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 .