Tough Leadership

“He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much; he who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly”

James Allen

It’s been over 10 years since that cold Thursday January 15, 2009 when flight 1549 from US airways took off from La Guardia International airport and lost power on both engines. What made the difference between life and death during this accident was the captain Chesley Sullenberger, he was able to maneuver the plane to the Hudson river and crashed landed there, the most impressive part he remained calmed during the entire incident and would not leave the plane until everyone of his passengers and crew had been rescued.

While this is an impressive demonstration of leadership and coolness under fire, not all leadership situations are about being heroic. Sometimes being a leader is about making difficult situations. What if your company is downsizing and you have to let go one employee from your team? All members of your team are hardworking and invested in the success of the team, they all need the job, how do you choose?

What if you have to choose between two competitive contracts and making the wrong decision could be demised of your organization?  

Bottom line is that sometimes being a leader will place you in difficult positions and true leaders will have to make tough decisions at one time or another. Here are some suggestions on how to cope with difficult decisions or situations:

Is important to remember that first rule of leadership is: you either lead by example or you don’t lead at all, before taking a difficult decision is important to think how that decision will affect the stakeholders, the people you lead, the organization, the customers, the community, etc. a good leader will place himself/herself on the shoes of those directly affected by a tough decision and find a way to minimized the impact of a difficult decision.

Transparency, a good leader is always transparent even when faced with bad news. Anyone can share good news with their followers, but a good leader have to be transparent, so when he has to share bad news or decisions that negative impact on those they lead, they can understand why the decision was taken, even if they don’t approve or agree with it, they are more likely to accept it when a transparent leader shares the bad news.

Learn to say no, a tough leader knows when to say no. sometimes the people they lead might not want to hear that word no, but a good leader have earned the trust of those who follow them and knows when to say no, even if it will not be a welcome word.

Don’t be afraid, a good leader is not afraid to make tough decisions, the key here is not to take decisions lightly, but once a leader has arrived at a decision is not afraid to do it.

Admit when is wrong, a good leader is not afraid to admit when he/she is wrong. Bottom line we all make mistakes and when faced with difficult situations we can also make mistakes; a good leader is humble enough to admit he/she is wrong to those who follow him.

So next time you are faced with a difficult situation or have to make a tough decision remember that is part of being a good leader, so don’t be afraid to make tough decisions.


A coach can make all of the difference!

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed”

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is arguably the best athlete of all times, his dedication, his talent and determination are unmatched, it is those traits that led him to six championships between 1991 and 1998, while making the Chicago Bulls a true dynasty in the NBA. Yet when tempted with a one year $25 million contract from the New York Knicks, Michael Jordan stated “my coach is everything”

Indeed, Phil Jackson is the coach with more championships in the NBA; at 11 wins he is two ahead of Red Auerbach. Phil Jackson spent 20 years in the NBA won 1640 games, 11 championships, 13 conference finals and had a 0.688% winning percentage; yet, he has only been named coach of the year once, that is correct only one time he has been recognized as the best coach in the NBA, how can this be? Because great coaches don’t make the game about themselves, is all about the players. Here are some of Phil Jackson’s core values for the game:

Fortes parat Victoria, or victory favors the prepared translated from Latin. Phil Jackson’s success is based on preparation, Jackson will spend any amount of time needed to prepared for the task at hand; regardless if is the opening game of the season or game seven on the championship series, the coach believes in being ready for the task at hand is the key to victory.

Execute. A plan without execution is a nice dream, you can prepare all you want until you are blue in the face, but if you don’t go an execute then all your preparation is meaningless, no one understood that better than Phil Jackson, which is why he preached execution at the center of his training.

Poise, Phil Jackson is a true believer of having the right poise in the game. As a matter of fact, the coach was reluctant to call time outs because he was afraid to alter his team’s balance.

Success, how you defeat speaks more about you than anything else, yet handling success is just as important, and Phil Jackson was generally courteous regardless of winning or losing.

Many critics claim Phil Jackson is not the greatest coach, he just happened to be in the right place at the right time when Michael Jordan peaked, and that he was lucky to have Kobe and Shaquille when he coached the Lakers, that without these players he would have been just an average coach, that the real heroes are the players in court.

While those are valid arguments, is important to remember that even Michael Jordan never won a championship until Phil Jackson coached him, the Lakers were struggling in the West, even with Shaq and Kobe, until Phil coached them

The bottom line is that a great coach is also a great leader, and Phil Jackson has found a way to lead different teams with different players to obtain the maximum trophy in the NBA. So yes, a coach can make all the difference.

Let Results Speak for you

“Success if the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence”

Colin Powell

The date was December 16, 1979 the San Francisco 49ers were stepping into the field for the last game of the season; coming out from an impressive win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the bay area team wanted to close the season in a high note, the 49ers went out there and left it all on the field and when the dust settled they walked away with yet another loss, their 14 loss of the season, unable to stopped a combination of passes and rushes from the Atlanta Falcons the team succumbed once again and finished tied with the Detroit lions for last place in the NFL with a 2-14 record.  

Fast forward 26 months to January 24th, 1982 once again the 49ers were stepping into the field for the last game of the season, this time to face the Cincinnati Bengals in the super bowl. When the final whistle had blown the score was 49ers 26 Bengals 21. They claimed their first super bowl win ever. How can a team finished last and then go to win a super bowl just two seasons later? Coach Bill Walsh said it best “in this organization we have a standard of performance” Bill Walsh created a culture of excellence and he believed that if his team adhere to the standards of that culture the score would take care of itself.

Coach Bill Walsh was a firm believer on improvement, taking a look at each week performance, analyzing the daily practices and finding what can it be done better the team can reduce mistakes and capitalize on opportunities, during the games he believe on focusing on doing what they needed to do and at the end of the game the score would take care of itself.

Just like coach Walsh, we can also create our own standard of performance. While there are some general rules that can be apply universally like the ones from coach Walsh “use positive language and have a positive attitude” or “demonstrate character” we can look at specific values that applies to our unique positions, what if you are a McDonald’s cashier? One of your standards could be to treat every customer as you would like to be treated, what if you are the CEO? One of your values could be transparence towards those you lead.

If we set our standard of performance and then we take the time at the end of each day to analyze them we can see where we failed, where we succeeded, where we need improvement, and then we can focus only on the task in front of us, the customer in front of us, the employee in front of us; we can also be like those 49ers who focused only on the play at hand.

By paying less attention to the results we can have significant improvement in a short period of time and then we can let the result speak for us, and those results will speak louder than our words.

Work hard, eat well… oh, and don’t forget to feed your soul!

“Your soul is the power and core of who you are, feed it well”

Dr. Bill

We live in a fast pace society; we are constantly bombarded with one activity or another and it seems we are always on the run and more and more is demanded of us and work is no exception. There was a time when lousy workers could hide behind the overall performance of their division or the company, but with increase in artificial intelligence and technology overall, employers can detect who is really carrying their weight and who is dragging their feet. What is the best way to handle all of this pressure? Well, the first thing is that we should be working harder, and by that I mean taking all of the steps needed to increase productivity and efficiency that could mean working smarter, working faster or simple working in a more precise way to achieve more with less effort, bottom line is we have to do what we can to achieve more

So now that we are working harder what? Now we can eat well, by that I mean that we all work for a reason, of course we all work for the money, but money is just a means to get what we really want. Perhaps your motivation is to travel, then work hard so you can travel more, maybe your motivation is to eat good food, then work hard so you can enjoy the food you really like and go with the biggest steak or lobster that you love, if you like to go out to concerts then work hard so you can go to your favorite concert regardless of where it is, possibly your motivation is to just do nothing, then work hard so you can have more time do nothing. Bottom line is that we need to work hard so we can do whatever we enjoy, only by doing that we can justify those extra hours at the office, putting up with that annoying coworker or tolerate your boss, if not then why work hard at all?

Oh, don’t forget to feed your soul. What does that even mean? Regardless if you are a spiritual or religious person or you don’t believe on any of it; we can all feed our souls by simple doing things that make us feel good about ourselves. Something simple as just enjoy the sunset (one of my favorite activities) take a deep breath, sing with the birds, bark with the dogs, let go of resentments, look at the clouds, count the starts (there are fifty of them) or just live the moment.

Home of the Free Because of the Brave!

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

As we are getting ready to light up those grills, hike those beautiful mountains, swim at the lake, lay on the beach or simply just relax at home is important to remember what we are celebrating. Yes, today is independent day, but what does that means?

Independence Day is a day to remember that we all aspire at something bigger, something better, something more than what we have. Early revolutionaries like Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were willing to risk their lives because they believed in something bigger, they believe they could construct a place where people would have unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Of course, their understanding of who would have those rights were different at that time than what we have now, but that comes to show how much we have grown in the last 243 years.

Independence Day is a day to remember that the history of our Country is not the prettiest or the most glorious one, but is one that has taken us to where we are, is one that show that we can learn from our mistakes and become a better country, a better community a better family. Today we celebrate that we have make mistakes, but we have learned from them and because of it we have a better place to live.

Independence Day is a day to celebrate we have come a long way, yet we have further to go. We still have inequalities, we still have abuses, we still have kids going hungry while we waste 40% of the food we produce, today we celebrate that we will continue to work hard to bring equality to our country and that we will never cease to try to improve and build a better place for all where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is a reality.

Independence Day is a day to remember that we are all call to be better persons, better fathers, better mothers, better sisters and brothers, better neighbors and better citizens, because if we become a better version of ourselves we will have a better country and we will build a better society.

Independence Day is the day to be thankful for living in a country we the possibilities are endless and that we are limited only by our own barriers, a country were hard work will create opportunities and were those opportunities will be turn into success if one continues to work hard.

Finally, Independence Day is a day to remember those who has sacrificed so much so we can live the American dream, to remember those who were willing to paid the ultimate price to defend the values stated in our constitution and that freedom is not the liberty to do whatever we want but the liberty to do what we have to do.

Yes, this is the home of the free because of the brave!

Is Success Holding You Back?

“Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out”

John Wooden

Most successful leaders and top managers are really good at what they do, which is why they are in the position that they are but is possible that their success is holding them back. Many leaders are afraid that no one else can do their responsibilities as good as they do, because of that they end up working longer hours, they end up working during the weekends or days off and they even end up working while on vacation. Does this sound like you or someone you know? Well if it does, I have good news for you: delegation is your remedy.

Mentor. Delegation is something that successful leaders fear because they are afraid no one is going to do a task as good as they do, the first step is finding a mentor or a team of mentors, these are individuals that already work in your organization and are willing and eager to learn, young people who aspire to move up in the organization, who want to learn more  or simple just want to be more involved in the organization

Delegation is not a process where you find someone to do you work for you, rather is a process that involves trust and where both parties are building a meaningful relationship and getting something out of it. As a successful leader you must be willing to invest your time training your mentee, grooming that person to be able to step in your shoes and complete some of the task assigned to you.

Relevance. The second step in delegation is relevance, when a leader or a subject matter expert (SME) took on the position they are in, there were some expectations about their work. Is important to note that leaders and SME are to do the work that is relevant and that only they can do, so before delegating task is important to know if such task can be delegated at all. Once a leader or SME determinate that a task can be delegated then they can approach a mentee to discuss the details.

Supervise. Delegation does not mean that you assign a task and then is off your plate, as a successful leader you are still responsible for the task and for the mentee’s success and learning. Depending on the complexity of the task, the leader of SME is to constantly monitor and provide feedback, the task is not complete until the leader or SME sign off on it.

Analyze. Finally, as a leader you have to bring the delegation full circle and analyze with your mentee on how was the task, did it come out good? what opportunities were missed? What did you learn? What can be improved?

When selecting a task to be delegated consider these principles:

  • Can this task be delegated? As a leader there are task that only you can do
  • Is it the correct condition? is the person who you are delegating available to do this task.
  • The correct person? does he/she have the abilities to complete the task?
  • Supervision? As a leader or SME do you have the time to supervise the task

So, stop letting success get in your way and start delegating. There are some good mentees out there who are willing to learn and can help you carry your success.

Do You Really Have to Stop and Smell the Roses?

“Getting lost in the ‘big picture’ often prevents us from cherishing the ‘small moments’ that make it all worthwhile…” 

― J.R. Wirth

We all heard that saying (if you haven’t, you are about to) “stop and smell the roses” do you really have to “stop and smell the roses? Well the short answer is no, but in reality you should. While this might sound like a made up line to make you feel good about yourself or a nice slogan in an office wall, the truth is that there are several reasons why you should take the time to be grateful for what you have and take the time to enjoy life.

 Productivity levels have substantially increased in the last fifty years from about $40.00 output per hour to over $110.00 output per hour, meaning we are working harder, smarter and being more productive overall. While that is fantastic, and we economist love that, we need to ask ourselves at what cost? Life satisfaction index have dropped in the last few decades and it looks like we are having less time to ourselves, less time with our friends and family, less time to be grateful and we are not taking the time to enjoy our successes.

As technology has provided us with more ways to stay connected and accomplish more, it appears that more and more is demanded of us and that there is less and less time to enjoy what we have. But here are some simple tips of what we can do to change that: We all work really hard at what we do, when we you feel frustrated, discouraged and in a bad mood, think what is the reason you work so hard for? Why do you do what you do? Maybe is your family, your personal development, money. It does not matter what it is, what is matters is that you work hard for a reason and keeping that reason in mind will help you be more grateful and appreciate what you do. So next time that you are too busy, take a deep breath and remember why you are doing it

There is always a reason to be grateful. I know sometimes it seems like things are going really bad and then they get worse, but there is always something to be grateful for, even if is just for the fact that we are alive.

Appreciating people and significant events in your life will make you happier, is not secret that people who appreciate what they have are happier, when you are faced with difficult times remember that happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.

There is always a reason to be grateful. I know sometimes it seems like things are going really bad and then they get worse, but there is always something to be grateful for, even if is just for the fact that we are alive.

Appreciating people and significant events in your life will make you happier, is not secret that people who appreciate what they have are happier, when you are faced with difficult times remember that happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.

Appreciating people and significant events in your life will make you happier, is not secret that people who appreciate what they have are happier, when you are faced with difficult times remember that happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.

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