Got Boundaries?

Got Boundaries?

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There’s a line from a Robert Frost poem that often comes to mind when I speak with leaders about managing their teams: “Good fences make good neighbors.”  This line could be a mantra for leaders about the importance of boundaries.

As a leader, you have several roles related to boundaries in the workplace:

  • Set and maintain good boundaries for yourself
  • Establish and articulate boundaries for the team
  • Monitor and maintain team boundaries
  • Respond and repair when boundaries are violated.

In order to lead effectively, it is imperative you have clear boundaries for yourself, both personally and professionally. Your management of boundaries serves as the model for boundaries within your team. Once you manage your own boundaries successfully you are equipped to manage boundaries within your team.

The first step in setting good boundaries, whether for yourself or your team, is awareness. Know what is essential for you or the team to function at your best and what are the absolute deal breakers.  For your personal boundaries, identify what energizes you, what drains your energy and what takes you off track. Encourage the team to make the same assessment for themselves individually and for the team as a whole.

Find a way to communicate boundaries within your team in ways that are clear and respectful. When individuals express their boundaries, they don’t need to defend, debate, or detail their feelings. For the team, boundaries should be negotiated and agreed upon by consensus, understanding that as the leader, you may need to negotiate the middle ground between competing priorities.

Two things to keep in mind when setting boundaries: make them few and make them important. Too many boundaries create confusion, exhaustion and opportunities for conflict. Your role as the leader is to monitor the team’s process and progress and issue warnings if it appears boundary violations are imminent. Recognizing potential problems ahead of time can help the team to make boundary adjustments, rather than responding to damage when a boundary is violated.

Once you’ve created a boundary, view it like a fence. It separates what is acceptable from what is not. Keep in mind that fences have gates – places where people can get from one side to the other with permission. Know when it’s time to open the gate or adjust the boundary and do it with intention, clarity, and consistency. Just as landowners periodically walk the perimeter to see if fences have been breached or need to be adjusted, take time to review your personal and team boundaries from time to time to see if new boundaries need to be drawn.

Good boundaries make good teams, just like good fences make good neighbors. Learn to be a boundary master and you will Increase Your Impact.

Dr. Sherene McHenry, Relational Leadership and Burnout expert, is a widely acclaimed speaker, author and coach that demystifies how to lead, motivate and resolve conflict for optimal results. Known for being wise, witty and practical, Sherene provides instantly implementable tips and strategies for enhancing effectiveness, increasing engagement and decreasing burnout, frustrations and miscommunications.

Self-Care Isn’t Selfish

Self-Care Isn’t Selfish

Burnout Leadership Leadership Effectiveness Self-Care

We often talk about the responsibilities of leadership – bringing out the best in others, managing conflict, creating and engaging others in a compelling vision, maximizing productivity and profits. Unfortunately, self-care is often left off the list.

The truth is that leadership is hard work and hard work requires energy. Not just physical energy, but emotional, mental and spiritual energy as well. It’s especially vital for you as a leader to keep up your own energy. You are regularly called upon to lend energy to your team, to keep the momentum going, and the process moving forward.

It’s helpful to remember you need to take care of yourself in order to take care of your team. Here’s a mantra for you to remember: Self-care is not selfish. Self-care is actually, ultimately, an act of service. In order to give yourself permission to engage in self-care, you have to let go of these myths:

Leaders are invincible – Leaders are not invincible or invulnerable. You will get tired, angry, hungry, fearful and discouraged. Your very human frailties are what allow you to understand and relate to your team and help them relate to you.

Self-care is too hard (or too expensive, or too time-consuming) – It really isn’t. Especially when you compare it to the cost of burnout. It’s simply about creating and consistently applying good self-care practices. Period.

Leaders should come last – Taking care of your team members and your team as a whole is a good thing. In order to do that, you have to replenish your own energy and reserves. If you consistently put yourself last, your energy may be gone before you get what you need, hurting both you and your team.

So, once you put those myths to rest, how do you actually engage in self-care?

Start with awareness and taking inventory. Learn to pay attention to the cues that tell you that you need rest, food, water or a change of pace. Once you’ve done this, invest in yourself. Take the time needed to take care of you. Nourish and hydrate your body. Rest your brain as much as your body.

Next, create connections and a self-care system. Surround yourself with people who have your back and who tell you the truth when you’re doing well or when you need to self-correct.

Make time to replenish yourself with time away from work, time in nature, and spiritual nurture. There’s an old saying: “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” While it may not be possible to consistently keep your own cup completely full, it’s important that you don’t let the level get too low before you do something to refill it.

Here’s the bottom-line: you cannot be a great leader if you’re running on empty, physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually. Self-care is an essential part of leadership responsibility.

Take care of yourself, and you’ll be able to take care of everything else and Increase Your Impact!

Dr. Sherene McHenry, Relational Leadership expert, is a widely acclaimed speaker, author and coach that demystifies how to lead, motivate and resolve conflict for optimal results. Known for being wise, witty and practical, Sherene provides instantly implementable tips and strategies for enhancing leadership effectiveness, increasing engagement and decreasing burnout, frustrations and miscommunications.

Coach, Cheerleader Or Referee?

Coach, Cheerleader Or Referee?

Burnout Conflict Resolution Leadership Leadership Effectiveness Stress

Effective leadership requires effective conflict resolution skills. A team in conflict is a team that is not functioning at its best. While a great deal of conflict can be anticipated and artfully avoided, circumventing conflict isn’t always possible or even desirable. Living in the real world, you will inevitably face conflicts in your team

Not all conflicts are created equal. As an effective leader, you need a variety of strategies to address problems as they arise and to play different roles in resolving conflicts. I think successful conflict resolution requires leaders to be coach, cheerleader and referee. See if you agree.

Coach. Coaches ensure that team members reach their full potential as individuals and as a team. Coaching your team through conflict includes establishing a climate of mutual trust and respect and strong communication skills such as civility, open-mindedness and active listening.

Helping identify and craft win/win solutions is another way to coach your team through conflict. When conflict hits a stumbling block, you can suggest alternate strategies that may make the team more successful in resolving the situation. Additionally, you can lead the team in post-conflict analysis and apply the lessons learned to support improved performance and avert similar conflicts in the future.

Cheerleader. Cheerleaders provide support, encouragement and praise from the sidelines, rather than participating directly in the competition. Wise leaders know there are times that interfering in a disagreement only makes matters worse. When the conflict calls for you to be a cheerleader, express your support and your confidence in your team’s ability to steer themselves through the conflict. Praise the progress made along the way to keep your team’s spirits high and focused on the desired outcome.

Referee. Referees ensure good sportsmanship and that players follow the rules of the game. So it is with leaders in conflict situations. When team members are unable to resolve conflict on their own, they may need your intervention as a neutral party. While it might be tempting to take sides, as a leader you need to protect the interests of all parties equally.

Enforcing ground rules and calling “foul” on inappropriate behaviors during the conflict process is critical. Declaring a time out when things get too heated can also be useful. Finally, as a referee, you may need to exert your authority to declare a winner if the team or individuals can’t reach a shared resolution.

While your preferred leadership style in conflict may lean more heavily to one of these roles, effective leadership means that you are capable of being a coach, cheerleader or referee depending on the needs and capabilities of your team. Knowing when to be coach, cheerleader or referee empowers you to lead your team to success and to Increase your impact!

Dr. Sherene McHenry, Relational Leadership expert, is a widely acclaimed speaker, author and coach that demystifies how to lead, motivate and resolve conflict for optimal results. Known for being wise, witty and highly practical, Sherene provides instantly implementable tips and strategies for enhancing leadership effectiveness, increasing engagement and decreasing burnout, frustrations and miscommunications.

No More Walking On Eggshells

No More Walking On Eggshells

Bad Boss Conflict Resolution Employee Engagement Leadership Leadership Effectiveness Stress

Do you ever walk on eggshells? Would you rather have a root canal than engage in conflict? Join the club.

You may think that avoiding conflict makes you a good leader – but the opposite is true. Conflict, handled properly, increases collaboration, trust and influence, which are all essential for successful performance in the workplace.

Walking on eggshells can be more than just uncomfortable – it can negatively affect your organization’s bottom line. According to research conducted by the authors of the New York Times bestselling book Crucial Conversations, 95% percent of the workforce struggles to speak up to their colleagues about their concerns. It is estimated that on average, each avoided crucial conversation costs a company $1,500 and an 8-hour workday.

Imagine how much better things would be if you and your team could stop walking on eggshells and master the art of managing conflict. Kind of boggles the mind, doesn’t it?

As a leader, if you teach your people to have tough conversations, hold others accountable, and argue productively, you’ll create a high functioning team and collaborative environment.

Of course, once you decide to stop walking on eggshells, you don’t want to go to the other extreme and throw gasoline on the fire. There are a few simple rules to follow that help keep conflict in the productivity zone, rather than the problem zone. Here are just two:

  • Nip Problems In The Bud. Just as weeds are easily picked when small, conflict is most easily resolved in its earliest stages. The first time a problem arises, have a conversation. That enables you to address the issue in a calmer, more collaborative manner than after it has happened multiple times.
  • Avoid Piling On. In an effort to provide protection, football teams are penalized when extra players “pile on” a ball carrier who is already down. When dealing with conflict, stick to addressing the problem at hand, not what the person has or hasn’t done in the past. Refraining from “piling on” safeguards individuals and relationships, keeps things clear and on point, and decreases defensiveness.

Want to learn more? Set up an appointment to talk with me about bringing my keynote speech or workshop No More Walking on Eggshells to your next conference or corporate event. Just click here http://www.meetme.so/ShereneMcHenry to schedule a call.

Let’s keep you and your team from walking on eggshells and Increase Your Impact!

How Talking Like A Pirate Makes You A Better Leader

How Talking Like A Pirate Makes You A Better Leader

Conflict Resolution Employee Engagement Leadership Leadership Effectiveness

Do you want to be a better leader? Then let’s start by talking about conflict. I know it’s probably not your favorite topic – mine either! However, we can’t talk about leadership effectiveness without talking about conflict. Why? Because handling conflict is a critical leadership task, and failure to manage conflict appropriately is a primary reason that leaders fail. So, if needed, take a deep breath and let’s dive right in.

To handle conflict like a pro, you have to talk like a pirate. Before you think I’ve gone off my rocker, read on. What comes to mind when you think of how a pirate talks? If you’re like me, you think of the sound –aarr- that precedes any sentence. Once you get the sound in your head, it’s hard to get rid of and that’s exactly why I want you to talk like a pirate while honing your conflict management skills.

AARR is the sound that will help you be a better leader as you remember the four elements of good conflict management:

Anticipate – Good leaders recognize that conflict is inevitable. Even in the best-run organizations, there are disagreements from time to time. As you look ahead in day-to-day operations and for the long term, think about likely bumps in the road. Some conflicts will be focused on individuals, others on ideas. Planning ahead enables you to prepare positive responses and have them ready to go before the need arises.

Avoid – If you expect conflict and can anticipate where and why it may occur, you can also develop strategies to avoid or minimize its disruption within your team. As the leader, you chart the course and steer the ship. When possible, pilot your team away from trouble spots that will derail your efforts and destroy morale. Of course, it isn’t always possible or even desirable to totally avoid conflict, but if you have a diversion strategy in place, you may be able to reduce the negative impact when it does occur.

Recognize – With conflict, as with everything else, your responsibility as the leader is to see the big picture, scan the environment and help your team understand what is happening at any given moment. When conflict is brewing, or has been buried under the surface, good leaders recognize the clues and take steps to ensure the problem is addressed.

Recognizing conflict includes acknowledging it openly and honestly so that it can be addressed. Hidden conflict simmers under the surface and can have devastating consequences when it erupts unexpectedly. As a leader, choosing the time and the manner in which conflict is named and handled increases your likelihood of achieving a positive outcome.

Resolve – Far too often, conflict is smoothed over, rather than resolved. As a leader, you need to look beneath the surface to its underlying causes and address those issues. Without deeper attention and actual resolution, conflict recycles again and again.

Ensure your team members are truly engaged and invested in the solution so that they will be committed to moving forward. You will know a conflict is resolved when it is no longer being rehashed and revisited – and when solutions are honoring, collaborative and respectful to involved individuals and the organization.

Dr. Sherene McHenry, Leadership Effectiveness expert, is a widely acclaimed speaker, author and coach that demystifies how to lead, motivate and resolve conflict for optimal results. Known for being wise, witty and highly practical, Sherene provides instantly implementable tips and strategies for becoming a better leader, enhancing leadership effectiveness and employee engagement.

New Year New You–Increase Your Leadership Effectiveness Resolution

New Year New You–Increase Your Leadership Effectiveness Resolution

Employee Engagement Leadership Leadership Effectiveness Motivation

When you think about a new year’s resolution, your first thought might not be one concerning your leadership effectiveness. This year, instead of the traditional:

  • Lose Weight
  • Join a Gym
  • Eat Healthier
  • Eliminate a Bad Habit
  • Take More Time Off

I propose you make a resolution concerning how you’re going to function as a leader, in both your work and personal life. Here is my suggestion:

As a leader, in 2017 I will focus first on relationships.

Relationships are the groundwork, the foundation, on which all of the rest of the work of leadership rests. Without positive relationships with your team, the people you serve and others who influence your success, the tasks of leadership are far more difficult.

Stephen Covey has a great metaphor for building relationships in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. He talks about relationships as “emotional bank accounts” where the positive things we do, the ways in which we feed and nurture the relationship, are like making deposits in the account. When trouble arises or when trust is violated, there is a corresponding withdrawal.

As a leader, how will you make deposits in your relational bank accounts in 2017? Here are my top five tips for doing just that:

1. Invest time. Spend time getting to know your team beyond the tasks they perform. Learn what is important to them, what motivates them and who they are when they aren’t at work. Be genuinely interested – have conversations that have nothing to do with work. Taking the time for morning greetings and remembering an upcoming special occasion go a long way to building positive relationships.

2. Communicate openly. People need to know what is expected, where things are going and their role in the process. They also need to have the opportunity to express their feelings. Open communication is as much about listening as it is about talking. Seeking the input of your team on issues that affect them creates an investment in the outcome – and in the relationship. Open communication is also important in building trust and reducing conflict.

3. Express appreciation. Good, solid relationships are based in mutual respect and feeling valued. It is not enough to think good things about your team members – you need to say good things about them. Express appreciation directly and give accolades in public. When your people feel valued, they want to live up to your positive opinion over and over again.

4. Demonstrate loyalty. Loyalty is an essential ingredient in successful relationships. Support your team when things get tough and challenges arise from inside or outside the organization. When conflicts arise within the team, and they will, it’s important that all team members feel supported and valued. Your team needs to know that they can count on you in the good times and bad.

5. Deposit more than you withdraw.

Just like a monetary bank account, the stability of a relational bank account depends on positive cash flow. The cushion that will see you through rough times is ensuring you have more than the minimum balance in the account at all times. Give more to your team than you expect them to give to you and you will always have a solid relationship.

Having solid relationships is essential to your effectiveness as a leader, and developing successful relationships requires intention and attention. In 2017, resolve to focus first on relationships. I guarantee you will Increase Your Effectiveness.

Dr. Sherene McHenry, Leadership Effectiveness expert, is a widely acclaimed speaker, author and coach that demystifies how to lead, motivate and resolve conflict for optimal results. Known for being wise, witty and highly practical, Sherene provides instantly implementable tips and strategies for developing effective leadership qualities that get results.

OUT WITH THE OLD – IN WITH THE NEW

OUT WITH THE OLD – IN WITH THE NEW

Achievement Conflict Resolution Employee Engagement Leadership Uncategorized

In a few short days we will be saying farewell to 2016 and greeting 2017. The phrase, “Out with the old, in with the new,” is echoing everywhere, describing the transition that is marked by the change in the calendar. What does this mean for you and for your team? Are you ready for the change that is coming?

As a leader, your role is help your team navigate the transition from old to new in the best way possible. Successful transitions require careful reflection, not just wholesale change. Here are a few suggestions for ringing in the New Year in the best way possible.

  • Recognize that it is okay to let go

There are some attitudes, behaviors, and experiences that are best left in the past. Work with your team to clearly identify what will be left behind – and why. Long-standing traditions may have outlived their usefulness. Lingering conflicts need to be resolved. Disappointments or failures should become important as lessons rather than regrets.

Honor the value of what will be released. Appreciate the effort that was expended, even when the result was not what you had hoped. Make sure that team members who invested time, energy and emotion in something that is ending are recognized for their contributions. Help your team understand that letting go frees space for something better to come along.

  • Plan the transition with intention

Reflect carefully on what will be different in the future by making an honest assessment of what worked and what didn’t in the current year. Set new goals and expectations that are realistic, but require a bit of a stretch. No one gets excited about standing still or falling backward. Make a renewed commitment to the good things that you will be retaining for the future – they are the foundation upon which your new success will rest.

Make sure to look at the changes to be made from both the big picture and the small details. Engage visionary team members in forecasting the big picture for the future and charge detail people with looking at the components of each area to be adjusted. Work together as a team to craft a complete vision of the year to come.

  • Prepare for the in-between time

Making change is not like flipping a light switch – off one minute, on the next. It takes time for people to become accustomed to a new normal, even when it is a happily-anticipated change.

As a leader, you need to recognize that not everyone on your team makes adjustments at the same pace or with the same attitude. Work closely with team members who are reluctant to let go or hesitant about what is to come.

What might ease the transition for them? Do they need more information, support or time? Is the gap between old and new too wide for them; do they need an interim or adjustment period? Model the attitude and approach to change that you want to see in your team.

  • Embrace the new with energy, excitement and enthusiasm

Your team members look to you to help shape their attitude and acceptance of what is ahead. If you cling to the past or seem reluctant to let something go, you can be certain that others will follow suit.

If there are rough waters ahead it is particularly important for your team to feel your confidence that together, you all will find your way to smoother sailing. As a leader, when you acknowledge that change is not always easy, you give the team permission to feel the same way – and then you can cheer yourselves on as you make the change anyway!

At this time of year, when it is “out with the old, in with the new,” be a change leader for your team and Increase Your Impact!

Dr. Sherene McHenry, Leadership IQ expert, is a widely acclaimed speaker, author and coach that demystifies how to lead, motivate and resolve conflict for optimal results. Known for being witty, wise and highly practical, Sherene provides instantly implementable tips and strategies that get real world results.

Effective Leadership Qualities: Shine Your Light

Effective Leadership Qualities: Shine Your Light

Achievement Burnout Leadership Motivation

Effective leadership qualities are a lot like light. They enable you to see a clear vision of a shared and positive future, illumine the path forward and shed light into dark corners where trouble might be lurking.

Leadership is an important calling, and those who do it best possess a high degree of self-awareness and self-care. Here are five ways to ensure you shine even brighter as an effective leader:

  1. Keep your focus clear– Make sure that the vision and mission of your organization is clear to you, so that you can make it clear for others.
  1. Keep yourself nourished – Having adequate light is a function of having sufficient energy. Making sure that you are nourished – physically, emotionally and spiritually – ensures that you have energy to share with others.
  1. Keep moving forward –Your forward momentum propels others. You cannot shine a light on the path to the future if you are standing still in the present.
  1. Keep asking questions – As an effective leader, you have to be willing to look at things that other people cannot see and to anticipate the perils and pitfalls that escape the attention of others. When you ask questions – even tough questions – you empower others to see a broader picture.
  1. Keep sharing the light – The knowledge and wisdom you possess as a leader is worthless if you do not share it. When you bring others into your circle of light, you ensure that it continues beyond yourself.

Effective leaders carry the light in three ways – in the lantern that lights the way and illumines the path; in the flashlight that brightens dark corners; and in the candle that, tipped to the next in line, keeps the light shining in a continuous and ongoing circle.

May your light burn brightly as you increase your leadership effectiveness!

Dr. Sherene McHenry, Leadership Effectiveness expert, is a widely acclaimed speaker, author and coach that demystifies how to lead, motivate and resolve conflict for optimal results. Known for being witty, wise and highly practical, Sherene provides instantly implementable tips and strategies for developing effective leadership qualities that get results.

Be A Better Boss

Be A Better Boss

Achievement Conflict Resolution Employee Engagement Leadership Motivation Stress

I’m sure you’ve already noticed that the world is full of two types of people: those who get things done early and those who put things off until the last minute. Those who get things done early prefer structure, deadlines and plenty of breathing room to finish assignments. Their mantra is, “Once it’s off my plate, I can relax.”

Those who procrastinate prefer freedom in how and when they approach tasks, time to passively noodle the assignment and gather as much information as possible, and the adrenaline that accompanies an approaching deadline. Their manta is, “Relax, the deadline isn’t here yet.”

Managing those who get things done early is a dream. You give them a job and it gets completed in a timely manner. Unfortunately, the strain is transferred to employees who can’t bear to have unfinished projects, and who run themselves ragged to finish jobs only to be assigned additional tasks.

“If you want something done, give it to a busy person,” is the adage of most business owners and managers. Wonderful for the business and the manager, but not so great for the dependable employee burdened with one more task. In addition to not being fun or fair, it’s demotivating to be repeatedly asked to pick up other people’s slack.

What your persistent, getter-done-or-die-trying employees desperately need is protection from you, other employees and even themselves. As a wise leader, knowing they will sacrifice and suffer rather than be late or fail to follow through, you’ll want to keep tabs on their workload and how they are holding up.

High performers who keep getting additional jobs are at huge risk for burnout. Once that happens, they either quit, find a different job, or take their heart out of the workplace. At a bare minimum they’ll start doing “an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay,” nothing more.

All it takes for your Rock Stars and Steady Eddies to soar under your leadership is for you to protect them. Do this by monitoring their workload, dividing up assignments so everyone is sharing the load, and giving them a bit of breathing space before dumping another task on them.

I can almost hear you panic at the thought of spreading out the workload, particularly to employees who procrastinate, turn things in late and always have a good excuse. While panic isn’t necessary, you will need to manage and train your Last Minute Lucys and Larrys to meet deadlines.

While they might not like it, procrastinators need you to set and hold appropriate deadlines and work boundaries. Without them, they will drop the ball and needlessly cause extreme frustration and stress.

It’s helpful to understand that procrastinators actually need the adrenaline that accompanies a deadline. Deadlines propel them to work smarter, faster and more effectively. Deadlines kick in their creative juices. Working on deadline is their preferred and most effective work mode.

Here are seven tips for bringing out the best in your procrastination-prone employees:

1. Set clear deadlines.

2. Ask for their commitment to meet the deadline.

3. Ask when they would like for you to check their progress.

4. With clearly outlined expectations, allow great freedom to determine how and when they approach the task.

5. Refrain from doing it yourself or reassigning a task before the deadline.

6. Hold them accountable for missing deadlines by letting them know the physical, financial and emotional cost of their actions. If this doesn’t bring about desired results, set consequences. No matter how brilliant or charming, if they can’t meet deadlines, they aren’t a good fit for your company.

7. Lastly, recognize the immeasurable gift they bring your company by being able to nimbly respond to anything that gets thrown at them. You need and want them on your team.

While boundaries and deadlines are your best friends as a manager, remember to refrain from rewarding your persistent rock stars with yet another job. Effectively manage both types of employees and you’ll set yourself and everyone else up for long-term success.

Originally published in Garden Center Magazine, February 2015, http://www.gardencentermag.com/article/garden0215-managing-procrastination-prone-employees/

Are Your Dreams For Your Life And Organization Big Enough?

Are Your Dreams For Your Life And Organization Big Enough?

Achievement Dare To Dream Dream Employee Engagement Leadership Motivation

For as long as I can remember, my father has given me the gift of encouraging me to dare to dream big dreams. When an opportunity to win a trip to Europe through our middle school magazine drive was presented, I knew that would win it. All I had to do was sell a copy of Reader’s Digest and submit a 25 word essay on what I would learn from the experience trip abroad. No problem. I eagerly rushed home and asked my mom to buy a copy. “No, dear. Grandpa gives us a yearly subscription.”

Undaunted, I canvased the neighborhood. Everyone turned me down. Mom suggested I try doctor offices and helped by driving me around town. Repeated rejections followed from doctors and staff. Unwilling to give up, I pressed on. Finally, I sold the coveted subscription to Dr. Brown.

After batting about ideas as a family, I sent my essay off praying, “Please, Lord, let me win.” Months came and went without word, but deep inside I knew I would win. I even turned down an invitation to a prestigious competition, saying, “I think I’ll be in Europe.”

Then came the announcement. “All students please report to the auditorium.” Upon entering, I immediately spotted the man from Reader’s Digest. Someone had won. Heart pounding, I anxiously awaited my fate.

After thanking everyone, he declared, “Out of 13,500 submissions, we selected 17 winners. One is from here.” He paused for dramatic effect … then, he called my name. Overjoyed, I took the stage. While it may not happen every time, don’t let anyone tell you that dreams don’t come true.

As an adult I read Barbara Sher’s “Wishcraft: How To Get What You Really Want.” Promising good things would result, she suggested identifying 100 things that I wanted to be, have or do. So I created my first Top 100 List in 1996 with dreams ranging from the dramatic, to the mundane, to the fanciful and the heartfelt.

About five years later, I found my list. Amazingly, 40 of my wishes had come true with little or no effort on my part. I don’t even remember writing down one of my favorites, “Overdose on the theatre in London.” Mom and I had a fantastic trip and even got upgraded to first class on the flight over.

Before you’re tempted to think I get everything I want, I don’t. Several of the deepest longings of my heart, haven’t and won’t come true. I, like everyone else who walks the planet, have mourned unfulfilled dreams. The good news is we humans are incredibly resilient, and our dreams can change over time.

What about you? Do you have lofty dreams for your business? For the people you lead and serve? For your life? For your community? For your family? Do you have a Top 100 List? Do you encourage your staff to dream? To set grand goals for their departments and individual performances?

Or, have you forgotten to dream? Did you learn along life’s way that dreams are for other people? That it’s safest not to dream or expect good things? That if you don’t dream, you don’t get hurt? Worse yet, do you squelch the dreams of those around you, particularly those who work for you?

I encourage you to compile your personal Top 100 List. If that’s too daunting, do a Top 25 List. Additionally, create a Top 25 List for your business and/or department. Then, ask your employees to create a Top 10 List for the business, their department and/or their job.

Depending on the size and structure of your organization, combine appropriate employee groupings and work together to determine your priorities for the business and/or department. You’ll be amazed at the creativity, energy and teamwork that result. You’ll also know where to focus your energy, time and other resources required to turn lofty and yet worthy dreams into reality.

Originally published in Garden Center Magazine, January 2015, http://www.gardencentermag.com/article/garden0115-top100-priorities-list/