Effective Rules

When I see an organization or a team with rules that are not being followed, it usually reflects a weakness in leadership. Not just because the rules are not being followed, but because the rules exist in the first place. Unfortunately this is too common.

Rules are created to keep people safe, to provide guidance for actions, and prevent mistakes. In many cases broad rules are created in reaction to specific incidents.

For example, if an employee spills a beverage affecting their workplace, a rule may be created to prevent employees from drinking beverages. There may be locations in the workplace or types of work where the presence of beverages is not a potential accident, or using beverage containers with lids would be effective.  Yet a rule is created covering the entire workplace.

This occurs because an ineffective leader views the new rule as the easiest to manage. A stronger leader would create a rule that supports the employees drinking beverages but at the same time protect the workplace. This rule would be more difficult to define and manage. But it also becomes a rule that people will actually follow.

Ineffective rules result in an unhappy workforce, or a workforce that ignores the rules. This is not an employee problem, it is a leadership problem.

As a leader, you must enforce the rules. If you don’t think the rule should be enforced, then work to change the rule.

All of this takes more effort. That is why we continue to see broad, ineffective rules in many workplaces and organizations. If you want effective rules, you need to be an effective leader.

Building Trust

Peter Lerangis wrote, “Trust is a fragile thing – difficult to build, easy to break. It cannot be bargained for. Only if it is freely given it can be expected in return.”

When someone doesn’t follow through with a commitment, any trust you had with them will be reduced, maybe even broken. What about when you break a commitment with yourself?

All of us probably fall short when it comes to completing the things we wish we could do every day. What is the impact on the next day? Do you find that it is easier to fall short again?

As soon as we miss a day, it becomes easier to miss the next day. We have broken our own trust.

Whatever we want to achieve is easier when we trust in our commitments to our self. When viewed from this perspective, the goals we set each day are critically important. We must stretch ourselves to achieve, but we can’t allow ourselves to overcommit. What a difficult balance!

Try it. What ever goal you are working on right now, think of it in terms of building trust. What do you need to do to build the trust within yourself? What can you do that will prove you are committed to achieving the goal?

If you never break your own trust, you will continue to grow and achieve great things. Building trust with yourself is important. Who should trust you, if you don’t trust yourself?

Avoid Being Stranded

“The past is a place of learning, not a place of living.” – Roy T. Bennet

I am a zealot of daily personal reflection. The process has revealed many opportunities for me in past years. Reflection helps process the past and improve the future.

Recognize that when we stay in the past we become stranded. For reflection to be effective, it must allow us to move forward rather than to be stuck in yesterday. The power of reflection materializes when we determine a more valuable plan for tomorrow.

The mistake I have made is failing to act on the improved plan. When I spend time in reflection, I may find many alternatives or options for moving forward. Without an effective process, you may lose sight of these options in the coming days.

Upon reflection a the path forward may seem strikingly clear. But when you fast forward a day, a week, or even months, how do you remember the new plan? Under the stress of day to day challenges, it may be difficult to implement the ideas you developed.

Capturing lessons learned is one method that helps me. I write them in a journal or in a spreadsheet. I document the actions and options that I need to pursue. This reflection, capturing, and remembering cycle that helps me grow from yesterday, and move to the future.

I have been stranded before, it does not feel great. And the longer you stay stranded, the harder it is to move forward. You have heard it said. We are best defined by our future rather than our past.

Keep moving. Find a process that works for you, and keep moving. Our future lies in what can happen, not what has happened. Each day becomes an opportunity to improve and move forward.

 

Loyalty

Loyal is defined as giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance to a person or institution. A pet dog is a great example of loyalty. Your dog always greets you when you arrive in your home. It happily displays its love and loyalty.

We can be loyal to a person, an idea, a custom, a cause, or a duty. We would like to believe that loyalty does not waver regardless of the situation. We cannot be partially loyal to something, can we?  How should we handle loyalties that are in conflict with each other? The truth is a situation can affect your loyalty.

In my experience, I find it useful to always step back and view things from the perspective of my values. Loyalties develop based on external factors and experiences. But values are more basic. they have already been internalized and built into your daily actions.

If you find yourself in a situation where your loyalty is being tested, be sure to reflect on your values before you decide your next action. Be authentic. It helps.