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Setting Goals for Yourself

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Wow! People really struggle with setting goals.  I am by no means an expert at setting goals but I believe that I have a simple, yet effective method for setting goals.  This method can be done quickly and without having to use a long process.  It can be done in writing, or it can be a quick 5-minute thought process.  Follow the concepts I outline and you will be creating goals that will lead to wins.

First, decide WHAT you want to do.  This is the first step and the most important step.  Visualize what you want to accomplish.  What does the finished product look like?  It can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be.  Write it down, or think it out.  It doesn’t matter.  For example, earlier this year Brandy and I decided to get out of debt.  So the WHAT of our goal is to get out of debt.

Write it down, or think it out. It doesn’t matter.

Next, explain WHY you want do the WHAT.  The WHY is the specific reason that you have set out to accomplish the WHAT.  It is important that the WHY be specific and that it is special to you.  It needs to be specific enough that you can explain your WHY to another person.  It has to be special to you because when you explain the WHY to someone else they have to be able to sense your urgency, passion, and excitement.  So back to my personal example, Brandy and I decided to get out of debt because we want to be able to raise our daughter and future children in a home that will provide them with the things they need and want without being in fear of not having enough money or having to live from paycheck to paycheck.  The WHY of our goal is our family livelihood. 

Then, decide HOW you will accomplish the WHAT.  At this point you are deciding the steps that you will take to accomplish the WHAT.  Are you noticing a trend here?  Everything ties back to the WHAT!  Make sure that your HOW is realistic and that it is something that can be measured.  For example, don’t just say you’re going to read a book.  Write down the name of the book and by when you will read it.  Brandy and I are reading the Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey, unfortunately we did not set a specific date that we would finish the book by.  However, when school finishes for both of us we will recommit to finishing the book.  In addition to being realistic and measured, make sure that your HOW is related to things that you like to do and that you are good at.  I like to read, therefore reading the book is something that I will enjoy doing.

Are you noticing a trend here? Everything ties back to the WHAT!

The HOW is closely related to the WHEN.  You will attach a WHEN to every HOW that you create.  This is crucial and will ultimately lead to you being able to accomplish your WHAT.  The WHEN should be realistic and reasonable.  For example, my goal to debt free is within the next 5 years.  It would a terrible idea to make it a WHEN of 30 years from now.  By then I would forget what the goal is.  Also, make sure that your WHEN does not defeat you.  So do not make it so soon that it defeats your momentum.

Finally, assign the WHO to the different parts of your HOW.  You will own a majority of your WHO, but in some instances it may require other people in your life.  God put people in our life to help us through it.  Use your resources and don’t be afraid to ask for help.  My WHO includes Brandy.  The WHO of one of my professional goals includes a direct report, and another individual.  These two men are helping me by teaching me something that I don’t know.

God put people in our life to help us through it.

So simply put, design your goals around the following model: WHAT, WHY, HOW, WHEN, WHO.  The order is also important and is a logical sequence of how our mind processes information.  This model can be used for simple goals, weekly goals, daily goals, long-term goals, personal goals, or professional goals.  I use the model daily when planning out my day.  It is simple and leads to quick victories that lead to momentum.  Who knew setting goals could be so easy?

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Written by theheadcoachmanager

March 17, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Have fun with your direct reports.

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Who made the rule that leaders and directs could not have fun together? Whoever it was, was wrong and they missed a great opportunity to become an even better leader.  My experience as a leader has helped me to see how valuable it is to have fun with your directs.  Obviously there are boundaries that cannot be crossed but those are clearer than you might think.

My experience as a leader has helped me to see how valuable it is to have fun with your directs

First, get to know your directs and what they like.  It is difficult to have fun with someone if you do not know what they like.  I make it a priority as a leader to learn something that is unique about each one of my directs.  For example, I have one direct who is coaching soccer for school aged children.  This small detail helps to build credibility for our relationship and makes it easy for us to have a relationship and be able to have fun.

Second, laugh out loud and laugh often.  I am convinced that laughter can break barriers.  There is a power in a good loud laugh.  Furthermore, a laugh is contagious and it brings people together.  As a leader, I make it a top priority to laugh at and laugh with my directs.  When a direct sees you laughing out load it shows them that you are a real person and that you are more than just a leader in a suit.  In addition to laughing out loud, make sure that it is often.  The more often the better.  Your directs will appreciate you for it and it will help you build up your team.

Finally, whistle while you work.  Literally.  If you sing, sing.  If you hum, hum.  Just make sure that you’re enjoying music with your directs while you work.  Just like laughter, music has the power to connect you to your directs in a special way.  The best piece about this part is that when followed in reverse it could help you achieve your other goals.  For example, I am a terrible singer, but I enjoy dropping a lyric or two at work and it brings out a laugh from my directs, which then causes me to laugh.  It is also a great conversation piece and it opens up dialogue between you and your direct.  Do not be afraid to ask them what kind of music they like, and when they do not expect it, surprise them with a lyric from their favorite song.

If you sing, sing. If you hum, hum.

In closing, a few boundaries that are obvious.  Remain professional.  Guard your relationship and do not allow the line of leader-direct to get blurred.  Be genuine.  Most importantly, have fun!

*****

Can a strong leader also have fun?

Have you ever had a leader that made work fun? What about a leader that made work not fun?

*****

It’s easy to have fun when you assume positive intent.  Learn about positive intent by checking out the article Assume Positive Intent.

Written by theheadcoachmanager

March 15, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Quickly Coaching Using Positive Intent

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Last time I introduced a concept I call, Assuming Positive Intent.  As a leader this concept guides my moves.  As a new leader one thing I struggled with was holding my directs accountable for their behaviors and their performance and then coaching them.  I used to view accountability and coaching as negative things.  I was mistaken.  I have learned that accountability and coaching are a leaders best tools.  However, the two have to be viewed within the scope of Assuming Positive Intent.

I have learned that accountability and coaching are a leaders best tools

Accountability is easy when you assume that your directs mean well and that they are not going out of their way to sabotage you.  Coaching becomes even easier when you accept that as a fact.  When I came to this realization it became easier to hold my directs accountable and to coach them for their performance and behaviors.

First, set clear expectations with your directs.  When you set your expectations you have to leave no room for error or misinterpretation.  You cannot leave room for a direct to say, “I did not know” or “I did not know how”.  Every book I have ever read about leadership discusses setting clear expectations.  Amazon quickly brings up several books that will guide you in the process.  Your expectations have to be clear and firm.  This is crucial and is the difference between coaching being easy or difficult.

You cannot leave room for a direct to say, “I did not know” or “I did not know how”.

Next, when your expectations are not met you have to decide whether it is a skill or a will issue.  Does your direct have the proper training to meet your expectations?  Have you trained them to be successful and to meet your expectations?  The answer to those two questions will help you determine if it is a skill issue.  If you decide it is a skill issue then you need to focus on bringing your directs‘ skill up to par with your expectation.  This is your responsibility as a leader.  However, if you determine that it is not a skill issue, then you have to figure out what is the will issue.  Why did your direct choose to not meet your expectations?  What were their obstacles?  What caused them to not meet your expectation?  Remember, these questions and their answers are being examined while assuming positive intent.

Finally, hold your coaching situation without postponing the conversation.  It is important that you do not postpone the conversation.  Typically a leader will postpone a coaching conversation because they are afraid, intimidated, or unsure about holding the conversation.  However, if you have set clear expectations, have examined the issue under the scope of positive intent while deciding if it is a skill or will issue, then the coaching conversation is simple and easy.

Start with a question about your expectations.  “Sally, what happened at closing last night?”  Pause and wait for their reply.  Do not jump to a conclusion and do not interrupt your direct.  Listen to what they have to say and reserve judgment.  Once your direct concludes their explanation ask a follow up question for clarification.  Once you have an understanding about the situation from the perspective of your direct then you conclude the coaching conversation by reiterating your expectations…and that’s it!  Really, it’s that simple.  You have just had a coaching conversation with your direct.

Assuming positive intent makes coaching so much easier.  The process is quick and it removes the stress associated with the coaching conversations that we have as leaders with our directs.  When you choose to assume positive intent it makes coaching easier because you are not coaching someone because they are a bad person, you are coaching a person because you want to gain understanding about why they are not meeting your expectations.

Really, it’s that simple.  You have just had a coaching conversation with your direct.

*****

What kind of coaching conversations do you find difficult?

Do you think this technique would work with all people? Why or why not?

*****

If you’re wondering who The Head Coach Manager is and why he thinks he knows a thing or two about leadership, check out the Introduction.

Written by theheadcoachmanager

February 8, 2011 at 11:02 pm

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

Introduction

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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