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Archive for January 2011

Assume Positive Intent

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When I first became a leader I was dumbfounded by the lack of pride that associates had in their work.  I could not figure out why I had to constantly talk to an associate about the same thing.  Why would an associate come to work late? Why did they not do what they were supposed to do? Why could they not see what I was seeing?  What if I was to tell you that the key to being an effective leader is as simple as removing the negative assumptions that as humans we all naturally have?  What if the secret to coaching associates was as simple as assuming that all your directs mean well and that they actually DO WANT to do a good job?

Well it is!

Sometime in 2009, I made the discovery of assuming positive intent.  Looking back on it now I realize how simple it is and am actually a bit embarrassed suggesting that it took me well over a year into my leadership journey to discover how easy it actually is to be a leader.  I read a lot of books by a lot of men and women that are smarter than me.  In no book that I have ever read has the secret to leadership been revealed as plainly as it was to me in 2009.  By the time you’re finished reading this blog you’ll feel the same way and will probably try to figure out why you had missed what was in front of you the entire time.

So how does assuming positive intent work?  It is very simple.  As a leader, you have to assume that your directs love their job, want their job, and want to be successful in their job.  Once you develop that view and assumption the rest is easy.  Consider this example:  Direct A arrives to work 15 minutes late.  They did not notify you that they were going to be late and as a result you missed an important conference call that you are supposed to be on because you had to cover for their tardiness.

How do you react in this kind of situation?

Most of you would be visibly upset and would be plotting the crucial conversation in your head.  The minute that the associate walks in, you will notice every detail of their entrance.  In your mind you will time how long it takes them to get from the door to the employees only area, you will add up the minutes that it takes them to put away their personal belongings.  On top of that they stop to look in the mirror and then finally you meet them in the hallway and stare them down. 

Their first action is to apologize to you because they are late and they start telling you the reasons they were late.  However, you do not want to hear any of it because they are late and they have caused you an inconvenience.  You coach the associate, describe your disappointment in them and send them on their way.  You document the tardiness and the whole time you’re thinking to yourself: “How can people have the audacity to be late to work? Don’t they realize that there are people in this world that would kill for their job?”

Am I right?

But what if you didn’t approach the situation this way?  What if you assumed positive intent and handled the situation differently?  What if you approached the situation from the perspective that no associate really wants to be late?  What if your thought process went something like this…

You look at your watch (or cellphone) and see that your direct is late and that they have not notified you.  You realize that there is only one other associate available to help customers.  So you realize that you’re going to miss the call that you were supposed to take.  You realize that something must be wrong with your direct because no one really wakes up in the morning and plans to be late for work.  When your direct finally arrives you say good-morning, walk with them towards the back so that its just you and them and you ask the simple question, “What happened this morning? Why were you late?” (Because something must be wrong, nobody wants to come to work late). 

Your direct tells you about how World War 3 broke out at their home this morning, they thought they could be to work on time and that’s why they didn’t call you, but they went through the Starbucks drive-thru and had to wait for their coffee and before they knew it they were 15 minutes late.  You see, they did not wake up that morning and plan to be late and it was not their intent to make you miss your call.

This is the catch…because you genuinely assumed positive intent on your directs behalf, they sense that and realize that you are not about to verbally bash their brains in.  They open up to you and have dialogue and are open to your coaching.  You will still coach your associate, you will still hold your associate accountable for their tardiness and you will still set expectations with your associate.  However, now you are able to do it through dialogue between two people that are just having a conversation.  Your direct does not feel threaten, they are not put to shame, and they are free to go on about their day.  Plus you earned a little bit of respect and kept your blood-pressure in check.

Being an effective leader really is that easy.  You just have to realize that people are going to make mistakes and that no one really wants to do the wrong thing.  When you do that, you are able to teach, train, and hold your directs accountable. 


Written by theheadcoachmanager

January 29, 2011 at 11:47 pm

Have a Humble Confidence

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Those that know me personally would tell you that I do not have a confidence problem.  Those that know me personally would also tell you that I am a humble person.  I am convinced that a successful leader must have a Humble Confidence.

My company does not pay me to be an average Store Manager.  They pay me to be the best Store Manager.  In order for me to be the best Store Manager, I have to believe that I am the best Store Manager.  I have to have confidence in my self and in my ability to do the job.  Yet in the mist of that confidence, I remain humble because I know that others around me are doing their part to help me be successful.  I realize that in order for me to be the best Store Manager I need the help of my leaders, my peers, and my directs.  I also believe that there is a God that has blessed me with so much and that it is because of His gifts that I am able to be successful.  That is how I am able to have a Humble Confidence. 

So how can you develop a Humble Confidence and become a better leader?

Being the best is more than just saying that you are the best.  The confidence in a Humble Confidence comes from working harder than others, working more efficiently than others, and producing superior results compared to others.  This kind of confidence comes from a job well done.   You do not want to become the arrogant jerk that no one likes because he or she spends their time talking about how much better they are and yet, their results are on par with the results of others.  When others see you working hard, more efficiently, and producing superior results then they will help to boost your confidence by recognizing your performance.  Your peers will recognize your contributions, your directs will admire your work, and your leader will help you get promoted.  You will be happier and more confident because you worked to have that level of success.

Here is the secret formula.  When you become the best and others recognize your level of performance, then they will work harder for you; because they want to increase their level of performance to match yours.  Your directs and peers will want to do a better job because you are setting a higher standard.  Your leader will work hard for you because they see you working hard for them.  Your hard work creates an up-down-all around phenomena of superior performance.  That is when you are humbled because you realize that you are merely a piece of the puzzle that led to this success.  When everyone is working together, and when everyone elevates their performance good things happen.  Humble yourself and realize that you are where you are because of what others did, not because of what you did.

A leader that has a Humble Confidence is admired, and respected.  Humility is a good thing on its own, and confidence is good on its own.  When the two come together in a leader’s life good things happen and teams are successful.  Lou Holtz tells the story about when he was the Head Coach at North Carolina State University.  He was asked if he thought he was the best college coach in America, and he responded “No.” He was being humble and did not want to be perceived as arrogant.  What he did not realize at the time was that he was letting his staff down, his players down, and his school down by not having the confidence to say that he was the best.  North Carolina State University was paying Lou Holtz to be the best college coach in America and it was up to him to decide that he was going to be the  best college coach in America and to have the confidence to say it.

Written by theheadcoachmanager

January 24, 2011 at 3:24 pm


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Early Sunday morning the idea of starting a blog crossed my mind.  This idea then turned into daydreaming.  I started to daydream about this blog and what it would look like and what it would mean for me and for others.  My daydream then turned into planning, so I looked at a few blogs and a few different sites.  My curiosity peaked when I realized that my laptop came installed with Windows Live Writer and that it linked directly to WordPress.  Before I finally made the final decision to start this blog, I did a quick search on Bing for “Top Blog Sites” and almost like an answered prayer, WordPress was listed as the most popular blog site.  I signed up and here I am…

So what’s the deal with the name of the blog? Or better yet, what is the point of my blog and what am I trying to accomplish? As you can clearly see, this blog is titled The Head Coach Manager.  The title popped into my mind after a series of discussions that I have had at work in which I’ve challenged a few leaders to look at their roles as leaders similar to that of a Head Coach.  What does a Head Coach do? He or she trains the team, he or she practices with the team, and he or she holds the team accountable.  How is that different from what leaders do in their day-to-day job?  There is none.  In my current role, I train my team, I practice with my team and I hold my team accountable.  So that’s where the name, The Head Coach Manager, came from.

I want to use this blog as a way to share the pieces of wisdom that I have learned throughout my years as a human being.  I want to use this blog as a way to help current leaders and potential leaders become better leaders in their lives, and in their careers.  I will share tips, quotes, nuggets, and advice that I have learned in my leadership journey.

I have not decided if I am going to update daily, randomly throughout the week, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.  Actually, now that I think about, I will probably update as time allows.  I’m a Store Manager for a wireless carrier and work over 40-hours a week.  I am also pursuing my Masters of Management and Leadership from Liberty University.  Furthermore, I have a wonderful wife and beautiful daughter that demand my attention.  So in other words; when life, work, or school is not happening, then I will update.

Written by theheadcoachmanager

January 24, 2011 at 3:11 am