In this – the first post on my brand new site – I know I need to deliver.
We all recognize some key moments when we must provide results. The key question is then; do you deliver in those certain moments? And how do you know you haven’t missed a moment when you should have? There is only one solution – you must deliver at all times! Program yourself to permanent delivery. It is simply the only reasonable solution.
Practice makes perfect…
Therefore if you practice being your best, delivering results and executing – you will improve. On the other hand if you reserve your best for those special extra-important moments, you just might not have the mojo when you need it. Each situation is different and things don’t always go as planned, but with practice your ability to read the situation will improve – and so will your ability to deliver.
What’s important to you is important to me
Really? Others have a different perspective than you and they have different priorities. The case that is just a minor issue for you might be some else’s big shot. They will not feel you deliver anything but an itch if you don’t take their case serious. As a leader this is even more important. If you want the people working for you to work hard, they must know they have important assignments, which you prioritize. Again maybe it’s just one of many cases for you – but it’s very important to them. People notice even the little things. I had a meeting with someone from our top management a few days ago. As he came in (ten minutes late) he causally remarked “Sorry for the delay, I know this is important.” He is our top manager – no problem. But afterwards one of my colleagues remarked “It’s nice to know it’s important to the boss – he respects our time and knows it’s important.” He delivered the focus and attention we needed, it is an important case, but he has a ton of those!
Did you even connect with the ball?
If we recognize the need to continuously execute and deliver result, how will I know I’m doing just that? I don’t want to enter the ballgame swinging the bat like a mad man and never even connecting with the ball. That would probably be the worst thing to do – effectively proving to others that you just don’t have it. It is therefore of prime importance to find a way to evaluate yourself, make sure you had an impact and if not, change your approach.
Asking for feedback might work at lower levels but senior managers will not always appreciate having to give feedback and worst of all there is a tendency that you will be considered the trainee if you always ask “Did I do ok?”. In other words: Save you feedback questions for your boss and those moments when you have an opportune one-on-one (and even in those situations a more indirect approach is probably wiser). What you want to do is establish a situation where others ask – what do you think? And then wait for your opinion, where they present an argument and look at you for approval, where you are asked to present points which are not really yours.
Get in the game – but pace yourself.
I am a firm believer in getting in the game. No one ever made an impact from the bench. You must put yourself out there. Take chances, argue your case, present your ideas, and be willing to fight when you have a good point. If you don’t, how can anyone know you can actually deliver the solutions they need? Doing it is also good practice and you will improve. But pace yourself – don’t argue the cases you have no clue about.
Being prepared is not considered cheating.
You often know which subject will come up at a meeting, a seminar, a conference or even during lunch. You probably also know what others are working on whether it is on an agenda or not. Prepare for it! It doesn’t have to be reading up on all the finer details of every case, thinking is excellent preparation. Use your spare time to think about which issues might be important, how does this case look from your perspective, could you perhaps contribute with an idea or a new angle. Even if you don’t come up with anything, it will give you the possibility to spar with others and hereby helping them solve their own cases. Thinking will also give you new ideas. I used to always carry a small notebook where I would write down any ideas, angles or points when I thought of them (now my Smartphone has replaced the old school notebook.) I have always felt this has helped me develop my ability to see new angels and get ideas even those I didn’t prepare.
Facilitate the process.
No matter which context you are working in, if you help the process along, the teams chance of success increases, and other will like working with you. When that happens you will be asked to join other important project and more people will ask your opinion. Now, I don’t mean get the coffee and smile at the bosses jokes. I mean facilitate the results. Listen carefully to what others are saying – use all the active listening tricks in the book – nod when they have a point, think carefully when they present something complex etc. It will help you understand their points, and ask the right questions. But it will also help them make the point, and they will perform better with you in the room. When you have a deep understanding of the others points you have a better chance of building your own – an make it a strong one.
Step up to the plate!
What you would want to do over time is to establish a strong platform – within yourself and in your professional environment. Your professional platform gets you in the game. It is your reputation and your former results, the platform that puts you in the rights places at the right times and improves the odds that people around you will listen when you speak. You personal platform is your bat – your self confidence and skill set that will allow you to act when opportunity presents itself. That is bringing your own bat to the ballgame – so that when the ball comes at you, you will whack it out of the stadium!
I will go even further into these points in some of my future posts – consider this a teaser.