Pitching Your Ideas – 5 Tips to Get Everyone on Board
Last week we talked about the 10 steps it takes to do all the homework for pitching your ideas. All that work doesn’t matter unless we communicate our ideas effectively though.

Pitching Your Ideas – 5 Tips to Get Everyone on Board

It takes a lot of preparation to make a convincing pitch, but the presentation is just as important. Last week we talked about the 10 steps it takes to do all the homework for pitching your ideas. All that work doesn’t matter unless we communicate our ideas effectively though. If you missed last week’s post, you can jump to it here also get the pitch worksheet that will guide you through the steps. This week’s tips help you communicate all your hard work effectively decision makers.

Pitching Your Ideas Tip #1 – Know Your Audience

Right off the bat, you’ve got to understand who you are pitching to. What is their background? Are they an expert in this field? Will you have to do a lot of explaining of detailed technical pieces? What is their real interest in your idea? Have you pitched ideas to them before and what have you learned from it? Does the decision maker like a bottom line up front? Or maybe they like to be led through each piece of info and build to a conclusion? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, try doing a little research about your audience before presenting.

Pitching Your Ideas Tip #2 – Be Clear About Your Purpose

I found this really effective when I was in the Air Force, especially when briefing senior leaders. I would usually open with, “Sir, I’m Lt Col Jason LeDuc. I’m here to brief you today on this topic. I’ll recommend courses of action and ask you to decide which one to pursue.” I saw many presentations where the decision maker wasn’t clear on the purpose. The speaker didn’t make it clear they needed a decision. Many times it turned out that the briefing was just informational. Leaders are usually pretty busy people and their time is valuable. We want to make pitches when we really need them to make a decision and should avoid basic information presentations unless we’re asked for it.

Pitching Your Ideas Tip #3 – Start With the Problem

This is where all that prep work you did using the worksheet from last week pays off. Present your clearly defined problem, including the why, who, what, when, etc. Make sure that the decision maker understands the problem. Look for some recognition in their words and body language that they also believe it is a problem that needs to be solved.

Pitching Your Ideas Tip #4 – Build Your Case

Now it’s time to build the case for your solution. This can be highly variable and depends on your audience. After you state the problem, you could present background information, move into the potential solutions and make a recommendation. Or you could talk about the people who this is a problem for and how they are impacted, views of what a successful solution would look like and make some recommendations. There’s a huge number of possibilities. You’ll have to decide for yourself which approach to take, but have a plan going in. One piece of practical advice I can give is to support your assertions with evidence. If you say that your solution is going to cost $1 million, you should have some reasonable, thorough estimates that you can show in your pitch that back up that number.

Pitching Your Ideas Tip #5 – Make The Ask

All too often I’ve seen someone give a really great convincing presentation and then just kind of wrap up without really clearly asking for that decision they need. I’ve even done it myself. It’s so important to make that ask and get that decision before the decision maker leaves the room. You don’t want to put any undue pressure on them, but clearly make the ask. They may not be ready to make a decision at that point. If that’s the case you have a new ask to make. Find out what questions the decision maker needs to be answered and when they want to reschedule. Be prepared to make that secondary ask if you need to.

So there are 5 tips for making a really great pitch presentation. While these are general, they’ll help to get you in the right mindset for making a pitch. Iff you’ve done the prep work we talked about in last week’s post, you should have all the material you need to make your case. You just need to decide how to build the story that will get your message across most effectively. I know you can do it!

How you approach convincing others affects your success. These tips will show you how to write a convincing pitch no matter who you're pitching to.

How to Write a Convincing Pitch

As we grow as leaders we start to have bigger and better ideas that we want to get done. We can’t get these things done all by ourselves. We need build support for our ideas and that’s not always easy. How you approach convincing others to join you will affect your success. In the Air Force, I had to make a lot of pitches to leaders who weren’t always on board.  I learned the hard way how important it is to prepare for your pitch. These 10 tips will show you how to write a convincing pitch no matter who you’re pitching to. If you want to follow along with the tips in the video, you can get our Pitch Worksheet to help write your amazing pitch with us!

How to Write a Convincing Pitch Tip #1 – Recognize People Don’t Like Change

Human beings don’t like change. To accept change they need to be persuaded and reassured. Keep this thought in mind as you work through the rest of the steps. Understanding the resistance others may have to your idea will help you address their concerns and questions before they arise. You can make your pitch successful by addressing these concerns and questions in your pitch before they come up.

How to Write a Convincing Pitch Tip #2 – Identify the problem

To convince others that your idea is good, present the problem in really clear terms. Not everyone may think that this is a problem. You may have to start your pitch by convincing them that the problem even exists. Don’t think of the problem just in terms of what, talk about it in terms of who has the problem, where these people are, why it’s a problem for them and when this problem becomes big enough to demand a solution. In some cases, your boss may have handed you the problem, but it still helps to run it through these questions to clearly define it.

How to Write a Convincing Pitch Tip #3 – Brainstorm Potential Solutions

Chances are you already have a solution in mind but now that you have really clearly defined your problem, is that solution really the best option? Will others agree that it is the best option or will they have their own ideas? think about alternate solutions that also might solve the problem. Rank them objectively on how well they solve the problem. You may find that your initial idea is still the best or maybe not. Don’t be afraid to break down each idea and take the best elements of each to create new solutions.

How to Write a Convincing Pitch Tip #4 – Identify the Impacts

List the impacts of implementing your solution below. Make sure to include not just what the impact is, but who it will impact, when it will occur, etc. Include both positive and negative impacts. Show the payoff that these impacts will bring to solving the problem.

How to Write a Convincing Pitch Tip #5 – Identify Any Risks

List the risks that will come along with this solution along with what steps can be taken to mitigate the risks. Areas to consider are safety risks, security risks, financial risks, etc. Any area of significant uncertainty should be addressed as well as how it can be minimized along with the associated costs.

How to Write a Convincing Pitch Tip #6 – Address the Views of Others

Before you make your pitch, actively solicit the views of others that your proposal may affect. Find supporters of your idea and ask what they love about it. Also look for objectors and see if there are parts of your solution that can be modified to bring them on board. Decision makers often take these views into account as they consider your pitch.

How to Write a Convincing Pitch Tip #7 – Brainstorm Unintended Consequences

Make a list of all of the things that could go wrong that you haven’t anticipated. This can be difficult and requires some creativity so this is another step that it’s helpful to find a team to help you. Once you have your list, determine if there are steps you can take in your solution that would eliminate or reduce some of these unintended effects.

How to Write a Convincing Pitch Tip #8 – Identify Resources You Need

The cost associated with a new idea is often what makes or breaks it. Identify all of the resources you need to implement your solution including money, people and assets. This is a great opportunity to sharpen your pencil on the solution and find a way to do it at the minimum cost. Showing a lot of value for low cost will set your pitch apart!

How to Write a Convincing Pitch Tip #9 – Show the Path to Implementation

Identify the action steps it will take to bring your solution to reality. Highlight important milestones that require extra attention as well as any decision points you will use to determine if you are on the right track. Show how simultaneous tasks will come together to achieve the overall solution along with how long each task will take.

How to Write a Convincing Pitch Tip #10 – Offer Options

The decision maker that you are pitching to may not be ready or able to buy off on your proposed solution right away. Having multiple options that still solve the problem is a good practice. Look at some of the other solutions you brainstormed earlier and apply the rest of the steps to determine if you have other viable options to consider.

So there are your 10 tips for writing a convincing pitch. This is really the preparation phase of creating a fully formed idea to pitch to others. Next week we’ll talk about how to build that presentation so that you can make all of this hard prep work pay off by convincing others that you have a great idea!

All leaders hope they're inspiring others to go do great things, but how do we know? I remind myself of these three tips every day to set a good example.

Inspiring Others – 3 Tips to Set a Great Example

All leaders hope they’re inspiring others to go do great things, but how do we know? When I was in the Air Force, I was always fascinated by leaders who inspired us to do great things. These leaders weren’t inspiring just because they had great words to say or were great speakers. They were leaders who took action and set a great example for everyone around them. My personal leadership style is based on these leaders and the example they set. I always hope that I’m setting a good example for others. I remind myself of these three tips every day to set a good example.

Inspiring Others Tip #1 – Remember People Are Watching

Tip number one for setting a good example is to remember that people are always watching. No matter what we say or what we do there’s almost always someone there to observe it. Unless you live in a cave all by yourself, people are always looking at your words and actions. As young ROTC cadets, our leaders told us, “If you don’t want to it to show up on the front page of the New York Times, don’t do it or say it”. That’s still good advice today. You could cross out “New York Times” and replace it with social media. Remember there’s always someone watching and deciding if you’re setting a good example that they want to emulate.

Inspiring Others Tip #2 – Make Sure Words and Actions Match

One of the best pieces of advice for inspiring others is to make sure that your words and actions match. People watch to see if you do what you say you’re going to do. Do you follow through and take action on the things you say you will do? It’s not just about doing the things you say you’re going to do. It’s also about the example you set with your team. If tolerance and respecting others are important to you, do you set the example? Do you interrupt people or let them finish their thoughts? Are you open to others’ ideas or do you dismiss every idea that comes from someone else? When our words and actions match we set a good example for everyone around us.

Inspiring Others Tip #3 – Share Failures and Mistakes

None of us are perfect and we won’t set a great example by pretending we are. We can try to hide our failures, however, people see through it very quickly. It’s  important to share your mistakes and your failures and what you learned from them. This is key to setting an example that it’s ok to make mistakes and learn from them. We always learn more from our failures than we do from our successes. If you want to inspire others, gather stories where you didn’t do such a great job but learned from it. Share how you turned that failure into success and see how your team responds.

I hope these tips help you inspire your team. They sound simple but take a bit of conscious thought and effort. Remind yourself of these tips every day and see if that makes a difference in inspiring your team to go above and beyond.

Traits can be built and they're a lot harder to develop in ourselves than a skill. Building perseverance is no different.

Building Perseverance – 5 Tips to Help You Stick With It

We hear all through our lives that we’ve got to have the perseverance to meet our goals. It’s a fact, but not all of us have perseverance as an inborn, inherent trait. At a workshop yesterday I was reminded that traits like perseverance can be developed. Traits can be built and they’re a lot harder to develop in ourselves than a skill. Building perseverance is no different. I didn’t always have the perseverance I had today. Several times in life I had to build perseverance, in school, in the Air Force and even starting my own business. These tips come from my own personal experience building perseverance. I hope they’ll help you to with your perseverance if that’s something you’re struggling with.

Building Perseverance Tip #1 – Break Things Up

We’ve probably all heard that if you’re trying to get to the gym, lay out your clothes the night before. As soon as you get up, all you’ve got to do is throw those clothes on. Put your running shoes by the door. Put those shoes on. Walk out the front door. Do all these little steps in a row because they’re easy to do.Make it easy on yourself to do each little step every single time. Soon you’re already at the gym and it’s easier to work out because you’re already there. You’ll find that instead of trying to persevere through one big step, little steps makes life a lot easier. This starts to develop that perseverance muscle inside you.

Building Perseverance Tip #2 – Do a Little More Every Day

If I haven’t been running for a while and want to increase my distance, I just a little further every day. I typically run on a track indoors because it gets hot here in Las Vegas this summer it’s not great to run outside here. When I’m trying to get more distance I just do one more lap every day. I don’t get really ambitious try to do another mile today or two. If I did 15 laps yesterday, I’m going to do 16 laps today. Try increasing by small increments every day to build that perseverance muscle. Soon you’ll be able to power through even longer distances or bigger goals.

Building Perseverance Tip #3 – Give Yourself Credit

It’s important to give yourself credit for taking the steps, even if you don’t fully succeed at today’s goal. There are days I don’t complete my workout because I’m tired, sore or don’t feel well. This happened to me just the other day. I still give myself credit for trying and take steps to do better the next day. When you’re working on a goal, give yourself credit for taking the steps. Recognize if you don’t reach your goal and decide what steps you need to take to improve. These small bits of recognition will help your perseverance.

Building Perseverance Tip #4 – Keep Track of What Works

Just like with any goal, keep track of what works and what doesn’t. This isn’t so much about tracking your progress for your goal This is more about learning if the steps you’re taking are moving you in the right direction. If you’re doing cold calls for your business and not getting many leads, maybe it’s time to try something new. Keep track of how many cold calls you’re making, how many are converting into sales or even advancing a relationship. This will tell you how effective your techniques are. You don’t want to do is keep pursuing a technique that isn’t working. Keep an open mind about other techniques and track of which techniques are advancing you towards your goals and which ones are holding you back. Sticking with the ones that are holding you back is just perseverance in the wrong direction.

Building Perseverance Tip #5 – Start Early!

Start early if you’re going to do something where you feel like you’re going to need a lot of perseverance to succeed. If you’re starting something that you’ve never done before, don’t do at the last minute. Give yourself plenty of time to learn, persevere, and stick with it. Make those small steps and go a little further every day. Leave yourself the time to let those steps work. If you feel like you’re under the gun, you’re may have an outcome with lower quality than you wanted and you’re going to you’re going to take a hit to your perseverance muscle instead of developing it.

There are your five tips for building perseverance. Traits like perseverance definitely can be learned and developed but it’s really hard much harder than developing skill. Give these five tips a try, develop those small steps, go a little further every day and give yourself plenty of time. Try these five tips and I think you’ll find that you’ll have a much stronger perseverance muscle and it will be much easier to hang in there when it gets tough.

As we grow as leaders we start to set goals for ourselves and our team. These tips will get you smashing through goals so you can go on to bigger things.

Smashing Through Goals – 4 Tips to Achieve Yours

As we grow as leaders we start to set goals for ourselves and for our team. This can be a bit of a learning experience. Once we start setting the goals, we don’t have anyone checking up on us to follow through. After several years in the Air Force, I gained more responsibility and had more people working for me. I was the one setting the goals but no one was really chasing me to achieve them. When I was starting my own business, I had a goal to write a business plan. No one else was looking for it, was just something I thought was a good idea. I had to figure out a way to get that business plan done without anyone else following up with me. These tips will get you smashing through goals so you can go on to bigger things.

Smashing Through Goals Tip #1 – Well Written Goals

This is a bit of a review, but you need well-written goals. When I talk with people about setting their goals, I make sure they are clear, measurable and achievable. I won’t go into all the details of what that means. I’ve got another post on setting goals where you can more information on what clear, measurable and achievable are all about. There are other methods for writing goals like SMART, but I like the idea of clear, measurable and achievable. It’s simple and easy to remember. With this method, you’ll quickly build tools and systems to track your goals which are critical to achieving them.

Smashing Through Goals Tip #2 – Build Tools & Systems

Tools and systems are key to sticking to the actions you need to take to achieve your goal. When I was writing my business plan, it never would have gotten done without a system.  I made a contract with myself that each night after dinner I would work for an hour on it. Using that system, I actually knocked it out in just a couple of weeks just working an hour a night. There were a lot of nights that I would say “I’m really onto something here. I’m going to work for a little longer.” That was a system that worked great for me. You need to figure out what works for you. If you’ve tried a system for a couple of weeks and it’s not working, don’t be afraid to reevaluate. Maybe throw that system out and try something new to help you get to your goals.

Smashing Through Goals Tip #3 – Track Your Progress

Everyone talks about this, everyone hears about it, we all know we need to do it. It’s one of the things that often doesn’t get done. Tracking your goals doesn’t need to be elaborate. It just needs to be appropriate for what you’re trying to do. In the video, I show you how I’m tracking my social media audience goals this year. You want to make tracking easy. If you can find there’s a data out there already, like social media platform analytics, use it. I’m just bringing that data together to create a snapshot to see how I’m doing. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel if someone’s already collecting the data. When using other people’s data, it probably will not answer your questions directly. You may have to pull in different sources of data and make some assumptions to apply it to your goals.

Smashing Through Goals Tip #4 – Assess and Adjust

Tracking your progress is useless unless you use the data and conclusions to assess your progress and adjust. Each month I assess if I achieved my social media goals. If I didn’t, I’ll decide what changes to make to meet those goals next month. When it comes to adjusting, you may decide you need to adjust your goal because it was too lofty. That’s a reasonable approach, but consider adjusting your actions in the future to reach that goal. That can be a little bit of an iterative process. As you continue to assess, take some different actions or increase the intensity on your actions.

So there are your four tips for smashing through goals. Remember it’s important to make sure that your goals are well written, that clear, measurable and achievable. Build tools and systems that help you follow through on those goals. Track your progress to see if the tools and systems you’ve built are working. Look for trends the data, assess and adjust. Instead of changing or throwing out your goal, adjust where you’re putting your effort instead of making radical changes to your goals or your life plan.

So many of us are hoping for that opportunity that will supercharge our lives and careers, but business opportunities aren’t usually just handed to us.

Business Opportunities – 4 Tips to Make Them Happen for You

So many of us are hoping for that opportunity that will supercharge our lives and careers. If we can just get one shot, we’ll be able to achieve our goals. That’s not how opportunities really work though. Business opportunities or opportunities in other aspects of our lives aren’t usually just handed to us. We often have to recognize opportunities in their infancy and grow them before we can take advantage of them. Taking small steps to pursue an opportunity gives far better results than waiting for something to fall into our lap.

Business Opportunities Tip #1 – Keep Your Eyes Open

Maybe the biggest challenge with taking advantage of opportunities is recognizing that they’re out there. Opportunities are happening every day but they might be passing right by us because we’re not looking. Most really great opportunities start out as a tiny observation of something that could be done a little better. They start to grow inside us until we recognize that there’s something great there. One of the big challenges with opportunities is that they don’t always look like a benefit at first. That new job in a new city or 6-month overseas trip can be a little intimidating. That nervousness is a good sign that seizing the day can bring fulfillment and satisfaction.

Business Opportunities Tip #2 – Do the Homework

Before jumping in, do some research. Find out about the fundamentals of the industry if you don’t already know them. Identify who this opportunity benefits and who you might be in competition with. Who are the decision makers and influencers? Who might be willing to help you because they think you have a great idea, but they just don’t have the time to do it themselves? If you’re going to a new place, research the layout, history, and culture. If you’re taking a job in a new field, brush up on the basics that go along with it.

Business Opportunities Tip #3 – Follow Through

This is probably where most of us will miss out on an opportunity. We don’t always follow through on the actions we need to take. We might not call that person or submit the application for the program that would improve our skills. There have been times where I didn’t do the follow through and missed an opportunity. Most of the time, this is because we are afraid. The future that may come from the new opportunity might be scary. It might force us to step outside of our comfort zone. While these are very real feelings, we need to recognize that fear is what keeps us in the status quo. If we give into this fear, we can miss out on those opportunities that we worked so hard to create. Taking small steps to follow through is critical once we see a new opportunity.

Business Opportunities Tip #4 – Enjoy the Ride

By now we all know that nothing ever goes exactly how we plan. It’s frustrating, but it also lets the world surprise us in ways we never thought possible. Opportunities morph and change and almost never turn out to be what we thought they would be in the beginning. Trying to control an opportunity and force it into what we think it should be leads to limited results. We get better results by flowing with the opportunity and appreciating the new ideas and skills we are learning. Appreciating the journey that comes from a new opportunity will be far more satisfying and fulfilling than the outcome itself.

If you’re waiting for that great opportunity to come your way, try these four tips to see if you can make your own. Keep your eyes open for those tiny little chances to solve a problem or take on a new role. Once you see that tiny spark, fan it into a flame by doing some research and following up. Most importantly, enjoy the experience as you try something new. Even if it doesn’t turn out exactly as you hoped, chances are this one opportunity will open several other doors for you to take a chance on too!

When I was in the Air Force, taking care of myself and healthy living didn't always happen. Those are the first things that I let go when I got busy or traveling a lot.

Healthy Living Tips – 4 Tips to be a Healthy Leader

Summer is coming and lots of fun activities are coming up. It’s more important than ever that we take care of ourselves. When I was in the Air Force, taking care of myself and healthy living didn’t always happen. Those are the first things that I let go when I got busy or traveling a lot. Financial advisors say you’ve got to pay yourself first. We’ve got to do that with our health as well. These four areas to focus on will help improve your health, reduce your stress and keep your energy level high. Follow these tips and you’ll have the energy for fun summer activities while still getting the job done.

Healthy Living Tip #1 – Get Enough Sleep

We’re almost all guilty of not getting enough sleep. It’s important to do what works for you.Many people advocate eight hours of sleep. Others say that you only need four. Try this exercise. Go to bed and don’t set an alarm, just sleep until you wake up. See how much sleep you need to feel refreshed, and adjust your schedule around that. Also, it’s not just about your sleep schedule. You’ve got to find the right times of day to take a break based on that rhythm. I like to take breaks in the late morning, and mid-afternoon about three o’clock. That’s where I usually schedule workout time or other things where I don’t have to be focused on one task. Try to find those natural break points in your day where you need to get a break.

Healthy Living Tip #2 – Drink Enough Water

No matter how much water you’re drinking is probably not enough.  I live in Las Vegas and I don’t think I can ever push enough water through my system. Water is really important many of the body functions we take for granted. If you feel fatigued or get headaches while you’re working, you’re probably not getting enough water. Before you start popping a lot of pain relievers, make sure you’re hydrated and see if that solves that problem. It’s really important, no matter where you live, that we all get enough water this summer.

Healthy Living Tip #3 – Get Enough Exercise

This sounds really obvious. You’ve got to get some exercise to get your body working efficiently. Exercise is going to start help you use your energy much more efficiently. You may find that instead of needing nine or ten hours of sleep, you may be able to use less. You may find that your body changes and those natural rhythms change if you’re getting enough exercise. Try to mix up cardio and strength training based on your fitness goals. Talk to a trainer or someone who understands exercise physiology to help set those goals. Regular exercise will help you reach peak efficiency when you’re working through really tough times or if you have to surge.

Healthy Living Tip #4 – Eat Healthy Food

Eating healthy fuels everything you do. That’s where all your energy comes from. So the sleep, the water, the exercise, all that isn’t going to tie together unless you’re eating healthy. It’s really hard to eat healthy, especially if you travel a lot. I still need tools and systems to eat healthy. I go to the grocery store every Sunday and buy exactly what I need for the week for all my meals. This limits any overeating because I’m out of food by the end of the week. Figure out what your nutritional goals are and build a meal plan around it accordingly. You don’t have to use my method, but if you’re having trouble sticking to a meal plan, give that a try.

There are your four tips for healthy living as a leader. I’ve tried to live them the best I can. I fall down just like everybody else does once in a while, but that’s part of being human. When I wasn’t trying these tips, I wasn’t unhealthy, but I’m much happier now and have more energy. Try to get enough sleep, get enough water, exercise, and eat healthy. Try this for 30 days and see how you feel at the end of it. I bet you’ll feel a lot better and you’ll be able to stick with it for even longer if you do it for 30 days.

These four tips will help you show really good followership, which is the core of great leadership, as well as show that you've got great teamwork skills.

Followership – 4 Tips to be a Great Team Player

In our last post, we talked about how managers can understand Millennials, as well as build strong working relationships with them. Working relationships and respect are a two-way street. This week we’ll talk about how to be a great follower and team player. This is important for everyone, no matter what generation. Whether you’re Millennial, Boomer or Gen X, these tips are going to help you be a great team player. Even if you own your own business, you are still responsive to customers, clients, and possibly even investors. These four tips will help you show really good followership, which is the core of great leadership, as well as show that you’ve got great teamwork skills.

Followership Tip #1 – Know Your Organization’s Mission

We all get really head-down sometimes working on our tasks. Sometimes we divert in a direction that’s not really productive because we’ve lost focus on our mission. We focus so much on details, we forget we’re serving a larger purpose. That’s why we’re part of a team, to achieve something that we couldn’t do on our own. Recognize what your organization’s mission is. Focus your efforts on enhancing that mission. Don’t be afraid to speak up if an idea doesn’t align with the mission. Work with the people around you to ensure all your ideas and efforts serve your organization’s mission.

Followership Tip #2 – Know What Your Boss is Held Accountable For

Do you know how your organization measures your team for success? You may all be working towards a stated mission, but your team leader might be accountable for things outside of what your awareness. Your boss’s boss may be measuring the success of your team and your leader on other factors. What is your boss held accountable for? It may not just be what’s going on your team. Understand the metrics used to measure your team. Keep track of the metrics that senior leadership uses to measure success for the whole organization. You will learn how your leadership makes decisions as well as how to present your ideas so they will be well received.

Followership Tip #2 – Show Initiative

There’s always a lot of tasks to do in any organization. We all appreciate the people who step up and do them. Those people show strong leadership potential and we select them to be team leaders in the future. Find uncompleted tasks and do them. Don’t worry if it’s not in your job description. Or put together a small team inside your team to get it done. This comes back to what your boss is held accountable for. If there are things that are falling by the wayside, show some initiative and get them done. Show senior leadership you’ll be a great leader by exhibiting good followership.

Followership Tip #4 – Present Fully Formed Ideas

Last week we talked about how leaders should be coaching and mentoring young Millennials to fully form ideas before presenting them. Ask for mentoring and coaching, but also try to meet your boss halfway. Be as thorough as you can when you put together ideas to pitch to your boss. Recognize what the impacts will be, not just to you, but to your team as a whole. Also, consider impacts to other stakeholders outside of your team. Define those impacts in terms of money, time or any other important metrics, as well as solicit the perspectives of others. Talk with the other teams and find out how your proposal will impact them. Will they support your proposal? Bring all the relevant information and perspectives together and present it in a clear and easily understandable format. This will help you make a very strong case for your idea to your boss.

Followership is the core of leadership. In the Air Force, we worked very hard to create great followers that understood the principles of good leadership and became great leaders later on. and I hope that works for you too. Next time you want to propose something to your boss use these tips to make a strong case. Show initiative and put together a really well thought out plan. By meeting your boss halfway, you’ll have more conversations about great ideas, instead of just getting quick yes or no answers.

One piece of general advice is not to think of leading and managing millennials as a problem. Instead, look at opportunities that come from the way millennials look at the world.

Managing Millennials – 4 Tips for Leading Millennials

We’ve heard a lot about the “millennial problem” lately and there is no shortage of opinions on it. My first experience working with millennials was in the Air Force in the mid-2000s. That was a bit different situation than dealing with it in a civilian environment. Despite the differences, we found some successful leadership principles that can help with managing millennials in the civilian world too. One piece of general advice is not to think of leading and managing millennials as a problem. Instead, look for opportunities that come from the way millennials view the world. How can that mindset benefit your team? If you lead millennials or are millennial and you have a different experience, I’d love to hear from you. I’d love to learn from your experience if you have different advice and share it with other leaders.

Managing Millennials Tip #1 – Recognize What Millennials Want

Millennials really want 3 things when it comes to their career and life in general. They want to be heard, to participate in the decision-making process and for their work to have meaning. This isn’t unique to millennials. Pretty much everyone in every generation wants these things in their work experience.

From a very young age, millennials have been encouraged to pursue their dreams. They were also much more included in decision-making with their families. This is far different from my experience growing up as a Generation Xer. Older generations were raised differently as well. We “paid our dues” in the workplace before we got a seat at the big table. Millennials view this differently and this can create that generational tension. We shouldn’t assign any blame here, just recognize the different mindset. Recognizing that millennials want the same thing as every generation does, but have a different mindset on how to get there, goes a long way towards building a strong team relationship with millennials.

Managing Millennials Tip #2 – Be Flexible Where You Can

Millennials love flexibility especially when it comes to schedule and being able to use the latest technology. Look for opportunities to be flexible on how your team does work. It’s important to maintain the standards of excellence that your organization demands. For example, who cares when your team is in the office if they can do the work remotely? What events or activities do they really need to be present for? Where you can, let your millennial team members experiment with new tech, new methods, and alternate schedules. Enforce deadlines and standards on work products even as you give them new freedom.

Managing Millennials Tip #3 – Give Millennials Objectives, Not Tasks

Give your millennials problems to solve and let them figure out how to do it. As above, set clear standards that their results have to meet. Identify any legal or regulatory frameworks they must stay within and let them work inside that framework. If you’re new to letting your team have this much freedom, schedule in a few vector checks. These checks let your team update you before they proceed and are a great opportunity to give them further guidance.

Managing Millennials Tip #4 – Be a Coach and Mentor

Here at Evil Genius Leadership we believe one of our most important jobs as a leader is to develop the leaders coming up behind us. It’s especially important with millennials who are looking to have a coaching and mentor relationship with you. Sometimes a team member will have an idea for an improvement. Often it’s not quite fully formed or doesn’t take into account the whole situation. Rather than just saying no, sit down and discuss how they can make their proposal stronger. We all had mentors who took the time to invest in us. We should do the same for our team members.

You may recognize that these tips are all basic good leadership principles. We were talking about these ideas 20 to 30 years ago before millennials ever entered the workforce. As I said earlier, if you’re leading millennials, or are a millennial, and you have a different experience, leave us a comment and let’s continue the discussion. I’d love to hear what you think and refine these tips to make them valuable to even more people. Rather than looking at this as a “millennial problem” let’s just recognize that every generation comes with its own worldview. If we follow good leadership principles we can get past the tension from differing worldviews.

It's definitely challenging keeping a team focused when traveling. Here are some business travel tips I found effective when leading from the road.

Business Travel Tips – 4 Tips for Leading From the Road

I used to travel a lot for work when I was in the Air Force. We called it TDY, which was short for temporary duty. At one point I was traveling 3 or 4 days each week, at least 3 weeks out of the month. In this assignment, I was Director of Operations for a squadron. I kept 60 people all moving in the same direction to accomplish our mission. It was amazing to travel to all those places, but it’s definitely challenging keeping a team focused when traveling.  I found these four business travel tips effective when leading from the road.

Last week we talked about some tips for leaders when taking some time off. Those tips were mainly about disconnecting effectively. This week we’ll focus on staying connected, but some tips from last time are still valuable in this case too.

Business Travel Tip #1 – Prepare Your Team

Have a plan before you depart, just like when you’re heading out the door for vacation. Make sure you know who is handling each of your responsibilities before you go and make sure they know! Get that positive handoff we talked about last time. Make sure they know where to find all of the information they might need to make a decision. Delegate authority to make decisions while you’re gone and be clear what they need to contact you about. Provide a way for your team to reach you in an emergency. Just like last week, discuss what constitutes a real emergency so they don’t contact you over every little thing that pops up.

Business Travel Tip #2 – Stay Connected

Tip #2 is to stay connected. This is a lot easier now than it was 10 years ago. Back then even with a cell phone and Blackberry, it was challenging to communicate and get information to make decisions. You couldn’t really read attachments on a blackberry, coverage was spotty and public wi-fi was rare. It’s a lot easier now with cloud storage, smartphones, and video chat. Take advantage of all of the tools you have at your disposal to connect and communicate with your team. If you’re not using these tools and you travel a lot, consider trying them out next time you travel.

Business Travel Tip #3 – Stay Engaged with Your Team

Staying connected is about more than just using the latest tools. There’s some time management that goes along with it. Plan time during your trip to connect with your team members. You may not need to connect each day with everyone, but checking in while traveling is a good practice. You may be uniquely suited to solve a problem for your team because you’re in a location where you can address the issue face-to-face.  I know how tiring travel can be. The last thing you want to do make calls or read email after traveling all day, but the insight you’ll get from your team can make your trip even more productive. It’s okay to be selective with what you discuss with your team. If it’s a conversation that can wait until you get back, it’s okay to say so.

Business Travel Tip #4 – Use Downtime Effectively

Travel is almost always an exercise in hurry up and wait. Flights get delayed, we wait for cabs and ridesharing. There’s always a few minutes here and there to take care of little things. I will usually triage emails and do social media engagement when any time I’m waiting. This downtime is great for taking care of quick little tasks that often fall by the wayside. If you know ahead of time that you have a longer period of downtime, you can plan on doing a larger task. You can even use this downtime to engage with your team to answer their questions or give them some guidance.

There you go, 4 tips to help you lead your team while you’re traveling. Nothing is ever a perfect solution and these aren’t substitutes for being at home face to face with your team, but these 4 tips can help you stay connected and engaged with your team while you’re gone and I know they’ll appreciate it!

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