Repairing the Damage of a Past Leader

Repairing the Damage of a Past Leader - 1In my circle of friends and peers, there is a lot of discussion about who the Republican Party will get to challenge for President in the next election. The conversation is almost always who is strong enough and conservative enough to try and undo all of the damage that has been done. I don’t claim to know enough about politics to have a good argument, so I want to bring this a little closer to home.

Repairing the Damage of a Past Leader - 2Some of you know and some of you don’t know, that I am a senior part of a competitive BBQ cook off team, and we are in the midst of our busiest season. We are coming off a fall and winter of several small cook offs and preparing for our biggest of the year. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo BBQ Cook-off is a big deal for us. I have been a large part of this Team since my father died in 1999. Being a salesman, I have used it as employee appreciation and a customer appreciation opportunity on more than one occasion. This year the leadership of this team has begun to take it a little more serious than I think they should.

The two guys that are really “in charge” of this team, are not strong leaders, and are causing some strife among the, what I will call part time members of our team. The budget has gotten tight as we have lost a sponsor for Thursday night, and instead of closing ranks, shrinking expenses and “chiving on” the stress has run some friends off. The leaders are saying, “no free entry for friends”, “only a couple of spare entries per member” and we are raising prices. So as I deal with some folk who are saying, “This isn’t fun anymore” it occurs to me that this must have happened in the Leadership arena before.

Repairing the Damage of a Past Leader - 3So I ask you, how does a new leader repair the damage caused by a past leader? How do you go about undoing something that was done, maybe incorrectly, by a previous leader, without causing them any embarrassment? Especially when there is a chance, the former leader is still involved? Surely there has been a new CEO take over only to have his predecessor become a board member or consultant.

I have exercised my leadership to the extent I can, but I don’t own the large pit we use, and the spaces are not in my name. Other than ask for forgiveness not permission, I am struggling to maintain the fun, which is why people come hang out with us. I am afraid if I just put my head down and try to solve the problems as they arise, I will end up by myself. Do I assert myself, and take a chance on hurting my relationship with these guys that were my father’s best friends? Do I get some of the other members together and form a mutiny? Or a hostile takeover? Surely there is a way to obtain new leadership without causing an implosion.

I am looking for your thoughts and feedback on this leadership question.  Let’s use the collective wisdom of the 1,000 folks who are reading what we are publishing.  Be courageous and leave a comment.

Photo credit: Cornell University Library / Foter
Photo credit: Dave Schumaker / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND
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Photo credit: Dave Schumaker / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

The Pot Bowl?

details of my garden
MendezEnrique / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

I want to make clear this viewpoint is from a leadership perspective and NOT a political view. It has plenty to do with the decline in leadership of core moral values that has made America a great country, and Colorado and Washington great states respectively. I have been following this issue with a keen interest for some time and feel now is an appropriate time to share my thoughts. I have arrived at this conclusion largely due to Wyoming being a peripheral state to Colorado.

As many of you know Colorado and Washington have recently embraced the use of marijuana. I have no real issues with people using marijuana, but here is where the real rub comes in. Does Peyton Manning really want to be associated with retiring after the “Pot Bowl”?

Seriously now; During this time when Colorado and Washington are embracing (according to federal law) an illegal drug, for the sake of revenue, Colorado has lost to the state of Wyoming (so far) three legal revenue generating manufactures.

Magpull Winner
abcovey / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

An even deeper look at the issue of safety shows these states are lacking in judgment and are neglecting to provide their residences reasonable safety measures for a “few more dollars”. This is also indicative of a continued moral decline in leadership of both the Federal and State governments by telegraphing the message, “You don’t have to step up and be responsible, we’ll lower our standards to meet you where you are”. Meanwhile signaling danger to all who travel the highways as well.

The short term effects afforded the states are as follows:

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Where have all the good (young) men gone?

Where have all the good men gone - 1

– Herman Melville, Moby Dick

I have had a few instances in the past few weeks where I have had to think to myself, what would your father think about that? Not only your earthly father but your heavenly father as well. Sometimes I get the idea that some young men (not all) don’t think they will ever have to be accountable for their actions. Back to that in a minute…..

First of all I want to thank a few of you fathers out there that are raising God fearing young men. I think it will save me a lot of time with a shovel, when my girls start to date. I ask you though, where did you learn the lessons you are sharing with your sons? I bet it was your father and grandfather. I am confident my parents would still be married today if my father was still alive, and I watched my grandfather sit beside my grandmother’s hospital bed as leukemia took her.

Where have all the good men gone - 2Please don’t get me wrong, I am not the perfect father, Lord knows, I ask for help. But sometimes I see or hear of something some young man has done or said, and my first thought is not, What would Jesus Christ think…..It is what does your father think? Is no one accountable anymore? Are we a soft enough society that a village no longer raises a child? I am pretty sure all of my neighbors had “Beat on sight when necessary” instructions for me when I was a kid.

We spend a lot of time on this blog discussing leadership, and I have come to think as leaders we are responsible to not only each other, but those without a good example. I said to someone, “…that really isn’t any of my business…” and their response to me was “Why isn’t it?” It has taken me all week to figure out that, maybe I should make it my business. Maybe we should all start making a few more injustices our business.

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Leadership: Keep it simple. Then simplify some more.

Keep it Simple - 1

I recently received an email asking me to compare and pick the best logo for our organization.  I replied in a way that would have some on the team scratching or shaking their head.  Candidly, I have never been accused of being a team player.

Now before I get started.  Please understand…I know a lot of effort and painstaking thought and creativity went into making the logos.  I greatly value the person, talent, and hard work our leadership member donated to create multiple logos for us to choose from.  So please don’t take this post as a criticism of that work.  I just didn’t like the process in which was presented for us to choose the logo.  So I dissented and chose a logo without following the rules. Hopefully, this will help my team understand me as a member of the team.

As I was saying, I recently received an email asking me to compare and pick the best logo for our organization.  I confess I wasn’t being a team player.  But the process seemed too drawn out.  My inbox had already been filled with five emails with valid questions and concerns.  I didn’t have time for this.  Now with less time on my plate…I am hating the computer screen time even more.  So I was testy. Not being a visionary and having a very small attention span, I just replied with one answer.  I liked all the logos but one more than others.  So I picked it.  Ultimately that was the goal.  To me…it was simple.  Just pick one.

I had the unfortunate privilege of attending a kid’s soccer game many years ago.  The four- and five-year olds were in this small mob surrounding the ball…just kicking the ball into each other.  Yoga pant wearing, latte sipping, plastic enhanced mothers were screaming at the players-“Kick the ball.”  Fathers were off away on their cell phones.  The chorus of “kick the ball” filled the air as this mass of children bludgeoned the Nike ball between themselves all over the pitch…trying to please their soccer moms.

I had enough.  I yelled.  “Hey…someone kick the ball into the goal!”  It got quiet.  The goalies stopped picking their noses.  The mass of kids stopped and the relieved soccer ball leaked out of the mass.  A coach actually turned and looked at me stunned by my suggestion.  He began yelling for his team to kick the ball into the net.  Heck…you can’t win unless you kick the ball into the goal.  (I later found out that this was a POSITIVE, NO ONE LOSES, NO ONE KEEPS SCORE, EVERYONE IS SPECIAL SOCCER LEAGUE).  You know the group that settles for mediocrity.

Okay.  Leadership lesson.  Keep it simple.  Then simplify some more.  There will be team members who don’t want all the facts. There are those who don’t like the all the avenues to get from point A to B.   Or in this case, Logo A to Logo E.  Those team members will become distant and have that glazed over look on their face.  They will become ineffective in what they do.  They can become casualties of analysis paralysis.  A major reason why I left Corporate America.  Leaders will begin asking the question-Is that person all right?  Is there something wrong?  No.  Some of us don’t like the details.  Just give us the Executive Summary.  The Cliff Notes.  And make a decision.  When you need us to do something…just call us in.  We will get it done. I’m a hired gun.

As teams, we can get into our huddles, kick around ideas, and never kick the ball into the goal.  We never succeed.  We can pat ourselves on the back and say no one loses.  We met.  Sometimes we get mired in the process and lose sight of the goal, the mission. It’s times like this we need to keep it simple.  Then simplify some more.

By the way, I am not the one you ask to write a Mission Statement and you will never see a kid’s soccer game the same again.  I guarantee it.

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Courage

Ty Carter -1Courage — A vanishing trait?

While pondering this topic… I’m not so sure I’m all that qualified to write of it, but I will mount the challenge with courage.

Courage is one of those character traits that is not a necessity for leadership but is mandatory!

The development of courage in the right person is to first understand that there is a price pay for following the convictions of their heart. Consider the life of the most recent Medal of Honor winner Sgt. Ty Carter. When Carter spoke with the media he stressed the importance of supporting soldiers both deployed and when the return home from war.

“Know that a soldier or veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress is one of the most passionate and dedicated men or women you will ever meet. Know that they are not damaged. They are simply burdened with living when others did not,” Carter said.

How can we even connect to those thoughts or feelings or know the weight of a burden so heavy?

Here are a few traits connected to courage that need examined.

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Leadership and Conflict

Conflict and Leadership - 1I have been thinking a lot lately about conflict and conflict resolution. I think we can all agree that some level of conflict is unavoidable. However, how we face it and resolve that conflict says a great deal about our own leadership styles and abilities.

Consider the following statement by Warren Bennis, one of the foremost writers on leadership and organizational and management theory.

“Leaders do not avoid, repress, or deny conflict, but rather see it as an opportunity.”

Leaders, this is one of your primary responsibilities. You cannot delegate this. Nor can you pretend that conflicts do not occur within your organization. I have spent much of my adult life working in the corporate world during the week and serving in a non-profit and volunteer organization on weeknights and weekends. And conflict is common to all organizations. Yes, even within churches and religious organizations. But you, as leaders, have the responsibility to sense conflict at its earliest stages and resolve it before it affects the entire organization.

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