver his ultimate displeasure with another human being.  It was his considered opinion that you could be “good at” something and still be “good for nothing.”  As he saw it there were people who were darn fine farmers, welders, mechanics, truck drivers, hunters, and so on, but if your positive-character flag wasn’t flying high, he’d keep his distance.

When it comes right down to it, leadership is influence. Yes, most organizations hold high the tangible metric “results” of the system/process/push and pull, but when it comes to people, the influencers at every level are the true leaders.

For generations there have been debates about the concise definition of leadership. The truth is, it depends. Leadership definitions are dependent on the team, situation, fate, timing, and most certainly upon the width or height of your travails. Additionally, it depends if you are speaking of leadership in the arena of business, military, science, religion or politics. And, it depends on whether you’re seeking a descriptor of leaders who are edgy or plain-Jane, powerful or powerless, figureheads or headless figures.

You can spend a lifetime learning a skill(s) that will earn you more money, and that is notable. You can spend a minute or two on a dark path and ruin a lifetime of goodwill, and that too is notable. In the midst of those who view the world as clear-cut, black or white, good or evil – there exists some grey areas.

In this blurry arena of grey is where true leaders dwell. There are realities that challenge best-hatched plans, self control, vision and values; situations where you face hard choices, tough luck and tough decisions. In these circumstances it is better to be good at something and good for something, as it has been shown time and again that working for the greater good is the most sustaining, gratifying, and dare we say, fulfilling. Perhaps simply it is best described as the “greater of the goods.” During your next leadership performance assessment (on yourself or others), stop for a moment and ponder – @ and 4 – are you and your team working hard at being both?

 It is — and has always been — the right leadership flag to fly.

Once More Around the Leadagers’ Mulberry Bush

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Leadership is a term for a “role” that one seeks or is thrown into (or back-doors into), and is brought into play when one must influence/guide/impact others. Management refers to the “job” of having responsibility for bringing about specific outcomes or overseeing certain activities. You can be a leader without management responsibilities, which is called a figurehead. If you have no other person within your span of influence (let’s say you’re operating a street-cart) then you can manage things without being a leader.

If you have the job of “manager” which includes supervision of others, then you are expected to show some iota of leadership skills, as it will be “on you” to get the group to pull together (without breaking apart) and to accomplish the tasks set forth. There are many good managers who are bad leaders and many (short-lived) acceptable leaders who are bad managers.

It is important to make a distinction between the two for illustrative purposes and instruction. Even though common belief holds that they are conjoined twins, they are in fact dizygotic twins. The same mother, but difficult and different skill sets.

It does not matter if you are a leader who manages or a manager who leads. In the world of work, nobody will truly trust or willingly follow you until you prove that you know what you are talking about. The only real way out of this is by going through it. The often overlooked fact (by the uninitiated) is that on any job, you will have to create a “trading currency.” You will be tested to see what you can handle (by the principal player’s reckoning, not yours). This is also referred to as paying your dues, earning your stripes, or street cred.

The developmental benchmarks (or acumen) you should focus on are the equivalent of possessing a strong right and left arm, a quick left and right brain, and effective leadership (soft) and management (hard) skills. The more you utilize all of your resources, the easier it will be to respond to the inevitable forthcoming peaks and valleys.

Think of it this way: If you are in business with others, you are in hot pursuit of business coordination, a graceful exhibition of leadership and management (despite their differences) balancing in motion.

It is also best if you think of yourself as always being in motion toward desired outcomes. Advancing/upgrading your skills are directly linked to improvement of career traction – out of a ditch or over a mountain.

Here is the question – Are you relying strictly upon your job-granted positional authority to herd your fellows, or do you fly a flag that others wish to rally around?