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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Do You Want to Be a Director?

    Recently I visited another parks and recreation agency in the state of Georgia.  It was a very productive trip and I learned some things about best practices and leadership, which is one of the reasons I participate in accreditation visits.  On our getaway-day, the parks and recreation director drove us to the airport, and before we had traveled very far he asked me, "do you want to be a director?"  While I do, I found myself struggling to answer.  I've pondered this question more times than I can count, but for some reason I was put on my heels and started to down-play my desire.  I love the role I'm in right now with my current employer; I'm in no hurry to advance; I feel I still have a lot to learn; If it never happens I can live with that.  Perhaps I'm not director material.  When I finished he said simply, "Well, I think you'd be a great director."  I did not expect him to say that.  While extremely flattered I was also stunned.  In short, I was making excuses for not already being a director.
    At 54, I sometimes worry that my opportunity has passed me by.  When looking for a new director, I believe most agencies screen applications looking for those with prior director experience.  I have about four (4) weeks experience as an interim director - not really the type of time-on-the-job most agencies are looking for in their next leader.  I know what I'm good at and I rely on my staff to help me in those areas in which I'm not talented or proficient.  After 25 years in the field I know that most of the folks who work for me are smarter, better, and faster than me.  I truly love my work family - they get things done and make a difference in the community.  I believe I've has a positive impact on my staff and that's what I bring to the table.  I've tried to inspire, I've taken risks, I've admitted failure, I've tried again, I've put people first, I've set the tone, and I've shared my passion.  I truly believe I know the kind of director I could be.

    I've had a fantastic mentor in my director, Bob Johnston.  He's even-keeled, very slow to anger (in fact, in the 12 years I've known him I've never seen him angry or raise his voice), and he gets things done.  He's also a non-conformist - a creative-type who does things his way.  He's very knowledgeable and demonstrates good common sense.  He's not a brown-noser. While I'm an extrovert, Bob's an introvert.  He knows this and doesn't try to be something he's not.  In fact, he expects me to be the front guy most of the time, which to me means his ego is not a major driver in his being the director.  Have I had a great role model for what makes a great director?  You bet I have!

    In her blog article, 4 questions every leader should be able to answer, Alaina Love identifies four (4) questions regarding leadership qualities that really resonated with me: Who am I? What are my passions? How am I impacting others?  Where are my edges?  I think these are questions every leader, director, CEO, etc., needs to ask themselves, and if you're not there yet now is a great time to begin this self-reflection.  Read her article - it's well worth it.  Being able to answer her four (4) questions can better help you articulate your response if ever you're asked, "Do you want to be a director?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

9 Qualities all Good Bosses Should Have

    Few articles I have read sum up in such a short piece what I think being a boss should be.  While chapters and volumes and text books have been written on the subject, the brief article, "Being a good boss means doing the whole job," by Wally Bock, does a great job of getting to the point succinctly.

    I'm not saying being a boss, a leader, a manager, or a supervisor is so simple that all skills, theory, practices, and nuances can be described in less than 500 words - it can't.  But if you're looking for a place to start and information to help you get on track or back on track, this article could be very helpful.

    For me, this blog post was both affirmation of my style and approach, as well as a reminder that the development and evolution of being a boss is never ending.  Plenty to learn, including learning from my mistakes.  While a boss/leader/manager/supervisor needs certain competencies, here's a short list of qualities that all future and current bosses could benefit from:

  1. Be kind . . . always.
  2. Show compassion.  We all have issues and some have real challenges.  Treat them the way you'd want to be treated.
  3. Don't be afraid to admit you don't have the answer - chances are you're not the smartest person in the room.
  4. Don't be threatened by those who are smarter than you (you want those people on your team).
  5. Think globally.  While your staff will focus on their projects and responsibilities, you'll need to think about how those projects and what they do fit into the bigger picture.
  6. Pitch in where you can and show your support.  My staff really appreciate when I help with set-up, clean-up or in some other way as long as I don't get in the way or slow them down.  Often time just showing up to give my support is what they need most from me.
  7. Show your appreciation.  Saying thank you privately or publicly, giving a hand-written thank you card, or some other sort of recognition, can go along way towards improving an employee's morale and will make their day.
  8. Protect your reputation.  What you say and do matters.  Small indiscretions, careless words, or inappropriate actions can send a message that taints or damages your reputation, which could follow you in your career for years. 
    1. “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently,” Warren Buffett.
    2. Be careful what you say and do; they are watching you and judging you,” Priscilla Cockerell.
  9. Lead.  You're their leader.  They want and expect you to lead.  This is not the same as telling them everything they have to do everyday.  Rather it's articulating the vision, helping them understand their value and purpose in the organization, and helping lead the way toward being successful.  Leaders set the tone.

    In short, don't be the pointy-haired boss.  Be the type of boss they deserve and that you'd want to follow.