Leadership is not about your business card, it’s about taking someone or something (i.e. a team or organization) to a place they couldn’t get to on their own. Much more than motivation, it’s all about inspiration. Finally, like spirituality, it’s about “taking responsibility for what you create (how you behave) from moment to moment on a consistent basis.” (rational borrowed from Paul Chek).
First, typical Leadership Development fails because you can’t effectively teach it in the classroom (classroom = theory).
Second, it fails because traditionally there’s no effective “native” follow-up process incorporated in day-to-day activity.
Third, in over 30 years of professional experience across 5 continents & every stage company you can imagine, holistic (ho·lis·tic) Leadership Development programs are few & far between. In this context, holistic is characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole, as in the whole person, taking into account psychological, social factors / behaviors.
Let’s start with the basics; we’re only 2.8 – 3% removed from our nearest ancestors, the chimpanzee. The old saying goes “monkey see monkey do”.. so it’s no wonder that +/- 40% of us are predominantly visually dominant learners. That said, the vast majority (some sources say as much as 90%) of effective learning and development takes place not in formal training programs, but rather on the job—through new challenges and developmental assignments, developmental feedback, conversations and mentoring (Monique Valcour).
Need convincing? Just this past weekend, while at a friends house in the Napa Valley, I noticed a GE Refrigerator replacement Water Filter sitting on the countertop of my friends kitchen. She told me how she had read the instructions for the 5th time a week previously before deciding to stop trying. I grabbed my phone & performed a YouTube search for ” replacing a GE refrigerator water filter”. After looking at the first 2 minute clip, I showed it to her, and within 2 minutes she had opened her refrigerator & replaced the water filter. Sound familiar? I can share with you thousands of similar examples, in any context, that I have experienced in professional & personal situations over the past +30 years.
In order for effective Leadership to take root, one has to first witness attempted leadership on-the-job. This is a real world perspective that can’t be done in a classroom, and it most definitely can’t come about from a teacher or facilitator that doesn’t integrate your immediate set of circumstances and reality. In order for effective Leadership to take root & flourish, it needs regular & rhythmic follow-up in practice. It’s needs regular, rhythmic & constant feedback & adjustment. You have to regularly witness first-hand what’s changing month to month, quarter to quarter. How has the teams expected behavior, performance and results improved? How has the teams ownership of accountability & commitment to getting the right results played out? What is the real world day-to-day dynamics between the team and its leader? You can’t witness this in an authentic & transparent way unless you’re in a day-to-day work environment and have the practical experience onboard.
More than talk about leadership, you have to show leadership in the way you live, move, think, breath, rest & eat. The most effective education, and you need only remember how a 2-3 year old infant learns, is a holistic & experience based education practice. An education based on the premise that each person finds identity, meaning, and purpose in life through connections to the community of its’ natural (and relevant) world.. i.e. experience. I call this Native Leadership, and it creates an immediate and inspirational sense of “belonging”.. one of the most significant elements of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs.
If anything short of a holistic approach works effectively in any other aspect of your life, why would you expect it to work here? You need to take Leadership Development out of the classroom & into the workplace. I’ll go even further, you need to extend Leadership Development all the way to the home. Your Leadership Development program can start with basic understanding and communication of the principles in the classroom, but unless you get immediately practical & relevant to an individual’s workplace (& life in general), at best you will have only completed a great theoretical exercise, but never an effective & practical one. Leadership needs to become 2nd nature, it needs to be a 24×7 practice.
What does your Leadership Development program look like? How does it go beyond a theoretical practice? How does it incorporate translation of strategy into operations? How have you integrated the most effective, and right for your unique DNA, continual development practices? How does it incorporate emotional intelligence & fundamental accountability principles that get teams committed to doing the right things that bring about the right performance & results?
“Study after study has shown that listening is critical to leadership effectiveness. So, why are so few leaders good at it?
Too often, leaders seek to take command, direct conversations, talk too much, or worry about what they will say next in defense or rebuttal. Additionally, leaders can react quickly, get distracted during a conversation, or fail to make the time to listen to others. Finally, leaders can be ineffective at listening if they are competitive, if they multitask such as reading emails or text messages, or if they let their egos get in the way of listening to what others have to say.”
This HBR post had me think to recommend the best book I’ve ever read on becoming a better listener. The Lost Art of Listening by Michael Nichols is an easy & practical read that will give you the fundamentals to best affect your personal & professional life.
“It’s time for companies to focus less on maximizing shareholder value and more on becoming human again. Embracing your organization’s humanity will move your company from the mindless management of numbers to the creation of customer and employee value, which ultimately will make your shareholders — the real ones who care about long-term performance — happy, as well.” This is the HBR update that first caught my attention.
After 30 years of experience, I can confidently summarize that in order for any organization to succeed, it need to excel at the four pillars of People, Strategy, Execution & Cash. And if I had to prioritize anyone of those 4, I’d start with People.
90% of effective strategies on paper fail to deliver the expected results (Harvard Business Press). I’ve found that the majority of these failures were related to people not executing properly, but it was more of a people buy-in, alignment & motivation issue (leadership based) which was reflected through poor execution. Without people executing an agreed strategy to its full potential, I can guarantee you’ll either ineffectively burn through, or never secure, the cash your company desperately needs to survive, scale & thrive.
The HBR update went on to summarize; “First, they should spend more time, energy, and resources to find out what their customers really want. Second, they need to do a better job of treating their employees as people who need to be nurtured, not costs that need to be kept in check. Third, they need a motivating purpose besides the achievement of financial goals.”
How are you performing in these 3 key areas?
1. Your employees are the most effective & efficient way to discovering what your customers really want. How are you inspiring & capturing that?
2. How are you nurturing your team, developing their strengths and compensating for their weaknesses? How are you adjusting their “nature” that’s counter productive to themselves as well as the results you want your organization to achieve?
3. Finally, how have you developed, communicated & lived a powerful purpose (company culture) that motivates your staff to take on “owner-accountability”?
After coming across 7 Reasons Employees Don’t Trust Their Leaders, I wanted to highlight the following key take-aways..
Personally, I believe the increased lack of trust in one another within any society is directly correlated to a fear based discourse adopted by (for example) politicians, media & then society (in general) itself. As human beings, it’s in our nature (inborn self defense mechanism) to doubt before giving the benefit of the doubt.
We’re intrinsically more inclined to look for differences in each other versus focusing on similarities. The science behind that is too long to go into here, but as we grow older and “work on ourselves” we start to identify the origins of where this automated first-contact reaction comes from, and find the necessary tools to reprogram ourselves.
Employees have grown tired of unexpected outcomes resulting from the lack of preparation. They want to be informed of any change management efforts before – not after the fact.
Employees desire to know what is expected of them and be given the opportunity to reinvent themselves, rather than be told they are not qualified for new roles and responsibilities and can no longer execute their functions successfully.
1. Lack Courage
2. Hidden Agendas
4. Reputation Issues
5. Inconsistent Behavior
6. Don’t Get Their Hands Dirty
7. Lack a Generous Purpose
If I were going to put these in order, I’d move “Lack a Generous Purpose” to #1.
In his following article 5 Ways Leaders Win People Over, Glenn Llopis give us 5 great ways to authentically win people over.
1. Search for Shared Experiences
2. Understand One’s Values and Intentions
3. The Head and the Heart
4. Get Your Hands Dirty
5. Increase Your Engagement
What are the key take-aways that you most identified with? What are the changes you can start to apply immediately that will have you turnaround some of the challenges you’re already facing today?
Reading 5 Steps for Quickly Reaching Inbox Zero I was reminded of 2 simple tools that took my “Inbox Zero’ing” & productivity to a whole new level.
1. Unsubscribe from all the crap
3. Reply Immediately
4. Reply as You’re Able
5. Set Team Rules
1. Boomerang; Use Boomerang to remind you of expected replies that haven’t come in within an expected timeframe. Instead of leaving emails cluttering your inbox, Boomerang them to come back at a specific later time & date when you’re best equipped to deal with them. Block out chunks of time in your calendar to deal with the messages you’ve just “boomeranged”.
2. Filters; Take the time & be smart about applying filters so that routine information goes directly into specific folders to be dealt with at a later time. Again, block out time in your calendar, no more than 30 minutes, to go into the respective folders to process and purge their contents.
Enjoy & happy ZERO Inbox!
“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
I recently came across an article that made me recognize I could do so much more toward living a productive life all around.
If you’re successful in navigating your ego, and can develop these steps (reflection) into a new life-long habit, than the distractions and false needs that cause procrastination & pain will no longer be a part of your life.
Now smile, breathe, and let go. “You can only lose what you cling to.” - Buddha
Can you commit to setting up a daily reminder that will have you practice these 4 steps for the next 30 days?
Speaking from experience, emotional intelligence & agility doesn’t come easy and isn’t an automatic. At a very minimum, in order to be successful, it requires
☛ an open mind
☛ a desire to improve
☛ a lot of patience, repetition and work
☛ and a lifetime of practice
Fortunately, “for every concerted effort one reaps multiple rewards”, thus the investment is highly rewarding!
☛ Getting Unhooked
☛ Recognizing your patterns
☛ Labeling your thoughts and emotions
☛ Accepting them
☛ And acting on your values
If you haven’t done so already, follow this link to the full article at the HBR (Harvard Business Review) website and test your Emotional Agility.
If you want to become an effective leader, at work, or in life in general, I urge you to start a journal / diary immediately and get to work. If you find that you need assistance with this growth process, in addition to a coach / mentor, you might try a powerful program such as Landmark Forum. It super accelerated my growth spurt a few years back!
In reading How CEOs Can Transform HR into a Revenue Driver by Mark V. Hurd (President of Oracle), I was inspired to focus on the aspect of how HR departments should be doing (allowed to do) a better job at influencing their company’s performance and results.
Of special note in this article, is a trend that I don’t understand many executives to be conscious of as I meet with them around the world. I’m talking about the rapidly shifting demographics leading to a surge in millennials among the workforce. While millennials will comprise 36 percent of the workforce in 2014, they’ll make up almost half of it (465) by 2020, according to a study conducted by the business school at the University of North Carolina.
The impact these young digital natives will have on your company isn’t limited to their sheer numbers. In fact, the biggest influence they’ll have is their demand, not their request, mind you, but their requirement that the technology they use at work provides them with the same degree of social immersion, accessibility, and collaboration as the technology they use in their personal lives. We are in life as we are in work, and this dynamic of millennials who have been raised in a different context than previous generations require new approaches beyond technology. Ironically, they require old school and basic emotional intelligence anchored leadership that will be conducive to their prefered behavioral DNA.
So the simple truth is that unless your company is offering these sorts of tools and approaches, indeed, these sorts of “workstyles”, then you’ll be sending a clear signal to recruits and new employees that you’re really not interested in hiring or keeping them.
Why is Leadership Development such an economical force in an organizations training budget theses days? At the end of the day, leadership boils down to more than just “moving people to action”. Effective leadership is about moving the right people to the right action at the right time. That combination is how you invert the scenario 60% of CEOs surveyed by PwC say they’re concerned about not having enough talent, and/or the right mix of talent. As a result, those CEOs say, that talent gap is presenting them with some significant challenges:
☛ 31 percent said they couldn’t innovate effectively;
☛ 29 percent couldn’t pursue attractive market opportunities; and
☛ 24 percent had to cancel or delay a strategic initiative.
But is it really just a talent gap? I would argue, from experience, that it’s an effective leadership gap.
Let’s go old-school in order to deal with the new school. As many of my colleagues know, at the core, a handful of successful & proven methodologies from the past is all you need to get the high performance performance & results we want. Here are a few of my recommendations to start out with:
☛ instead of measuring quantity of leadership or skills development training in the workplace as a metric, measure the business benefit extracted over the first 30, 60 & 90 days. What behaviors have changed as a consequence? How are these behaviors providing different performance & results from the past?
☛ instead of having PUSH communication, have engaging communication that fosters ownership, convergence, cross-functional and collaborative moving to action from every level of the organization. More importantly, get everyone literally on the same page through a simple One-Page Plan.
☛ make sure your strategic goals are driven by your desired company culture, and that jointly they feed into a simple & well articulated strategy map of a few business priorities that deliver the real results the organization needs.
☛ create rhythmic, agile & lean behaviors (mindset) that measure, modify & produce results more frequently. Be demanding and use both leading & lagging KPI’s, but most of all, make sure they are relevant to people up & down the org chart. Only through relevance will you get the engagement, commitment, ownership & performance you’re looking for.
Move the right people to the right action at the right time, it’s easier than you think!
Which of these 4 recommendations will you implement or improve upon immediately? How will you better drive, engage and leverage the HR transformation your company needs? You don’t need a strategy team if you already have the core competencies in HR. You just need to empower and help HR leaders become business-centric and data-driven enablers of revenue, innovation, and superb employee experiences.
How will you build these habits into your regular routine?
When reading “How to better deal with angry people“, I was reminded of the core competency that helps you more effectively build relationships while solving problems.
You have to look beyond the immediate situation in front of you in order to find, and then address, the root cause. This article provides great detailed tips about how to better deal with angry people, and as with everything in life, if you can better understand the core competency / practice that’s being applied, you’ll more effectively be able to get past so many other situations in life (personal & professional).
Remember, what you’re witnessing is your own perception / interpretation of a situation which has most likely been trigger way before you arrived on the scene. It’s a great buddhist quote and as well habit #5 in The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People; seek to understand before being understood.
I encourage you to take 15 minutes, read this article in full, and then reflect how you’re going to better manage upcoming situations.
Would love to hear what you’ve come up with
“Meaning” seems to be all the rage these days, but is it really something new? Harvard Business Review writes about Making Your Work More Meaningful, but is it the revolution it’s been hyped up to be? Having been at this for the past 30 years, experience tells me it’s more of an evolution. Just like social media is the evolution from the previous means of communications and relationship building, so is “meaning”. Even in the Industrial age, people looked for meaning from their lives. They spent the first half surviving and climbing the corporate ladder, to then search for meaning in the second half after having reached their plateau. And if you weren’t careful, you likely searched in some of the wrong places, delving into conflict of interests and questionable moral grounds. But that’s a conversation for another day.
Possibly one of the most expensive words in any industry theses days, it’s actually all about relevance and contribution. Forbes highlights that a full three-quarters of employees are not fully engaged (aka productive), and this is costing american businesses over $450 Billion. There are studies that focus on specific age groups, like “boomers“, but this is just a sampling of the situation. The fact is that regardless of the industry, gender, age grouping, ethnicity & even geographical location, this is a global epidemic because it’s been ignored for too long and practical solutions haven’t been put into place. Do a team building exercise and 9 out of 10 times you’ll find it’s just a bandaid solution. Wouldn’t you rather that Friday night beers be a team driven event to celebrate success instead of a company sponsored attempt to increase engagement? 9 out of 10 times your employees are back at work on Monday morning bitching about everything that’s wrong in your organization instead of proactively pursuing practical solutions that are going to change the environment long-term, and thus giving you truly sustainable (length of time) & scalable (size of impact) engagement & productivity.
Across 5 continents, from the North to South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and all the way down-under in Australia & New Zealand.. the common denominator for sustainable & scalable engagement is employees finding meaning through relevance in their contribution to the overall success of the organization. That’s the simple & secret formula that many overlook because they under evaluate the situation and over complicate the solution.
Scholastic intelligence will loose out to emotional intelligence every single time when it comes down to creating engagement that drives productivity. There are other key components to increased engagement & productivity that drive company results, such as effective communication, focus, attainable goals, rhythm, agility, momentum, etc.., but none of that matters if an employee can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. If they can understand, align & agree with where your company is headed and why you’re in business in the first place. That’s called company culture, and it’s the first place employees look for relevance. It’s the foundation of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs! Company culture represents the physiological, safety & love/belonging needs of a productive human being.
How employees contribute to the overall success of the organization, tied to rhythmic conversations, small wins / momentum and transparent communication is the esteem layer. Get these right, and you’ll find people overcoming all obstacles to self actualize along with your organizations newly found high performance.
What are you going to do differently? Are you going to measure KPI’s like staff attending training or are you going to measure palpable behavioral changes & techniques applied back into the business as a consequence? Changes that drive results? Are you going to take broad and meaningless (in terms of company performance) employee surveys, or are you going to be focused to discover which underlying employee engagement issues can give you immediate rewards when turned-around? A targeted and agile approach or big-bang lengthy one?
Whether you want to increase innovation and or engagement in your organization, the art of balancing personalities in workgroups / teams and meetings is extremely critical. When you encounter a situation where a team just isn’t jelling, but you can’t afford to wait for a newly configured team to come up to speed, the best solution is to find an experienced facilitator to balance out the power.
A good facilitator, in addition to bringing in some new & neutral insight into the discussion, will flatten out the highs (moderate the extrovert) and boost the lows (give voice to the introverts). Ironically enough, my experience demonstrates that the most valuable contribution and productive disruption often comes more from the introverts than it does from extroverts.
By the end of this blog post I’m expecting you will understand the need to identify how to truly communicate, and thus engage (get buy-in & commitment) your audience.
I can’t imagine effective & practical solutions unless they can be applied and practiced in one’s 24×7 life. Repetitive practice, after all, makes for perfection & breathes champions.
That said, let’s discuss Love Languages , which are emotional receptors we all have that give us the truest sense of affectionate gratification. It’s where the term is typically applied; “I can’t even hear what you’re saying because your actions speak so loudly”. The Five Love Languages were something that so profoundly affected my own personal life, that I started to share it with anyone who was searching for greater fulfillment in their personal relationships. At the same time, I was able to apply these very same languages to improve engagement in the workplace by “schooling” leaders on one of the more finer sides of an emotional intelligence equation.
The key here is to discover what is the preferred (primary) love language. As emotional creatures we have all five, but one (at max two) are what really make us feel loved / appreciated. Thinking about all five, which one of them most makes you feel fulfilled when you receive it? That’s your preferred or primary love language.
*Note; when you are consistently stimulated by your prefered love, you tend to increase the importance of your secondary. So be attentive & be diverse
Relevance; note that what trues motivates, aligns & engages someone is when they perceive their work / effort is relevant by making a contribution to the overall success of the organization. How do you breakdown your goals & performance measurements so that your team proposes plans as to how they will individually contribute to the success of the team?
Common Sense; respect everyone’s individual life experience. There is no such thing as “common” sense. What we view as common sense is simply the accumulation of lived experiences. A baby doesn’t know that fire or heat will burn until they first burn themselves on the oven. As with love languages, try understanding what messages will resonate with the individual characteristics of your team.
Love Languages at work;
Again, the key insight here should be to never assume & respect that everyone is an individual with individual needs. Don’t assume that just because you’re Words of Affirmation, everyone else is the same. From their perspective, wether personal or professional, they’ll respect you more for having made the effort to get to know their authentic motivational triggers.
What are you going to do differently tomorrow? Both in your personal & professional life?
On a scale of 1-10, how would your organization meet these criteria?
For three years, London Business School professor Rob Goffee and the IE Business School professor Gareth Jones questioned hundreds of executives all over the world in publishing their May 2013 HBR article “Creating the Best Workplace on Earth”. As I reflect on their publication, I’m reinvigorated to see that all of the elements of strategic one-days, one-page plans and business coaching present here.
Over the next 6 weeks I will give you practical real-world examples of what these principles in action really look like. I will give you the relevant tools and highly practical next steps that will allow you to immediately put these into practice in your organization. I promise that by the end of the 6th weekly installment, you’ll be much more confident of how you will grade your organization, having put some of these solutions into place.
For now, review the 6 characteristics above and identify which are currently most adversely affecting your organization. What is already being done to address this? Stay tuned.. I’ll have more practical solutions for you soon.
Research shows that circular seating highlights the need to belong, whereas angular arrangements prime the desire to be unique.
Forget for a moment that this study is about consumer research, it’s underlying lesson is easily applied to human & organizational dynamics. Trade in your rectangular conference table for a round one if you want to increase the cohesiveness of your team, especially when finding solutions to deliver challenging results. Compared to the challenges you face today, the Knights of the Round Table had much more challenging circumstances in order more than survive, but thrive.
The geometric shape of a seating arrangement can impact consumers by priming one of two fundamental needs: a need to belong or a need to be unique. What do you need? A group that works as a team, i.e. the group as a whole is greater the the individual sum? Or feeding the desire to be “unique” which has a team work as a series of individuals?
Consumers (your audience) will be most favorable toward persuasion material (advertising) that is consistent with the primed need. “Primed need” is the job of leadership and effective communication. Make objectives & results expected relevant to the individuals to have to deliver them through their individual & collective performance.
A recent real life example
Mickey Arison is the owner of the Miami Heat, who just claimed their 2nd straight NBA Championship title. In a post game interview, he said about his management style; “Hire the best people you can and then let them do their jobs. If they make mistakes, learn from these in order to become better performers as a team”. While the Miami Heat may have the best player in the NBA in Lebron James, so did the Cleveland Cavaliers at one stage. Yet Cleveland were never able to win a championship, and eventually lost Lebron as a consequence. What Miami did differently was put the best people around the table, and then let them learn from their mistakes (failed first championship) to then outperform everyone else with two consecutive NBA titles.
Replace the word “consumer” with “employee or team member”; “Circular shaped seating arrangements prime a need to belong while angular shaped seating arrangements prime a need to be unique. The shape of a seating arrangement, a subtle environmental cue, can activate fundamental human needs, and these needs in turn affect consumer responses to persuasive messages.”
Effective leadership is all about persuasion and moving people to action. What’s within your control to affect your teams performance? What little things can you do to support a more cohesive unit that outperforms the competition?
You are already a great leader, or at least you have it inside of you, now you just need to tap into that source. As long as you can become passionate about something, and share that passion with someone, then you will find that you can always create an opportunity to find like-minded audiences who will follow your lead.
I have to be honest.. I often tire of reading leadership updates that profess to have found the next new revelation.
I’ve always found it easiest to do in business as you would do in personal life. This prevents conflict of interest, and stops you from having to think too hard about how to behave when a decision needs to be made. People will only consistently be inspired & follow if they believe and trust. It’s a matter of authenticity, and people are too smart to be fooled by anything less.
While recently reading The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership Model, I was again reminded about how each and everyone of us already has the traits to be a successful leader in our own right.
Can you not…
How do you lead at home? With friends & family? How do you inspire your children? More than stating facts, aren’t you more successful when you tell stories? Stories that are relevant to whichever audience you’re wanting to move to action & join you? At the core, it’s the same in business, you just need to carry over those traits and express them in a business format to obtain the same results.
Leadership is more about bringing out the leader already in you, and finding a way for those traits to resonate with your target audience, than it is about trying to become “a leader”. That’s where people typically have the challenge, tapping into their natural leadership state in order to become an authentic leader.
That’s why it’s called “leadership development” & not “leadership training”.
If you can’t do it on your own, find someone who can help you identify what’s not working? Maybe you’ve been trying to become a leadership style you’re not. How can you leverage the resources at your disposal to turn the situation around? Can you use your environment to help you share the leadership challenge? Do you simply need to tap into your authentic self (strengths)? Do you need to make some adjustments in your team because you’ve simply hired the wrong people?
You’re more in control of influencing the situation than you might have originally thought. So what’s your next move?
After reading “The Secret to Putting Together an Insanely Successful Team”, I wanted to highlight a best practice criteria for building great business teams.
The author Sallie Krawcheck goes on to state; “When I have built business teams in the past, I’ve tried to round out the group by including
- a visionary
- a doer
- a skeptic
- a client advocate
- and a “historian” as part of the team
I have also worked to include diverse backgrounds, whether acquired (time spent abroad, time spent at competitors) or innate (gender, ethnicity).”
What are some of the characteristics of the best teams you’ve ever worked with or created?
Too radical? How about each week or even month? I’m just looking for you to take one step, which I’m sure you’ll repeat and increase in intensity once you’ve reaped the rewards of your first “NO”.
What’s your first “NO” going to be?
- Commitments you can let go
- Appointments that aren’t absolutely essential
- Non-essential to-do items
- Moving quickly
- Doing smaller tasks instead of important tasks
This list was inspired by a post that came across my browser. It was just a simple reminder that you can’t make space for something new, potentially more rewarding, unless you get rid of something old (like a habit). Think back to last week.. and now reflect on the elements of the week that didn’t provide you any added value. What activities just took up space on your calendar, and didn’t provide any significant thrust toward your goals or objectives?
For several weeks, a client of mine kept resisting a “NO” challenge. Finally, he said “NO” to everything that he deemed “unimportant / non-priority” for one week. By the end of the week, his e-mail was overloaded and certain commitments his clients were expecting went unfulfilled. A failed experiment? Absolutely not. After a 15 minute debriefing, what he realized was that too many people within the organization hadn’t stepped up to the plate & assumed delivery responsibilities that were within their competency.
He went on to encourage others to go beyond the perceived limitations they blamed for not delivering more. With my help, he worked with these individuals to develop the solutions that were within their reach to satisfy their customers needs. At the same time, I worked with their leadership to instill more autonomy & empowerment across the board.
By the end of the exercise, without any additional investment, we had;
1) gained 25% of productivity for my client, who could now invest this new found time in more strategic priorities and thus adding greater value to his customers.
2) empowered a series of product managers to go beyond their perceived limitations, giving them greater recognition, satisfaction & motivation to deliver even more.
3) shortened the delivery cycle to final end-users, getting them much needed solutions they required to do their jobs better & faster.
These were only the 3 benefits immediately experienced. As in other cases, there are already additional knock-on affects of that first “NO”. Ironically, this is an example of how a “NO” is delivering multiple “YESes” across an entire organization.
What’s going to be your first “NO”?
- Commitments you can let go
- Appointments that aren’t absolutely essential
- Non-essential to-do items
- Moving quickly
- Doing smaller tasks instead of important tasks
I would love to hear back from you with the results you experience after this experiment. please come back & post your results so that others can continue to learn from your experiences.
Applying the Topgrading methodology could save the US economy $300 million!
As a decade long practitioner, I fully support their case-study.
- There were approximately 51 million people hired across all industries in the U.S. in 2011
- 10% of all hires in 2011 were managers, so let’s assume there were approximately 5.1 million managers hired in the U.S. in 2011
- The average salary of “managers” is approximately $59,000
- 25% of managers hired turn out to be serious mis-hires (a.k.a. “C Players”)
- The cost of mis-hiring a C Player is, very conservatively, five times their pay (5 x $59,000 = $295,000)
- 5 times salary for a sales rep
- 15 times salary for upper mid managers
- 27 times salary for highly paid presidents and CEOs
Just like any other proven process, there are 2 essential non-negotiables you’ll have to ensure in order to reap these rewards.
1) You will have to have a clear company culture (here’s an example) that is actively lived.
2) You’ll have to have an effective leadership that understands the story & will be the gardian of your values & principles.
Leadership is much more than “management”, and it’s awe-inspiring when effectively practiced. These statistics talk about certain key roles, but they are relevant to any role in your organization. Can you really afford to continue to have “C Players” that detract from your potential to scale?
Do you have all of the fundamentals necessary for the skill & will “bullseye”?
Do you have the practice to ladder / drilldown to get the real story and subsequent hidden impacts?
Do you sell sell sell your organization until the candidates can’t wait to come in & get on-boarded? Do you even have an effective on-boarding process?
What are you going to do (differently) next in order to improve your current situation?
If you don’t have some, or any of these, I suggest you contact me for a quick 30m chat that could save your company (and peace of mind).
You manage a crisis.. you manage a dip in sales or performance.. you manage someone who’s not performing.. etc.
If you find that everyone in your company is managing, then who the hell is leading it?
Leading, on the other hand, is an expansive exercise with the goal of getting you beyond a situation. You lead people into the promise land. You lead people to recognize & achieve their untapped potential. You lead an organization into a new market, opportunity and or greater results & performance.
When you’re leading effectively, you’ll find yourself doing a lot less management because people in your organization will be more invested & committed to stepping up to the plate and taking charge. Vested people keep things from having to be managed!
Management, traditionally, is hierarchical. You don’t hear of people “managing” unless they’ve been promoted. On the other hand, leadership is hierarchical-less and can come from anywhere within your organization. You don’t need to promote anyone into a leadership role, you just need to foster leadership as a desired opportunity that can make anyone shine.
A receptionist can lead an initiative that has everyone in the office become more enthusiastic about the workplace environment. Likewise, as a face to your public, they can contribute impact-filled insight based on what they’re hearing when your audience thinks no one is listening.
Anytime I’ve walked into an organization that was in trouble, I first had to managed (damage control) before I could lead (taking them to the next level). In my own life, when I’ve found myself in trouble, I’ve first had to manage my circumstances before I could lead myself into a better state.
Sound familiar? If you spend too much time managing, you’re most likely only acting upon the symptoms and not the root cause. That’s called going in circles! You’ll also find that management is a very lonely place. Leadership, on the other hand, is inspiring and naturally makes people want to join in on the fun & celebrate.
Over the last 3 decades, especially in the US & Europe, economical cycles have not affected some organizations as it did others. Wether colleagues or competitors, those that found themselves prioritizing a leadership culture not only made it easier to get through tough times, it made them better prepared to leverage the first signs of recovery. They always seem to find themselves 3 steps ahead of others who buried their heads in management roles.
All of the popular surveys today scream out that people don’t want to be managed. People work best when they’re inspired. People engage more when they believe in a cause, and therefore chose to be led. People will break their backs, astonishing you with their creativity and conviction to succeed when they have a vested interest.
Why are you still managing when you could be leading? The process is simple! You just need to break the pattern and make different choices. Initially it will take some management, but leadership is your end goal.
What one thing can you do today to get you on the road to leading vs managing? How can you align, motivate & empower your organization to truly scale by taking care of the day-to-day and allowing you to focus on leading them to the promised land?
Whilst reading Seth Godin’s recent recent mini article on the illusion of choice, I was transcended back to my own experiences of tail-spin vs. actively taking one significant step toward a solution that matters.
Making an educated “none of the above” choice far outweighs a multitude of decisions that run people in circles & provide no real different result as a consequence.
Making a choice often means admitting we don’t have the answer & seeking help where we haven’t before. Making a choice can be uncomfortable, but I can guarantee it’s an opportunity for growth. Making a choice brings along responsibility and mandates follow-through.
In order to make a rewarding choice we must recognize our existing circumstances and find the root cause of what’s gotten us here. Only then can we say “none of the above” and make a choice to head in a different direction. The saying goes “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.”
What choices are you going to make today that are different from what you’ve done in the past? What hasn’t worked for you (to the degree that you wanted) so far? And how will the next different choice break a recognizable pattern, that instead delivers a different results moving you in the direction you need to be?
The right question is not, “is the path perfect?”.. but rather “is this somewhere I’d like to go?” Because it’s significantly easier to cross a gap when you have a direction and momentum. – Seth Godin’s “life is full of holes”
It’s not easy to leave your comfort zone, but the rewards that come with the learnings are priceless. That’s why I call that space just outside of your comfort zone.. the learning zone. That’s where you learn the most about yourself, what you truly stand for, and what you’re all about.
If you’re unwilling to look inward or backward in reflection to recognize what needs to be changed.. if you’re unwilling to look beyond the hurdle or chasm just ahead of you and find strength in the reason why you must make that leap of faith.. if you’re not ready to embrace the learning zone as a necessary tool to make you better & stronger.. then you’re not really willing to do what’s necessary to make your dreams & ambitions a reality.
Where is it that you want to go? What’s the purpose behind your climb? What’s the support network you’ve engaged to get you there? How have you made your journey relevant to theirs? What are the most important 3 to 5 things that you need to nail in order to be successful? These are only the first questions you should be asking yourself well before you find that next chasm.
And always remember.. it’s significantly easier to cross a gap when you have a direction and momentum.
What’s driving your direction and momentum these days? How are you providing the right direction and momentum to your support team?
Let that sink in for a few seconds…
“Because the sooner we know we’re not connecting, the sooner we can fix it.” That comes from Seth Godin’s most recent article on “communication”. It’s masterful in it’s simplicity!
The key to scaling an organization ends at relevance and starts with communication. The faster you can communicate to your audience how what you need done is relevant to them and their success, the faster you will get the buy-in, commitment, quality & results you require to achieve your goals.
It’s due this very same logic that makes the One Page Practice so effective in getting people literally on the same page, rowing in unisone in the the right direction, and getting the right results when you most need them.
How are you ensuring you’ve got the most effective and efficient communication protocols in your organization?
As Leigh Branham states in his book; The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave, “employee turnover is not an event.. it is a process of disengagement that can take days, weeks, months or even years until the actual decision to leave occurs”. His four fundamental human needs of trust, hope, sense of worth and competence (when lacking) that drive employee disengage and thinking about leaving come straight from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Another latest substantiation that money is NOT an intrinsic motivator can be found on Dan Ariely’s TED Talk: What makes us feel good about our work.
Both of these examples can be immediately traced back to either poor leadership, and or leadership development, or the company was a wrong match to begin with. The latter is resolved when and if the company in question published, communicated & actively lived it’s core ideology.
Seeing as neither people nor organizations change their behaviors unless the pain becomes so great that there is no other choice, I’d love to hear what change you’re going to implement in your behavior as a leader, including influencing your organization’s current behavior. Please comment below..