Friday, January 21, 2011

working with your boss

Last night I had the pleasure of having dinner and drinks with my boss - we had been at a conference in Philadelphia all day and decided to have a nice dinner and end the evening with a cocktail. I learned a lot about my boss - and also learned alot about what he expects from me (and my colleagues) in our position. It made me think about what I I do what I do...and whether or not my boss really knows what I do and how I do it. Here's what I am committing to do in the near future (this will be a short blog becasue it is snowing outside and I need to drive from my hotel to downtown Philly):

  • make a list of everything I am involved in at this point beyond the day-to-day running of my College. I want to show that list to my boss and dialogue with him about what he considers important and what I consider important. Where there is agreement, I can move forward with the assuredness that he is behind that 110%. Where there is disagreement, we will talk and I will re-evaluate my time spent on those issues.
  • start asking why he wants done the items he asks me to do. Rather than fuss about another project or update he is asking for, I will spend a few moments considering why he is asking, what the outcome he expects, and if I cannot figure it out myself, I'll ask. The "why" behind the tasks that do not come freely or easily to me can help me complete them not only in a more timely manner and with greater attention to the detail.
  • push him to consider other ways of getting goals accomplished. I figured out last night that he approaches how he wants his Deans to function based on what comes naturally and easily to him (duh!). However, I believe he is completely open to new ideas of how to get the work done. Rather than say, "there's another thing my boss wants," I can commit to going to him and saying, "have you considered another way of doing this."
  • set aside time for listening. My boss (as well as myself) likes to think and dream outloud. We do it in different ways, but we both need time to talk. I need to have some weekly time with him to let him talk with me about some of his new ideas. If I can then help him accomplish those ideas, everyone wins.
  • take his hints as duties to be done. He has admitted to me (and the rest of his reports) thast he does not like to dictate items, but would rather suggest things to be done. When I (and others) do not respond to those suggestions, he feels as if we are not doing what he asks us to do. Rather than make him change, I will need to listen more closely and when there is a suggestion of an action item, I will either act - or ask if that is something he wants done...and when he would like it done by.

Just a few thoughts about working with the least as of today. It was good for me to listen and hear how my boss thinks and what my boss needs from me. When was the last time you had a chance to really listen to yours?

Friday, January 7, 2011

new leader

As this New Year began, I made several resolutions - first, to lose some of the extra weight I have gained over the past year; second, to spend more time reading in the mornings; and third, to spend time talking with people who do "cool" jobs that I could consider during the next 25 years of my life.

As a leader of others, I have also made some resolutions having to do with that aspect of my calling and vocation - let's call these my New Year's Leadership Improvements:
  • to listen more...more specifically to not begin answering a question (or respond to a comment) before the other person has finished talking and I am completely clear on what they are asking or saying.
  • to ask more (and better) much as I want to tell my story and give my opinions, I know it is better for the other person to discover what is inside of them if I want them to reach their full potential. Asking better questions means that I will follow Peter Block's advice and ask questions that are 1) ambiguous; 2) personal; and 3) evoke some anxiety (see Peter Block's book Community: The Structure of Belonging).
  • to achieve more goals...I like vision and strategy, but it is difficult for me to sometimes get things done. I will designate on my calendar specific "red" days (referring to the Birkman Assessment Colors) to get after tasks and accomplish that which is necessary to move the organization forward.
  • to coach my role expands, I need to delegate much of what I do to others in the organization, so I will spend more time with those individuals who have the responsibility to carry out some of those goals and activites, helping them grow as leaders and managers.
  • to build a succession plan...I am a big beleiver that the work of the organization must continue when and if I (or others) move on. Planning for this includes selecting the right people, letting the organization know about that, then training them to take over. Not only does this help the organization, but it also builds leadership capacity in others.
  • to serve the region...having recently been elected to the ECHO (Ending Community Homelessness) Board, I want to expand my capacity to serve that need, and see where else I may be able to lend some time and/or expertise to make this region a better place. I have been blessed by so many people in the greater Austin region who give tirelessly of their time to this place I now call home, so it is now time for me to give back also.

That's my New Year's leadership resolutions. What are yours? Have you written them down? Is the focus of them on yourself, on others, or on your organization Have you asked yourself why they might be important to you? What type of accountability do you have in place to accomplish them? Remember that you still have 348 days still left to make them happen. Enjoy the journey - and make a difference!