Doug Dickerson is an award winning columnist and director of Management Moment Leadership Services. He is the author of the new book, Leaders Without Borders: 9 Essentials for Everyday Leaders. Visit www.dougsmanagementmoment.blogspot.com to learn more.
Learning Curves and Frustrations
by Doug Dickerson,posted May 14 2012 9:10AM
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young – Henry Ford
In a recent Sports Illustrated article, Lars Anderson writes of the learning curve and challenges of rookie NASCAR driver Danica Patrick. A former IndyCar driver, Patrick is not new to racing but is new to NASCAR to which Patrick has discovered is altogether a different type of race.
As Anderson points out, Patrick is trying to master a new car and make new friends. “Patrick is now feeling the same base emotion that grips most inexperienced drivers in the Nationwide series: frustration,” writes Anderson. But so far this season he reports that Patrick is making the adjustments and is currently 11th in the Nationwide standings, and her average finish is near the middle of the pack.
Earlier this season Patrick stated, “This first year is going to be a learning experience for me. I know there will be a lot of bumps in the road. I’m in this for the long haul. My hope is just that I get a little better every day.” And with that type of attitude and outlook it should be a good season for her as she continues to improve.
Whether working with a new hire, or a team of seasoned professionals in your office, learning curves can be treacherous time consuming. In a recent survey conducted by Career Builder, more than 8,000 readers commented or cast their votes for their top complaints in the workplace: balancing work-life duties without going crazy, staying entrepreneurial and taking risks in an era of uncertainty, managing your time so email and Crackberries don’t control you, negotiating a stultifying bureaucracy-and getting things done, dealing with generational tension in the workplace, and coping with clueless-or toxic bosses.
Couple these top complaints with existing learning curves and you have all the ingredients in place for a perfect storm scenario that can wreak havoc in your office. Besides going AWOL, what is a leader to do? How can you lead through your challenges and keep a cohesive team together? Here are three tips to help you.
Build your environment. Whether it is rising above learning curves or working through office frustrations, it is when you build the environment that you expect that you can experience the growth that you need. The tone within your organization revolves around key ingredients such as attitude, morale, and collaboration. When these are healthy and fostered then you have created an opportunity for success.
The late Steve Jobs said, “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” The surest way to success is an environment of excellence and ground rules in place that holds everyone accountable for strong attitudes and a sense of teamwork that allows strong morale to produce your desired results.
Build your people. Whether you are working with a rookie in your office or senior staff, commit yourself to empowering your people to be their best. John Maxwell said, “For teams to develop at every level, they need leaders at every level.” He is right. It is when you commit yourself to developing your staff as leaders that they become the leaders on every level.
Billy Hornsby said, “It’s okay to let those you lead outshine you, for if they shine brightly enough, they reflect positively on you.” What a great thought. Do you want to help that rookie employee? Do you want to cut down on the frustrations that exist in your office? Commit yourself to the leadership development of your team and see the difference it makes. When you build your people everything else will fall into place.
Build your future. Personal and leadership development is a process. It takes times and commitment but the rewards are worth it. When you commit yourself to building the right kind of environment that fosters growth, and you build your people, you are securing your future. Napoleon Hill said, “You can’t change where you started, but you can change the direction you are going. It’s not what you are going to do, but it’s what you are doing now that counts.”
How are you securing your future? Are you building the right environment for your team? Are you committed to the development of your people? The learning curves and frustrations you face is merely the gateway to unlimited possibilities before you. Start building!