I can’t stand skim milk! To me, it tastes like water and I don’t like it. It’s weak to me. Whole milk is placed into a centrifugal separator where fat is extracted (basically everything good about it) to produce what I think looks and tastes a lot like cloudy water! There is a force in business that can act a lot like the machine used to produce skim milk and it’s called indecision. Indecision dilutes your effectiveness as a manager or executive and leaves your team with a bad tasting experience. This is skim milk leadership.
I know the negative side effects indecision can bring to a team because I operated as a skim milk leader for years. You can read more about that here. Sometimes I would delay an answer to buy myself time in hopes they’d come to a solution on their own (fear). Other times I would ask them what they thought should be done (shifting responsibility). I’d also talk about all the aspects of the problem without providing an answer (avoidance). My inability to make a call resulted in my team doubting I could help them, that I had their best interest in mind, and that I truly cared for them. The worst part of the ordeal for them was I thought I was pulling it off without them knowing I was wishy-washy. Skim milk leadership. If you’re suffering from indecision like I used to, register for your free strategy session here. I’ll help you bring solid decision-making ability to the table, starting now.
“Can we go this direction?”, “Here is the direction I’d like to go, are you good with that?”, “Here are the facts and this is what I think we need to do. Can we move forward?”. All questions or variations of ones we’ve been presented with at some point as the person responsible. When a team member comes to you looking for an answer, it’s normally because they can’t move forward absent of your decision. In that moment, they are looking for an answer: yes, no, or maybe. Skim milk leadership won’t solve their problem. Here’s how you can confidently move forward in those moments with a decision.
W. Shane McKenzie is an executive coach and leadership mentor who helps leaders achieve greater effectiveness and become more fulfilled in their work by facilitating positive changes in their leadership behaviors. Join the Leadership Transformation Roundtable to get your copy of the questionnaire I use to discover how close my intentions match the reality of those I lead.
What others are saying about W. Shane McKenzie
"I would recommend Shane’s coaching to any leader. He has a refined process that allows leaders to see things in themselves that they might not be able to see otherwise."- Mel Munoz, Physical Therapist Assistant and Grad Student
"Shane is a trusted friend and advisor who is passionate about people, life and developing leaders. I love his zeal for growth and how he exudes professionalism in every way. He is a tremendous leader and executive coach."– Sky Streety, BusinessExecutive and Management Consultant
I’m writing this while thinking about you. It’s Sunday, and you’re wrapping up a great weekend with your friends and family! Now, you’re slightly shifting into work mode, preparing for the week ahead. We all do this, right?
Maybe you’ve looked at your calendar to see what projects require your time tomorrow or maybe you’ve scrolled through your inbox and replied to a few emails. You might be excited to jump right in tomorrow morning or you may be a bit anxious about what’s ahead when you get to the office. Whichever way you’ve chosen to prepare and whatever it is you’re feeling like as you do, it’s driven by your desire to be effective. You’re the one I’m thinking about. You’re the one who’s asking, “What can I do to be at my personal best this week and achieve something that makes a difference?”
What really makes Mondays work isn't our well thought out plans or our well documented next steps. Those things are important but their not what makes it work. What makes Monday work is the group of people you and I interact with and depend on to move anything forward. I want to help by giving you real ways you can increase your effectiveness and truly make your Mondays work.
3 Ways To Make Mondays Work
If you’ve already been made aware that this is a blind spot for you and you’re looking for help navigating through the process of changing you’re behaviors, I’m ready to come along side you. Register for your free strategy session here.
W. Shane McKenzie is an executive coach who helps leaders achieve greater effectiveness and become more fulfilled in their work by facilitating positive changes in their leadership behaviors. Join the Leadership Transformation Roundtable to get your copy of the questionnaire I use to discover how close my intentions match the reality of those I lead.
What others are saying about W. Shane McKenzie
"I’ve worked with Shane for several years. He possesses a unique and highly effective combination of strategy, team leader and great communicator, a rare combination. He has a very strategic mind so he makes connections and sees disjointed paths where others do not. This allows him to both plot direction and execute the path to success. He’s truly committed to the greatness in others. He listens fully, asks the right questions at the right time, and gives us the space to both think and respond." - Linda Lindquist-Bishop, Strategic Facilitator, Speaker, Exit Planning for Business Owners, and World Champion Athlete
“Shane is a trusted peer whose advice I seek when faced with leadership challenges. He brings clarity to tough situations and has been an objective sounding board for over 14 years!” – Pamela Westbrooks, Vice President of Administration
Remember being on the playground in 4th grade? Playing tag, kickball, swinging on the swing set, jumping rope, climbing monkey bars, sliding down the slide. Girls on one side of the yard and boys on the complete opposite end as far away as possible! Good times, yes? I remember all those things, too. Simple times. Another thing I remember about the playground was how everyone clamored to be right. You remember? We were all playing and having a good time and then someone decides to chime in with, “Nuh Uh! That’s not right!” Maybe it was related to a rule for a game, whose turn it is, the definition of a word, or who touched base first. Those words always came out- “That’s not right!”
Think back. What happened next? When you were the one saying, “That’s not right!” what did your friends do? I got defensive. I dug my heels in and locked down on my position. Did you? If you did, you’re normal! I loved being right. And loving to be right got in the way of having fun. It broke down relationships, and cut-off any chance of working together with my friends. Entire games or activities would come to a screeching halt, all around someone wanting to be right.
While we aren’t on the playground anymore, we still find ourselves in the position of wanting to be right. Many of us achieved a position of leadership because of our knowledge and ability to make good decisions. Right decisions. Before we had a leadership position we’d gather the facts, assess the situation, determine the course of action, and then make it happen. We got results. Getting results independently and getting results through a team requires different behaviors. What worked when you were not responsible for a team doesn’t work when you are. Leaders are especially prone to taking and defending a position because of our previous experience, knowledge, and success. Maybe you’ve seen this played out in meetings, in sales calls, or in managing an internal project. When we as leaders act on a desire to be right absent of our team it comes at a hefty price- a lost connection with those who follow us.
I’m sure you see the problem here. When leaders are disconnected from their team things don’t get done to the level of excellence they would if someone actually wanted to do them for the leader. A loss of connection is a loss of engagement. When engagement is low people pull back on their efforts and their commitment to excellence. This affects the outcomes a leader is looking to achieve. Who gets better results; someone committed and connected to a leader or someone just going through the motions? That’s a rhetorical question.
So, what does a leader do in order to find the best solution to a problem when he thinks he has the answer? First, he checks his ego at the door and decides he’s not the only one who has answers to problems. Regardless of how much knowledge or success he’s had in previous roles or situations. Second, he reminds himself that he’s there to serve the team now not to serve his desire to be the one delivering results. Until a leader is open to the idea that others are gifted, talented and bring perspectives he doesn’t have, there really isn’t much to be done. Once you’ve put down your desire to be right, you’re ready to engage others and collaborate on solutions.
Here is a three-step process you as a leader can use stay connected with your team and find the right solution for moving forward.
You see the common theme here. Our assumptions often drive our desire to be right. We make assumptions and close our minds off to potential solutions that don’t fit the frame we’ve placed around the problem. Removing assumptions opens up the possibility for facts to drive our creativity in solving problems. It also opens up the opportunity to bring others into the process. Inclusion in the problem solving process is the key to keeping your team engaged. It’s the antidote to the “I have to be right” syndrome that plagues many leaders and disconnects them from their team. Remember that playground? What would be different if we could have collaborated to solve a problem instead of having to be right? I think it would have been a lot more fun. Leading your team will be a lot more fun for everyone when you choose to put down the desire to be right and pick up the desire to connect.
Questions To Grow Your Leadership
W. Shane McKenzie is an Executive Coach and Mentor who specializes in helping successful leaders leave their job to own a business using proven strategies to minimize risk.