Often on a Monday morning (or over a weekend), I’ll spend some time considering the “Biggest Rock” I want to focus on in my work week – the biggest thing I want to accomplish, or the biggest theme or effort I want to focus on for the week.

This week, with a bunch of tactical “Big Rocks” out of the way for a week or two, I have resolved on a different type of focus for my leadership of my team this week: LOVE.

Love.

It does remind me of the moment I moved from the role of consultant to the role of manager, when I realized that my work would (or should) no longer be as much about my own accomplishments than it was about those of my team members. This is a leap for me, as I had taken great pride & joy in my work as a consultant, had handled some major accounts, and received more than my fair share of awards, accolades, and rewards for that work.

As a manager, though, I have to look through an entirely different lens. My whole work life has to stay focused on my team – helping them to see the reward in their work, get better at what they do, and do the very best that they can for our clients and our greater business.

My whole life and upbringing tell me that the best way to do this is to focus, first, on the heart of my relationship with each of them: To love them as individuals and then focus, from that foundation, on what I can do to help and nurture them as the professionals that they are.

Sometimes that means getting down in the trenches and helping with some client work – easing a burden or giving some ideas or an example. Sometimes it’s going to mean jumping onto a call to help present or defend their work with a difficult client. Sometimes it’ll mean enjoying seeing them receive well-deserved praise or rewards for what they’re doing.

The hallmark is my love for each of them as a person - the dignity and worth that they each bring to our team as individuals.

That’s my focus for the week. No big project checkboxes to check off my list this week – just one over-arching goal to get better at my love as a foundation for my relationship with my whole team.

“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” – John Maxwell

This morning on an early morning flight, I opened the window shade just as we started our descent to land. It was early in the morning, just as the amber glow of dawn was starting to cast a glow across the clouds to the east outside of my plane window.

As we turned to the west, I looked up and could see, clear as day, the North Star – the pole star.

As a youth, I learned of the importance of the north star to navigators of every age. The brightest star in the northern sky, its location in the sky is steady and consistent and gives a reliable point of reference from which to find your way at night.

It caused me to pause and consider whether I was being a “north star” – a steady and consistent leader – for my own team. What could I do better this week to help show each person on my team the way to success (and help ensure they remain happy, growing, and content while on the way there?)

Even if you’re not a manager, you can be a pole star for others in your life through your own example and servant leadership, or for being there to listen or to help share advice when they need it. That’s my Monday Manager challenge for this week – thinking from the position of north star this week, and anchoring my team and helping to show the way, but simultaneously trying to be a stronger light and example for my own family and friends.

Will you join me?

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I recently revisited a voice mail that my group’s senior manager had left me, just after my promotion from consultant to consulting manager, congratulating me on the new role and wishing me well.

Listening to the voice mail again brought back a rush of memories – she had left it while I happened to be in-flight to visit one of the offices where many of my employees are based, and I was also about to head to my first sessions of Adobe management training.

One of the things that developed quickly and clearly for me in that narrow window of becoming a new manager was a focus on what I should manage. It was a key part of our management training, but it also became crystal clear in the day-to-day experience of starting to lead my team. Continue Reading…

In 1915, at a scout camp near Philadelphia, a young camp director founded an honor society of honor campers and leaders in boy scouting. For years, from that first simple induction on that first night in a scout camp, the program called the Order of the Arrow (OA) grew and expanded.

(From the OA’s website:) “It became an official program experiment in 1922 and was approved as part of the Scouting program in 1934. In 1948 the OA, recognized as the BSA’s national brotherhood of honor campers, became an official part of the Boy Scouts of America. In 1998, the Order of the Arrow became recognized as Scouting’s National Honor Society when it expanded its reach beyond camping to include broader service to Scouting and the community.”

Today, the OA has more than 170,000 active members located in lodges affiliated with over 295 BSA local councils. One interesting hallmark to the Order is that, contrasted against many organizations in which members elect or select new members, in the Order of the Arrow, the members of a scout’s own troop (many non-OA-members, in fact) elect the new members to the Order of the Arrow.

I spent much of my young life growing in leadership and service in the Order of the Arrow. In 1990, I was elected by the members of my troop and served my ‘Ordeal’ (my induction weekend.) My dad and I also drove, with two other members of our troop, to Indiana University to explore a day of the 75th Anniversary “National Order of the Arrow Conference” (NOAC), at which over 7,000 Arrowmen from around the country gathered to learn, network, have fun, and be inspired. I was hooked! Continue Reading…

In the last week, I have received a calling to a new responsibility that honors and humbles me greatly.

Koinonia_LambOur local Catholic parishes have been fostering a retreat-based community of faith called Koinonia for nearly 10 years. I’ve been a part of it since the very first “Trinity Koinonia” retreat weekend in September of 2005, Suzanne and her mom joined me a few retreats later in the series, and my parents and siblings joined a bit later.

The Koinonia retreats and the community that has formed around them have been very important in the faith life of my extended family, but more importantly in the broader community. Hundreds of my fellow parishioners and parishioners of our sister parishes have now taken part in Koinonia and become a part of the community, and I have formed new, deep, friendships as a result of the community. Continue Reading…

I’ve worked in the Internet and digital marketing world since 1997, and my clients and my team’s clients have been almost exclusively retailers for the last 6+ years, but sometimes I don’t get to see it from the “other side.” I just saw it from that side – as a consumer – and I’m pretty impressed!

Yesterday, a friend at work pointed out that a group of people in our Lehi, Utah office are all getting Fitbit activity and sleep trackers and are forming a “league” of sorts to compete a bit on physical and wellness activity. Continue Reading…

01260010There’s the old quote and book, “All I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” and it’s a bit tempting to say “All I needed to know about marketing, I learned at a radio station.” But that’d be a bit of a stretch. I learned the heart and soul, but there were still some muscles to work out (and keep working out over time as the industry grows, new techniques and technologies are adopted, etc.)

But at the core, yes, just about everything I needed to know about marketing, I learned at a radio station. In the mid-to-late 90′s, I was lucky to score a role at Sinclair Radio St. Louis. At the time, the stations owned 105.7 The Point (St. Louis’ Alternative radio station), 101.1 The River (at the time, a modern adult alternative station), and later, during my time there, 97.1 The Rock (a classic rock station.) I worked in the marketing department during the week, including leading the early years of the stations’ websites and eventually turning into a full-time role focused just on the websites, and on-air on The Point on the weekends. Continue Reading…

Camping - before & afterGrowing up, I was extremely involved in boy scouting. I worked on our council camp staff for 9 summers, helped lead or at least worked at many district and council camping events, and had leadership roles in the Order of the Arrow and in Exploring. In all, I had spent nearly a year of my life camping or living at a scout camp in one way, shape, or form.

Those years were full of great learnings that impacted who I am, how I respond to situations, and how I succeed now in life and in work.

But some of them were forgotten, or got rusty or dusty, and some of them just needed to be dusted off a little bit. This weekend, while taking my oldest son on a “Dad ‘n Lad” campout – our first campout together – I ran back into some of those key life learnings. So here, in no particular order, are 10 things that I either learned or re-learned this weekend on my first weekend campout with my son: Continue Reading…

Vision & Execution

January 15, 2013 — Leave a comment

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Upon embarking into 2013, I resolved to write at least one Blog post each week. So far, I’ve been fulfilling this in my own mind with my weekly Retail & Travel link love post over on the Adobe blogs. But I want to up the game, so here goes. At long last, a new post here at MichaelRHalbrook.com!

I’m a Marriott fanboy. I’m in my third year of Gold status with them, and consistently fall just short of Platinum status. I’ve been loyal to them as long as I can remember, even well before realizing that most of my Adobe coworkers based in Utah are also intensely loyal to them.

But, like anyone else, I’ve had my fair share of minor gripes and complaints about various and properties and experiences over the years. Nothing to raise my voice about too loudly or really alter my relationship with Marriott as a whole, but enough to remember.

This isn’t one of those times. This is just an observation and an idea for a minor improvement that would go miles toward building deeper relationships with those of us constantly on the road and relying on Marriott hotels (or others) to provide us a comfortable night of rest between days of hard work. Continue Reading…