No one — not even the most seasoned entrepreneur — is immune from bad, productivity-busting, habits. Here are ten of the most common bad habits entrepreneurs have and how you can avoid falling into the same trap: Continue reading “10 Bad Habits that Can Seriously Impede Your Growth as an Entrepreneur”
The recent Christian Bale movie, Exodus: Gods and Kings, may have disappointed at the box office, but Moses fans can take heart that Cecille B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments will soon be gracing our television screens as we approach the Easter season.
Though those movies provide entertainment value, there is no denying (well, I’m sure plenty of non-believers may deny) that there is much to learn from Moses as a religious figure and a leader.
But what can entrepreneurs and business leaders learn from the man who spoke with God and took down a powerful Egyptian Pharoah?
Simple: The art of delegation.
In reality, we have Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, to thank for this lesson.
You see, Moses was a bit overwhelmed. He had just led the Israelites across the Red Sea and into the desert, was given the Ten Commandments and was literally the only one hearing everyone’s complaints and requests. He was also the judge and jury for all “cases” and disputes among the people.
Enter Jethro, who noticed that Moses was getting bogged down, stressed, and burned-out from the micromanagement of his team. Jethro instructed his son-in-law to “look among all the people for able and God–fearing men, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain, and set them over the people as commanders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.
“Let these render decisions for the people in all routine cases. Every important case they should refer to you, but every lesser case they can settle themselves. Lighten your burden by letting them bear it with you!
If you do this, and God so commands you, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people, too, will go home content.”
And so, Moses, being a good son-in-law and a smart leader, took the advice to heart:
“He picked out able men from all Israel and put them in charge of the people as commanders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. They rendered decisions for the people in all routine cases. The more difficult cases they referred to Moses, but all the lesser cases they settled themselves. Then Moses said farewell to his father–in–law, who went off to his own country.”
This, perhaps, is one of the earliest recorded business lessons.
Every leader who manages teams has similar challenges. Teams are meant to spread the work, but they can often create an overwhelming amount of work for managers who don’t delegate.
If Moses can use delegation to relieve himself of the stress of managing an entire nation — you can certainly follow his example to manage your team, no matter the size.
Staying motivated to tackle projects you enjoy is easy. But getting the motivation to accomplish more mundane or less enjoyable projects can be tough.
How can you find the motivation to do these less enjoyable tasks? If your mind is willing, as they say, the body will follow. Here are 5 tips to help finds that motivation:
1) Picture the end goal
The easiest way to get motivated is to picture your end goal. What are you working towards? While you’re in the moment, it’s hard to really think about the results and success you’ll see at the end but there really is a bigger picture. For instance, this new year, many people want to live healthier lifestyles. Getting yourself to the gym is probably the hardest part, which is why you must focus on how much better your body will feel in the end.
2) Find a partner
Having the support of someone else can make even the most boring task a lot easier. If you’re having trouble motivating yourself, try to find a partner. You’ll be able to motivate each other and make sure that you both are on track to reach your goals.
3) Announce it publicly
Have you ever felt like you needed to do something just because you’ve already announced to the world you were going to do it? Failure is tough but failing publicly is even worse, which can provide additional motivation to get the job done. While this can backfire in certain situations, it can work in others. If you know that you want to do something, tell people about it. It’ll be extra motivation to make sure you complete it.
4) Find a role model
Motivation is easy to find when you have someone to look up to. Your role model doesn’t have to be directly related to your task at hand but it should be someone you admir. Seeing the success of others can provide an extra push you need in the right direction.
5) Don’t give up, even if you fail
Sometimes, being unmotivated or lazy can be masking the real problem — fear of failure. Often, we don’t even start something because we don’t think we’ll be able to finish. But how do you know the outcome without even trying? Don’t give up on something just because you don’t think you’ll succeed. Even if you fail, you’ll at least know you tried.
Motivation is a very tricky thing but it’s something over which you you have total control. The next time you need a little push to get yourself off the ground, think about all that you have to gain from completing it. The finish line is the goal and you’ll be one step closer to it.
You just have to find the motivation to get yourself there.
What can you learn from the above story?
That football coach wasn’t just being different for the sake of being different. He analyzed the data. He looked at what worked. He didn’t rely on anecdotes or commonly held beliefs to guide his strategy.
And, as a result, he won consistently.
Entrepreneurs can do the same. Analyze your work processes. Your time management program. The way you manage your employees.
What about your personal lifestyle? How can this type of analyses guide the way you eat, the way you educate your children, or even the places you live?
Don’t just do something because it’s the way it’s always been done. Don’t just do it because it’s the societal “norm.”
Do it because the data shows it works.
The quality of a project leader means the difference between a project that runs smooth, efficiently and on-time … and one that goes over-budget, over-deadline or, even worse, doesn’t get completed at all.
Over the years, I’ve observed great project managers — and not-so-great ones.
Here are 4 profiles of the not-so-great project leaders:
1) The Analysis Paralyzer
Good project teams are made up of members who each are specialists in their own field, who can provide counsel in their specialties to the team and the project leader. Good project leaders are those who can take that counsel and make decisive decisions based on that advice. Then there are the project leaders who, despite the best counsel of their team members, are too afraid to make a decision. Sometimes they hem and haw; sometimes they put it to committee vote; sometimes, they just plain fail to make the decision at all.
2) The Rubber-Stamp Seeker
Some project leaders will ask the team members for their counsel on a specific action-item, even though the project leader already has his or her mind made up the direction that will be taken. Instead of just forging ahead on his or her decided action item based on the courage of his or her own convictions — the project leader will continue argue or debate with the team members until they cry “uncle” and sign off on the direction, even if they disagree with it. This “rubber stamp” provides cover to the project leader if the you-know-what-hits-the-fan because of his or her bad decision.
3) The Instigator
Nothing can kill progress like internal workplace turf wars. Some project leaders, however, like to instigate and foment such territoriality either because they play favorites among the project team members, or because they fail to tell the left hand what the right hand is doing. Some project leaders think this instigation leaders to better quality work, but there’s a difference between letting the best cream rise to the top — and just plain making for inefficient work.
4) The Faux Expert
A good project leader doesn’t to be an expert in every facet of the project — that’s why he or she has team members. And good leaders know what they don’t know. Bad project leaders, however, don’t admit what they don’t know and pretend to be experts in areas they shouldn’t. Leader should be able to take the advice/counsel of experts, digest it, make a decision and move forward decisively. But faking it can lead to disastrous results.
5) The Over-Meeter
As I mentioned in this post, there are some project leaders who just love to address questions on conference calls by suggesting or scheduling new conference calls to address those questions. The same applies to meetings. Thanks, but no thanks. There is simply no need for your existing conference calls to spawn new conference calls (which could, in turn, spawn additional conference calls). A neverending cycle of conference calls. You may laugh, but I’ve lived through this experience. It’s unproductive, inefficient and leads to missed deadlines. A good project leader should be able to keep conference calls and meetings focused. Better yet, a good project leader knows when not to have a meeting with a quick call or email will do.
Do you agree with these characteristics? Have any you’d like to add? Let us know in the comments!