Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Playing Hurt

Whatever happened to the days when team members could be counted on by other team members no matter what? I know they do not grow warriors like Cal Ripken, Jr. or Brett Favre on trees, but has the expectation to "play hurt" for the overall benefit of the team dwindled in recent years.

Okay, let's step out of the realm of pro athletes for a second. What is the expectation among your team? Do your team members pick up the slack for one another when one member is unable to perform? Do folks in your office or on your team readily volunteer to cover vacations for one another? A deeper question to ask yourself is just how much of a role does the quality of leadership play when it comes to the willingness to "play hurt?"

The culture of team-building is a tricky science. A mentor of mine used to refer to the "team" as an ongoing science or chemistry project. That analogy always kept the dynamic of team-building fun. Proper planning, goal-setting, levels of accountability and a low-tolerance for poor performance are all critical in formulating the winning team. Do you want your team-members to "play hurt?" If so, they need to know exactly why they should be laying it all on the line at all times. What is the mission, the vision, the end goal? In professional sports this can be obvious in the form of a championship, a legacy or a Hall of Fame induction. In the business world, this is often up to the team leader to define, plan and execute. Does your team clearly understand and support the goal? Are they zealots? When people are passionate about their work, they execute at higher levels of performance. Part of a leader's responsibility is to be constantly stoking this fire. A unified goal, cause or mission will go a long way to creating a "playing hurt" performance culture. Which will in-turn go a long way in helping the team exceed performance expectations.

"As long as I can compete, I won't quit. Reaching three-thousand is not the finish line as long as I can contribute." – Cal Ripken, Jr.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

You: Defined

How would you define yourself in terms of your most special set of skills? Better yet, how would others describe your professional expertise in one word or phrase? Want to better differentiate yourself from others? Find your one special skill and begin to build a professional brand around your expertise. Are you the "Sales Guru," the "Tech Expert" or the "Get Things Done Person" in your office? If so, build upon this image. If you have yet to define yourself or carve out your special skill within your organization, it is time to give this simple process some thought. In today's employment environment, it is important to increase the value you bring to your organization. Build your own personal brand within your organization. Put forth some effort on this simple yet effective project and you will see positive results. Go ahead; carve out your special niche. The extra effort will also help you in terms of working on your own professional development. Never, never stop investing in your own development. Make sure you learn and work to develop yourself each and every day.

What is your one special skill? How would your boss, peers or direct reports communicate this to you? Are your own thoughts similar to the feedback you receive? If you answered no, why not?

Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else. ~Judy Garland

Never mind searching for who you are. Search for the person you aspire to be. ~Robert Brault, http://www.robertbrault.com/