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11.26.14

Learn or Die

Learn or Die
Our ability (and willingness) to learn impacts our personal and business growth, operational excellence, and our capacity to innovate. More than ever, it truly is learn or die.

Learning is impacted by our “reflexive ways of thinking, the rigidity of our mental models, and the strength of our ego defense systems.” So to a large degree is means overcoming our humanness.

We prefer to validate what we already know rather than look at evidence to the contrary. By and large, that’s a function of our ego. “In many cases, learning comes from mistakes or failures or other people disagreeing with us, which that means in order to learn, we often have to admit that we are wrong.” The author admits that “To become a better learner, I had to quiet my ego.” As a result he also became a better thinker and leader.

Negative thinking is toxic to learning. “In order to maximize our learning we have to be sensitive to and manage our emotions.” As a leader you need to be concerned about the environment of the people you lead.

“The litmus test of a learning organization is being receptive to information that goes against the established way and a tolerance for failure and mistakes.” To accomplish this not only should the environment be positive, but people need to be treated with respect, dignity and trust, mistakes should not be characterized as “personal failures but as the result of bad learning systems or too little effort,” people should also believe that they have some control over their actions, have a sense of self-efficacy and contribution.

Hess writes that “The U.S. Army Special Forces believes that adaptability—learning—is predicated on self-efficacy, resiliency, open-mindedness, mastery achievement motivation, and tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty.”

Too often we sabotage our own learning by our need to be right. We need to be able to admit when we are wrong and quite frankly accept the “magnitude of our ignorance.” “Real learning, in most cases, requires us to change what we believe, and humble inquiry [open-mindedness with no predetermined or hidden agenda], helps us do that.”

Because we have difficulty seeing ourselves and examining our own assumptions, “learning is a team sport.” If we want to learn, we “must engage in effective learning conversations.” Learning conversations are conversations where we feel safe in disclosing ourselves to others. They bring about deliberate, nonjudgmental, non-defensive open-minded exchange. We learn from each other.

A particularly fascinating and eye-opening chapter is on Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world. Ray Dalio and Bridgewater got onto Hess’ radar after Dalio published his Principles in 2010. (It is a 123 page compendium of Dalio’s beliefs and processes that he believes will lead to a successful life and business that is well worth the read.)

The culture at Bridgewater may seem extreme to some but there is no doubt that they are serious about growth and learning.
As Ray sees it, achieving one’s goals is more likely to occur if one strives to be an independent thinker by learning. That, in turn, requires one to be honest about one’s strengths and weaknesses and to deal directly with one’s weaknesses by accepting them, seeking and being open to feedback, and creating workarounds that mitigate one’s weaknesses.
At Bridgewater everyone knows everyone else’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s part of their company-wide feedback loop. It’s based on truth which Ray believes “is the essential foundation for producing good outcomes.” “Searching for the truth and confronting one’s personal weaknesses in a radically transparent environment builds personal relationships.”

At Bridgewater they are just as concerned about how one arrives at an answer as they do the answer itself. They encourage people to be independent thinkers. A former Navy SEAL came to work at Bridgewater because he said the two cultures overlapped. “He said both organizations focus on learning, adaptation, recruiting high caliber people, and teaching them to be better thinkers and to relentlessly pursue constant improvement.”

Bridgewater has created a series of tools for use in evaluating employees and for employees to manage their personal growth” the Dot Collector and Dot Connector, Issues Log and Issue Log Diagnosis Card, Pain Button and Baseball Card.

With the Dot Collector allows anyone to give any other employee performance feedback. The Dot Connector is a database of feedback every employee has received from anyone. The data is grouped according to a list of seventy-seven attributes and then summarized to give each employee a picture of his or her feedback by strengths and weaknesses and by attributes.

The Pain Button app is based on Ray’s formula: Pain + Reflection = Progress. “The purpose of the pain app is for one to write down and reflect on the ‘pains’ one is experiencing in order to understand what’s causing them and to deal with those causes effectively.”

Ray himself is included in the process and is subject to evaluation by anyone in the company. Frankly, I have never read about an organization with such radical transparency. Hess says that in all of his research of over 100 high-performance companies over the past ten years, Bridgewater is the only business organization he has found that “has squarely faced our ‘humanness.’”

Learn or Die is a book everyone who is serious about learning and growth—personally or organizationally—should read. If you thought you were serious about it, Learn or Die will take you to a whole new level with tools, case studies, and insights that will challenge your commitment to learning.

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Learn or Die sets out to use the science of learning to answer two important questions: How does one become a better and faster learner? and second, How does none build a better team or organization that continuous learns better and faster than the competition? Being smart is really about knowing how to learn. This book will show you how.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:28 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Education , Human Resources , Learning

08.29.14

A Road Map for Young Adults

It all began with an e-mail from his daughter, Avery, with the subject line: "Is this okay to send?"

Avery had gotten her first post-college job as an assistant to the co-executive producer to a new network daytime TV talk show. She wanted to ask her new boss for a later start date so she would have more time to “tie up loose ends.”

The Bigs
It was then her Dad, Ben Carpenter, realized that today’s young people don’t really know what is expected of them in the real world—the “big leagues”. They didn’t know how the working world actually worked.

So Carpenter sat down to write The Bigs. It is advice for recent college graduates and young professionals of course, but really for anyone working in the Bigs about the kinds of issues they will encounter. The book is not just a how-to book of bullet points, but it is filled with stories from Carpenter's own life that give the advice credibility and context. They are well worth reading to help you get your bearings.

Not all of the advice is new but it is the “uncommon sense” we all need to get along and influence the people around us in a positive way. Consider these thoughts:

• It is ironic this issue tripped me up so badly because I believe my normally rigorous adherence to my Golden Rule was a major reason, from early on, I was viewed as a leader at Greenwich Capital. The lesson is … always follow the Golden Rule and never say anything negative about anybody in your company. To do otherwise is unprofessional, unnecessary, and more often than not will come back to haunt you.

• Take responsibility for all mistakes you make and, if you are a competent and valued employee, when you do take responsibility it will be viewed as a sign of strength, not weakness, by your co-workers.

• Understand that how your boss views you will be largely a function of how your peers and subordinates see you.

• Whatever qualities you look for in a spouse, please include “a happy person” at or near the top of your list.

• While you are looking towards the future, and the goals you hope to accomplish, you need to appreciate the blessings you have today. Just like choosing to be happy, you can choose to appreciate what you have. If I could give one gift to those I love the most, it would be for them to always appreciate what they have.

• Leave you baggage at home. The insecurities and resentments from your childhood will just slow you down or, in some cases, sabotage your plans entirely. You are now a full grown man or woman and it is time to sand up, take responsibility, and start building the life you want to live. You may not yet have had a shock dramatic enough to make you drop your childhood baggage. However, you need to appreciate how stunningly different the real world is from your previous life as a student and seize this moment to make a fresh start.

• Choosing a career you can do well, rather than doing what you want, might sound unappealing, but it isn’t. The reason is the satisfaction you get from being good at your job. From my personal experiences, as well as observing family, friends, and co-workers, I know most professionals are most happy doing what they are good at.

• The most important advice I can give you about how to get a great job is to arrange for informational interviews with junior staff at a company before you have a job interview.

• In any good-sized company or department there should be no need to reinvent the wheel. Imitate the actions of the star employees and then use your creativity and talents to perform even better.

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The Bigs provides samples of letters to people you need to network with, questions to ask and how to find people to add to your network and thank-you letters to anyone you interviewed with along the way once you land your first job. He includes advice on what to do during each year of your college career, advice on internships, how to manage your finances, and what to say during interviews. Recommended for High School juniors and beyond. Start early.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:39 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources

11.18.13

What Does it Mean to Follow Your Passion?

We’ve all heard that we should “follow your passion” or “find the right job and you’ll never work a day in your life.” We tend to take this advice to mean that when we get what we want, then we will find meaning and happiness. The problem with this “I-am-the-center-of-the-universe” mind-set is that we are approaching the problem in the wrong way says Todd Henry, author of Die Empty. We will ultimately spend our life chasing the next buzz when things get dull.

Henry is not suggesting that we shouldn’t follow our passion, but that we should get it straight exactly what we are talking about. It doesn’t mean to follow our whims.

There are two ways of looking at the world—give and get. Give is sustainable; get is not. The surest way to build a meaningful life is to approach everything you do from the standpoint of “What can I give?” The reason we struggle with following our passion is that we think of it as “What can I get?” Henry explains the issue eloquently:
“Passion” has its roots in the Latin word pati, which means “to suffer or endure.” Therefore, at the root of passion is suffering. This is a far cry from the way we casually toss around the word in our day-to-day conversations. Instead of asking, “What would bring me enjoyment?” which is how many people think about following their passion, we should instead ask “What work am I willing to suffer for today?

Great work requires suffering for something beyond yourself. It’s created when you bend your life around a mission and spend yourself on something you deem worthy of your best effort.
Henry really gets to the heart of the matter. What he's talking about requires some concerted effort, vigilance, and courage to maintain this orientation as we go about our business. Otherwise it is easy to slip into the activities that only bring us comfort rather than meaning and purpose. Henry suggests sources to find what he terms “productive passion, the sort of passion that motivates you and is beneficial to others.” The focus is on “Where can I serve?”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:10 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources

10.24.13

How to Discover Your What

Youtr WHAT
Your WHAT is the “single most crucial element of your life that needs to be identified, defined, and fulfilled,” says Steve Olsher in What is Your What? Here’s why:

Your unfulfilled WHAT will absolutely affect you in a variety of unexpected ways. It could be the source of your high blood pressure, the reason you don’t feel “good enough,” the cause of your general sense of loathing when you wake up, or the impetus behind your efforts at self-sabotage.

It should be noted here that finding your what is not a surefire way to fame and riches—or gainful employment for that matter. And while each person is unique, many others possess similar abilities and may fill a need in the marketplace better than you do. It takes work. At the same time, some people chose to work at jobs that do not fulfill or satisfy their what because it fills a purpose or a value that they consider to be greater than their own personal needs. Perhaps that is their what. That said, What is Your What? will help you get to gain control over your life rather than letting it happen haphazardly.

What is Your What? is a self-awareness book to help you connect with who you really are. What you do from there is your choice. Olsher has developed a three-step process to help you uncover and reconnect with your natural strengths, identify the vehicle you’ll leverage to share your gifts with the world and the specific audiences who’ll benefit most from your gifts.

“As we endure life’s hardships, we tend to lose touch with our inner greatness. We start to make distasteful compromises, settle for less, and become people different from our deepest selves.” Becoming aware of how you were knocked down is the first step in ascending to your most natural state of being.

Olsher bases his program on seven principles:

1. Recognize YaNo Moments. These are those moments when you are faced with a choice. Some are big; some are small. “Any time you undertake an activity without evaluating the impact your choice will have on your life, you run the risk of compromising your state of mind. The key to regaining control of your life is to make deliberate choices with an understanding of the consequences.”

2. Reclaim the Canyon. Establish space between life as it happens and your reaction to those events.

3. The Sufficiency Theory. Attain satisfaction, peace, and contentment by minimizing material desires and the effect of outside influences. Olsher suggests that we stop drawing lines in the sand. “Happiness is not a destination that can be reached by attaining select milestones. Shift your approach from waiting for certain things to happen in order to feel a certain way to feeling and acting that way now. Surprisingly often, this will spur the results you desire to happen.”

4. Retrain Your Brain. “Anything from your past that you choose to relive becomes a part of your identity. Be careful about which memories you commit to.”

5. Incorporate Jack Welch’s successful business practices into your behavior. Specifically, become highly focused on who you are, what you stand for, and what your purpose is; identify the Top 20 Percent, Vital 70 Percent, and Bottom 10 Percent for each area of your life; achieve Six Sigma in all key aspects of your life and strive to accept nothing less than your best.

6. The Not-So-Golden Rule. Eliminate fear or expectation as a motive for your actions. Your motive does matter. Act out of love, without the expectation of anything in return.

7. The Slow Death of Not Being the Star. Shift your focus away from time-consuming distractions and toward the pursuit of your personal goals. Keep track of your activities for a week. “Chances are you’ll find that what you’ve been thinking of as relaxing ‘downtime’ is actually the dominant force in your life, devouring months and years you can never get back.”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:56 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Personal Development

09.16.13

Why We Need Strangers

Strangers
Part of the reason we get stuck and part of the reason we lack the feedback we need is that we are surrounded by the familiar. The familiar that continuously reminds us that we are doing the best we can and that we are doing it right. We are mired in the familiar when what we need is the strange.

We need strangers. “These strangers,” writes Alan Gregerman in The Necessity of Strangers, “whom we quickly choose to ignore or form an opinion about, are the people who force us out of our comfort zones and challenge us to question the knowledge, belief, and habits we hold dear.”

Gregerman asks, “What if strangers are actually, in many ways, more important than friends?” Interesting question.

There are two issues here. “First, most of us just don’t have enough friends or a diverse enough set of them to give us the breadth of insight and perspectives we need to continually stretch our thinking and to grow. And second, the exact reasons why we count on friends are the same reasons that their input may not be ideal for our efforts to stretch and grow.”

Maybe it’s not who you know but who you could know that will determine your success and growth.

While we tend to be adverse to outsider's thinking, our real aversions, says Gregerman, “should be to see our own thinking as the only way to move forward. The real trick is to “pick the right strangers with ties to what we hope to accomplish and then ask them the right questions.”

Gregerman suggests that 99% of all new ideas are based on an idea or practice that someone or something else has already had.

New employees are a great source of fresh ideas, but we tend to quickly shape them into the way we do things. “They arrive filled with different ideas and fresh perspectives based on a new and different set of work and life experiences—ideas, perspectives, and experiences that might actually make us more efficient, effective, innovative, customer-focused, and successful if we were willing to listen.”

If we don’t focus on the strange but instead focus on the different that we could tap into, we might grow in ways we never imagined. “Everyone matters. And that’s an idea that leaders must convey.”

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The Necessity of Strangers is an excellent analysis on why we need to seek out the new and different. Gregerman suggests ways we might do this on a daily basis. When it comes to hiring, collaboration, and managing, most organizations reward “group think” in the name of strengthening their culture. When in fact, the opposite is what unlocks potential and leads to breakthrough ideas.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:42 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Change , Creativity & Innovation , Human Resources , Leadership

07.03.13

The 5 Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace and What You Can Do About It

Reality
Cy Wakeman does an excellent job of helping us to peel away the layers of rationalizations and excuses we create to avoid facing reality. First she did it with Reality-Based Leadership and now with Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace.

Too often work seems harder than it should be. We can feel helpless in dealing with the realities of "today's" workplace. That said, every time period seems unparalleled in all of history to those going through it. However, people have always struggled with these issues: doing more with less; reduced hours, benefits, or pay; increased work hours; underappreciated. The problem is, as Wakeman puts it, "no one is born accountable self-reliant, self-mastered, and resilient, yet these are the qualities that count, the ones that will fill you with confidence and afford you the chance to chose your destiny, no matter what your field of endeavor." The trick is learning to see your circumstances differently.

Wakeman has put this book together to help you do just that. If you have been playing the victim for a substantial period of time, her ideas will seem impossible, but they are the only thing that will work.
I am here to tell you: You are not a cog in a machine — far from it. You have more control than you think. That’s the good news. The bad news is, you and you alone are causing your own suffering. What most of you have lost touch with is that it isn’t your reality that is causing your pain and frustration. It’s the worn-out methods, techniques, and mind-sets with which you are approaching your reality. I’m here to tell you that your suffering is optional. I can help you get back on track so you can find bliss in your work again, while becoming more valuable to your organization than ever before.
She has created some pretty straightforward, brief assessments to determine your current performance and your future potential. Your value, plain and simple is based on "the value you bring to your organization, the market value of your work, and the return on investment that you deliver, both economically and emotionally, now and into the future." You must be clear about the value you bring to your organization. The three factors that make up your value:

YOUR VALUE = Current Performance + Future Potential - (3 x Emotional Expensiveness)

The chapter on Your Emotional Expensiveness is worth reading twice. It's your drama factor. "It is the single most important factor in the New Value Equation, the one that determines whether our Performance and Potential and anything meaningful to the bottom line, and whether others feel that working with us is worth the effort." Wakeman lists 15 clues to your emotional expensiveness factor. Among them are:

You may be Emotionally Expensive if …
  • You come to work in a bad mood. Ever.
  • You share a lot of personal information with coworkers, and the boundary between your public life and private life is very permeable.
  • You complain a lot or judge others.
  • You tend to focus in what you need rather than what you have.
  • You assume the worst of others' motivations.
  • When you perform well, you want a medal for it.
Wakeman presents the Five Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace:

1. Your level of accountability determines your level of happiness. Personally accountable people bring their own motivation and engagement to everything they do. Be one of those people, and you will ensure your job security—or that your résumé goes to the top of the stack.

2. Suffering is optional … so ditch the drama. (Wakeman estimates that the average person spends two hours each day in drama—complaining, creating stories, and arguing with reality.) Your circumstances are what they are, but your reaction to them is up to you.
Even if you don't share your drama with others, there is no such thing as a throwaway thought. Most thoughts lead in some way to an action—or lack of action….Your thinking manifests itself in a way that affects everyone around you and the way they see you.

If you remain in your lane, tending to your own responsibilities in the present, you will seldom be stressed. You'll be clear, capable, and effective. Stress enters the picture when you leave your lane to meddle in other people's business, judging or trying to control them.

Learn to see stress as a sign—not that the world is going to hell in a handbasket, but that you are not currently living in reality and need to inquire on your thinking.
3. Buy-in is not optional. To succeed, your buy-in is not optional, and action, not opinion, adds value. The most valuable people say "yes" the most often. If a decision has been made, opinions are no longer welcome.

4. Say “yes” to what’s next. Your success will not be dependent on everything staying the same, but on your readiness for what's next.

5. You will always have extenuating circumstances. Succeed anyway. That which is missing from this situation is something I am not giving. When you find something missing (especially—but not limited to—intangibles, like honesty, generosity, humor, sensitivity, or gratitude) don't dwell on what other people "should" be doing or giving.

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More down-to-earth straight talk from Cy Wakeman about personal responsibility and what it takes to succeed. Cuts through the clutter and gets to the core issues. Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace is a road map for everyone on how to be a valuable member of any organization.

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Of Related Interest:
  The Reality-Based Leader’s Manifesto

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:22 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Personal Development

06.26.13

Seven Disciplines that Make Leadership Development Stick

Leadership Sustainability
Leaders don't always finish well or finish what they start. Leadership sustainability isn't easy. Given the fact that we all know leaders that haven't finished well, it's surprising how many of us have no plan in place to consciously and specifically improve our leadership abilities. Most of the time we wing it.

Leadership sustainability is about the commitment to change and growth that is consistent with shifting requirements, not just individually but for the organization as a whole. In Leadership Sustainability, authors Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood have defined seven leadership practices that instill sustainability. It begins with "recognition that what matters most is the impact of the leader's actions on others—not just the actions themselves or the rationale behind them." Yet that's not something that we often feel we have time to consider. Our leadership is experienced in our actions and not our intentions.

In brief, the seven disciplines to incorporate into your leadership plan to help make your best intentions stick are:

Simplicity. Focus on what matters most. Tells stories with impact. Leadership sustainability requires that we find simplicity in the face of complexity and replace concept clutter with simple resolve. It entails prioritizing on the behaviors that matter most.

Time. Manage your calendar to reflect your priorities. Put desired behaviors into your calendar. Employees see what leaders do more than listen to what they say. Leadership sustainability shows up in who we spend time with, what issues we spend time on, where we spend our time, and how we spend our time. Recognize routines and modify as necessary.

Accountability. Take personal responsibility for doing what you say you will do and hold others accountable as well. "We see too many leadership points of view that are more rhetorical than resolve, more aspiration than action, and more hopeful than real. Leadership wish lists need to be replaced with leadership vows." Be consistent with personal values and brand.

Resources. Leaders dedicate resources in order to support their desired changes with coaching and infrastructure. Use a coach. Get coaching and institutional support to become a better leader. "Leaders acting alone, even with great desire and good intentions, are unlikely to sustain their desired changes."

Tracking. Move from general to specific measures. Measure what's important and not what's easy. Tie to consequences. Unless desired leadership behaviors and changes are operationalized, quantified, and tracked, they are nice to do, but not likely to be done.

Melioration. Leadership sustainability requires that leaders master the principles of learning: to experiment frequently, to reflect always, to become resilient, to face failure, to not be calloused to success, and to improvise continually.

Emotion. Know why you lead. Connect change with personal and organizational values. Recognize your impact on others. Celebrate success. "Some leaders work to hide their feelings and avoid becoming too personal with others. These leaders end up distancing and isolating themselves. Leaders who are emotionally vulnerable and transparent will be more likely to sustain change."

The authors have provided videos, tools and assessments on their web site to help you to achieve leadership sustainability.

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Leadership Sustainability is about how to make your leadership development efforts stick.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:05 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Leadership Development

04.18.13

Reinventing You – Becoming the Person You Were Meant to Be

Leadership
It’s not uncommon to think of personal reinvention as being somewhat contrived or manipulative. But reinventing you isn’t about becoming what you are not, but more of who you are. In Reinventing You, Dorie Clark says “it’s about taking control of your life and living strategically. Who do you want to be? And what do you need to get there?” It’s about making sure that our personal brands reflect the reality of our lives (Facebook notwithstanding).

KNOW YOURSELF

Clark takes you through the whole process, beginning with, of course, starting where you are. This is a vital step and not to be glossed over because many of us don’t know where we are starting. We need you understand our reputation and why it is what it is. She offers ways to do this, questions to ask and how to conduct your own 360 interview—determining what those around you think about you. Very valuable material.

Next you need to research your next move or future destination and test drive it. (Did you know that there is a company that allows you to test-drive over 125 new careers to see if they are a fit?)

Once you have determined where you need to be, it is important to develop the skills you need. Clark explains how to do this and when to go back to school and when not to, and finding a mentor (someone who embodies what you’d like to develop and the person you’d like to become).

LEVERAGE YOUR POINTS OF DIFFERENCE

Rebranding yourself publicly means understanding first, what is unique about you. It may not be what you think. Often it's the mindsets and thinking that proved valuable in your current situation may differentiate you in a completely unrelated field. The examples of people that Clark provides, who have done just that, are very helpful in getting you to see your unique contribution.

From that you can build your narrative that pulls together the underlying themes that connect your professional experiences in a way that is obvious to others.

THE GAP

There is a time lag–a gap–between fully inhabiting the “old you” and the “new you.” Clark writes that the “hardest part of making a transition can be bridging the gap between how others used to perceive you (and how you perceive yourself) and how you’d like to be seen moving forward.” She say the only solution is to fake it till you make it.

I’m sure that we have all experienced this dynamic when making any personal change. When no one readily accepts the nice person you have finally become, it’s easy to give it up and resort to the old habits of behavior. The answer is to keep projecting the new behavior until you’re comfortable with it and others begin to accept it as the new “normal.” Your commitment to the new you will eventually win people over.

Clark adds, “You need to be hyperaware of what you’re doing and make sure you’re signaling explicitly to the outside world what you’re trying to build.” This is where doing the homework in step one—know yourself—will help you to have the fortitude to press on.

Clark explains how to get the word out and how to prove your worth. She reminds us that rebranding is a process and not a one-time activity. It is important to “keep monitoring your reputation to ensure you’re being perceived by others the way you’d like.” This is a well done and thoughtful book that is valuable not just for rebranding yourself but also for managing your reputation in general.

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Reputation management is not as straight-forward as it once was. The behavior is the same, the tools are different. In addition, says Dorie Clark, it’s almost certain that at some point you’ll need to reinvent yourself professionally—and ensure that others recognize the powerful contribution you can make.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:28 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Personal Development

03.18.13

Fred 2.0 – Leadership in Action

You are no doubt familiar with Fred, first introduced to us in The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn. Fred exemplified an attitude of exceptional service delivered consistently with creativity and passion in a way that values other people.

Leadership
Now Fred 2.0 brings us fresh insights, deeper understanding and wider application of the Fred Principles—and an update on the life of the real Fred Shea.

Fred 2.0 is about a specific way of approaching life and business. It’s an attitude that extends far beyond customer service. It comes from within and says I will do extraordinary things because that’s who I am. It’s not a feeling—it’s who you are. It is not dependent on the performance of anyone else.

Why Would You Live this Way?

Sanborn says it’s because being a Fred enriches others, expands you, puts more life into your living, breaks the bonds of self-absorption, makes you more employable, offers you a better way to live, creates a positive influence, and is more fun.

“Creativity is an essential ingredient in delivering extraordinary results,” writes Sanborn. Being creative is doing something different that adds value. More often than not, it’s the little things we notice that can be done better. This applies not only to the “things” we do, but also to our relationships; how we respond and interact to those around us.

Sanborn shows very specifically how to build better relationships, elevate the experience for those we come into contact with, how to build a team of Freds and how to instill the Fred approach in your kids philosophy of life.

The Fred Philosophy is Good Leadership

The Fred philosophy is ultimately what good leadership is all about. It’s a battle against mediocrity says Sanborn.
The first job of leadership is to help people see their significance. Leaders recognize that those who feel insignificant rarely make significant contributions. An effective leader is able to show people that they are significant in ways they may not realize.
The Fred philosophy means:

• Leading by example
• Starting with what’s right instead of what’s wrong
• Encouraging people to try
• Asking for and sharing good ideas
• Removing barriers and obstacles
• Being a champion of those around you
• Giving people the freedom they need
• Teaching the Fred philosophy consistently
• Recognizing and rewarding
• Make the process enjoyable

“It’s our choice whether we’ll use our time, effort, and talents to turn ordinary work into something extraordinary.” writes Sanborn. It begins as always, with integrity. If you value it, those around you will too.

Fred 2.0 will show you the thinking behind extraordinary leadership and apply it in every area of your life. “When you know what is important to you in your life and work, you should apportion your talents and efforts so you can give the best you have to those things.” Love what you do and love the people you do it with.

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Fred 2.0 makes a significant contribution to focusing our minds on what leadership is all about. By living it and sharing it you can build a team of Freds in your organization, community and family.

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SPECIAL OFFER: Visit Mark Sanborn's Fred 2.0 web site now to learn more and gain instant access to a Fred 2.0 “EXTRAordinary Results” Resource Kit, free with purchase of Fred 2.0.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:17 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | General Business , Human Resources , Leadership Development , Personal Development

02.13.13

Rebooting Work: How to Make Work— Work for You

Rebooting Work
Rebooting Work by Silicon Valley legend Maynard Webb and Carlye Adler is a sensible look at the changing nature of the workplace and how you can use emerging technologies to take charge of your career. To become a CEO of your own destiny.

Less than half of Americans (47 percent) are satisfied with their work. Companies are changing too. They can no longer provide the safety nets that were expected in the last century. Employees must become more self-reliant. That of course means a workplace that rewards people for their performance rather than their time in. An organization that supports entitlement over results, writes Webb, “can limit growth and opportunity.”

Giving someone a leg-up is one thing, entitlement has a permanence to it that both hinders employees and harms companies and neither performs up to their maximum potential.

Webb believes that technology presents us with an opportunity. It has the power to enable people to do something about their dissatisfaction with work and move on to careers that can provide both fulfillment and financial security. “Understanding and embracing today’s technological trends is the fastest way to travel to the career of your dreams.

Rebooting WorkWebb presents us with four ways of looking at work. We may move from frame to frame but we tend to operate in one. They are Company Man or Woman, CEO of Your Own Destiny, Disenchanted Employee, and Aspiring Entrepreneur. Where we should all be headed, states Webb, is to the mindset of the CEO of Your Own Destiny. We are living in the age of the entrepreneur.
Prior to the Civil War, most Americans worked in agriculture or as small merchants or tradesmen. Success was the result of self-direction, self-motivation, and self determination. In a way, everyone was self-made.

The Industrial Revolution brought opportunities to work outside the home, reversing the entrepreneurial spirit and giving rise to the paternalistic company, but now the Age of Entrepreneurship is bringing it back.
Today personal and professional development is on the employee. It “requires you to be relevant every day and to be voted on to the team you want to play with.” But with this freedom come accountability. In an entrepreneurial age it is more important than ever that you think like a leader—no matter where or at what level you work.

As research indicates, many people find themselves in the Disenchanted Employee frame: you are waiting to be discovered or recognized, you don’t understand why others don’t see how good you really are, your career isn’t going as expected, and you believe your circumstances are someone else’s fault.

This kind of thinking is not just unproductive, it feeds on itself and keeps you just where you don’t want to be. One of the most important things you can do is to get a mentor; someone to help you see the reality of your situation and offer constructive advice to get you moving again. Webb also offers these ideas:
  1. Make sure you do something every day to show others you deserve to be a part of their team.
  2. Have a great attitude. You might be brilliant, but if you are hard to manage, it’s easy to find someone else.
  3. Work for a higher purpose. Your job has more impact than just making money.
  4. Pick your battles. Fight only about things that are really important and that will move the needle.
  5. Don’t be afraid of change.
  6. Be brutally honest with yourself. Know your strengths and weaknesses. It does you no good to kid yourself here.
  7. Don’t confuse action with traction. Focus on outcomes, not face time.
  8. Focus on expanding your sphere of influence; it will give you the opportunity to have an impact over more areas.
  9. Take time to sit back and reflect on where you are and where you want to be. Make time for a “compass check.”
  10. Be brave and be bold. Most things worth doing are hard.
Technology is pushing flexibility in the workplace. Technology doesn’t replace the need for human contact but it can make work more efficient and face time more rewarding. It provides the opportunity to create how you do your work in new ways if you are willing to perform. Outcomes become more important than ever. If you give more you will receive more.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:55 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | General Business , Human Resources , Marketing , Personal Development

01.08.13

Antifragile or How We Become Fragile

Leadership
In Antifragile, Nassim Nicholas Taleb reports on things that are fragile and things that are antifragile and how they became that way.

Taleb says antifragile isn’t resilience given his narrow definition of it. It’s more. Resilience survives. Things that are antifragile don’t just survive, they get better with random event and shocks. The opposite is fragile. Though often unintentionally, we tend to make things fragile.
We have been fragilizing the economy, our health, political life, education, almost everything … by suppressing randomness and volatility. … Complex systems are weakened, even killed, when deprived of stressors. Much of our modern, structured, world has been harming us with top-down policies and contraptions which do precisely this: an insult to the anitifragility of systems.

This is the tragedy of modernity: as with neurotically overprotective parents, those trying to help are often hurting us the most.
By trying to make things simple and linear we run the risk of underestimating randomness and its role in everything. And more importantly, we fail then to benefit from them. Thus while we may be resilient or robust, we are not antifragile. “You only get a measure of order and control when you embrace randomness,” says Taleb.

Our character should be antifragile. Random events should serve to make you better than before. Rules are fragile. Principles are resilient. Virtue is antifragile. Classroom learning is fragile. Real life and experiential knowledge are resilient. Real life and a library are antifragile.

Success actually makes us fragile. We need to be antifragile to survive it.

“When you are fragile, you depend on things following the exact planned course, with as little deviation as possible—for deviations are more harmful than helpful.” Mistakes and successes—especially those of others—give us a lot of information. If we can learn from them, they can make us antifragile. Taleb writes:
My characterization of a loser is someone who, after making a mistake, doesn’t introspect, doesn’t exploit it, feels embarrassed and defensive rather than enriched with a new piece of information, and tries to explain why he made the mistake rather than moving on. These types often consider themselves the “victims” of some large plot, a bad boss, or bad weather.
Randomness is not a bad thing. We make our organizations fragile when we are overprotective; when we try to iron out all of the variations and wrinkles that are a part of life. The longer we go without randomness, without variations, without setbacks, the worse the consequences when the unpredictable occurs. “Preventing noise makes the problem worse in the long run.” Yet we still think we benefit from protecting people and organizations from volatility—from life. It’s a practice with unintended yet harmful side effects. A fact of life: “no stability without volatility.” A little confusion can lead to teachable moments, growth and stability.

Antifragile is an interesting and at times entertaining read. Taleb borrows from all disciplines to explain “how to live in a world we don’t understand or, rather, how not to be afraid to work with things we patently don’t understand, and, more principally, in what manner we should work with these.”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:00 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | General Business , Human Resources , Learning

12.07.12

Do Leaders Really Matter?

Leadership
Are individual leaders truly responsible for the end result, or do they just happen to be there—for better or worse? asks Gautam Mukunda in Indispensible. To be sure, Lincoln and Churchill have mattered, but does every leader matter?

Of course, every leader matters to someone. But here Mukunda is talking about leaders who matter on a larger scale—those that matter to all of us. What would have happened if someone else had filled the same role. “Leader impact can best be thought of as the marginal difference between what actually happened and what would have happened if the most likely alternative leader had come to power….Will he or she make significantly different choices than the other plausible candidates.”

It gets down to how we choose our leaders and how we advance people through an organization. This process, Mukunda calls the Leader Filtration Process (LFP). A given LFP will filter candidates through a process designed to find those who conform to a specific value system—a Modal or standard leader. Occasionally an Extreme candidate will slip through. Many organizations weed out potential Extremes. The military’s promotion system is an example of a tight filtration process. At the other extreme, entrepreneurship is a very loose process—you become an entrepreneur just by deciding to do it.

EXTREME LEADERS

A leader that has bypassed an LFP is likely to be an Extreme. Charisma helps leaders bypass filtration. “Family connections, personal wealth, and celebrity, for example, all smooth the path to power without subjecting candidates to the risk of being Filtered out by the LFP.”

Modal leaders can be highly successful under normal conditions. They are good at maintaining the status quo. I would associate management with Modal leaders. Extremes, on the other hand, are all about innovation. “Extreme leaders will be much more likely to change the goals their organization or state is pursuing and to adopt means to achieve those goals that other leaders would not—that’s why they have such marked impact compared with other Modals.”

If you are stuck, an Extreme leader may be just what you need. But while Extremes deviate—and that may be a good thing—they are “far more likely than Modals to have dramatic successes and failures.”

“Filtration is supposed to prevent leaders with undesirable characteristics from gaining power.” This is quite understandable. However, “many of those undesirable traits aren’t purely negative—in the right situation, they can be a huge asset.”

What helps make an Extreme great is when they couple their decisions with humility. “The Extreme leader does what others would not do, even when others advise him or her against it. To make this sort of choice when the stakes are high takes enormous confidence. Sometimes, however, the Extreme’s advisers will be right. When that is true, the great Extreme leader will have the humility to defer to their judgment. It is this almost paradoxical combination of self-confidence and humility that marks the transcendentaly great leader.”

Mukunda’s Leader Filtration Theory has implications as to how and when we choose certain types of leaders to lead us. He recommends that if you are a Filtered leader that you bring a few Extremes into your inner circle.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:11 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | General Business , Government , Human Resources , Management

11.05.12

Next Time You’re in a Slump, Try Stillpower

Leadership
When our performance is in a slump or we get stuck, we tend to become anxious and reach for any quick fix or technique that promises to get us out of it. We apply more effort, focus, and willpower. And when all of that doesn’t work, we get even more anxious and our performance heads even further south.

Instead, when we get stuck we need to rely on Stillpower, not willpower says Garret Kramer. Stillpower is the ability to return to a clear mindset after we get into a muddled mental state—a low state of mind. It’s knowing that “all sentiments are temporary since they originate from your own thoughts and moods. Stillpower comes from knowing that self-worth has nothing to do with winning, losing, parental approval, money, fame, or anything external to you.”

When we get into a low state of mind we need to do nothing. It’s when we operate from a low state of mind that we usually make mistakes, poor judgments, miss opportunities and dig ourselves deeper into whatever hole we are digging. “Once you understand,” says Kramer, “that as human beings we form our perceptions from the inside out, that the quality of our thinking and level of awareness move up and down independent of our circumstances, you will see that it makes little sense to work yourself through a temporarily low state of mind.” But that’s often exactly what we do.

When we run into trouble that’s a sign to step back—not a call to action. Negativity is a sign to slow down. We can't perform at an elevated level when we are in a low state of mind.
A seemingly unresolved issue of today has nothing to do with erroneous thinking of today. And until an individual comes to this realization, he or she will always fall prey to the conditions of life itself.

Here’s what many of us ought to consider: All human beings exist, from moment to moment, at varying levels of psychological functioning. When this level of functioning is low, most often for no tangible reason, we view life through a dirty lens and are prone to deviant behavior—if we act. Once this principle is grasped, we see that navigating smoothly through life doesn’t have to be so complicated, and unlike the belief of many counselors and coaches in the self-help world, it has nothing to do with personal history.
Awareness is key. When you are aware of your thoughts and feelings in the moment and when necessary, allow your thinking to clear, then you will have the clarity to act; “insights will flow and answers will become obvious.” He adds, “Insight is infinitely more powerful than willpower. Actually, insight, or having a new idea and/or a change of heart, erases the need for strength or force of will of any kind.”

COACHING

Kramer notes that when you are coaching or counseling, you need to be operating from a higher level of thinking than the person you are talking to. “What comes out of your mouth is much less significant than the level of mental functioning from which the words are spoken.” We need to interact with people from a state of mind “brimming with love, compassion, and selflessness….External how-to resources are not all that necessary; love will provide all the direction you seek.”

Leadership is an all-in proposition. Done right, it’s a lot of hard work. To cut ourselves some slack, we too often rely on external gimmicks and techniques rather than the messy work of a real relationship.

IDEAS TO CONSIDER

• “We perform better when we get caught up in the experience, rather than when we make the experience about us….When we focus on a personal prize, our options narrow; when we relish the process, our options expand.”

• “When we act from clarity, it is impossible to get weighed down by judgmental outcomes.”

• “When we succumb to our errant thoughts or closed-off moods, judge another person, and then act from this egotistical perspective of insecurity, it is practically impossible to find long-term success.”

• “Every failure, every mistake, every loss—occurs to clarify our path, not to obscure it.”

• “You will never wrestle with a choice when your level of consciousness is high.”

Leaders will find a lot to consider here. Stillpower is one of those books that makes you reconsider your approach on many things. While Kramer might seem to be throwing the baby out with the bathwater at times, he doesn’t overturn conventional wisdom as much as he calls us on it when we misapply it. It is the perfect prescription for those that have a need to control their world and the people around them

It is important to note too, that looking within for answers is fine if you have consciously put something there to draw-on in the first place. Good flashes of insight are only produced when there is something good to draw upon. Choose your sources wisely.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 03:57 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Personal Development , Thinking

10.19.12

Leading Apple With Steve Jobs

Leadership
Jay Elliot, former Senior Vice President of Apple, has spent a lot of time with Steve Jobs. In Leading Apple with Steve Jobs, he writes that “Isaacson’s Steve is not the Steve I knew.” He believes that there has been too much focus on the negative aspects of how Jobs dealt with people and not enough on the positive. “I think,” he writes, “most people who worked for him, including me, would say they did the best work of their lives for him and don’t regret the experience a bit.” While his stories regarding his time with Jobs don’t do much to polish his image, he does bring out aspects of his thinking that undoubtedly have given people the opportunity to feel that in spite of the negative aspects of Jobs' behavior, Apple is where they wanted to be.

When analyzing anything, it always a challenge to pull out the important lesson and learn how to integrate the good without the bad. We are all a complex mix of motivations and behaviors and everything we do seems like an indispensable part of achieving our success (or not). But we can always improve—diminish the negative and emphasize the positive.

It is not unusual for any of us to find ourselves in a position where our intention is admirable but we lack the skill to implement it in the most beneficial way. Frequently, we can find ourselves stuck without alternatives to our own patterns of behavior. As leaders we have to constantly be learning—by reflection and reading about the lives of others—to discover where we could expand our thinking and therefore our options.

Not only does Elliot help us understand why Jobs was the way he was, he does a good job of explaining the development of and reasoning behind much of the Apple mystic that is worth implementing.

Jobs said that “It’s not my job to pull things together from different parts of the company and clear the ways to get resources for the key projects. It’s my job to push the team and make them even better, coming up with more aggressive visions of how it could be.” Jobs believed that accountability, attention to detail, perfectionism, simplicity, and secrecy, would sustain innovative leadership at Apple.

Getting the right people was as important to Jobs as creating a new product. “When you’re in a startup, the first ten people will determine whether the company succeeds or not.” Elliot says that he learned from Jobs the value of “knowing your own values so well that you can instinctively recognize someone who shares those values.” It would be good to reflect on our own values from this standpoint. Another way of thinking about this would be to consider: if you don’t know why you do what you do, why would anyone want to follow you?

The right people make the difference. “A leader in the Steve Jobs model needs to have a set of lieutenants who can translate his goals and vision into detailed action plans. The success of Apple through the years has largely been due to Steve’s talent for surrounding himself with people who could bear the heat when he wasn’t satisfied, were strong enough to stand up to him when he was wrong, and were able to relay not just his instructions but his commitment, drive, and vision to the crew.”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 02:54 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Communication , Creativity & Innovation , General Business , Human Resources , Management

09.10.12

Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go

Finding good employees is not enough. Organizations must have a plan in place to keep the employees they have. A priority for many employees today, is career development opportunities.

career development
The problem is very few managers and leaders feel they have the time to work on career development. Yet career development, say Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle Giulioni in Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go, is nothing more than helping people grow. And that’s job one for leaders.

Kaye and Giulioni contend that it is not as hard as we usually make it out to be. “Quality career development boils down to quality conversations”—frequent, short conversations that occur within the natural flow of work. They suggest that we “reframe career development in such a way that responsibility rests squarely with the employee, and that our role is more about prompting, guiding, reflecting, exploring ideas, activating enthusiasm, and driving action.”

Their framework for career development is organized around three types of conversations:

Hindsight conversations. These conversations are meant to help develop self-awareness—where they have been what they are good at. This is even more apparent with by good feedback. “Helping people look back and inward also provides a reservoir of information that allows employees to move forward and toward their career goals in intentional ways that will produce satisfying results.”

Foresight conversations. What an employee learns about themselves in hindsight needs to be applied in the context of what is going on around them. “When you help your employees develop the ability to scan the environment, anticipate trends, and spot opportunities, you provide a constructive context for career development.”

Insight conversations. These conversations leverage what your employee learns from the convergence of the insight and foresight conversations. Here you guide them into practical steps they can take to be where they want to be. “Onward and upward has been replaced by forward and toward.” Today, it’s not about moving up the ladder but moving to the place you want to be. Kaye and Giulioni suggest that we learn to help them grow in place. This requires a shift in thinking. “The challenge of growing in place involves stripping titles from our thinking and instead focusing on what the employee needs to experience, know, learn, and be able to do.”
Too frequently we limit the scope of career conversations, thinking they’re only about jobs, promotions, or stretch assignments—the actions employees can take to move forward. Important? Yes. But that’s just a drop in the bucket of conversations you can have with employees.
We have conversations about the work anyway, so why not make it a teachable moment. “A few minutes of conversation can help others slow down enough to reflect, bring deep insights to the surface, verbalize important messages, and consider how to leverage their expanding skills and knowledge base.”

If you don’t think you have the time to incorporate this vital task in what you do, this book is for you. Kaye and Giulioni offer templates, guidelines, and sample conversations and questions that you can adapt to your own situation. With their approach, career development stays fresh because each employee’s career plan is unique and done in real-time.

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Career development should flow naturally out of a leader’s genuine concern for others. The framework work provided in Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go provides a way of thinking to make that process happen naturally and effectively and at the most appropriate times.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:31 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Management

08.14.12

Triple Crown Leadership

Leadership
With far too much failed leadership on display, leaders should commit to building a different brand of leadership—Triple Crown Leadership, say authors Bob and Gregg Vanourek. Triple Crown leaders have the goal of building and sustaining organizations that are excellent (high performance), ethical (do the right thing), and enduring (stand the test of time). As with the Triple Crown in thoroughbred horseracing, it is an epic quest that is audacious but not impossible.

Triple Crown leaders integrate five practices that build excellent, ethical, and enduring organizations:

Seek “head and heart.” The first step is putting together a triple crown team. Typically we look for people with the right “head” skills (experience, education, expertise), but they must have the intangible “heart” qualities (character, integrity, courage).

Post “colors.” An organization’s “colors” are its purpose, values, and vision. Leaders must engage all in developing the colors through a collaborative process, thereby increasing ownership and buy-in. People are free to act as long as they do so in accordance with the colors.

Flex between “steel and velvet.” Triple Crown leaders cannot remain stuck in their normal style of leadership. They lead by flexing between the hard and soft edges of leadership, sometimes in command, other times willingly soliciting and following the leadership of others. If your actions are consistent with the colors—purpose, values, and vision—you will not appear inconsistent in your approach.

Unleash “stewards.” Stewardship is everyone’s responsibility. It’s not empowerment handed down from the top but a culture where the freedom to act is expected as long as they act in accordance with the shared values and vision of the organization. It’s automatic. “Triple Crown leadership ebbs and flows dynamically from person to person—up, down, and around—depending on the person’s knowledge, skills, passion, and the nature and urgency of the challenge at hand.” (Look on pages 114 to 123 for lists of specific ideas on how boards, CEOs, managers, and people without authority can become Triple Crown stewards.)

“Align.” Alignment builds trust. Alignment speeds up the process. Alignment should be collaborative, start where you are and cascade, and be flexible. It requires some finesse to get people on the same page while protecting the innovative mavericks and creating the conditions for operating in a state of flow.
There is a big difference between completing an alignment exercise at a one-shot retreat and actually creating an aligned organization, between having a purpose statement and being purpose driven, between having values and upholding them when the pressure is on, between saying you are vying for the triple crown and actually aligning the enterprise to achieve it.
The five triple crown leadership practices are related and mutually reinforcing. Building excellent, ethical, and enduring organizations requires a commitment from many people over many years and the view that leaders exist at all levels.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:31 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Leadership Development

07.27.12

The Titleless Leader

Leading without a title is about taking personal responsibility. We—the world—is in desperate need of people who will choose to lead whenever and wherever they can. In The Titleless Leader, Nan Russell describes where we are:
Everything isn’t alright in our workplaces. People are frustrated, angry, disillusioned, tired, and afraid. Not to mention skeptical, cynical, and distrustful. And those plaques touting people as the most important asset should be taken down. They’re a hypocritical reminder of last century’s failed promise. Not everywhere, of course, but in far too many organizations.
But we have a choice.
We can continue the de-motivating spiral of self-indulgent, unaligned leaders, or we can decide to create tomorrow’s workplaces through a new kind of leadership. It’s the kind that doesn’t come with a title. It’s not determined by rank, responsibilities, or position. No one needs to appoint you, promote you, or nominate you. You decide.
What Russell is talking about here is a different kind of leadership that starts with what all good leadership begins with: self-discipline. It is taking responsibility for the outcomes in your area. It’s setting an example of behaviors that are aligned with values.

Leadership
For Russell, titleless leadership is based on four cornerstones:

Self-Alignment: Behavioral integrity. People remember what you are.

Possibility Seeds: Encourages and nurtures others. Titleless leaders plant possibility seeds “not because there’s a mentoring- or succession-planning program, but because they’re operating with a better together approach.”

Soul Courage: Step-up and offer your best self. Push outside your comfort zone to do the right thing.

and Winning Philosophies: It’s only when we’re all winning that we truly all win. Focus on group wins and not the politics of individual wins.

The Titleless Leader is a handbook of behaviors and thinking to help you lead from where you are. Certainly, they’re not easy and require some change in perspective, but they will create more meaning and value in your workplace and more importantly, in your life.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:58 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Leadership Development , Personal Development

07.25.12

If It's Important, Be There

In Contented Cows Still Give Better Milk, authors Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden make the point that organizations with contented employees understand that one of the most fundamental precepts in the whole workplace arena is that “the person who started for them this morning is as close to a ‘model employee’ as they’re ever going to get.” So the best companies do something about it. They are fanatical about training people not only with skills they need, but they also carefully train them in the organization’s traditions, values, and philosophies.

But this is the part (too) many leaders just don’t get:

“People want to know that the training course they’re taking the time to sit through is as important to senior management as it is supposed to be to them.” How do you communicate that? “This often requires senior management to ride along with them—not in their own condensed mini-versions, but alongside everyone else.”

Catlette and Hadden go on to say, “There should be no executive parking spaces when it comes to training. Managers must participate enthusiastically and, more important, be able to demonstrate the skills they expect everyone else to learn.”

The message is clear. If it’s important to you, it will be important to them. It’s quite common to hear, “If this is so important, where are they?” Without the visible support of the leadership, commitment to the training is compromised. Leaders need to visibly communicate: “This is important—so important that I went through it before you did. I’m using it, and now I want and expect you to do the same. That’s why I’m here."

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:49 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Education , General Business , Human Resources , Leadership Development

07.18.12

How to Turn Your Team Around in Six Stages

How do you transform a losing climate into one that fosters collaboration, innovation, and productivity?

Leadership
Losing is not necessary or permanent, but to turn it around you need a leader who can see the truth, identify where things that have gone wrong, and broadcast the reality of possible in spite of what’s actually happening. A turnaround is really a change in culture—changing the culture of the team or organization.

In Team Turnarounds, authors Joe Frontiera and Daniel Leidl present a six-stage Team Turnaround Process. While many of the examples are from sport franchises—Colts, Eagles, Steelers—and the people they interviewed there, they also include turnaround stories of Domino’s pizza, Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark Broadway show, and the state of Michigan.

Each stage contains specific developmental milestones—principles that leaders and their teams typically master before proceeding to the next stage:

Stage I: Leading Past Losing
Stage I is an investigation into why your organization is losing. “Throughout this stage, you are building a clear case for why changes need to occur and for what those changes should be.” It begins with a belief that what is wrong can be made right. “The leader has to observe the team, learn where the failures lie, and then expose them.” It’s getting the dysfunction out in the open. Teams in Stage I also lack role clarity and without it, “team members lose focus and motivation and are left to wallow in mediocrity.”
The funny thing about truth is that people often want to embrace it. They may not want to hear it, but once it’s spoken, everyone’s shoulders drop in relief. Finally, someone has noticed that the organization has been skating by. Finally, someone is willing to confront the ugly reality. Finally, someone is putting the success of the group above everything else.
What most often holds us back are the excuses we hold on to.

Stage II: Committing to Growth
Once you know what’s wrong you can shift the team’s focus to what’s possible. “The team at stage II needs a vision for where it’s going, clear values to guide it, and a decisive plan of action that’s chock-full of specific and attainable goals.” Values provide the structure for how the team will move forward. “Team members have to move past the mediocrity they’ve embraced in the past.”

Stage III: Changing Behaviors In stage III, “your team members will learn to carry themselves as winners…. Leaders in stage III have to focus on providing their teams with insights into how and what they need to change while also providing the motivation to do it.” This is probably the hardest stage and requires a consistent example.

Stage IV: Embracing Adversity
A team in stage IV accept and embrace challenges as a way to show their stuff. “Setbacks and obstacles should be welcomed because you’re excited to prove that you’re better than you once were.” Of course, resilience is essential.
Challenges are moments of growth—times for you to refine yourself, make yourself better, and believe with even more confidence that you’re on the right path. The resilience and the willingness to take on adversity that come with stage IV will prepare your team for the even larger challenges presented in stage V.

Stage V: Achieving Success
Stage V is a moment of victory. A time to reflect on the victory and the reality of having to continue moving forward. You must continually redefine what success means for you and your team. You must work to stay fresh. In stage V you will adapt. The focus is on “defining who you are and adapting to where you want to go.”
We think of life, our efforts, our aspirations, as something like a movie, as if we work toward the one big goal, give everything we have to a single crowning achievement, and when it’s complete, the credits roll. We become so fixated on the effort to achieve that we sometimes lose sight of what we’re doing and how it relates to the bigger picture. We sometimes forget that there aren’t any credits, and that there’s no stop to the action after we hold up the trophy. Life keeps rolling even after our big wins.

Stage VI: Nurturing a Culture of Excellence
Success doesn’t last forever. Eventually other setbacks will occur. Stage VI is about bracing for those times by developing a winning culture that is both lasting and enduring. At stage VI an organization “needs to concentrate on continual learning and innovation. Culture, continual learning, and innovation are ever present throughout the Team Turnaround Process but are often overshadowed by more prominent themes during the first five stages.”
When teams win, they can become complacent. Success feels good and builds confidence, but it can also breed sloppy habits, overconfidence, and eventual performance decline.
The book concludes with the Team Turnaround Workbook. The exercises for each stage will help you and your team work through the Team Turnaround Process.

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The Team Turnaround Process is a useful keep-in-mind as it helps you to better understand where you are, fosters patience and helps you to be in the present while maintaining the big picture when executing a turnaround.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:10 PM
| TrackBacks (1) | Human Resources , Management , Teamwork

06.25.12

Leadocracy

Leadership
Recent polls reveal that most of us – 88% – think that government is broken. We lack confidence in the people who run for or serve in office. Geoff Smart says we have a who problem.

In Leadocracy he writes that the only way to fix the what problems—the deficit, unemployment, and insufficient social services to name a few—is to get the right who into government.

Smart finds that there is a huge untapped source of potential leaders in the private sector—if they would just step up. But they don’t—in droves—because of fear. Fear of not being able to make a difference, fear of the financial and psychological costs, and fear of public scrutiny.

But they should for three reasons, says Smart. First, a leadership role in government is a new challenge and an opportunity to grow your leadership skills. Second, because you can make a difference that is enormously satisfying. And third, in government, you interact with an amazing range of people—you build relationships, help them in ways only you can, and become part of a broader community that is making people’s lives better.

Smart founded The Leaders Initiative with the goal of having 1500 private sector leaders complete a two-year stint in government (local, state, or federal) by 2030. The hope is that it will have a positive multiplier effect on encouraging more private sector leaders to consider “government leadership” in their career plan.

You can find out more information, take the leadership pledge, and even start a local chapter by going to The Leadership Initiative website.

Smart states, “Democracy works best when voters choose great candidates.” It seems like a simple statement, but it explains a lot. He says we are not very good at it. He does offer some tools and tips for determining how qualified a candidate is for the task at hand, and ensuring you are “hiring” the best leader for the job. He hopes we can reverse our tendency to:

• place too much emphasis on likeability
• place too much emphasis on public-speaking ability and debates
• place too much emphasis on the single hot-button issue that has little to do with our overall quality of life and the real problems that plague our communities
• place too much emphasis on the physical attractiveness of the candidates
• and we tend to be lulled into following candidates who “feel our pain” and merely reflect their understanding of our problems, but who do not have the demonstrated ability to solve them.

I would agree with Smart. However, I would add that government isn’t broken because, in most cases, its leaders lack ideas, are bad people, bad leaders, stupid, incompetent or just a bunch of amateurs. It’s broken because they are in a system that rewards them for pandering to their constituents. It’s how many of them keep their jobs. It would be a mistake to think that somehow government got all of the bad leaders and the private sector is hoarding them—and if we could flip-flop the situation, the problem would be solved. It’s a systemic problem.

We see leaders in government that should know better, giving people what they want not because it is the best option for their constituents, but because they want the votes to keep them in office. They effectively stop leading.

We do have a who problem. But realistically it is not just a matter of getting the “good people” in. It will take a tremendous amount of fortitude for anyone wishing to serve in government to take the time to educate instead of pander, to do the hard things rather than the expedient, to lead rather than follow, to stand on character instead of popularity. But then, we would probably vote them out.

So the issue is something we have to remedy within ourselves too. It’s also an issue the Founding Fathers didn’t think we should take lightly.

Of Related Interest:
  What’s Wrong with Leadership Training Today
  I Hired Your Resume. But Unfortunately What I Got Was You!

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:11 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Government , Human Resources

05.23.12

InsideOut Enneagram

InsideOut Enneagram
The Enneagram is a method for identifying your personality type and is valuable system for learning about yourself and others. The Enneagram system defines nine basic personality types of human nature and their complex interrelationships.

Wendy Appel has tackled the Enneagram’s subtleties and complexities in InsideOut Enneagram. Her book makes practical the Enneagram system by use of clear explanations of each Type, case studies and a structured journaling process. There is a section on Type and team interactions that examines predictable points of tension, reactive patterns, and synergies between all of the possible Enneagram Type pairs. Her goal is to help you to see and think differently about your strengths, your weaknesses, and mostly the subterranean habits of mind and motivations that drive you and others. It’s a journey of self-mastery.

Appel observes that “most of us focus our attention outward and neglect our inner life. We think that change is out there. Instead of tuning in to the language of our head, heart, and gut, we are busy looking outside, ahead, and down.”

Understanding who we are, uncovering our blind spots, and creating a game plan to master our thinking and behavior, is vital to developing our leadership potential and to better understand those we lead.
The subconscious mind, where our habits, patterns, and beliefs reside, directs the course of our lives, and most of us are unaware that this is happening. To transform as leaders and to transform our organizations require that we examine our core beliefs—both individual and collective. If not, we simply make iterative changes, and that won’t be enough to succeed in today’s globalized economy.

The Enneagram gives you the possibility to transform the way you show up as a leader. Inner change leads to outer change—when your inner world transforms, an opening is created for extraordinary shifts to occur in your outer world. When you lead from the InsideOut, you have the ability to be responsive and flexible enough to act in the moment. Your words and actions are aligned. You take responsibility for creating your life and for leading with integrity and passion.
Appel says she often gets asked “about the difference between the MBTI and the Enneagram, or whether MBTI Type preferences neatly fit into the Ennegram Types. The most simplistic way to understand how the systems complement each other is that the MBTI describes preferences for how we do things (get our energy, make decisions, gather information, and so on); the Enneagram describes why and how we behave as we do (beliefs, fears, desires, focus of attention), and how we go about getting our perceived needs met.”

InsideOut Enneagram is an opportunity to discover what is working for you, what is not working for you, why, and what you can do about it.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:08 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Personal Development

04.25.12

When Good Employees Do Bad: Six Surprising Behaviors that May Precede a Scandal

Leading Forum
This is a guest post by David Gebler author of The 3 Power Values. Gebler believes that employees already embody the values needed to create a high-performing culture, so leaders need to remove the behavior-based roadblocks that keep people from being able to live their values at work. Commitment, integrity and transparency keep an organizations core values aligned with each other because they serve as counterweights to our human tendencies to go off-track. Here, he identifies some behavior roadblocks:

Good intentions can lead to bad outcomes in business. This is especially true in organizations that have toxic cultures in which leaders tout worthy values—and then put up roadblocks that prevent employees from living those values. For example, if a company claims it welcomes innovation and risk taking, but then only rewards employees who toe the company line and reinforce the status quo, sooner or later people will simply stop asking questions, innovating, and stretching themselves. Instead, they will conform in order to please their bosses. While the company's competitive edge plummets, leaders may be left wondering: What happened to our core value of innovation and risk taking?

When we look at companies that have faced scandals such as recalls, ethical violations, or crimes, the problem often comes down to employees whose surprisingly positive behavior was distorted by a toxic culture and clueless leaders. Here are six seemingly benign behaviors that may come back to bite a company if they become exaggerated and throw the organization out of alignment:

Commitment to meeting deadlines.
One would think that a company where employees are encouraged to meet deadlines and rewarded for doing so consistently would lead to super-productivity and efficiency. In fact, it can lead to disaster. At Johnson & Johnson, the understood directive to get product to market on tough deadlines created a culture of "Don't ask too many questions" and resulted in a series of dangerous drug recalls that badly sullied the company's reputation.

Excessive optimism.
When a person is sick, optimism can buoy his spirits and help healing. When a company is unhealthy, "Everything is going to be okay" is not what you need to hear from those in authority positions. Take David Myers, former controller of WorldCom. By his own account, he saw the problems of the now-defunct company through rose-colored glasses. He simply kept believing--and telling his frightened staff--that the problems would resolve themselves eventually. By the time he came to his senses, he was under arrest for accounting fraud.

Staying focused on a goal.
Telling employees to keep their eye on the prize is not intrinsically a bad thing. But when the goal becomes more important to management than the underlying values of the organization, it can lead to a dysfunctional culture. For example, in the 1990s, Sears gave its auto repair mechanics a mandatory sales goal of $147 per hour. It wasn't long before customers began to be overcharged or sold unnecessary repairs.

Having a competitive mindset.
Boeing is known for its highly competitive employees and work culture. That's a good thing, right? Not so in 1996, when the company lost billions in government contracts for ethics violations after an employee stole 25,000 pages of proprietary documents from Lockheed. Flash forward to 2005, when employees were still so competitive that their own work teams were known to keep useful information secret from other teams in the company to make sure they stayed on top. Too much competition can erode cultural values, leading to disaster.

Sticking to a budget.
Most managers would be thrilled if their employees were doggedly determined to stay on budget and not cost the company any unnecessary money. But a good intention can go bad when financial performance becomes the only metric that matters. That was the case, many believe, behind the fatal mistake made on the BP oil platform in the Gulf. Before the explosion in April 2012 caused by a safety shortcut, BP's Macondo project was more than $40 million over budget. You know the rest.

Wanting to please higher-ups.
What's more attractive than a hardworking employee who wants his bosses to approve of him, based on high performance and outstanding results? A lot, in the case of French trader Jérôme Kerviel at the Société Générale banking group. His need to be liked led to $4.9 billion in massive financial fraud by means of elaborate computer manipulations. Kerviel is thought not to have profited personally from his crimes. He said he was just working to increase the bank's profits and make his bosses happy.

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Leadership
David Gebler is a sought-after speaker and panelist, and author of The 3 Power Values: How Commitment, Integrity, and Transparency Clear the Roadblocks to Performance (Jossey-Bass, 2012). He is founder and president of the Skout Group, which helps companies determine whether and how their organization's culture is costing them money, and what they can do to reduce risk and increase performance.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 02:57 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Management

04.20.12

Restoring Your Ability to Choose

We all like to think we are in charge of our choices. But the fact is that most of the time we are reacting, not choosing. Most of what we label choice is habit. We’re really on automatic. It can even lead us to think that we have no choice. Only when we pause—slow-down to think and reflect—are we exercising our ability to choose.

Leadership
Nance Guilmartin writes in The Power of Pause that a pause is “any space between an action and your reaction.” And it’s vitally important:
Today you need the ability to discern what lies beneath people’s words, their reactions, or their silence. If you don’t build the neuropathways in your brain to pause, to momentarily disengage your automatic reactions, you can trigger a chain reaction that derails your best intentions and strategies.
Guilmartin lists seven cues that a pause is in your best interest. It’s time to pause if you are thinking, feeling, or saying:
  1. I have no choice.
  2. This doesn’t make sense. How could he-she-they do that (to me)?
  3. I have to act now or else “they” will beat me to it.
  4. I can’t believe this is happening again.
  5. We’re not on the same page.
  6. This isn’t what I expected.
  7. I know the answer, and I’m not interested in what someone else thinks.
The Power of Pause Method is based on a three-step Effectiveness Equation and twelve Power of Pause practices. The equation:

Pause (Presence of Mind) + Curiosity + Humility =
Professional Effectiveness and Personal Fulfillment


Not surprisingly, the equation references an all-important addend, humility. Humility should fuel your curiosity and drive the need to pause. Guilmartin explains that “in situations where you think you know enough, pausing to wonder what you don’t know is a vital, even game-changing leadership skill.”

The twelve practices are:
  1. Drive your choices instead of being driven. Apply the Power of Pause to take back self-control and recognize you always have a choice.
  2. Be aware of your filters (and theirs). Remember that filters can lead to unconscious misinterpretations.
  3. Give the benefit of the doubt. Check your assumptions. Meaning isn’t in the words: it’s in the interpretation of them—by you and others. When in doubt, ask, “Can you help me see what you see?”
  4. Stop putting deposits in your resentment bank account. Resist jumping to premature conclusions or depositing frustrations based on your perception of “the facts.”
  5. Use rephrasing as a Twenty-First-Century risk management tool. Stick your neck out: rephrase what you think someone meant by what he said; it builds trust.
  6. Use the Get Curious Not Furious approach. “Missed understandings” happen—a lot! They're normal. Try not to take them personally.
  7. Ask: What’s on your plate? Understand someone else’s priorities while you also acknowledge your own. Remember to ask yourself, “What’s on my plate?”
  8. Ask: What don’t I know I don’t know? In order to drive success with an extra measure of humility, ask, What don’t I know I don’t know? About what’s driving me or them in the situation?
  9. Take responsibility for being understood: reverse rephrase. Reverse rephrase to confirm that you were understood; welcome the chance to clear up any “missed understandings.”
  10. Make withdrawals from your resentment bank account. Withdraw earlier deposits to prevent them from building up negative energy in your account.
  11. Know your trigger points (and theirs). Prevent yourself or others from being caught in self-defeating patterns. Become aware of who or what triggers you so that you can respond instead of react.
  12. Strengthen relationships: offer timely, specific appreciation. Put the Power of Pause in action with timely, specific recognition of what works and why. Help people also know what they can do to be even more effective and how you can support them in being their best.

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“It’s a paradox,” writes Guilmartin, “to move forward, you gain time and options if you momentarily ease off the accelerator, suspend your initial reactions, and consider your immediate assumptions.”

Of Related Interest:
  Consider: Harnessing the Power of Reflective Thinking in Your Organization

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:36 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | General Business , Human Resources , Learning , Management , Thinking

04.09.12

All In: It’s Culture that Drives Results

In the New York Times, Stephen I. Sadove, chairman and chief executive of Saks Inc., explains that it is culture that drives results:
It starts with leadership at the top, which drives a culture. Culture drives innovation and whatever else you’re trying to drive within a company — innovation, execution, whatever it’s going to be. And that then drives results.

When I talk to Wall Street, people really want to know your results, what are your strategies, what are the issues, what it is that you’re doing to drive your business. They’re focused on the bottom line. Never do you get people asking about the culture, about leadership, about the people in the organization. Yet, it’s the reverse, because it’s the people, the leadership, the culture and the ideas that are ultimately driving the numbers and the results.
While we know that our most important resource is our people, it’s not so easy to get people “all in”—convincing people to “truly buy into their ideas and the strategy they’ve put forward, to give that extra push that leads to outstanding results.”

All In
All In by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton explains why some managers are able to get their employees to commit wholeheartedly to their culture and give that extra push that leads to outstanding results and how managers at any level, can build and sustain a profitable, vibrant work-group culture of their own. All In takes the principles found in their previous books—The Orange Revolution and The Carrot Principle—and expands on them and places them in a wider context.

They begin by explaining that it all rests on the “belief factor.” People want to believe, but given the fact that “failure could cost them their future security why shouldn’t they be at least a little dubious about your initiatives?” But belief is key. “As leaders we must first allow people on our teams to feel like valuable individuals, respecting their views and opening up to their ideas and inputs, even while sharing a better way forward. It’s a balancing act that requires some wisdom.”

To have a culture of belief employees must feel not only engaged, but enabled and energized. What’s more, “each element of E+E+E can be held hostage by an imbalance in the other two.”

The authors have created a 7 step guide to develop a culture where people buy-in:

Define your burning platform. “Your ability to identify and define the key “burning” issue you face and separate it from the routine challenges of the day is the first step in galvanizing your employees to believe in you and in your vision and strategy.”

Create a customer focus. “Your organization must evolve into one that not only rewards employees who spot customer trends or problems, but one that finds such challenges invigorating, one that empowers people at all levels to respond with alacrity and creativity.”

Develop agility. “Employees are more insistent than ever that their managers see into the future and do a decent job of addressing the coming challenges and capitalizing on new opportunities.”

Share everything. “When we aren’t sure what’s happening around us, we become distrustful….In a dark work environment, where information is withheld or not communicated properly, employees tend to suspect the worst and rumors take the place of facts. It is openness that drives out the gray and helps employees regain trust in culture.”

Partner with your talent. “Your people have more energy and creativity to give. There are employees now in your organization walking around with brilliant ideas in their pocket. Some will never share them because they don’t have the platform to launch those ideas on their own. Most, however, will never reveal them because they don’t feel like a partner in the organization.”

Root for each other. “Our research shows incontrovertible evidence that employees respond best when they are recognized for things they are good at and for those actions where they had to stretch. It is this reinforcement that makes people want to grow to their full shape and stature.”

Establish clear accountability. “To grow a great culture, you need to cultivate a place where people have to do more than show up and fog a mirror; they have to fulfill promises—not only collectively but individually.” And this has to be a positive idea.

Gostick and Elton explain that the “modern leader provides the why, keeps an ear close to those they serve, is agile and open, treats their people with deference, and creates a place where every step forward is noted and applauded.”

The authors skillfully examine high-performing cultures and present the elements that produce them. A leader at any level can implement these ideas to drive results. A great learning tool.

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To succeed, you need everyone on your team all in; you need a culture of belief. A high performing culture is characterized by people that are engaged, enabled and energized.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:46 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | General Business , Human Resources , Management , Motivation

03.30.12

The Power of Habit

Habits will always be with us. Some good. Some bad. But how do you replace bad habits with good habits? More importantly, how often do we ask ourselves if what we are doing is really just a habit? We are less intentional than we think we are.

The Power of Habit
Charles Duhigg has written a book for all of us: The Power of Habit. After reading it you will understand how habits are formed and what you can do about it. You will also look at habits in a new way. Habits infiltrate our organizations and become invisible forces to contend with that we never realized were there. Learning to spot them is key to our success. Consider the following story:

As a newspaper reporter in Baghdad, Duhigg heard about an officer conducting an impromptu habit modification program in Kufa, a small city ninety miles south of the capital.
He was an army major who had analyzed videotapes of recent riots and had identified a pattern: Violence was usually preceded by a crowd of Iraqis gathering in a plaza or other open space and, over the course of several hours, growing in size. Food vendors would show up, as well as spectators. Then, someone would throw a rock or bottle and all hell would break loose.

When the major met with Kufa’s mayor, he made an odd request: Could they keep the food vendors out of the plazas? Sure, the mayor said. A few weeks later, a small crowd gathered near the Masjid al-Kufa, or Great Mosque of Kufa. Throughout the afternoon, it grew in size. Some people started chanting angry slogans….At dusk, the crowd started getting restless and hungry. People looked for the kebab sellers normally filling the plaza, but there were none to be found. The spectators left. The chanters became dispirited. By 8PM, everyone was gone.
In a sense, a community—your organization—is a giant collection of habits. Later, when Duhigg talked to the major, he said, “Understanding habits is the most important thing I’ve learned in the army.” “Once you see everything as a bunch of habits,” says Duhigg, “it’s like someone gave you a flashlight and a crowbar and you can get to work.

Habit LoopA habit is the brain’s way of saving effort. Duhigg has broken the formation of habits into a three-step loop: the cue (“a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use), the routine (“which can be physical, or mental or emotional”), and finally there is the reward (which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future).

The key to remember here says Duhigg is that “When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making. It stops working so hard, or diverts focus to other tasks. So unless you deliberately fight a habit—unless you find new routines—the pattern will unfold automatically.”

Breaking habits down in this way makes them easier to deal with. If we can learn to identify the cues and rewards, we can change the routines. We can live life a bit more intentionally.

Duhigg shows how habits played a part in the success of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and civil-rights hero Martin Luther King, Jr. He goes behind the scenes at Procter & Gamble, Target superstores, Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, and NFL locker rooms. He explains how improving a single habit rippled out to improve an entire organization—Alcoa. Fascinating material to think about on many levels.

How much of what you do is on autopilot?

How much of what your organization does is on autopilot?

Of Related Interest:
  Breaking Old Habits

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Habits are not destiny. They can be changed if we understand how they work. Habits cannot be eliminated, but they can be replaced.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:08 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | General Business , Human Resources , Management , Personal Development

03.09.12

Hiring for Attitude

Leadership
“Most new hires do not fail on the job due to lack of skill,” says Mark Murphy. Attitude is a bigger issue than skill. Consequently, most of our approaches to selecting the right people for the job are dead wrong.

In Hiring for Attitude, Murphy lists the top five reasons why new hires failed:
  1. Coachability (26%): The ability to accept and implement feedback from bosses, colleagues, customers, and others.
  2. Emotional Intelligence (23%): The ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions and accurately assess others' emotions.
  3. Motivation (17%): Sufficient drive to achieve one’s full potential and excel on the job.
  4. Temperament (15%): Attitude and personality suited to the particular job and work environment.
  5. Technical Competence (11%): Functional or technical skills required to do the job.
Naturally, we should be concerned whether or not a candidate can do the job, but it should not be the main focus. “Because even the best skills don’t really matter if an employee isn’t open to improving or consistently alienates coworkers, lacks drive, or simply lacks the right personality to succeed in that culture.”

What attitudes work in one culture may not work in another. Attitudes are culture specific. So you first need to discover your organization’s unique attitudes. Think about the “attitudes that separate your high performers from your middle performers and your low performers from everybody else. You’re not trying to create a laundry list of attitudes but just the—three to seven—“important critical predictors of employee success or failure for your organization.”

Murphy talks about the kinds of common questions you should never ask—the “tell me about yourself” questions, the behavioral “tell me about a time when” questions, the hypothetical “what would you do if” questions, and the oddball “if you could be any superhero” questions—and how to create the questions and evaluate the answers that differentiate people by the attitudes that are the most important to success in your organization.

A benefit of determining the attitudes that work best in your organization is that you can begin to clearly communicate those attitudes to your current employees and develop high performers throughout the whole organization.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:42 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources

02.10.12

Grow: Taking Your Purpose to the Next Level

Leadership
Jim Stengel, former global marketing officer for Procter & Gamble, believes that businesses must rethink their purpose to achieve far better results. But not just the most apparent purpose, but a higher order ideal or purpose. For example, Johnnie Walker exists to make great whiskey, but its higher order ideal is to celebrate journeys of progress and success.

Starbucks must make great coffee, but it must do more if it is to attract people and innovate in ways that make life better for the people they serve both inside and outside the organization. “It’s necessary,” writes Stengel in Grow, “to want to be the best-performing enterprise around, with the highest standards, the best people, and the most satisfied customers. However, this simply doesn’t aim high enough and look far enough ahead. To hit higher targets and stay out in front of the competition requires an ideal.”To that end, Starbucks also exists to create connections for self-discovery and inspiration. It’s what fuels passion and creates meaningful work.

“A brand ideal of improving people’s lives is the only sustainable way to recruit, unite, and inspire all the people a business touches, from employees to customers.” Stengel believes that a higher-order brand ideal must improve people’s lives in one of five fields of fundamental human values:

Eliciting Joy: Activating experiences of happiness, wonder, and limitless possibility; create moments of happiness that engage our thoughts and emotions as well as our physical senses. (Coca-Cola, Zappos, Lindt)

Enabling Connection: Enhancing the ability of people to connect with one another and the world in meaningful ways. Key concepts in this field are connect, listen, reach, and community. (Airtel, Fed Ex, Blackberry, Natura)

Inspiring Exploration: Helping people explore new horizons and new experiences. Helps customers learn, gives them powerful tools, and invites them to reinvent themselves and their world. (Apple, Discovery Communications, Pampers, Red Bull)

Evoking Pride: Giving people increased confidence, strength, security, and vitality; supporting self expression and inspiring passion. (Calvin Klein, Heineken, L’Occitane)

Impacting Society: Affecting society broadly, including by challenging the status quo and redefining categories. (Accenture, IBM, Method, Seventh Generation)

Stengel’s bases his conclusions on a ten-year growth study involving 50,000 brands. The study tracked the connection between financial performance and customer engagement, loyalty and advocacy. The result was “The Stengel 50.” In the 2000’s, an investment in these companies would have been 400 percent more profitable than an investment in the S&P 500. “If you’re willing to embrace the same concept and align your business with a fundamental human ideal, you can achieve extraordinary growth in your own business and your own career. My research shows that your growth rate can triple.”

As a side note, whether or not the study suffers from the Halo Effect is beside the point. Stengel’s point is good psychology. Success is more complex than any one factor. More good decisions than bad (intelligent people make dumb mistakes too), timing and luck all play a part too. And then great companies get off track, not because they were doing the wrong thing, but because they stop doing them or failed to adapt appropriately. The ideas presented in Grow are what worked for Stengel for the time he was at Procter & Gamble and properly applied may work for you too. Generally, if it is based on sound principles, it’s always worth consideration. And Sengel’s ideas are.

One implication of the study is interesting. Stengel reports that the “study challenged P&G’s paradigm of moving people around frequently. The companies that were growing the fastest had a different paradigm. In recruiting and hiring they looked for people whose values fit with their brands, and tended to keep people working in the same areas for much longer.”

He categorizes the people that run The Stengel 50 as business artists. “The fastest-growing businesses in the world have a leader whose relationship to the business is not primarily that of an operator, no matter how savvy, but an artist whose primary medium is an ideal.”
The business case for ideals is about playing a role in the lives of both customers and employees at a much more important level than the competition does. It’s about connecting with people holistically: rationally and emotionally, left brain and right brain.
Stengel recommends that you continually ask four questions: How well do we understand the people who are most important to our future? What do we and our brand stand for? What do we want to stand for? How are we bringing the answers to these questions to life?

The power is in the answers and executing against them. What is your primary purpose? What do the people you serve care about beyond what they buy from you? Could you benefit from discovering your higher ideal?

Of Related Interest:
  Lead With Purpose
  Leadership: Artistry Unleashed
  5 Leadership Lessons: Artistry Unleashed

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A brand ideal of improving people’s lives is the only sustainable way to recruit, unite, and inspire all the people a business touches, from employees to customers.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:00 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | General Business , Human Resources , Management , Marketing

01.27.12

Managing With a Conscience

We handicap our potential when we think we have to exploit others to get ahead. Succeeding is not a zero-sum game. We don’t look better when everyone else looks worse.

Leadership
Frank Sonnenberg makes the case in Managing with a Conscience, that the only sustainable way to succeed is the right way—not cutting corners—emphasizing the intangibles like trust, creativity, focus, speed, flexibility, relationships, loyalty, and employee commitment. While not readily measureable, they can make or break leaders and organizations. Sonnenberg believes that leaders who have a jaded view of intangible assets will never make the commitment required to reap their full potential.

Sonnenberg discusses at length, nine critical success factors that need to be built into the organization:
  • Passion that develops commitment to the organization’s mission, values, and goals
  • An innovative and creative environment and mindset that reinvents itself every day
  • Effective, focused and consistent internal communication to set priorities that focus the organization’s efforts and people on the resources that provide the greatest potential return.
  • Devotion to service excellence
  • A learning organization that adapts well to change
  • Responds with speed
  • Maintains a flexible structure by collaborating both internally and externally
  • Emphasizes that personal networking is an efficient and effective way to solicit ideas, access new sources of information, increase business development, and attract new hires
  • Understands that trust is foundational; it is what binds us together and makes work possible.
Sonnenberg hits these issues head-on. Managing with a Conscience is both an analysis and a practical how-to book. He demonstrates how to take management platitudes beyond the letter of the law. Asking the right questions helps to take you beyond mere compliance. People often get cynical about the latest initiative because they are not implemented on a meaningful level—and consequently they never really get the results you’re looking for. Sonnenberg helps you get to the intent. From the employee bill of rights:
Employees have the right to approach management. Management should announce an open-door policy. But announcing is not enough. Employees should feel comfortable approaching management. Ask yourself if you’re in your office long enough to be approached. Are you available at convenient times or only at 7:00 a.m.? Has your administrative assistant done everything to screen you from “outsiders” except put barbed wire outside your office? When a concern was brought to your attention, in confidence, did you divulge any part of the information? Do you just go through the motions of listening? It is up to you to take the initiative and get out of your office to meet with employees. Been seen on a regular basis so people don’t think you’re avoiding them.
Sonnenberg writes, “If your organization isn’t focused, someone is probably undoing something you just completed.” How true. As he notes, when people don’t know or understand the organizational purpose, they end up going in different directions, often competing with each other. And this is true in the social media environment, too. It is not unusual to see social media participants undoing an organization’s values and beliefs because they simply don’t understand them or can’t live them. They create conflicting messages that undermine the purpose of the organization.

“The costs to society,” writes Sonnenberg, “of everyone acting like random molecules bouncing off one another is just too great. We have no time to think about what is important. We judge someone’s worth by what we see on the outside rather than their inner worth. We envy someone who has achieved success without thinking about what they did to earn it.” We can change that, if we begin with our own example first.

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This comprehensive book is based on the idea that “what goes around comes around.” If you treat people right, they will treat you right. Sonnenberg believes that when you operate with the highest levels of trust and integrity, it makes you feel good about yourself, the people you work with, and the organization that you represent. It impacts how you view yourself and the way other people view you.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:34 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | General Business , Human Resources , Leadership , Management

12.21.11

Doing More With Less

Leadership
Most companies are asking employees to do more with less. These demands may produce positive results in the short term, but they are not sustainable in the long term. “Organizations can do more with less simply by not leaving so much untapped performance on the table.” The frustration people often face in these conditions is not an engagement problem; it is more often an enablement problem.

Mark Royal and Tom Agnew of the Hay Group, explain that The Enemy of Engagement is frustration caused by a highly engaged employee’s inability to succeed in a role due to organizational barriers or the inability to bring the bulk of his or her talents, skills, and abilities to the job. Ironically, the more engaged they are, the more frustrated they get because they care more.

“Doing more with less doesn’t mean conjuring higher levels of motivation out of thin air, but rather allowing motivated employees to perform at their best. It’s about harnessing and unleashing the full potential of frustrated employees—those who want to give their best but can’t due to organizational barriers and constraints.”

Typically we associate better engagement with leadership, but what drives it is better management. Fixing engagement means dealing with the frustration of thwarted employees. Specific management practices detailed by the authors include:
  • Create specific, measurable goals and clearly lay out what employees need to do—the precise behaviors and activities—to achieve them.
  • Provides employees with regular, concrete, and constructive feedback about their work and its value to delivering business strategy.
  • Empower employees to make the decisions necessary to execute and excel at their jobs—and make sure employees understand which decisions they control.
  • Prioritize investments in resources and staff with an emphasis on providing employees with the tools and support they need to succeed.
  • Assign and coordinate roles with serious consideration of each employee’s strengths, reward and reinforce teamwork and collaboration.
One of the most actionable things to do is to simply ask: “How can we change things around here to help you be more effective?” By doing so “a manager creates an opportunity for an employee to speak honestly and openly about enablement issues.”

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Enablement is what drives engagement and what ultimately frustrates it. Get people what they need to do their jobs and get out of the way. The Enemy of Engagement is focused on employees who are engaged, motivated, and loyal—who aren’t ready to give up—but who are experiencing frustration on the job. Ultimately, it requires that we rethink our notions of what it means to be a leader and what it means to manage. We insert ourselves far more than we should.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:34 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | General Business , Human Resources , Management , Motivation

12.20.11

5 Leadership Lessons: What if You Could Take Control of Your Life with One Decision?

5 Leadership Lessons
Great leaders know they cannot let others determine their moods and behaviors. The decision is ours. David Pollay wrote The Law of the Garbage Truck to remind us that “it is not our duty to absorb the frustrations, anxieties, and disappointments of other people. We were not put on earth to carry other people’s negative energy, nor were we created to burden others with ours.” The Law of the Garbage Truck is straightforward:
Leadership
Many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they look for a place to dump it. And if you let them, they’ll dump it on you. So when someone wants to dump on you, don’t take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Believe me, you’ll be happier.
Here are five lessons from David Pollay, to help us to focus on what really matters personally and professionally:

1  The Law of the Garbage Truck is about humility. No one is perfect. You don’t have to defend yourself every time one of your imperfections is pointed out. At the same time there is no need to judge others for their imperfections. If you let garbage trucks unnecessarily activate your defenses at every turn, you’re not following the play. Instead you’re allowing someone to tease you into a battle that’s not yours to fight, thus diverting your energy from the play you’re meant to run.

2  Other people are not the only ones who bring garbage into our lives—we create plenty of our own negativity that stirs memories of our past and makes us fearful of what we imagine awaits us in the future. When negative memories are invoked, we often indulge in looking for new meanings in them. As we engage these bad memories, and as they pass through our consciousness, we strengthen them. We feel the initial mood of disappointment, anxiety, and doubt all over again. By energizing these old memories with new thinking, we give them additional importance in our lives.

3  Many people spend their lives trying to get back at garbage trucks. They feel abused, challenged, or violated after being run over by one, so their mission is to hit back as soon as they can. They often think about what they could have said or should have done and fantasize about revenge. When you center your life on revenge and ruminate about every provocation and slight, you jeopardize everyone’s health, safety, and happiness—including your own.

4  For the Garbage Trucks in our lives: People who act like Garbage Trucks allow their anger, frustration, insecurity, and disappointment to drown out most everything good around them. Fortunately, people do not act like Garbage Trucks all the time. Eventually they’ll leave the safety of being a Garbage Truck—if even for a moment. They’ll do or say something nice, show concern, or offer their help on some occasion. It’s then that you must recognize their best. Let them know the good you see in them. Show them how much you care and how much they mean to you. When you look for and focus on the good in people, you help them see what is possible in their lives. You give energy to what is right about them. Your love and attention may be what enables them to change.

5  What about venting? Venting helps people understand your problems. Dumping leaves people feeling burdened by your problems. Venting is based on permission and turns into dumping when you do not have permission to unload your complaints, worries, frustrations, and disappointments on someone. Venting is time sensitive. Dumping, on the other hand, seems to have no end. It starts without consent and suggests that there is no likely solution. You waste people’s time and burden them with your garbage.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:43 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Five Lessons , Human Resources , Management , Motivation

12.07.11

True North Groups

True North Groups
You can’t do it alone. We often try to, imagining that we can see and know the things we need to know without the discerning eye of a outside point of view. Bill George and Doug Baker remind us in True North Groups that, “We need people around us to whom we can look for support and advice, who can help us develop as human beings. We need them to help us become better leaders in our work, our communities, and our families.”

It’s easy to get off track. “Most of us know what our True North is, but we are constantly pressured from external sources to deviate from it. Or we are seduced by extrinsic rewards like money, power, and recognition that cause us to detour from our True North.”

A True North Group is comprised of six to eight trusted peers who meet on a regular basis to discuss the important questions of their lives and to support each other during difficult times. At various times, each person in the group will serve as a mentor or coach to others.

True North Groups are not just about having a place to go to help you with your challenges. Done well, a group will encourage you to make the necessary course corrections that will help you to avoid the avoidable problems we all can get ourselves into. Save us from ourselves so to speak. It’s also a place to share successes.

At stake is our own vulnerability. Even if we are afraid of the idea, it’s not difficult to see the value in it. George and Baker have been doing this for decades and share the nuts and bolts of creating your own group. It begins with picking the right people and that may not include your close friends. It’s based on trust and a commitment to personal growth. The authors list the following characteristics of ideal group members:
  • Curiosity about themselves, others and the world
  • Willingness to challenge assumptions about life
  • Comfort with self-reflection
  • Commitment to continuing personal growth
  • Respect for themselves and others
  • Ability to listen without judgment
  • Ability to hold confidences
  • Willingness to be open and share their life stories
  • Not self-absorbed
  • Ability to commit time and energy to the group
  • A sense of humor and a positive outlook on life is always helpful.
Next steps include, Norming (establishing how the group functions), Storming (behaviors that may impede your group), Performing (maintaining and renewing your group) and Reforming (the need to restructure and start again).

The appendix provides topics for discussion to get your group going and thinking in the right direction. You’ll also find Member Contracts, Ground Rules and other valuable resources for your own True North Group.

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Trying to develop yourself as a leader on your own is risky. True North Groups are a way to grow as a human being and as a leader in an environment of trust, confidentiality, intimacy, affirmation, support and honest feedback.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 02:27 PM
| TrackBacks (1) | Human Resources , Leadership Development

11.14.11

Do You Have Moral Overconfidence?

In a recent Bloomberg Businessweek article, Harvard Business School Dean, Nitin Nohria stated that because we all suffer from “moral overconfidence,” the most important thing business schools could be teaching is humility. He writes:
Many people view “character” as an immutable trait formed during childhood and adolescence. I believe character development is similar to the development of knowledge or wisdom—it’s a lifelong process. The world isn’t neatly divided into good people and bad people. Most will behave well or poorly, depending on the context….Business leaders need to remember that most of us have too much confidence in our strength of character.
Nohria is exactly correct. Good leadership is humble leadership. Humility is living in truth. The truth about our limitations and an understanding of our proper relationship with others. And do we share with each other a moral overconfidence—a certain naiveté about ourselves that carries with it the seeds of our own destruction.

Humility gives us a better understanding of how we are to treat each other. Without it we operate from only one perspective—our own. This kills influence. As leaders, we are to work with people, not over them. It is far too tempting to think hierarchically and not relationally.

In Leading Without Power, Max De Pree says that “Leaders belong to their followers.” Too many leaders try to create a buffer between themselves and their followers, when instead, they need to be leading from among their followers. A humble leader will close the gap between themselves and others.

Humility manifests itself in understanding the need to learn. Authority disciplined by humility is teachable. It is arrogant to think that once we have the position or a title, we’ve arrived. We never arrive. It is merely an opportunity to learn from another perspective. If you stop learning, you stop leading. It’s something we need to stay on top of because if we don’t, life has a way of bringing us up short in an effort to get us to wake-up and start learning. Leadership has a way of revealing our weaknesses.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:07 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Leadership Development , Personal Development

11.07.11

3 Self-Limiting Mindsets that Will Hold You Back at Work

Leading Forum
This is a guest post by Joel Garfinkle, author of Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level. Garfinkle asks, “What makes one person more successful than another?” Getting Ahead is a straightforward guide to help you eliminate your blind spots to improve how you are perceived, increase your visibility and exert your influence. Great material.

The workplace has enough challenges and obstacles without us getting in our own way. But too often, we sabotage ourselves. Whether it’s internal forces that cause us to sell ourselves short or it’s a matter of having been conditioned not to “toot our own horn,” people have a marked tendency to avoid the limelight when in truth they belong in it. What’s more, if you’ve always been the ‘unsung hero,’ management wants to know who you are.

In my executive coaching business, I’ve worked with scores of clients over the years to help them overcome self-limiting mindsets that were holding them back in the workplace. Here are some of the most common issues:
  1. Not making an effort to be visible to management. Some of my clients were frustrated because they felt chronically underappreciated, undervalued and anonymous. “I can’t get ahead because nobody knows who I am or what I do for this company,” is a common refrain. This is a particularly severe problem where managers are “results-oriented” while paying scant attention to developing the processes and people that bring them those results.

    It’s up to you to ensure that you get credit for your accomplishments. Make a conscious effort to keep your boss apprised of the progress you are making and the projects you complete successfully. If you want to be valued and appreciated, you need to make sure management knows what you are doing and how your efforts contribute to the company’s bottom line.

  2. Believing it’s the boss’s job to manage your career. Career management is your job, not his. Don’t leave your career management up to your boss.

    You may need to take charge of your employee evaluation process yourself. To do this, first get an understanding of how the employee evaluation system works. Find out exactly what criteria or metrics your boss is using to evaluate your performance. This will probably require a sit-down session.

    Once you know how you will be evaluated, you need to prepare in advance for the evaluation. Keep careful notes on all your accomplishments for the company. Put dollar figures on them whenever possible. The more numbers, the better. Then take initiative to schedule sit-downs to discuss your progress throughout the year. Don’t rely on your manager to do it.

    Then, at least a month before your annual evaluation is due, schedule another appointment. Hand your boss an itemized list of your accomplishments for the year. Say, “Here’s a list of the things we’ve discussed over the year. I thought this would come in handy for when you write my eval.” Then let it go at that. If your manager is on the ball, though, and writes your eval way ahead of the deadline, you may need to schedule your meeting even earlier. The important thing is to take initiative and stay ahead of the curve.

    Management wants to make their star employees look good. Some of them don’t have the administrative or managerial skill set to allow them to do that, though. They get distracted and don’t know what a good, solid evaluation even looks like. Managers will appreciate that you took the time.

  3. Failure to notice the opportunities around you. Some workers limit themselves by getting so focused on their immediate jobs and departments that they lose sight of the big picture. One solution: Think two levels up. Make sure you know about the key issues and projects not just in your immediate department, but at least two levels up from you. You should also network within the company and find out who the key players are in other departments. Keep your ear to the ground to learn about new initiatives, particularly in revenue-generating endeavors or where you will have an opportunity to create substantial savings for the company.

    If your immediate boss can’t or won’t promote you, you need to have options. By exposing your talents, skills and value to leaders in other departments, you enhance your chances of gaining a promotion. It’s not just who you know; it’s who knows you! Work hard to maximize your exposure for lateral movements and promotions.

Remember, if you don’t take credit for your own success, someone else will. That doesn’t serve your own interests. And if you think about it, it doesn’t serve the long-term interests of the company. You have a professional duty to yourself as well as your company to make sure your accomplishments are recognized and credited to you.

Leadership
Joel A. Garfinkle is recognized as one of the top 50 coaches in the U.S., having worked with many of the world's leading companies. He is the author of seven books, including Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level. View his books and FREE articles at his Executive Coaching Services website. You can also subscribe to his Executive Leadership newsletter and receive the FREE e-book, 40 Proven Strategies to Get Promoted Now!”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:11 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Leadership Development , Leading Forum , Personal Development

10.26.11

It’s Not About You

Leadership
It’s Not About You by Bob Burg and John David Mann, is the story of a leader’s journey. A journey any good leader has to take.

Ben begins with an agenda. His job is to convince or if necessary, to steamroll a manufacturer of high-quality chairs to accepting a merger. Ben’s company believes it to be a good thing, but the target company is not so sure. Ben’s mindset as he starts out is: “how do I get them to do what I want them to do.”

Somewhere between getting people to understand him and slowing-down long enough to understand them, he found his answer.

Through a series of encounters with a mentor—Aunt Elle—and a lot of reflection Ben comes to understand that it is not about him. His journey causes him to reflect on five lessons:

Lesson #1: Hold the Vision. The hard part isn’t coming up with the vision, it’s holding on to the vision. “As a leader, your job is to hold fast to the big picture, to keep seeing it in your mind’s eye, with crystal clarity, where it is you are going—that place that right at this moment exists only in your mind's eye. And to keep seeing that, even when nobody else does.”

Lesson #2: Build Your People. “People have all sorts of amazing qualities and natural abilities trapped inside them. With the wood, it’s knowing how to apply the heat. With people, it’s applying your belief.” If you give people something great to live up to, they usually will. “How influential you are, comes down to your intention. What are you focused on? Your benefit, or theirs?” The more you yield, the more power you have.

Lesson #3: Do the Work. Be humble and stay grounded. Aunt Elle said, “People who achieve great things that the world will never forget, start out by accomplishing small things the world will never see.”

Lesson #4: Stand for Something. Lead from who you are. People will figure it out anyway. People need to trust your competence, but they need to trust your character more. “Competence is simply the baseline, the thing that puts you in the game. It matters, but honestly, it’s a dime a dozen.” The authors remind us that you can only lead as far as you grow. Aunt Elle says, “What you have to give, you offer least of all through what you say; in greater part through what you do; but in greatest part through who you are.”

Lesson #5: Share the Mantle. It’s not about you. “You are not their dreams, you are only the steward of those dreams. And leaders often get it backwards and start thinking they not only hold the best of others but they are the best….The moment you start thinking it’s all about you, that you’re the deal, is the moment you begin losing your capacity to positively influence others’ lives.”
Whatever great parenting looks like, it is not about the parent.
It’s Not About You is a great presentation of solid life lessons. A book to be read and passed around. Unfortunately, “it’s not about you,” is not the kind of lesson that once learned, is always remembered. If it was, fewer great leaders would finish poorly after so many years of outstanding service. This is an issue that we face over and over again, but hopefully in ever diminishing frequency and intensity as our leadership matures. This book is a great reminder of the power of the right kind of leadership; leadership that comes from an inner strength of understanding, service and outgoing concern for others.

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Sometimes the hardest thing to grasp about leadership is that it is not about you. It’s easy to make it about us. We want to do something, so naturally we push; when actually we should be pulling by considering the needs of others first. In leadership, as with so much in life, the more we give, the more we have.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:29 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Followership , Human Resources , Leadership Development , Personal Development

10.14.11

5 Leadership Lessons: EntreLeadership

5 Leadership Lessons

Dave Ramsey defines EntreLeadership as “the process of leading to cause a venture to grow and prosper.” Entreleaders know how to blend their entrepreneurial passion with servant-like leadership that motivates employees through persuasion instead of intimidation. EntreLeadership is a book about how business works from a practitioner. His advice, on nearly every facet of running a business, is based on solid principles. Here are just a few of his thoughts on leadership:

1  The very things you want from a leader are the very things the people you are leading expect from you. You must intentionally become more of each of these every day to grow yourself and your business. And to the extent you’re not doing that, you’re failing as a leader.

2  You want to know what is holding back your dreams from becoming a reality? Go look in your mirror. The good news is, if you’re the problem, you’re also the solution.

3  How do you begin to foster and live out this spirit of serving your team with strength? Avoid executive perks and ivory towers. Eat lunch with your team in the company lunchroom every day. Get your own coffee sometimes. No reserved parking spots. Look for the little actions you can take that say to your team that while you are in charge, and while you lead from strength, you are all in this together.

4  While persuasional leadership takes longer and takes more restraint at the time, it is much more efficient over the long haul. Positional leadership doesn’t take as long in the exchange, but you have to do it over and over and over and over.

5  Too many people in business have abandoned sight of the fact that their team members are humans, they are people. Too many people in business have become so shallow that they are merely transactional, not relational. The people on your payroll are not units of production, they are people. They have dreams, goals, hurts, and crises. If you trample them or don’t bother to engage them relationally you will forever struggle in your operations.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:25 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Communication , General Business , Human Resources , Leadership , Management

10.07.11

Work-Life Balance?

Leadership
The term work-life balance is fatally flawed says Matthew Kelly in Off Balance. Meant to deal with the pressures surrounding both personal and professional life, the term has unwittingly created a false dichotomy. You can’t separate the two. In fact, says Kelly, “the term itself diminishes our ability to make the case that work can be a richly rewarding part of a person’s life and should in many ways be personal.”

What people really want (and need) is not work-life balance, but to “live deeply satisfying lives both personally and professionally.” The trick is to get in touch with your dissatisfaction and then strategically create the life you want. But it will take some work. It’s not going to happen accidentally. Kelly writes, “The life you desire is there for the taking, but it comes at a cost. Life, like business, hinges on the successful allocation of scarce resources.”

Kelly provides some key thinking to support this discussion:
We seem more interested in how we want to live than we are in discovering the best way to live. Likewise, we are much more interested in developing self-expression than we are in developing selves that are worth expressing. Personal preference has triumphed over the pursuit of excellence. We want what we want, and we feel entitled to get what we want.

The problem with all this is that getting what we want is certainly not work-life balance, and getting what we want almost never leads to personal and professional satisfaction. The reason is that very few people have the requisite self-knowledge to want the right things. As we grow and gain this self-knowledge we begin to want what we need because we discover that the fulfillment of our legitimate needs is more likely to lead to lasting happiness in a changing world than the reckless pursuit of whimsical happiness.
So we need to begin with self-knowledge. “Satisfaction does not arise from simply having experiences and things, but rather from having the experiences and things that you deem important.” Kelly has developed a system to increase the level of personal and professional satisfaction in your life that involves five steps, beginning of course with assessment:

Assessment. What brings you satisfaction? (There is an Off-Balance Assessment in the book and online at FloydConsulting.com) This process says Kelly, allows us to pinpoint an element of our dissatisfaction and create a prescription to overcome it.

Priorities. What matters most to you? (Priority Exercise Worksheet PDF) While these may change over time, it is essential that we clearly define them or we become victims of the tyranny of the urgent.

Core Habits. What are the daily habits that keep you healthy, focused and energized? For example, workout, meditation, proper diet, maintaining relationships. “What one thing, if done every day, would change your life markedly?”

Weekly Strategy Session. What is the key project that should have your attention and be your starting point for each day of the week? Our lives are destined for underachievement and dissatisfaction if we don’t learn to plan and strategize personally.

Quarterly Review. Every three months review what is working well in your life, review what you said you would do in the last ninety days; outline the key objectives in your life at this time; share your plan to accomplish these objectives.

Kelly says that knowing how to balance various activities in our life to produce the maximum flow of energy is perhaps the most important skill any of us can learn and develop. “Each day has a focus, and holding to this focus plays a significant role in creating and sustaining high levels of satisfaction.” He concludes, “To lay your head on your pillow at night, knowing that who you are and what you do makes sense … now, that is satisfaction.”

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Work-life balance is a myth. We can’t have it all, but we can find both personal and professional satisfaction. You can stumble into a moderately satisfying life, but to sustain and increase that satisfaction requires a strategic approach and some real work. You can be the architect of a life that is both personally and professionally satisfying.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 03:00 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Personal Development

09.13.11

Ownership Thinking

Leadership
Ownership Thinking is about developing leaders at all levels. “Fundamentally,” writes author Brad Hams, “Ownership Thinking is about moving employees away from the ‘me’ way of thinking and towards concerns of the business and its financial performance.” This is leadership thinking in a business setting.

When people understand the business, their role in it, and are informed of what is going on and take responsibility for the outcomes, then they become better stewards of the company’s resources and help to create wealth. Hams has found that the vast majority of people “want to engage and contribute, and feel much better about themselves when they have the opportunity to do so … and they have the capacity to do so.”

We often frustrate that effort and create cultures of entitlement because, in the words of Judith Bardwick author of Danger in the Comfort Zone, “managers are unwilling to do the work of requiring work.” Hams says his mission in life is to eradicate habits of entitlement in organizations.
People who actually produce things do so primarily for two reasons: (1) They have a strong work ethic. In other words, they have to believe that rewards come only with hard work, and (2) They enjoy producing. It is exciting for them, and the reward for producing is not only the things they are able to afford as a result of it, but the personal growth and sense of worth that come from producing: that is, true self-esteem.
A workforce that is helping to create wealth should be able to participate in the wealth they are creating. However, incentive plans should be self-funding and “it is the obligation of ownership and leadership to teach them how to do that and to provide them with them tools and training necessary to accomplish the task.”

Simply put, your employees need to know what’s going on. In a chapter entitled, Your Employees Think You Make Wheelbarrows of Money, Hams relates that when he asks the question: “Your company had 12 million in sales last year, what do you think the profit was?” it is not uncommon to hear 50% from employees of companies where financial information is not shared or business acumen taught. “In the absence of information, people make stuff up.”
Generally speaking, the people with the greatest understanding and expertise in any given area are the people who are actually doing the work, and these people are not necessarily management. For an organization to achieve excellence, it must engage all of its organization members.
Ownership Thinking is a how-to book. Hams explains how to create incentive plans that work (plans that clearly align employees’ behavior to the organization’s business and financial objectives), how to teach financial skills (how the company makes money and how they add - or take away – value), creating the right performance indicators, rapid improvement plans and how to implement Ownership Thinking for the long-term. “Practicing Ownership Thinking will allow you, as an owner or leader, to rest easier knowing that your employees are making decisions and taking actions that are aligned with what you would do yourself.”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:40 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | General Business , Human Resources , Management , Motivation

09.09.11

Managing the Unmanageable

Leadership
If we truly want to deal with a difficult or unmanageable person, we have to get at the thinking behind the behavior. Why do they do that? Why are they that way?

Instead of going deeper, it’s easier to just label them and avoid the issue. He’s rude. She’s unreliable. He’s an egomaniac. She’s self-absorbed. Anne Loehr and Jezra Kaye, authors of Managing the Unmanageable, say that these “unmanageable” people are costing companies a fortune. Loehr estimates that her clients lose, on average, 30% of their productivity because of issues related to unmanageable employees.

The fact is, “there’s a world of difference between someone who’s acting unmanageable, and someone who can’t [won’t] act any other way. There’s a world of difference between someone who’s become unmanageable in response to a particular set of circumstances (that can, at least theoretically, be changed) and someone who’s just like that.” Perceiving the difference is the task of leaders, managers, and coaches. Most of the time we deal with people at the symptom level.

Managing the Unmanageable is written to help you do just that. They begin with an appropriate caution: If you find yourself being convinced that someone could never have the slightest redeeming good quality, find a way to deal with your own feelings before you try to manage theirs. Good advice.

There are some early warning signs that it is time to look deeper than the behaviors you see:

Diminished Motivation: “Frustration with a job can grow out of unmet or unrealistic expectations, company-wide uncertainty or relationship problems on a team or with a manager.” You’ll hear comments like:
“I’m just not into it anymore.”
“This job isn’t what I expected.”
“I can’t stand the people on my team.”
Unclear Expectations: Misunderstandings are common. We don’t always communicate as clearly as we think. Too much often goes unsaid. Sadly, too, “managers and executives sometimes purposely lead employees astray, confuse them, or keep them in the dark to avoid unpleasant issues or consolidate power in their own hands.” It sounds like this:
“I have no idea what she wants.”
“It’s impossible to satisfy him.”
“She thinks everything I do is wrong.”
Lack of Confidence or Self-Esteem: “It’s natural to wonder if you have what it takes when the stakes go up or your job becomes more complex. But if that lack of self-confidence persists, an employee can become resistant, defensive, and ultimately unmanageable. They will say things such as:
“I don’t know why they thought I could do this.”
“It’s just never going to get done.”
“Maybe I should switch careers.”
Personal Issues: “When your employee is distracted, self-absorbed, or unable to focus, her problem may stem from conditions outside of work. It might be expressed as:
“I haven’t slept through the night in weeks.”
“I just can’t seem to concentrate.”
“Life is too damned hard these days.”
“A radical shift in behavior,” say Loehr and Kaye, “may be your first indication that a good employee is morphing into an unmanageable employee.”

In short, other people have many of the same problems we have, it’s just that they haven’t learned how to deal with it or are not in a position to do anything about it in the same way that we would as leaders.

The book specifically deals with the excuse-maker, the grumbler, the egomaniac, the loose cannon, the joker, the do-gooder, the wallflower, the gossip, the slacker, the rude-nik, and the AWOL.

Each “salvage” operation follows the 5-C Model: Commit or Quit, Communicate, Clarify Goals and Roles, Coach, and Create Accountability. The focus of each chapter is to get behind the behavior of each type and understand it. You will find helpful composite cases, practical tips and dialogues for dealing with each type.

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08.26.11

Credibility: How Leaders Gain it and Lose It

Leadership
Credibility is the foundation of leadership.

Unfortunately, many people today do not trust their leaders. “Many wonder if there are any leaders left who have the strength of character to sustain their trust,” write Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner in Credibility: How Leaders Gain it and Lose It – Why People Demand It.

While there is no single reason for it, “there is the gnawing sense in many corridors that leaders are not competent to handle the tough challenges; that they are not telling the truth; and that they are motivated more by greed and self-interest than concerns for the customer, the employees, or the country.” The time is ripe to revisit this topic.

Credibility is a wake-up call to get back to the fundamentals; to remember that leadership is about relationships. “The secret to closing the credibility gap lies in a collective willingness to get closer, to become known, and to get to know others—as human beings, not as demographic categories, psychographic profiles, voting statistics, or employee numbers.”

The process of building and sustaining credibility requires six disciplines: discover your self, appreciate constituents, affirm shared values, develop capacity, serve a purpose, and sustain hope. The authors devote a chapter to each of these issues.

Personal responsibility is key to building and restoring credibility. Personal responsibility means understanding not only your actions, but the likely consequences and attending to them. Kouzes and Posner suggest following the “Six A’s of Leadership Accountability”: accept, admit, apologize, act, amend, attend.

Leadership isn’t easy and in a constantly changing world, things like credibility and competency can seem elusive. But if we act on a daily basis, “in ways that increase people’s belief that we are honest, competent, inspiring, and forward-looking, people will be much more likely to want to follow your direction.” When leaders walk the talk, others are more likely to follow.

Some leaders think that credibility once demonstrated and earned, is complete. But it must be renewed daily in everything we do. Unfair or not, it is the life that a good leader has chosen and demonstrates the understanding that the function of leaders is to serve, not be served. Credibility is an important book to help you sustain your influence. They conclude:
Renewing credibility is a continuous human struggle and the ultimate leadership struggle. Strenuous effort is required to build and strengthen the foundations of working relationships. Constituents do not owe leaders allegiance. Leaders earn it. The gift of another’s trust and confidence is well worth the struggle and essential to meeting the challenges of leading people to places they have never been before.
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08.22.11

Relationship Trouble? Try Another Perspective

Periods of crisis and testing are helpful for what they bring to our attention. When things are going well it is all too easy to ignore the hard issues we would be better served by addressing. Times of testing show who we really are.

Leadership
Diana Smith identifies one such issue in The Elephant in the Room: relationships. “No longer,” Smith writes, “can we count on slow markets or sloppy competition to make up for the inefficiencies poor relationships create. We face a crisis not only of leadership but of relationship.”

When faced with a relationship problem, there are two ways we can look at it:

Individual Perspective: Based on the assumptions that there is one right answer, people either get it or they don’t get it, and when they don’t, their dispositions are largely to blame.

Relational Perspective: Based on the assumptions that different people will see different things, that solid common ground can only be found after exploring basic differences, and that the strength of a relationship will determine how well and how quickly people can put their differences to work.

“The assumption that ‘you alone are responsible’ and ‘you are either mad or bad’ lead people to locate the cause of problems in individuals and outside their own influence.” The relational perspective actually puts you in the frame of mind to take responsibility for any part you may have in the difficulty. Reflecting on the relationship between Churchill and Roosevelt she observes that “they looked to the other’s circumstances, not his character, to find out why” they did what they did.

Karl Popper wrote in Conjectures and Refutations, “While differing widely in the various little bits we know, in our infinite ignorance we are all equal.” Smith says that understanding this “leads people to assume that we all see things others miss, that disagreements are inevitable and valuable, that those disagreements will at times cause frustration, and that people will be better off if they help each other build relationships that can handle those differences well, especially under pressure.

While it makes sense to take the relational perspective, it can be hard to do especially when we are in the heat of the moment. One reason for this is that it is hard to step out of the moment and reflect on and reframe the situation in a productive way. And when we do reflect it’s easy to get sucked into what Smith calls “armchair reflection.” This is reflection that is really nothing more than gossip, blaming, imputing motives and conclusions like, “He just doesn’t get it.” It doesn’t lead to understanding and a forum for the other person to fill in what is missing from the picture.

Not all relationships are created equal and Smith offers techniques to sort those out too. But when we want to improve a relationship, if we are waiting for the other person to change, she says we’re in for a long wait. “To improve a relationship, you need to focus on changing the relationship, not just yourself or the other person.” Smith offers tools and practices to do this.

Before you even begin to work on a relationship, there is an interesting paradox to think about: “They know each other so well, they no longer know each other at all. All they see are the caricatures in their heads—he’s so sensitive, she’s so competitive.” Smith adds that despite the “very efficiency these caricatures give, they also take away because they make a person’s underlying complexity—sure to emerge under stress—harder to handle or to understand. That’s why, early on, the single most important thing people can do is slow down and take a closer look at each other and how their relationship works.

Your effectiveness as a leader depends on your relationships. The Elephant in the Room highlights a better perspective to take than the standard individual perspective we usually employ in dealing with our relationships. A relationship is a system of behaviors that can be analyzed and understood. Smith’s insights will help you to productively influence them.

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08.19.11

What to Ask the Person in the Mirror

While we might like to think otherwise, here is a fact about successful leaders:
Successful leaders go through significant periods of time in which they feel confused, discouraged, and unsure of themselves and their decisions. They feel as if they should be somewhere else, doing something else.
And unsuccessful leaders go through the same thing. The difference, says Harvard professor Robert Kaplan, is “how they deal with these periods of confusion and uncertainty. The trick lies not in avoiding these difficult periods; it lies in knowing how to step back, diagnose, regroup, and move forward.”

Leadership
This means not having all the right answers, but learning to ask the right questions. The challenge will be asking the right questions and making to the time to reflect on them. Reflecting is the key ingredient here and what many of us are short on. In his timeless book, What to Ask the Person in the Mirror, Kaplan offers seven basic types of inquiry or areas of focus—actually a system of inquiry that ties the leadership function together—that you should be looking at on a regular basis:

Vision and Priorities. In this foundational area we need to be very clear and communicate it in a way that helps others to be able to determine where to focus their own efforts. Have you developed a clear vision and have you identified three to five clear priorities to achieve that vision?

Managing Your Time. Your vision and priorities are reflected in the way you use your time. Track your time for two weeks. How does this compare to your key priorities?

Giving and Getting Feedback. Most leaders do not effectively coach their subordinates, and also fail to get the critical coaching that they themselves need in order to excel. Do you cultivate advisors who are able to confront you with criticisms that you may not want to hear?

Succession Planning and Delegation. When leaders fail to actively plan for succession, they do not delegate sufficiently and may become decision-making bottlenecks. Have you identified potential successors for your job? Why not?

Evaluation and Alignment. It is often extremely difficult as an insider to see where you and the organization have drifted out of alignment. If you had to start again, how would you do it? Would you be doing the same things? Does the design of your organization, your incentive systems, your culture, and even your approach to leading still fit the needs of the organization?

The Leader as Role Model. Many leaders fail to appreciate that their actions speak louder than their words. Self-awareness is critically important. Write down two or three key messages you believe you send with your behavior. Seek advice from key subordinates and advisors who directly observe your behavior, in order to answer this question: is there a “disconnect” between the messages you wish to send and those you are in fact sending?

Reaching Your Potential. Know and learn to manage your strengths, weaknesses, and passions, not only to bring out your best, but also to create this same environment and aspiration among your staff.

It’s not uncommon to find leaders that just stick to what they know best and not address those areas where they feel uncomfortable or insecure. All of these areas need to be reflected on as they each have an impact on the other. Taking the time to reflect is not easy and “doesn’t sound like fun, and may not sound as important as the fifty other things you have to fit into your day—but it works.” And be sure to take the time to reflect on these issues with your team as well.

With many down-to-earth examples, Kaplan will expand the range of questions you should be asking yourself. What to Ask the Person in the Mirror will help you to rethink unsustainable behaviors that are damaging to both you and your organization and help you to mature and grow in your leadership role.

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08.08.11

Common Purpose Leadership

Leadership
In Common Purpose, consultant Joel Kurtzman makes the case that excellent leaders build a sense of inclusiveness—a sense of we—within the organization by creating a common purpose. A place where people know what to do and why, and understand what the organization stands for. Based on interviews and first-hand experience, Common Purpose lays out how to achieve and then sustain a culture based on a common purpose. For example:
  • Emphasize One Goal – Gordon Bethune, CEO of Continental Airlines, recognized that his customers valued on-time performance. He set this as the measure of success for the company. In order to underscore this goal, Bethune decided to send every employee a check every time the company was first in on-time arrival. In the different cities, pilots, flight attendants, agents, mechanics, baggage handlers, and everyone else united together to achieve this one goal, while reinforcing the feeling of “one team”.
  • Become Flat, Instead of Hierarchical – In a hierarchical organization information supplied by subordinates is looked at with condescension by individuals at the top. In the case of Enron, Sherron Watkins signaled to Ken Lay, the chairman of the organization, that something was wrong with the company’s partnerships and the way they were kept off the books. Lay ignored the information due to the rationalization that if something was wrong, he, as chairman, would know. Creating different levels of importance in an organization usually works against common purpose.
  • Leaders at All Levels – When a company has a common purpose, all employees have an understanding of what the organization stands for, enabling them to make a decision independently based on that information. Simon Cooper, president and CEO of Ritz-Carlton, calls this “scriptless service”. With such a diverse clientele, employees cannot simply operate by choosing from a limited number of preselected solutions to guest requests. A chambermaid must be empowered to decide on her own volition whether to give a guest extra towels based upon what was used the night before.
  • Lead by Listening – FM Global’s chairman and CEO, Shivan Subramaniam, takes every opportunity to listen to his employees. He eats in the company’s cafeteria and often sits with random groups of FM Global employees. Subramaniam puts himself in the loop of what is going on with the company. It also makes him accessible to his employees, in case they wish to share their ideas.
The easiest way to create a sense of we, says Kurtzman, is unfortunately to create the specter of them. Because it is easy, it is probably the reason you see this dynamic played out in so many organizations of all kinds. While it is a shortcut to common purpose, “it can also be a stepping stone to chaos, doom, and organized opposition.” I would add that within the organization or group, it also leads to arrogance, stagnation and closed minds. In most cases it leads to decline.

Organizations are created to achieve goals that “are beyond the capability of an individual to accomplish alone.” They are a method of “aligning groups of people so they achieve common goals.” This is best accomplished when you encourage people to be leaders at any level within the organization. Simon Cooper, president and CEO of Ritz-Carlton says the best reason to rid an organization of mindless hierarchy is to provide scriptless service: employees deciding on their own how to make guests happy. “They make decisions on their own, on the spot, using their own judgment, and with the sense of confidence that comes from owning their jobs. That’s real leadership.” Taking risks on behalf of the organization. This requires trust at all levels and a different view of real leadership, says Kurtzman.
It is difficult to overstress how important it is for teams of people working together to meet informally from time to time…The point is that you cannot lead a team if you do not know the people you are leading, and the best way to do that is informally.
“The leader is not separate from the group he or she leads. Rather, the leader is the organization’s glue—the force that binds it together, sets its direction, and makes certain that the group functions as one.” Kurtzman notes, “Leadership is not coaching. Coaching focuses on helping people arrive at their own goals. Whereas leadership, especially common purpose leadership, is about helping people arrive at a collective set of goals. It is about coordinating people’s efforts, aims, ambitions, and capabilities.”
Leaders can’t think of themselves as better than their workers, or more favored because they have a higher rank. Becoming CEO is not a coronation, it’s a promotion. And CEOs can’t do everything. The purpose of an organization is to combine the efforts of many people to produce results no one on his or her own could achieve alone. Leaders must understand that. They must live the goals they espouse. They must understand that everyone inside the organization is looking at them — scrutinizing them, really — and also that every action of theirs is being watched and talked about. At FM Global, Shivan Subramaniam, the chairman and CEO, decided against buying a corporate jet despite the prodding of his board. Instead, he decided to abide by the same corporate travel rules that every other executive in the company abides by. He even flies on the redeye if he must. By doing this, he sends a powerful signal throughout the company that while he may be the CEO, he’s also an employee, just like everyone else. People value that. People will do almost anything for a leader like that.
Of course, one size does not fit all. “People are individuals, and those who thrive in one firm might not thrive in another. Chemistry, fit, values, and many other qualities are in the eye of the beholder.”

Kurtzman believes that “organizations will come to resemble constellations of capabilities linked together technologically from centers located around the world….Big companies will comprise smaller pieces, each with unique characteristics, ownership structures, and relationships. Each of these elements, when combined, will create enormous value?” The question is what will keep it all together. Incentives alone won’t do it. “The power of a common purpose will become the factor that differentiates winning organizations from those left behind.”

This means that leaders will have to be “kinder, more caring, and more empathic than leaders of the past.” We have seen this increased focus on respect as many of you write, talk, and practice this on a daily basis.
Common purpose leadership, at its most basic level, is about recognizing people as individuals. Common purpose leadership begins with respect for individuals and their differences, and goes on to celebrate their strengths.

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08.03.11

7 Ways to Increase Trust by Creating Stability

Leading Forum
This is a guest post by Marlene Chism, author of Stop Workplace Drama.

Uncertain times always invite a little more drama, particularly in the workplace. One reason is because the brain craves certainty. When you feel uncertain, the amygdala, an almond shaped structure in the brain shoots out chemicals through your blood stream that make you experience feelings of fear, doubt and anxiety.

Fortunately leaders can use this information to create a sense of stability in an unstable world, which increases and eliminates much of the unnecessary drama plaguing so many workplaces today. Here are seven ways leaders can increase trust and reduce workplace drama by creating a stable environment and seven questions to help you get to the root of the problem.

Be clear
Just because you are unclear does not mean you have drama, but I can guarantee where ever there is drama there is a lack of clarity in some area. The lack of clarity could be in your policies, mission statement, job descriptions or even the methods of communication.

When there seems to be negativity or any other form of drama, ask the question, “Where might there be a lack of clarity?”

Be Consistent
Often a leader can add to the confusion unintentionally because of personality and wiring. In my book, Stop Workplace Drama I talk about the creative genius boss and the idealist, two traits often found in high driving entrepreneurial types. The creative genius drives employees crazy with “flavor of the month” ideas and emergency deadlines only to change course at a whim.

The idealist contributes to lack of consistency by starting out strong then losing momentum when the new wears off, or when realism sets in and resources are scarce.

When you see the morale dipping or you sense a lack of engagement, ask the question, “How might my behaviors be perceived as inconsistent?”

Shorten the Gap
Most of us know from experience that plans that look good on paper don’t always work in the real world. One way to keep clarity and consistency is to shorten the gap. In other words, chunk down the goals into very small measurable parts. The idea here is to give the vision and the overview, but explain that plans may change as new information emerges. Then at the designated stopping places, celebrate the successes and then explain the next few projects and pieces and how the changes will contribute to the stated goals.

When you get ready to make a change, always provide a pilot period for the change rather than announce the change is here to stay.

When you see negativity, frustration or overwhelm, ask the question, “Where do I need to shorten the gap so it seems easy?”

Keep your Word
When you are in the midst of change, regular communication, scheduled communication and documented promises are a must. Even a simple, “I’ll get back with you” can create a sense of uncertainty and inconsistency if you don’t do what you say you are going to do. When you say, “I will let you know” or “I’ll get back to you on that,” schedule a time in your blackberry or calendar and make sure you follow through. Make your word golden and you will build loyalty and trust in your organization.

When you stop getting ideas, curiosity and questions, ask yourself the question, “Where do I need to follow up or tie up loose ends?”

Listen
Every time I have interviewed employees on what makes a good boss, listening is always the first response, and respect is the second. Rather than always being the one with the answers, learn how to ask a good question. When you really listen, you increase engagement, which is always a sign of trust. The good thing about listening is remembering that you don’t have to have all the answers. When you start to feel overwhelmed, stuck or confused, ask yourself, “What could I learn from my employees if I was willing to listen?”

Respect
Before I became a professional speaker and trainer I had some bad habits unbeknownst to me. I would either roll my eyes, or use sarcasm as a way to keep people at a distance when I did not agree or when I felt misunderstood. I was not aware of these habits until someone pointed it out to me. Eye-rolling, interrupting, or using innuendo and sarcasm may keep people in their place, but these habits will also build a barrier instead of a bridge. In addition, you will be viewed as a persecutor instead of as a leader.

If you perceive distance from your peers or your employees, ask yourself, “What habits do I have that could communicate disrespect?”

Master Your Self
William Penn said, “No man is fit to command another who cannot command himself.” As a leader, the worst thing you can do is to let your emotions rule you. No matter what the reason, flying off the handle, cursing, yelling or throwing fits does not benefit your corporate goals or inspire your team. No one wants to work for a bully or a hot head.

Excuses such as “that’s just the way I am,” or “You would feel the same way” indicates a lack of discipline and emotional maturity.

If you feel the pressures piling up and you have difficulty mastering yourself, ask yourself these questions: “Is my behavior and thoughts adding value,” and “How can I get my needs met so I can represent myself appropriately?”

Leadership
Tumultuous times offer great opportunities to increase your leadership skills. Rather than focusing on the outside circumstances, now is the time to become a creator and lead from within by creating stability even in difficult times.

Marlene Chism is a professional speaker, trainer and the author of Stop Workplace Drama. For more information visit www.marlenechism.com or at www.stopworkplacedrama.com

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  Got Drama?

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07.26.11

Have a Nice Conflict!

Reading Have a Nice Conflict was like listening to my Dad again. He first met “Doc” Porter in the early seventies and they clicked almost immediately. Elias Porter’s Relationship Awareness Theory, on which the book is based, resonated with my Dad.
Behaviors are the tools we choose and use to support our self-worth.

You can look at personal strengths like behaviors. They represent the different ways a person can interact with others to achieve self-worth. When a person tries one of these strengths and has success with it, they use it more often. Other strengths might have rendered poor results, and so they might tend to use those less and less. Over time, we develop a set of “go-to” strengths. They become our modus operandi.

But it’s important to remember that you have a whole tool chest of other options that may get you better results from time to time.

It is possible that some of your conflict at work happens because other people don’t see your strengths the way you intend them to be seen. … So when you find another person’s behavior annoying, look for the strength behind it. What are they overdoing? What are they really trying to accomplish? Most likely, their intent is not to annoy you. If you can find the strength lurking behind the perceived weakness, you’ve discovered insight into that person that may help you understand them better.

Conflict can happen when other people misinterpret your strengths.
Leadership
Have a Nice Conflict is the story of sales manager John Doyle who has been passed over for what he believes is a well-deserved promotion. He has lost some of his top performers because he rubbed them the wrong way. When he turns up at an old friend and client’s office to explain yet another change in sales reps, he puts him on to Dr. Mac to help him improve his people skills at both work and home.

Dr. Mac explains to John that there are many ways of interacting with others. We have default ways of behaving and when in conflict we often shift into other behaviors to maintain our self-worth. While we are trying to do the “right thing” to maintain our self-worth, conflict can happen when our “right thing” appears to be the “wrong thing” to another person. Conflict can be prevented by seeing contentious behavior as merely a different style instead of a direct challenge or threat aimed at annoying you or derailing you.

He introduces him to the Strengths Deployment Inventory (SDI) which is a tool to help you understand the motivations behind your own behaviors and to better discern the motivations of others. By giving you a framework it helps you to understand what you and others are feeling and then helps you be better able to respond.

Having a nice conflict is about taking personal responsibility for the interaction. To create movement toward resolution, we need to show the other person the path back to self-worth—where they feel good about themselves. That path may be different than yours. SDI The SDI helps you understand those paths. “When we’re stuck in a place of protecting our self-worth, it’s much harder to help others protect or restore what’s important to them. And that’s the primary mission of managing conflict. Managing conflict is about creating the conditions that empower others to manage themselves out of their emotional state of conflict. To effectively manage conflict, we have to begin with ourselves. If we’re pulled into conflict ourselves, we’re usually not in a great position to help others.”

The concept should be taught in schools, however the thought process is essential for leaders. The book alone offers valuable insights into the process and methodology, but coupled with the SDI you’ll have greater success. The authors offer a discount on the SDI to readers of the book.

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07.20.11

Information Overload and What You Can Do About It

Knowledge workers think for a living to varying extents, depending on the job and situation, but there is little time for thought and reflection in the course of a typical day. Instead, information—often in the form of e-mail messages, reports, news, Web sites, RSS feeds, blogs, wikis, instant messages, text messages, Twitter, and video conferencing walls—bombards and dulls our senses.
Consider this: A 30-second interruption can result in as much as 5 minutes of recovery time. In total, interruptions plus recovery time consume as much as 28% of the knowledge worker’s day.

Overload
The volume of information we have today “throttles productivity, reduces our capability to absorb and learn, puts our physical and mental health at risk, and interferes with personal and business relationships.” Jonathan Spira, CEO of Basex, a research firm focusing on issues companies face in the knowledge economy, explains in Overload! why we are in the state we are in and what steps we can begin to take to better manage it.

Even as dry as information tends to be, this is an absorbing book. Spira claims that the changes in how we use and view information that will happen over the next 50 years will not only reshape the globe but turn it inside out. Today, information overload costs the U.S. economy a minimum of $900 billion per year in lowered employee productivity and reduced innovation.

To manage successfully in the knowledge economy, we must recognize key differences in how knowledge workers work. Their tasks can be categorized into six overarching tasks: searching, creating content (sometimes re-creating), thought and reflection, sharing knowledge, and networking. Interestingly, a 2010 Basex study found that of these tasks, knowledge workers only spend only 5% of the day engaged in thought and reflection. The one task that is essential for all the rest we spend so little time performing. We must allow [require] workers more time for thought and reflection if they are to be more productive, efficient, and effective.

Too much information without reflection can stall our productivity. It affects our ability to manage thoughts and ideas, contemplate and even to reason and think. We develop a state of what has been termed, continuous partial attention; to give only partial attention continuously. Science writer Steven Johnson described it this way:
It usually involves skimming the surface of the incoming data, picking out the relevant details, and moving on to the next stream. You’re paying attention, but only partially. That lets you cast a wider net, but it also runs the risk of keeping you from really studying the fish.
Researcher Linda Stone adds this:
It is motivated by a desire to be a LIVE node on the network. Another way of saying this is that we want to connect and be connected. We want to effectively scan for opportunity and optimize for the best opportunities, activities, and contacts, in any given moment….It is an always on, anywhere, anytime, any place behavior that involves an artificial sense of constant crisis. We are always on high alert when we pay continuous partial attention.

Although there are tens of thousands of things we could do says Spiria, he offers ten tips that, when observed, will help lower information overload for everyone:
  • Don’t email someone, and then two seconds later follow up with an Instant Message or phone call.
  • Don’t combine multiple themes or requests in a single email.
  • Make sure the subject of your email clearly reflects both the topic and urgency of the missive.
  • Read your email before sending to make sure it is comprehensible to others.
  • Don’t overburden people with unnecessary e-mail, especially one-word replies such as “Thanks!” or “Great!” and only use “reply to all” only when absolutely necessary.
  • Don’t get impatient when there’s no immediate response to your message.
  • Keep your status up-to-date and visible to others so they know whether you’re busy or away.
  • Recognize that the intended recipient of your communications isn’t a mind reader, and therefore I will supply the necessary details in your messages so nothing is left to the imagination.
  • Recognize that typed words can be misleading in both tone and intent, so strive for simplicity and clarity in your communication.
  • Because you understand the complexity and severity of information overload, do everything you can to facilitate the transfer and sharing of knowledge.
Find more tips at the book's companion website: OverloadStories.com

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  Consider: Harnessing the Power of Reflective Thinking in Your Organization

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07.13.11

Who’s the Real Leader in Your Office?

Leading Forum
This is a guest post by Jeffrey Cohn and Jay Moran, authors of Why Are We Bad at Picking Good Leaders?

How often have you wondered who the real leader is in your office? Maybe you need to delegate a critical project, and you can’t afford to put your faith in someone who is not up to the job. Or maybe you work under several managers, and you want to make sure that you are building rapport with the one who counts. Or maybe you’d like to do some self-inventory in order to gauge how far you might rise after four or five additional years. All of these are good reasons for wondering how to accurately assess leadership potential.

Unfortunately, most people have been taught to think about this issue in all the wrong ways. As a society, we rely on some rather misguided ideas about leadership success. As a result, when it comes to leadership selection decisions, we commit some pretty big errors.

The first mistake stems from not knowing what qualities to seek in potential leaders. For decades we have been told that a charismatic personality, or Ivy-League training, or certain style, make all the difference. They don’t. None of these factors is a reliable predictor of leadership effectiveness. Other times we focus on qualities that do matter, but we don’t go far enough to seek a healthy balance. For example, we gravitate toward individuals who possess enormous passion and vision, but who lack solid character. Or we promote people with impressive courage, but who lack enough empathy to handle sticky social situations.

The second big mistake we make when trying to judge leadership potential is the use of insufficient assessment techniques. In other words, even when we know what to look for, we don’t know how to look. We rely on backward looking interview questions, or inappropriate personality tests, or letters of reference from those who simply cannot predict how a person will perform in a fundamentally new position. Even the perennial favorite among promotion criteria – prior performance – is not a good indicator of future leadership success. At best, it tells only half the story. A solid manager with ten years of experience in sales, for example, might be poorly suited for a generalist role that will require her to lead an entire division.

In our book Why Are We Bad at Picking Good Leaders? the two of us answer these crucial “what” and “how” questions. Based on more than fifteen years of experience working with premiere executive education programs and some of the best organizations in the world, we explain how to identify the very best leaders. Here are some highlights that will help you make your own determination:

Focus on the Qualities that Count. There are seven essential attributes of leadership success—integrity, empathy, emotional intelligence, vision, judgment, courage and passion. Take away just one, and a person who is called upon to lead will eventually fail. For example, former BP CEO Tony Hayward successfully climbed the corporate ladder for more than 25 years. But when the Deepwater Horizon exploded in 2010, his leadership faced a stiff challenge. In particular, he needed a strong sense of empathy to deal with an outraged public and a diverse set of competing constituents. Unfortunately, he was not up to the task. During an early interview, he claimed that the oil spill was “relatively tiny” compared with the “very big ocean,” and he consistently underestimated the extent of the leak. Obviously the spill wasn’t tiny from the vantage point of the Gulf Coast fishermen who lived nearby. Worse was the comment Hayward posted on Facebook to the effect that more than anyone else, he wanted the crisis to be over because, he said, “I want my life back.” This quip was widely seen as insensitive to the men whose lives had been lost in the explosion. President Obama responded, “He wouldn’t be working for me after any of those statements,” and although his days were probably already numbered, that was the last straw. Hayward lacked the kind of empathy that leaders need to survive.

Use the Right Assessment Techniques. Not too long ago, we met with a Fortune 500 president who was reeling from a poor hiring decision. Just six months after filling a key position, the company had to terminate its new hire and start a search all over again. When we asked the president how he and his team chose the person who was originally selected, he said: “He [the candidate who was hired] had great experience in the industry, a track record of turning around underperforming business, and already had relationships with several of our largest customers.” In addition, the company hired a search firm that conducted extensive background referencing, and all signs were positive. The candidate was results-oriented, friendly, well liked, and driven. While these findings sounded good, further investigation on our part revealed that the president fell into some classic assessment traps. The most serious mistake he made was relying on an evaluation process that was essentially backward looking. The president spent large amounts of time going over the candidate’s résumé and credentials: he asked about prior successes and failures, he asked others how the candidate performed, and so on. But this backward-looking investigation has limited predictive value when trying to determine a candidate’s likely success in a fundamentally new position. In our assessment practice, we overcome this obstacle by using a variety of different techniques, including simulations and case studies, direct observation in group settings, and specially created hypothetical scenarios that test a candidate’s leadership potential. This last technique is critical because it is forward looking. Unlike a typical interview question that asks candidates to discuss what happened in the past, these hypothetical situations present candidates with unfamiliar and challenging leadership situations. No amount of preparation or interview savvy will enable a candidate to fudge her answer or game the interview process.

For more information on how the best companies in the world find first-rate leaders, including how to order Why Are We Bad at Picking Good Leaders? visit PickingBetterLeaders.com or email the authors directly at jcohn@liag-advisors.com and jmoran@liag-advisors.com.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:48 PM
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06.29.11

Leading Views: Four Ways to Change

Leading ViewsWe know what to do to make people happy at work says Brian Tracy. The problem is that we either forget to do those things that make people happy, neglect to do them because we are distracted by other things, refuse to do them because we don’t understand their importance, or, worst of all, do things that actually make people unhappy and then justify our behavior with self-righteous excuses and rationalizations.

To make people feel really happy about themselves, you don’t have to change your entire personality or become a completely different person, you simply have to treat them exactly the way you would like to be treated, over and over again, until it becomes a series of automatic and easy behaviors for you.

There are only four ways that you can change anything about yourself, your life, your work, or your relationships with others:
  1. You can do more of certain things. What should you be doing more of to build a positive, upbeat, happy work environment?
  2. You could do less of other things. What should you be doing less of if you want people to feel wonderful about themselves every day?
  3. You could start doing something that you are not doing today. What things should you start doing that would cause people to feel happier about themselves and their work?
  4. You could stop certain behaviors altogether. What are the things that you are doing on a regular basis that you should discontinue?
If you are not sure about any of the answers to these questions, sit down with your staff, as individuals or in a group setting, and have the courage and honesty to ask them these questions:

• What would you like me to do more of in the days and weeks ahead?
• What would you like me to do less of?
• What would you like me to start doing that I am not doing today?
• What would you like me to stop doing altogether?

Adapted from Full Engagement! Inspire, Motivate, and Bring Out the Best in Your People by Brian Tracy

Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:33 PM
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06.17.11

42 Rules for Your New Leadership Role

Leadership
Whether you have just been given a new leadership role, are currently in a leadership role, or have consciously decided to begin to lead from where you are, Pam Fox Rollin has created a concise guide for doing it successfully. 42 Rules for Your New Leadership Role gives you a starting point to work from to help prevent costly errors from occurring and will also aid in improving one's overall leadership experience.

In all the busyness that surrounds a new role, it’s easy to forget the essential little things that make all the difference. We easily get caught up in the activity and don’t slow down enough to think about what it is we really need to be doing. New roles bring with it new expectations and that means doing things differently than we have done them before. 42 Rules will help you to gather your thoughts and lead thoughtfully. A quick daily review will help to keep you focused on the agenda that really matters.

The book is divided into seven sections:

Set Yourself up for Success: Take charge of your start. New roles require new starts. “When brains are overloaded, people tend to rely on what they’ve done before, even when that didn’t work very well or is out of place in the new context. Ironically, this tunnel vision and rigidity is especially true of leaders who have experienced success.”

Map the Terrain: Investigate what matters. “If you’re going to deliver for someone, make it your priority to deliver up. That gives you breathing room to deliver for everyone else.” Common mistakes: Seeing smoke and running off to chase fires; Adopting other people’s agendas with insufficient data and thought; Becoming buried under the pent-up piles of tasks.

Show up Wisely: Know yourself. Use your strengths, but avoid diagnosing problems to suit your strengths—dragging the problem into your comfort zone. “If you're good at running numbers, be aware that you may frame problems quantitatively, when lack of strategic insight is at the root of the problem. Seeing problems as they really are—rather than as you are—is especially essential in your first months on the job.”

Start your Wins: You will feel the pressure to start with something dramatic. Pick smart quick wins. “The quick wins you choose will signal to others what matters to you….Bold moves in the second and third quarters of your tenure tend to accelerate your career.”

Create your Management System: Define your own processes. At the same time, “lighten up on talking about ‘your leadership style’ and think more about what you could do that would be truly useful for your team members and colleagues.” Spotlight your team and grow more leaders.

Stay Smart: Keep learning. “If you neglect to stay smart, seek feedback, and build your network, no one is likely to mention the gap. You’ll just become less valuable.”

Set You and Your Team to Thrive: “Many people can drive themselves and their teams to exceed expectations for a quarter or two. The real challenge is to build a team—and a life—that sustains high performance.”

“Extend a hand to the next round of leaders by sharing what you’ve learned.”
What rules have helped you in your leadership role?

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:36 PM
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06.16.11

To Focus on the Work, You Must Focus on People Doing the Work

Leadership Nuggets

Many managers think they manage the work. They don’t. They’re responsible for the work, but they get work done by influencing the people who do the work.

What makes this complicated is what Peter Drucker pointed out: when you hire a hand, it comes with a head and heart attached. So you must pay attention, lots of attention, to the whole person—head and heart—because you need more than your people’s time and attention.

Most work now requires knowledge, judgment, thinking, and decision making, and so it matters if people care about what they do. You cannot simply give them orders and criticism. That rarely produces the kind of engagement you need. Other, less direct but more effective forms of influence—such as support, development, and encouragement—are needed that engage the whole person.

Do you tend to focus on the work or on the people doing the work? In other words, do you tend to confront and criticize, or do you support people and give them what they need to do good work?

Adapted from Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader by Linda A. Hill and Kent L. Lineback.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:45 PM
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06.13.11

7 Guiding Principles for Developing Leadership Talent

People deliver numbers. If you want the numbers, you need the people. As a leader you need to know how to judge raw human talent. In The Talent Masters, Bill Conaty and Ram Charan explain how to do it.

To develop talent, you need to become intimate with your people; to know the essence of each individual. Talent masters can identify a person’s talent more precisely than most people simply because they excel at observing and listening. And they institutionalize this skill to create their own supply of good judges. It simply must become part of the culture.

Talent development is not an event. It is a process. To make it sustainable it must become part of the culture. And no one needs to understand that more than the CEO. When you have an organization devoted to a person, you have a cult. When you have an organization devoted to a set of principles and values, you have a culture. Developing people simply must be a priority from the top down. That leads us to Conaty and Charan’s first principle of the talent masters:
  1. The leadership team understands that the top priority for the future is developing the talent that will get it there. Talent masters spend at least 25% of their time spotting and developing other leaders; at GE and P&G it’s closer to 40%)
  2. Meritocracy through differentiation. Fill leadership roles based on measured performance rather than just rough judgments and personal considerations. “Memorize this slogan: Differentiation breeds meritocracy; sameness (the failure to differentiate people) breeds mediocrity.” Reward leaders according to their talents, behaviors, and values.
  3. Reinforce working values. These are the values people live by; how work gets done. Talent masters “repeat and repeat and repeat their values, and reinforce them by linking recognition and rewards with them.
  4. Insist on a culture of trust and candor. You can only develop your people if you have accurate information about them. You can only get that information is if you talk candidly. Candor gets the truth out. It enables keener observations, greater insight, and better descriptions.” Conaty and Charan say that this is actually the hardest part of becoming a talent master.
  5. Create rigorous talent assessments. Your talent assessment/development systems should have as much “rigor and repeatability as systems used for finance and operations.” And you should “review people as thoroughly and regularly as you review operations, business performance, strategy, and budgets.”
  6. A business partnership with human resources. The HR function will only be as strong as the CEO wants it to be. Elevate it to the same level as the CFO.
  7. Continuous learning and improvement. The ever-changing business environment means that you need to constantly change and update both the leaders’ skill as well as your own leadership criteria to stay in sync with the world around.


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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:10 PM
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06.07.11

Transforming an Ordinary Moment into a TouchPoint

TouchPoints
We all have those moments when we are too busy for the people around us. But those moments are the work of leaders. Those are the moments when we can help to move things from what they are to what they could be. Campbell CEO Doug Conant said, “To me, they’re not interruptions. They’re opportunities to touch someone and improve the situation.

TouchPoints, by Doug Conant and Mette Norgaard, describes a new way of thinking about the work of leadership. TouchPoints are those moments in the day when you have the opportunity to touch the lives of other people. Each has the potential to become a high point or a low point in someone’s day. “Each is an opportunity to establish high performance expectations, to infuse the agenda with greater clarity and more energy, and to influence the course of events.”
Every TouchPoint is spring-loaded with possibilities. Each one can build—or break—a relationship. Even a brief interaction can change the way people think about themselves, their leaders, and their future.
TouchPoints exposes the extreme responsibility that leadership is. A responsibility that in our overloaded age, we often overlook.

To make the most of your TouchPoints, they have created the TouchPoint Triad: listen, frame, advance. In any moment you begin by asking, “How can I help?” Then you listen intently. This prepares you and helps you find out what is really going on. Be curious and keep listening for the real issue. Next, you frame the issue to be sure that everyone in the TouchPoint is on the same page. Third, you advance the agenda. People come to you because they want results. Once you know what is needed, do what you can in that moment to advance the agenda; decide on what the next step is and who is responsible to do it. After the TouchPoint is over, make a point to check-in and see how well the action plan is going by asking something like, “How did it go?” or “Is there anything else you need from me?” It’s a reminder that you care and lets you know if you were genuinely helpful.
TouchPoints Triad

A TouchPoint is about really connecting with others and improving results. It’s about engaging in a way that is alert, abundant, authentic, and adaptable:

You need to be alert to the real issues. “When you are fully present, you can see the gaps in someone’s line of logic and pick up bits of information that provide clues to what is going on.”

You need to be abundant in your thinking; rejecting the either/or scarcity mindset.

To be authentic is to embrace the work of the leader and “live by a very clear code that provides an underlying clarity and consistency in every TouchPoint.”

“The secret to being adaptable is to develop a broad range of skills, so that you can adjust and adapt in the moment.”

Throughout TouchPoints, you will find many nuggets of relationship wisdom to help you, as they put it, “work with, not against, the nature of things.”

The authors insist that you clarify your own leadership model so that you can apply it consistently. To that end, they suggest that you answer two vital questions: What makes people give the very best of themselves? What makes for ever-stronger performance in an ever changing world? Your answers will help you to define how you see yourself, other people, and the world around you.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:06 PM
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05.24.11

Got Drama?

You can’t stop The Drama. There will always be drama.

Leadership
But that’s not the problem says Marlene Chism, author of Stop Workplace Drama. “The amount of time you stay in the drama—and the effort you put toward it—is the problem. Complaints, excuses, and regrets only serve to keep the drama alive.” Your drama—what you add to The Drama—is the problem.

Chism defines drama as “any obstacle to your peace and prosperity.” Drama is the result of not recognizing or taking care of the little signs of bigger problems when they first presented themselves. At the core of drama you will find one of three common elements (if not all three): a lack of clarity, a relationship issue, and/or resistance. So, says Chism, when you experience drama you need to ask yourself three questions:

1. Where am I unclear?
2. What is my relationship issue?
3. What am I resisting?

Chism presents eight principles for dealing with drama, but “lack of clarity” struck me as the most common and excuse-laden trap there is. Too often this is where we get stuck.

When we first set a goal we’re clear. In her terms, “we see the island.” But between here and there the process become difficult and someone on your team becomes unhappy, and, “instead of focusing on the island we are trying to reach, we’re now concentrating on pleasing the one person who is upset. Our focus has shifted because we became confused about our number one priority.” And the fog rolls in.

Any type of discord, abuse, confusion, or game-playing always boils down to a lack of clarity.” A loss of focus.

Sometimes we create drama because we want something on our terms. We imagine that we can’t do something because we can’t do it the way we think it should be done—our way. Chism relates a clarifying example of this with the recently divorced Joe who is having visitation issues with his ex-wife Patty. She’s not letting him do what he wants in the way that he wants.
Many people get stuck in the drama of what should or shouldn’t be. Yes, you can fight that battle, if winning a battle is what you want. But again, in order to clear the fog and help Joe get clarity, I asked, “If there are two islands you can go to, and one means winning a battle with your wife and the other island is getting to see your kids and be a father to them—then which island would you choose?”

He said, “Seeing my kids, but…”

I said, “No buts. Are you willing to drive to Illinois several times a year and spend quality time with your kids, even if Patty does nothing more than cooperate?”

Joe said, “Yes.”

It’s never as difficult as we make it when we get clear on what we can control and what we are committed to.. The point here is that clarity may or not change Joe’s ex-wife. Joe will struggle if that is his motive or intention. However, Joe’s clarity will give him the essence of what he really wants. If he is able to let go of distractions and not get stuck on the rocks that lie between him and his final goal.

Do you see that while this kind of clarity may not change all the drama, it will give you peace and free up your energy for more productive endeavors?
This kind of dynamic plays out every day in our business and personal lives. When we are not clear about what we want, what our values are, what we are committed to, it is easy to lose our focus, to drift off course.

Solution: Clear the fog.

Chism has written a good-natured and practical book that will change your thinking and in the process help you to control the drama in both your personal and professional life. As leaders, we have the responsibility to be very clear with ourselves and our team so that we don’t get pulled into negativity, gossip, power plays, resistance and … drama. Chism suggests asking the following questions:

What are my top 10 principle-based values?
What areas of my life or business are in the fog?
What are some of the distractions that take me off course?
Where do I get stuck?
Where can I improve as a leader?
What drama do I see on a daily basis in the workplace?
What drama do I see in my personal life?
Where am I avoiding or procrastinating?

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:00 PM
| TrackBacks (1) | Change , Communication , General Business , Human Resources , Management , Personal Development , Teamwork , Vision

05.19.11

Landing in the Executive Chair

Leadership
Success in any organization requires good decision-making, results orientation, leadership talent and people skills says, Linda Henman in Landing in the Executive Chair. But as you climb the hierarchy in an organization, “the manifestation of those traits and behaviors becomes more complicated.”

No matter where you are in the organization, it’s about people. People will make you successful. However, you will find that as you go up the ladder, the need for understanding yourself and others becomes more acute and more difficult. Primarily this is because your relationship with those around you changes—both in your mind and theirs.

It’s not surprising that Henman writes, “I have found direct ties between self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, social skill—and business results.” As Bill George says, “It's EQ, not IQ, that matters most for leaders.”

As a result, Henman has developed a model she calls F² Leadership: Fair but Firm. F² Leaders have a “balanced concern for task accomplishment and people issues.” It’s about balancing dominance (results) and responsiveness (relationships).

F² Leaders should keep in mind:
  • Demand results through involvement. Set tough goals and insist on analytical approaches.
  • Get to know your people, their strengths, their weaknesses, and their motivators, and then deal with each person as a unique individual.
  • Maintain an “us-centered” mentality.
  • Demonstrate concern and responsiveness. Rather than merely trying to please direct reports for the moment, work with them to uncover their concerns, and then balance these with the needs of the organization. “When high potentials don’t receive attention from senior leaders, retention, productivity, and morale suffer.”
  • Put disagreements and problems on the table as soon as you perceive them. Don’t wait until you are angry or until a crisis is brewing to talk about them.
The reason more leaders don’t work at this is simply because of the time it takes. Henman writes, “Jumping in to fix problems, telling people what to do instead of mentoring them, and maintaining your action orientation involve less time than keeping your concern for people as high as your concern for task accomplishment.” Unfortunately, the cost of not taking the time is the loss of your top talent and productivity.

Fairness is in the eye of the beholder, but “you can take steps to stack the deck in your favor.” Henman describes behaviors that indicate that you are firm but fair, and trustworthy. She covers such areas as decision-making and problem-solving, attracting top talent, strategy, execution, leadership development, and building a culture of change. These are valuable insights for both new leaders and experienced leaders alike.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:56 AM
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05.09.11

5 Mistakes People Make When Reading Your Body Language

When we communicate there are two conversations going on. Verbal and nonverbal.

Our brains are hardwired to respond to nonverbal signals. Unfortunately we often don’t even know how we are reacting to them or how others are reacting to us and therefore are unable to use them to our advantage. This becomes very apparent when we are reacting to nonverbal communication from people from different cultures. Thus what might seem right in one culture may be ineffective or offensive in another.

Silent Language of Leaders
Communications expert Carol Kinsey Goman wrote The Silent Language of Leaders to help us become more aware of the messages we are sending and to better read the signals of others. When there is a disconnect between your verbal and your nonverbal communication, you don’t make sense. People will tend to disregard what you say and focus on what you don’t say.

My mother always told me, “It doesn’t matter if what you say is right, if your tone is wrong, then it’s wrong.” Goman would add: “How can sometimes be more revealing of your true meaning than the what contained in the words. Leaders must therefore keep in mind that when they speak, their listeners won’t only be evaluating their words; they will also be automatically ‘reading’ their voices for clues to possible hidden agendas, concealed meanings, disguised emotions, unexpected surprises—anything, in short, that will help determine whether or not they can rely on what they're being told.”

Goman defines our nonverbal communication—body language—as the management of time, space, appearance, posture, gesture, vocal prosody, touch, smell, facial expression, and eye contact.

Goman says that people look for leaders to project two sets of nonverbal signals—power and authority and warmth and empathy—and it’s important to employ the right signals at the right time. Which means that the body language signals that work so well when announcing a new business strategy are not helpful (and in fact may sabotage your efforts) when building collaborative teams.
Successful leaders don’t memorize “the right” physical gestures and facial expressions to display at appropriate times as though they were some kind of preprogrammed robot. But they are aware that their body language dramatically impacts colleagues, clients and staff. They understand that for a variety of reasons, even the most well-meaning behaviors will sometimes be misinterpreted, and they are ever alert to finding authentic ways to align their nonverbal communication with the messages they want to deliver.
Reading nonverbal communication can be tricky for a number of reasons. Here are five mistakes people make when reading body language:
  1. They don’t consider the context. You can’t make sense of someone’s nonverbal message unless you understand the circumstance behind it. It’s important to remember, Goman says, that your team members, colleagues, and staff can’t possibly know all the variables that create the context of your actions. You yawn and stretch, and your staff assumes that you’re bored—because no one realizes you’ve been up since dawn to place an overseas call.
  2. They find meaning in a single gesture. Too often they will base their opinion on a single nonverbal cue. And because the brain pays more attention to negative messages, they will look for and react to signs that you are in a bad mood. For example, if you pass a colleague in the hallway and don’t make eye contact, she may jump to the conclusion that you are upset with the report she just turned in. Goman adds, “when you make any nonverbal display of anger, irritability, or annoyance, people are more likely to hold back their opinions, limit their comments, and look for ways to shorten their interaction with you.”
  3. They don’t know your baseline. If they don’t know you well enough to know your normal behavior, they have nothing to compare your current nonverbal behavior to. What may look like negative behavior may be the standard “happy” cues you send out.
  4. They evaluate through the filter of personal biases. Positively or negatively, people can judge you based on their own biases—weight, race, appearance, gender. They will be sure you’re just like everyone else that has a certain characteristic.
  5. They evaluate through the filter of cultural biases. “When it comes to dealing with a multicultural workforce, we create all sorts of obstacles by failing to consider cultural biases—theirs and ours.”
You may have good reasons for communicating what you are communicating, but body language is in the eye of the beholder. So understanding their perception of you and accurately reading the body language of others, is an important aspect of your leadership success.

When it comes to building collaboration, even the seating arrangement in your office makes a difference. “Seating people directly across from your desk places them in an adversarial position. Instead, place the visitor’s chair at the side of your desk, or create a conversation area (chairs of equal size set around a small table—or at right angles to each other) and send signals of informality, equality, and partnership.”

Gorman has made available on her web site, videos and articles to reinforce the material presented in her book. Interestingly, Goman predicts that because of new visual technologies, body language skills will become even more crucial than they are today. Video communication exposes a leader’s body language to evaluation to a greater degree. She also predicts that with the emphasis now on more collaborative structures, a leader’s body language will have to project trust, inclusion and rapport.

Look for more Body Language Notes on the LeadershipNow Facebook page.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:04 PM
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04.20.11

Be a Coach, Not a Critic

Unless they can highlight a problem, many book reviewers don’t feel like they have done their job. They operate under the assumption that being a critic means being critical. Many bosses operate the same way. They feel feedback is good only if it is critical or negative.

Adam Bryant suggests in The Corner Office, that we be a coach, not a critic. He writes, “Employees know if their boss is rooting for them to succeed, and they’re much more open to feedback if they sense the manager’s goal is to make them better. If you assume that most people want to get better, they want feedback and advice, that they want somebody to care about their future, then giving feedback becomes much easier.”

Unfortunately, most bosses have not established that fact with those they “serve.” They don’t deliver positive feedback on an ongoing basis and only take the time to say anything when they have some critical points to deliver. Feedback should not be thought of as an event. It should be ongoing and in real-time. Sure that’s more difficult and time-consuming, but it is what you signed up for.

Bryant shares what Tachi Yamada of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program had to say about feedback: “One of the things I’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter how many good things you say, the one bad thing is what sticks….Everybody has their good points. Everybody has their bad points. If you can bring out the best in everybody, then you can have a great organization. If you bring out the worst in everybody, you’re going to have a bad organization.” What are you bringing out?

David Novak of Yum Brands adds, “When you start out by talking to people about what they’re doing well, that makes them very receptive for feedback because at least you’re giving them credit for what they’ve done. Then I say, ‘And you can be even more effective if you do this.’ I think that really works.”

When it comes to feedback, packaging is everything.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:00 PM
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04.12.11

From Values to Action

From Values to Action
Former chairman and chief executive officer of Baxter International, Harry Kraemer, has written a genuine, back-to-basics book on value-based leadership: From Values to Action. He presents four interconnected principles that build on and contribute to each other:

Self-Reflection is the most important and is central to your leadership. “If you are not self-reflective, how can you truly know yourself?” writes Kraemer. “If you do not know yourself, how can you lead yourself? If you cannot lead yourself, how can you possibly lead others?”

Self-reflection allows you to transform activity into productivity for all the right reasons. It means “you are surprised less frequently.” It is essential in setting priorities. You can’t do everything. So reflection makes it possible to answer key questions like What is most important? and What should we be doing? in a way that is in line with your strengths and values and organizational goals.
Engaging in self-reflection on a regular, ongoing basis (preferably daily) keeps you from becoming so caught up in the momentum of the situation that you get carried away and consider actions and decisions that are not aligned with who you are and what you want to do with your life.
Balance and Perspective is the ability to understand all sides of an issue. Pursuing balance means you will have to grasp the fact that leaders don’t have all the answers. Kraemer says, “My task was to recognize when a particular perspective offered by one of my team members was the best answer….Leadership is not a democracy. My job as the leader is to seek input, not consensus.”

Because he believes we are more effective if we balance all areas of our life, he prefers the term “life balance” over “work-life balance.” It’s not an either or proposition. “When you identify too closely with your work, you can easily lose perspective and become unable to look at all angles in a situation.” He recommends implementing a “life-grid” to keep track of where you are spending your time and to hold yourself accountable.

True Self-Confidence is know what you know and you don’t know; to be comfortable with who you are while acknowledging that you still need to develop in certain areas. (Comfortable not complacent.) Why TRUE self-confidence?
There are people who adopt a persona that might make others think that they have self-confidence, but they are not the real deal. Instead, they possess false self-confidence, which is really just an act without any substance. These individuals are full of bravado and are dominating. They believe they have all the answers and are quick to cut off any discussion that veers in a direction that runs contrary to their opinions. They dismiss debate as being a complete waste of time. They always need to be right—which means proving everyone else wrong.
Genuine Humility is born of self-knowledge. Never forget where you started. “Genuine humility helps you recognize that you are neither better nor worse than anyone else, that you ought to respect everyone equally and not treat anyone differently just because of a job title.”

From Values to ActionAfter describing each of these principles, Kraemer explains how these four elements play in everyday situations such as talent management and leadership development (“The values based leader is looking for people who exhibit the values that are most important to her.”), setting a clear direction (You’ve been tasked with creating a quick strategy, the first step is to listen. “This is precisely the time that you need to draw upon the capabilities of the excellent team you’ve put together.”), communication (“Never assume you have communicated enough.”), motivation (“What you must do is relate to others by letting them know who you are and the values you stand for.”), and execution (“As you become a leader, you will shift from knowing the right answers to asking the right questions.”).

Kraemer describes a values-based leader well: “Self-reflection increases his self-awareness. Balance encourages him to seek out different perspectives from all team members and to change his mind when appropriate in order to make the best possible decisions. With true self-confidence, he does not have to be right, and he easily shares credit with his team. Genuine humility allows him to connect with everyone because no one is more important than anyone else.”

From Values to Action is an outstanding book and filled with important concepts that any would-be leader would benefit from.

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Of Related Interest:
  Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 4
  Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 3
  Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 2
  Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 1
  Consider: Harnessing the Power of Reflective Thinking in Your Organization

Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:13 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Communication , Human Resources , Leaders , Leadership Development , Management , Personal Development , Positive Leadership

03.18.11

5 Leadership Lessons: The Velocity Manifesto

5 Leadership Lessons

In today’s high-velocity environment, Scott Klososky believes you need to understand how to guide your organization in the implementation and usage of technology—in short, how your organization “does” technology.
[As a leader], you—not the IT department, nor the VP of IT, nor the chief information officer (CIO)—must understand, drive and be accountable for how technology is structured in order to reach the strategic goals of the operation….Technology enables velocity—the speed of getting products to market, the speed of delivery, the speed of analytics, and the list goes on. Speed is our friend in almost every case. An organization’s digital plumbing is what facilitates this speed, and it has become the single most important variable for success in many organizations.
The Velocity Manifesto details key actions you must take to gain an advantage in the digital age. He covers three areas: Digital Plumbing (technology infrastructure), High-Beam Strategy (trendspotting), and creating a High-Velocity Culture (integrating different types of skills and lifestyles). Here are five insights from Klososky’s Manifesto:

1  We have an amazing ability as a species to solve problems and make improvements. One way to enhance your vision precision is to understand that we will solve the issues in all industries. We will find efficiencies and knock out things that don’t work the way we would like them to. So all you have to do is look at the industry you are in and identify all the things that are wrong with it….Next, you must begin to study how the solution to that problem will impact you, and find out whether you have any ability to solve it on your own.

2  The thing you want to be these days is a “fast follower.” The concept here is that you have a better chance of making a good investment in a trend or idea if you are not the very first—but also not the fifth, sixth, or seventh—into the market. Instead, you want to quickly follow the first movers who are trying to capitalize on a blossoming trend.

3  In order to play a high-speed game, you need team members who can work at a fast pace—and you also need a team that can work without friction. … Your job as a leader is to create a culture that generates as little friction as possible by leveraging your employee’s strengths and minimizing their differences.

4  We have four very different generations in the workforce right now, and another on the way. We have leaders from one generation who can’t relate to the technology sophisticated younger generations, and young people who have a somewhat warped view of what the organization owes them….Younger generations will not operate like the current generation of leaders….If you want to hire and retain A players, you will have to provide a vibrant culture for Generation Y and the rest of the generations to come.

5  Our inventory of technologies is more like a palette of art supplies—it must be formed into technological systems by true artists….By viewing technology construction as an artistic endeavor rather than a mechanical one, we are freed to not only build applications that have a stronger ROI, but also to do a better job of managing IT people. Software engineers, developers, and programmers must be viewed as the artists of this generation.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:54 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Communication , Five Lessons , General Business , Human Resources , Vision

03.10.11

A Case for Reconsidering the Way We’ve Always Done It

A society that doesn’t train their children to think critically, to be aware of those around them, and to serve, must create more rules and regulations than can be accounted for. There will never be enough rules—there are too many variables—especially when people begin to direct their creativity in dysfunctional ways.

The challenge is to develop sound minds. As Kant determined, a person with a sound mind is one that can think for oneself, is able to place oneself in the place and viewpoint of others, and can think consistently and coherently. But it‘s easier, in the short term, to create rules. And we pay a price.

To be sure, I am not advocating anarchy—we absolutely must have rules—and some rules unquestionably make possible the learning process, but when the rules we have in place reflect our lack of engagement, they become disrespectful and de-motivating. It’s easier to lay down the law or set up a checklist than it is to explain the why; to communicate where we’re headed with this idea. From time to time, it is good to think about the rules we have created (or have had handed down to us), that are impeding progress, relevance, imagination and growth both for ourselves and others. Here are a few thoughts to guide that process:

I am a big advocate of tradition, but when “that’s the way we’ve always done it” or “that’s how I learned to do it” gets in the way of relevance or growth, we need to take a step back and reconsider our stand. What we have done may have served us well in a particular place and time, but may only be an irritation here and now.

Rules can reveal a lack of trust. “I don’t trust you to be as smart—considerate or creative—as I am.” And they never will be if not given the chance.

As leaders, we need to be aware of where we are blanketing people with rules and procedures that do nothing more than to serve us and not the people it is our intention to serve. We need to consider that perhaps we have implemented rules to create a comfort zone for ourselves. A world where people act and think like we do. A world of clones. A world on autopilot that requires less of us.

Often our need for rules and procedures is just masking our fear of the unknown. Our attempt to manage a world that is changing faster than we are learning. No leader can do it on their own and rules are no substitute for not trusting, growing and building relationships with people. Where are we hiding behind rules?

Rules, for the most part, do not leverage other people’s strengths and thinking, they mostly mirror our own. Given the chance, people will surprise us with new, different, and better ways to push our agenda forward.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:43 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Change , Creativity & Innovation , Education , Human Resources , Leadership Development , Thinking

02.22.11

Leading As One: Generating Collective Behavior

To be successful in the world we’re entering, we will need a new set of mental models. While these new models should not exclude the possibility of commanding and controlling, they need to encompass a much wider range of possibilities.
—Thomas Malone, The Future of Work
The challenge facing any leader is turning individual action into collective power. In short, getting people to act as one.

Leadership
As One by Mehrdad Baghai and James Quigley, is the result of a two year research project conducted by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, to understand this common leadership challenge and to answer the question, “What leads to effective collaborations in a wide range of fields?” Not just working together, but working as one.

As we talk about leadership it is easy to confuse ends and means and seek collaboration for collaborations sake. The authors note that collaboration "is a means to an end, not an end in itself, and that because the purposes might be different you might need different styles" of collaboration for different situations. Thus we find successful leadership comes in many different shapes and sizes.

They believe real leadership is about productivity, people and purpose—or As One Leadership—“leadership that results in a cohesive group of people working together effectively toward a common goal or purpose.” Initially the task is identifying which people need to be involved (the Who) and what purpose they need to satisfy (the What) and then How do we need to collaborate to get the results we seek.

As One

What emerged from the As One Flagship Project was the identification of eight models or archetypes of As One behavior. Arranged around two axes: a vertical axis that describes how power is exercised in an organization from emergent to directive and a horizontal axis that conveys the nature of individual’s tasks and outlines how work is organized from highly scripted and uniform to highly creative.

As OneNot surprisingly, these archetypes reflect both top-down and bottom-up styles. The analysis is very balanced. In the descriptions that follow, you can see that different kinds of organizations or situations with different kinds of objectives call for different kinds of leadership. It is enlightening to identify your type of organization and the related leadership approach. The book presents case studies of each type, an explanation of the key characteristics, and a discussion of what you can do to be better at that type.

The Deloitte Center for Collective Leadership was launched in January to advance the study of the As One Collective Leadership discipline and As One behavior. Through research, data collection, and analysis, this center will help define and increase knowledge in the exciting and dynamic field of collective leadership. If you are wondering what your model is, they have created an online As One Classifier tool to figure out which archetype is closest to your current situation.

THE EIGHT ARCHETYPES

The four main archetypes are:

Landlord & Tenants: The Landlord & Tenants pairing is based on landlords’ top-down driven strategy and power: they control access to highly valuable or scarce resources. Landlords decide how to generate the most value for themselves and dictate the terms of participation for the tenants. Tenants voluntarily decide to join landlords, and it’s usually in their best interests to do so. However, once they do, landlords define the rules of participation. Landlords maintain their power by ensuring the best tenants are rewarded, so that, over time, as the number of tenants grows, the landlords’ power increases.

Community Organizer & Volunteers: The Community Organizer & Volunteers pairing is based on volunteers’ bottom-up, autonomous, independent, decision-making ability and their desire to voice their opinions. Community Organizers ignite volunteers’ interest through compelling storytelling and opportunities for volunteers to join in. They may have little direct power over the volunteers, but they can tap into volunteers’ interests by gaining their trust, promoting a strong brand, and understanding their motivations. Volunteers themselves are drawn together by a rallying cry, or out of a sense of enlightened self-interest; they gain their power through a strength-in-numbers approach.

Conductor & Orchestra: The Conductor & Orchestra pairing is based on highly scripted and clearly defined roles that focus on precision and efficiency in execution as defined by the conductor. The orchestra members, who have similar backgrounds, need to be fully trained to comply with the requirements of the job, and, therefore, must be carefully selected to ensure they fit the strict culture and scripted tasks. Belonging to the orchestra provides members with the best way to make a living while focusing on tasks at which they excel.

Producer & Creative Team: The Producer & Creative Team pairing is typically about producers providing their creative team with the freedom to do their best work and reach their natural potential. This pairing is led by legendary, charismatic producers who bring together a team of highly inventive and skilled independent individuals to achieve the producers’ objective. Producers guide the vision and overall progress, while the creative team develops ideas through frequent meetings and interactions using an open culture of collaboration. Dissent is used to push creative boundaries. To maintain longevity in their industry, producers and creative teams need to continuously produce new and innovative ideas.

The four hybrid archetypes combine the characteristics of the adjacent pairings and occupy the spaces between the axes.

General & Soldiers: The General & Soldiers pairing has a command-and-control-type culture combined with a multi-level hierarchy organized around the general’s clear and compelling mission. Soldiers’ activities focus on clearly defined and scripted tasks. They are motivated by advancing up the hierarchy through well-defined roles at all levels. Soldiers undergo extensive training to understand the army and its culture, and to learn specific skills. They are committed to the mission, the overall institution, and each other, while the general provides strong top-down authoritarian direction to motivate and direct them.

Architect & Builders: The Architect & Builders pairing focuses on the creative collaboration between groups of diverse builders that have been recruited by visionary architects to bring a seemingly impossible dream to life. Their visions are so innovative and ambitious that they can’t be achieved simply by using conventional means, so builders often need to reinvent and rethink ways to achieve them. Builders strive to meet ambitious deadlines and milestones mapped to deliberate workcycles. As each milestone is completed, the builders become one step closer to bringing the architect’s dream to reality. The Architect & Builders hero story is based on the development of the world’s cheapest car, the Tata Nano.

Captain & Sports Team: The Captain & Sports Team pairing operates with minimal hierarchy and acts like a single cohesive and dynamic organism, adapting to new strategies and challenges with great agility as they appear. Members of the sports team have a strong shared identity. They have extensive and networked communication channels, and carry out the same highly scripted, repeatable tasks. There is strong camaraderie and trust among the sports team – the collective good outweighs the needs of the individual – while captains are there, on the field as part of the team, to motivate and encourage.

Senator & Citizens: The Senator & Citizens pairing is based on a strong sense of responsibility to abide by the values or constitution of the community, which have been outlined by the senators. Sovereignty is held by both senators and citizens, and the citizens thrive on the values of democracy, freedom of expression, and autonomy. Since citizens are autonomous, the community structure is flexible. There is no set framework or direction organizing the citizens. Instead, much of their direction is emergent as they gather ideas and collaborate with other citizens. Senators are the guiding intelligence for the citizens and oversee decision making for the community.

There is no one size fits all archetype and each archetype is more nuanced than described. Putting As One into practice consists of three steps: First, a diagnostic to assess the who and to do what and then determine the how or what archetype is being used. Second, determine the type of intervention to strengthen the archetype being used or to create a new approach and third to adopt the approach across the organization and applying different archetypes in different situations even in the same organization.

It is an interesting study that begins to create a broader understanding of what it takes to lead at all levels as opposed to the common polarizing either/or discussions of command and control versus collaborative leadership. It also helps to dispel the myth that top-down leadership is synonymous with command and control.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:11 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Leadership , Leadership Development

02.18.11

Making the Transition From Bud to Boss

Often, when we are given a formal leadership role a couple of questions come to mind: Will they take me seriously? and How can I develop the influence I need to do this job?

A promotion changes the scope of the kinds of things we have to think about. It changes the degree to which we have to regulate our behaviors, conversation and opinions. In short, it changes our relationship with everyone around us. How will we handle it? What about old friendships? They’re all watching us. It can make us feel a little anxious and insecure.

From Bud to Boss
From Bud to Boss is written for that moment. It is designed to get you pointed in the right direction and engaging in productive behaviors and thinking. Authors Kevin Eikenberry and Guy Harris have organized this book around six key areas of concern:
  • Understanding Your New Role—your ability to work with and through others becomes more important than what you can accomplish on your own
  • Change—helping people choose to change
  • Communication—communicating with others from where they are; Using the DISC (Dominance, Inducement, Steadiness, and Compliance) model to better understand others
  • Coaching—Creating balanced feedback and accountability (especially with former peers); Showing support
  • Collaboration—Learning to work with and through others; Sharing responsibility more quickly and fully; Dealing with conflict
  • Commitment to Success—Attitude and goal setting for yourself and others; Perseverance
What they offer isn’t counterintuitive, they’re just things that we forget to do or find difficult to do and so we don’t. But ignoring them affects our ability to lead. This is an action oriented book and is extensively supported by the Bud to Boss community on the Internet.

To help you get your foundation for leadership in balance, Eikenberry and Harris discuss the impact of your leadership style:
In your leadership style, you probably have a natural “lean” that is a little more toward getting things done or toward people and relationships. One major key to leadership success lies in learning to compensate for the way you lean so that you stay balanced between getting things done and building relationships.
This is a key point. You need to become more self-aware. You will be judged for results, but if you try to get those results without maintaining the respect of those around you, you will ultimately fail as a leader.

So often when we get into a position of authority we begin to think, “How can I get these people to do what I want?” The question seems innocuous enough, but the danger is that it can lead us to focus on controlling others and forget that the task of leadership is to influence others. The authors suggest turning the focus of the question around:
“How do I change my words and behaviors so that I communicate with my team more effectively?” or
“What can I do to create an environment where my team members want to do ______?”

Rephrasing the questions in this way shifts the focus away from controlling others toward controlling your own words and actions so that you can gain greater influence with them. This shift in focus helps you concentrate your energy and efforts where they have the greatest impact.

This kind of thinking places responsibility where it should rightfully be. You. They write, “Control what you can. Influence who you can.”

From Bud to Boss provides direction and tools that will allow you to take the right action and build confidence—the essential forward momentum you need to be successful.

It should go without saying, but it is said, so I’ll mention it. No book, speech or coach will ever be able to cover everything you could need to know. Because the players are all different, it isn’t possible to address everything specifically. So the trick for us, is to get the general principles down and learn to apply them. That’s really what good books, speakers and coaches try to do; give you principles and tools that you can learn to apply properly in the situations you face as they come up. That’s what From Bud to Boss does well. The rest is up to you.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:35 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Leadership Development

02.11.11

Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 4

Reflection
In the final part of this series, Marshall Goldsmith explains the relevancy of reflection in today’s world. It has always been a vital ingredient to success, but it becomes critical in the age of the knowledge worker. Jeremy Hunter teaches courses on The Practice of Self-Management at The Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management. He emphasizes a focus on reflecting in real-time—in the present—in order to align both our intentions and behaviors so that we might bring about the results we seek.

  Marshall Goldsmith, executive educator and coach:

I believe that the process of reflection is more important today than ever before. I also believe that it is more challenging.

We live in the age of the knowledge worker. Peter Drucker defined knowledge workers as 'people who know more about what they are doing than their boss'. Knowledge workers need to think and reflect. They have to listen and learn. They cannot just 'do what they are told', since their managers know less than they do about what they are doing.

On the other hand, we live in a world of constant stimulus. Our minds are barraged by media of all forms. Cell phones, emails, text messages and personal computers have reduced our already-limited attention spans.

One of the great challenges for the knowledge worker of the future is finding the time to think - in a world that is screaming at you to act.

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  Jeremy Hunter, Adjunct Professor, The Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management:

When we think of “reflection” it tends to be retrospective. Where I think my work is a bit different is that I focus on what a leader is doing right now as it is happening––reflection and awareness in the moment. Most people's immediate action will very likely be an automatic non-conscious process that they're not aware of. Throw in a little stress and emotional reactivity and people find themselves doing and saying things that are destructive to themselves, others, and their goals without understanding why nor knowing what to do about it.

The big issue is that the retrospective analysis alone can’t necessarily change a person's immediate habits. Science tells us that 90% or more of the brain’s activity is automatic and non-conscious. However, we have a worldview that focuses largely on conscious processing, we think that having the answer makes change automatically happen. A friend might say, “You know, Ruth, when you’re confronted with a challenge from a superior, you react too strongly.” OK, now Ruth knows that. We assume that just because Ruth knows what she does, she will change it. But there’s a whole other process that has to happen to change the wired-in, non-conscious, automatic pattern. Ruth may be 100% aware of what she does but then the trigger happens and it plays out in the same way. And then it’s, “Oh no, I did it again.”

Change happens in the choices we make right now. So my interest is in, how you actually retrain the brain by interrupting that automatic habit and doing something differently. You may have to do it over and over again but at some point the rewiring function will happen. And that’s a function of interrupting that immediate non-conscious habit and doing something different.

I give people a model of this process from the triggering moment of contact to the final result. All along there are intervention points. Of course, the earlier you can intervene, the better. Not everyone can interrupt the process early on, but what I emphasize is that you just need to interrupt it somewhere. And the more practiced one gets at it, the earlier you can see what is happening. It’s really about becoming more conscious about what you are doing, why you are doing it, what result do you want and do these behaviors get you there, and if they don’t, what do you need to be doing instead?

You always start with the repeated unwanted result. What’s the thing that keeps happening that you don’t want? For example, Ruth might say, “I notice that whenever I’m confronted, I fight back too aggressively or I get too hostile.” So now she knows that about herself and that’s the reflective piece. Now, let’s tie that reflection to action.

The next step is to build awareness of when and how that habit plays out. For example, “I have this meeting with my boss and I know he’s upset about something. What is it I do that might push back too hard, that gets me in trouble?" And so in that moment she's bringing attention to all the things that happen automatically--what is she doing? What is she feeling in the body? Tension? Pressure? What emotions are arising? What are the stories in her head? Directing her attention to her internal experience creates the awareness of the non-conscious habit. She now has the opportunity to step outside all those automatic reactions and make a different, more conscious choice. We’re tying the process of reflection to immediate behavior. Again, change happens in the choices we make right now.

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As people are increasingly “burned out” from the stress and uncertainty of the economic reset, it’s too simplistic to just return to basic vacation policies, doing little to introduce meaningful distinctions between home and work. When the workday rarely ends, given technology’s ability to engage employees any time and anywhere, sabbaticals offer a refreshing moment to simply pause. Sabbaticals lead to people stepping back to see their work and creativity through a different lens. Daniel Patrick Forrester, Consider
—Daniel Patrick Forrester, Consider

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More in this Series:
  Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 3
  Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 2
  Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 1
  Consider: Harnessing the Power of Reflective Thinking in Your Organization

Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:14 AM
| TrackBacks (2) | Elements of Leadership , Human Resources , Personal Development

02.10.11

Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 3

Reflection
In part three of this series, James Strock talks about the importance of taking time “off” from one’s customary activities. He also gives insight into gaining perspective through reflection. Mark Sanborn talks about the essential nature of making time to think so that we might learn and gain insight from our experiences. He lists some areas we should be thinking about so that we might get the most out of our time reflecting.

  James Strock, speaker, consultant and entrepreneur:

There is nothing more important—or more easily overlooked—than making time for disciplined reflection. Indeed, it should be scheduled—and protected and enforced—with the utmost seriousness.

Religious traditions include notions of a Sabbath, a day of rest and reflection. It’s a recognition that taking time “off” from one’s customary activities is necessary to fulfill one’s obligations, to perform effectively over time. It’s also an act of humility, pulling people away from a prideful presumption of the significance of their personal contribution and control when it tends toward isolating, habitual overwork.

It’s surely not a coincidence that so many of the greatest leaders have been noted for multiple interests. Winston Churchill was active as a painter, speaker, historian, and commentator on current events. Theodore Roosevelt was, in the memorable description of Brander Matthews, “polygonal.” George Washington and Abraham Lincoln maintained perspective through theatre. Though it would be an error to say that effective leaders have “balanced” lives at any given moment, they tend to bring a number of interests to bear—thereby increasing their capacity to see things from various perspectives, and to discern and appreciate the contributions of others.

In business, one thinks of Bill Gates’ semi-annual, week-long sabbaticals for study and reflection. Many enterprises—from Google and GE to sports teams—encourage regular meditation or related mental exercises. To the extent each day can be seen as a sort of lifetime in itself, meditation or prayer can also be viewed as a sabbatical of sorts.

In my personal experience, travel can be invaluable. Simply being pulled out of one’s daily routines and habits, and being inspired by new surroundings, can be mentally and spiritually invigorating. You may see familiar notions with new eyes.

Though disciplined reflection has always been important for leadership, it’s arguably more important now than ever before. In the 21st century, information and data are often ubiquitous. The value added by leaders—either in high positions or not—increasingly arises from those invaluable intangibles: judgment and insight. Both of those are more likely to be found with disciplined reflection. And there’s no better place to start than from history and the observations and experiences of others, such as is offered so notably by LeadershipNow.

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  Mark Sanborn, author and speaker:

Someone once said if we don't slow down occasionally nothing good can ever catch us. I think that sentiment applies to the good that can come out of reflection.

One of the reasons we don't learn—truly internalize lessons—and keep making similar mistakes is that we don't pause long enough to gain any insights.

Most of the busy and successful professionals I work with—and myself included—can go for long periods of time without actively thinking. We reactively think—response to questions, problems, opportunities, etc.—but don't make time to proactively think.

I frequently say that nobody has time for anything; we make time for what is important. So often we live life be default and let circumstance and the demands of others determine how we spend out time. I believe we need to make time for reflection. We make time when we priorities, eliminate and adjust our schedules.

Specifically, I think leaders should reflect on:
  1. What they are accomplishing versus how busy they are.
  2. What they have learned. Leaders need to extract lessons from both the positive and negative things that happen.
  3. How they are feeling. Leaders can't divorce their intellect from their emotions and succeed over the long run.
  4. Relationships that need attention.
  5. Their vision of the future, for their organizations, those they lead and themselves.
  6. And for leaders who believe in the spiritual realm, as I do, that is a critical area for reflection (prayer and meditation in the Christian tradition I follow).
Reflection usually requires "getting away" whether that requires a physical relocation to a peaceful thinking spot or simply blocking time to avoid interruptions.

And finally, I think those leaders who value reflection and benefit most from it make it a regular part of their schedules.

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There is a hierarchy of communication we all practice, in which electronic and immediate data responses reign far above in-person and more time-intensive, dialogue-driven interaction. The trade-off is easy to make: we gain speed, immediate connection, and reactions while giving up richer contexts that emerge only when we take time to think. There are times when the arrival of each new electronic message or data-driven distraction has become a digital proxy for the sound of a bell once used by a doctor named Pavlov.
—Daniel Patrick Forrester, Consider

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More in this Series:
  Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 4
  Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 2
  Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 1
  Consider: Harnessing the Power of Reflective Thinking in Your Organization

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:58 AM
| TrackBacks (3) | Elements of Leadership , Human Resources , Personal Development

02.09.11

Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 2

Reflection
In part two of this series, Tom Asacker philosophizes about the nature of reflection. His insights help us to understand that until we start to see our connection to reality, core changes rarely happen. Have we given the proper consideration to the impact of what we do? Then, Brian Orchard emphasizes the need to slow down enough to absorb what we are experiencing. He talks about the need to take a second look to gain understanding and the importance of getting counsel in decision making.

  Tom Asacker, author, speaker and professional catalyst:

I’ve noticed something interesting of late. I’ve been spending more time reflecting on my work than passionately involved in the doing of it. To an outsider, it may look like idleness. In fact, history informs me that it’s a necessary prelude to meaningful change, to boldness and growth.

Our work should be designed to move us forward, toward a worthy ideal, meaning, and a better life. But in order to get there, we must occasionally pause from its narcotic effect and critically evaluate its impact on our happiness and well-being, and its resulting influence on our community and environment. We must sit quietly and reflect.

Reflection is not daydreaming. Reflection is imaginative inquiry; it’s an internal dialogue that asks, Am I making a difference? Is this the best that I can do? Will people be advanced by my efforts? Will my children be proud of my actions? Yes, there is boldness in action. But we must follow action with quiet reflection for that boldness to remain relevant and vibrant.

Elbert Hubbard wrote, “The reason men oppose progress is not that they hate progress, but that they love inertia.” Reflection is the path to progress. Imaginative reflection breaks the powerful grasp of inertia—the desire to stay the course regardless of the impact on our lives—and moves us courageously towards our higher potential.

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  Brian Orchard, pastor:

This quote from the Guardian summarizes for me, where we are at: “Although, because of the Internet, we have become very good at collecting a wide range of factual tidbits, we are also gradually forgetting how to sit back, contemplate, and relate all these facts to each other. And so, as Carr writes, "we're losing our ability to strike a balance between those two very different states of mind. Mentally, we're in perpetual locomotion".

From my experience as a minister, I have found that an issue is rarely understood well by the first exposure to it. Our first response is usually weighted by whoever presented the issue. It takes time and thought to slowly come to a more complete understanding. The value of reflection in this case allows for a deeper understanding to be obtained by thinking about the issue and allowing it to be seen from a number of angles.

There are two biblical principles that to me, support reflection. First, Proverbs 18:17 states, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” We all have the tendency to accept the first version of what we hear, but the concept of “searching” carries the idea of talking and asking questions, but also thinking about the situation and the reconsidering of fundamental assumptions.

The second is simply the whole idea of seeking counsel. This must mean a certain amount of reflection and counsel has a strong bearing on decision making.

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Devaluing reflection while expecting constant growth and innovation is nonsensical. It’s only when we step away from the onslaught of the day that a new direction arises (good or bad). By never stepping away and, instead, insisting on constant connectivity, you can’t be sure if what you are working on will prove you to be relevant in the future.
—Daniel Patrick Forrester, Consider

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More in this Series:
  Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 4
  Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 3
  Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 1
  Consider: Harnessing the Power of Reflective Thinking in Your Organization

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:43 AM
| TrackBacks (3) | Elements of Leadership , Human Resources , Interviews , Personal Development

02.08.11

Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 1

Reflection
John Kotter begins this series on reflection by talking about the need to develop a reflective habit and why we don’t. Are we spending our time on the right issues? Are we delegating issues we should not be working on that could be better dealt with more locally in the organization? Kotter also stresses its importance as a continual learning tool. John Baldoni urges us to make the time to reflect to gain perspective. He reframes reflection as an action step, not a passive process.

  John Kotter, Harvard professor, author and consultant:

In a world that is moving faster and faster, and changing more and in larger leaps, learning becomes a gigantic issue. Doing what you know is not enough. And learning cannot come in a classroom once every 2 years. That’s too little too late. Learning has to be an ongoing process, literally all the time.

People learn in many ways. Reading really good books can help. Talking to really good people can help. Nothing wrong with going to a Harvard executive education program, but there is no better teacher than reflection on the world, and especially one’s own actions. I did X. It produced Z. But is Z what we really need? And why did X create Z? And what were the other alternatives? And can I find others (in books, discussions, HBS) that tried those other alternatives?

Obviously, self awareness makes this easier. If I pay no attention to what I am really doing, what it is really producing, it’s hard to reflect on that.

One can be both action oriented and reflective. Action oriented means when you know what to do and you do it. Now. Not next quarter. Let’s go. Reflection means using the time on airplanes, when you’re not on the slopes or with family at the ski lodge, Zenning-out on the beach—whatever—to think.

People don’t reflect because they have no time, but usually because they don’t delegate enough, let others delegate up to them, or don’t have the staff they can delegate to—all correctable problems. People don’t reflect because they haven’t—so they have no reflective habit, so to speak. Correctable too.

Since the end game is life, not one’s job, all this is not only applicable to life in general but is arguably more important for life in general.

And since leaders have the capacity to help or hurt us all a great deal, everything I have said here is very important in their case.

* * *

  John Baldoni, leadership consultant, coach, author and speaker:

Reflection is a powerful tool for leaders, and one that is much underused. The chief reason is perceived lack of time. I remember asking the late Skip LeFauvre, the man who ran Saturn, how he found time for it. He said, "Put it on your schedule."

Reflection is a means of gaining perspective. It challenges you to think where you are now and where you might want to go. How to get there is a good thing to consider during reflection.

Reflection may be perceived as a passive process, i.e. sit and ponder. In reality, reflection is an action step. You are thinking. That can be rigorous in its methodology. Reflection can also come through the writing process, i.e. organizing and expressing thoughts on a problem and its solution. Thinking of reflection as an active process makes it more palatable to leaders who by nature are doers; they like to be engaged in activities. Reflection can be one of them.

* * *

Constant change doesn’t lend itself to instantaneous insights through simple phrases like “too big to fail,” and “liquidity crisis.” The question we must ask ourselves is this: In the midst of dramatic and extreme change, has decision making devolved into merely informed chaos, or can we imbed reflection and think time into our habits and routines to arrive at better outcomes and understanding?
—Daniel Patrick Forrester, Consider

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More in this Series:
  Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 4
  Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 3
  Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 2
  Consider: Harnessing the Power of Reflective Thinking in Your Organization

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:47 PM
| TrackBacks (3) | Elements of Leadership , Human Resources , Interviews , Personal Development

02.07.11

Consider: Harnessing the Power of Reflective Thinking in Your Organization

Peter Senge, founder of the Society of Organizational Learning and senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, once observed, “Most managers do not reflect carefully on their actions.” Most managers are too busy “running” to reflect.

While reflection seems to have no place in a competitive business environment, it is where meaning is created, behaviors are regulated, values are refined, assumptions are challenged, intuition is accessed, and where we learn about who we are.

Some of the greatest barriers to getting the results we want lie within us. Growth happens when we stop repeating our habitual patterns and behaviors and begin to see things in a new way and in the process, discover the power to create the results we want. That makes Consider: Harnessing the Power of Reflective Thinking in Your Organization, one of the most important books you’ll read this year.

Leadership
Author Daniel Patrick Forrester states, “Stepping away from the problem—and structuring time to think and reflect—just may prove the most powerful differentiator that allows your organization to remain relevant and survive…. The best decisions, insights, ideas, and outcomes result when we take sufficient time to think and reflect….Only by carving out think time and reflection can we actually understand, in an entirely different context, the actions we take.”

He defines think time as “the purposeful elevation of chunks of our work time, forged within densely packed schedules. It forces the consideration of core significant and pending decisions, outside of cursory overviews and immediate response…. Reflection is the deliberate act of stepping back from daily habits and routines (without looming and immediate deadline pressures), either alone or within small and sequestered groups. It’s where meaning is derived through reconsideration of fundamental assumptions, the efficacy of past decisions and the consequences including the downside of future actions. It’s where space is given for the ‘totally unexpected’ to emerge.”

Even if we can agree on the value of think time, we still regard it as a luxury. There’s just no time. But what emerges from Forrester’s research is the fact that we can’t afford not to. It is at the core of what allows a business to thrive. It’s what we don’t know that has a disproportionate impact on us personally and organizationally. We don’t really see the reality we face. Reflection in effect, expands our perspectives and thus reveals to us more options and that gets to the heart of what leadership is all about. The point is to make the unseen seen so we can act on it.

Forrester interviewed Sarah Sewall who worked with General Petraeus and others to rewrite the military’s counterinsurgency doctrine. Sewall noted, “We are now in a world of increasing specialization, where people get narrower and narrower in their viewpoints in order to become more expert and ‘useful.’ My view is that people become more myopic in how they can think about problems and solutions. We wind up shuttered in our ability to think about possibilities.” This tendency is best counteracted by think time and reflection; being able to back away and incorporate more and varied thinking.

Forrester asks, “What is the last document or strategy you can point to as a ‘product of reflection’ built with all parts of the organization and senior-level involvement? If you can’t cite one, it may indicate a culture that values immediacy and the short term over reflection and scalable problem solving.”

Recognizing the need for reflection and actually doing it are two different things. Reflection is a discipline. General Petraeus told Forrester that “he forces bursts of reflection into his day, where he pauses to read, think, and then moves to the next iteration—recognizing that thoughtful insights are not born through real-time analysis.”

Forrester suggests that we set time aside for a meeting with oneself. “It isn’t hard to book a meeting with yourself, when you are off-limits to everything but your thoughts.” He notes too, “The power of reflection lies not in how much time we allocate to it. The power of reflection lies in how we choose to use that time and what structure we bring to the fleeting disjointed moments we are afforded.”

While some situations required his immediate action, Forrester describes how Lincoln “developed ways to force time to think (if even only for a few minutes) before acting. Even Lincoln had to resist the “instantaneous nature of the telegraph.”

Some organizations he has studied have adopted a no internal e-mail Friday policy and other ways to temporarily disconnect from technology. Although these ideas may not work for you, the point is made so that you might consider the impact these technologies are having on the productivity and well-being of your staff. There is always one more e-mail and it will control you if you let it.

“When overworked people declare that they ‘just don’t have time to think,’ leaders have a choice: They settle for the status quo and declare that it’s the best way the world works today, or they can insist that reflection is a strategic business enabler,” says Forrester. As an organization you can either educate for it, make it an expectation—a cultural norm—or treat it as a “do it on your own time” activity and pay the price. Leaders need to understand and demonstrate by example that reflection—taking time to consider—is not wasted time.

Reflection is the first step in coming to understand how we are connected to our outcomes. Until we see the relationship between the two, we cannot make deep, lasting change and bring thoughtful behaviors to bear on the situations we find ourselves in. Our thinking creates our reality. If we do not reflect on our thinking we stand to miss our connection to the whole.

Consider offers a way to break the pattern of continuous partial attention that seems to be our default position in this technological age. It helps to disrupt the habitual thinking that drowns out the reflective, critical thinking we need to become fully present and effective. Consider isn’t a fad. It is the bedrock of successful leadership and living.

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Upcoming: I asked some leading minds about the discipline of reflection. So, for the rest of the week, I’ll share their thoughts on this important topic. Look for valuable insights from John Kotter, Mark Sanborn, Brian Orchard, Marshall Goldsmith, John Baldoni, Tom Asacker, James Strock, and Jeremy Hunter.

* * *


* * *

More in this Series:
  Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 4
  Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 3
  Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 2
  Taking Another Look: Leading Minds on Reflection Part 1

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:57 PM
| TrackBacks (6) | Human Resources , Leadership , Learning , Personal Development , Thinking

02.04.11

The Power of Meeting People Where They Are

In Split-Second Persuasion, Cambridge psychologist Kevin Dutton asks why some of us are better at the art of persuasion than others. He recounts a story about Winston Churchill’s encounter with war hero James Allen Ward that illustrates the power of meeting people where they are:
James Allen Ward
In the summer of 1941, Flight Sergeant James Allen Ward was awarded a Victoria Cross for clambering onto the wing of his Wellington bomber and—while flying 13,000 feet above the Zuider Zee—extinguishing a fire in the starboard engine. He was secured at the time by just a single rope tied around his waist.

Some time later, Churchill summoned the shy, swashbuckling New Zealander to Number 10 Downing Street to congratulate him on his exploits.

They got off to a shaky start.

When the fearless, daredevil airman—tongue-tied in the presence of the great man—found himself completely unable to field even the simplest of questions put to him, Churchill tried something different.

“You must feel very humble and awkward in my presence,” he began.

“Yes, sir,” stammered Ward. “I do.”

“Then you can imagine,” said Churchill, “how humble and awkward I feel in yours.”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:12 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Communication , Human Resources

01.28.11

10 Ways to Make Others Shine

Positive LeadershipEarl Miller, a neuroscientist at MIT says, “Success has a much greater influence on the brain than failure.” Ned Hallowell comments in Shine: While of course mistakes need to be acknowledged and, one hopes, learned from, it may be more likely, from a purely neurological point of view, that a person will learn more from a success than a failure.”

Hallowell points out that acknowledgment or recognition serves two important functions. Of course there is the familiar purpose of giving the recipient encouragement, motivation and greater confidence, but recognition also promotes moral behavior through connection. Hallowell explains: “When a person feels recognized and connected to the larger group, she knows viscerally, not just intellectually, that she has made a contribution others value. Not only does this motivate her to do more and try harder, but it instills a desire to look out for the larger group…. It leads a person to do the right thing even when no one is looking.”

Showing appreciation and giving recognition is part of the Cycle of Excellence process he calls shine. In our busy culture it is easy to overlook opportunities to acknowledge others. Noticing the positive is a daily challenge. In Shine, Hallowell offers these ten tips for promoting shine with the people you influence:
  1. Recognize effort, not just results. Of course, you want the results, but if you recognize ongoing effort, results will more likely ensue. Cheerleading works.
  2. Notice details. Generic acknowledgment pales next to specific recognition.
  3. Try, as much as possible, to provide recognition in person. E-mail packs much less of a punch than human moments.
  4. In meetings—and everywhere—try to make others look good, not bad. Scoring points off the backs of others usually backfires.
  5. As a manager, you should know that the self-esteem of each employee is perhaps your most important asset. Recognition is a powerful tool to preserve self-esteem.
  6. Acknowledge people’s existence! Try always to say hello, give a nod of the head, a high five, a smile in passing. It’s withering to pass someone and feel as if that person didn’t even see you.
  7. Tap into the power of positive feedback. Remember that positive feedback often consolidates gains better than learning from mistakes.
  8. Monitor progress. Performance improves when a person’s progress toward a goal is monitored regularly.
  9. Remember, as a manager, the more you recognize others, the more you establish the habit of recognition of hard work and progress as part of the organizational culture.
  10. Bring in the marginalized people. In most organizations, about 15 percent of people feel unrecognized, misunderstood, devalued, and generally disconnected. Not only is recognition good for that 15 percent to help them feel valued, it is good for the other 85 percent as well, as it boots the positive energy across the organization.
Hallowell reminds us that “recognition is so powerful because it answers a fundamental human need, the need to feel valued for what we do” and as leaders we are in a unique position to offer or withhold that recognition.

How do you make others feel valued?

Related Interest:
  The Cycle of Excellence: 5 Steps to Peak Performance

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:06 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Motivation , Positive Leadership

01.27.11

The Cycle of Excellence: 5 Steps to Peak Performance

Leadership
Psychiatrist Edward Hallowell says that to bring out the best in people you have to focus on the interaction between what is within a person and what lies outside. Properly aligned, you can achieve peak performance. By peak performance he means “consistent excellence with improvement over time at a specific task or set of tasks.” “While no one has ever achieved the goal of ‘being all they can be,’” he says “everyone has it in them to deliver peak performance defined in that way.”

In Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People, Hallowell, combines brain science and performance research to help you get the most out of people’s brains (including your own). To ignite peak performance, he has created a process called the Cycle of Excellence. It is a five step process, that when followed completely, leads to excellence. The steps are:
  1. Select. A person needs to first figure out what it is they should be doing. It is the intersection of three elements—what they’re good at, what they like, and what adds value to the organization or world. All of the other steps are based on this first pivotal step.
  2. Connect. The fact is, “people who are doing things that suit them feel connected to others and to a mission, and they achieve at the highest levels.” Leaders must make a daily effort to create a positive work environment as modern life conspires to disconnect people. “Do all you can to reduce toxic fear and worry, insecurity, backbiting, gossip, and disconnection.” Positive connection is an important key to peak performance.
  3. Play. We often don’t recognize the importance of play—any activity in which the imagination gets involved—in catalyzing peak performance. “Imaginative engagement produces new ideas and creative thoughts. It also boosts morale, reduces anxiety, and makes a heavy load seem lighter.”
  4. Grapple and Grow. When employee enthusiasm wanes, we often point to commitment. Hallowell says that commitment is probably not the problem. “Rather it is being made to work on a task they can’t do well, or one that is going nowhere and over which they have little or no control. In fact, most people love to work, given the right conditions. This means that if employees have selected, connected, and played well, grappling and growing in the job will be far easier. Steps one, two and three cannot be skipped. Grappling and growing can lead to mastery, and a sense of well-being and accomplishment. “One of the most helpful skills a manager can develop is the ability to challenge the right person at the right time.”
  5. Shine. “The goal here is for every person to feel recognized and valued for what they do, not just the stars of the show. Remember, as valuable as it is to learn from mistakes, people grow even more when success is noticed and praised.”
The brain’s plasticity—its ability to grow and change throughout life—means that none of us are stuck with who we are. With the proper attention we can learn to perform better. “All people want to work hard and will work hard, given the right job and the right conditions, because it feels supremely good to excel.”

Unfortunately the modern world works against us. Hallowell has identified two paradoxes of modern life. First, “While we have grown electronically superconnected, we have simultaneously grown emotionally disconnected from each other.” Disconnection short-circuits the Cycle of Excellence more quickly than anything else. “Disconnection is one of the chief causes of substandard work in the modern workplace. But it is one of the most easily corrected.”

The second paradox is that “people’s best efforts often fail not because they aren’t working hard enough, but because they are working too hard.” Overwhelmed with data, we try to compensate by working harder trying to process more data. What we should be doing is erecting boundaries to regulate what we allow in. Leaders need to be helping people to regulate their lives and manage technology rather than pushing them to do more. Greater connection and engagement will result.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:50 PM
| TrackBacks (1) | Human Resources , Positive Leadership

01.19.11

The Secret of the Great Workplace

What leader wouldn’t want to lead a “great workplace?” I’ve never run across anyone that wouldn’t. So why aren’t we able to point to more of them?

I suspect that, in the main, it’s because many of those leaders that don’t lead great workplaces, don’t know they aren’t. They have never taken the time to ask. From their point of view it’s hard to imagine what they could be doing differently. But, it is those you lead that determine whether or not working with you constitutes a great workplace.

Even of you are not the CEO, you can create a great workplace around you. To begin, you need to ask, “What is it like being lead by me?” You make the difference.

Great Workplace
In The Great Workplace, authors Michael Burchell and Jennifer Robin write, “you need to do your job realizing that how you do what you do makes a world of difference to employees.” The secret of great workplaces is relationships. Relationships between employees and their leaders, between employees and their jobs, and between employees and each other are the three indicators of a great place to work. “If leaders implemented practices and created programs and policies that contributed to these three relationships, employees had a great workplace experience.” The important part is that whatever they did, it had to be done in a way that strengthened relationships.

When the authors asked, “Why is your organization a great place to work?” a consistent model emerged. (See below.) The employees said “they believe their leaders to be credible, respectful, and fair—they trust them. They also take pride in what they do, and they share a sense of camaraderie with their coworkers.”
Because the relationships you create matter, you're the critical difference between a very good company and a very great company. In the best companies, leaders at all levels have a strong commitment to creating strong ties between the employee and the organization. Indeed, enhancing trust, pride, and camaraderie in the workplace is the central task of effective leadership in today’s organizations.
They suggest that what holds leaders back from doing something about this is not having the faith that there are bottom line results from doing the right thing. Another excuse is no time. Lack of situational awareness and the belief that they should just be focusing on the business also keep leaders from focusing on the relationships that really underlie everything they do.

Great Workplace Model
SOURCE: thegreatworkplaceonline.com

After building a rational business case for the need to create great workplaces, the authors get into detailing each aspect of the model. It is thorough enough to give you a clear way forward in creating a great workplace in your own situation. With anecdotes, best practices, and quotes from employees working at the best workplaces in the U.S., they give the great workplace a tangible shape.
At Analytical Graphics, the president compiles a weekly log of individual, team, and organizational accomplishments he hears about, witnesses, or comes across during the week, and he shares those every Friday at the weekly company lunch (yes, all 275+ employees come together for lunch and a short meeting). Whether it is an item he pulled from the local newspaper about an employee’s efforts in the community, or a milestone that a team passed in developing a product, or how teammates pulled together to help one another out on a particular issue, he makes this a consistent practice. And employees feed off this energy. “Friday afternoon,” one employee commented to us, “is always a high. What a great way to start the weekend, and make me excited to come back on Monday morning.”
Does your feedback make your people want to come back and do it again? Do you even give timely feedback?

They encourage leaders not to create something completely new and different, but instead to improve upon what you are already doing. Best practices referred to in the book serve to illustrate ways trust, pride and camaraderie might be built in your own situation, but they are culture specific.
Things get in the way of letting people be human. Particularly quarterly reports and business schools. I think what we try to do is make it very clear that what’s important is doing the right thing. And if we do the right thing, all the other things take care of themselves.”
—Danny Wegman, CEO Wegman Food Markets
The Great Place to Work Institute has found that great workplaces exist regardless of size, industry, or location because the Model is based on universal “needs and values—trust of the people you work for, pride in what you do, and enjoyment of the people you work with.”

Both the web site for the Institute and the book are worth a visit for additional resources and information.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:27 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | General Business , Human Resources

12.13.10

Bury My Heart at Conference Room B

Power
In Bury My Heart at Conference Room B, Stan Slap cuts through a lot of the dancing around that occurs in many leadership discussions.

It should go without saying that emotional commitment improves organizational performance. If in doubt, Slap spells it out in the first third of the book. The way to get that emotional commitment, says Slap, is for you to live your own deepest values in your work environment. While any organization should encourage this, most often they don’t. “What companies want most from their managers is what they most stop their managers from giving. What managers want most from their jobs is what they most stop themselves from doing.” So, it’s up to you. The process of managing this tension what Bury My Heart is all about. The underlying problem is this:
Companies can’t get emotional commitment from their managers because the company believes it needs to be the dominant organism in the relationship, which causes managers to have to repress their own values—and so causes them to detach emotionally from their jobs.
Fear drives this tension: Are we going to survive as an organization if we are not in control? Slap says the only sustainable solution is leadership. “Leaders are people who live their deepest personal values without compromise” and because they do, “they’re essentially self-medicated—the pressure’s off the company to provide the deepest motivational fulfillment.” Slap insists that this isn’t licensing chaos but insuring control. Paradoxically, “there is no more reliable way for the company to become the cause than by not always insisting on being the cause.” Allow people to live their values at work.

This isn’t a self-indulgent free-for-all. “Freedom to pursue your values come with responsibility to protect the company’s values.” It becomes an issue of trust between the organization and the individual. “Your job as a manager requires achieving results through others. Leadership is the single best method to do that. As long as your vision doesn’t violate the basic objectives and principles of your organization, those results will be hard for anyone to argue with.”

Your leadership begins by understanding your own values—what is important to you—so you can sell those values to others. Beyond envisioning a “Better Place” of your creation, the people you lead have to see it too. What does life look like for them in this Better Place? Help them to get what they want as they head toward the Better Place. Slap writes:

Every leadership message is an equation that also ends only one way:
= Live better.

If they believe it, they’ll do it. Of course, not everyone you lead will have the same values as you, but if you have communicated them well, “they’ll support yours if yours have positive impact for them.”
Leadership happens to you as soon as you understand your own values and understand how to enroll others in supporting them. Instead of waiting for a leader you can believe in, try this: Become a leader you can believe in.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:47 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | General Business , Human Resources , Leadership Development , Motivation

11.08.10

Congratulations, You’ve Reached the Next Level

The Next Level
You’ve moved up to the next level. You’ve been promoted to the executive ranks. “You should be uncomfortable,” says Scott Eblin in The Next Level. “If you’re not, you are probably underestimating what’s ahead of you.” Statistically, many do. As high as 40% of new executives fail within the first eighteen months of being named to their positions.

New positions carry with them greater expectations even if those expectations are not clearly stated. You are left to navigate uncharted territory. The single most important thing to remember is that what got you there may not serve you well in your new position. Going to the next level says Eblin, is “about developing consciousness around what is and isn’t serving you as you take those steps. It’s about retaining what is working, staying open to picking up new skills and mind-sets, and having the courage to let go of the behaviors and beliefs that brought you this far when they no longer serve you on your journey.”

Eblin has developed an Executive Presence model that focuses on nine behaviors in three areas that a successful executive should develop on the one hand and drop on the other:

Pick Up
Let Go Of
Personal PresenceConfidence in your presenceDoubt in how you contribute
Regular renewal of your energy and perspectiveRunning flat out until you crash
Custom-fit communicationsOne-size-fits-all communications
Team PresenceTeam RelianceSelf-reliance
Defining what to doTelling how to do it
Accountability for many resultsResponsibility for a few results
Organizational PresenceLooking left, right, and diagonally as you leadPrimarily looking up and down as you lead
An outside-in view of the entire organizationAn inside-out view of your function
A big-footprint view of your roleA small-footprint view of you role


Eblin covers each of these behaviors in detail with insights, interviews, coaching tips and research. But in an important foundational chapter, he talks about grounded confidence. That is, add value but know what you are talking about. “It is critical for your success that you not dwell on thoughts and self-assessments that cause you to doubt your capacity to contribute.

There is a certain amount of insecurity that comes with any new position, but “insecure people make lousy leaders.” Insecurity causes us to behave in a lot of counterproductive ways: indecisiveness, micromanaging and control, taking undeserved credit and passing blame, lack of teachability.

Eblin says that developing strong relationships with your peers is essential to your success. “Your success in managing relationships will stem from the confidence you have in yourself and your ability to work well with others to make things happen.” This is an area where you need to move quickly.

Your new role brings with it an expectation of your involvement in a wider range of issues. This means projecting confidence in your judgment that “extends beyond functional or technical knowledge.” This means also, more listening and less talking. Being teachable. Getting feedback.

Of course, there is a lot of confidence to be gained by being prepared—being intentional. Eblin’s approach is to begin with the end in mind. You need to consistently ask yourself two questions: “What do I want to accomplish?” “How do I need to show up to accomplish that?”

Practicing new and unfamiliar behaviors can be uncomfortable and seem artificial, but executed repeatedly these behaviors will become ingrained into your character and make them your own. As Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

Feedback Tip: Ask your colleagues this question—What’s your best advice for anyone who is working on team reliance versus self-reliance (or whatever your working on)? Experience shows that it’s useful to ask the question in this format instead of asking, for example—What should I do to be better at team reliance? Asking the question in a less personal way makes it easier for your colleagues to be candid in their feedback.

The Next Level is an excellent coaching reference book that makes it an indispensable companion guide to any change in responsibility. Keep it handy and bookmark the Situations Solutions Guide that contains practical solutions to scores of situations that predictably occur in most executive careers.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:40 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Leadership Development , Personal Development

10.15.10

You Already Know How to Be Great

Leadership
One of the hardest things we will attempt to do is to act on what we already know to do. It’s that difficulty that lies behind much of our search for the next big thing; some way to get around or make easier that which we know we should be doing. It is never easy but by applying some new thinking we can get out of our own way.

Alan Fine states in You Already Know How to Be Great, that performance improvement is most often an issue of reducing the interference that’s getting in the way of using the knowledge we already have. Fine says that we have to get right the three elements that facilitate the use of the knowledge we already have. They are:

Faith: Our beliefs about ourselves and our beliefs about others. High performance is more likely when we believe that we can learn and do better. The absence of Faith could be described as insecurity.

Fire: Our energy, passion, motivation, and commitment. High performance is more likely when we are excited about learning and doing. The absence of Fire could be described as indifference.

Focus: What we pay attention to and how we pay attention to it. High performance is more likely when we pay attention in a way that will quiet our minds. The absence of Focus could be described as inconsistency.

High performance happens when we “get rid of the interference that blocks these natural, inherent human gifts.” Focus is the most powerful tool for removing distractions and thus the “most effective way to release Faith and Fire.” If we “create a singular focus on one or more critical variables of the task, we’re far more likely to create the flow state that creates high performance.”

More than instructing, Fine believes we would be better off looking to what is blocking Faith, Fire, and Focus in our organizations, performers, families and teams. Unleashing these qualities facilitates the use of knowledge.
As managers, leaders, coaches, or parents, we’re incredulous to think (or more likely, it never even occurs to us to think) that without our excessive instructing, regulating, controlling, directing, and intervening, people might actually be able to perform with greater confidence, more enthusiasm, and more effective focus.
Fine introduces the GROW process as a way of creating focus. The process asks: “What is my Goal? What’s the Reality? What are my Options? What’s the best Way Forward?

GROW increases Decision Velocity [the speed and accuracy with which we make decisions]. It helps reduce interference, clarify thinking, identify options, and chunk down the challenge into doable tasks. It unblocks Faith, Fire, and Focus and frees people to use the Knowledge they already have.

As leaders, we tend to approach most situations by providing more information. We actually nourish the expectation that we are to be telling people what to do, when we really need to be working to help them get what’s inside of them out. Fine calls this inside-out coaching. It’s less about providing more Knowledge and more about releasing the Faith, Fire and Focus that's already there in the performer. It’s more Focus coaching than it is Knowledge coaching. “It’s easy for coaches to get blindsided by what they think people have to pay attention to—to get so focused on the task that they miss the window through which a person can actually pay attention.”

“When leaders simply tell people what to do (which is often the case), the result is often a lack of engagement and accountability on the part of the employee and little or no performance improvement. One of the primary observable signs of an outside-in approach is people constantly asking managers, leaders, teachers, or parents what to do.” As a coach, the biggest challenge isn’t the performer; it’s your own interference.

You Already Know How to Be Great is about coaching ourselves and others to remove the interference that is blocking performance. It is full of applications of inside-out coaching and the GROW process he advocates. As such, it is an indispensable book for coaches or leaders of all types.

Related Interest:
  quickpoint: Getting Out of the Way

Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:57 PM
| TrackBacks (3) | Human Resources , Learning , Management , Teamwork

09.20.10

Do You Argue With Reality?

Leadership
Chris Thurman wrote in The Lies We Believe, “The number one cause of our unhappiness are the lies we believe in life.” Too often, we operate apart from reality. Given a choice between reality and our version of it, we are inclined to choose the latter. It is a central tendency of human beings. The result is drama not peace.

Instead of getting the results we want,” says Cy Wakeman, “we end up with reasons, stories, and excuses for why things didn’t work out—leading to more drama, disengagement, judgment, and ineffective leadership.

In Reality-Based Leadership, Wakeman presents a much-needed wake-up call. We can ditch the drama by getting in touch with what is. Quit making up stories. Quit arguing with reality. Ditching the stories that are causing us stress. “We all tell ourselves stories and live with the resulting drama.” It sounds like:

“I shouldn’t have to do this—it’s not part of my job description.
“Our department is always having to clean up after others’ mistakes.”
“The boss just doesn’t get it.”
“Management only care about the bottom line.”

“You are arguing with reality whenever you judge your situation in terms of right and wrong instead of fearlessly confronting what is.” You need to respond to the facts, not the story you create about the facts. This is easier said than done. Interwoven in our stories are our egos, insecurities and identities. (At one point Wakeman suggests we ask, “Who am I as a manager or as an employee when I believe this story?”) We like our stories. They make us look better. They place the blame somewhere south of us. If other people are always coming up short in our stories, then it’s all about us. But letting go of our stories is not always easy as we have a lot invested in them.

Too often our criticism is about setting us apart from others and not about helping them. It says a lot more about us than it does those it is directed towards.

Wakeman says, “When you are judging you are not leading.” In her analysis of case study about Steve and a team he dreaded working with, she concludes, “his biggest obstacle is his belief that they are a negative group. What if he just dropped that whole story and simply responded to reality directly? The phone rings? Answer it. The team asks a question? Answer it, or teach them where to find the answer. The team shares what worked in the past? Listen and lead them into the future. The team requests some time with the leader? Engage with them—lead! When Steve began to lead the team rather than judge and criticize, the team began to change for the better.” She adds, “When you focus your energy on what you are able to give And create rather than what you receive, you are truly serving.”

Do you see any applications in what you and involved in? Wakeman insightfully writes: “What is missing from a situation is that which you are not giving.

Operating out of a judging mindset of “I know” or “I am right” effectively shuts down the potential to learn or accomplish anything. Moving on based in reality requires setting the story aside and asking, “If I set the story aside, what would I do to help?”

The minute you start judging is the very minute you quit leading, serving and adding value. When you’re in judgment, you are dealing with your story—not with reality. Wakeman suggest that when you get off-track:
  1. Do a reality check. Get back to the facts of the situation b y editing out anything that you can’t absolutely know to be true. “What is the next right action I can take that would add the most value to the situation?” Direct your energy on that action.
  2. Get clear about motives. Seek to be successful rather than right. Is it about you?
  3. Be the change. Practice those virtues that you have determined to be lacking in others.
  4. See others through a lens of love and respect—not anger and fear. When faced with those whose personalities are different from ours, or whose behaviors have reached a stress-induced inappropriateness, work to see through those behaviors and identify their needs or goals. Ask yourself, “What are they striving for?” Then ask, “How can I help them achieve it?”
  5. Invoke a clearer, higher perspective. When you sense that conflict is getting personal, be prepared to return to a professional perspective by asking your team to clarify the overreaching goal of their work together. “Given our goal, what do you think is the best way to move forward?”
What stories are you telling yourself that causing you to operate in your own world? While it may be cognitively economical, it is costing you far more in every other area.

Related Post:
  The Reality-Based Leader’s Manifesto

Posted by Michael McKinney at 03:54 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Leadership , Learning , Management , Personal Development

09.15.10

Timeless Advice from a Father to a Daughter

Advertising
The Man Who Sold America by Jeffrey Cruikshank and Arthur Schiltz was for me, hard to put down. It is the retelling of the inspiring and remarkable life of Albert Lasker (1880-1952). Lasker has been called the “father of modern advertising.” He had an eye for talent and worked with them to transform the advertising agency from mere brokers to a creative force to build businesses. He developed “reason why” advertising—salesmanship in print.

He made Palmolive and Pepsodent household names and invented the "Sun-Maid" and "Sunkist" brands. He made millions for Quaker Oats, Goodyear, Frigidaire, Lucky Strike and Kimberly-Clark and in the process made millions for himself. He advanced millions to friends during the Depression (most of the loans were never repaid) and when prudent, loaned money to clients to finance their advertising campaigns.

Lasker was a major investor in the Chicago Cubs. He persuaded William Wrigley to join him in investing in the team. To help the chewing-gum magnate sell more product he pushed to change the name of Cubs Park to Wrigley Field.

Masterminding the “idea side” of political campaigning, he brought together politics and advertising to help Warren G. Harding win the presidency in 1920. The Hardings and Laskers became good friends dining together at the White House three or four times a week.

Aided by his personal relationship with many leading businesspeople he “applied the insights he gained in one context to give advice in others.” The legendary David Sarnoff of RCA said of him, “Give him an equal knowledge of the facts and I’d rather have his judgment than anybody else I know.”

On October 29, 1935, his daughter Mary came to work for him at Lord & Thomas. He left a note on her desk on her first day of work:
My darling Mary,

Welcome to Lord & Thomas. I hope we have a long business association together—if we do, we will both get much joy from it.

Both as father and employer I give you this advice—try to learn from everyone (high and low), try to be of service to everyone (high and low). He finally leads who first learns to serve. And remember—we spend our lives learning. Above all, be yourself—your best self. Always think of the other fellow’s viewpoint and try to get him to think of yours. Learn to walk before you run. Believe in yourself—and believing, strive to learn every day and grow creatively every minute so that you will justify your belief.

All my love,
Father
Just One More: In 1938, Lord & Thomas hired the obscure comedian Bob Hope to pitch Pepsodent on the radio.
Although Lasker enjoyed making and consorting with the stars—and in one case, marrying them—he remained largely unimpressed with them. One day, the head of Lord & Thomas’ broadcast department reported to Lasker that Hope was grumbling about his contract with the agency. “Mr. Lasker,” the subordinate said, “Bob is very unhappy. He says he just can’t put the show together for $4000 a week. He must have $6,000.” “Just between us,” Lasker replied dryly, “I’d rather have Mr. Hope unhappy at $4000 than unhappy at $6,000.”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:16 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Learning , Personal Development

09.13.10

It’s Not Just Who You Know—It’s Who You Are

Leadership
Building relationships is about others. It’s more than networking says Tommy Spaulding. “When a heart centered on others drives your actions, networking is replaced by something far, far more powerful—Netgiving. Networking is all about you. Netgiving is all about others.” It's from this sound perspective that Tommy Spaulding writes It’s Not Just Who You Know.

It’s Not Just Who You Know is both an inspiring biography and a lesson in initiative and building genuine relationships. Quite often we meet people and build relationships by chance; Spaulding doesn’t believe we should leave them to chance. He has seen over and over again that “an investment in a short-lived and seemingly random encounter can produce unforeseeable yet significant benefits.” So we need to “develop an attitude of openness” and approach “every person we encounter with an awareness of the hidden potential to develop a relationship.”

Spaulding thinks of relationships in terms of a five story building. Level 1 is purely transactional—meet and greet. Level 2 you share basic personal information. Level 3 relationships, while superficial, relationships have developed an emotional comfort level that goes beyond sharing facts, news weather and sports and involves sharing opinions and feelings with others.

Level 4 relationships are marked openness and candidness. We respond in ways that show that we value the relationship for its own sake. The relationship reflects an ability to work through and a willingness to at times, put others interests above your own.

Level 5 relationships are our closest and most intimate relationships. They are based more on giving than on getting. “They are relationships based on a shared empathy—an intuitive understanding of each other's needs, even those that aren't necessarily expressed…. In Fifth Floor relationships, we become confidants, advisers, and partners in helping the other person achieve their greatest potential.”

Spaulding says the goal is to be able to develop the ability to build relationships at all five levels and he offers practical advice for expanding our relationships. It’s not done though through manipulation. Motives matter. Relationships built on getting what you can from others have no lasting value and will more than likely collapse when you need them the most. You can judge your motives by filtering them through the following traits: authenticity, humility, empathy, confidentiality, vulnerability, generosity, humor and gratitude. In building genuine relationships, says Spaulding, who you are is far more important than what you do.

Some of his advice:
  • When you think of the people you are getting to know, take out a piece of paper and write down the back-of-the-business-card information.
  • Take your time to get to know the other person. Don’t push for things you might want; figure out what they need. Don’t be a chirping bird—out for your own self interest.
  • Don’t ask for autographs of influential people and don’t ask to have your picture taken with them. They’ll look at you differently. You want them to look at you as a professional, not as a tourist.
  • If you’re building a relationship with someone, you’re also building a relationship with the people who are important to that person.
  • Find out what the other person thinks rather than telling them what you want.
  • Act on your awareness. Acting out of generosity heightens our awareness about the needs of others (empathy) and builds trust with those around us. If we want our co-workers and customers and vendors to trust us, we have to show them we care about them. But we also have to show them that we care about other people—people who offer us nothing but a heartfelt thank-you (and sometimes not even that).
  • Develop a Fifth Floor all-star team not so much for what that team can do for you, but for what you and that team can do together.
As important, Spaulding offers five relationship warnings such as choose wisely and the relationship cancer you must avoid at all costs. He says that Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People taught him how to get people to fall in love with him. But there is more. We can fall in love with others if we remember it’s not about us. It’s not just who you know—it’s who you are.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:08 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Personal Development

08.04.10

Are You a Hundred Percent Leader?

Research done by Leadership IQ indicates that 77% of leaders believe their employees are not giving 100%. Employees don’t seem to argue the point. 72% of employees admit that they in fact aren’t giving 100%.

If you want your employees to give 100%, you need to be the kind of leader that creates Hundred Percenters—a 100% Leader. In Hundred Percenters, Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ, says that the “two most important differentiating factors in separating exceptional from average leaders are Challenge and Connection.” Challenge is the extent to which a leader pushes his or her people. Connection is the strength of the emotional connection they build with their people. You need to decide how much you want to challenge your people and how tight an emotional bond you want to build with them.
The age-old question plaguing leaders is whether it’s better to be loved or feared. What our research seems to suggest is that while fear doesn’t lead to superior results, it’s also true that if being loved means you don’t push people, that’s not so great either. The balance seems to be that leaders should be loved, but they should be loved for pushing people to give 100%, not for coddling or appeasing them.
The degree to which you challenge and connect with your people will determine the results you get. Based on their research, Murphy has divided leaders into four basic types: Appeaser, Avoider, Intimidator and 100% Leader. With the challenges leaders face, appeasing, avoiding or intimidating can seem like necessary approaches; the path of least resistance. But they don’t produce fully engaged and accountable people. In practice, the four types are described this way:

100 percenters


Working for the Appeaser. You’re given enjoyable assignments, you’re allowed to spend most of your time on work that plays to your strengths, your boss gives you lots of positive feedback, and your boss seems to care most about making sure you’re really happy.

Working for the Intimidator. You’re given seemingly impossible assignments; you don’t feel like you’ve got all the skills you need to complete those assignments; when your boss gives you feedback, it’s usually pretty harsh and critical; and your boss seems to care most about achieving his goals no matter who’s with him at the end.

Working for the Avoider. Your boss doesn’t really force too many assignments on you, you’re not really required to learn new skills, your boss lets you figure out for yourself how you’re doing, and your boss seems to care most about not getting in your way.

Working for the 100% Leader. You’re given really challenging assignments, you’re required to learn new skills even in areas you might not consider to be your natural strengths, your boss gives you lots of constructive and positive feedback, and your boss seems to care most about pushing you to maximize every ounce of your potential.

What kind of leader are you?

Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:34 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Leadership Development

06.29.10

Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter

Leadership
Much of what constitutes good leadership can be summarized in two words: respect and selflessness.

How we relate to those two words will determine how we lead. Consider two assumptions that lie at the opposite ends of the spectrum:

• Really intelligent people are a rare breed and I am one of the few really smart people. People will never be able to figure things out without me. I need to have all the answers.

• Smart people are everywhere and will figure things out and get even smarter in the process. My job is to ask the right questions.

What you believe has a big impact on the performance, engagement, loyalty and the transparency you find with those you lead and interact with. In Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, authors Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown refer to those with the mindset represented by the first assumption as Diminshers and those with the mindset represented by the second assumption as Multipliers. It explains why some leaders create intelligence around them, while others diminish it.

The value of Multipliers is that is shows what these assumptions about people look like in practice and how they are reflected in your behavior. How would you approach your job differently if you believed that people are smart and can figure it out? With a Multiplier mindset, people will surprise you. They will give more. You will learn more. What kind of solutions could we generate if you could access the underutilized brainpower in the world? How much more could you accomplish?

It’s not that Diminishers don’t get things done. They do. It’s just that the people around them feel drained, overworked and underutilized. Some leaders seem to drain the “intelligence and capability out of the people around them. Their focus on their own intelligence and their resolve to be the smartest person in the room [has] a diminishing effect on everyone else. For them to look smart, other people had to end up looking dumb.” In short, Diminishers are absorbed in their own intelligence, stifle others, and deplete the organization of crucial intelligence and capability.

Multipliers get more done by leveraging (using more) of the intelligence and capabilities of the people around them. They respect others. “Multipliers are leaders who look beyond their own genius and focus their energy on extracting and extending the genius of others.” These are not “feel good” leaders. “They are tough and exacting managers who see a lot of capacity in others and want to utilize that potential to the fullest.”

The authors have identified five key behaviors or disciplines that distinguish Multipliers from Diminishers. You are not either/or but are somewhere along a continuum. These are all learned behaviors and have everything to do with how you view people. We don’t have to be great in all disciplines to be a Multiplier, but we have to be at least neutral in those disciplines we struggle with.

DIMINISHER
MULTIPLIER
The Empire BuilderHoards resources and underutilizes talentThe Talent MagnetAttracts talented people & uses them at their highest point of contribution
The TyrantCreates a tense environment that suppresses people’s thinking and capabilityThe LiberatorCreates an intense environment that requires people’s best thinking and work
The Know-It-AllGives directives that showcase how much they knowThe ChallengerDefines an opportunity that causes people to stretch
The Decision MakerMakes centralized, abrupt decisions that confuse the organizationThe Debate MakerDrives sound decisions through rigorous debate
The Micro ManagerDrives results through their personal involvementThe InvestorGives other people the ownership for results and invests in their success


They have developed an assessment tool you can use to see where you are. Importantly, the first place to begin is with your assumptions about people. If you don’t have that straight the rest is just manipulation.

As with most behaviors, we do them because we feel we have to. They are self-perpetuating. We jump in where we shouldn’t and come to the rescue. Under our “help” (domination) people hold back thereby reaffirming our belief that they just couldn’t do it without us. And they can’t or rather won’t. Instead they quit while still working for us or move on.

We see this in ourselves, in others and in organizations of all types. Leaders are especially prone to run over people, because after all, they have the vision, the know-how and the desire to get it done. We have to slow down and remember that we are not there just to get the job done, but to develop others to get the job done. They can (and need to be able to) do it without us. It’s our job to show them how.

In many ways, as leaders, we can become accidental Diminishers. The skills that got us into a position of leadership, are not the same skills we need to lead. Leadership requires a shift in our thinking. Wiseman and McKeown write, “Most of the Diminishers had grown up praised for their personal intelligence and had moved up the management ranks on account of personal—and often intellectual—merit. When they become ‘the boss,’ they assumed it was their job to be the smartest and to manage a set of ‘subordinates.’"

Here are some thoughts—out of context—from the book that will get you thinking:

“Marguerite is so capable she could do virtually any aspect of girl’s camp herself.” But what is interesting about Marguerite isn’t that she could—it is that she doesn’t. Instead, she leads like a Multiplier, invoking brilliance and dedication in the other fifty-nine leaders who make this camp a reality.

One leader had a sign on her door: “Ignore me as needed to get your job done.” She told new staff members, “Yes, there will be a few times when I get agitated because I would have done it differently, but I’ll get over it. I’d rather you trust your judgment, keep moving, and get the job done.”

The path of least resistance for most smart, driven leaders is to become a Tyrant. Even Michael said, “it’s not like it isn’t tempting to be tyrannical when you can.”

Policies—established to create order—often unintentionally keep people from thinking. At best, these policies limit intellectual range of motion as they straitjacket the thinking of the followers. At worst these systems shut down thinking entirely.

“It is just easier to hold back and let Kate do the thinking.” [They resign: “Whatever!”]

It is a small victory to create space for others to contribute. But it is a huge victory to maintain that space and resist the temptation to jump back in and consume it yourself.

An unsafe environment yields only the safest ideas.

[Multipliers] ask questions so immense that people can’t answer them based on their current knowledge or where they currently stand. To answer these questions, the organization must learn.

His greatest value was not his intelligence, but how he invested his intelligence in others.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:28 PM
| TrackBacks (1) | Human Resources , Leadership Development , Learning , Management , Thinking

06.25.10

Finding the Why of Work

Leadership
As most of us spend more time at work than we do anywhere else, work is a universal setting in which we can find meaning in our life. Meaning is the why that motivates, inspires and defines us. The Why of Work by Dave and Wendy Ulrich is a timely and important book. It is about our search for meaning and how “leaders facilitate that search personally and among their employees.”

Importantly, they begin with a discussion of the seemingly inevitable issue of deficit thinking. “When employees lose what they have come to count on and expect—be it a person, an income, a position, or less concrete notions like security, identity, or direction—they are inclined to deficit thinking.” “Deficit thinking,” they write, “can lock us into a prison of our own making, a prison dominated by fear, isolation, disorientation, and competition for scarce resources.” We can’t eliminate the hardships, uncertainties and disruptions we sometimes face, but we can change our perspective—find a different meaning. That is where leaders come in.
If we focus attention on what we stand to gain from our crisis, not just what we stand to lose, abundance thinking can replace deficit thinking even when deficits are the rule of the day. Abundance looks to future opportunity more than past disappointments, promotes hope over despair, suggests change for the future rather than languishing in the past, and fosters the creation of new meaning where old meanings have broken down. Abundance does not imply that things come easily or quickly but that we can make meaning even in the midst of challenges we face.
Leaders need to promote this meaning–making; create repositories of abundance where employees can “gain antidotes to some of the malaise, isolation and crises of meaning” they face.

Meaning is not found in events but in the way we interpret those events. This means we are not (or should not) be controlled by what is happening around us, but that we have to consciously work to determine what it means.

Dave and Wendy Ulrich have proposed seven questions—and devoted a chapter to each—to help leaders drive the abundance agenda—questions that help leaders make meaning, add value, create emotional energy, and foster hope while at work.

1. What Am I Known For? (Identity)
A sense of identity is fostered by a clear sense of who we are, what we believe in, and what we are good at. Our identity is grounded in how we instinctively use our skills in the service of our deepest values.

2. Where Am I Going? (Purpose and Motivation)
Abundance emerges from a clear sense of what we are trying to accomplish and why. Employees who can meet their personal goals at work remain motivated and engaged; those who can’t, go in a different direction, physically or emotionally.

3. Whom Do I Travel With? (Relationships and Teamwork)
Our sense of abundance is enhanced by meaningful relationships. High-performing teams come from high-relating people. When leaders help their organization “families” move beyond superficialities of getting along to struggle through conflict so that they can understand one another’s strengths and weakness, they can approach the kind of synergy that occurs in the best of human relationships. This means that leaders need to learn and model the skills of building good relationships at work.

4. How Do I Build a Positive Work Environment? (Effective Work Culture or Setting)
Abundance thrives on positive routines that help ground us in what matters most. Instead of building routines and patterns that encourage self-reflection, honest sharing, and the kind of consistency that brings people together, many of us build habits, addictions, and compulsive patterns that serve primarily to block out other people. Or, we build few routines at all, leaving us untethered in time and space and making us unpredictable to those who want to connect. Routines and patterns driven by our deepest values help us stay grounded in what matters most and available to those who matter most.

5. What Challenges Interest Me? (Personalizing and Contributing Work)
It’s hard to imagine abundance in the absence of challenge. Employees who are competent but not committed will not perform to their full potential. Commitment comes from building an employee value proposition that engages employees to use their discretionary energy to pursue organization goals. Commitment or engagement grows when we work in a company with a vision, have opportunities to learn and grow, do work that has an impact, receive fair pay for work done, work with people we like working with, and are offered flexibility about terms and conditions of work.

6. How Do I Respond to Disposability and Change? (Growth, Learning, and Resilience)
Abundance is less about getting things right and more about moving in the right direction. Unlike the assumption of disposability that governs so much of modern society, resilience and learning principles challenge us to “repair, reuse, and recycle” people, products, and programs rather than tossing them.

7. What Delights Me? (Civility and Happiness)
Abundance thrives on simple pleasures. The cry for tolerance demands that we outgrow our racial, religious, political, ethnic, and gender stereotypes. The cry for civility also calls upon us to outgrow our we-they, win-lose, right-wrong, blame-and-shame mentality. As we move away from hostility and blame toward problem-solving, listening, curiosity, and compassion, simple civility greases the skids. Delight often comes in small packages, and when money is tight it helps to know that small and simple pleasures spread over time have more impact on our sense of well-being than grand one-time gestures.

“Meaning does not ensure ease; it offers hope,” they write. “Abundance emerges from the growing conviction that what we are about ‘makes sense’—that it contributes to something larger than ourselves and that it is grounded in our deepest values. Such conviction does not forestall all problems, but it helps us confront problems with courage and integrity.”

Leaders at all levels can help (and have a responsibility to) make meaning happen.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:00 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources

05.26.10

The Face Game at Zappos

Zappos
Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, has made the company culture the number one priority at Zappos. For them, building community is what it is all about. It has become part of their brand. As he writes in Building Happiness, that while some of the things they do have grown organically, there are a few things that have been more purposeful and planned. One way to help build community is an internal game they call, The Face Game. He writes:

In most companies, logging in to the computer systems requires a login and a password. At Zappos, an additional step is required: a photo of a randomly selected employee is displayed, and the user is given a multiple-choice test to name that employee. Afterward, the profile and bio of that employee are shown, so that everyone can learn more about each other. Although there is no penalty for giving the wrong answer, we do keep a record of everyone’s score.

We’re always on the lookout for ways to improve our company culture, no matter how unconventional or counterintuitive the approach may be.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 02:53 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | General Business , Human Resources

04.28.10

We Have Met the Aliens and They Are Us

We live in a time—aided by advances in science and communication—that is obsessed with quantifying, labeling and optimizing. Generational studies are no different. While identifying and labeling the generations is valuable for understanding and discussion, if we are not careful we can lose some connection to their humanity—their sameness. While generational studies can help us to understand where people are at, if want to engage them, we would do well to remember what they are.

A generation comes and a generation goes. Each carries with them their own reaction to the former generation that raised them and their own disbelief of the reactions of the next generation to their own. Yet, each generation is not a new subset of humans; a curious new life form that needs to be studied and obsessed over. They are human. They are like us.
"That which seems the height of absurdity in one generation often becomes the height of wisdom in another."
—Adlai Stevenson
We do a disservice to any generation when we coddle them and commoditize them. What generation doesn’t want everything just right? But life doesn’t work like that. Our ideals keep us pushing on, exploring, reflecting, and innovating, but our disappointments and the imperfections we uncover, help us to learn compassion and build character. Every generation has difficulties to overcome and excesses to curb. Every generation is faced with the prospect of growing up. And each generation does it from a different perspective. A perspective that they gained from their observation of those that came before them. And they will hand a different perspective, a different emphasis, over to those that come after them.
"Parents often talk about the younger generation as if they didn't have anything to do with it."
—Haim Ginott
Like us, they are reacting to their upbringing and the world it created and bringing with them an attempt to find some greater idealism. Similarly, they need to learn balance, curb excesses, and rediscover forgotten behaviors and values. They need to learn compassion, the freedom that comes from admitting that you don’t know it all, and the value in what has come before them. No one generation excels completely in all things. All have different pieces of the life puzzle. All begin by placing a different weight on what is important and need to work to find the balance that makes their life more complete.

We all share a humanity that spans generations. Human nature doesn’t change. Not everything the previous generation did was bad. Often it was good and necessary, but was executed poorly. We can be thankful that while previous generations were concerned with “work-life balance,” they decided they had better keep their focus on the tiller so that we would have the opportunity to run on the deck, criticize their methods and endlessly debate whether or not the figurehead represents us well.
"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years."
—Mark Twain, Old Times on the Mississippi, Atlantic Monthly, 1874
A study of generational differences, more than anything, helps us to understand the consequences of our behaviors. What has worked and what hasn’t. Why an over-emphasis on this causes a problem there. If we can learn from it, we profit. However, our natural reactivity causes us to not learn as we should or build on the lessons of those that came before us. Human beings are not hard-wired with the lessons learned from the previous generation. So we all start at the beginning—learning and relearning—in the context of the world we find ourselves in. Each generation must come to the same place at the end of their lives as the one before it. All need to grow up. We need to become practiced at learning from each other; valuing each generation for where they have been, what they are learning, and the perspective they bring.

In a more connected world, the consequences of our behavior are greater. We have more reach. What we do affects more people and for longer periods of time. This creates a critical need for wise leadership.

Each generation will rewrite their world. Their thoughts and ideals aren’t new. Their emphasis is. “Treat Millennials with respect and dignity. Don’t over-manage them. Make them feel included.” Really? This isn’t generation specific. We all desire those things.

Generational analysis also reminds us that not everyone sees things the way we do. “By understanding other generations’ perspectives,” writes Tamara Erickson in What’s next, Gen X?, “we are better able to position our ideas and requests in ways that are likely to have positive results and avoid at least some of the frustrations of today’s workplace.” There are many good books in print that help to highlight the challenges that current generations face, their perspectives, and how we might learn from each other, and offer points of connection to help bridge the gaps. Here are several: All generations face the same human issues but from different perspectives and with different tools. But they all look for connection, meaning and contribution. They all want to add value and feel the satisfaction of a job well done.

Leadership is based on an understanding of human nature. Leadership isn’t changing. It’s adapting. Issues change. Culture changes. Approaches change. We have met the aliens and they are just like us.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:28 PM
| TrackBacks (1) | Human Resources , Management , Motivation

04.26.10

Leading Outside the Lines: Mobilizing the Informal Organization

informal organization
Right now, the informal elements of your organization are either working for you or against you. Yet for most leaders, say Jon Katzenbach and Zia Khan, authors of Leading Outside the Lines, the informal organization is poorly understood, poorly managed, and often disregarded because it is too hard to think about.
The formal organization has its own way of attracting, selecting, developing, and rewarding people—but it rarely has the power to affect promotion or compensation. Therefore, those who rise to influential positions in the hierarchy are more likely to be more comfortable with and skilled at using the formal organization than the informal….Informal leaders rarely have the kind of explicit qualifications that can be easily documented or communicated, much less evaluated.
The informal organization lies in the human side of the enterprise and as most things that reside there, it is hard. Unlike the formal side with its top-down, rational approach, the informal is fuzzy, constantly changing and hard to measure. So it is understandable that we would like to somehow ignore it or work around it. But, “if you want your entire organization to improvise frequently and energetically in response to fast-moving change, formal management techniques alone won’t get you there. You need help from the informal side as well. Mobilizing the informal organization helps support formal management mechanisms, increasing their chances of success and deepening their long-lasting impact on the organization.

For leaders, the challenge is to find the balance between the formal and the informal elements of the organization in their particular situation, to achieve concrete, measureable results.

When trying to make a change, our default tactic is to explain “in excruciating detail why the new plan is important.” We think if they get the logic of it, they will get behind it. But they often don’t. People need an emotional connection. Simply formalizing a new set of rules, programs, and structures will not pull the company's culture along. “To that end, leaders need to be able to translate vision, targets, and strategies into personal purpose, accomplishments, and choices that each one of their people can understand and feel good about pursuing.”

The authors make the distinction that while the formal organization is best when dealing with predictable and repeatable work that needs to be done efficiently and without variance, the informal organization is best suited to unpredictable events—surprises that need to be sensed and solved. They add that in many cases, when activity in the informal organization starts to repeat itself, it “is a signal for broader changes that need to be made to the formal organization.” To move beyond “best practices” and the status quo—to get to “best performance”—a leader needs to learn to mobilize the power and plasticity of the informal.

What You Can Do Now
  • Identify and understand the key elements of the informal organization (e.g., back channels, shared values, beliefs) that are at work in the organization at all times.
  • Know which personal and emotional motivators work (e.g., pride in the work itself). Formal motivators, such as money, can be counterproductive. They can actually undermine the natural pride people take in their work.
  • Develop bottom-up and cross-organizational approaches that complement and accelerate hierarchical efforts. “The more admirable enterprises take advantage of three motivational vectors: top down, bottom up, and peer to peer….Motivational leaders invariably treat their subordinates as peers as often as they can.”
  • Design meaningful "values" that are tied to specific behaviors and results. And not just values-displayed. But values-driven; values that are “lived, breathed, and drawn upon to guide day-to-day actions and decisions.”
  • Enlist employees adept at managing both sides of the organization. They call them “fast zebras.” These are people who absorb information quickly, adapt to sudden challenges, and act constructively.
  • Mobilize peer networks and communities to spread knowledge, behaviors, and message. Not manage. “Leaders need to prod the informal organization, to guide or herd it in the right direction without trying to control or constrain it.”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:05 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | General Business , Human Resources , Management , Motivation

12.18.09

We Hire For Difference and Fire Because They Are Not the Same

The Loudest Duck
Bringing true diversity to the workplace is a lot harder than we thought. It is more than just playing Noah and getting the numbers right—two of every kind. But, too often that’s as far as it goes. What is needed, says Laura Liswood in The Loudest Duck, is “more sophisticated leadership, conscious awareness, thought, behavior, and tools to reap the benefits of what true diversity can provide.”

Diversity has to be something deeper. True diversity requires a change in attitude and thinking. It requires a change in the way we think about people that are different—age, gender, race, accent, appearance, background, personality, religion or education—than we are. We all have unconscious reactions to people that are different. Liswood writes, “We are not talking about blatant inequities or discrimination in most of today’s professional world (although this still does occur). We are talking about unconscious belief, preferences, values, thoughts, and actions. These are what erode the promise of diversity.” To achieve true diversity, we need to examine what we believe; beliefs that we begin to develop at a very early age and continue to learn and reinforce throughout our lives.

“Getting true value out of diversity is much harder than was initially thought….Managing diversity requires heightened emotional intelligence, awareness, observation, and listening skills.” At the same time, Liswood argues, “employees have to take it upon themselves to get out of their comfort zones and learn to adjust to a company’s style, but not in a manner that merely shows compliance.” In today’s environment, whether the loudest duck gets heard or whether it gets its head chopped off, is not only a management issue, but additionally a large part of the responsibility lies with every individual to develop awareness and an understanding of what works and when in their particular situation. Throughout the book she offers tools and approaches to help you stretch yourself in the workplace.

The phrase “We hire for difference and fire because they are not the same,” sums up the dynamic very well. The Loudest Duck provides a framework to begin to do the inner work necessary to bring about true diversity.

The thing is, if you are not consciously inclusive of everyone, you will unconsciously narrow the type of players in your organization and never reap the benefits of true diversity. Accepting every kind of person is much harder than it sounds because we judge people differently based on our own internal filtering system that tells us what to value and what to ignore or tolerate. That’s where diversity needs to take hold if it is ever going to take hold in our organizations or in our communities.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:31 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources

10.20.09

Don't Bring It To Work

When people walk through your door in the morning, they don’t leave their problems behind. And that creates problems at work. Problems at home create, at the very least, distractions in the workplace. Many safety issues have been linked to preoccupied employees. The failure to deal with issues that are brought to work can result in high turnover, poor productivity, low morale and poor communication.
Don't Bring It To Work


What you bring to work is not only your problems but the behavioral patterns that, in many cases, caused them. In Don’t Bring it to Work, Sylvia Lafair says that much of what you bring to work are patterns of behavior that are driven by the roles we learned in our families as children. And when the going gets tough, the tough frequently revert to old family patterns.

Lafair describes the 13 most common destructive patterns in the workplace — including the super-achiever, the rebel, the procrastinator, the clown, the persecutor, the victim, the rescuer, the drama queen or king, the martyr, the pleaser, the avoider, the denier, the splitter — and explains how they got that way, and how to tell (a Pattern Aware Quiz is included) if any of this baggage from your own background is weighing down your career.

The action step is not to break your patterns but to transform them; to become a “better, more developed, more fulfilled version of the person you already are.” For instance:

From Super-Achiever to Creative Collaborator
From Rebel to Community Builder
From Procrastinator to Realizer
From Clown to Humorist
From Persecutor to Visionary
From Victim to Explorer
From Rescuer to Mentor
From Drama Queen or King to Storyteller
From Martyr to Integrator
From Pleaser to Truth Teller
From Avoider to Initiator
From Denier to Trust Builder
From Splitter to Peacemaker

So the Rebel might sound like, “Can you believe he was so demeaning to her at the meeting? I’m going to tell her to get back at him by complaining to HR.” But the Community Builder would say, “In my old pattern, I would have loved to stir things up; however, it’s a waste of time, so I’ll talk to him privately about my concerns.”

“We like to think we are rational leaders,” writes Lafair. “Yet the fact is that we don’t always tailor our actions to the actual demands of a situation. Instead, we fall back on old ways of responding that are emotionally laden and sometimes horrendously counterproductive.” If you’re looking to deal with your old defensive behavior patterns and capitalize on your inner strengths, Don’t Bring it to Work would be a good place to start.

An abbreviated version of the Pattern Aware Quiz can be found online.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:09 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources

09.09.09

7 Attributes of Alliance All-Stars

Steve Steinhilber says that “if alliances are not viewed as an integral part of your strategy, then you’re working with both hands tied behind your back…. You’ll need to develop alliance all-stars—no other investment is as important. Skimp in this area, and you’ll fall flat on your face.”

In Strategic Alliances, Steinhilber describes the life of the alliance leader as one of “limbo, with little official power and ambiguous roles. Their jobs can be lonely outposts in many cases. They must be the internal advocate, external promoter, chief relationship builder, and master of personal influence. Their job is to identify the strategic value proposition between the companies and, at the end of the day, to be able to cultivate sponsors on both sides.” The goal is to create a sense of dynamic tension.

This requires a special kind of leader. He has identified seven attributes to look for in alliance all-stars:
  1. Cross-functional experience. You need versatile leaders, with hard business know-how as well as softer general management capabilities.
  2. Ability to synthesize quickly. An alliance manager often has to take a complex series of activities and issues and make it simple for everyone to understand how to resolve an issue.
  3. Multimode communication skills. They must have excellent written and verbal communication skills and be comfortable working with all levels in both organizations.
  4. Strategically relevant knowledge. They must understand the unique context that both businesses operate in, their strengths and how to align them to the benefit of both organizations.
  5. Global experience and sensitivity. Leaders need experience working around the world and with other cultures and market environments.
  6. Ability to work in unstructured and ambiguous environments. In an unstructured environment, you need someone who is disciplined, can set clear priorities with the key stakeholders, and knows how to say “no.”
  7. Emotional balance and self-confidence. Look for people who have demonstrated their ability to handle constant setbacks and rejections.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:45 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources

09.04.09

How to Have More Productive Performance Appraisals

Leadership
Paul Falcone asks “Does the thought of conducting a performance appraisal for your employees make you cringe?” In Productive Performance Appraisals, Falcone and co-author Randi Sachs set out to make the process more comfortable for all involved. They say that performance appraisals are nothing more than an ongoing feedback system. It also “represents a system of ongoing engagement with your subordinates that creates for them an environment of job satisfaction and motivation” and it will also “help you build a culture that focuses on performance excellence."

The most important result is not the rating and encouragement of the employee, but the actual process itself. “By working together to analyze and evaluate the employee’s performance as well as his place within the department and the organization as a whole, and by setting goals for the near- and long-term future, you and your employee can strengthen your relationship and become a team of two adults working toward a common, agreed upon goal.”

Here are several tips:
  • Document, document, document. Keep a performance log on each and every employee and update it frequently. How often do we let this slide?
  • Treat monetary issues and promotions separately from performance appraisal discussions.
  • Get employees’ input before making decisions on reassignments or new tasks.
  • Learn how to give employees criticism without arousing hostility.
  • Avoid the word “attitude” in discussions and documentation and use terms like conduct and behavior instead.
  • Always follow up on areas on concern. Don’t look to continually find fault with the employee’s work—you made your point at the performance appraisal. Find out what they are doing right and encourage them to keep it up.
The section on common problems and effective solutions is especially helpful in developing a fresh approach to performance appraisals.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:17 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Management

08.19.09

Well-Rounded Networks Are Better Than Large Networks

Leadership
Rob Cross and Bob Thomas argue in Driving Results Through Social Networks that people who make targeted investments in relationships outperform those who simply build ever-larger networks. The former is based on quality the latter is a numbers game.

Leaders need to develop well-rounded networks. That is, networks that are not dominated by certain kinds of voices; people that are above them and below them, both inside and outside of the organization. The value here is in having the best possible and right kind information available to you when you need it from people willing to tell you the truth.

They have found that high performers networks share three important dimensions:
  1. Structural: High performers have a greater tendency to position themselves at key points in a network. They also fight off insularity and leverage the network around them more effectively to accomplish their work.
  2. Relational: High performers tend to invest in relationships that extend their expertise and help them avoid learning biases and career traps.
  3. Behavioral: High performers engage in behaviors that lead to high-quality relationships, not just to big networks.
They have developed an organizational network analysis to help make known the networks that exist in the informal organization. When trying to implement strategy this becomes a crucial bit of information. If the informal networks are not aligned to the organizational objectives, the organization underperforms and resources are not leveraged. A more nuanced view also allows for the creation of high performing teams that do not naturally arise from the formal organization chart.

This network perspective underscores the need for leadership at all levels of an organization:
Whereas today we rely on two-dimensional, static, and notoriously outdated organization charts to depict what an organization is or does, soon we will be able to represent companies, even industries, the way they really are: active, in motion, growing, shrinking, flowing in the direction of opportunities, pulsating with life, and inevitably fading out of existence.

The network perspective allows for two possibilities. First, thinking takes place in many different locations and hierarchical levels—in other words, organizations are more appropriately viewed as being composed of intelligences or multiple cognition centers competing for authority and resources with which to enact their plans or ideals. Second, thinking may be a “whole body” phenomenon, located not in just one organ. In other words, organizational intelligence is a distributed phenomenon, a composite of different kinds of cognition acting in concert even without a central controller.
This has implications for speeding productivity in newcomers:
Leaders can capture greater productivity from their new hires by facilitating introductions between the newcomers and key resources as well as by ensuring that new employees quickly build a network of trusted relationships. Instead of asking only What do newcomers need to know? organizations must also ask, Whom do our newcomers need to know?

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:16 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources

07.27.09

5 Leadership Lessons: Getting Your Relationships Right

5 Leadership Lessons
When we think of leadership we naturally regard the objective and view with suspicion the subjective. We value hard data over soft data; reason over instinct; the external world over the internal world. John Townsend writes that “Great leaders succeed by harnessing the power of both the external world and the internal world. You, as a leader, are probably more trained, prepared, and experienced in the external world than you are in the inner one.”

Townsend wrote Leadership Beyond Reason to help you understand and utilize the soft skills – that which is beyond reason. He says “you ignore what is beyond reason at your own peril….Leading from your inner world ultimately produces better results in your leadership.”

He divides our inner world into five areas: values, thoughts, emotions, relationships and transformation. As leadership is about connecting with those you lead and a primary focus of leadership, let’s pull five lessons from Townsend on relationships:
Leadership Beyond Reason


1  “You internalize anyone who is significant to you, past and present. As well, the people you are leading are currently internalizing you. As a leader, you have the responsibility of knowing that people are storing mental and emotional pictures of how you relate to and lead them.” These are our relational images. It reminds me of a quote from Shakespeare, “There is a history in all men's lives.” This includes you too. We relate to others in ways that others have related to us. This of course has an impact on the connections we can make with others.

2  Develop good and healthy relational images. “Take in the good and forgive and grow from the bad.” He explains, “Some of your own significant relationships may have been with people who were cold, controlling, manipulative, self-centered, critical, or even abusive. This can create distorted or nonfunctioning pictures of how relationships should work.” Is your leadership drawing on images that don’t work for you?

3  “An important relational ability for leaders is to see people as separate from you and from their roles with you. Your people want to work with you, or they wouldn’t be with you. But you aren’t their reason for existing. They have lives, dreams, and concerns of their own. You need to be able to identify and understand that. Sometimes leaders assume everyone has the vision as strongly as they do or are as committed as they are. That can be a mistake and can undo what you are trying to accomplish with them.”

4  “Relationship provides the bridge over which truth can be conveyed. In your leadership, your people will experience truth in the absence of relationship as harshness, judgment, or condemnation. They will resist it and refuse it, either actively or subtly. Truth is hard to swallow if you don’t feel connected with the truth teller. That is why being “for” the other person, letting them know that, and being as emotionally accessible as possible, at the time of the reality, is critical.” Often “counseling” or performance appraisals derail on this issue as no sense of being “for” the other person has been established. Trying to develop a relationship “at the time of the reality” is too late. Do it now.

5  “The better you can relate, the better you will be able to influence and motivate…. Passion is ignited when the real self connects with the right task environment…. You can’t create passion, not for yourself or for anyone else. Your job is to create the right environment for the chemistry to happen. You do this by personal research. You must spend the energy to know your people and learn which tasks intersect with their passions. It will be different for different individuals; it’s not a one-style-fits-all program. But when you develop this relational ability, and get to know the insides of your people, the value and benefits are enormous.

Developing your relational abilities will help you read the landscape. Townsend adds, “The leader who misses relational aspects is surprised when people become distant, resentful, or just leave. The relational leader sees the signs coming a long way away and has time to do something about them.”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:51 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Five Lessons , Human Resources , Management , Motivation , Positive Leadership , Teamwork

06.03.09

Whatever Happened to the Rugged Individualist?

I Hate People
“Corporate America is in the midst of a crisis” write Jonathan Littman and Marc Hershon in I Hate People! “The spirit of the individual has played a huge part in forging our nation’s history. Yet the scourge of teamwork pap has made solo efforts in companies seem unwanted, crazy, even dangerous.

“Instead of thinking of yourself as a staffer in a big company, the manager of a division, or a top executive, you begin to define yourself in concrete individualistic terms. You are a brand unto yourself. Brainstormer extraordinaire. Marketing whiz. Charismatic project leader.”

At the same time the soloist is not a loner, a recluse or a maverick. They fit smoothly within a group, playing with it expertly while often leading or accompanying fellow members. I Hate People! Kick Loose from the Overbearing and Underhanded Jerks at Work and Get What You Want Out of Your Job is a guide for navigating through the kinds of people in the workplace that make us all miserable and undermine rugged individualists.

How do you know if you're a Soloist, or at least destined to become one? The easiest sniff test is how many times a day you mutter, shout, or even think to yourself, "I hate people!" But not all People Haters are necessarily Soloists.

Littman and Hershon have created the Am I a Soloist Quiz to help you determine the depth of your Soloist leanings. The higher your score, the more Soloist blood in your veins.

A. The portion of the day I prefer working by myself is . . .
  1. one hour.
  2. two hours.
  3. four hours.
  4. six hours.
  5. all day.
B. My favorite part of the day is . . .
  1. staff meetings.
  2. status meetings.
  3. dinner or cocktails with clients.
  4. lunch with colleagues.
  5. meeting with my boss.
C. I'm most comfortable working in a team with . . .
  1. ten or more people.
  2. seven to nine people.
  3. five to six people.
  4. two to four people.
  5. nobody.
D. An empty office makes me feel . . .
  1. creepy.
  2. lonely.
  3. unmotivated.
  4. at home.
  5. excited.
E. When I get to the office in the morning, I usually . . .
  1. bring in doughnuts and coffee for everyone.
  2. say hello to people and ask about their evening.
  3. nod to people I run into between the front door and my desk.
  4. grunt and head to my workspace.
  5. head to my workspace.
F. When I see an empty conference room, I think . . .
  1. I hope I didn't miss the meeting.
  2. I hope I set aside enough time for the meeting.
  3. the meeting is about to start.
  4. how can I get out of the meeting?
  5. what a great place to write my report.
G. When I dream of the perfect office, I visualize . . .
  1. a glass fishbowl in the center of the action.
  2. the latest collaborative open-space environment.
  3. small work-group offices.
  4. a cubicle.
  5. four walls and a door that locks.
H. The place I do my most creative work is . . .
  1. at my desk.
  2. in a meeting room.
  3. in the break room.
  4. at home.
  5. outside.
I. I like a boss who . . .
  1. checks up on me periodically.
  2. asks what I'm working on in the morning.
  3. gives me weekly assignments.
  4. asks for monthly status reports.
  5. rarely comes in.
J. I like a coworker who . . .
  1. is friends with everyone.
  2. regularly breaks up the day with office gossip.
  3. freely converses during breaks and at lunch.
  4. barely interacts with just a few people.
  5. minds his own business.
YOUR SCORE
10–15Forget it. You, my friend, are a teamworker, through and through.
16–25Though more comfortable in a team setting, you occasionally like your alone time. Soloist larva.
26–35Stretching your Soloist muscles. Yes, you like people a little too much.
36–45Strong Soloist. You could be teaching others if you weren't spending so much time alone.
46–55Cream of the Soloist crop. No one's getting in your way, and that's the way you like it.


  On the author's I Hate People web site, you will find a blog, free I Hate People! Do Not Disturb signs, videos and more.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:55 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | General Business , Human Resources , Management , Teamwork

05.27.09

Creating a Sustainable Business Environment

Charles Handy writes that to repair the damage to the image of business, leaders of those businesses should bind themselves to a form of the Hippocratic Oath, “Above all, do no harm.” It means doing more than being legal. It means being ethical. It means taking the lead in creating sustainable environments for both individuals and the world they live in.

Lee Cockerell, former executive vice president of operations for Walt Disney World Resort, says that “the organization of the future will pay as much attention to people and leadership strategies as it does to products and services.” He adds that “good leaders are environmentalists: their responsibility is to create a sustainable business environment—that is, one that is calm, clear, crisp, and clean, with no pollution, no toxins, and no waste—in which everyone flourishes.”

To that end, leaders must create an inclusive workplace where every employee can contribute to the best of their ability. In The Organization of the Future 2, he suggests ten goals you can set for yourself where you can impact your organization’s culture:
  1. Know Your Team. Get to know them as people. Know their skills, talents, goals and understand their potential.
  2. Engage Your Team. Ask them for their opinions.
  3. Develop Your Team. Stay engaged with your team members and know where they can benefit from training, mentoring and other forms of development.
  4. Greet People Sincerely. Don’t get so busy that you don’t notice other people.
  5. Build Community. Think of your team as a community with all of its diversity. Get to know their differences so you can leverage these dynamics.
  6. Listen to Understand. Show you care enough to listen. This is MBWA (Management By Walking Around). Get out and give people your complete attention and listen to what they are saying as well as what they are not saying. Take the time.
  7. Communicate Clearly, Directly, and Honestly. This is one where we all fall short from time to time. Use ordinary words and say what you mean. That doesn’t mean rude, blunt or intimidating. Listen for understanding.
  8. Hear All Voices. Encourage other people to share. Practice the Four Cast Member Expectations:
       • Make Me Feel Special
       • Treat Me as an Individual
       • Respect Me
       • Make Me Knowledgeable, Develop Me, and Understand My Job
  9. Speak Up When Others Are Excluded. Be on the lookout for people who are being excluded (for whatever reason) and bring them along.
  10. Be Brave. Have the courage to do the right thing, encourage your team to do the same and let them know that you have their back when they do.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:30 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | General Business , Human Resources , Management

04.24.09

What Games Do You Play?

Games At Work
We all play games. We play them for the promise of reward they hold. They function as a coping mechanism to help us to navigate uncertain and challenging settings. But they are self-serving and drain people of energy and commitment. “They lock people into routines and rituals that hamper flexibility and thwart change efforts.” They will never go away, but we can minimize both the frequency and their effect.

“A lack of knowledge about games allows them to thrive” say Mauricio Goldstein and Phillip Read in their book, Games At Work: How to Recognize and Reduce Office Politics. “The more you know the better able you’ll be to limit their damage and turn the energy of your people in more productive directions.”

You might have played or been involved in some of these common games they mention:
  • Gotcha …where people act as if they receive points for identifying and communicating others’ mistakes.
  • Gossip …the rumor mill is used to gain political advantage.
  • Low Budget …where managers purposely low-ball budget requests as a negotiating ploy.
  • Marginalize …effectively exile individuals from teams or groups because they challenge the status quo, or aren’t one of the boss’ people.
  • Blame …individuals seek scapegoats in order to excuse failure.
  • Gray Zone …deliberately fostering ambiguity or a lack of clarity about who should do what to avoid accountability
  • Pecking Order …people play favorites and put others in the doghouse as an exercise of power
  • Pessimism …people artificially inflate the difficulty of an assignment in order to create lower expectations
  • Big Idea …suggesting visionary strategies and concepts to communicate one’s creativity and vision without regard for whether the ideas can be implemented.
  • No Bad News …avoiding or suppressing negative data in relentless pursuit of a positive approach.
“Games meet powerful needs" they write, “whether for approval, promotion, camaraderie, or continued employment, and may seem to participants that they can’t get those needs met any other way. Therefore, even when their eyes are opened to the existence of games within their group, they do nothing. Even though they know that games are bad, the alternative seems worse.” So they can’t simply be eliminated by edict.

The authors give managers the tools to “diagnose” the games that people play in their company. Using a three step process entitled AIMAwareness, Identification, Mitigation—with specific examples from global companies that illustrate both the games and their solutions, Goldstein and Read provide a clear outline for managers to address and end the games people play in organizations. They also present five principles to keep in mind:

To game is human. Your goal is to have fewer and less.

Games flourish during times of high anxiety. Companies need anxiety to fuel performance, however this anxiety and stress needs to be channeled into productive rather than manipulative behaviors.

Your company’s games are not comparable to another company’s games. Different organizations have different game ecologies.

Minimizing game playing starts at home. As soon as you deny that you play or facilitate games, you’ve limited your options for dealing with them. Recognizing this tendency in yourself helps you deal with these issues at a personal level.

Dialogue is a natural antidote to games. Don’t embark on a course of “gamocide” – that is. Don’t create programs and policies to punish game playing. This will serve only to create more games. Speaking openly and honestly discourages game playing.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:23 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | General Business , Human Resources , Management

03.04.09

Take the Greater Than Yourself Challenge

Greater Than Yourself
You’ve heard “invest yourself in others” and “pay it forward.” Steve Farber has his own unique twist on these ideas and he calls it Greater Than Yourself.

The Greater Than Yourself (GTY) concept is based on the premise that great leaders become great because they cause others to be greater than they are. GTY is a one-on-one development process where you choose to help someone become more capable, competent, and accomplished than you are. It has three parts to it: Expand Yourself, Give Yourself and Replicate Yourself.

The life-long process begins with you. “You have to expand yourself before you can help make others greater.” That means that you have to make sure that everything that is you is constantly expanding. No matter how much you think you know or are, “you can always learn more, you can always experience more, you can always connect more and love more.” The point of which is to give it all away.

Giving it all away always brings out the cynics. But Farber deals with that too. Giving it all away seems to imply subtraction – like a zero-sum-game – to many people. But it’s not. Giving it all away really adds to who you are. Parents get it, but when we get outside that relationship, an improper self-interest kicks in and we miss the bigger picture.

In this business fable set along the California coast, Faber skillfully explains the true nature of giving it all away to become a creator of masters. GTY has life changing possibilities if you commit to it. Expanding yourself “is a practice that should become part of your life. Integrate it into your thought process and into the way you make decisions. Will X add to your inventory? Will it expand an item that is already there? If so, do it; if not, don’t.”

When you think of giving of yourself, money may not be part of it. You have other resources like “your talent, your knowledge, your connections, your confidence, your trust” and last but not least, “your time.”

In the end you want to replicate yourself. That is, you want to make sure that the people you elevate are doing the same for others.

In an organizational context, it might look like this: “Everyone on my team and in our company should become significantly greater as a result of working with one another.” But, “I’m not trying to hire people who are more talented than me, I’m trying to hire people with heart, desire, drive and mad potential, and then encourage all of them to bring out the best in one another by giving fully to one another. See the difference?”

Farber admits that this isn’t easy to do initially. In response, he challenges us to pick just one person to make a GTY project. “Raise that person; boost him or her above yourself. Start there and see what happens.”

He has created a web site with examples and resources to get you going. In particular, there is a four minute video of a GTY project conducted by the Up With People organization, that is a good overview of what this is all about and the impact it can have. The participants in this GTY project don’t rule out that great things can come in small packages. The tendency is to pick someone who is already doing well and then working to make them greater; jump on their bandwagon so to speak. There’s certainly nothing wrong in that, but perhaps the most impact can come from taking someone who really needs a leg up and connecting them to what they need.

Take the Greater Than Yourself Challenge. Pick one person and give of yourself to make their life better—than yours!

u > i

del mar

Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:23 PM
| TrackBacks (1) | Human Resources , Personal Development , Positive Leadership

01.26.09

You Can’t Order Change: Making Ethics and Compliance a Clear Competitive Advantage

When Jim McNerney became CEO of Boeing in 2005, change wasn’t an option. It was mandated. In 2005 Boeing was facing investigations into illegal business practices, there was the sex scandal, revenue was down, and key people were jumping ship. In short, it wasn’t the place to work.
You Can’t Order Change


But even when everyone agrees that change is necessary – even vital – it doesn’t come easy. It still has to be approached in a careful and respectful way. You Can’t Order Change, by Peter Cohan, is about how McNerney brought about that change in Boeing. How he cleaned up the mess and changed the culture and revitalized the organization.

Probably the biggest task that faced him was the quagmire created by years of costly ethical problems. He had to settle a lawsuit with the government and create a culture of ethics and compliance. This has to be done by example and system changes that encourage ethical behavior and compliance.

He said in Boeing Frontiers, “I plan to make leadership development a focus across the company because I believe that as we strengthen our leadership capacities, we can have a positive impact on the company's overall performance. As I've said before, better leaders make better companies. And effective leadership, at all levels of an organization, is based on a foundation of trust, integrity and escape-free compliance. As we turn up the gain in leadership-development training, we will embed in it an equal emphasis on how leaders can lead with ethics and integrity.”

Cohan writes that McNerney made sure that ethics wasn’t a passing fad, but a value that had teeth in it. If the leaders of the organization “have not been behaving in a way that’s consistent with Boeing’s values, he expects them to change their behavior. And if they don’t meet McNerney’s expectations, they lose their leadership roles.”

Step one for McNerney, of course, is getting the leaders to act ethically; to set he example. Cohan cites this statement from McNerney:
We also realize it all starts with leadership. If an organization’s leaders don’t model, encourage, expect and reward the right behaviors, why should anyone else in that organization exhibit those behaviors? Companies have to take the hugely important step of driving ethics and compliance through their core leadership and Human Resources processes. This must be … and must be seen to be … a central part of the whole system of training and developing leaders and of the whole process of evaluating and promoting people. This is the key.”
Critical also to this change is a system that supports and rewards people for getting results ethically and gets rid of people who don’t. Cohan writes, “McNerney let people know that he wanted them to discuss problems and not bury them.” If people didn’t talk about ethics and compliance, he would bring it up. “Ultimately, McNerney want to avoid surprises about ethical problems that originate at lower levels. I know and you know … that one of the absolute perquisites for success in ethics and compliance is the belief that it is OK for people to question what happens around them.”

McNerney’s methods and approach to change have gotten him dramatic results and they are worth studying.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:35 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Change , Ethics , Human Resources , Management

11.26.08

I Hired Your Resume. But Unfortunately What I Got Was You!

The Wall Street Journal recently asked 100 CEOs of large companies what their top priorities were. After the obvious financial issues, the perennial concern over finding the right people to do what needs to get done was the issue of the day. This speaks to a larger problem of education, but makes all the more important the solutions presented in Who: The A Method for Hiring by Geoff Smart and Randy Street.
Reward Systems


Smart and Street have set out to help you make better who decisions. Often the problem is getting past the resume and really getting to know the person you are considering. Most managers fail at hiring because they do not follow a rigorous hiring process.

Who lays out a four step process that, in my experience, may need to be adapted depending on the type of position you are trying to fill. But the principles are valid across the board. If the book does nothing else, it will help you rethink what you are now doing and avoid what they call voodoo hiring practices – playing (mind) games with the candidates, trying to size people up after one conversation, and questions designed to trick or are that are irrelevant. The bottom line is that you can’t “read” people like you think you can. “It’s hard to see people for who they really are.”

The four steps they recommend are:

Scorecard: The scorecard is a blueprint for the role you have to fill. Most companies would improve their odds if they just got this step right. The last job description you have on file is probably not precise or accurate enough to get you the right person for the job. You have to set clear objectives for your hiring process to know exactly what kind of candidate you need to hire. They say that hiring the “all-around athlete” is not as successful as the specialist – someone hired to a specific role that you need filled.

Sourcing: The question they get asked over and over is “Where do you find talented people?” The number one and best source is from your professional and personal networks. But if you wait until you are ready to hire, it’s probably too late. “Successful executives don’t allow recruiting to become a one-time event, or something they have to do every now and then. They are always sourcing, always on the lookout for new talent, always identifying the who before a new hire is really needed.”

Select: Smart and Street recommend four distinct types of interviews: the screening interview, the Topgrading Interview, the focused interview, and the reference interview. You’re looking for patterns, “facts and data about somebody’s performance track record that spans decades.”

Sell: Once you decide on a candidate you need to get them on board. Be sure to position your company as a place good people want to work. Care about what they care about: how they fit in, their family, freedom, compensation and fun (the work environment).

Related Interest:
  Hiring the Right Skill Set and Motivating the Millennials
  The Who Matters Blog

Posted by Michael McKinney at 03:03 PM
| TrackBacks (1) | Human Resources

11.18.08

The Secrets of the Millennial Generation

karl moore
Talking Management is a weekly videocast that McGill University’s Karl Moore hosts for Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper. Recently he recorded a presentation on how to manage and lead today’s youth. The Business Strategy Review, published by the London Business School, identified Moore among a group of world’s greatest business thinkers. In this 20 minute video, he provides not only some practical ideas but an understanding of the context that produced the Millennial generation.

Here are some excerpts:
The job of the manager is not to have the ideas but to support them. That is saying that innovation comes from everywhere, not just from the center, not just from the top of the pyramid, not just from the old people, it comes from throughout the organization. This fits with the business need. A manager, a leader must now spend more time listening and looking for others' ideas and empowering them than in merely trying to be the great strategist. We have heard this for a while but I think that it seems more compelling today than in the past. It is just more true. It used to be that global firms would have a head office in a country and that is where ideas would come from but probably the main advantage of being a global multinational organization is that you are getting ideas and innovation from all over the World rather than from one place.

Emotions are more of a part of the conversation. It is a huge area of interest in work because we see that emotions are how you get the great energy out of people.

A renewed need for purpose is what young people particularly—but the boomers are getting there as well—is a sense that materialism is not enough. Having two Mercedes is not enough.

We have to rethink the meaning of career for young people particularly but Boomers are getting into this as well…People want much more flexibility; on-ramps and off-ramps.
You can also read a transcript of the video on the Globe and Mail web site.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:32 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Management

11.14.08

Hiring the Right Skill Set and Motivating the Millennials

In raising and schooling our children in the U.S., it appears we have dropped our standards. And it shows. Finding the right people is becoming a more and more difficult proposition. (I enjoyed reading about Linda Zdanowicz's search for a dental assistant on her blog.) Tony Wagner, author of the The Global Achievement Gap has written am important book that should not be ignored by business leaders. It sets a meaningful agenda for a good dialogue between educators and business leaders and concerned parents about our educational system. Wagner has written the following for us:
Global Achievement Gap


In an economic downturn, employers need to be even more careful with their hiring decisions. And recent graduates from some of the best schools may not have the skills that matter most in the new global knowledge economy. In researching my book, The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don’t Teach The New Survival Skills Our Children Need -- and What We Can Do About It, I have come to understand that there are "7 Survival Skills" for the New World of Work, and that employers must look beyond applicants' "pedigrees" to carefully assess whether they have the skills that matter most.

New Skills
Here are the Seven Survival Skills, as described by some of the people whom I interviewed:

• Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
"The idea that a company's senior leaders have all the answers and can solve problems by themselves has gone completely by the wayside . . . The person who's close to the work has to have strong analytic skills. You have to be rigorous: test your assumptions, don't take things at face value, don't go in with preconceived ideas that you're trying to prove."
—Ellen Kumata, consultant to Fortune 200 companies


• Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence
"The biggest problem we have in the company as a whole is finding people capable of exerting leadership across the board . . . Our mantra is that you lead by influence, rather than authority."
—Mark Chandler, Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Cisco


• Agility and Adaptability
"I've been here four years, and we've done fundamental reorganization every year because of changes in the business . . . I can guarantee the job I hire someone to do will change or may not exist in the future, so this is why adaptability and learning skills are more important than technical skills."
—Clay Parker, President of Chemical Management Division of BOC Edwards


• Initiative and Entrepreneurship
"For our production and crafts staff, the hourly workers, we need self-directed people . . . who can find creative solutions to some very tough, challenging problems."
—Mark Maddox, Human Resources Manager at Unilever Foods North America


• Effective Oral and Written Communication
"The biggest skill people are missing is the ability to communicate: both written and oral presentations. It's a huge problem for us."
—Annmarie Neal, Vice President for Talent Management at Cisco Systems


• Accessing and Analyzing Information
"There is so much information available that it is almost too much, and if people aren't prepared to process the information effectively, it almost freezes them in their steps."
—Mike Summers, Vice President for Global Talent Management at Dell


• Curiosity and Imagination
"Our old idea is that work is defined by employers and that employees have to do whatever the employer wants . . . but actually, you would like him to come up with an interpretation that you like -- he's adding something personal -- a creative element."
—Michael Jung, Senior Consultant at McKinsey and Company


Looking Beyond the Degree

The conventional thinking of many who make hiring decisions is that graduates from "name-brand" colleges are likely to be more intelligent and better prepared than students who have gone to second or third tier schools. But, in reality, what the degree may mean is that these students are better at taking tests and figuring out what the professor wants -- skills that won't get them very far in the workplace today. A senior associate from a major consulting firm told me that recent hires from Ivy League business schools were constantly asking what the right answer was -- in order words, how to get an "A" for the job they were doing -- and were not always very adept at asking the right questions, which was the single most important skill senior executives whom I interviewed identified. So what does this mean for the interview process?

First, listen carefully for the kinds of questions the applicant asks. Are they probing? Insightful? Do they suggest that the applicant has really prepared for the interview by trying to understand your business? Do you feel as though you or your company are being interviewed? If so, that's a very good sign.

How a perspective employee asks these questions matters, as well. Does he or she listen carefully and engage you in discussions? Is the potential new hire both interested and interesting? In addition to the ability to ask good questions, senior execs told me that the ability to "look someone in the eye and engage in a thoughtful discussion" is an essential competency for working with colleagues and understanding customers' needs.

Finally, perhaps the most important question you might ask is, "what do you want to learn or how do you want to grow in this job?" This question is essential for two reasons: First, the quality of the answer will tell you how reflective this individual is -- and how intentional he or she may about his or her own development. More than any specific skill, individuals must want to learn, grow, and improve continuously to be successful in today's workplace.

Motivating the Millennials

The second reason why this question is important goes to the heart of the problem of how to motivate new hires to do their best. In asking the question, "how do you want to grow," you are signaling to a prospective employee that you and your company are committed to developing the talents of your workers. Many employers worry that this generation lacks a work ethic. But in my research, I have discovered that this generation is not unmotivated but rather differently motivated to learn and to work. Above all else, they want opportunities to be challenged and to make a difference.

Describing the different work ethic of this generation, Ellen Kumata, who is managing partner at Cambria Associates and consults to senior executives at Fortune 200 companies, told me, "They don't see coming into a company as being a career experience. They don't want to climb the corporate ladder and make more money and please the boss. And so you can't manage them the same way -- you can't just put them into a cubicle and expect them to perform." Tracy Mitrano, who manages the Office of Information Technologies at Cornell University, agreed: "You have to make the work more interesting and allow them to work in different ways. They are prepared to work just as much and just as hard -- but not at a desk 8 hours a day."

Andrew Bruck was finishing a law degree at Stanford when I interviewed him last year. "We want to feel ownership. We have a craving for an opportunity to do something really important," he told me. "People in my generation have been in a constant state of training. Now they're excited to go do something. The more responsibility you give people, the better they produce . . . There are more and more recent law school grads who are willing to take a lower salary in return for an opportunity for more meaningful work."

Ben McNeely, a journalist, described to me the difference between his former employer and his current one. "At the paper where I worked previously, the publisher would kill stories if they portrayed an advertiser in a negative light. At the paper where I work now, I have an opportunity to contribute something in a growing community. I was brought in to cover the new bio-tech research campus under construction nearby, where the Canon towel factory used to be, and to cover health care issues, as well. I have support from the editor and publisher who both have strong journalistic ethics. I like it that the editor pushes Windham, who us to dig deeper."

Carie Windham, who graduated from college in 2005, told me about the best boss she's ever had. "He asked me where I want to be in 10 years. He talked to me about creating the experience I want to have. He understood I wouldn't be there forever . . . Mentoring is a huge motivational tool, someone showing an interest in you and giving you feedback. We want to feel we have a creative, individual role -- that we're not just working on an assembly line. We want to feel like we have ownership of an idea."

Hiring the right talent, then, is only part of the problem employers face today. Equally important is how businesses create challenges and learning opportunities that motivate the Millennials to do their best. Google, which had more than one million applications for 5,000 jobs in 2006, is the number one pick of a place to work for many of the Millennials. Listening to twenty-two year old Matt Kulick talk about his work, one begins to understand how profoundly many companies will have to change in order to attract and retain the best talent: "First, they (Google) share ideals that I believe in -- open source software. And their products are solving important problems for people -- doing good in the world. I believe in what they're doing -- these values are very important to me. I wanted to help out, to make a contribution. The second reason I came to Google is because they give me the resources I need to accomplish major things that will really make a difference in world. The third reason is the responsibility they give you from the day you start. It is a winning combination. It makes me happy to go to work every day."

Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:07 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Education , General Business , Human Resources , Management , Motivation



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