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.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Why Businesses Must Grasp Millennial Thinking or Face Economic Calamity


Guest post from Gui Costin:

When it comes to shopping and buying, the Millennial generation appears to play by its own rules.

And businesses that fail to understand the Millennial mindset are destined to fall behind their competition – and perhaps plummet into irrelevancy, says Gui Costin, an entrepreneur, consultant and author of Millennials Are Not Aliens.

“Millennials are changing how we buy, how we sell, how we vacation, how we invest, and just about everything else,” Costin says. “If you’re running a business, you have to pay attention to how they think and act.”

Millennials are the generation born roughly from 1981 to 1995, meaning that the older millennials aren’t that far from 40. There are about 80 million Millennials, or nearly one-third of the adult population in the U.S. – and that’s a lot of buying power.

Millennials grew up under very different circumstances than Baby Boomers and Generation X, though, and the way in which they came of age greatly influenced them.

One example is their relationship with technology.

“All of us, regardless of which generation we belong to, have been impacted by technology,” Costin says. “But the generation most affected by the digital, connected world are the Millennials. You could think of it this way: If technology were a geyser, Baby Boomers and Generation Xers have been sprayed by its impact, but Millennials got drenched.”

And their natural use of technology transformed the way they act as consumers, Costin says.

“Bargaining is a part of their process,” he says. “Because they are facile with technology, they rely heavily on their cell phones to price shop and hunt the best deals.”

Costin says there’s plenty that businesses need to understand about Millennials, but here are just a few other facts about their consumer habits worth paying attention to:

They let everyone know about their buying experiences. It is not uncommon for Millennials to candidly share details about their buying experiences, good or bad, on their public social media platforms. “This can translate to bad news for businesses that underperform or, conversely, great news for those that exceed expectations,” Costin says.

Big purchases can happen virtually. For many older people, it’s difficult to even conceive the idea of buying a car, for example, without ever physically seeing or touching it first. “Millennials do it all the time,” Costin says. “In fact, they are the very first of all the generations to make a large purchase without first performing an on-site inspection.”

Brand loyalty means something. No matter how fickle many people believe Millennials to be, they are extremely brand loyal, Costin says. In fact,60 percent of Millennials say they almost always stick to brands they currently purchase.

Information is essential. Millennials scour the internet to learn about a brand or product before making a purchase. They check websites, blogs, or peer reviews that they trust.

Instant gratification is paramount. Because they have grown up in a digital age, Millennials are used to speed and immediate gratification. “They value prompt feedback and communication and do not like wasting time,” Costin says. “Think emails, text messages, and online messaging.”

“The environment you grow up in determines what you become accustomed to,” Costin says. “Gen Xers and Baby Boomers need to realize that how they grew up is affecting the way they are selling and marketing their organizations. But you cannot sell and market to Millennials the same way you were sold and marketed to.

“The good news is, many companies are listening. They are actively replacing dated, manual processes with more efficient, cutting-edge tools to promote the convenience and speed Millennials crave.”

About Gui Costin
Gui Costin (www.guicostin.com), author of Millennials Are Not Aliens, is an entrepreneur, and founder of Dakota, a company that sells and markets institutional investment strategies. Dakota is also the creator of two software products: Draft, a database that contains a highly curated group of qualified institutional investors; and Stage, a content platform built for institutional due diligence analysts where they can learn an in-depth amount about a variety of investment strategies without having to initially talk to someone. Dakota’s mission is to level the playing field for boutique investment managers so they can compete with bigger, more well-resourced investment firms.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Why Training and Development = Success All Round


Guest post from Royston Guest:

Growing and developing is a two-way partnership between the individual and the business. I think of it as a ‘soft contract’, the rules of engagement for how both parties can achieve maximum value from the relationship. If you are able to link your personal and professional growth to the organisation, you are more likely to stay and participate at a higher level through increased commitment and loyalty.

As part of this ‘soft contract’ of growth and development are three core principles which underpin its very essence, and which results in a win-win for all involved.

#1 An individual’s never-ending thirst for learning
I believe every person owns their own performance through the conscious choices they make and one of those is undoubtedly having an attitude of constant curiosity for learning.

Sometimes, particularly as adults, we slip into the trap of complacency, operating in a state of unconsciousness where it feels like we are just going through the motions.

But the day you stop LEARNING is the day you stop EARNING!

It’s the day you slip into a place that I call ‘the groove or the grave’ – no man’s land. It’s the day you accept your place in the world of mediocrity where just enough is good enough. It’s the day when you lose your edge and stop being your best self.

In an increasingly competitive world, there is no such thing as standing still. All around you, people are actively moving forward and standing still really means you’re falling behind.

Do not get to the point where your people feel like they are falling behind, because from this point on, you will be just playing catch up, trying to reach the point where they think they ought to be. And that place is no fun for anyone.

#2 Setting your people up for success.
If you asked your people what great performance looks like, feels like and acts like in their role, how aligned would their answer be with your version? There should be one version of the truth, and in my experience perception and reality are often misaligned.

If you haven’t created absolute clarity about what the expectations are for their role, explained and demonstrated what great looks like, and set them up for success, it’s almost predictable that you and your people will be working to different models and interpretations of what great looks like.

Create clarity of purpose for your people. Enable them with the mindset (attitude, determination, will), the skillset (technical or soft skills) and the toolset (tools to do their job) to truly unlock their potential and deliver excellence within their role fueling their inner self worth, igniting their self-motivation, building their confidence and their loyalty will be inevitable.

#3 Empowerment without enablement is a train crash!
Empowerment is often an overused word which means little without enablement. The one without the other is simply a train crash.

Often training is created to serve the majority of the needs of those carrying out a general role, rather than catering for the individual needs of each unique employee. Although there is some efficiency in the traditional way of thinking, there is magic in making learning and development suit the individual.

Enabling an individual so they have the capability to contribute their whole self gets them to return next day inspired, motivated, and enthused to be the best they can be.

The success of any business is hardwired to the productivity of its people. Organisations that consider people as merely a paid resource have difficulty retaining good people and generally end up overpopulated with under performers.

Organisations that value people as their greatest asset and demonstrate it through their actions are positioned to get the best out of all employees whilst retaining their top talent or high potential - a catalyst for business growth.

Royston Guest is a leading authority on growing businesses and unlocking people potential. Entrepreneur, author of #1 best-seller Built to Grow and RISE: Start living the life you were meant to lead, CEO of Pathways Global and founder of The Business Growth PathwayÔ and Pti Worldwide. His new book RISE is a practical guide using a coaching framework to help the reader identify where they’re going in their career, and life, and how to get to there. It shares a plethora of ideas, strategies and practical tools that enables the reader to become more self-aware – unpacking their relationship with their past and understanding their present in order to make the conscious choices that will help them unlock their potential at work, unleash their success and create the future they want.

Friday, August 9, 2019

What Business Leaders Can Learn from JFK’s Powerful Speech that Brought Us to the Moon


Guest post from Dick Richardson:

A simple definition of leadership is “Leadership is influencing others to do what they would not do if left to their own accord.”

Consider the most memorable speeches meant to persuade people: Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “I have a dream…” speech, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and John F. Kennedy’s “We choose to go to the moon” speech at Rice University.

What made these speeches so persuasive was not necessarily their oration, but their vision and appeal to the heart as well as the mind, and their construction. Let’s focus on Kennedy’s “We go to the moon” speech. This address followed a common structure for enrollment speechesspeeches to persuade.

Kennedy used two organizing principles for his talk. The first was chronology, starting with the past and ending with the future. The other was Aristotle’s three forms of persuasion: logos, pathos, and ethoslogic, emotion, and credibility.

The Past
Kennedy started by talking about the past and what led the US to its current situation. He described in detail the breakneck pace at which technology was evolving, likening 50,000 years of human history to fifty years.  Continuing with this analogy, he said: “Then about ten years ago, under this standard, man emerged from his caves to construct other kinds of shelter. Only five years ago man learned to write and use a cart with wheels.” And at this pace, man will have “literally reached the stars before midnight tonight.”
           
Kennedy wanted to propose that reaching the moon was almost within our grasp, should we choose to travel there; that our past has now presented us with this opportunity.

The Present
His speech then shifted to the present, hinting at the fact that no matter what we do, Russia would continue with its space program: “the exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not.” He contrasted the Soviet Union with the US. Both were competitors, but one would win. He said that the US must “become the world’s leading space-faring nation” in order to increase our own safety and security. Traveling to the moon was necessary to preserve our way of life, Kennedy inferred.

The Future
In order to achieve this objective of landing on the moon inside of ten years, Kennedy then described what the country had already done to prepare for this future endeavor. He talked about the investments that had already been made in facilities, technology, Saturn rockets, and satellites, and the benefit to the American people of investing their hard-earned tax dollars in the missionnamely, a growing availability of high-paying jobs for skilled scientists. By committing to this future mission, we would be continuing the work already started.
           
Parallel to this presentation of history, current challenges, and future achievements, Kennedy used the framework of logos, pathos, and ethos.  

Logos
Logos, or logic, is one element that Kennedy used throughout his Rice speech. He described all the investments made up to that point in space exploration and crafted a logical argument for why the US needed to invest at a more aggressive rate in order to gain the upper hand against the Soviet Union.

Pathos
Americans were already on edge after Russia demonstrated superiority in space. So, Kennedy leveraged that insecurity, tapping into that emotion, fear and expressing sympathy for those real feelings.  That Russia might soon control the skies created a security weakness for the US. But Kennedy also appealed to our pride. “But this city of Houston, this State of Texas, this country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forwardand so will space.”

Ethos
Kennedy also demonstrated source credibility or authorityethosas he spoke, so that those in the audience did not question his statements.

On top of making a logical case for investing heavily in space exploration, Kennedy made Americans feel. They were afraid, then hopeful, then resolved, and then proud of the ambitious plan their president had outlined.

In addition to chronology and Aristotle’s forms of persuasion, Kennedy also used tried and true communication patterns.

Communication Patterns

If you listen to Kennedy’s speech, you will notice the following speech patterns and speaking style points:
  • Simple words. Kennedy doesn’t try to impress by using multisyllabic words no one recognizes. He makes the information he’s sharing accessible, understandable.
  • Short sentences. Kennedy also uses short, crisp sentences containing a single idea at a time.
  • Systematic. When Kennedy makes a statement, he then backs it up with an explanation or proof. He makes his point in a methodical way.
  • No extra fluff. He chooses his words carefully, packing a punch in as few words as possible. He chooses words that generate an emotional response whenever possible, such as “pride” or “un-tried.”
  • Repetition. Many of the great speeches, including Kennedy’s, use repetition for effect. Abraham Lincoln repeated the words “cannot” in the Gettysburg address: “Cannot dedicate…cannot consecrate…cannot hallow…” Similarly, Kennedy used the phrase “We choose” three times in his speech, just as Martin Luther King, Jr. used the phrase “Now is the time.”

Bio:  Dick Richardson is the founder and CEO of Experience to Lead, a firm that offers unique, immersive experiences to improve the leadership skills of senior business executives.  He is also the author of Apollo Leadership Lessons (Authority Publishing), a book that demonstrates what how the tactics employed by the moon program’s key decision-makers can be applied in business today, from the C-suite on down to the frontline. 

Thursday, August 8, 2019

How to Beat Scrutiny During a Culture Change


Guest post from S. Chris Edmonds:

When leading a culture change initiative, scrutiny of senior leaders’ plans, decisions, and actions increases heavily. I tell senior leaders that they’ll never be able to run a yellow light at a traffic signal in their town again! Yes, even senior leader behavior away from the workplace is scrutinized.

Consequently, it is extremely important for senior leaders to model their declared values – every day, with every interaction.

Too often senior leaders “manage by announcements,” publishing a set of expectations or rules that they declare are to be embraced from that moment forward, yet they do not actively demonstrate those expectations themselves, measure how well others embrace those expectations, etc. No wonder leader credibility suffers in many organizations. Only when senior leaders model desired valued behaviors will the rest of the organization trust those leaders, follow those leaders, and model those desired valued behaviors themselves.

Here’s a great example. A client shared an interesting perspective about his boss, a gentleman he’d been working with for over a year. His boss – let’s call him Tom – is a fabulous champion of the company’s culture change process. Tom has effectively led culture change initiatives at his last two organizations and has begun work to refine the culture of his current organization. Tom started with his senior leadership team by sharing his leadership point of view – his philosophy of leadership – and his values. He asked his direct reports to hold him accountable to those values and the valued behaviors Tom has defined.

In addition, Tom chartered his senior leadership team to refine that group’s purpose, values, behaviors, and norms to ensure everything they do helps the business grow and succeed and is consistent with their agreements.

The client’s comment unintentionally described the scrutiny Tom is under. He said, “I keep waiting for Tom to be inconsistent.” Two things are clear –
  1. Tom has really put himself on the line by declaring his values and asking his staff to hold him accountable for those values.
  2. For over a year, Tom hasn’t yet acted in conflict with his declared values. That’s really powerful!

Does Your Culture Serve Customers, Employees, and Stakeholders Equally Well?

If the existing culture is not serving customers, employees, or stakeholders consistently, it may be time for a change.

Senior leaders can refine their organization’s existing culture by doing three things:
     First, clarify performance expectations and gain employee agreement on those expectations.
     Second, define values in behavioral terms and gain employee agreement to demonstrate those behaviors.
     Finally, hold themselves and all organizational leaders, managers, and staff accountable for both performance and values.

Most senior leaders have not experienced successful culture change. Even fewer, across the globe, have led successful culture change. The journey to become a high performing, values-aligned organization is both intense and gratifying. Senior leaders may not be aware of it, but they are both the sponsors and drivers of the organization’s current culture. When you are ready, we’re here to help.


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

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Having the Courage to Trust Your Team


Guest post by Bill Treasurer:

Leadership is typically associated with action—with trying, doing, and achieving. However, there’s another side to leadership that focuses on the followers: trust. As leaders, we need to actively trust our followers, teams, and employees. While this sounds simple, it’s often a hard task for those of us who are goal-oriented.

Trusting other people requires us to let go of the impulse to control outcomes or people. It requires us to quell our defense mechanisms and ditch our preconceptions about “what’s right.” For Type A, coffee-clutching personalities, this goes against everything we stand for and believe. Trusting others is at odds with the take-charge spirit that permeates the business world. For example, in many companies, the most valued employees are those who force order, control chaos, and take decisive action. As the Roman poet Virgil said, “Fortune favors the bold.”

However, business success springs from empowered employees, and that requires mutual trust. On the one hand, you need your employees to trust you if you want them to follow your direction enthusiastically. On the other hand, you need to monitor their performance, which, if done too closely, comes across as distrust. To make matters worse, many leaders and managers work in organizations layered with forced hierarchies and inherently distrustful systems. It’s more difficult to instill trust in your workers if you’re an extension of a system that doesn’t trust them. “Oh, sure,” your workers may think, “I’ll trust you … just as soon as you stop monitoring our e-mails, stop drug testing, or stop requiring to-the-minute time reports.”

Establishing trust is hardest for new leaders

New leaders and managers, in particular, have the hardest time establishing what I call “TRUST Courage,” the courage of relying on others. For instance, consider how challenging it is for new managers to delegate important tasks to their direct reports. If an employee screws up, it reflects on the manager, not the employee.

Consequently, new managers struggle to let go of delegated tasks; instead, they hover over workers like smothering helicopter parents. In doing so, they thwart their employees’ development and keep themselves mired in tasks they don’t have time for—and should have outgrown at this point in their careers.

Delegation is a hard task for new (and even experienced) managers because it involves intentionally refraining from controlling an outcome. If a manager doesn’t trust that an employee will get the job done, he or she will take that task back—or worse—won’t even give the task to the employee in the first place. The result? Managers and employees become trapped in an unhealthy leadership dependency in which workers wait to be told what to do, like baby birds waiting for a meal. Inevitably, a dangerous cycle ensues: the manager completes the tasks, which prevents workers from gaining the experience and skills they need to perform the tasks, which keeps the manager from delegating the tasks, which requires the manager to finish the tasks—and it never ends.

Breaking the cycle

To break the cycle, you must build TRUST Courage. Yes, TRUST Courage involves taking on risk, gambling on other people, and accepting that you might get harmed in the process. It can be risky. You might feel vulnerable. You’ll be forced to rely on others’ actions, which are beyond your control. It will take courage to let employees do their jobs. It will take courage to keep yourself from interfering, to accept that employees will make mistakes. But the end result will be a more productive, efficient, and innovative workforce.

How can you trust your team more this week? What would that look like for you?


Bill Treasurer is a workplace expert, courage pioneer, and author of Courage Goes to Work: How to Build Backbones, Boost Performance, and Get Results.  Founder of Giant Leap Consulting, a consulting and training company specializing in courage-building, he advises organizations—including NASA, eBay, Lenovo, Saks Fifth Avenue, Spanx, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Pittsburgh Pirates—on teaching workers the kind of courage that strengthens businesses and careers. Learn more at GiantLeapConsulting.com.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

When Going Gets Tough, Action and Attitude Carry the Day


Guest post by Marc Demetriou:


There are two words that literally have everything to do with the everything in your days, as you go forward to live your dream and fashion your success: Action and Attitude.

Action: The lazy and uninspired will never inherit the earth, nor even the slightest speck of it. In order to achieve anything, you must be up and doing, actively engaged, and ever in motion. Building a best life requires more than mere motion, and more than mere effort or baby steps. It truly requires enthusiasm, zeal, and zest, along with the unbridled passion discussed in the previous chapter. Action is for those who are willing to sprint and go all out. There are no half–measures or shortcuts.

Each action taken must be considered, measured, and weighed, as each must fit into the larger context of the overall plan. Success is ultimately the province of the one who is on fire, the one who is utterly determined, and the one who will keep shoveling and shoveling in the resolute belief that he or she will indeed move the mountain placed in his or her path, no matter its girth or its mass. When you are going all out, fear itself gets cast aside and all systems are go, because the committed, engaged, and utterly active have no time for fear.

Of course, it is you who must implement your plan, as there is no magic in the moonlight out there that will do it for you. Plans are always the wellsprings of action, and, as such, your plan is not made to gather dust. Action is passion in motion. As Pablo Picasso said, it is “the foundational key to all success.” As Bo Bennett, author of Year to Success, writes, “A dream becomes a goal when action is taken towards its achievement.” May you make what he says your daily mantra, for your road to success must follow just such a course—from the dream, to the goal, to the action, to the achievement, bit by bit and step by step, inexorably onward, until you can truly exhale, breathe deeply, and smile broadly after having fulfilled what you set out to accomplish. It can take a long, long time, but it’s not the time spent that matters. Rather, fulfillment is in the doing. That’s action.

Attitude: Attitude is a larger–than–life word. Your attitude is the embodiment of the very way in which you grapple with life. It is the living expression of your acceptance or rejection of what life dishes out to you. It is your signature, your logo, your mark. Ralph Marston went so far as to say, “Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude.” John C. Maxwell said, “People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.”

So, yes indeed, attitude is one very big word. To add to this potent litany of quotes about attitude is a popular saying that goes “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” Are you positive, upbeat and smiling when you try to succeed at anything, or are you down on the world and predisposed to think in skeptical terms about what is possible? Do you look for the good in people or rather expect to find the worst in them? Do you expect to take without giving or are you rather a “reap what you sow—you only get what you give” type? Is the cup always half full, or half empty?

If you think that you can take without giving, if you expect the worst from people, if you are generally negative and slow to smile, or predisposed to give less rather than more, then you might want to save yourself the time and effort and put this book aside right now, because success and a best life just might not be your thing. That is, of course, unless you are willing to do the hard work, and change! The truth is that you can begin to change your attitude by simply biting your tongue and smiling when it hurts. You are capable of changing and improving the way you behave and act, if you only have the will. Even the worst of attitudes can be made right with a little spit polish, glue, and hand–holding therapy. Believe it or not, no matter how hard or angry, ditching the negative and accenting the positive just might feel good. Why on earth would you want to hold onto a negative world view and attitude

The great American composer Irving Berlin who wrote in his book, Gathering No Moss: Memoir of a Reluctant World Traveler, “Life is 10 percent what you make of it and 90 percent how you take it.” What I am telling you is that 90 percent of what we are after here is largely the province of the upbeat and daring, the positive and determined, and the smiling and lighthearted. Yes, 90 percent of it is for those who will go forward undaunted, taking the hits and the failings and climbing over the pitfalls and the potholes, and even the occasional quicksand that will be placed in their paths. It is the positive and the upbeat who can deal with the vagaries and surprises of life. As Grandpa Charlie taught me, “Never stop moving in the direction of your dream.”

About the Author: Marc Demetriou is nationally ranked mortgage broker based in New Jersey and author of the book, Lessons From My Grandfather: Wisdom for Success in Business and Life.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Taking Chances to Lead Change in the 21st Century: Why It’s Cool Not to Be So Cool


Guest post from Julie Benezet:


The internet changed all the rules.

Life has always had its challenges when new things showed up, but most of the time we thought we could handle them. While we didn’t love dealing with adversity, because we knew the people and situations involved, things seemed under control, familiar, . . . comfortable. At least that’s what we thought.

Then came the internet. With its global reach and instant transmission of vast amounts of information, we find ourselves living in a fast, hyperconnected world. Relentless change has become the norm. People, situations, and places we don’t know can have a direct impact on our lives, significantly altering the competitive landscape.  So much is unknown, and the new is everywhere--new technology, new economic models, new politics, new cultural norms, and new products and services. Much feels unpredictable, out of our control, . . . uncomfortable.

What does this have to do with leadership?  Everything.

The job of a leader, whether of a large corporation or small project team, is to discover new ideas to make life better for their customers, workforce, and communities. Then they have to convince others to join them in testing those ideas. The role has not changed since the concept of leadership was born. What has changed is the level of complexity, which is the gift and curse of the internet.

The job of 21st century leaders is to steer their organizations through the unknowns of the new toward a better place, and to treat its scariness as an asset, not a liability.

The internet introduced an infinite number of unknowns into business life. To succeed, leaders must find new ways for their organizations to satisfy rapidly evolving market and organizational demands. That involves experimenting with new concepts that carry no guaranteed outcomes. It can be uncomfortable, but that is how change happens.

Trying out a new idea is also awkward. Exploring its possibilities requires asking difficult questions about issues others want to avoid, talking to people you barely know, or suggesting fresh approaches that make them uneasy. Nevertheless, to create a winning idea, you need to learn as much as you can about the stakeholders whose lives you want to improve.

We work so hard in the 21st century to be cool, acting as if we know it all, but being cool rather than risking awkward conversations could cost us opportunities.

Charting a Course toward New Possibilities

Traveling on the road of discovery to realize new ideas requires taking chances. It is lined with uncertainty and reasons for turning back. Nevertheless, leadership calls for forward movement.

The Journey of Not Knowingâ sets forth four principles that provide navigation lights through the discomfort of pursuing something new.

The Core Four:

1.  Dare to dream.
Choose an idea you believe will move people to a higher plain. It could be a different company communication culture to overcome people’s reluctance to give each other valuable feedback. You could explore a new market outside of your core business based on customer requests for help.  Or, you could find a different way to build teams, allowing team members rather than managers to choose and evaluate their members.

A dream often is something you’ve been ignoring, either because the underlying problem deeply bothers you or you know it will be hard. If it scares you, however, you probably are on the right track.

Once you identify a dream, crystallize it by soliciting feedback from the people who will benefit from it. 

2.  Get comfortable with the scariness of risk.

Adopt a healthy attitude toward risk and its contribution to success. As you test new ideas, much can go wrong.  Your friends, colleagues, or customers might think the ideas are stupid, irrelevant, or expensive.  If you lead a team, your teammates might greet them with suspicion or annoyance.

Their reactions could cause you anxiety, adding to an inner dialog already running through your head about the possible consequences of your experiment: Will they laugh at me? Will it fail? Will I lose my reputation, or my job over this?  Or, will they love it?

Nervousness comes with the adventure of pioneering ideas. It is part of driving change. It also signifies you are on the road to something better. Embrace discomfort as a reminder to pay attention, learn from mistakes, and recalibrate as needed.

  
C.  Watch out for self-sabotaging behaviors.

Recognize that human beings are messy. That includes leaders.

When leaders try something new without knowing the outcome, the walls of resistance will rise.  People react defensively to cope with fear. Their reactions are normal.  Defenses give people short term comfort but prevent achieving better things. The biggest resistance, however, might come from you and stand in the way of your dreams.

Everyone has defenses. They appear in many well-known forms: Micromanagement, personalizing, and conflict avoidance top the list. To overcome their impact and return to the quest for new ideas, start by recognizing when your defenses are triggered. Understand their negative impacts. Then broaden your strategy to support your mission.

D.  Find drivers to fuel your travel through discomfort of the unknown

To move through the discomfort on the road to new things, you need a purpose or “driver” for traveling on it. Your purpose can be as simple as, “I so despise that guy competing against us on this proposal that I will work with our frightening analytics team who will assure a winning bid.” 

The strongest drivers arise from one’s values, life stories, and vision for the future. The deeper you go, the more fuel they will give you.  Self-knowledge is power. It means getting to know and accepting who you are, lending strength and clarity as you face the discomfort of the new.

In short, it’s cool not to be so cool.  Successful leaders plunge into the awkwardness of the new to learn about themselves and the needs of the people whose lives they want to make better. Their reward is the thrill of making a difference.


Julie Benezet spent 25 years in law and business, and for the past 17 years has coached
and consulted with executives from virtually every industry. She earned her stripes for leading in the discomfort of the new as Amazon’s first global real estate executive. She is an award-winning author of The Journey of Not Knowing: How 21st Century Leaders Can Chart a Course Where There Is None. Her new book, The Journal of Not Knowing, offers a self-guided discovery mission to pursue one’s dreams and overcome the scariness along the way toward achieving them.  She can be reached at www.juliebenezet.com.