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?

Discovering Inspiration

The past few weeks I have been working with my church for a program called Angel Tree. We deliver Christmas gifts to children from a parent that is in prison. I woke up one morning intrigued about the level of gratification I felt from being involved.

I have helped with this program for a few years, and I will help again next year. Why? Because I am motivated to do so.

I have been contemplating what factors have led me to this level of commitment. If I can define them, will I be able to apply them to other activities? Can I use them to increase my motivation for another goal?

I have discovered many factors that have impacted my inspiration, my commitment, and my gratification.

1. Helping others – I am driven by the ability to help others. Doing something without reward is usually not motivating. However if other people are able to reap the reward of my effort, and I am able to participate in the process, it is highly rewarding.

2. Personal impact – I am emotionally impacted by the gratitude expressed by those we serve. It drives me to want to do the best I can to meet their needs.

3. Supports by my core values – We all have gaps between who we want to be and who we actually are. Just like we have differences between our intentions and our actions. The role with Angel Tree helps me close my gap.

4. Sense of urgency – Each year the time between receiving information on the children in the program and delivering gifts is short. It creates urgency, and a fixed timeline to which we are committed.

5. Effort – The amount of effort I need to invest to support the program is known in advance. Each year, I know approximately the number of hours and days to schedule.

6. Supported by othersThe program is supported by a team of volunteers. I would never be able to achieve the goal by myself.

7. Accountability – People are counting on me. My assigned tasks assigned are only going to be done by me. My actions affect the team. My actions affect our success.

8. Clear Goal – We must deliver gifts to the assigned children before Christmas. Our goal is clear. There are hundreds of obstacles, but the desired outcome is unmistakable.

9. Personal growth – I grow from being involved. Each year the challenges we face are different. Usually unique to a family we are serving. Overcoming challenges is the basis for growth.

The next step for me is to discover how I can connect these factors to a different goal. For the last couple of years, I have wanted to exercise more. I go through periods of success and then allow myself to drift away. It has been clear as I reflected this week, that these factors are not linked to my goal for exercising.

If I can establish the links, I think my outcome would be very different. That is my challenge. What challenge do you have that can benefit from discovering your inspiration?

Growth Versus Goals

Stop for a moment to think about your lifelong dreams and goals. Focus on something that you wish to achieve in your lifetime. Are you actively working towards this accomplishment?

If you are like me, we always have to weigh short-term needs and goals, with longer-term growth. It is not easy. Spending fifteen minutes a day on that long-term goal can pay high dividends.

It is a matter of thinking about your goals versus your growth. Growing continuously over a long period of time leads to the ability to accomplish great lifetime achievements.

However, it can be a struggle to bypass short-term gratification for the longer-term goal realization. I find it useful to think about goals in various timeframes, for example, one-year, three-year, and ten-year goals.

Once these are defined, then ask yourself two questions. One, how must I grow in order to achieve these goals? And two, how can I allocate some of my time daily or weekly to this growth, and these goals?

If we don’t utilize today to make tomorrow great, then we lose the opportunity to attain something that may be very important to us.

As John Maxwell has said, “The great men and women of history were not great because of what they earned and owned, but rather for what they gave their lives to accomplish.”