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What’s So Valuable About Building Value?

value added

What does value mean to you? When you think about anything as being “valuable”, what does that mean?

value addedI once worked with a highly successful CEO who accused me of not creating value in my work because I was a banker. In this guy’s mind, I just pushed paper and ran numbers. He saw no VALUE in doing that. In his mind, value meant building, making, or mining something. The outcome had to be tangible, physical goods. Intellectual property had little if any value in his mind. Oh sure, patents and legal rights might be there, but if the idea could not produce something, you weren’t creating value.

While I don’t necessarily agree with this extreme mindset, there is merit in my friend’s attitude. Too often I have seen business leaders who either don’t pay attention to values or blow past their meaning.

Robert Alan McDonald is the eighth United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs. He is the retired Chairman, President, and CEO of Procter & Gamble. He presents his list of the 10 defining characteristics of a “value-based leader”. The list was inspired by experiences that McDonald had over the course of his 20-year career.

McDonald offered his beliefs as a guideline and urges leaders to develop their own “list” of sorts.

“It is important for each individual and each organization to get in touch with their education, experiences, culture, family heritage and organizational memberships to develop their own set of beliefs.” -Bob McDonald.

1. Lead a life guided by purpose.
Only work for a company that you believe in. When looking for a job, examine a company’s purpose, values and people to see if they align with your own beliefs and ethics.

2. Everyone wants to succeed and success is contagious.
Treat your employees like they want to succeed, not like they want to fail. “Most of us manage by exception: We wait until someone does something wrong to interact with him or her,” McDonald said. “Spend enough time in your leadership role finding people succeeding.”

3. Put people in the right jobs.
Identify your employees’ strengths, and then place them in roles that feed into those strengths. “At P&G, we had 130,000 employees around the world,” he said. “Imagine what would happen if we put them in jobs that they weren’t good at.”

4. Character is the most important trait of a leader.
It’s important for leaders to have integrity and take responsibility for their mistakes. “Choose the harder right, rather than the easier wrong,” McDonald said, citing a prayer that he learned as a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

5. Diverse groups of people are more innovative than homogeneous groups.
Diversity sparks ideas and innovation, so companies must employ a diverse group of people. “We try to plan innovation, but there’s a little serendipity involved,” McDonald said. “Diversity is what helps these nodes to connect.”

6. Ineffective strategies, systems and culture are bigger barriers to achievement than the talents of people.
It’s important to blend a high-performance culture with robust systems and sound strategies, McDonald said. Those ingredients, coupled with technical competencies and a strong company mission, will create a high-performance organization.

7. There will be some people in the organization who will not make it on the journey.
Some employees won’t turn out to be a good fit for your company. As head of a company, it’s your responsibility to find the right place for them. “Your job as a leader is to be committed to them as people, not employees,” said McDonald.

Jim Collins, in his landmark business book, “Good to Great” speaks of this need. Those who build great organizations make sure they have the right people on the bus and the right people in the key seats before they figure out where to drive the bus. They always think first about who and then about what. When facing chaos and uncertainty, and you cannot possibly predict what’s coming around the corner, your best “strategy” is to have a busload of people who can adapt to and perform brilliantly no matter what comes next. (Courtesy Jim Collins Concepts).

8. Organizations must renew themselves.
Leaders should always think about what changes are needed to stay relevant in the marketplace and fulfill the company purpose. “Organizations are like biological organisms — they constantly need to change,” said McDonald.

9. Recruiting is a top priority.
Speaking to an audience of Kellogg Business School students, “Somewhere here is someone who will be giving a presentation here years from now,” said McDonald. “And that excites me.”

10. The true test of a leader is the organization’s performance after the leader departs.
If you want to determine whether a leader has been successful, “look at their fingerprints and footprints,” concluded McDonald.

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SUMMARY

Reassess your effort towards building VALUE; value in your personal life, value in family life, value in your community life.

Some argue that we have lost our ability to demonstrate true value. Cars, houses, boats, clothes, HDTVs, and the latest i-phone do not represent core VALUE. These are the bling that mean very little and the things that surely “moth and thief can destroy”. Part of living a legacy is adding value to the lives of those around you.

Collins adds in “Built to Last”: Enduring great organizations exhibit a dynamic duality. On the one hand, they have a set of timeless core values and purpose that remain constant over time. On the other hand, they have a relentless drive for progress—change, improvement, innovation, and renewal. Great organizations keep clear the difference between their core values (which never change), and operating strategies and cultural practices (which endlessly adapt to a changing world).

While we can gain great inspiration fro studying great companies and great leaders, we each have an opportunity, regardless of status and station, to add value, right where we are. I live by a creed:

[shareable cite=”Doug Thorpe”]Have I added value for the person I just talked to? Or did I just spend someone’s fresh air?[/shareable]

 

The 4 D’s of Dream Destruction

Are you on track toward creating the life you want in 2017?

Or are the four D’s of Dream Destruction going to keep you stuck in place, spinning your wheels until you find yourself changing your calendar again, wondering why you’re no closer to your dreams in 2018 than you were in 2016?

I am sharing this material from my own coach, David Norris. David and I share some common ground with our passion to help other leaders realize their best dreams and potential. We both speak and teach about charting a vision of your next chapter, whether that is business or life, vocation or avocation.

Here are Dave’s thoughts:

I’m going to share four common obstacles that keep people from creating the lives they desire, even when they work hard and seem to be doing everything right.

Let’s see if you’ve been caught in any of these traps:

Dream Destroyer #1: Distraction

Paying attention to our five physical senses – what we hear, see, taste, touch, and smell – can keep us alive by helping us avoid physical danger. But when it comes to turning our dreams into reality, those same senses can actually become an obstacle.

Many people look to their senses for permission to move forward with their dreams. They look at their daily schedules – the same schedules that have been creating the same results for years – and get sidetracked with activities that have nothing to do with creating the life they want.

There’s always another newsletter, group, program, or fad to keep you distracted, and spending time on them is often easier than charting a new path toward the life you desire.

You only get 24 hours in a day. If you want to create the life of your dreams, you need to spend those hours on activities that bring you closer to those dreams, and not get sidetracked by distractions that don’t truly serve you.

Dream Destroyer #2: Dissuasion

We don’t just look to our senses for permission to pursue our dreams.

The conditions and circumstances of our lives, our checkbooks, our calendars, the news, the economy, the latest crisis, our job, our family and our friends all conspire to dissuade us from creating and following our dreams – if we let them.

You’ve probably heard excuses from other people for not following their dreams, or warnings about why you shouldn’t follow yours. You don’t have enough money, the economy or time isn’t right, better safe than sorry.

The truth is, the ‘right’ time and conditions aren’t likely to simply fall into your lap. It’s up to you to create them, and to make space for the things that support your dreams to enter your life.

Dream Destroyer #3: Delay

As Randy Komisar said, “There is the most dangerous risk of all: the risk of spending your life not doing what you want, on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.”

The truth is, you might not be alive next year. Are you willing to spend your whole life waiting for a future that might never come, or would you rather start living the life you want as soon as possible?

The people who created the lives of their dreams didn’t do so by waiting for the opportune moment. They did it by taking what steps they could from where they were at the time, then taking more steps after that.

Dream Destroyer #4: Disappointment

After all the distraction, dissuasion and delays, this is where you end up. It’s fitting that “disappointment” is the word used for this, because “appointment” is defined as a meeting set at a specific time.

To realize your dreams, you need to have an “appointment” with them – a specific time to work on them.

Otherwise, they simply slip through the cracks. As a result, another year goes by without progress, leaving you feeling sad and frustrated, and leaving the people who needed you bereft of the help that your dream could have given them.

Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. ~ Mark Twain

Are you tired of waiting for your dream life to begin, and ready to start LIVING it?

Your first step is to book a 30-minute strategy session with me, during which we’ll explore your dreams, see what’s holding you back, and see if I’m the right person to help you turn those dreams into reality.

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David Norris is a leadership coach helping business owners thrive! You can view more about Dave at David Norris Leadership

Leadership Gift Giving

This is the time of year when many people think about gift giving. Whether you celebrate Christmas or simply year end, gift giving is factored into the equation.

As I reflect on the phenomenon of giving gifts, I am struck with several key aspects of why one gives a gift.

First and foremost, people give a gift to someone out of love and adoration. Whether the receiver is a spouse, parent, child or grandchild, giving that special someone a unique gift sends a message of respect, caring, and love.

The idea of finding something new is part of the excitement. The latest gadget or the newest style can be part of the meaning of bestowing a gift on someone.

Sometimes we give gifts to fill gaps for people. If you realize someone is missing something in their life whether by choice or by chance, you decide to give them a  gift to fill that gap. Again, much of the motivation for doing so is about respect and affection.

Then there are the wrong reasons for giving gifts. Ideas like guilt, shame, or materialism are on my list of bad reasons to give a gift. While the occasional “I am sorry” gift is appropriate, you should never feel obliged to give a gift to buy back someone’s favor. Or the proverbial “let’s keep up with the Jones’” gift is really bad too.

Giving a gift to win affection or respect is also a bad idea. If the other person is swayed by such an offering, do you really want them as a friend or associate?

As Leaders, what should you think about giving? On one hand, there are reasons you have to be mindful of the messages you send to colleagues, peers and associates when giving gifts. A gift that is a little too personal for the associate of the opposite sex can send a very wrong message. Gifts given as jokes also can be awkward to explain or defend.

However, just as with gifts given to loved ones, any gift a leader chooses to give someone in their circle carries weight. It can convey a genuine message of appreciation for a job well done. Or perhaps acknowledgement of the role that person has played in making something special happen at work.

It is interesting that the best gift ever still involves time; the giving of one’s self to another. General “Mad Dog” Mattis, the newly appointed nominee for Secretary of Defense is famous for many things. But one very unassuming trait that has been reported by several sources describes a Christmas Day when someone called onto the base and asked for the Officer of the Day (OD). The OD role is traditionally rotated among junior officers. The caller asked “Who is the OD?”. The person answering the call said “Gen. Mattis”. The caller said “No, he’s the base Commander.” The other person said, “No, he’s the OD today. He sent the Lieutenant home to spend time with his family. Mattis is here right now. He’s the OD.”

Here’s a senior executive who decided to give of himself to let a junior officer spend a cherished holiday with family when that Lieutenant otherwise would have drawn “the short straw” to be OD on Christmas Day.

[reminder]When was the last time you gave that kind of time to your subordinates? Or to your own family?[/reminder]

Think about gift giving. Maybe there is one more gift you need to arrange before Christmas or year end comes.

PS –  It’s been a great year here at DougThorpe.com. I am grateful to the thousands who have subscribed to this blog and followed my messages. Please accept my humble wishes for you and yours to have a blessed and Merry Christmas. If you do not celebrate Christmas, may you be blessed too as 2016 winds down and we wait for the New Year.

 

Leadership 101: Consensus is Overrated

Abilene Paradox

There are leadership theories that place a premium on gaining consensus for decisions. Unfortunately, group consensus has a psychology of its own.

Just because you as the leader have gained consensus, you may want to be careful what you ask for.

You may remember Jerry Harvey’s Parable of the Abilene Paradox, (link is external) developed in 1974. Harvey, professor emeritus of management at George Washington University, created this story to illustrate the issue of “mismanaged agreement.”

journey into work

In the parable, a married couple and the wife’s parents are sitting on a porch of a house in Coleman, Texas. They are playing dominoes, drinking lemonade, watching the ceiling fan spin and attempting to survive the 104-degree heat.

The wife’s father suggests that they drive to Abilene, about 53 miles away, to eat at a cafeteria there. The son-in-law does not want to do this, but rather than make a fuss goes along with the idea, as do the two women.

They drive through a dust storm to Abilene in their un-air-conditioned 1968 Buick. No one particularly enjoys the mediocre lunch, and they drive back to Coleman grumpy and tired.

Later, they discover that none of them really ever wanted to go to Abilene; they all went simply because they thought the others wanted to go.

This parable is a great example of how we often “go along to get along” if we are hesitant to disagree with one another or stand out from the crowd. But by keeping mum, we often cause our organizations to waste time, effort and money. Harvey uses this parable to teach the management of agreement, as opposed to the management of disagreement or conflict.

In her article about the paradox, Kathryn Deiss summarizes Harvey’s six characteristics of a group headed for Abilene (link is external):

  • Members usually individually, but privately, agree about their situation.
  • They also agree about what it would take to deal with the situation.
  • Members fail to communicate their desires, and sometimes communicate the opposite, based on what they assume others desire.
  • Based on inaccurate perceptions and assumptions, members make a collective decision that leads to action.
  • Members experience frustration and anger with the organization.
  • Finally, members are destined to repeat this unsatisfying behavior if they do not begin to understand the genesis of mismanaged agreement.

Harvey says we are often willing to go to Abilene because of our deep fear of being left out, our desire to be a part of something larger than ourselves.

Breaking the Cycle of Wrong Assumptions and Fear

Breaking the cycle that so often leads us to blaming each other for decisions and actions that we “knew” we did not agree with in the first place is critical to the health and effectiveness of an organization or work group. It can only be accomplished by building new communication habits and getting beyond our fears.

Harvey believes that collusion motivates us to accept decisions and actions with which we fundamentally disagree or question. We submit to becoming victims by our own collusion with thinking that we believe to be wrong-headed or, at the very least, headed in the wrong direction.

Avoiding “making a trip to Abilene” in our organizations takes the courageous act by each of us of both refusing to be victims and refusing to victimize others.

group decisionsOne of the modern-day problems we have revolves around something called “teamwork.” Teamwork is a problem insofar as we do not define or carefully delineate behaviors related to effective teamwork–particularly those behaviors related to questioning and inquiring into proposed group decisions or acts.

Team members often feel that if they do not agree with the group, particularly when they seem to be the only ones not agreeing, they will suffer by being alienated or “wrong.” Helping team members learn how to question assumptions, their own included, can develop strong decision-making powers within the team. The team will then become much better at managing agreement.

Further, the overall emotional intelligence of the team can influence whether the groupthink leads to an Abilene Paradox or not. With an emotionally mature group, there will be willingness to stand alone with opinion that may run contrary to direction where the team seems to be leaning. Managing agreement is actually a very significant challenge for any leader because of this Abilene Paradox psychology.

Conclusion

Businesses of all sizes make decisions and take actions every day. Often these decisions and actions are based on a false sense of consensus within the group. To better avoid this, we need to have a clear definition of consensus and how it is reached. How does this definition sound?

Consensus occurs when all key stakeholders build the decision, accept it, and support it, even though the final decision may not be the first preference of each individual member. In other words, consensus is not about voting!

We need to raise individual and group consciousness about the problems of not testing early and often for consensus. We need to build strong dialogue, inquiry, and advocacy skills and learn how to use them as is situationally appropriate. And, finally, we need to learn how to avoid true loneliness by giving our thoughts and opinions voice and trusting the group with which we are working.

Good leaders can shepherd this development of consensus, watching for warning signs of team members giving in. Great leaders do the same and more. Truly great leaders create the environment for stakeholder contribution to decision making, but are willing to make the tough call beyond what the group decides, thus avoiding the Abilene principle altogether.

An undesired and frustrating trip to Abilene in 104-degree heat should be a compelling image in our minds of the critical need to understand your own process for reaching consensus among your group.

 

Leadership: Finding Answers

When a team is looking for answers, they turn to their Leader. Leadership includes being the source for clarity and vision. As problems emerge, and they will, the Leader is the person in the hot seat to make decisions and offer guidance.

Answers are not always easy.

answers

What do you think of when you look at his cartoon?

As problems arise, sometimes the answer looks complicated. It can be complex, but very right. A simpler choice might be preferred. Sadly, simple is not always right. The simple, expedient answer, may in fact lead you down a very bad path.

Leaders always deciding on simple answers can create more problems than they solve. One step in the wrong direction can be fatal to the project, the goal, and the mission.

The longer you are in a leadership position, the more inclined you will be to rely upon proven methods for decision making. While there are reliable ways to form decision making habits, here are three that emerge most of the time. I call them simply, the gut, the rut, and the nut. Here’s an explanation of each.

The Gut

You hear it all the time. “I feel it in my gut”. Decisions made from gut instincts can, and will work, when coming from battle-tested warriors. Executives with miles of experience behind them have a better “gut sense” than those who are new to the game. One might consider it a sixth sense.

When circumstances begin to unfold, the gut sense tells us what is critical and what is not. It helps give priority when there is too little time for detailed analysis. It can even involve the notion of right from wrong.

Many years ago, when ATM banking was first emerging, I worked for Ben Love, a legendary banker in Texas. Ben was at the helm, running one of the most prolific and profitable banks of its time. I sat in a room one day when a team of analysts presented a new business product to Ben. It was automated teller machine banking (now known simply as ATM). Ben patiently heard all of the deal points about the huge boom that will be to attract consumer customers; the conveniences etc. The problem was the infrastructure to run such a network was at its infancy. Few transmission lines were available and the rules for posting transactions between banks were nonexistent.

At the end of the presentation, Ben had a few very wise questions. Then, almost in an instant, Ben said “No, we’re going to wait. Let the other guys take the arrows in their backs (for setting up the network). Then  we’ll make our move.”

Sure enough, the other regional banks jumped on board, but not our bank. Losses were large. Cash was paid from the machines without being able to properly post the entry to the right account. It took several years to settle the process down into reliable accounting. Then we moved. Not only did we grab a huge lion share of the business, but we took a controlling interest in the network switch that processed all of the transaction. Yes, we passed on the opportunity to suffer losses and reputation in the early years (all bad things, right?). But we won big in later years.

Now that is a good gut decision from a well-seasoned executive.

The Rut

This is possibly the worst form of decision making. “We’ve always done it this way”.

How many times have you thought up a great idea then presented it to management only to be shot down? Why? Because “that’s not the way we do things here”.

Decision making from the rut kills creativity and motivation. The lack of openness to new ideas stymies the individuality and inspiration in the work team. People start seeing the leader’s pattern for decision making. When that pattern no longer suits them, they seek employment elsewhere. You lose talented players from your team.

Besides, things change every day. What once was a good decision may now be overcome by new developments. Technology changes, economics change, buyer’s mindsets change. Too much changes in business to allow decision making from a rut mentality.

Executives that were once rock stars may outlive their wheel house. The decisions that used to be so easy now don’t fit.

The Nut

I like this one the best. Decision making from the nut gets you down to basics. You dive for the core. You peel away all superfluous junk and make solid decisions based on values, facts, and principles.

I grew up in an area when pecan trees are plentiful. The pecan nut is a wonderful treat, full of ‘meat’. A properly grown pecan nut makes a great treat. Just like a beautiful pecan nut, decision making from the nut yields wise, plentiful outcome. It may be difficult to crack through the skin to get to the meat of the matter, but it is well worth the journey.

Decision making can be that way. A leader can be bombarded by differing opinions and contradicting facts about a situation. They must wade through all of that to get to a core. The center has to have a truth, a meaning, and a purpose.

Making choices based on finding the nut can allow for flexibility; responses to changing conditions while maintaining a sense of true north.

Which Do You Choose?

From the three mindsets I’ve described here, which do you find yourself using? Perhaps it is time to re-think the way you make choices for you and your team. Good decision making is a skill required of all leaders. It should not be left to chance.

Having Intentions Vs Living Intentionally: What’s the Difference?

There is a big difference between having intentions and living intentionally. Our intentions are our thoughts about what we should and shouldn’t be doing. Some think about it as choices.

We are faced with dozens of choices every day — some little, some big; from whether to choose a salad or a chocolate sundae for lunch to what job we take, our world today is full of options.

Intentional

On the other hand, living intentionally requires action. Your good thought is meaningless without action. Once your thoughts get put into action, then you can become intentional.

The thing is, sometimes it’s much easier to just go with the flow and not think about those options and the required action.

What is an Intention?

TheFreeDictionary.com defines intention as

a course of action that one intends to follow, an aim that guides action, an objective.

Merriam-Webster.com defines intention as a determination to act in a certain way.

As shared in “When your Relationships are Good, your Life is Good”, an intention is a clear and positive statement of an outcome you want to experience.  An intention is a goal, or vision, that guides your activities, thoughts, attitudes, and choices.   Hence, your intentions influence your actual experiences.

You can set an intention in any area of your life- physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.  Although intentions start with a mental picture of your goal, intentions require focus, action, and positive energy to manifest.

Having Intentions; Good or Otherwise

Many fathers have stood in the doorway to their homes as a young man approaches planning to pick up their daughter for a dance or a date. The Dad usually works into the conversation “what are your intentions young man”? That may sound a little dated phraseology, but its meaning is clear. The Dad is saying tell me what you are thinking about doing even before the evening has begun.

Our active minds can conjure thoughts of very good intentions like:

  • I’m going to lose weight
  • I’m going to spend less or save more
  • I’m going to get that promotion
  • I’m going to marry him/her

Why are Intentions Important?

Intentions provide a framework for you to set priorities, use your time wisely, and align yourself with the resources you need to manifest your goals.   The process of setting and working towards your intentions declares to yourself, others, and the universe that you are serious about your dreams and goals.

A strong, positive, and energized intention is likely to repel that which is not in alignment with it.  The opposite is also true.  A strong, positive, and energized intention will attract the essence of what it is.

Having good intentions is a far cry from living intentionally. As the sage wisdom tells us “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions”. This sentiment makes it clear that having good ideas, or well meaning ones will not be worth anything without action. This is where intentional living kicks in.

Living Intentionally

Living intentionally is about doing the things that are important to you even when they’re not easy. It is about solid choices consistent with your vision about where you want to go.

Too many people get lulled into routines and habits that never produce the outcome they dreamed about. Instead of intentional living, they drift.

In the best selling book “Living Forward“, Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy describe the need to stop drifting through life. They ask the question are we drifting through life as spectators, reacting to our circumstances when necessary and wondering just how we got to this point anyway? Or are we directing it, maximizing the joy and potential of every day, living with a purpose or mission in mind?

They describe three stages of the transformational change that can occur when one decides to live an intentional life; drift, shift, and lift. I’ve added a fourth segment; gift. As you decide to stop drifting and move to intentional living, you ultimately become a gift to those around you and the communities where you live.

When you apply these four stages of growing toward intentional living, you can see the differences in each of the three key areas of work, life, and faith.

Intentional Leadership

If you are in any position of leadership whether at work, at home, or in your community, you must be intentional. You know that, you feel that. Yet how often do you sense the drifting in your own actions? Are you just riding the wave? Or keeping it in cruise control?

Perhaps you have found your own ways to stay intentional with everything you do. Congratulations. But I am guessing that there are many of you out there who suffer from the occasional drift in your actions.

Let today be the day you decide to change. Forget yesterday and the opportunities lost. Today is a new day. Start fresh. Get your focus. Set your course. Remember, your good intentions need action.

There are way too many great plans and coaches available to help you plotting that course. There is no excuse. You can make a difference, right where you are, right now.

[reminder]How are you living and leading intentionally?[/reminder]

What Is “Slowly, Rarely or Never”?

Leadership, purpose

That’s the answer to the question “how do people change?”

There are plenty of situations in our lives and in the world around us when people want to talk about change. Whether it has to do with a red state/blue state matter, an economic trend, a market condition, or the price of something, change is all around us.

Leadership, purpose, meaningYet why is it that individually, people don’t really embrace change all that well. I mean it’s great for the other guy, right? However, when you ask me to change, how dare you!!!

Ah, we are creatures of such strange habits. I’ve spent many years encouraging managers and executives to make changes in their own lives, so that the lives of the people around them can be enriched. Highly successful people still need to make certain shifts, hopefully for the greater good.

There is a great principle shared by John Maxwell. Maxwell says:

Success adds value to you, while significance adds values to others.

When he founded the The Halftime Institute, Bob Buford challenged business leaders to think about moving from success to significance. For many people, the early years of their career is about achieving some level of success; bigger bank accounts, better job title, fame, reputation, notoriety, etc. Eventually there is a realization that what is really desired is significance. The higher levels of success do not fulfill a deeper sense of calling and purpose.

The quest to find significance can be summed up in three simple questions:

  • Who am I?
  • Why am I here?
  • Where am I going?

Leadership, purposeMaking the transition from success to significance may be the toughest change of all for most people. Which, brings me back to the opening statement. How do people change?

Slowly, Rarely, or Never.

If you are a regular reader of my articles, you have embraced the concept of striving for personal change. You are seeking to learn more about being a better manager and business leader. You want to do more for your family, providing them with the right leadership. Or perhaps you want to grow as a leader in your community. Simply, you want to be a better YOU.

Beginning the journey to move from success to significance will be a life changing experience. That I can promise. For every client of mine who has committed to taking the first step in that journey, the rewards have always exceeded the wildest expectations.

I invite you to join me in some upcoming webinars I will be hosting. The sessions will be free. I will introduce you to some irrefutable laws of leadership that will propel you to new heights of inspiration and understanding about becoming that leader with real significance; impacting others in great and wonderful ways.

Be on the watch for more information coming soon.

What the Cubs’ World Series Teaches About Life and Business

Cubs win

If you are a sports fan, there likely hasn’t been a series finale as exciting as this year’s baseball World Series. Any sport that has a best of seven game series to decide the champion can create memorable moments.

Add to it, this year’s excitement of two franchises who have decades of championship misery behind them, and you get a really big event.

Cubs win

We all know by now the Chicago Cubs got to claim the title of World Series Champion. It is how they did it that makes me pause to reflect. Their path in 2016 to the eventual championship covers all aspects of what is required to achieve success in life and in business.

The Marathon

First there is the 162 regular games making up the usual baseball season. This represents a marathon of daily change and challenge. Frequent movement between home and away keeps the player’s bodies out of rhythm. Good training for endurance is critical. Injuries happen, so healing and recovery are required.

When one key player goes down, a substitute has to take up the slack, fill in, and perform. Team management has to look ahead, constantly being vigilant for changes in the opposing team’s roster that may be changing for the same reasons. Tactics and strategies are getting adjusted as the games unfold.

Sustaining a winning momentum through a tough gauntlet like this requires keen management expertise, player/employee commitment to a program, and sheer will to survive the schedule.

The Playoffs

As the season winds down, teams are selected to enter into the playoffs. Whether a wild card, single game scenario or a 3 or 5 game playoff series, the winnings team has to forget the 162 games of the regular season because they simply don’t matter anymore.

The idea of resting on your laurels has to be abolished. You could have accumulated the highest winning percentage among all other teams for the 162 game season, but if you try to leverage that to get you through the playoffs you will fail.

Rather, you have to take the best of the best reasons you had a winning percentage during the regular season and bring it into focus for the playoffs. The good things need to be enhanced and the not-so-good things have to be minimized.

When playoffs happen, the best players don’t necessarily make the transition. The guy with the highest batting average may strike out the whole way through the playoffs. When that happens, someone else on the team has to step up.

The World Series

Chicago made this one real interesting. They fell behind 3 games to 1 in a best of seven series. All Cleveland had to do was win just one more game. They had three tries to do it. It never happened.

Chicago kept battling back, game after game. They tied the series at 3 games apiece, setting the stage for the winner take all finale of Game 7.

The odds were stacked against Chicago. Few teams survive a 3–1 deficit. The final game was to be played in Cleveland’s home field. The crowd would not be on Chicago’s side.

As game 7 unfolded, Chicago jumped out to a 6–3 lead, late in the game. But Cleveland would not go quietly. They surged in the 7th inning, tying the game at 6–6, sending it into extra innings.

After nine full innings of regular play, the game, and destiny, shifted to a single inning to determine the Champion. All the grueling hard work of the entire season came down to a few fleeting moments. One by one, batters came to the plate, pitches got thrown, and baseball history was being hammered out.

Being the visitors, Chicago batted at the top of the inning. They scored 2 runs, taking an 8–6 lead. Cleveland had to tie it or go ahead during their turn or the game would be over. It was. Cleveland scratched out just one run in the bottom of the 10th to lose the game, the series and the season.

One whole season came down to a series, then a game, then one inning, then one run. Just one.

For Cleveland that one run may as well have been a 0 and 162 record during the regular season. No one ever remembers who lost the world series. For Chicago, that one run could have been a thousand runs; it meant just as much.

Character, integrity, endurance, commitment, fortitude., determination…everything came down to a final few moments.

So What

This World Series and the 2016 baseball year represents a great metaphor in life and business. Most of what you and I do is a marathon. Life unfolds day by day, day after day. We work hard, hopefully achieve something of success.

Yet there are times when we get opportunity to rise to the highest levels of who and what we are. But as that rise happens, there is a test. A test of our endurance, will, and commitment. Can we make the subtle changes we need to make to get over the top?

As the final chapters of that great event unfold, it comes down to key moments. Just brief seconds in history, but time with eternal significance attached.

OK, no, most of us will not claim something as tangible as a World Series ring. Nonetheless we all have key, defining moments in our life when you realize that you got there through a long journey, tested by a short series of situations and circumstances, only to be finally determined (win or lose) by a few key moments.

[reminder]What’s your next championship moment? [/reminder]

Finding 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.

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Even if resume screening works well, the next step takes the candidate into 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.

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.

Solutions

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

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. See this interesting opposing view at Wired magazine.

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.

emotional intelligence, leadership, business, management

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 :

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.

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 when all is said and done, your own ability as the leader to direct, inspire and instill fit within your team is your biggest task.

[reminder]How do you and your company manage finding the right fit?[/reminder]

Images courtesy of 123rf.com

Leadership and Foundation Repairs

Not long ago, my neighbor had to have some foundation repairs done at his house. I live in an area of the Texas Gulf Coast where there is long term terrain subsidence. Foundations can shift and begin to crack without intervention.

business, entrepreneur, coaching, leadership

If you are not familiar with repairing a foundation, the crew will dig holes around the edges of the slab. The holes go as deep as it takes to hit bedrock. Then concrete piers are poured into the holes. Once the piers dry, shims are used to level the structure, returning the foundation to a true and level condition. Once the piers go in, there is very little movement. The foundation becomes strong and firm again.

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