Friday, April 8, 2016

phil wilson's keys to success

Yesterday at Concordia University Texas, Phil Wilson (who currently is the manager and CEO of the LCRA - Lower Colorado River Authority) spoke to our community about his role and how he has been successful in his career.  While there were many anecdotes and stories related to his leadership and opportunities, he kept coming back to two things that have served him well as a leader:

  1. return phone calls quickly
  2. accept all meeting invitations (at least the first invitation)

Seems simple, doesn't it?  Who can't pick up the phone and get back to someone...and who would turn down an invitation for a free cup of coffee?  Apparently, there are many people who are unable to follow these two ideas, as Phil kept indicating that if one follows these simple guidelines, they will be revered by others and ascend quickly in their careers.

So if these keys to success seem so simple, what are the roadblocks that keep people from following them on a consistent basis?  Here are a few thoughts:
  • time...or a supposed lack of time: There are all kinds of things to keep leaders busy.  Putting flexibility into one's schedule and setting aside time for phone calls and meetings makes these a priority on the calendar
  • paperwork...or a need to do everything yourself: If leaders are spending too much time on desk work, they are probably failing to delegate matters that others can and should be doing.
  • interruptions...or a lack of control of one's own schedule: The inability to say NO  or NOT RIGHT NOW keeps people way too busy with too many items that often are of little importance.  Sometimes others do have to wait to have your time - asking people to schedule time is better for you AND for them
  • ego...or a belief that one's time is more important than another's: This can be paradoxical in that protecting one's time IS important - AND when leaders truly understand that other's needs and time are important as well, time is found to address those needs
  • weariness...or the lack of ability to have fun: I have found that the more stressed or weary I am, the less I want to engage with others, either on the phone or face-to-face.  Staying positive and having fun helps leaders find the time to engage with others in a productive manner
  • doubt...or the belief that the interaction does not matter: The simple act of returning a call matters deeply to the other person, and the simple act of accepting a meeting invitation matters deeply to the one who did the inviting.  Believing that the interaction actually makes a difference will drive one to find the time and energy to actually do so
Our real challenge as leaders is not simply committing to returning phone calls or accepting meeting invitations - the real challenge lies in doing these tasks in a manner that is meaningful and engaging.  Investing one's energy and emotion in the phone call and meeting is what REALLY makes the difference.  How committed are you to these simple two keys to success?  And if you engaged in these practices over the next week or two, how might your work (and your workplace) be better?  

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