Monday, January 25, 2010

When In Charge; Take Charge

The title of this post sounds rather foolish when you first hear it. You may be thinking... "Well of course if you're in charge you should take charge." Well you would be surprised at how often people that are placed in a position of leadership, don't take charge. Yes, they are in charge, but they don't make decisions, they don't react with urgency to challenges that face them, they don't make the tough calls that as a leader you must make. The result is poor performance that usually falls short of the plan or goal they are charged with achieving.

Early in my career as a retail store mgr, I had a district manager tell me this simple phrase... "When in Charge, Take charge!" His name was JR Lee. He was an incredible leader and I learned so much from him. He had a passion for the business and he challenged me to be the best leader that I could be. As a leader, if you are like me, you have weaknesses and opportunities for growth. JR saw that one of my opportunities was in making a decision of what to do when faced with a challenge. I guess I simply doubted myself and didn't trust my own judgement at times. Maybe it was my lack of experience, I don't know, but I always wanted assurance from my supervisor if I had a decision to make and I wanted to know if I was making the right decision. It was like I was afraid to make a mistake. JR finally got to the point that he simply told me... Steve when your in charge... take charge. Go for it. Think things through, make good educated decisions and then give direction to those you supervise and follow through with your plan. Do it, make a decision and then do it! "When in Charge, take charge."

Several lessons I learned from this...
  1. You have to make quick fast educated good decisions. Wavering or stalling usually does not help the situation. It's best to make up your mind and act. Until you act on something you really don't know if you made the right decision or not? You have to act to even know.
  2. Don't be so set in your ways or the course of your decision that you can't change your direction if that's what's needed.
  3. When making a decision, ask the best on your team for their opinion. Two or three heads are always better than one.
  4. Once you've made your decision.. attack the plan, go for it with passion and enthusiasm. Own the decision, sell the decision to others and make it happen.
  5. When in charge take charge... helped me to realize that I'm it! It's all on me... I'm in charge, I should act like it. I'm responsible now do something about it.

When you finally get to the point that you understand that "when you're in charge, you must take charge." You will begin to step up to a whole new level of leadership.

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