fbpx

When Was Your Last Paradigm Shift?

Ah, the now infamous paradigm shift. I learned about “paradigm” at a Stephen R. Covey seminar back when he was alive, touring, and promoting his 7 Habits book. The word wasn’t even in my vocabulary at the time. It became a popular buzzword for business for many years afterward.

In case you’re wondering, here’s the basic definition of the word.

A paradigm is a standard, perspective, or set of ideas. A paradigm is a way of looking at something. The word paradigm comes up a lot in the academic, scientific, and business worlds. A new paradigm in business could mean a new way of reaching customers and making money.

It’s safe to say that the past two years have caused many paradigm shifts in the business world, the way we work, and the way we may continue working.

The Shifts We Know

The massive lockdowns and shutdowns caused by the pandemic sent small business owners, shop keepers, and service companies scrambling. Those who found ways to survive usually did it through massive restructures of their business models.

One story was about an Asian family shifting their business away from a sit-down restaurant style Chinese food establishment. Instead, they found a niche market for take out and delivery of Lousisiana style gumbo. By eliminating the overhead of the restaurant, they tripled margins and doubled gross revenue.

Another company I know about was in the business of creating high-end bath soaps. The pandemic squashed that market. With creative leadership, the owner assembled her team and did some brainstorming. They landed on the idea to produce hand sanitizer liquid. Their manufacturing arrangement was easily retooled to support that production, plus many of the ingredients were already on hand. Within weeks they were delivering wholesale quantities to essential work places.

Larger enterprises had even bigger shifts. I did work for a large national bank who had to send 95% of the workforce home. How do you perform banking transactions remotely? What must be done to secure customer information over the Internet?

Leaders at this bank got very creative. They identified an encryption device that employees could attach to their home based computer connections. The device provided a virtual private network (VPN) connection that was extra secure. With this setup, employees could login to on-premise bank networks and continue to serve customers.

Productivity actually increased by double digits. Yet it was a paradigm shift many thought could never happen.

Why Shift Perspectives and Paradigms?

I mention these examples because they represent external forces that dictated the need for change. The paradigm simply had to shift.

But what if you are operating in the ‘zone?’ What if everything seems to be working well? Should you entertain a paradigm shift?

Or what if you are operating a legacy? I mean managing a piece of an organization that has huge capital invested in assets that are income producing. Turn on the lights and you make money. That’s a nice place to be, right?

Should there be any paradigm shift in these situations?

I submit you should at least entertain the idea periodically. The sand might be shifting underneath you. Without having an open mind and a discipline about revisiting the current paradigm, you might be setting yourself up to fail.

Kodak is the cautionary tale for this exact situation. Their paradigm was manufacturing high end photo film. Yes, I said film. Not digital.

As the digital transformation unfolded in the market, Kodak held firm in their paradigm. It is said they even went so far as to call the emerging digital technology a fad.

Making the Shift

How do you know when it might be time to make a paradigm shift? Given the vast capacity our brains possess, it is often hard to sort through the details to decide it is time for a shift.

We get into habits that keep our thinking going in one direction. In scripture we are encouraged to “renew our minds.” Here are several patterns that could suggest it is time to shift that paradigm.

Group Think

Anyone who has been part of a work team has likely experienced this form of operating. A decision needs to get made. The choice is put up to the team to decide. One person floats an idea. The next person is not wild about it, but doesn’t want to make waves, so says yes.

As the next person gets a turn to weigh in, they start thinking ‘well two folks agree so I don’t want to be an outlier.’ So they say yes. And so it goes. The decision is finalized. It gets implemented and produces bad results.

The group starts dissecting the outcome. One then another says ‘I didn’t really like that idea.’ Well why did we all agree to do it that way? And things spiral downward.

Avoiding group thinking is a great time to allow a paradigm shift. Share an opposing idea. Ask why not?

For more on this topic, visit The Abilene Principle

Self Talk

The discussion we have inside our minds just might be the most influential voice we ever hear. That cuts both ways. The message can be empowering or it can be derailing.

Watch the tone and content of those little talks you give yourself. Limiting beliefs can hold you back. On the other hand, pride and arrogance can stifle the best choices.

Reframe the Matter

Reframing is a great technique to aid in creating a fresh line of sight. When you start feeling stuck with a certain way to think about something, force yourself to reframe the idea. Bust through the structure of the thinking you used to get where you are. Ask challenging questions about the method you used. Allow yourself the luxury to explore wholly new ideas to address the situation.

This is called reframing. You take the old framework you’re used to using and turn it around. The diagram below demonstrates how viewing something from different angles can create different conclusions.

paradigm shift reframe

Seek Counsel

If you start to feel stuck where you are, look to someone else to add another perspective.

There’s an age-old joke about how men never want to stop for directions. When my wife and I took our first major road trip after we were married, I pulled over one day and asked a local for directions. Once I had the information, I was ready to proceed to our destination. She was amazed. Other men in her life (before me) had apparently never been willing to stop and ask.

I learned a long time ago that having a guide or a mentor was a perfect way to get valuable information for greater success. Try it sometime.

In Conclusion

The need to make a paradigm shift might be more frequent than you think. Add a simple question to your leadership toolkit. Ask yourself, “Am I thinking about this the right way?” Be willing to take the turn, ask for help, and consider the different angle.

Above all, coach and train your team to avoid group thinking. Create an environment where dissenting opinions matter. Promote the value of trust among team members so that decisions can be made with the best input.

Let that paradigm shift happen.

Leave a comment or share this article with your team.

We’re Grateful for YOU!

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S.

It is a time to gather as a family, pause, and say THANKS. Actually, gratitude should be a daily event, but sadly it is not always.

Today, I want to wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving. I am so grateful for your faithful following. Your comments, ideas, and expressions of appreciation for the work I and my team do is felt.

You are much appreciated and much loved.

Helping already successful executives and owners thrive is what we are passionate about doing. This past year has been a roller coaster of activity, change, and challenge. For the clients with whom I have worked directly, let me say THANK YOU for that opportunity.

For those of you who follow my blog posts and podcasts, I hope the messaging helped whatever situation you were in.

My wish is that you and your family have a chance to fellowship, enjoy one another, and embrace the spirit of thanksgiving.

Again, Thank You. You are blessed.

Ways to Explore the Power of Your Mind’s Attention and Your Heart’s Affection

Nothing can be more powerful than the exact moment you harness the power of your mind’s attention and your heart’s affection.

Projects, life changes, new directions, and many other parts of our life can become monumental successes when these two dynamics come into perfect alignment.

affection

“Have you realized that today is the tomorrow you talked about yesterday? It is your responsibility to change your life for the better.”
Jaachynma N.E. Agu, The Prince and the Pauper

Let’s break it down.

Read more

Feeling Flat? Here’s How to Rekindle Your Spark for Life

upset couple in bad mood holding cups of coffee and sitting at home on christmas eve

The holidays have a way of triggering certain joyous celebrations. But for many, the holidays bring on serious downside exposure too. Here are some ways to reignite your zest for life.

Everyone feels down and lost at certain points in their life. Sometimes, this has a more obvious cause, like a break-up or failing an exam. Sometimes nothing bad has happened at all, and you’re just having a bad day. However, when those feelings start to affect your relationships, decision-making skills, and career over a prolonged period of time, it might be time to start doing something about it.

It can be quite overwhelming to know just where to start when it comes to turning your mindset around and banishing self-doubt. However, one common solution is to seek professional help in the form of a life coach. They will help uncover the root of why you’re feeling the way you are, and come up with strategies to change your day-to-day mood and more importantly your life.

Here are three ways you can find the missing piece to help overcome negative thoughts, and how a life coach could assist you along the way.

man in chair with head in hand

Get out of your comfort zone

Whether that’s signing up to a dating app and talking to new people, or confronting a phobia you’ve always had, moving out of your comfort zone can have endless benefits.

If you’ve always played it safe in terms of meeting new people, traveling to different locations, and looking for work opportunities, then you are restricting both your personal and professional development.

Instead, you need to open yourself up to new experiences that are going to allow you to make new connections and gain perspectives you otherwise wouldn’t have had. This might seem scary, but can be incredibly rewarding.

There may be a good reason why you haven’t got out of your comfort zone, such as a lack of confidence due to a past experience. Whatever the reason, life coaches will work through everything at your own pace.

They will challenge you in an empowering way so that you embrace new opportunities rather than running for the hills.

All of which is going to help you rekindle that spark for life and help you to feel more satisfied in your career and personal life as a result.

man looking over a cliff after climbing to the top

Set goals for yourself

Coasting along with no real direction is a sure-fire way to end up feeling bored in your life. After all, if you’re not working towards anything, then what do you have to look forward to? Every day will just roll into the next, which is about as fun as it sounds.

Setting personal goals can seem a daunting task. However, no goal is too small or too big. Starting off with small, easily achievable goals can help you build up greater confidence and self-belief, which can help when it comes to reaching your longer-term goals.

Now is the time to decide what you want out of life and to figure out how you’re going to get it. A life coach is the perfect professional for the job, since helping people create goals and making sure they achieve them is a big part of what they do.

typewriter setting out goals

Hold yourself accountable

It’s always the easier option in life to apportion the blame to someone or something else when things go wrong. However, taking ownership of both your mistakes and your achievements will help you to feel more in control of your own life.

Holding you personally accountable is a big part of life coaching. Coaches will turn the emphasis on you, including what has prevented you from achieving your aims in the past.

One of the most challenging yet rewarding aspects is owning up to yourself about things you could or should have done differently. While there’s no way of winding back the clock, you must recognize your own failures so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes going forward.

Accountability also extends into how you live your daily life. For example, this can include noticing when your timekeeping isn’t good enough, or that you are procrastinating. From simple bad habits to the more damaging ones, from now on if you want to rekindle your spark for life, you’re going to have to leave such unproductive traits behind.

When Others Are Making the Assessment

What would your personal story look like if you went away, permanently, and left someone else to sort through things and figure out how and what you did as a manager, leader, spouse, or parent?

Is your leadership creating the outcomes and results you intended?

Courtesy 123rf.com
Courtesy 123rf.com

In my consulting days, I often worked for the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation). The assignments involved going and mopping up after a bank failed. I have had a lot of experience looking at banks and businesses that failed. As a person who was asked to act in a legal receivership capacity, I got to see a lot of deals that went bad.

In my situation, I was combing over the records of failed banks. My team and I reviewed files from bank customers who may have been involved in creating “less than stellar results.”

Usually, the loss is not sudden, but rather a series of events. Some are justifiable as ‘economic’ factors or ‘market conditions,’ but others are purely spawned by ‘operator error’ or ‘pilot error’ if you will.

In business, it is often easy to piece together the back-story. Legal documents and work papers often tell those stories. Even with that knowledge though, as told by the paper trails, one is often left to ask why? Why did that executive choose that path? Why that choice? How did the Board come to that conclusion? What was going on that drove the leadership decision-making process in that direction? Which values were being considered or ignored?

For the moment, I will take greed, corruption, and fraud off the table. I am not even talking about those obvious lapses in human character. I am talking about decisions made in good faith that ultimately lead to a disaster.

So What?

So if that is the business side of the question, what about our personal management and leadership roles? Your communities or families; your tribes? Our marriages and our children? With families, there is usually not an administrative, legal receiver-like individual arrangement. Oh yes, divorce courts have influence, but I mean a forensic review into the hearts and minds of those we say we love. What if there was a moment when those people spoke and said “here’s the deal; here’s what has happened and is still happening.”

Would your score look the way you meant it to? Would the feedback be something you could be proud of?

Legacy

We’re talking about leaving a legacy here. If all of the day-by-day effort you put in to achieve something went for nothing, how would you feel about other people looking at that and passing judgment? You know what you meant to be doing, but was it the right thing?

There is always time to make a change. Here are a few ideas about where to start:

  • Evaluate – make your own evaluation with this thought in mind – what is the assessment?
  • Adjust – make the changes you decide are not keeping you on course.
  • Change – make the move to do something different.

Don’t agree to live by chance. Instead, operate by choice. Choice v. chance is a big factor. Is what you are about to do something intentional that serves the greater good in your life? Or is it just an exercise at burning daylight?

Pretty soon there won’t be any extra days to make the big changes you meant to be doing.

Perhaps today is a good day to start.

If you are wondering how to answer this question in your life, consider hiring a coach.

Leadership Principles: My Elite 8

Principle based leadership is like setting a deep and strong foundation. The principles you choose to guide you will shape the character and substance of what you decide to do.

Whether you are leading a team at work, your family, or an organization in your community, I like these 8 principles. I call them my “Elite 8”.

Read more

How to Get What You Want: Negotiate Your Way to Success

team negotiating

Do you ever encounter situations when you feel very strongly about how you believe a project should be planned, carried out, or completed? Do you sometimes feel annoyed that the others involved don’t see the situation the same as you do? Here’s where good negotiation skills come in handy.

Regardless of the career you’ve chosen, there will be times you’ll find negotiation necessary. Learning this critical skill will also improve your personal relationships.

Review these tips for negotiating a situation to get the results you want:

Know your material. Avoid in-depth discussions about topics and situations that you’re not yet educated about. In advance of conversations or projects you know are coming, ensure that you understand the ins and outs of the situation at hand. Preparation is your friend in negotiation!

Listen. Keep an open mind to what the other person has to say. We’ve all had the experience of rushing in and insisting on what we want, only to discover later that it’s actually quite similar to what the other person wants (we just didn’t know that because we weren’t listening).

Find areas of agreement. With a little luck, you’ll only disagree on one or two minor points. Make a list of where you’re in concurrence and where you’re split. This will concretely illustrate how much negotiating will actually be necessary and how much you really do agree.

Talk about the issue at hand first. Avoid trying to discuss solutions until you both see the problem similarly. You’ve got to be on the same page about the issue before you can possibly be on the same page for the solution.

Keep your emotions out of it. Consider the situation as business. Remain objective at all times. Keep your cool.

Avoid intimidating behaviors and manipulative comments. If you fall back on these unsavory methods just to get your way, you lose credibility with the person with whom you’re negotiating. Then they stop being willing to listen to you.

Be honest and use integrity. If you misunderstand an element of the challenge or their proposed solution and suddenly realize it, say so. Keep your word. Respect the other person.

Ask for the other person’s ideas. Solicit suggestions from them on how to resolve the situation. Listen carefully, and be willing to implement some or all of what you hear.

Remind yourself that you’re on same side. After all, you both want to resolve the issue. If you focus on finding common threads, that will help.

State your ideas for a solution. Make your case, too; tell them why you believe it’s the way to go. For example, you could say something like, “Rather than make in-person follow-up visits once per week to new customers, I think it’s a better idea to do them monthly and use the off-weeks to follow up by phone.”

• To make your case in this example, you may follow up by saying, “This way, we’ve got time during the off-weeks to develop new customers. We’ll be widening our customer base while keeping contacts with customers we already have.”

Show flexibility. You’re two separate people with two separate sets of ideas and perspectives about the issue at hand. Avoid expecting to get your way 100%.

Learning to use effective negotiation skills will help you in accomplishing any goals you have that involve others. Skillfully listen, remain non-emotional, discover points of agreement, honestly state your ideas, and show flexibility when interfacing with others. Get what you want by putting these excellent negotiation skills to work for you!

trust at work

Leadership, It’s in the Bag

When trying to coach leadership, there is one word picture that does so much more than all the others. That picture is golf. Those of you might ‘hate golf’ or don’t know much about it, please stay with me.

The game of golf is a collection of challenges intentionally designed to test your skills. In a standard round of golf, there are 18 holes, each with their own unique set of characteristics. Some of the holes are longer than others. Some have water obstacles, others have sand. Some have both. Elevations change, grass changes, shapes and cuts give every hole a special personality.

43607996_s

You tee off on each hole, hoping to reach the green in as few strokes as possible. Once you have reached the green, all that remains are a few shorter touches to sink the ball into the cup, but oh how hard those last strokes can be. The turns and twists of the surface of the green make some hard uphill runs while others are slippery downhill slopes. Here, even the length and density of the grass can influence your effectiveness at putting.

Read more

How to Be a Better Communicator

Communication is the key when it comes to anything that involves collaboration. Since humans are a social species, communication is involved in nearly everything you do.

Some people are born with the natural ability to communicate well, while others may struggle with it. No matter what category you fall into, it’s likely that you can benefit from paying attention to improving your communication skills.

Why Better Communication Helps You

Did you know that most businesses consider your communication skills to be the most important characteristic about you? This means that you could have top-notch knowledge and job skills but still fail to land a job if you’re lacking in the communication department.

Communication is certainly not only important when it comes to your work life, but it’s also vital in having a successful home life as well. Couples and family members that are good communicators lead happier lives overall.

Proper communication will prevent misunderstandings and save you time so you won’t have to go back and explain yourself again and again. You know you’ve gained good communication skills when you can communicate your thoughts effectively with as few words as necessary!

How To Improve Communication With Others

Communication is a two way street. This means that you could have excellent skills, but if the recipient is lacking, then you may not be understood. This is why it’s important not only to develop our speaking skills, but our listening skills, too.

Since you can’t affect the skill level of others, the only thing you can do is strengthen your own communication skills. Besides, when you’re an excellent communicator, more people will understand you, everything around you will run more efficiently, and you’ll more often get what you want!

Try these strategies to improve your communication skills:

Avoid arguing. If you run into a snag in a conversation and it starts to morph into an argument, step back and realize what’s going on. It’s easy to get swept up into the blame game, but ultimately it’s not important who’s at fault. What’s important is the mutual understanding of the issue at hand and a desire for a solution that benefits everyone.

Don’t be afraid to compromise. You may be tempted to try and “win” but that’s not the best way to reach a mutual agreement. You may be happier with getting your way, but it may come at the expense of the other person, which can cause further issues. Find a good compromise that you both can willingly accept.

Work on listening. Your listening skills are even more important than your speaking skills. After all, how will you know what you should say – and when – if you haven’t effectively listened? Listen more than you speak and you’ll gain a profound wisdom of others, too!

Keep your focus. Communication will get overly complicated if you worry about too many issues at once. Avoid bringing up the past or other issues and, instead, focus on the one topic at hand.

Stay calm and take responsibility. Adopt a calm and cool manner of handling situations. When things remain low key, it’s easier to communicate and get your point across. This also means that you need to take responsibility for what you say. Don’t be afraid to admit mistakes when you’re wrong.

Becoming a better communicator doesn’t happen overnight. But if you keep practicing and tweaking your skills, you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish.

Here’s How to Make the Best of a Transition

leader planning

Businesses of all shapes and sizes are faced with change. Growth requires nimble action. People selected for management and leadership roles have to be nimble too.

If you’ve ever been given an opportunity to take on a new management role, you know the feeling. What do I do now?

Facing a new transition at work can be daunting. But it can also be effective and impactful if you have a plan.

While coaching many of my corporate clients, they are faced with a promotion or reorganization that puts them in new roles. The first thing I recommend is to create a 100-day plan.

Having such a plan makes you intentional about how you spend those early days making the transition. The more intentional you become, the more likely you will have a positive outcome.

Without a plan, you drift through the early days in the role, possibly accomplishing very little.

On occasion, I’ll have a client who pushes back on the plan idea. The argument is “I don’t want to be pushy. I want to get to know the landscape, the players, etc.”

My reply is to ask whether they can afford to be slow in building a direction for the new group? Without a plan, any road will get you there, but it likely won’t be the best outcome.

With a plan, you can begin to cast the vision and direction for the new team. While you won’t need to know everything about the new transition, you can make educated choices for what to include in the plan.

The Plan’s Content

Here are some ideas for what to bake into your 100-day plan.

First, learn the new structure. Get a solid understanding of where your new unit sits in the overall structure of the business. Get a grip on the role you will be playing in the overall scheme of things.

Next, meet and learn about your team. This is not just the basic meet and greet, but an intentional effort to really learn who your people are. Ask them about experience, motivations, and their own ideas about where they are trying to go in their careers.

Learning about your team’s strengths and weaknesses can better inform your plan for ways to optimize the process for delivery and execution of work. Plus you can identify gaps in talent that may be present.

Setting the Plan

Further, you should identify stakeholders. Every operating team in an organization has stakeholders. Figure out who yours may be. Then start introducing yourself to them, seeking input and coordination.

Design for yourself a value proposition that explains the purpose of your team. At the heart of all work product is some form of value that should be created for the greater good of the business. If you don’t know your value to the bigger picture, you will never be able to organize the work effort.

Having a solid value proposition helps you explain to your team and others why your unit exists. This is especially helpful in reorganizations. Often new teams get created from some big master plan from the CEO, but detailed value props are not defined. The more you can control the creation of the value proposition, the better you and your team will perform.

All of your work creating the plan will have to be aligned with your boss and those above that level. Craft your plan, then get alignment with your boss. Adjust as you need to, but get it coordinated with the rest of the organization.

Next Steps

Once you have crafted a 100 day plan for yourself, you can begin working through the steps. Following the plan can help you achieve greater, more intentional results.

I use the word intentional a lot. I like it because it has purpose and substance for achieving measurable results. Without intention in what you choose to do, you are just burning daylight.

Your situation may require more detail in the plan. Explore the new setting, learn as much as you can about the tasks in front of you. Then decide on elements that need to be in the plan.

Regardless of the nature of the work, there is always room for a plan.

A Story

I’ll close with a story about one of my executive coaching clients. Midway through our engagement, he was invited to apply for a big VP job in the company. The opportunity was a huge step up for him. It could make him one of the youngest VPs in the buisness.

I suggested he design the 100 day plan, even though he didn’t yet have the job. I told him it would be a great way for him to orgnaize his thoughts and prepare for the round of interviews that would certainly happen. He did it.

During an interview with the COO, he laid out the plan; literally opening up some charts and diagrams he had crafted. They talked for a few more minutes.

Then the COO said, come with me, bring the plan. They walked over to the CEO’s office. The COO said “We found our guy. Look at this plan. It’s exactly what we’ve been talking about for the direction of this group.”

My client won the job and the big promotion. The 100-day plan works.