Sunday, September 16, 2018

Leadership and Marathons

Last Sunday,  while running the Erie Marathon (26.2 miles), I was reminded of Dan Rockwell's words:
"There is no permanent cure for leadership loneliness, only regular treatments."

That statement got me thinking about how running a marathon and leadership loneliness had a lot in common.

Now I'm not talking about the professional runners who cross the finish line in 2.5 hours. I'm talking about the majority of marathoners who are out on the course for 4, 5, or even 6 hours.
Let me tell you, not only are we out there twice as long as the elite runners, it can often get lonely.

When I run a marathon, I like to chat with others who run at my pace. Over the years I've heard lots of heartwarming stories. From people running for a loved one that has passed, to celebrating their 50 race, to a special young lady who was recently cured of a terrible disease.
Hearing their stories is my regular treatment for loneliness.

As leaders, we need to find our "regular treatments" for leadership loneliness.

Here are 10 best practices from established leaders I've know over the years:
(not in any particular order)
1. Become a member of a mastermind group.
2. Hire an experienced coach as a sounding board.
3. Ask for sincere and candid feedback from your team. "How am I doing?"
4. Meet with leaders outside your company on a regular basis.
5. Attend networking events.
6. Join a networking group.
7. Volunteer for a non profit.
8. Become a mentor.
9. Find a mentor.
10. Run marathons.

....and yes, I'm sure there are plenty more...please share what works for you in a comment below.
 thank you


Sunday, September 2, 2018

"They Are Not Here For Us...We Are Here For Them."

"They are not here for us...We are here for them."
John Susan, (God rest his soul), shared these words when he was mentoring me in leadership.

"Leadership is giving", John would say, "As leaders we need to give our wisdom so that others may grow. Our young team leaders are not here to make us look good, we are here to make them look good."

I asked John, "So how do we know it's working?"

"You will know Bob, yes... you will know." John replied in soft confidence.

Several years later my leadership lessons from John were put to the test:

---- It was a year of change. Giant Eagle had a new CEO with a new vision. He created awards for store teams based on seven Key Performance Indicators.
 Then all of a sudden, I was asked to take a temporary assignment, which meant leaving my store right in the middle of a banner year. (I had been Store Director there for the last 2 years).
AND,  we were running 3rd and 4th place in all the performance categories.  The company was not sending a replacement for me, my senior team and co-manager would be in charge...this would truly be a test of trust and leadership.

My team all joked with me... "Well Bob, I guess we will be hearing from you several times a day while you are away. We all know you need to check in on us."
They were all surprised by my answer. "How about this... If you need me, what I mean is, if there is problem you can't solve as a team, then call me."
With surprised passion several of them asked... " what about the 4th quarter strategies for all the KPI's?! we are so close to winning!"
"And you will." I replied with soft confidence.

Off I went to Ohio on my special project.
The weeks went on. The only communications I received from my team was an occasional friendly hello or how are you doing?

RESULTS

Fast forward...The year came to an end. The 4th quarters results were in and the year-to-date KPI's,  along with the winners, were published company wide.

This was the most gratifying day of my leadership career... the team I empowered and trusted were champions:
# 1 in Safety
# 1 in Customer Satisfaction
# 1 in Sales increase over budget
#1 in net profit improvement over budget
#1 Most profitable Bakery
#1 Most profitable Kitchen at Giant Eagle
Tied for #1 in Employee Satisfaction

Did my team struggle during the last 3 months? ABSOLUTELY!
Did they learn from their struggles and pressed forward as a team? YES!
Did I learn a lesson? I sure did...during those 3 months I can't tell you how many times I wanted to pick up the phone, how many times I wanted to make sure they were implementing my strategies...
...but I didn't.

CELEBRATION

A month later the new CEO as well as several other company officers held an on-site celebration at our store.
Darlene spoke on behalf of the store team-
".. Bob is a leader in the truest sense of the word. He taught us, inspired us, challenged us, held us accountable, empowered us, and most of all he trusted us. We are champions today because Bob Gambone is a champion. We are leaders today, because Bob Gambone is a leader."

FINAL THOUGHT

Leadership is giving. Giving people the opportunity to do things they may not necessarily want to do, but need to do...including ourselves.
Did I want to "let go" of the control over my team in that final 4th quarter, hell no!...but I needed to.
Like John Susan said, "You will know Bob, yes... you will know."

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Saturday, August 18, 2018

The New "A" Word

Accountability

We talk about it, we say we want it, we say people need to be held accountable, but what does accountability really mean?

I recently had a inspiring conversation with a very good friend of mine.

"Mary*, how do you define accountability?"

Mary paused at first and then explained...
 "First,  lets talk about integrity. Integrity is who we are, what we believe about ourselves. If we have integrity we are honest and will do the right thing even when no one is watching.
 Accountability is being responsible for an action.
 Integrity is talking the talk, accountability is walking the talk."

She continued to say... "Accountability needs to have consequences.
The consequences can be good or bad, but without consequences,  accountability is meaningless.
And... I believe accountability is an act of love."

I interrupted... "Really?   Love?"

 "Yes, you have to love someone to hold them accountable, even if they do not love you back.
Hold them accountable because that's whats best for them. By doing this, you will create an environment where performance is expected, enjoyed, and honored.
Circling back...Integrity is in their hearts, accountability is in their actions. When actions are fulfilled, so will be the heart."

* Mary is a award winning educator, a successful entrepreneur, and a gifted coach.


Saturday, August 11, 2018

Challenge Is In Our DNA.

Challenge is in our DNA.

We are born to challenge ourselves.

As babies, we see everyone else walking...so what do we do?        We try to walk.

Do we succeed immediately?......NO!    we fall, we stumble, we fall again, we cry, we hurt, we fall...eventually we figure it out and learn to walk.

You could also say the same about potty training, learning to talk, reading, riding a bike, etc....

So why is it that only 34% of people in business like challenges. Only 34% like to set goals, step into leadership positions, and only 34% enjoy taking on a challenge that is outside their comfort zone?*

I say, your environment. "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." ~ Jim Rohn

Are you hanging with winners? .... or are you surrounded by the Average Joe's?    You know, the naysayers, the yea but-ers, Negative Normans, Debbie Downers....you get the point.

As infants, we are cheered on by families to succeed, our families are the leaders... then it happens... we become adults, and we are on our own.

Now we need to lead ourselves.

Leadership is getting people to do things they may not necessarily want to do, but need to do...including ourselves.

Take a look at your environment...the 5 people you spend the most time with.... and do what you need to do.



*Harvard Business Review

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Sunday, June 3, 2018

How to Change Culture

" Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast"   ~  Ivan Misner


If you want to change the culture, you need to change people. 

If you want to change people, change what they believe about themselves.

If you want to change what people believe about themselves, you need to be a great leader.

Great leaders do not change people, they create environments where people change themselves.

Leadership is giving; giving people the opportunity to do things they may not necessarily want to do, but need to do. 

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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

No Fire-hosing...Less is More

The other day a client of mine asked me for some leadership tips that he could immediately put into to place for the upcoming month.
He added, "Only give me three, if you give me too many, I won't do any"

Here they are:

*** Spend more time exploring options and less time talking about problems.
 Example: "I hear what went wrong. What might we do about it?"
After the first suggestion say, "What else?" two or three more times.

*** Don't rely on email when things get heated.
Solution: Pick up the phone when things get hot. Better yet, meet face to face.

*** Allow people to talk theory in meetings, but end with actions.
Solution: Ask, "Who does what by when?" --- repeat.


 After implementation, be open to feedback from your team.

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Rennerdale - Leadership Lessons from Cousin Nan

1963 was the last time I saw my cousin Nan. She was 7 years old, I was 8.

Yesterday (4-19-18) we met for coffee at the same corner store in Rennerdale PA. where we bought  and shared penny candy 55 years ago.

For two hours we shared our stories. From family, to business...good times, sad times... loves found and lost... I was captivated by the experience, our experience.

Five decades have separated us, yet we both were in sync in how we viewed the world, our world.

Three leadership lessons I learned from Nan:

 1. Back in the early 70's she was the first women sales manager in her company. Was she scared?, Hell yes! "Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is not accepting fear as an excuse."

2. Nan journeyed through five serious relationships. Never going without blaming herself for some of the failures. Finally she found the love of her life a few years ago, he died suddenly last year.
 "He always wanted me to to get my Masters Degree, and now at the age of 62 I'm going to do just that."
I've never said, why me?... you can not change what happens to us, we can only change what happens within us."

3. After her fourth serious relationship ended in divorce, Nan decided to fulfill a dream of her's since she was a kid, become a professional motorcycle racer.
From 1998 to 2005 she picked up a few sponsors and formed a racing team. She broke a lot of records, several which remain in place today.

And yes! Nan is a veteran. She served during the Cold War.

As we said our goodbyes, I was overwhelmed with joy as I remembered what she said...
"I'm not sure if life is all about,  what is meant to be... I do know that what I do, I mean to do it. I take all the responsibility and embrace every emotion life gives me."

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