Sunday, March 19, 2017

Work harder or work smarter. Eight tips


Almost everyone I know works hard. Most, very hard. If we put as much attention into working smarter, however, we could accomplish more and free up time for other activities. After all, there is nothing more precious for most of us than time. And as we get older we realize that time with family and friends and our own development is a higher priority than spending more time in our work.

The premise of working smarter is based on a simple truth: Not all work yields the same result. The secret is knowing what practices will give us the largest return on our effort. Those individuals who are most productive practice these disciplines.

One: They prioritize and focus their energies. They take the time each day and each week to determine what are the most important tasks to complete and resist the temptation to be sidetracked by other issues that pop up and distract from the most important. They keep the main thing the main thing, stay focused and don't confuse mere activity with results.

Two: They keep track of their main priorities. They have a written or electronic system for tracking their priorities, their obligations and their progress. It is not "all in their head" which usually means we are not paying close attention to what we need to be doing. On any given day or week we ought to be able to quickly articulate what we are working on because we are keeping track of our priorities. Some will say, "But I like to multitask." Multitasking is overrated! Often it is an excuse for not staying focused and research shows that multitasking is actually a detriment to focused work.

Three. They delegate to others those things that they don't absolutely have to do. Many of us find it hard to delegate tasks we have traditionally done. Those who work smart are quick to delegate anything they don't need to personally do to capable people so that they can concentrate on what they do best. This is part of what it means to focus and to understand the unique role that we play and then make time for that role.

Four. They use their calendar to prioritize their work. If you look at the calendar of those who work smarter you see that they have put into their calendar those activities that are the most important to accomplish. They keep those commitments and use their calendar to prioritize their work. They realize that not all activities are equal. They also recognize that they must calendar their most important activities first, before other activities crowd them out.

Five. They understand the value of time
Time is the one thing that we cannot get back. Money comes and it goes but time just goes. It is a precious commodity because it represents opportunities to invest in what is most important to us. Therefor working smarter means that we use time wisely, focusing on what is most important at work so that we have time outside of work to invest in other meaningful activities and relationships. They don't waste time.

Six. They understand the value of relationships and nurture them
Healthy relationships are the foundation of life and work. Those who work smarter actively nurture relationships around them because relationships nurture trust, cooperation and teamwork.

Seven. They evaluate their work regularly
Working smarter means that we evaluate our own work critically and often. Are we focused on the right things? Are we neglecting key areas or are we spending too much time on peripheral activities because they are easier? Where do we need to recalibrate or adjust? Asking the right questions helps us to evaluate our work and adjust where necessary.

Eight. They take regular time to think
Taking time to think deeply about what we do, why we do it and how we do it is a secret of those who work smarter rather than harder. All it takes is  the intentionally to set aside time to think! Again, how we spend our time makes a difference in how we work.

TJ Addington (Addington Consulting) has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at tjaddington@gmail.com.

"Creating cultures of organizational excellence."





Thursday, March 16, 2017

Chase the Career of Your Dreams in 2017

Guest Writer, Gloria Martinez


The year is 2017 and the time is now. You've always wanted to have the courage to go for what you want in life, but someone has always held you back. That someone is you. If you find yourself watching in envy as others move forward into the life of their dreams then this is for you. Nothing is keeping you from being the woman that you’ve always wanted to be —you just need to shake things up! Stop watching your life pass by from the sidelines and actually get in the game! Use this guide as a compass to direct you to becoming the girl of your own dreams.

Get clear on what you want
If you’re going to make any life changes, especially career related ones, then you need to take the time to figure out where exactly you want to go. Is there a dream career that you’ve been wanting to chase but you were too scared to let your family down? Do you want to leave your corporate gig and open your very own bakery? If you are having trouble narrowing down what you want ask yourself this question: What’s something you love doing so much, that you’d do it for free? Whatever you answer is your truth —your passion. When you chase your passion, you are no longer chasing a paycheck. However when you do what you love, the money will come to you anyway. So get clear on what you really want and set the intention to go after it, no matter what.

Make no excuses
When you decide to go after your dream occupation, there is no time for “what ifs” and “I cant’s”. This is where things get real and boil down to how bad you really want it. There may need to be sacrifices made on your end —maybe you’ll have spend late nights working on your craft and have to lose out on sleep. Your social life may take a nosedive for a while. Whatever it takes to get it done, by all means just do it and make no qualms about it. Sacrifices are a part of the process and excuses only keep you further away from the finish line. The true reward comes when you get to wake up and be the person you’ve dreamed about becoming for so long.

Speak it into existence
The job you want to create and the life you want to live are already there. They’re just waiting on you to acknowledge them. Visualize what it will be like everyday when you get to do what you love. What emotions does it bring about? Stay with those emotions and let them guide you toward the reality you are creating. When you picture yourself as already attaining your goals you are setting yourself up for success because it springs you into action. That feeling will give you the drive and motivation you need to make that leap toward your life of fulfillment, even on days where you feel less than motivated. Keep the vision of how your life will be vivid and current in your mind, and watch as your reality unfolds to meet your thoughts.

The year is young and your future is bright. If you see what you want clearly in your head, then it is on you to take hellbent action to make your dreams a reality. Shift into the career that feeds your passion, and the rest of your days will never feel like work. If you believe in your heart that you already have everything you need then you’re halfway there!

Ms. Martinez believes that while women have made many advancements toward “shattering the glass ceiling,” there is still much to be done. It is her aim to help increase the number of women-led businesses by educating others about the topic. See her website at WomenLed.org

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Seven indicators that our ego may be getting in the way of our leadership


An overly inflated ego is one of the challenges of leaders who are often in their positions because they have seen success. The success that positions one for leadership can also be our subtle undoing when we allow it to feed our ego which has a voracious and unrelenting appetite. 

Most of us like to think that we are not conceited and yet that is the greatest conceit of all. However, we can be aware of signs that our ego (and conceit) are getting in the way of our own emotional health and leadership. Awareness can help us manage the appetite of our egos.

Being defensive or angry when we are challenged.
Defensiveness is nothing more than our ego screaming "don't challenge me because I am right" even when we are not. It keeps us from hearing truth and perspective from others leaving us with only our limited perspective. This is why the best leaders train themselves to be open to differing perspectives and cultivate a non-defensive attitude.

Being reluctant to delegate
An unwillingness to delegate is often our ego speaking: "No one can do this as well as I can." Actually, in most things others can do things better than we can but who wants to admit that! Healthy leaders do. In fact, they encourage others to find better ways of doing things in order to build better organizations. We may not realize it but an unwillingness to delegate can be a sign of an unhealthy ego.

Needing to always get our own way
Why would we need to always get our own way if not because our own self worth or conviction that we are always right reveals an overinflated and unhealthy ego? Healthy leaders desire to do the best thing to reach the desired outcome which has nothing to do with whether it is their way or not. Unhealthy egos demand their way regardless of whether other ways might be better.

Being jealous of the success of others
Whenever we become jealous at the success of another we ought to sit up and take note that we have an ego problem. Jealousy over the success of another is a sign that we believe their success in someway diminishes us! Only unhealthy and hungry egos react this way. These egos will resist hiring anyone who might outshine them in some area and is a dangerous trait.

Taking credit for success and deflecting blame in failure
This happens in ministry, in business, in politics and everywhere there are people. We love to overinflate our abilities and underinflate our weaknesses. Accolades feed our hungry egos and those same hungry egos don't want to admit failure so they deflect it to others. Healthy egos share success with the team and are willing to take responsibility for failure. Healthy egos never need to be fed at the expense of others in success or failure.

A critical spirit
Critical spirits can come from a need to build ourselves up by putting others down or an attitude of superiority - both of which are connected to unhealthy egos. If we find ourselves becoming critical we need to ask ourselves why we find a need to diminish rather than encourage others. An attitude of criticism is rarely a sign of a healthy leader and it usually has to do more with them than with those they are critical about.

Slowing down on learning and developing
How is this related to ego? It is an assumption that we no longer need to learn new things or put another way, we already know all that we need to know. That is a lie of our ego. If anything, the need to invest more time in learning is critical because our world is changing at an increasing rate. Humble individuals invest in learning while proud people feel they don't need to.

TJ Addington (Addington Consulting) has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at tjaddington@gmail.com.



"Creating cultures of organizational excellence."




Sunday, February 5, 2017

Five difficult transitions leaders must make as their organization grows


Organizational growth is not without its challenges, particularly for a founding leader whose role needs to change if he/she is going to transition their organization from the entrepreneurial  phase of leadership to a more mature and stable organizational environment. In fact, it is the ability and flexibility of the leader who determines whether this transition is successful or not. Below are five transitions that a leader must make but which are often difficulty for them.

One: Moving from solo leadership to shared leadership.
Founders are in charge! But, as the organization grows there must be a move to a shared leadership platform or a team at the top where the key senior leaders chart a course together. This does not mean that the senior leader does not keep some decision making prerogatives but it does mean that they begin to share key decisions with the key leaders who they need to be on the same page as them. This is highly advantageous to the senior leader as several sharp minds are better than only one.  But it can be difficult for the senior leader who is simply used to getting their own way.

Two: Delegating responsibility and authority.
No one's span of control is indefinite and part of leading a growing organization is the ability to delegate key responsibility and authority to trusted leaders. Delegating responsibility is usually not an issue but being willing to delegate true authority often is. After all the founder is the one who is used to keeping authority close to their vest, overruling others as they see fit and making decisions on the fly when necessary. But you cannot delegate responsibility without authority in a healthy organization and what comes with the territory when one does is that your subordinate may choose to get the job done in a different way than you would. After all they are not you. Being willing to delegate both authority and responsibility can be a scary but necessary step a founder needs to take.

Three: Flying at a higher altitude
Since founders are used to doing many things themselves they are comfortable being in the minutia of details as well as thinking through the larger picture. This works when an organization is small. It does not work as the organization becomes larger. Now there are others who are responsible for many of those details and a leader needs to get out of the way and allow others to do what they were hired to do. They in turn need to fly at a higher altitude and focus on those issues that they are best suited as the senior leader to focus on. Diving from ten thousand feet to intervene at 5,000 feet does not work in the long run as staff start to feel that they are not trusted and that their work is devalued or interfered with. But it can be very hard for founders to stay out of the way of others as they are used to being able to pop into any situation they choose to. As long as they do, however, the organization will not flourish.

Four: Meeting regularly with a senior team to drive the agenda of the organization.
In small, founder led organizations the founder often runs things by the seat of their pants with little organizational rhythm. After all the goal is simply to survive and not become one of the statistics of the many who don't. As the organization grows, however, there needs to be a shift to a more mature leadership environment and as other leaders are added, this includes a senior team that meets regularly and where the direction of the organization is determined. These meetings are not simply forums for the leader to tell others what they need to do (remember there is now shared leadership). Nor is it simply a forum for each member to update the others on what they are doing (remember the words shared leadership). Rather it is a place for the team to grapple together on short and long term issues that will help the organization grow and be successful. Because founders are not used to these kinds of meetings they can view them as an afterthought when in fact meeting regularly and having the right things on the agenda is crucial for success.

Five: Realizing that ego is the enemy
There is a book by that name and it is well worth the read! It is easy for founders to believe that they  have all wisdom - after all, it is they who got the organization to where it is today. If they believe that they are all wise, have the best ideas and wisdom or must have the final word on all matters they lack the personal humility to lead well and it is likely that other good people will not stay with them. Ego is often the nemesis of founders. In fact one of the functions of a senior team is to keep a leader from making foolish decisions! Humility gives a leader the ability to listen, take advice, hear things they don't want to hear, delegate authority, and keep themselves from messing it all up. The active practice of humility and recognizing the dangers of ego is perhaps the most crucial thing a leader must pay attention to - especially founders.

Growing an organization is exciting work if we are able to recognize the transitions that we must make in order for it to be successful.

TJ Addington (Addington Consulting) has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at tjaddington@gmail.com.


"Creating cultures of organizational excellence."


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Dealing with the parts of our lives and jobs that we put off because we hate doing it


For all of us there are pieces of our lives that we don't enjoy doing. It can be in our personal lives or in our jobs. These are the things that we put off, procrastinate on and allow to pile up and the longer we ignore them the more daunting it looks. Often when we do tackle what we don't like to do we are grossly inefficient at it. After all we are not motivated to get it done. For those who are normally disciplined it creates dissonance knowing that the pile of stuff accumulating in a corner of the office is unattended to.

Even when we are in our perfect job there is a percentage of our time (20 to 40%) that requires us to attend to things that drain rather than fill us. For me it is taking care of small details. At periods of my life I have had administrative assistants who loved the details (a great blessing to me). At other times I have had to do them myself. I just don't enjoy doing them so it is easy to put them off. For some it is phone calls, for others meetings where there might be conflict. Whatever it is, it is important to deal with it.

The key to this dilemma is to develop habits (actions done enough times so they become habitual) that help us overcome our aversion and allow us to stay on top of important details. I have several suggestions.

First, schedule regular time weekly, in a block, to deal with those things that you really don't want to do. One can get a lot done in a two to three hour block of time. The key to this is to focus completely during that time so that one gets as much done as possible. When finished you have the satisfaction of knowing that a great deal has been accomplished.

Second, schedule a short period of time each day for the things that need to be done immediately but which you would otherwise be tempted to put off.

Both of these should be in one's calendar and the more often we practice it the stronger the habit will become and the less aversion we will also have. In addition, the dissonance of undone work is no longer an issue and our tendency to procrastinate will be lessoned. It is, after all now a habit in our weekly and daily work.

Of course we can always put this off....


TJ Addington of Addington Consulting has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness in both the for profit and non profit sectors. He can be reached at tjaddington@gmail.com




Monday, January 16, 2017

Three meaningful gifts every leader can give away to their staff


Leaders come bearing gifts to their staff. They set the culture of the organization in positive and sometimes negative ways. The best leaders create a culture of clarity, development and optimism that we can accomplish our mission. All three of these are positive gifts to the staff they lead.


The gift of clarity is helping everyone be crystal clear as to what we are about and what our focus needs to be. The more sharply we can articulate our direction and focus, the more our staff can in turn focus their work! Focused clarity within organizations is not as common as one might think because it requires an enormous effort  by leadership to clarify their mission and an equally enormous effort to keep the organization focused on that mission. However, that clarity is a great gift to staff as they know what the goal is and where their energies need to be focused.



The gift of staff development is an indication of whether leaders are generous in seeking to help staff grow and develop or selfish in simply using staff for their own purposes. Think about the various work roles you have had over the years and ask the question, "did I leave that role with greater skill and success because someone intentionally developed me or was I simply left to my own devices?" Leaders have a stewardship responsibility to help staff grow, flourish and to give them opportunity to use their gifts fully. This is a truly significant gift and staff never forget the gift.



The gift of optimism is an attitude that together we can get our job done and accomplish our mission. A leader's optimism with their staff is critical in today's uncertain and competitive marketplaces. Optimism creates momentum while pessimism creates discouragement. Optimism married to a culture of teamwork and cooperation allows organizations to see results that no one could accomplish on their own. Regardless of whether a leader feels optimistic on any certain day, they give a gift to their staff when they choose to convey a positive attitude.

Every leader can give these three gifts to their staff - if they value their staff enough to do it.

TJ Addington of Addington Consulting has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness in both the for profit and non profit sectors. He can be reached at tjaddington@gmail.com



Tuesday, January 10, 2017

In serving our customers it is often the little things that count the most


Serving our customers is a goal that every organization would say they have. And many organizations do it very well. But we often don't realize how the small things we do or don't do directly impact customer service. In fact, some of those small things don't even seem to relate to customer service - but they do!

Let me give an example. In working with an organization that does excellent work there is a common complaint. Email's between colleagues often do not get returned in a timely manner. Some not ever. But that is an internal matter, right? Not really! What seems to be a strictly internal matter which we often think does not matter has a direct bearing on the customer because how we operate and communicate internally either allows us to serve our customer well or not.

In the case referred to above there is a customer service department that deals directly with those served to solve problems and ensure an outstanding customer experience. This often means communicating with others within the organization. When there is no response or delayed responses they end up operating in the dark as to whether issues have been addressed or not. In addition, in the absence of information it is not possible for those responsible for the customer experience to ensure that breakdowns in that experience get addressed. So what is seen by some as unimportant (answering an email in a timely fashion) is actually very important in fulfilling the mission of the organization.

In most cases, it is the small things rather than the big things that allow us to serve our customers well. What seems insignificant to us may in the end be most significant in delivering on our promises to the customer.

TJ Addington of Addington Consulting has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness in both the for profit and non profit sectors. He can be reached at tjaddington@gmail.com