Thursday, October 17, 2019

Why Dumpster Fires at Work are Powerful Teachers


Guest post by Maki Moussavi:

We've all been there. We've experienced the situation at work that pops up and is immediately followed by thoughts about how our day is suddenly going off course, that priorities have shifted in favor of the fire that needs putting out. Of course, this is to be expected from time to time. 

But what if the thought that bubbles up is a variation of "Here we go again"? When chaos is cyclical, reacting to and addressing the fire is reactive and only addresses the symptom of a much larger problem. This is the equivalent of treating recurrent heartburn with a pill instead of searching for the underlying issue that's causing your discomfort. It's a bandage on a wound that requires more than a surface solution. 

Many of you are either very good at (or have a team member or leader who is very good at) going into damage control mode to quickly triage a situation. All of the energy in the room gets funneled in the direction of applying the bandage, and even if there are important observations about an element that contributed to the fire that needs to be addressed, it's all too easy to set that aside in favor of the immediate actions that must be taken. Once the chaos has subsided, you may have a debrief and make a plan to correct underlying issues, but the reality is that plans of that nature tend to be put off for the future, or to be derailed by the next situation that pops up. 

One of the most frustrating aspects of managing cyclical challenges is that the cycle itself can create a false sense that there's no good way out of the pattern. That you're fighting a losing battle, and the powers that be don't get it and won't make the necessary changes to avoid the same issues in the future. You become resigned to fighting the fires instead of preventing them in the first place. All kinds of limiting mental chatter crowd into your head that reinforce your sense that you don't have the authority to make people listen or to create change. You and your colleagues may even get together to vent about this very thing, further reinforcing the idea that you have no power to make it better. 

Let me say that again: You get to the point where you believe you have no power to change the situation. 

It's easy to fall into the trap of this belief. After all, the culture of an organization is a powerful factor in the way chaos is handled. If all you see is how it's mishandled, you will naturally believe that future situations will be similarly mishandled. But where are YOU in all of this?

The next time a dumpster fire shows up, you can handle it in a way that empowers YOU, even if the desired outward change is slow in coming. 

Your to-dos:
  • Become an observer. Yes, you may be feeling some pressure, but do your best to truly see the situation. Are there key players who tend to be part of the cycle? What repetitive elements do you notice? How is this time the same or different from last time? Did something go unaddressed between the previous and current situations?
  • Note your mental chatter. What are you saying to yourself as this unfolds? Note the thoughts alluded to above that reinforce the cycle by telling you there's no way out, that the cycling is inevitable. Even more importantly, note how you feel personally. Are you feeling powerless? Anxious? Resigned? Frustrated? Ask yourself what you have been tolerating and accepting even when it's clearly not working for you
  • Take inventory. Have you ever taken a proactive approach to the solution in the past? If so, what did you do and how did it go? Did you involve others? What could you do this time, taking your observations into account, that may make a difference? Whose help can you enlist? 
  • Create a plan. Get through the chaos and then approach the people from your inventory exercise to create a way forward. You have no guarantee that it will work, but it is a proactive (empowered) rather than reactive (disempowered) way to build some positive momentum. From there, work with those you trust to chip away at a system that's not working. 
  • Know your limits. Go back to your mental chatter - what have you been tolerating? What do you no longer want to put up with? How long are you willing to put in effort toward change, and what will you do if you don't see it? There's no rule that says you have to stay in an organization that operates in chaos. If you truly run up against leaders who are unwilling to make changes, that's helpful information to have as you consider your career path.
  • You have a choice. You always have a choice. If you decide to stay and tolerate what's not working for you, that's a choice. If you tell yourself that there are no better options out there for you, it's a choice to believe that. One of the most powerful decisions you can make is to consciously catch your disempowered thoughts and reset your perspective to an empowered one. It takes practice, but your entire life will be better for it. 
 
Maki Moussavi is a transformational success coach focused on helping people create lives defined by their desires rather than societal or familial constructs of success. Too many put up with a life spent surviving rather than thriving. Maki’s passion is helping people discover their personal programming and the patterns in which they operate in order to break through to a life where they unapologetically live according to their own expectations, not those of others. She specializes in providing a process around transformation to streamline the path to change.
Maki has a Master of Science degree in genetic counseling and counseled patients before embarking on a 12-plus year corporate career prior to becoming a coach.
Her upcoming book, The High Achiever’s Guide: Transform Your Success Mindset and Begin the Quest to Fulfillment released on October 15. This book challenges unfulfilled higher achievers to examine what drives them, how they hold themselves back, and what it takes to define a new vision of life by facing their fears, using their voice, trusting their instincts and committing to a new way of being.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Ethical Leadership for Sustainable Wellbeing


Guest post from Dr. Ian Hesketh and Sir Cary Cooper:

Which style of leadership behaviour is the most effective has been the challenge for most executives for many years. Trying to meet the challenges of modern-day working practices and the demands of a 24hr global demand under increasing constraints is a real conundrum. Ethical Leadership is proven to improve employee wellbeing and promotes extra-role effort. Further, ethical leadership can decrease emotional exhaustion and increase work engagement. It can also result in a willingness from employees to make suggestions to improve the organization. Our experience is that the concept of feeling trusted in the workplace magnifies ethical leadership and can also result in further extra-role effort.  So, what are these concepts and how easy is it to implement them?

The great news is that these are easily learned and adaptable to all workplace settings. Ethical leadership is the notion that the leadership approach involves promoting ethical standards in organizations and encourages followers to behave more ethically. Although historically it is born out of the philosophical concept that it improves wellbeing, it has been popularized of late due to questionable business practices and huge corporate scandals; together with evidence that it improves both employee wellbeing and organizational performance.

Here is why. Ethical leadership leads to increased extra role effort. That is, what employees are prepared to do that is above and beyond what is expected of them by their employees. It also leads to employees feeling trusted to make decisions on their own that are appreciated and acknowledged by their employees. Further, it leads to reduced occurrences of feeling emotionally exhausted, that is the cognitive or physical strain that one feels from workplace pressures. It also leads to increased employee engagement, this is the way employees view their work as a positive challenge and are prepared to interact, to suggest new ideas and feel part of the organization. For example, employees are more likely to speak highly of their employer, both inside and outside of work. Employees are more likely to promote the business; and encourage other colleagues to do so also.

What to look out for? Ethical leaders are people-oriented. They look out for the long-term interests of colleagues and are unwavering in this quest. They authentically promote ethical behaviours, both inside and outside of the workplace. They live their own lives ethically. They make fair and balanced decisions.

To conclude, ethical leadership is good news for all business and for successful organizations is being proactively sought after. If you have leadership responsibilities or are concerned with human resource management and are recruiting or promoting your next tranche of leaders, look for the qualities outlined in this short article. These qualities in leaders can result in sustainable high performance. In this high performing environment you will witness employee pride in working for a reputable organization. One in which people are attracted to be part of and speak highly of both inside and outside of the organization. If this is your goal, ethical leadership is the way to go.

Ian Hesketh, PhD and Sir Cary Cooper, CBE are the authors of WELLBEING AT WORK: How to Design, Implement and Evaluate an Effective Strategy. Both are associated with the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing at Work (UK). For more information visit: https://www.koganpage.com/product/wellbeing-at-work-9780749480684

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Great Leaders Focus on the Why and the What—Not the How


Guest post by Steve Coughran:

In my two decades of business experience, I have encountered many different flavors of leadership. Some leaders are strong-willed and autocratic, some are open-minded and democratic, some employ laissez-faire, employee-centric leadership styles, and most fall somewhere in the middle. While leadership style varies, in my experience, leaders across the board provide employees with a sincere depiction of the Why, an explicit description of the What, and freedom on the How.

Many of you reading are likely familiar with Simon Sinek’s Start with Why. His premise suggests that great leaders motivate with the “Why”, a deep-rooted purpose, before defining the “What”, the product or service, or the “How”, the process.  Expanding on Sinek’s thoughts, I believe that not only do great leaders deprioritize the “how,” but the most influential bosses leave the “how” to their employees to figure out.

Have you ever been in a work situation where your boss or manager is explaining in specific detail how to do your job? It’s frustrating when managers live in the weeds. Poor leaders provide specificity around how to complete a task but fail to share the big picture, the why, behind the request.  No one likes to be micromanaged. Unfortunately, many leaders result to meddling with the process in attempts to maintain a false sense of power. Micromanagers focus explicitly on the how, which often results in short-term success at the expense of the long-term strategy, overall scalability, and employee satisfaction.

Great leaders give little input on the how. Of course, this approach first requires leaders to equip employees with the tools and skills to solve for the how. They must invest heavily in training to ensure employees are prepared to think through the processes.

Training alone, however, isn’t enough to produce the desired results. After reinforcing the why and enabling employees, they get specific about the what. Great leaders share explicit expectations. When I first launched a high-end design build firm, I learned the hard way the importance of clearly communicating expectations. I was feeling on top of the world as my company flourished; customers were lining up for projects, and I had a diverse and talented staff to uphold my brand. To maintain this status, I was also working like a dog, putting in eighty-hour workweeks to keep up with demand. I jumped at my first opportunity to take a two-week vacation, leaving the company reins in the hands of one of my top managers. We were working on a high-end project, but I trusted my employees. I gave little instruction—my manager knew the business as well as I did—and was off to relax on a beach in Mexico and forget about work for a while.

I returned frustrated with the lack of progress. While I was away, the high-end project suffered from operational issues that led to cost overruns and schedule delays resulting in an upset client and some delayed payments. While I was upset with my team, I too was responsible for the situation. What did I count on my managers and employees to do while I was away? More importantly, how would I ensure they held up their end of the bargain? I failed to create an accountability structure. Through this experience, I learned a critical lesson: strong leaders follow up.

Great leaders build accountability structures that clearly define the desired results. Results are laid out specifically and comprehensively, often incorporating qualitative and quantitative data. By leaving little room for confusion, leaders establish fair expectations, which provide a foundation for equitable evaluation and constructive feedback. They create a “return and report” culture where employees are sent off with an understanding of the overarching strategy and the goals of the assignment. They present their findings after independently problem solving.

Giving employees freedom shows that you trust them (which according to research is critical for workplace engagement and productivity). Additionally, by encouraging employees to think, leaders boost their team’s development. Seeing how the employee problem solves allows his or her manager to clearly examine their comprehension of the task, the big picture, and detect any gaps in understanding or skills. They can then address these knowledge gaps with training and coaching, bringing the employees’ development full circle.

As we all continue along the journey to become the best leaders we can be, keep in mind Simon Sinek’s words of wisdom, “There is a difference between giving direction and giving directions.” Emphasize your purpose, explain your product or service, and leave the rest to your well-equipped team. 

About the author:  Author, CFO of an international billion-dollar company, and management consultant, Steve Coughran has over two decades of experience driving business excellence. His newest book is Outsizing: Strategies to Grow your Business, Profits, and Potential.  For more information visit www.SteveCoughran.com.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Three Keys to Values-Aligned Experiences


Guest post from S. Chris Edmonds:

Being around values mis-aligned people lowers trust, discretionary energy, and performance. Our research suggests three key steps you can take to ensure values-aligned experiences:

1)    Be clear on your own values. Define the behaviors you will demonstrate when you are living your values, and take time regularly to reflect on how you’re doing with modeling those valued behaviors.
2)    Observe the decisions and behaviors of others. It is not your responsibility to change their values, but it is up to you to insulate yourself from those whose values are inconsistent with your own.
3)    Actively cherish and celebrate the people around you who DO share your values.


I’ve been very lucky throughout my career to be attracted to jobs and opportunities where I’ve worked with people who share my values and life principles. There have been times when I’ve engaged in project work with players who were clearly not values-aligned with me . . . and much learning resulted!

I have bragged about one of my best bosses, Jerry Nutter  (a long time executive with YMCAs in California) in previous posts. Jerry taught me to observe others’ behavior as “that will give you insights into their values” and to surround myself with values-aligned people. “Life is too short,” Nutter explained, “to do otherwise.”

Day-to-Day Decisions and Behavior Reveal a Person’s Values

You likely have seen these behaviors in the workplace during your career:

     Engaging in gossip
     Withholding information from peers to make oneself look better/smarter/more productive
     Teasing and/or making fun (sometimes in the name of “teambuilding”)
     Complaining about someone’s behavior to a peer, team lead, or boss without going directly to that person to address the concern

These and dozens of other similar behaviors happen in organizations every day. If your organization has not intentionally defined their desired culture and values base, norms often evolve that tolerate (and even support) behaviors like these.

Decisions reveal values in the workplace, as well. If you’ve had a boss belittle a team member (in front of them or behind their back), take credit for work others have done, or promised to do “X” yet moments later did the exact opposite, you are seeing the values they embrace.

The Hole In One

I experienced an epiphany about values misalignment years ago on the golf course. A work colleague and I enjoyed golf and began playing together at a local course on Saturdays. This colleague (let’s call him Bill) had a reputation in the company for making fast decisions that served him and his team well . . . even if it meant stepping on toes. I’d seen Bill publicly belittle others more than once, so had that gnawing feeling in my gut about this gentleman’s values. Because of that, I was always on guard around Bill, even outside the workplace.

We approached the par 3 17th hole and Bill set up his tee shot. He pushed the ball into the greenside creek. He cursed up a storm while placing another ball on the tee. He swung and hit a very nice shot towards the pin. It took one bounce and dove into the cup!

I said, “Nice par!” Bill’s first ball in the water cost him a penalty stroke, so he was hitting his third stroke on the tee. Bill looked at me angrily and said, “I’m taking that as a hole in one!” I was not surprised at Bill’s self-serving stroke tallying . . . but realized at that moment that I was at fault by spending time on the golf course with someone whose values were very different than mine. I fixed that immediately – I preferred playing golf with strangers than with Bill.

The bottom line: Do the right thing for your sanity, productivity, and spirit.

S. Chris Edmonds is a sought-after speaker, author, and executive consultant. After a 15-year career leading successful teams, Chris founded his consulting company, The Purposeful Culture Group, in 1990. Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies since 1995. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Amazon best sellers The Culture Engine and Leading at a Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Learn from his blog posts, podcasts, assessments, research, and videos at http://drivingresultsthroughculture.com. Get free resources plus weekly updates from Chris by subscribing here

Boost Innovation by Strengthening the Organization’s Immune Systems


Guest post by Kris Oestergaard:

Today, every business is looking to find ways to streamline its innovative abilities. Those successful in establishing a culture of innovation have addressed their organization’s “immune systems.” Just as the body’s immune system keeps it healthy, stable and tolerant of change, an organization’s immune system must be strong in order to handle the task of innovating. 

But in a rapidly changing world, many of the defense mechanisms organizations utilize are no longer appropriate -- and can even put organizations’ innovation at risk. Too often, when innovation processes fall short, top managers make the impulsive diagnosis that it’s because their people are simply unwilling to change. This assumption is pervasive: A recent study revealed that 76 percent of managers believed their organizations didn’t have the capabilities needed to move into the future. 

But this conclusion is inexact. Every organization’s immune system is affected by an individual immune system, an organizational immune system and asocietal immune system. Organizational leaders need to address all three in order to transform into innovation champions.

1. Understanding individual’s resistance to change. Humans have different risk profiles. Some are thrill-seekers while others avoid exposure to risk at all costs. Knowing this, management needs to make a very compelling case if it wants to convince its staff to join in the organization’s innovation journey. Otherwise, the individual immune system kicks in and those with a low tolerance for risk, reluctant to change if the outcome is uncertain, won’t get on board. 

2. Assessing your organizational immune system. Transformation processes demand risk taking, the development of new staff capabilities and a strong focus on innovation. But very often, organizations attempt to kickstart a large transformation process without adapting their policies for measuring and rewarding employee behavior to the new reality they have set out to create. Key performance indicators (KPIs) and rewards systems make up a large part of the organizational immune system. Unless these are aligned with the organization’s strategic long-term goals, they aren’t supporting the motivation and attitudes needed to drive innovation efforts.

Grundfos, the Danish water pump manufacturer, is among the legacy organizations that have intentionally restructured their rewards systems to boost innovation. Grundfos evaluates employees on new parameters, including a willingness to help others and motivation to undertake a new digitization journey. Another example is Microsoft, which now includes sharing and building on the knowledge of others among its KPIs. These performance indicators help employees become aware of and work in a way that builds the desired innovation culture of the organization. 

3. Taking the temperature of the societal immune system.Organizational innovation efforts are subject to changes in the societal immune system as well. These can take the form of legislative inaction in regulating new industries. Consider Uber’s entry into the ride-hailing world, pushing the regulated taxi companies to the sidelines. Or, look at how the cryptocurrency Bitcoin has disrupted the regulated banking industry. Legislation can also serve to established industries by keeping new players out of the market and limiting innovation. But new business models can also seek out places where restrictions don’t apply. 

Longtime suppliers and customers represent another subset of the societal immune system. Both need ongoing education and encouragement to keep them well informed of and up to date on any new directions and developments you create. For example, helping clients stay up to speed with technological upgrades of products is critical to maintaining the organization’s market share.

It’s essential to understand the influence that individual, organizational and societal immune systems have on increasing an organization’s innovation capacity. Business leaders need to analyze and address each of the three immune systems to create the best possible foundation for their innovation strategy. 

Kris Oestergaard is a sought after speaker, facilitator, researcher and expert on innovation in legacy organizations, corporate cultures and exponential organizations. He is co-founder and Chief Learning and Innovation Officer at SingularityU Nordic, a collaborative venture with Singularity University in Silicon Valley. His new book is Transforming Legacy Organizations: Turn Your Established Business into an Innovation Champion to Win the Future (Wiley, June 10, 2019). Learn more at  krisoestergaard.com.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Ethical Leaders And Workplace Culture: The Foundation Of Ethical Decision Making


Guest post by Dr. Steven Mintz:

Ethical leaders create a culture in the workplace that promotes moral values and establishes an ethical tone at the top. Creating an ethical culture means setting a standard that decisions are made and actions are taken that are right, not wrong; good, not bad; and they benefit the stakeholders of the organization. Ethical leaders are role models for others in the organization to follow. They “walk the talk” of ethics in everything they say and do. Ethical leaders empower others to achieve success through right actions. They make decisions that contribute to the common good.

Employees want to work for ethical organizations. Ethical organizations treat employees with respect and promote fairness in the performance evaluation process. Employees are compensated based on results and not biased choices where one employee is favored over another and compensated higher for the same quality of work. The gender pay gap is one such example.

An ethical workplace culture is one where moral values define relationships between employees, the organization and other stakeholders. The congruence of employee-employer values facilitates ethical decision making while gaps in those values can promote conflict and create an ethical dilemma. For example, a superior who pressures a subordinate to overlook financial wrongdoing creates a dilemma for the employee that can best be expressed as: Should I do what my superior demands or what I know to be the right thing? 

Turning Moral Values into Virtues

The moral values of an ethical leader include honesty, integrity, respect for others, fair treatment, being responsible for decisions and accountable for one’s actions. Moral values encourage positive relationships built on respect, trust and transparency.

One way to understand the role of moral values in an ethical workplace is through the concept of virtue. Virtues are characteristic traits of behavior that ethical leaders should aspire to adopt. They are often thought of as excellences of character and categorized as either moral or intellectual. Moral virtues govern our behavior (e.g., courage, justice, self-control and truthfulness) while intellectual virtues deal with our thought process and are acquired through understanding, good judgment, reasoning abilities and practical wisdom. Intellectual virtues are gained by deliberating about what should and should not be done.

Turning virtue into ethical action requires a commitment to do the right thing regardless of the costs to oneself and the organization. Sometimes this is easier said than done because internal pressures create barriers to ethical decision making as in the case of financial wrongdoing.

Ethical Decision Making

The ethical decision-making process begins by identifying the moral values in play. The following example illustrates how ethical judgments are made.

It is 5 p.m. on Dec. 29 and the chief operating officer (COO) meets with the production manager about a major shipment of product to a customer. The COO tells the production manager to ship the product within the next two days to ensure it is counted as revenue in the current year. The motivation is to pay larger bonuses based on the higher level of revenue and profit. The production manager reminds the COO that an agreement exists with the customer to inspect 100 percent of the product prior to shipment and it cannot be done by December 31. What should the production manager do?

The production manager knows that what is being asked is wrong. After all, why should the customer be burdened by possible defects in the product that went undetected because inspections were not made? The COO is motivated by short-term considerations – higher profits and greater bonuses – rather than long-term ethical behavior.

An ethical production manager should be guided by the following virtues:

Honesty. Shipping the product without inspecting it violates the agreement and potentially compromises the trust of the customer.

Responsibility. The ethical question for the production manager is: How would I feel if the customer identifies a defect in the product and I failed to insist on 100 percent inspection? What if the product defect caused harm to the customer? Can I ethically defend my decision to go along with the COO?

Courage. Integrity is the key meaning to have the courage of one’s convictions to do the right thing precisely because it is the right thing to do. The production manager should be willing to stand up to the COO and not give in to the pressure, even if threatened with retaliation.

Good judgment. An ethical leader relies on reasoning methods such as teleology, or consequence-based ethics, and deontology, or duty ethics. The reasoning process for the production manager follows.

Ethical Reasoning Process

Teleology. Teleological ethics relies on an ethical analysis of the outcomes or consequences of each action. The best choice is that which maximizes the benefits to the stakeholders while minimizing the costs. The benefits are higher revenue, greater profits, and bonuses. The costs are largely unknown because it is unclear whether any defects exist and, if so, how they might affect the customer. This uncertainty is why cost-benefit analysis is problematic. 

Deontology. Deontological ethics, or duty ethics, bases moral decision-making on foundational principles of obligation. A major approach is rights theory under which each individual has certain rights that should be respected and decision-makers have an obligation to satisfy those rights. Simply stated, the customer has a right to use a product and expect it to operate as intended. The company has an ethical duty to meet the legitimate rights of the customers for a fully functioning product.

Ethical Decision

Knowing what the right thing to do is and doing it are not the same. The fear of retaliation can negatively influence ethical decision-making. However, an ethical production manager should understand that going along with the COO can create an ethical slippery slope problem where decisions in the future are tainted by unethical behavior in the present that has to be covered up. This is no way to promote ethical leadership and create an ethical organization environment.

Dr. Steven Mintz (www.stevenmintzethics.com), author of Beyond Happiness and Meaning: Transforming Your Life Through Ethical Behavior, has frequently commented on ethical issues in society and business ethics. His Workplace Ethics Advice blog has been recognized as one of the top 30 in corporate social responsibility. He also has served as an expert witness on ethics matters. Dr. Mintz spent almost 40 years of his life in academia. He has held positions as a chair in Accounting at San Francisco State University and Texas State University. He was the Dean of the College of Business and Public Administration at Cal State University, San Bernardino. He recently retired as a Professor Emeritus from Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

10 Magic Phrases That Will Make You a Better Leader

By Dan McCarthy:


Want to be a better leader? Then try improving your vocabulary. No, I'm not talking adding the latest management and leadership buzzwords or jargon to your repertoire. I'm talking about adding some powerful phrases to your vocabulary that will engage, motivate and inspire others.


1. "How can I be a better leader?"
Variations of the question include "How can I be a better parent?", "How can I be a better spouse?", and "How can I be a better child?"Just make sure to listen and say.....

2. "Thank you."
Use these two powerful words as a response to constructive feedback (which should be seen as a gift), positive feedback, as a way to express gratitude for going the extra mile or a job well done, or when someone brings bad news or a problem to your attention.

3. "Nice Job."
Variations include "Good work!" and "Way to go!" Giving positive reinforcement becomes even more powerful if when it's specific, timely, and you can explain why (positive impact), but let's not over-complicate it too much for now.

4. "What do you think?"
Asking someone for their opinion or ideas is the ultimate demonstration of respect. And when you get those ideas, don't forget to go back to #2.

5. "How can I help?"
Often used as a way to express support during a development discussion, in problem solving, when someone is going through personal difficulties, or when problems or ideas are brought to your attention.

6. "What's possible?"
Instead of coming up with reasons why something won't work, ask yourself and others "What's possible?". And if they do come up with examples of how similar ideas have been tried in the past and have not worked, use the phrase "Up until now."

7. "I don't know."
Use this when you truly don't know the answer to a question or solution to a problem - it demonstrates humility and authenticity. It goes well with "what do you think" as a follow-up.

8. "Why is that important to you?"
This question demonstrates that you care, and you'll learn a lot about the person's motivation and values.

9. "Help me understand."
A much better way to understand someone's logic, reasoning, feelings, etc... than "Really?!", or "Seriously?!", or "What are you thinking?!"

10. "I believe in you."
What a way to express confidence in someone's ability or potential!


Dan McCarthy is an expert in leadership and management development. For over 20 years Dan has helped thousands of leaders and aspiring leaders improve their leadership capabilities. As the owner of Great Leadership, Dan works with organizations and individuals to optimize their leadership capabilities. His expertise includes leadership coaching, succession planning and leadership development consulting, training, speaking, and writing. You can contact Dan via email at dan@greatleadershipbydan.com and follow him on Twitter @greatleadership.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

5 Ways to Deal with a Job that Sucks


Guest post from Steve Farber:

A buddy of mine has a step-daughter who works three or four 12-hour shifts each week as a
clerk in a hospital emergency room. She’s a single mom with three kids, all still at home, all still outgrowing their shoes every other week, and all seemingly capable of eating Walmart’s entire grocery section in a single sitting. She took the job in part because it paid a couple of bucks an hour more than her previous job and because she liked the idea of helping people who were sick or hurting.

Everything started off great. She was energetic about her work and enjoyed serving the patients and the hospital staff. A month or so into it, though, her supervisor called her in and said they had made a mistake on her pay scale. She was going to have to take a cut, but, thanks to the administration’s amazing benevolence, she wouldn’t have to pay back anything from the checks she’d already cashed.

She thought about fighting the decision, but she really needed the job. She felt trapped: stay quiet and take less money or speak out, risk getting fired and possibly end up with nothing. She couldn’t afford nothing so she stayed quiet. Now she hates her job, doesn’t trust her supervisor, and dreads going to work.

The hard, cold reality is that hundreds of thousands of people don’t love what they do. They might be clerks in an emergency room, CEOs in a corporate office, or managers on a factory line, but they find no joy or fulfillment in the efforts that produce their paychecks. For them, work sucks.

What to do?

I don’t have a can’t-miss, silver-bullet solution. But I do believe that everyone can and should do what they love in the service of people who love what they do. It’s highly aspirational, I know, but why settle for less? If, however, you find yourself in a my-work-sucks situation—or if you are counseling someone in that situation—here are a few tips for dealing with the dilemma.

Don’t give up. We’re told from an early age that we should do what makes us happy, but happiness is circumstantial. Sometimes work is hard, even if you love what you do, and sometimes we simply have to adult our way through the tough times. Typically, we learn from those tough times, grow from them, and emerge better in almost every respect. So don’t start with the assumption that you’re in the wrong place and have to leave. That could be true, but don’t operate with that assumption or it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Remember how you got there. What were the events, jobs, projects, and other experiences that led you to your current role? I recommend that people literally draw a map on a piece of paper with “I Am Here” in the middle of the page. Above that, write down the milestone events of your career, good and not so good, and then connect those dots with a line. Now answer these questions: Why did I take this job/start this company/enlist in this program? Are the ideals that I started with still in place today? If not, how can I bring them back to life?

Inventory your work/job/career. The bottom of the page represents today. Use it to write a list of everything you can think of that’s related to your work—every task, project, role, responsibility, colleague, supervisor, employee, customer, client, underlying value, etc. Then circle the aspects you enjoy and draw a square around the ones you don’t.

Plant a gratitude tree. What are the things on that list that truly resonate with you? What do you love doing? What people do you really care about? What values do you see that you strive to live by? What things make coming to work worthwhile? Use a highlighter to mark those things on your list. Find anything and everything about your work that you do love, or even just like, and make note of it.

Spend time in that tree. Review those highlights daily, ideally in the morning or before your work begins, and allow yourself to feel genuine gratitude. That one simple, reflective practice can help stoke or re-kindle a love for the work you do.

In some cases, things will change and you’ll realize you actually love what you do and where you work more than you thought you did. In fact, your change in attitude and commitment will likely be part of the reason things improve, not just for you but for everyone around you.

In some cases, of course, the job or the culture or both simply aren’t worth the stress and anxiety that come with them. You can do your part, but you can’t fake a love for the work and you can’t force other people to change. You can love them and influence them, but you can’t force them to change. The tips might provide a stop-gap solution to help you survive a few weeks or months with more joy and satisfaction, but the ultimate solution might be to leave. That takes courage, because the next place you land won’t be perfect, either. The goal isn’t to find a job with no problems or challenges, but to do something you love so much that you are willing to sacrifice and even suffer when necessary. That job is out there. Find it and fill it with love.


Steve Farber is president of Extreme Leadership Inc., an acclaimed speaker, bestselling
author, and consultant. His new book LOVE IS JUST DAMN GOOD BUSINESS (McGraw-Hill, Sept. 6, 2019) follows The Radical Leap, a bestseller cited among The 100 Best Business Books of All Time by Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten; The Radical Edge and Greater Than Yourself. He and his family live in San Diego.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

What a Success Plan Is (and Isn’t)


Guest post from Chris Meroff:

Investing in your people should be the end game for you as a leader. They come to the workplace every day and invest their significant gifts and talents in an effort to help you and your organization reach an agree upon goal. Their success is your success. 

So, it makes sense that we as leaders would want to create a success plan for our people. But first, we have to define success. And that can be a moving target.

A success plan is much more than an annual performance review. Though they are sometimes lumped into the same category they are quite different. Annual performance reviews focus only on what’s born out of hard skills and tend to boil your people down to metrics around what they’ve done for your company. The general goal of these meetings is to determine a number that your company thinks your employee is worth. This (not so subtly) communicates that their value is based only on how much they can do for the company.  
What Is a Success Plan?
I tried the typical annual performance review in my company for several years, and it left both me and my employees feeling unfulfilled. In those meetings everyone was primarily concerned with their compensation, which is to be expected. Many were not interested in having a meaningful conversation about their passions and goals at work, let alone their passions and goals outside of work.

It became clear that I needed to revisit these get-togethers and figure out a different agenda, one that would serve the company and the team member. I realized that if these great people who were bringing their bests selves to my company every day were having to ask for my time and space to talk about their fulfillment, then I probably wasn’t doing it right. Why should they have to wait for their next performance review to have a dialogue with me about their dreams, their success plans, or their jobs?

When I realized that a change was needed, I started at the beginning. I redefined the whole notion of a success plan. Here’s my new definition: A success plan is dedicated space to focus on the success of your people, both personally and professionally, to move your employee to fulfillment. The success plan focuses on fulfillment through their soft skills and requires you as the leader to practice more intentionality and engagement on who they are personally, not just professionally. It’s a daily engagement toward ultimate fulfillment. Not that I said daily and not annually. Dialogue can and should happen anytime. Not just when I schedule it.

To be successful at success planning you have to know the full person. You have to know what makes them tick and what might influence their idea of success. This is where the pursuit happens. This is where you show your people their value beyond what they bring to work. Pursue your people and do it on purpose. Yes, it takes a great deal of time and effort to pull this off. But the benefits for everyone involved-the company, the employee and yourself- are worth it.
Meaningful Investment
Creating a personalized success plan for each of your employees requires that you really understand your people. You have to understand how they define success personally and professionally. This takes time and sustained effort; you can’t rush through it. 

Throwing pizza parties and happy hours doesn’t necessarily create these opportunities for meaningful investment and relationship building. If you care about your people and serving them toward fulfillment, be genuine and authentic in your pursuit. Talk to them about their families and home lives. Ask them how they spend their free time and what their interests are. Find out what really motivates them and how they define what’s commonly known as work-life balance. 

In my organization, we no longer use the term ‘work-life balance’. Emphasizing work-life as a balance is a win-lose proposition. So, we use the phrase work-life integration. This is meant to create more alignment between our personal and professional lives. In a work-life balance model, something gets cheated; it communicates that you need to be all things to all people at all times, which is impossible. But by working toward work-life integration, the gap between the two is bridged and we communicate that the two should complement each other instead of competing.

Figure these things out on an individual basis for each person in your organization and you will find that success becomes clear. It will be different for each person, but you can help them attain it, whatever it looks like. In exploring your people’s definitions of work-life integration, you’ll find some people who want more structure at work and others who would prefer to have more flexibility. Neither one is wrong—it’s just who they are.   

You can do all this through informal conversations that can and should happen anytime that they are needed.  

  
Chris Meroff has spent more than 25 years supporting leaders in education at both the campus and district levels. Through his work in 17 states and across thousands of school districts, he’s seen firsthand the frustration administrators feel when their efforts don’t produce the alignment they desire. He’s made a career of testing new leadership ideas to see what works—and what doesn’t—in service-oriented leadership. His business, Alignment Leadership Consulting, exists to teach leaders how they can boldly pursue a workplace culture that prioritizes employee fulfillment. You can learn more at www.AlignLeadThrive.com .

Thursday, August 29, 2019

What It Takes to Be a Leader


Guest post from David Nielson:

As a leader, taking on a new challenge, making a change, or leading a team can be challenging. Be it in business or in life, it isn’t just a test of your ability to know what to do. It’s a test of your ability to hold yourself 100% accountable to follow through on what you promise (or commit) to doing.

However, we often get caught up in thinking about getting things done, or looking to others to guide us through difficulties. What we should be doing is committing to taking action ourselves and holding ourselves accountable for the goals we set out to do. We can’t simply rely on others if we expect to be leaders.

To be successful as a team leader, your outcome will be dependent on 3 main aspects:

·         Commitment (to a goal)
·         Focus (on achieving that goal)
·         Force of will (taking action on achieving that goal)

These things don’t happen by accident. You have to make them happen.

So where do you begin? It may seem cliché, but there is a very good reason for doing this. It works. Here is a simple formula you can follow:

·         Write down your goal (you are committed to it).
·         The words you write become a reminder (holding your focus).
·         When you read your plan to reach your goals, you are reminded of what to do (force of will).

Writing Down Your Goal

Start by writing down exactly what you want to achieve, and name a time frame in which you want it to occur. An example of this could be, “My performance evaluation six months from now will have at least two or three comments characterizing me as fun or easygoing, as well as professionally friendly.”

Next, you must have 2 or 3 actions every day to do to achieve this goal. Simply saying “I’m going to be funnier today” is too vague. It has to be an actionable statement, such as, “I’m going to smile whenever I begin a conversation.”

Finally, you must have a way to verify and review the results of your effort periodically. This can be done by yourself or through a colleague who can provide you feedback. From here, you can take the feedback you get and make new actionable changes to your plan.

Holding Focus

What good is a framework or plan if it is buried in a folder or desk drawer?

Out of sight—out of mind.

Once you have created your plan, you must see it as a living, breathing document that you refer to often. You can condense parts from the plan, such as the action steps, and write them on notecards or sticky notes.

Place them on your computer, bathroom mirror, or even your dashboard to serve as prompts for focusing on them. If you are like me, you have a million things running through your mind during the day, each vying for your attention.

Having written reminders is a great way to store information outside all of the brain chatter. The point is that you need your goals and action steps in front of you to be sure they remain a focus throughout the chaos of a typical day.

Force of Will

At the end of the day, being a great leader requires you to be completely responsible for making things happen. But it will never come from the actions of anyone other than yourself.

There are plenty of professional speakers who espouse life-changing ideas and concepts. There are brilliant coaches and consultants who have the knowledge and experience to change people’s lives—but not one of these people or books alone can change anything. They have no mystical power. They are not a pharmaceutical cocktail that can be injected.

Influence Others – Modeling
The other reason this process is so important as a leader is that you are modeling the behavior you seek to see in your direct reports.  It will be much more effective to expect others to set and execute good goals if they see you model it.

There is only one person who has the knowledge, the experience, and the power to be a great leader—the one staring at you in the mirror.


David Nielson is the author of The 9 Dimensions of Conscious Success: It’s All About You! Published by Sound Wisdom. He is the owner of David Nielsen & Associates (DNA). A management consulting firm. David Nielson brings over three decades of corporate, Fortune 500, and private consulting experience in organizational change management, leadership development, and training. David has helped guide large-scale change initiatives and business strategy driven by ERP, mergers, restructuring, and the need for cultural change.