Leadership: Finding a Good Fit

Companies spend a lot of time and money trying to identify “good fit” during their hiring process. Candidate selection is driven by the magical, mystical notion of making a good fit decision.

Clearly, the first step usually involves matching job description requirements with the candidate’s stated background experience. Right away, the matching process starts to break down because so much screening is now contingent on keyword matching, and not much else.

Even if resume screening works well, the next step takes the candidate through an interview process. Here’s where it really gets fun.

First, well-coached candidates can ace interviews while really not bringing much value to the company. Poorly trained hiring managers, who only occasionally may conduct interviews, (i.e. it’s not their full-time job) do not possess the right skills for getting maximum value from the interview process. So the “good fit” effort takes yet another hit.

With these two key areas suffering, the station of last resort is the look and feel test. Does the candidate look and feel like the right person for the job? Sadly, this often takes us back to the untrained interviewer who merely decides to hire someone who looks like or thinks like they do, assuming that alignment of core values and ideals will work.

Struck any nerves yet?

Have I touched any nerves yet? How’s your good fit guy doing so far?

Yes, good fit selection is a far more complex challenge for companies and their job seeker candidates. Even more important is the unit manager who gets involved in the selection process.

Finding true good fit requires the ability to properly identify what that means to the company and the team. Jim Collins in his “Good to Great” talks about this challenge as ‘getting the right people on the bus’. Once your company defines its core value and vision, there will be key individuals with unique talent who can make things happen. Hiring anyone short of that impacts the final outcome, not to mention the headache and liability of releasing a “bad fit” employee.

The popular Entrepreneurs Operating System or “EOS” describes doing a kind of per seat analysis throughout the organization. First, you tie the roles and responsibilities off each workstation to the overall company mission/vision. You set a value for each position; value contributed to the company or worth of each slot. Then and only then, do you take a look at the person filling that seat or being recruited for the seat. Does the person have the skills and abilities to deliver on the expectations you previously defined for that position? Now that is fit.

Solutions

There are several emerging ways companies are trying to do more for good fit hiring. Here are a few of the main ideas.

Basic Skills Testing

Many of my client companies have developed basic skills testing to determine a candidates ability to meet baseline requirements. Sadly, there are companies that need good solid workers with basic skills, but too few job seekers can demonstrate core skills like reading, math, and simple logic.

One president of a local manufacturer told me he’s adopted both a skills test and one VERY basic math question for every interview. He takes a piece of paper and writes a five digit number like 52,698. He hands that to the candidate and asks “what is 10% of that number?” This executive swears that after conducting maybe 800 interviews in his career, less than 100 candidates could answer that question. [The answer is 5,269.8]

At one of the companies I owned, we developed a test for job seekers. We had a sample file folder that had numerous documents pertaining to the work we did. The seeker was given a checklist and told to find the applicable document from the folder, stack the file according to the checklist, and tell us if something was missing. A person with reasonable skills could finish the file in 20 minutes. Anyone who didn’t really know the work had no way to fake it.

Personality Traits

Ever since Karl Jung first developed his 4 part personality classification system, there have been spin-off theories that are widely adopted by major corporations. These include DISC, Myers Briggs MBTI (R), and Birkman testing. While the Jung-based psychology gives interesting personality indicators, the complexities of human thinking and its far-reaching impact in the workplace can only be counted as a starting point. Whether someone scores an INTJ or ENFT will only go so far in helping a manager make a good fit decision.

The whole notion of personality assessment having a scale for introvert versus extrovert is under heavy scrutiny now. There is a body of work being studied that suggests “ambiverts” (people who demonstrate either both tendency depending on the situation) represent a bigger segment of the workforce, plus they have been proven to be better performers.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence testing or “EI” has become a popular topic for defining and exploring better fit conditions. We probably know people who are masters at managing their emotions. They don’t get angry in stressful situations. Instead, they have the ability to look at a problem and calmly find a solution. They’re excellent decision makers, and they know when to trust their intuition. Regardless of their strengths, however, they’re usually willing to look at themselves honestly. They take criticism well, and they know when to use it to improve their performance.

People like this have a high degree of emotional intelligence or EI. They know themselves very well, and they’re also able to sense the emotional needs of others.

Leadership in Placement

For example, one large cosmetics company recently revised their hiring process for salespeople to choose candidates based on their EI. The result? People hired with the new system have sold, on average, $91,000 more than salespeople selected under the old system. There has also been significantly lower staff turnover among the group chosen for their EI.

Cultural Fit

Companies seeking to define their own culture must identify candidates who fit that culture. Whether the elements are work ethic, training, expertise, or attitude, the company’s culture helps define fit.

From Entrepreneur Magazine :

There’s no denying that cultural fit is important but make sure you actually know what it is before judging candidates. It’s easy to mistake cultural fit for personal biases — just because you wouldn’t mind being stuck in an airport with a candidate doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a great fit for your company.

A candidate’s approach shouldn’t be so divisive that it creates rifts among employees, but you shouldn’t be afraid to hire somebody whose personality clashes with your own. If you perceive that a candidate would make a meaningful contribution to your company while maintaining decorum, that candidate might be a cultural match.

If you have doubts about making a career change, take my free assessment. Find out exactly where you stand.

The Bigger Question

Good fit ultimately comes down to being able to harness the power of your mind’s attention and your heart’s affection. Managers tapping into the hearts and minds of their team will yield the greatest results. Having employees who are not open to contributing at that level will never be a good fit.

Using the tools mentioned above can give insight into ways people might fit well with your team. However, your own ability as the leader to direct, inspire and instill fit within your team is your biggest task.

Question: How do you and your company manage to find the right fit?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

Calling All Remote Workers

Since 2000 there has been a growing trend to let workers do their duties remotely; telecommuting it was once called. With the availability of so much good technology, it seemed extra generous of employers to allow workers to avoid the hassles of doing a daily commute. The company saved on facilities expense. While the trend grew steadily for a number of years, there is now a reversal happening.

Work at Home

Between 2012 and 2016, the share of employees who spend 80% or more of their time working remotely grew from 24% to 31%, according to a survey from Gallup. Some 59% of business executives said that more than half of their companies’ full-time workforce would be remote by 2020, per the results of a 2014 survey at London Business School’s Global Leadership Summit.

But not all business leaders are in favor of this trend. In May, IBM told thousands of its remote employees that they needed to return to a regional office or leave the company, Fox Business reported. Last year, insurance giant Aetna began to cut back on its work-from-home program due to concerns regarding collaboration. And in 2013, Yahoo ended its telecommuting program shortly after the beginning of former CEO Marissa Mayer’s tenure with the company.

Smaller businesses who jumped on the bandwagon are now getting off. I received a question from one of my readers who said:

…  love to see something on how to move people “ back to the office”. Many companies are doing that now since [much of their] collaborative energy has been lost as more and more people work remote from home. Is their a best practice on how to [make this recall] to limit impact on morale? 

I didn’t want to jump on this grenade by myself, so I consulted a few of my colleagues who also have successful executive coaching practices. Here are some of the issues to consider (in no particular order).

Mastering the Commute

The original reason many employers ventured down this rabbit hole was to assist workers by lessening commute times. In large metropolitan areas, daily commutes can consume 2 to 5 hours for workers. That doesn’t leave room for any family life. By eliminating the grind of a daunting commute, workers can spend time with family in a.m., get a good breakfast and be “at work” by whatever start time you declare.

The Commute

On the flip side, shutting down in the p.m. involves a simple flip of a switch and a short walk to the kitchen to say hello to kids and spouses.

By reversing the policy and asking workers to return to central facilities, you invoke the dreaded commute. As an employer, even though it’s not your fault where your people choose to live, if they’ve gotten used to no commute, the shift back may be more egregious than you think.

It Gets More Complicated

There are numerous pros and cons of telecommuting. Ultimately the primary factors that determine whether an employees experience with working remotely is successful or not involves that person’s natural personality and needs for feedback.

We have plenty of workers who want the camaraderie of working inside a team. They feed off the energy and vibe of the team around them. Team chemistry can become a perk for many employees.

If a good esprit de corps is established within the workgroup when everyone is together, you get a bonus incentive for the workers who want and need such feedback.

On the other side of that coin is the worker who likes going solo. A personality that is a little more introverted may appreciate the solitude of being able to do their work without disruptive chatter and buzz around them.

It’s not easy to accurately determine which camp all employees fall into. It has been reported that even some workers who seemed like they would be OK working alone are reporting a problem with the solitude after an extended absence from the team setting. This can be explained by the new thinking about ambivert personalities. An ambivert is someone who, depending on the situation, switches between being an extrovert and introvert.

Management’s Trust Factor

All too often I hear managers expressing concerns about whether their people are “really” working. For a boss who is prone to go there first, you may have some trust issues, my friend. If you and your company do not have accountability and productivity measures figured out, then yes, I get it. Remote workers would be a problem for you. However, if you are missing those indicators, you likely don’t know any more information about the people sitting outside your door either.

Any owner or executive who agrees to let workers stay at home must decide on what they will do to create and maintain visibility for consistent delivery of company mission/vision and value propositions.

The person in charge needs to check their motives for wanting everyone back in the office after remote commuting has been the policy. Unwinding that arrangement must be done for the best of reasons. A manager, partner, owner or principal should never ask people to give up the freedom of the remote work for bad ideas like ego, and their own control issues. Hiding behind thinly veiled ideas won’t work. Here are the excuses I know about:

  • We work better together
  • We need the chemistry
  • We need the energy of being able to collaborate

Perhaps remote delegation should have never been allowed in the first place.

What About the Office Culture?

Even if you get everyone to come back together, you as the boss may not be creating the optimum operating environment. I’ve seen too many smaller businesses with a so-called entrepreneurial spirit that are just nut houses (pardon me). The principals lead the pack with a wired and frenzied climate where meetings run too long too often, minds get changed too much, and direction is scattered at best.

Good employees will never suffer that environment for long. If a good and talented worker likes the mission and the work but hates the way the boss treats everyone, working from home is a sanctuary. It will be next to impossible to unwind that scenario.

After all, it’s been said

In the End

It’s all about setting clear expectations. Not all managers know enough about leadership to be able to do this. The leader must be able to articulate clear, concise expectations about work demands. Then you need to stick with them.

If you do end up deciding that you generally want people limiting their working from home to one day a week, I’d say this:

I want to talk to you about our work from home policy. In general, I prefer people to work from home no more than _____ days a week, because of (give your reasons). On rare occasions, I’m willing to approve more than that, but I’d like the default to be no more than ____ a week. I realize I didn’t clarify this earlier, and you haven’t done anything wrong by doing it more often, but going forward, please stick to this guideline.

Also, say this now rather than just rejecting their next work from home request and explaining it then. This is a big-picture conversation to have since they’re now used to doing it a different way, not something to spring on them the next time it comes up.

Leadership : #MeToo vs Improving Personal Accountability

Personal accountability is a wide and somewhat confusing concept. When it comes to leadership, the best leaders not only embrace personal accountability, but they demand it.

Sadly, the headlines today contain stories about cover-ups and sexual improprieties (that’s me being very nice about it). Celebrities, athletes, politicians, key executives, and others are being “found out”. Those who are reported allegedly engaged in bad acts that included theft, fraud, sexual abuses, and collusion, just to name a few.

The #MeToo movement is not limited to the entertainment world. It reaches the boardrooms and back rooms of many of our best respected corporate brands. [Writer’s note: in case you are wondering, the #MeToo movement hit Twitter after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke. People who had been sexually assaulted were encouraged to tweet simply #MeToo.].

It seems that the old saying is still true:

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

People in power take license with the authority that comes with their position. When the power is abused as in lording it over those with whom you work, whether for sexual favor or financial twisting, it is still wrong. So what is the remedy, the fix?

Personal Accountability

Large corporations and many smaller businesses have built-in accountabilities for things like accounting, finance, compliance, and other regulatory mandates. Yet the integrity of the leadership is left somewhat unchecked. Yes, there are Boards who write morality clauses into employment contracts. People are fired for violation of those clauses. Great for the Board who demanded that control. Unfortunately, the presence of these controls is seen in only a few cases.

When there is a contractual clause, there is accountability of a statutory nature. The person subject to such control may or may not be very influenced by its presence. If the leader’s tendency is to conduct bad acts, they will figure out ways to do it in secret. The secret only lasts so long.

Accountability must begin in the heart. A moral compass must be engaged that prevents any such bad act. The best leader has long ago figured out what, when and how to establish their own personal system of accountability.

Over the years I’ve had the good fortune of knowing a group of business leaders who started very young making pledges to one another for accountability. They met regularly and shared the temptations they faced. If one member was slipping, the group lifted them up (figuratively). They routinely reaffirmed the pledge for proper conduct. The discipline grew. As they rose in prominence in their respective professions, the habits for accountability became the foundation of integrity. To this day these leaders enjoy reputations for good character and high standards of integrity.

Accountable

I argue this came from a discipline adopted at that early stage of their career. They made decisions long ago about the right ways to act.

Fighting the Beast

The coin here definitely has two sides; at least if you try to be objective. As I began preparing this article, I spoke with several close confidants. Even within this small sampling, the extremes on the scale revealed thoughts I had never considered.

One executive, a male, expressed total frustration with the dynamic. While he couldn’t deny the presence of a small percentage of male managers with horrible reputations for sexual harassment, he was equally appalled by the presence of females who cry foul without a real threat.

My friend contends, at a minimum, the line gets blurry. What action at work, physical or verbal, can be construed to be harmful? What about the office dating that has led to marriages that work. Yes, many do not, but plenty do. In the story above, my friend, a life-long HR professional said that he’s even heard complaints about “Susie, you look nice today.” Where is the line?

Managers have been sunk by false allegations of impropriety, careers ruined, yet there was no recourse. The consensus was, trust the female’s complaint. My friend’s summary statement was “there are some crazy people out there.”

On the other extreme, a female entrepreneur I know just happened to be writing her own story about the #MeToo movement. In her version she states yes, she’s been the ‘victim’ of actions that could be taken as sexually explicit, but she admits never being forced into being violated. While she’s had her own experience with men making statements and doing things like reaching and groping, she calls it a blessing to have never had to experience what many other women are now revealing.

While acknowledging this smaller segment of bad actors, she chooses to stake a claim on the men who have been mentors, champions, coaches, and supporters of her career. She says the ‘good guy’ population is much larger (thankfully). She even goes so far as to say we should add a #WeToo alternative to the #MeToo campaign. i.e. for every woman who has felt threatened, there are probably two or more who have been encouraged and helped by male influence.

If you need help building your own system for personal accountability, consider joining a Mastermind group like those we host at HeadwayExec.

In the end

It all comes back to moral character or decay. Which direction are you heading? If you are a leader (male or female) have you established your own moral high ground from which you choose to operate? In small entrepreneurial shops, you may get away with being a hugging kind of person, but larger corporate settings may not allow such behavior. Regardless, the boundaries have to be set.

Boundary setting is not just for your employees to protect themselves from you, but boundaries you choose never to cross. As an example, I know one male leader who will not permit private, one-on-one meetings with female staffers. It doesn’t matter how long the employee has been there, if a woman wants to meet with him, there will be another party in the room. That may be extreme, but I can tell you it has earned him a high degree of respect. People don’t even try to share an off-color story with him. He wants a straight narrow line shining brightly in his organization. His people respect that and want to work there.

Do they have fun? Yes, they do. It’s the kind of fun everyone can enjoy. The business thrives.

Question: What have you done to establish accountability and raise your own standards for office behavior? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

 

 

E-Myth Revisited (for Everyone)

Discovering your WHY

Michael E. Gerber’s works called the E-Myth seek to define entrepreneurship and business leadership. As I study those volumes, I find some key essentials that apply to every business executive, owner or aspiring manager. For many, the E-Myth has become a bible of business success and growth.

You have to start with WHY. Gerber’s work even pre-dates Simon Sinek‘s epic book “Find Your Why”. When a business leader, whether owner or employee, finds their ‘why’, it is like putting a match to a huge bonfire swirling with passion, excitement, commitment, and drive. Without why we collect paychecks and produce less than exciting outcomes. Without the why we merely survive.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, an employee, a leader of a team or division or you want to tackle the WHY of your entire organization, discovering the WHY injects passion into your work. And it’s those who start with WHY that have the ability to inspire those around them.

If you’ve ever started a business or taken on a new career challenge or even a major life change, you realize YOU must be something more. Your perception of the new role carries a weight that demands more. Getting to “more” requires a form of change. Whether you like it or not, this essential change is what causes the greatest hurdles to successfully making the move.

Consciously or subconsciously, you know a change is needed, but how and where do you start with that change? I like what both writers mentioned above have to say about WHY. Finding your why is the center of the answer for the change.

If you pursue a change without knowing your why, you are just shooting in the dark. Yes, you might be able to make some logical decisions about the change that has to happen, yet even if you adopt those changes, your results may be less than rewarding.

Finding your why is vital to growing a business or rising to the next level in life. Take my FREE Career Satisfaction Survey.

Here’s a story

Two years ago I wanted to do more about my physical condition. I was getting older, less flexible and packing on a few too many pounds. I definitely sensed the need for change. I chose to join a program that helped me accomplish my goals. I didn’t just hire a coach, but I essentially hired a whole culture of change. The fitness program and the gym itself was off the chart (I loved it). What they taught about eating and food content also made sense to me; not just some radically weird diet like eating cardboard wrappers off cereal boxes.

With my own commitment to the program, I did exactly what I had hoped to do. I lost almost 25 pounds, changed pant sizes twice, and generally felt better. Plus it was a program that stuck. But do you want to know the real reason it worked? They insisted I find my why before I ever started. They didn’t want my membership fees unless I could explain my own why.

Where have you ever seen that in a gym program? It made all the difference. Oh, and my why was about connecting with the legacy I want to have with my 7 grandkids. I knew I needed to fix some health issues before I could expect to be around for their graduations and weddings.

What is YOUR Why?

You may have read some of the books or heard Simon Sinek’s great TED talk, but have you done the work? Have you figured out your why? Finding your why is not as difficult as you might think.

The process to find your why often requires taking a look back at some signposts in your life. Seeing the history of where you have been and what you have done can go a long way to helping you discover your why. What experiences did the most to inspire and energize you?

Ask yourself some questions

We should take a step back and ask ourselves some questions. You can start by asking yourself a few of these:

  • Why is it that you do what you do?
  • What thrills you about your current job role or career?
  • What does a great day look like?
  • What does success look like beyond the paycheck?
  • What does real success feel like for you?
  • How do you want to feel about your impact on the world when you retire?

You could also ask yourself these follow-up questions:

  • What do you hate about your current job role or career?
  • Why don’t you do something else?
  • What does a bad day look like?
  • What is it you don’t enjoy about your job and why?
  • What does failure look like beyond the paycheck?
  • What does real failure feel like for you?

Once again, it’s essential that you know your professional purpose before you tackle your personal brand. If you don’t take control of your brand image and who you are, someone else will.

Often, the simple process of taking a step back and taking stock of where you are at and where you want to go can answer a raft of questions that can point your professional career in a more meaningful and satisfying direction.

Question: Have you found your why? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

If the effort to find your why has left you searching, perhaps a coach can help. Not just any coach, but someone who has the training, experience, and passion (their own why) to come alongside and help.

 

Leading in Life: Survive or Thrive

Leadership in life and business is about influencing others to achieve something; hit a goal, make a mark, win a prize. Usually, we think about leadership in terms of doing something special. But being “special” is not a natural human condition.

In a recent interview, Alabama football coach Nick Saban made these remarks:

The human condition is programmed to survive. That’s how we got here. It is not natural to perform at a special level for an extended period of time. If you want to be on top, you have to figure out how to be and stay special. You must work to thrive rather than just survive.”

Think about that for a moment. As a tribe, we came from a heritage of living and working to survive. “Survival of the fittest,” they say. Scientific studies support that idea. Our brains are wired for fight or flight reactions to threats around us. If we choose to flee the scene, we are trying to survive. If flight is not an option, as in the foe to too fast or too strong, we have no choice but to fight. Usually, the fight is not to win for winning’s sake, but to win to survive.

The way we think and the emotions we feel that have survival value will then produce behaviors that increase our chances of survival. Our “fight-or-flight” reaction may be the best-known expression of our survival instinct. This response set is triggered when we (and all animals) perceive a situation as a threat to our existence; our sympathetic nervous system activates rapid emotional, psychological, and physical changes.

Emotionally, we feel either fear or anger intensely. Psychologically, our senses are heightened, and we’re able to make faster decisions. Physically, we get a shot of adrenaline, our heart rate increases, blood flow is diverted to essential parts of the body, and we experience increased strength and stamina. Without these essential changes, our primitive forbears would have died, their genes wouldn’t have been passed on.

Thankfully, you likely don’t have that direct survival challenge each and every day, at least not in terms of dying. Yet we all face uphill battles that test our sense of survival. So the question is whether you choose to merely survive the day or do something special.

Survive or Thrive

Employment statistics tell us the average workforce is not all that engaged. The average employee recommends their workplace at a 3.2 / 5, according to Glassdoor ratings. That’s a measly 64% confidence rating. Companies performing above this are not necessarily large or small or in a particularly “sexy” industry. Rather, they are focused on their people.

If you look at Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work you see companies of all size, all industry, and all ages. The reason is that employee engagement is not a simple thing: it takes leadership commitment, investment, and a complete and integrated focus.

This translates into large populations of workers merely trying to survive; punch the clock, get the paycheck, feed and shelter ourselves and our families, then do it all over again.

To go back to Nick Saban’s remarks, there is a small percentage who choose to be special. They do this by doing more. They establish daily routines for health and welfare that include fitness, mental health, technical expertise, and personal growth.

Whatever personal predisposition you may have, becoming the owner of a business or the manager of a work team forces your hand. Will you survive or thrive?

Taking on Leadership

When you assume the role of leader within any group setting, you not only have to produce personal performance, but you become responsible for group performance as well. Saban’s role as a coach puts him in the hot seat for that “special” performance he describes. In this case, it is winning national football championships. He’s done it both at LSU and now at Alabama.

People outside of Saban’s programs study his methods for achieving high performance that is both repeatable and sustainable. In business, those are key characteristics that any business leader should aspire to have. We need performance that is repeatable, scalable, and sustainable.

Repeatable – allows you to do it again. If you have a great month or great quarter, can it become a great year? If you have a great year, can you do it again next year?

Scalable – is your system and platform scalable for growth? Can you replicate what you do in such a way that you can increase capacity without losing efficiency and effectiveness?

Sustainable – this is the extension of repeatable. You might repeat success once or twice, but can you do it multiple times.

Creating a System and a Process

The key to achieving these special results comes from establishing a system and a process by which great things can happen. Yes, Nick Saban recruits capable and talented athletes, as you should too in your business. Finding the right employees to plug into your system is critical. However, having a room full of gifted employees will not result in high performance without a system and a process to get you there.

Systems

As the leader, you must either create the system yourself or learn to use the system that exists. If you are the owner/founder of the enterprise, either you develop the system or you engage an expert at execution who can design it. If you are a senior manager/executive, you must embrace what has been designed.

If you suspect the system is flawed, you can work with the creator of the system to make changes or you can choose to abandon the effort and take your talents some other place.

Football coaches like Nick Saban expect the assistant coaches to follow his system, make subtle changes appropriate to the details they are responsible for, but stay true to the system. If the assistant doesn’t agree, then they won’t stay there long (see the long list of coaches who have worked for Saban).

In upcoming articles, we will explore the things that make an effective system work.

Question: What sort of system do you use to achieve special performance? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

Boundarylessness – What Is It?

Advice to Leaders

Jack Welch, the legendary CEO of GE, had a term he liked to share with his executive team. The word was “Boundarylessness”. What he meant was each leader should explore the boundaries they have set for themselves; the artificial limits placed in the heart of man. These limiting thoughts need to be eliminated. He wanted no boundaries to hold back the leader’s effort. He implored people to operate with this mindset of “boundarylessness”.

Boundary

Boundary

Boundarylessness is a literal concept. The word means what it says: eliminate boundaries within an organization or a team to create universal ownership of the organization’s overall mission. The concept is to create an open, sharing climate that seeks to harness the combined strength of the business. (See August 20, 2008, posting “Accessing Collective Intelligence.”)

Boundarylessness has proved notably effective in bringing individuals together, cutting across business functions and organizational hierarchies to spark innovation and initiative.

Boundarylessness, speed, and stretch are three “soft” philosophical concepts that Welch used to create mental paradigm shifts at the individual level, leading to behavioral changes that delivered hard business results to GE’s bottom line.

Welch encountered TREMENDOUS resistance to his attempt to streamline G.E. so it could compete in a 21st-century global economy. Over and over Welch was told: we have no more to give, there is no better way, we have done all we can do. Time after time Welch insisted there was a better way: go back, try again. Try differently, not just harder. Drop the “it can’t be done” mindset, know that there is a better way somewhere.

Boundaryless behavior has led to an obsession for finding a better way——a better idea——be its source a colleague, another GE business, or another company across the street or on the other side of the globe that will share its ideas and practices…. Zero-sum-thinking did not foresee the immense reservoir of creativity and energy that flows from an engaged work force. – Jack Welch

What Are Some Boundaries?

Anyone who takes on a management and leadership role must know the boundaries they carry. Too often as I open a coaching assignment, I find the person I am helping has a deep collection of very limiting thoughts. You know, the ideas planted in your head by a parent, a sibling, a teacher, or your first boss. Thoughts include statements like:

  • You can’t do that
  • You’re too small
  • You’re too slow
  • You don’t know enough about that
  • You have no experience
  • You have no education
  • Someone else can do that better
  • You failed before
  • We’ve always done it this way.

As some of these very damaging and negative thoughts take root in your consciousness, the natural reaction is to follow the path. Go down the rabbit hole and land at the absolute bottom.

Paint a Different Picture

The remedy is to take the path Welch chose. As a leader we must paint a different picture, challenging the limiting thought with a better belief system. You could think of it as reprogramming. If a thought pattern has emerged in your life, one that sets a boundary on what you can do, you must terminate it.

At GE they proved you can re-imagine the way forward. By intentionally killing off each negative idea, one by one, people can be convinced to begin thinking a new way.

So What?

What are the limiting thoughts, those pesky boundaries, that need to be stamped out in your life? Whether at work or at home, what are the ideas that reverberate in your mind, day after day, causing you to question your effectiveness? Or question the idea you just had? Too many great ideas get killed on the edge of greatness by a limiting belief about what could or should be.

If you are prone to hear some video replay cycling in your head, turn off the program. Unsubscribe to its bad belief. Turn off the recorder. Unfriend the bad idea and open up to new and better possibilities.

Surround yourself with people who have more positive outlooks. It’s way too easy to find problems in the world. Real leaders create solutions. They explore all the possibilities before ever being stopped by a boundary that has no good merit.

Question: Can you live with a new mindset of boundarylessness? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

Harnessing the Power of Your Mind’s Attention and Your Heart’s Affection

It’s a noisy world out there with all the dopamine induced gratification we get from social media. That ping on our smart phone or that message in our inbox telling us something about someone else somewhere. Ah, the satisfaction. How do you sift through it all?

Learning Styles Debunked

For quite some time, I have been a student of management and leadership. The topic is not limited to just the business world. Rather it is all around us. I believe our world is in serious need of solid, meaningful leadership. I don’t mean the kind that wears red or blue, but the kind that truly inspires us to be more and do more.

Yet the “more” is not only about corporate growth. I mean ‘more’ in terms of life; seeing those around us thrive and prosper intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually as well as financially. A real leader can help do that. It doesn’t matter whether the leadership role is formally appointed as in head of some community group, or informally ordained for a bunch of well-meaning volunteers as we witnessed during the Harvey flooding on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Leadership can raise the bar of success regardless of the domain it influences.

We need leaders in all sectors of life. Yet what distinguishes some leaders from others? From my observations both being a leader and working for great leaders, I find one common bond. The best leader has found a way to harness the power of marrying the mind’s attention with the heart’s affection. What does that mean?

The Mind’s Attention

Much has been written about the power of positive thinking. For decades we have heard about “you are what you think”. No doubt a positive mental state adds much to one’s ability to focus and thrive. Likewise a bad frame of mind can draw you down into deep depression and even suicide.

Don’t get me wrong. I am an advocate for working on positive thinking, eliminating limiting thoughts, and building your mind muscle for more positive thinking. A wise old farmer called it “getting rid of stinkin’ thinkin.” The Bible calls it renewing your mind. I’m all in favor of that.

As much as having a great attitude about your outlook and daily regiment is powerful, it can only go so far. Someone once said, if thinking the right thoughts is all there is to final outcome, we’d all be brains on a stick.

No, the best outcome takes more.

The Heart’s Affection

Our heart must be engaged. Our passion must be summoned to give fuel to the fire. It is the fire. When a person becomes passionate about their cause, there is little anyone can do to deter them.

Passion gives us energy to climb mountains, cross great divides, and leap tall buildings (ok yes that sounds like Superman). This heart’s affection for a purpose gives almost unstoppable energy to any situation.

Workers who have not had their passion for the job tapped into, will only perform at  a modest level. This is why making employment selection is so critical for employers and employees alike. Make the wrong fit, and you passion will never rise up. Yet by finding that work where you can become passionate, you can inspire others.

Harness the Power

Binding both parts together can achieve great things. Great minds don’t go very far without a heart filled passion. Conversely passion can be wasted without a clever mind to design a solution.

The best leaders know how to do both. They are driven by a sense of purpose which fuels the passion. Their heart’s affection is a dominating force. In conjunction, they have their mind’s attention fully engaged, finding solutions for problems and devising great alternatives to the hurdles that come up.

Leaders leverage this power, catching lightening in a bottle so to speak. You can hear and almost feel the power of the passion in their voice. You sense the wisdom in their mind’s vision for things to come. You can more easily buy-in to their ideas and direction.

Leaders build this inspiration in their team.

Here’s the Test

If you are in a management or leadership role, do you have both parts engaged and fully deployed? Is your mind flowing with ideas for ways to go to the next level, solving the problems of the day and offering great ideas? Is your heart in it? Do you feel passionate about your cause, your purpose where you are?

One without the other is a broken, unbalanced equation. You might find temporary success, but it will not last. Usually it will not be enough to get to the next level.

Make an evaluation of this amazing blend of your mind’s attention and your heart’s affection. If you have been operating too heavily with one and not the other, look around. You might be missing some achievement. You are likely not to be your best.

Take a moment and project what it would be like to harness this power, with both spheres in better balance, overlapping at the center for amazing results.

Question: Let us know when and how you found this balance? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

Procedures? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Procedures

Wait, maybe we do.....

Managers and leaders at all levels rely on process and procedure to execute scalable and sustainable delivery of the work they do. Yet from time to time, you will hear talk of being totally free-form in the operation of a business. Results speak for themselves. When you dive deep into the leadership success story of business, you will find prescribed process that is reliant upon standard procedure to make it hum.

Process and ProcedureOnce, as I was assuming responsibility for an operating unit at the bank were I worked, I was talking to one of the clerks. I asked her to describe the work she did on a daily basis. Her description was, “I take this form out of this drawer, make these entries in the computer, and place the form in the other drawer.” The drawers were right side/left side of her desk. I paused, thought, then asked “Well, who puts the form in the right side drawer and who takes the completed form out of the left side drawer?” She said she didn’t’ know because it happened on another shift. I asked how long she had been with the company. “Three years in this same job.” Wow, I was stunned.

I decided to research the rest of the story. I talked to the people on the other shift and got their version. I then went back to the first lady and explained the whole process. Turns out, her part was an important piece of the overall procedure that allowed my unit to operate at peak performance, yet she had no idea. When I shared with her the significance of what she did, she got very inspired. We arranged a meeting between personnel on both shifts to share their views of the work. The harmony this generated was appreciated by all.

While this seems like an overly simple experience, it happens thousands of times daily with hundreds of operations everywhere. Procedure is something that must be understood by all employees. As the leader of a unit, the responsibility for establishing this understanding is on you. Yes, you may delegate the training and monitoring of the work, but when the final tally is made, it will be on you to be sure procedure has been followed.

Depending on the circumstance and the nature of your work, procedure takes on significance ranging from the mundane to the life saving. Go out on a military firing range and ask whether procedure needs to be followed or not. “Keep your weapons pointed up and down range” is a procedural command that saves lives. With live rounds chambered in a weapon, the participants in target practice cannot be pointing the weapon at other people. Your job may not be as dramatic, but the importance of following procedure is just as important.

At the Beginning

There was an interview where a company representative said “At my company, we see as many as 92% of our job applicants failing to follow the prescribed job posting procedures. We count that as immediate elimination.”

No kidding! Wow, 92% of the job seekers applying to this company’s posted jobs cannot follow enough instructions to pass through the grid and become potential interviewees. What are these people thinking? Ok, maybe the company has some special requirements they have laid out, but so what? I am sure the nature of their business has some unique requirements too (as do most companies). If someone cannot or will not follow the steps, then what kind of worker might they be?

Since the job search process is as much about elimination as it is selection. Candidates cannot give the employer a reason to eliminate them by failing to follow a step in the process. If your company has rigid procedures that must be followed, job candidates must follow procedure in order to be deemed a fit for that environment.

Leadership for the Procedures

Once a process has been defined, procedure must follow. When Henry Ford decided how the assembly line would operate, procedure had to follow to let every worker know the steps they need to perform. Skip a step and a wheel might fall off.

Leaders must introduce, teach, train, monitor and adjust procedure so that maximum execution can be achieved. Management can check the boxes toward completion and delivery, but leadership brings the people into the fold. With effective leadership, you can obtain total buy-in by the work team. Since process, driven by procedure is unavoidable for best execution, the people cannot violate the procedure. Otherwise chaos happens.

Leaders must be able to inspire the team to follow the procedures that have been written. If there is any confusion about the expectation it must be resolved. If there is any inconsistency in following procedures, it must be dealt with. Coaching by the leader to address individual exceptions to the rule is required.

Question: When was the last time you had to enforce a procedure to make your team perform better? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Learn more about executive and business coaching offered by Doug Thorpe

Learn More

Link Your Brand to a Story for Greater Success

Your business provides a great product or service, right? What sets you apart from the next guy? Study successful brands, and you’ll see they each link their brand with a story. Doing so generates more than simple interest; it connects with their clients’ unconscious minds.

your brand needs a storyLink your brand with a narrative, and you will increase business success.

Why people love a story

The human brain loves a good story. Stories connect with the subconscious mind, which, incidentally is where beliefs are stored. Potential clients don’t just adopt logical thinking when deciding whether to buy products or employ a firm’s services. Their beliefs influence their choices as well.

The subconscious mind uses metaphors to communicate with the conscious mind.

Its wisdom rises in the form of stories and pictures to guide people’s actions. Thus, it might show you an image of someone carrying a heavy load if you contemplate tackling what you consider a difficult task. Or, your mind might present a picture of you meeting success if you believe doing so is possible.

Create a story for your brand that inspires people, and they will like your business. Their unconscious minds will tap into the story, and it will influence their decision to use your services.

What type of story do people love?

First, on an unconscious level, people adore a story that feeds their need to overcome obstacles. They love narratives about rising from difficult circumstances and accomplishing success. Think about your favorite movies. Usually there is a struggle in the story. Whether it is overcoming evil for good, rags to riches, or the victory for a cause, this dynamic reach for something better grabs our hearts and minds.

Furthermore, the human brain is designed to seek improvement. Tales of starting small and achieving big victories provide a feel-good factor that puts people in a good mood. Connecting with this internal wiring for improvement through a good story line helps lock in the message.

Why authenticity counts

At this point, you might imagine you can simply make up a brilliant story to attract customers, but hold on a moment. Before you get too creative, remember, people love authenticity as much as they love a great story. Winning stories are based on facts. Clients will soon smell a rat if your brand’s narrative isn’t genuine.

We all have our own BS meter. We know when people are not being real. The story you choose to build your brand must originate from sincerity and authenticity.

Finding a story for your brand

Your brand already has a story; it just needs to be recognized. You’ll uncover the right story if you think of its beginning stemming from how you had a dream. After all, there was a time when your business was a thought rather than a reality. Here lies the part of the tale where you hadn’t yet achieved success.

What were you doing back then? How did you know you wanted your life to change? What did you want to give to the world by starting your business? Answer such questions, and you’ll have the basis for the story.

The tale needs to inspire awe and help your clients believe 

Bear in mind the tale needs to inspire awe and help your clients believe your business has what it takes to improve their lives. Thus, don’t only mention how you were poor but rose from the ashes of poverty like a phoenix to make money. Consider how you discovered you could help others overcome challenges and meet their needs, and weave this element into the story.

12392060 brand story large

Do NOT be afraid

Apart from not thinking of the idea, want to know why some business people never tell their story and link it to their brand? They are scared. Telling their tale involves stepping out of their comfort zone and getting personal. When you reveal your struggles in life, you are vulnerable. However, speaking about how you began your journey will help your clients feel a connection with your brand.

If your story were only about the success of your brand, it wouldn’t be inspiring. Your customers want to be able to relate to the story. Thus, it needs to feed their desire to hear about moving from humble beginnings to achieving a dream.

You might not think you need to link your brand to a story to find success, and you may be right.

You’re more likely to succeed if you uncover the real tale

You are more likely to succeed if you uncover the real tale of your business to tell. Doing so will not only attract clients, but it will also boost your confidence, inspire employees, and make you proud. You’ll love your business even more than you do now, and what you love you nurture.

Footnote: Much of this article was contributed by Austin Tenette, a certified business coach at Focal Point.