New Year, New Start
It’s time to pivot and get back to work!
At the beginning of 2021, I hoped the year would bring a mix of experimenting with new things and getting back to normal. COVID vaccines were going to be approved and made widely available, so I assumed people would set aside the partisan bullshit and get their shots. It was our chance to very quickly get back to living normal lives again.
Unfortunately, less than a week into the new year, it became clear that a global pandemic wasn’t enough of a “common enemy.” Not even hundreds of thousands of COVID-related deaths could breach the partisan divide and bring people together in a common cause. It was extremely disheartening and took the wind out of my “let’s get back to normal” sails but it was also the catalyst for the first incarnation of this newsletter.
The idea that was The Progressive Leader
On Valentine’s Day of 2021, I published my first post on Substack and started letting people know about my newsletter. The goal was to share both my ideas and my experience with up-and-coming leaders. I wanted to help young professionals become progressive leaders – people who would lead others from a foundation of strong values, guided by a clear vision, and focused on true progress that benefited everyone.
After several months of writing and podcasting, I still believed we needed more leaders like that. However, although the ideas I was sharing were solid, I realized that the “branding” was a bit off. When people found the newsletter, they expected to be reading about progressive politics – and nothing but progressive politics.
Well, that’s not what they found. Yes, I consider myself a progressive and I have certainly written about political topics, but my goal was not to train the next generation of progressive politicians. My goal was to help people become better leaders, wherever they were in their lives and in their careers. I can’t do that if the only people checking out my newsletter are looking for liberal political rants.
The evolution of a newsletter
In August of 2021, I put my newsletter on hiatus. I expected to take no more than a few weeks off in order to shift gears, but then life happened (as it always does) and several months went by. During that time, I revised things on the blog – changed the name, added new graphics, updated the About page – and then came up with a content plan that would get me restarted on the right foot.
So on Monday, January 3, 2022, I’ll be ready to officially relaunch this newsletter as The Relaxed Leader.
Over almost 30 years of being a supervisor, manager, and leader, I’ve found that being a relaxed leader is a great choice for many people. Admittedly, it’s a poor choice for some “Type A” personalities who truly believe they know what’s best (and people should just shut up and do what they’re told). So if that describes YOU, please feel free to move along – there’s nothing for you to see here. For everyone else, please keep on reading...
What is a relaxed leader?
Relaxed leaders aren’t lazy leaders who just kick back and don’t stress because they don’t really care. Relaxed leaders aren’t the same as a Laissez-faire leaders, who don’t give much instruction or guidance and basically let the team members take the lead.
Relaxed leaders have a systematic approach to leadership that focuses on setting priorities, creating and empowering team members, and leveraging specific gifts and talents.
If you’ve read my articles on the REAL values, then you know I love a good acronym, so I’ve come up with one that makes it easier to remember some of the fundamental things a relaxed leader focuses on. And – surprise, surprise! – these building blocks can be remembered using the acronym RELAX:
REVIEW/REFLECT: Keep an eye on your priorities and the effectiveness of your current activities.
For the past couple of years, I’ve done this annually, quarterly, monthly, weekly and (usually) daily. In the coming months I’ll talk about how I do it and explain how it’s helped me build a strong team and create an award-winning program office from the ground up.
EMPOWER: Develop team members who understand priorities and achieve results without constant oversight.
For many years and through several job assignments, I’ve led under-staffed teams (and I’m definitely no exception). I’ve learned how to empower team members in a way that increases their job satisfaction, improves our results, and strengthens our team as a whole.
LEVERAGE: Take advantage of day-to-day situations when effective, focused leadership can dramatically impact team performance and multiply results.
Replacing constant “management” with constant “coaching” is nothing more than changing the type of time-consuming oversight that shouldn’t be necessary when you’ve created an effective team. However, knowing when to step in and when to step back can be tricky, so I’ll talk about how to spot those moments when a little bit of coaching can have an exponential impact.
AMPLIFY: Promote team members and their ideas, celebrate wins, and have a strong communications plan.
This seems like a no-brainer to me and yet I see far too many supervisors and managers take the lion’s share of the credit for the work of their teams. Still others give credit but they do it in a way that emphasizes their own contributions and at least implies their teams succeeded because of them. I’ll talk about everything from proper mindset to actual ways of practicing amplification with your own team.
X-FACTOR: Identify that “special something” only YOU can bring to the team… and BRING IT!
One of the main reasons I’ve always focused on building strong teams is because I know I’m not great at everything. Hell, I’m not even good at everything, which is why I need an excellent team who can be strong in areas where I tend to be weak. But the best leaders don’t just build strong teams who can do everything well – they also identify their own greatest strengths and double-down on them. So in the months ahead, I’ll also be talking about how to figure out the “special something” that you can bring to the table, and how to use it as a force multiplier to help catapult you and your team to success.
Will you help me share these ideas?
In 2022, I’m going to focus on publishing at least one article and one podcast every week for The Relaxed Leader. I’m also going to work on growing the subscriber list for this newsletter.
I don’t want to simply have a lot of subscribers though. I want to find people who are interested in learning to be better leaders by not only reading what I write and listening to what I record, but also by participating in the comments section and actually trying some of the strategies and tactics I’ll be sharing.
If there are enough engaged readers of the The Relaxed Leader, I’m also willing to try some more interactive things as well, like discussion threads or even some live video-based meetings. I really believe this can develop into a strong online community but, like every other important project I’ve ever tackled, I can’t do it alone.
Do you know anyone who might be willing to join us on this journey? Do you know any up and coming leaders who could use some guidance? Do you know any mid-career folks who want to level-up their skills? If so, send them on over and encourage them to subscribe. We’ll have them on their way to becoming relaxed leaders in no time!