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Management Hack: Grow Fire

Management Hack: Grow Fire

If you’re a supervisor or executive in your company, you also must play the role of farmer. It’s your job to cultivate and grow crops that will yield the next series of leaders and top performers. So, with that as the backdrop, I say to you: grow fire.

Grow Fire

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Find the most passionate of your employees and give them extra care and attention, because though they might occasionally crowd the other plants with their quirks, their passion is what will ignite and move the company forward. Your fire crops are the kinds of people you want to cultivate into leaders that you can send into situations in your stead, and let them handle the task. Accept all responsibility for any problems they cause, but give all praise to them.

Managers and supervisors can sometimes feel worry that by giving their subordinates the spotlight on certain activities that it will somehow reflect negatively on their own perceived value to the organization. If my employee gets all the praise and spotlight, they’ll think nothing of me.

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I disagree. I think that by growing out incredible talent within your ranks, their success comes back as a hallmark of what a great manager and developer of talent you truly are. It’s such a powerful message, to tell an employee, “You’ve got what it takes. Go ahead and run with this. I trust you.” When you mean it, and when they truly have the ability, it’s a powerful moment.

Giving your passionate and capable employees the ball to run with also tells the rest of the team that if they work hard and do more than just the required effort, they have a shot at something bigger than their current role. It’s far more motivating than free coffee out of the vending machines, or blue jean Fridays. And it’s also giving something back to the company.

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Plan Tomorrow Today

You already know who the “fire” is on your team. The minute you understood the concept, you plugged in her name while considering this. Are you already working with this perspective in mind? Here are some tips to growing your fire.

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  • Share the end results requirements- Your talented leader-to-be has passion. Now, share the perspective from which you’re making your decisions. Not the “how to,” but the “what we need for a win” type information. Tell him, “It might seem like we’re pushing Engineering too hard, but if we make this deadline, we’ll get a $400,000 bonus to the contract.” Give your fire a sense of the dimensions from which you make decisions.
  • Share boundaries- Letting an employee run with a project doesn’t mean throwing her to the wild and letting her figure it all out. Show the edges of the game board, the known hazards, the things that traditionally will cause an issue. And then let your talented star navigate the course.
  • Announce and Coronate- Make sure more than you and your special employee know of this granting of extra power. Not in any weird way, and certainly not in a dynamic that will alienate or dishearten the remaining team members (“Yumiko’s really a star performer, so she’s going to handle the case. The rest of you would do well to learn by her.” — That would be the worst message ever to give.) But be sure everyone knows Yumiko’s working on your authority and that she can count on your support and hopefully the support of the entire team.
  • Stay attentive for “switchers”- Occasionally, a passionate up-and-comer is really a despot waiting to happen, someone who waits politely for power before using it to strike out and execute his own agenda. Watch for this, and when you observe it (be certain before you act), pull the person aside as quickly as possible and assess together. Give feedback. Search for motivations different than your original assessment. And if necessary, revoke the opportunity for the time being. Just like prison, never take away hope for a better chance, but be clear that the actions you observed weren’t appropriate for the kind of leader you’re looking to cultivate.
  • Broadcast success, shield failures- Give your freshly grown fire all the sunlight you can when she blazes a new trail to success for the team. Make sure your boss knows who your new superhero is. Give your peers an earful of her praise. Praising others often rubs off a little on you, too. It shows that you’re a gracious and appreciative person, and folks want that kind of energy around them.

    Now, the flipside. You know this. You’ve read it a million times. It’s one of the biggest lessons to learn, because often it seems almost natural to want to pile on criticism to someone who’s run afoul of expectations. But resist the urge. Stand up for their efforts and say that you imagine only better things to come. In private, take what steps are necessary. If he’s really botched things up, explain all the ramifications of his actions. Not, “You really messed up,” but, “By missing that deadline, we lost the bonus, we will have to spend more money on overtime and contractors to make up, and everything will slip downstream as well.” We always target the actions and their ramifications, not the person’s character.

Good Farmers

There are good managers in companies, bright managers who really contribute to the success of an organization. You’re one of those, right? But imagine just how much more effective you’d appear to an organization if, alongside your own considerable talents, you were producing these fire crops of talented leaders, who would in turn become future managers and leaders of greatness within the organization. Do I want a stand-alone great manager, or one who’s giving me growth for the future. All things equal, if I were in charge, I’d want the one growing fire.

–Chris Brogan is a regular writer for Lifehack.org. He grows content networks at GrasshopperFactory.com.

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Last Updated on October 9, 2018

How to Write a Personal Mission Statement to Ensure Peak Productivity

How to Write a Personal Mission Statement to Ensure Peak Productivity

Most of you made personal, one sentence resolutions like “I want to lose weight” or “I vow to go back to school.” It is a tradition to start the New Year with things you want to achieve, but under the influence resolutions are often unrealistic.

If you’re wondering when will be a good time to write a mission statement, NOW is the time to take a personal inventory to make this year your most productive year ever. You may be asking yourself, “How am I going to do that?” You, my friends, are going to write personal mission statements.

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A large number of corporations use mission statements to define the purpose of the company’s existence. Sony wants to “become the company most known for changing the worldwide poor-quality image of Japanese products” and 3M wants “to solve unsolved problems innovatively”. A personal mission statement is different than a corporate mission statement, but the fundamentals are the same.

So why do you need one? A personal statement will help you identify your core values and beliefs in one fluid tapestry of content that you can read anytime and anywhere to stay on task toward success.

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For example, Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire came to the realization that he had lost track of what was important to him. After writing a personal mission statement, we saw him start his own business and he got the girl, Renee Zelleweger. Not bad, wouldn’t you say? A personal mission statement will make sure that, through all the texting, emailing and constant bombardment of on-the-go activity, you won’t lose sight of what is most important to you.

Mission statements can be simple and concise while others are longer and filled with detail. The length of your personal mission statement will not be determined until you follow this simple equation to create your motivational springboard for 2008.

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To begin your internal cleansing, you will need to jot down the required information in the following five steps:

  1. What are your values? Values steer your actions and determine where you spend time, energy, and most importantly, money. Be specific and unique to yourself. Too much generalization will not be as effective. It is called a “personal” mission statement for a reason.
  2. What are three important goals you hope to achieve this year? Keep your list of important goals small and give them a date. It is better to focus on the horizon and not the stars. Realistic goals are keys to ultimate success.
  3. What image do you hope to project to yourself? How you see yourself is how the world will view you. Think about this carefully. Your image should encompass what you look like and feel after you have achieved your goals.
  4. Write down action statements from each value describing how you will use those values to achieve your three goals. Start with “I will…”
  5. Rewrite your statement to include only your action statements. Make portable copies for your wallet, car or office.

If you followed the steps above, congratulations! You have just written your first personal mission statement. Your personal statement will change over the years as your goals change. You can have more than one statement for the different compartments of your life such as your career, family, marriage, etc.

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Writing a personal mission statement is an effective method to ensure your productivity is at its peak. It is an ideal tradition to start so that when next year rolls around, the outdated practice of resolutions will be something you permanently left in the past.

Featured photo credit: Álvaro Serrano via unsplash.com

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