Profiles in Leadership: Margaret Thatcher

Profiles in Leadership: Margaret Thatcher

Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.
-Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher became the prime minister of Britain in 1979.  It was a time where you would have to wait in long lines to get gasoline, interest rates were very high and the cold war had started. She was part of a generation that lived through the Great Depression, World War II, and the rise of communism.

In a time when the world needed strong leaders, Margaret Thatcher showed herself worthy.  Here are some things that we can take away from her leadership. 

Follow your convictions

The prime minister was, and still is, a polarizing leader. British citizens both loved and hated her. She once cut a free milk service to children as part of a large scale effort to get Britan out of debt. She was dubbed the “Milk Snatcher” as a result. She once described herself as following conviction, not consensus. Without a doubt, Thatcher led with conviction.  She carried her country through many trials successfully because of the conviction inside of her.

It’s all too common to see people compromise their convictions for the sake of popularity. Don’t be a person that backs down from your convictions for the sake of acceptance. Make the decisions that need to be made…even the difficult ones. 

A shining example of professionalism

Thatcher once said, “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” This quote is so refreshing in today’s landscape of showmanship and extravagance. She believed in carrying herself as a professional while in public and always wore pearls with her outfits. She felt they were elegant and not flashy like diamonds. She didn’t boast about her status or power, she simply did the job that she set out to do. 

Thatcher’s example reminds us that if we find ourselves saying things like, “I’m the leader,” “Trust me,” and “I know what I’m doing,” then on some level you know that others don’t see you the way that you do. Dress the part, lead like the part, and act like the leader that you aspire to be. 

Be a fixer

Britain was known as “the sick man” of Europe” for its poor economic state when Thatcher became the prime minister. Not only was she a leader with conviction; she was also a fixer with a disposition towards closure. She changed the rules of the London stock market which moved the city to the forefront in world finance. Thatcher simply got things done. 

As a leader, you’ve got to get things done. You’ve got to be action oriented or you aren’t going to be a very effective leader. Don’t leave problems for the next leader or even the next day. Rally your team, define your goals and move there as quickly as possible. There will be plenty of other challenges that will come and require your attention later.

A few interesting facts

  • Before politics, Thatcher was a food scientist and was part of the team that created soft serve ice cream.  Just like the invention of the hamburger, there are several people who claim themselves to be the true inventor.
  • She was the first woman prime minister ever elected in Britain. She said earlier in her life that there would not be a woman prime minister in her lifetime because of prejudice.
  • After retiring in 1992, she was given the honor and title of Baroness Thatcher. This entitled her to sit in the House of the Lords. 

I love Margaret Thatcher’s quote at the opening. It goes so well with our philosophy that leadership is how you carry yourself, develop others and make the right choice. You don’t have to be a behavior expert to lead people. The lessons you learn in the house are the same ones that you can use to run a nation. Follow Margaret Thatcher’s example and make the right choices in a professional way. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Profiles in Leadership: Franklin D. Roosevelt

Profiles in Leadership: Franklin D. Roosevelt

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
-Franklin D Roosevelt

There are few leaders that faced the number of tough decisions and crossroads in leadership as Franklin D. Roosevelt. He lead the US through the Great Depression and most of the 2nd World War. Many historians consider him one of the greatest, If not the greatest, president of all time.  FDR exhibited many leadership qualities that we can model in our own lives. 

Take advantage of technology to strengthen your communication

FDR was a great communicator and utilized a new technology, radio, to get his message out to the nation’s citizens.  They were informal in nature and were called fireside chats. The messages certainly resonated with people. There was 1 mailperson assigned to the White House prior to the shows. 70 people had to be hired because 500,000 letters of appreciation and questions showed up after the first airing. 

Are you leaning into technology to effectively communicate with others? It seems like every month there is a new tool to use! With technology changing at the pace it is, it’s not smart to get too comfortable and to push all of your communication down one avenue. Remain nimble, stay on top of the newest trends and communicate in a way that your friends, family, and co-workers want. 

A shining example of a continual learner

FDR was a very curious leader who was constantly trying to learn new things and educate himself on issues going on around the world. He sought insight from people both inside and outside of his country.  FDR’s drive for knowledge and growth meant that he could speak on many subjects with authority when he gave his speeches and fireside chats. 

This is a great reminder for us today to continue to grow our own experiences and education. Instead of instantly condemning a side of a debate, take some time to understand the other perspective. Go against today’s society of, “I’m an expert because I say I’m an expert.” and study up on a subject matter before you speak out on it. 

Confident in leadership

The president was already known as a confident leader and his desire for knowledge only made his confidence stronger. Many of his confidants were against the idea of supporting the British during the early part of the war. FDR was well versed on the agenda of the Axis nations, the consequences of his actions and inactions and held to his moral compass. Knowing that siding with the Allied forces was the right thing to do, he announced the United States support. Many consider this one of the defining moments of the war that began to take the momentum away from the opposing side. 

Be confident in yourself and your leadership. Get the facts, hold to your moral standards and make a decision. Try to avoid the wasted energy of second-guessing yourself. If you make a mistake, admit and make the changes that are needed. Not every decision made by the Allied forces in the war was the right one. They learned from their mistakes, adjusted and would go on to win World War II. 

A few interesting facts

  • FRD is the only president in the US to serve 4 terms. The constitution was later amended to limit presidents to 2 terms. 
  • He dealt with a large amount of personal adversity while leading. He contracted polio and was paralyzed from the waist down. 
  • FDR wrote the New Deal. He established the social security system, the FDIC to protect your funds in the bank and the SEC. (Security and Exchange Commission)

Follow the president’s example and be confident, curious, and use all the tools available to you. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Have more fun!

Have more fun!

Work hard, have fun, and make history.
-Jeff Bezos

Have fun! It’s sometimes easier said than done. You can’t force someone to have fun. I remember when my dad would get on to me about something and we would then go out in public. He would stop and tell me to smile in a very unfriendly way. I wasn’t exactly inspired to put on a smiling face. 

Even though you can’t force fun, you can make it more of a habit in your life. Here are some tips to draw out some fun and joy in your life. 

Don’t worry about what others think

We tend to carry a heavy value on what other people think of us when we are in school. You don’t truly escape that want and need to be liked by others as you grow into an adult. A few do, but most are somewhere on the scale of desiring acceptance. 

The desire to be accepted, or fear of being rejected depending on your perspective, holds many people back from having fun. Do your best to let go of that. I don’t mean showing up at work out of the blue in your PJs and a unicorn mask. Take baby steps. become more comfortable with yourself and give yourself the freedom to have fun. 

It’s common for me to come downstairs, have a dance off or training battle with my son, a self-deprecating conversation with my daughter and fun talk with my wife. I believe that it’s important for your kids, spouse, significant other and friends to see you having fun. Your joy gives them joy. 

Make fun out of things you normally do

Look for ways to make some of the things that you do more fun. There are several out of the box options available if you know where to look. When I first started to get into running, I found an app called zombies, run! It has story-based missions where you go on supply runs and build up your base during the apocalypse. I certainly helped me get out and have fun on my runs. It played my music, I got to be a part of a serialized drama and I got my exercise in as well.  If you need help to get some ideas, do a search for “fun things to do ______” The blank is your normal routine. Ex. while at work, on my commute, at home, with the kids, etc. 

Ask people entertaining questions

This has been one that my wife and I have enjoyed this year. We meet weekly with a small group that we do life together with. It’s equal parts accountability, growth, socializing and learning. We started kicking off our get-togethers with fun and entertaining questions. One was, “What is your favorite cereal?” That turned into a half hour long discussion of passion for cereal, remembering great ones that are now gone, funny stories involving cereal and an idea to have a cereal social. Even questions and conversation starters that seem mundane can spark all kinds of fun discussion. If you need help here, do a search for fun topic starters or icebreakers. 

Be yourself and have fun! Try to let go of what other people think of you and enjoy some fun moments throughout the week. Your mind and body will thank you. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

How an accountability partner can help you on your journey

How an accountability partner can help you on your journey

An accountability partner is able to perceive what you can’t see when blind spots and weaknesses block your vision.
 -Charles Stanley 

I have really appreciated the accountability partners that I have had over the years. They were there when I had no one else to talk to, there to listen when I had something really embarrassing to talk through, and they were there to help me formulate my goals. An accountability partnership can be a great two-way road of added value to each party. 

There are all types of accountability partners

An accountability partner can fit into just about any scenario of your life. Here are just a few of the types that you will find out there. 

  • Exercise/health
  • Spiritual
  • Academic
  • Life coach
  • Men/women
  • Business
  • Support groups

They help keep your goals on track

A good partner can certainly help you stay on track with your goals. If they are honest, they will call out areas where you have slacked off or veered away from your intended target. Think of your accountability partner like the bumpers that go up for kids (and some adults!) at the bowling alley. They ensure that no matter what, you hit your target. 

They help take your excuses away

An accountability partner certainly helps keep the excuses away. You might not want to go to the gym at 5 AM, but if you know that Scott is going to be there and waiting for you, you’re more likely to get out of bed. No matter the situation, you are more likely to hit your commitments when you have to meet with someone and/or show your progress. Excuses can dominate our goals when we try to do it alone. 

They give you a different perspective

Although your partner is walking alongside you, they are not in your shoes and they have a unique perspective based on their own life journey. This gives you a different perspective on your hurdles, struggles, and challenges. Maybe you aren’t looking at the problem right. You could totally off base and not even know it.

People have blinders. You have blinders. It’s a common occurrence when I’m pointing opportunities out at a  business and the leader says, “I’ve never seen that,” or “I can’t believe I haven’t noticed that.” Although it makes me look like an eagle-eyed coach, that’s not always the case. The leader has put up blinders because they are there every day. When I go into a new location, I don’t carry those blinders. It’s the same in your life. Your partner doesn’t have the same blinders and can point out the obvious to you. 

They give you someone to celebrate with

What better person to celebrate your personal win with than the person who has been involved in your journey? There is true joy in sharing your victory with someone who truly understands just how challenging it has been and how hard you worked to get to your goal. 

An accountability partner can help you in just about any situation. Connect with the right one and reach your goals in a more efficient and enjoyable way.  

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Successfully negotiate the raise

Successfully negotiate the raise

So have been working your tail off and you think that you deserve a raise? Congrats on all your hard work. Now you get the joy of navigating the murky waters of asking for that raise. The good news for everyone is that women are getting closer to men when it comes to successfully securing the raise and the ask rate for the younger generation is nearly equal regardless of gender. 

Now that you got the courage to ask, let’s make sure that you are ready to ask for raise in a successful way.

Build your case and have good info

It’s likely not going to be good enough to simply say., “I’ve been here _(amount of time)_ and deserve a raise.” You need to build a case so that it is clear that you are creating more value than you had been previously.  Think about:

  • The responsibilities that you have that you didn’t have since your last negotiated raise or your hiring. Have you taken on additional roles? Been a team leader on things you weren’t before? Contributing more than others?
  • What has been your impact on the numbers? Did you grow the business or add some new accounts? Share the financials and other metrics that are important to your boss. 
  • What is your impact on others? Have you been mentoring others? Have you helped lower turnover or increased retention?

Have the number

Don’t build your case only to lose your momentum because you don’t know what to ask for. It can be a percentage or an actual number, but you need to have it ready to discuss. If you aren’t sure where to start to do some research. Find out what the national average is for your type of role. Take into consideration the industry, company size, and geographical location. Sites like Glassdoor to a good job of estimations, but don’t take their numbers as fact. I’ve seen them be both really low and really high depending on the role. 

Leave your personal life at the door

I am an advocate that you should be involved and take an interest in co-workers’ lives as much as professionally possible. This, however, will be a time to say that it needs to stay at the door.  You hurt your case when you include a need for a raise because of personal issues or want. You want to base the ask solely on what you have done for your employer instead of inadvertently guilt-tripping them into it.

Grace, patience, persistence

Even though you feel like you are deserving of a raise you may need to wait to build a stronger case for yourself. Have the patience to know when the right time is to ask your employer. 

Be graceful when asking for a raise. You may have worked yourself up emotionally to get to the point where you ask for the raise, but you need to lean into your emotional intelligence to navigate this time successfully. Speak confidently, and clearly with a humble spirit. 

You may nail all of this and still get a no. Take it with grace and realize there may be circumstances outside of their control (Budgets already set, freezes, etc). Ask when you can connect again on the subject and mark it on your calendar. If the issue is more that you need to do more, ask for feedback or steps to take and then set a goal timewise to make those changes. 

Be ready, strong in your emotional intelligence and know what you want. Go in with grace and have the patience and persistence to keep at it if needed. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Gaining experience and moving up (Part 2)

Gaining experience and moving up (Part 2)

Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise. View life as a continuing learning experience. 
-Denis Waitley

A great leader is a continual learner. They never arrive at their final destination and are constantly looking for ways to grow their knowledge and experience. One of the most unfortunate interactions I have as a leader is with people who have been around for a while and think that there is nothing else that they can learn.  Falling into the arrival trap can easily stall out your growth and career.

There are a number of ways to continue to gain the valuable experience needed to grow your career and salary. You only arrive and stop growing if you allow yourself to. 

Gain experience right where you are

We looked at ways last week to grow your experience outside of your organization and regular routines. You can also grow your value experience right where you are as well. 

  • Deepen your current skills: What are the main skills needed for the role that you are in? Are there ways that you can grow those a little deeper? Are there certificates out there that you can get, Linkedin learning sessions that you can take, or perhaps a local or regional conference or workshop that you can attend? Look for opportunities to present at meetings or gatherings that will force you to know your area more and to hone your skills. 
  • Add responsibility: Adding responsibility is a great way to gain experience. Ask for opportunities to fill in for your boss when they are out or to shadow them in their activities when possible to learn their responsibilities. Once you understand those, ask to take on some of those responsibilities that make sense. An increase in responsibility could also look something like helping newer people in their roles, representing the team at meetings, and taking a role in more decision-making opportunities among others. 
  • Special projects: Special projects offer you a chance to gain experience without a long term commitment or permanent change. They also give you exposure to people that you sometimes would not interact with. You are growing your experience, networking, and social skills. Wins all around!

Moving up in your career

  • Own it. Many people live under the misconception that their manager is in charge of their career and development. While they can be a good advocate for you, it is your responsibility for how your career turns out. Set your goals and aspirations and then let your leader know. It will help them in future planning and it should help them in looking out for opportunities for you to grow in experience. 
  • Be intentional in all your interactions. Once you take hold of your career path, be intentional in your interactions and actions what you do. Ask for opportunities to prove yourself. Sit at the table instead of along the wall in a big meeting.  How you present yourself can give you a boost or take you out of the conversation. Do you come across as if you are engaged, willing to contribute and have insight that others should listen to?
  • There is no ladder. The traditional sense of a ladder of responsibility is shifting in the workplace. Executives often move around to other areas in the same type of role to gain a depth of experience in a new area. Be prepared for there not to be a straight line to your dream job. Think of the value of the experience an opportunity may have to help you towards your ultimate goal instead of just a job title and position. 

Continue to push yourself in your knowledge. You’ll find a more rewarding feeling in the job that you are doing. You’ll also be preparing yourself for that next step to move up and you’ll stand out from the crowd. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH