Leadership Avoiding the Split

In a recent Ted Talk, Simon Sinek eloquently describes the most critical pivot point in the life of all companies, communities, and tribes. He presents the principle that all organizations are formed around ideas formulated by the founders. Yet as success grows, the connection to the original vision may get lost.

 

Think about the great entrepreneurial ventures today; Apple, Google, Amazon, and Uber just to name a few. In every case, a person or persons gathered together to design an idea and put that idea in motion. In doing so they simultaneously created two parallel initiatives; success and vision.

By pursuing the vision one would hope for some measure of success. As long as the enterprise stays small and closely connected to the founders, the vision tracks very closely with the success. But as success grows and the company expands, more people must be hired who hire others, who hire others, and soon the success trajectory exceeds the vision path.

Success and Vision

While success grows, the vision may falter. We have all likely experienced this when we hear the people who were close to the founders say “it’s not like it used to be”. If the connection to the vision gets lost or diluted by success companies start trying to find themselves again.

Think about the history at Apple. Steve Jobs founded the company but left. After he left, the company floundered and he was invited to return. The same thing happened at Starbucks and Dell too. The founders created success, left, and had to return.

The point at which the success deviates from the vision is something Sinek calls the “Split”. The split can cause an otherwise very successful idea to lose its way.

So What?

If the Split is a highly probable event on the timeline of your company, what is a leader to do?

First, stay true to core beliefs that got you going in the first place. The Hedgehog Concept was originally based on an ancient Greek parable. [perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”#d98310″ class=”” size=””]”The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” [/perfectpullquote]

Business researcher and consultant, Jim Collins, used this concept as a metaphor for business in his influential book, “Good to Great.” Hedgehogs live their lives with basically one thing to do; be a good hedgehog. They don’t get distracted nor waver in their pursuit of life.

In business, it’s easy to get distracted, take your eye off the ball, and run after shiny objects. If you’ve achieved some level of success, the rewards may convince you to buy new equipment or expand beyond your capabilities. Doing any such thing without a consistent plan for growth is a fast way to deviate from the original vision.

Sharing the Vision

Leaders are usually associated with visionary thinking. OK, you have a vision. Great. Have you effectively shared that vision with those around you?

I have clients who are in fact, good leaders. Without exception, when asked about their vision for their company or team, they describe a large landscape picture in their mind. Every moving part and every detail of the end-game is painted into that picture. They see the integral movement of the pieces. They know the critical paths to success.

Yet the challenge these brilliant leaders face is the ability to share the vision with their team. Too much detail may overwhelm people. Too little detail leaves subordinates guessing.

Steve Jobs is often cited as saying he never wanted Apple to build the best equipment. No, he wanted a new user experience connecting to technology. There is a critical difference in that vision.

Leaders need to know when and how to share the exact parts of the vision map with the team members so that the work is in line with the vision.

Take a moment today and ask yourself “Is what we are doing right now consistent with what we intended to do when we started?” If yes, then congratulations. If not, take a fresh look at the original vision. Peel away the people and things that have taken you off course. Make the conscious decision to get back to the original vision.

If you need help working through the tough calls to get back to the right vision, perhaps a coach can help. My team and I will be happy to come alongside.

Living in the Meantime

There are times when nothing particularly big is happening. You’re in between assignments, projects, or deadlines. You have work to do and places to be, but the sense of purpose goes on autopilot. The time between one occurrence and another; an interval is the meantime.

Should that bother you? I say not necessarily unless it lingers too long.

I call this “living in the meantime.” You just finished something and are waiting for the next thing to arrive or start. Yet life is going on. You must wait or endure in the meantime.

Meantime can be a good time if you choose to use it wisely. We all need recovery times after running a fast pace, high energy cycle. See my prior article on this very important aspect of stress management. But we can also use the meantime for growth and learning.

Leaders need to wisely use the meantime. You can use the time both personally and professionally.

Team

What might otherwise feel like a lull can be a powerful way to reconnect with the team. Running at a fast pace has a way of distancing your more personal relationships at work. I am talking about those interactions one on one with your team. I’ll guess that when the projects are flying at a wild pace, you likely do less of your one on one meetings. Typically you let those slide in favor of group sessions.

When the meantime comes, take time to rebuild the one on one.

Personally

Leaders need to recalibrate. You too can get off track with personal disciplines when the workload is bigger than you are used to. Again, you likely forego your routines like eating right and going to the gym when the daily schedule is packed too tight.

Use the meantime to reset. Focus your daily planner on the things that work well for you. Get back to the right routines.

Professionally

Living in the meantime can have other benefits too. Stephen Covey talks about “sharpening the saw.” This is finding books or other sources of inspiration and learning to keep moving forward. If the last big push at work revealed some opportunities for you to grow, then use the meantime to do it. Perhaps your last review showed areas for improvement. Meantime is the time to invest in improving where you need to so that you can be the best YOU you need to be.

Living in the meantime is really a great time. Use it wisely.

Question: What have you done lately to redeem the meantime in your life?

 

The Power of Positivity: 5 Way to Get More in Your Life

There is a general consensus among clients I serve that says “the pace of business is greater than it’s ever been.” Fast pace usually includes a focus on performance; do more, be more.

I’m a big fan of improving performance at all levels both personal and professional. At work, team performance is a big deal too. If you lead a work team, you likely suffer your own pressure for higher and better performance. Yet in the face of all the push to perform, what has gotten left out?

The word is POSITIVITY

For many of us, being positive does not always come naturally. We get busy and we get centered on the task at hand. We leave the good-natured, positive outlook behind. A friend or spouse may ask “what’s going on?” Our response is usually just “I’m busy.” Then bust becomes a habit and positivity is forgotten.

You can be focused on performance and still build a climate of positive energy in what you and your team may be doing. If you struggle with finding your own positivity, here are five habits that I’ve used that will attract more positivity into your life.

5 Ways to Get More Positive

Make a daily gratitude list

Each day, either in the morning or before you go to sleep, write down at least one thing that you’re thankful for in your life. When you do this on a consistent basis, you naturally begin to focus on the positive and see more of the good things that are happening around you instead of the bad.

Perform acts of kindness

Doing something nice for someone, even the smallest of unexpected gestures, not only makes others happy, it adds positivity to your life as well. Make acts of kindness a frequent habit. You could pay the tab for the person behind you at Starbucks. Bring coffee for the security guard at your office. Pay the toll for the car behind you. Write a thank you note to someone who helped you. Not sure what to do, check out the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation for more ideas.

Be fully present

We are constantly distracted, always looking at our phones and thinking about everything we have to do, or should be doing. While we’re engrossed in our Facebook timelines and playing games, we’re missing all of the positive things that are going on around us, and in some cases sitting directly across from us. Being fully present takes practice, but it pays huge dividends. Ten minutes of meditation each day can increase your awareness and focus on being present.

Reduce negative influences

The things we surround ourselves with and listen to have a big impact on our mindset, both negative and positive. Think about what you’re watching, reading and listening to throughout the day. When you fill your mind with negativity, it becomes easier to dwell on the negativity in your life. Be careful of who you spend your time, too. Do your best to stay away from other negative people. You become like the people you spend the most time with.

Spend time at the start of each day to improve YOU.

With all the demands on our time, there’s always other priorities and people vying for our attention. That’s why so many of us don’t make time to work on ourselves. It’s easy to use the “but I’m too busy” or “I’m too tired” excuse, especially if you don’t put yourself first at the start of the day. Stop snoozing your alarm and get up 30 – 60 minutes earlier and create a morning routine that consists of mindfulness, visualization, reading, exercise, and journaling. Speaking from my experience, you will be amazed at the impact this has on your life.

Note: some excerpts provided by Tyler C. Beaty

When You Lose, Are You Bitter or Better?

bitter or better

Here’s the scenario: life throws you a curve ball. Things don’t go your way. You suffer an embarrassing moment in front of colleagues, your spouse or your kids. You lose the deal, the game, the promotion, or the moment. The other guy wins. You failed. What are your responses?

Yes, I believe there is more than one. Of course, you’ll have an immediate response. However, the sting of losing can linger near term, long term and for life. How do you react?

I’ve certainly lost out a few times. It’s a natural part of a competitive commerce model. The chance to win or lose is all around us.

The key question is a very simple one… Do you become Bitter or Better?

Bitter

Do you get bitter over the issue? Will you allow anger or other negative emotions to rule the little place in that video library of your mind?

Every time the mention of that moment comes up, will you lash out, thinking or making very vile comments, turning red, and huffing off to simmer in the juices of self-pity all over again? Do you let relationships suffer over that moment?

Sometimes people make a vow to “never let that happen again”.

Staying bitter over the issue has no real positive effects at all. In fact, being bitter has been proven to impact your health. Blood pressure, ulcers, and a host of other factors can build over time as we stew over the bad thoughts and bitterness caused by losing moments.

Those who study emotional intelligence will tell you the way you shift out of being bitter and the speed at which you do it is an indicator of your emotional intelligence scale.

Better

Or are you the kind of person that will make it better? By better, I am talking about assessing the whole truth of the circumstance openly and objectively. Then finding a nugget of gold with which you may prosper by changing some area of your life and thinking:

  • your technical/professional knowledge
  • your behaviors
  • your emotions;

By making one or all of these choices, the next time something similar arises, (and it will), you can respond in a much more positive way.

John Maxwell says “Experience is not good learning. Only informed learning from experience teaches us new things.”

Being better also means forgiving any person or group who may have been the source of the bad moment. That little mental video I mentioned should not include the replay of the look on someone else’s face when they “got you”.

Let it go. Be BETTER!

By the Way

If you have found some difficulty in working through these kinds of moments, perhaps a coach and mentor can make a difference. Finding an objective third party to hear your story may help shed some different light on the matter. You might have a blind spot when it comes to certain things that have happened to you before. A coach can help reveal ways to move forward with a better perspective. If I can help, click on the image below to schedule a call.

coaching call

Leadership Coaching | Influence vs. Power

Influence v Power

As professionals get moved into management roles, there’s a natural confusion about what to do and how to do it. Moving from being an individual contributor on a team to running the team is a big leap for most of us. This is especially true in industries where people don’t train for management positions.

Influence v Power

It is very common to see the best producer or highest performer get tapped to become the next manager should a vacancy open up. If you’re that guy, you have so much to learn about leading the team.

Let me stop right here and say to those more seasoned managers (i.e. you’ve been in the role for a while and have already been promoted more than once) hang with me for a minute. What I am about to say applies to you too. You see, those who survive their first management assignment might fall into a routine of what they think is good leadership, but you can be wrong.

It’s Not the Position

While there is definitely power in the manager’s position, that power is the worst kind to use for making yourself known and understood. Yes, you can assert the manager’s power simply by being the person named manager, but real leadership comes from other sources of power. Just because your role was defined by the business entity doesn’t make you the best manager.

You have to find other ways to lead the people who report to you. Rather than limiting this message to issues about who’s got the power or not, let’s shift and talk about influence. This is an important concept to grasp.

It has been said the simple difference between management and leadership is this:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Management is about process. Leadership is about people.[/perfectpullquote]

If true leadership is about people, then what you must do is to be able to influence people not manipulate them. The best leaders find ways to pull people along, not push them. Here are some key tips to remember as you work to differentiate between power and influence.

Leadership Lessons – Influence vs. Power

  • Looking like a leader doesn’t make you a leader.
  • Lead with the Authentic You; don’t try to be someone you’re not.
  • Knowing how to perform the position does not equate to being able to lead the position.
  • Power only lasts so long before there’s a revolt.
  • Influence means those following are doing it by choice.
  • Teachable moments are only valuable if we use them to teach.

 

coaching call

 

Hey Guys – Stop Chasing Your Tail !!!!!!!

Ever watch a cat or dog chase their tail? To be sure, it is quite humorous. The real question is when was the last time someone watched you chasing your tail?

1007076_s

As I reflect on various chapters of my life I know I was chasing my tail. I also hear friends and colleagues share various experiences from the lives, it strikes me that some of us are just as guilty of chasing our tail as our beloved four-legged friends. While cats and dogs literally chase their tails for no good reason, we humans figuratively chase ours. Here are a few thoughts to consider.

Look at the Circle

Are you running in tight, crazy spirals? The kind that feels fast, frenzied, and dizzying? It does not take long in that type of tail chasing to recognize you are, in fact, running in circles. So it becomes easy to identify the pattern and attempt to stop the cycle.

The tougher challenge is those large, slow, looping circles that may actually lull you into believing you are gracefully gliding through the current chapter of your life. If you return to the same place and outcome multiple times, you are chasing your tail.

Wise Ones

Seldom in the animal kingdom will you see an older, wiser creature chasing its tail. In contrast, the human race is not immune to repeating old habits regardless of age. The truth is, we never really stop chasing our tail in one area or another until we finally agree to learn from past experience. Input from trusted friends and loving family can certainly help us break old habits, but each of us must come to our own understanding of the forces that drive us to chase our tail in the first place.

Don’t Get Involved

It’s not wise to stick your hand into the middle of someone else’s frenzy while they are running at full speed. I did that once when one of my cats was so engrossed in chasing his tail that he seemed to have forgotten all other things. What I did not know was that the cat was intent on biting the catch as hard as he could once he found it. My hand substituted for the catch. Wow, that hurt.

Yes, I stopped the cat and saved him from who knows what, but I paid a big price. As noble as trying to stop someone else’s frenzy may sound, there is a point at which outsiders must stay out of the way. It’s far easier to intercede and assist with helping someone stop a cycle in the early stages before the momentum builds.

Break the Cycle

STOP!

Attempting to stop running in circles is to agree to make a change. Change a habit. Change an attitude. Change a belief.

That said, one of the toughest things about embracing change is getting stuck in the cycle of convincing ourselves that our past habits have been successful and, due to that success, there is no need for a change.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”#d98310″ class=”” size=””]In business, the market has a funny way of showing us we are foolish to NOT embrace change.[/perfectpullquote]

For many senior business execs and managers agreeing to change a business model, marketing approach, or sales delivery message is painful, almost blasphemy.

They insist on using old, stale ways to get their message across and wonder why sales have dropped or business is going to the competition. It’s change my friend. If you are one of those owners or managers who believe in operating that way, you know, saying “we’ve always done it this way”, you may just be chasing your tail.

Question: In what ways have you discovered you have been chasing your tail?

coaching call

In Decision Making: Is It Requirement or Desirement?

There’s a decision to be made. You weigh the options and ask for more information. Then it’s time to choose. But wait.

Is the thing you have to decide a requirement or a desirement? Decision making can get clouded by issues or priorities that are more a desire than a requirement.

To oversimplify the argument, think about buying a car. You need transportation. The requirements include a motor, wheels, steering wheel, seats of some sort, and safety equipment. You can get those in a wide variety of simple and economic solutions. Yet your desire for style, comfort, and even luxury complicate the choices when it comes to car buying.

Henry Ford only made Model T’s in black. General motors started as a new car maker by offering the first alternative colors on automobiles. The competition has been fierce ever since.

Needs and Wants

It can be as simple as needs versus wants. Teaching children about the difference between needs and wants is a daunting challenge. My 5 year old grandson often points out things he thinks he “needs”. What he is really saying is he wants that. Every time he starts down the “I need that” routine, I tell him, “No, you need clothes and food, but you want that toy/object.” By the way, he’s not amused by my logic.

The Entrepreneur’s Bind

If you own your company, decision making can become more difficult  due to your own biases. Your pride of authorship/ownership can cloud good decision making. The thing you desire for success of your business can obstruct solid management principles.

I know an owner who should have closed his business long before it folded. The model made sense on paper, but was not being well received in the market. His own pride of creating the idea blocked his ability to “see the forest for the trees.” The company was bleeding precious investment capital; the burn rate was far faster than the growth of revenues.

He should have recognized the problem by analyzing his actual cash flow including a focused look at the sales pipeline predictions for actual receipts. The math wouldn’t work. Yet his gut feel for just knowing this idea should work kept him chasing new deals and borrowing way too much.

The Corporate Mindset

When we shift to look at executives in a more corporate role, the desirement factor is more about bonuses and performance ratings. If your bonus is tied to particular standards for budget or cost control, your decision making can be skewed. The economic aspects of a particular decision can be tipped by the mere fact that a soon-to-be-awarded bonus is at risk.

Or in company cultures where performance ratings are force ranked, one’s ability to make the right choice can be compounded by the perceived impact it may have on the next ranking cycle.

The Fix

To become a better decision maker you have to objectively weigh the forces around you. Eliminate the desirement factors and stick to requirements.

Question: When was the last time your own needs and wants got in the way of making a good decision?

coaching call

Leaders: Feeling Isolated? Maybe You Dug the Moat

lonely island

When I hear executives or entrepreneurs say they feel isolated, like standing on an island, I often ask how did you get there? Sometimes you may be the one who dug the moat providing the divide between you and everyone else.

A Story

I know a very successful executive who runs a thriving subsidiary enterprise that contributes about 30% of the parent company’s gross revenue. Yet this executive constantly complains about being isolated, undervalued, misunderstood, and neglected by peers. The peers will tell you this person is a pain to deal with. So who put whom on an island?

Isolation can be caused by your own behavior toward others. You may say you need help, but when help is given you find ways to undermine the effort. How silly is that? Or you may find ways to annoy others merely by being so self-effacing that you become the lone voice no one wants to hear.

There is no doubt that being in charge can cause a natural loneliness, but you never have to be alone. When assistance is volunteered, find ways to accept the help. Sure, you can discuss the exact impact an outside source may have on your business, maybe even negotiate for something slightly different, but in the end, graciously accepting the help can ease the sense of loneliness.

Influence

One of the most valuable characteristics a leader must have is the ability to influence others; in positive ways. If you repel those around you, you are not being much of a leader. You might be an effective manager, but a leader? No.

Real leaders draw others in by inspiring a sense of purpose. The accomplishment of business or organizational goals becomes a secondary effect of good leadership. When dynamic leadership is working, no one feels stranded on an island, and certainly not YOU.

Sure, you may have to make tough decisions, taking hard stands on certain issues. However, if the people around you have bought into you first, then understanding the decision you made becomes easier for people to accept.

The Fix

If there is a moat, deep and wide around you, the ditch needs to get filled in. Start building bridges with others. Repair relationships with your peers and colleagues who could otherwise support you. Ask for candid feedback. When the answers start to come, don’t deflect! Embrace the input and adjust your approach.

I also knew about an executive who was ahead of his time in terms of writing out goals and objectives for himself. Yet he struggled with peer-to-peer relationships. He hired a coach. He was proud to show the coach his list of goals, the chief of which was impacting his team so he could become “the best boss ever”. The coach wisely observed “I don’t see any goals about your relationships with your peers. Why not be the best co-worker ever?”

In companies with two or more employees, the interaction with those around you can make or break the effectiveness of your unit and the company as a whole.

coaching call

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee. 

~John Donne 1620

“No man is an island”. Why should you want to put yourself on one?

 

Leaders: There’s a New Way to Understand Change

New leadership

At a recent luncheon, I was involved in a discussion that I find becoming more common. The topic was this: Change Management is old news. The argument says the way we once understood change management has been overcome by several new and more complex drivers in business.

New leadership

Here are some of the reasons old-style change management doesn’t work anymore.

First, we are now into Phase Three of technology advancements. Phase One was the development of the Internet; building the superhighway for information exchange. Phase Two was the emergence of power users who understood the opportunities from phase one and launched very disruptive platforms to overhaul the way we operate and live (think Apply, Amazon, Facebook, Google). Phase Three, our current phase, includes IOT (the Internet of Things), nanotechnologies, and other rapid response initiatives in energy, life sciences, and medicine.

The pace at which Phase Three operates has the potential for changing in an instant. Long, drawn out change management plans can’t sustain the rapid change happening required by Phase Three.

Another factor is the whipsaw effect most business leaders find themselves these days. Conflicting interests create massive paradoxes that keep managers and leaders on their heels. These are examples of polar opposites that now exist in businesses of all sizes, and the list goes on.

Be more hands-on with business, but less hands-on with people. Executives stated a need to find new ways to be inclusive and to help others develop. Meanwhile, they’re now more conscious of keeping their eye on the day-to-day business in a way that’s more encompassing.

Do more with less. Drive increased productivity while reducing resources and controlling costs.

Empower the work team but manage risk. Leaders must take chances while safeguarding the business. In a highly
unpredictable market, this balancing act is more difficult than ever before.

Seel diverse points of view but drive unified action. A leader must encourage people to share ideas while inspiring them
to embrace the ultimate decision.

Next, conventional leadership approaches involving annual reviews, merit awards, and other older compensation models don’t support the rapid change cycles. People can work multiple, very diverse assignments within a one year review period. Conventional tools like strategic planning and budgeting have time horizons that look like glacier movement when compared to the fast pace of some current change.

Lastly, old mindsets about human behavior in the face of change are becoming less effective for managing and leading work teams. Whether you blame it on the Millennial effect or some other convenient excuse for poor leadership, teams today don’t thrive under old ways of managing.

New Model

To better accommodate the rapid change in the business world today, you must adopt a different view. I have become an evangelist for one that makes much more sense.

core-agility-edge

I call it ACE for Agility, Core, and Edge. Let’s start with the Core.

CORE

The Core is who we are and what we know/believe. It’s the stuff we’re “made of”. Core comes from the composite experiences we have had in life. Your core includes values, beliefs, experience, biases, prejudices (yes we all have them). It also includes the knowledge you have accumulated whether by teaching, training or practical experience.

The Core is not limited to values and beliefs but has much to do with that. Understanding your own core can help define purpose. Core helps to understand the power of harnessing your mind’s attention and your hearts affection. When these two critical elements are running in harmony, you can be an unstoppable force.

Core creates our comfort zones. When you feel you are operating in a comfort zone, you are deep in your core.

EDGE

As you face new challenges or get pushed into unfamiliar circumstances, you are walking on the Edge. The edge is where everything we don’t know lives. New ideas, new technology, new programs, business growth initiatives, all are edge things.

Standing on the edge takes us far away from our core and leaves us uncomfortable. Most of us don’t like the edge. We don’t like it on the edge. For many of us, we don’t even like stepping too far away from our core.

Yet changes happening around us demand that we visit the edge. All the “new” things in your world are likely Edge items, not core ones.

AGILITY

Agility is the special ability to move from core to edge and back again without losing all sense of balance or security. Great leaders develop their agility more than even their core. Having agility as a leader gives you the strength to be comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. The agiler you might be as a leader, the more you are known as the stabilizing force.

Agility…

  • Requires being fully aware “in the moment” to concentrate intensely on the needs of the situation
  • Allows for behavioral transitions between proven practices and new approaches
  • Is employed in a proactive and intentional way to increase the effectiveness

Have you ever worked for someone who seemed to never get rattled despite some very stressful situations? That person had agility. They could go out to the edge (the stress) and not lose sight of their core. They knew their core was a strength and an ever-present reservoir of wisdom and experience. They knew that going to the edge did not require abandoning the core.

Lee Hecht Harrison conducted a survey of 130 executive level leaders (CEO, COO, CFO or Presidents) from over 92 organizations. FIndings show that the most successful leaders are adept at using a wide range of behaviors strategically matched to produce targeted impact.

Here are some of their top line findings:

  1. In response to dealing with paradoxes and contradictory environments, leaders need to make frequent choices about the way in which they lead. They must draw upon a broad range of behaviors to navigate and lead most effectively.
  2. In order to increase their agility, leaders cannot rely solely on their strengths and preferences. They must learn and practice new behaviors.
  3. Behavior shifts cannot be prescribed; rather, personal capability must be developed to select the right approach “in-the-moment.” This requires the development of self-reflection, which builds the awareness to effectively scan the situation, select the most results-orientated focus, shift to the required behavior and learn from the experience.

The Best Type of Change

Back to the argument about change management. The best change you can pursue is learning to develop your agility. For the moment, your core is finite. It is only just so big.

The edge is arguably infinite. There are moments of all types every day that become edge events in our lives. Do you disagree with infinite? Think of the edge as a circle around your core. Mathematicians tell us there is an infinite number of points along the outer edge of a circle.

The best change you can pursue is learning how to grow your agility. Why? Because better agility gets you out to the edge faster with a more stable ability to respond. Then once the edge is handled, you revert back to the core. This push and pull build a resilience.

Steps for Increasing Personal Agility

Because self-awareness is the first step, you need to learn to “see” when agility is being used. The person may be aware or unaware that they are behaving with agility. What you will notice is that the person is using a combination of approaches in dealing with a group and has success in getting a broad range participation that leads to focused, productive action. They are curious about
what others have to say and respectful of diverse views, bringing a level of creativity and innovation to addressing complex situations.

Scan

  • Find a leader who demonstrates the ability to select the right behaviors for a range of different situations. Notice when they match their approach to the situation. Ask them to share how they make this determination. Have a discussion about how you both become aware of matching your behavior to the situation.
  • Identify what “clues” you use to determine whether to go for “core” or “edge.”
  • Practice identifying when you are in “core” and “edge” modes. Become aware of how you choose which approach to apply.

Focus

  • Practice becoming aware of yourself when you are distracted and how you can regain focus.
  • Practice concentrating your attention, identify a work or point of attention that you can use to refocus your actions. Use it when you notice yourself getting off track.
  • Identify the environment that gives you the highest level of performance. Notice the results you get when you are in this environment.

Shift

  • Identify how you “know” when it is time to shift and move on. How do you determine your point of diminishing return for an approach? Notice when you have stayed in one mode for too long.
  • Practice using this “signal” to make change earlier.
  • Notice what happens when you release your focus and move
    your attention.

There is an added benefit. Once you more effectively move back and forth between core and edge, you actually grow your core. Your experiences out on the edge become your new truth. The new impact of having completed an edge task adds to your core.

I know I’ll get letters from my change management friends. These I welcome because then we’ll all get to share ideas about new edges and where our core sits. Let’s ACE it!

Author’s Note: This ACE model is shared by permission of Lee Hecht Harrison, a global leader in talent development. It has been my privilege to work with their team across the U.S. coaching senior executives at major corporations.

To see more about this framework, click here.

 

Who’s Going to Lead Them?

leadership

Better than anticipated results have recently been reported for the US job market.  According to a recent Houston Chronicle article, “Employers added 223,000 jobs last month, more than economists expected and an uptick from April’s hiring rate of 159,000.”  The US Department of Labor released more data.

leadership[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”#d98310″ class=”” size=””]“Never before have we had an economy where the number of open jobs exceeds the number of job seekers,” said US Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta.[/perfectpullquote]

With the lowest unemployment rate in over 18 years and the rise in new opportunities, the competition among employers for qualified candidates is strong. And, with a growing job force, the need for qualified leaders grows too. There is an ever-increasing need for qualified managers with effective leadership skills to guide businesses to achieve the results they expect.

Next Man/Woman Up

Sadly, we are plagued with a business mindset that resorts to promoting the best performer when there is an open manager seat. And, without effective leadership coaching, the person who gets this job either sinks or swims. If they sink, the company loses in many ways. If they swim awhile, they might even get promoted further. All of that without effective leadership training.

In the small business and entrepreneurial realm, we see people with great product and service ideas start companies, but fail within the first 5 years. Why? Generally, because the great thinkers aren’t always the best managers and leaders. The bright idea may only go so far without strong leadership muscle. “If you build it they will come” doesn’t work very often either. Without leadership that can sustain forward progress and growth for the enterprise, the business folds.

Leadership Coaching Naysayers

In another article circulated on LinkedIn, the author questioned the impact of leadership coaching, calling it the “buzz du jour.” He argued we all can’t be leaders, citing an army of generals and no soldiers. The basic word picture is true, we don’t need everyone equipped to lead at the highest levels. Yet we must equip leaders who are put into those positions so that the outcome potential for the organization is realized.

Back to my First Statement

I’ve known too many professionals and business owners who land on great opportunities but quickly hit the ceiling of their own ability to lead. We know this phenomenon as the “Peter Principle.” Or, the observation that in an organizational hierarchy, people tend to rise to “their level of incompetence.”

As people are promoted, they become progressively less-effective because good performance in one job does not guarantee similar performance in another. Named after the Canadian researcher Dr. Laurence J. Peter (1910-90) who popularized this observation in his 1969 book The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong.

The perceived incompetence for senior managers is seldom about technical ability. Rather it is about the ability to manage and lead a larger team, balancing people issues with business growth and change. John Maxwell calls the Peter Principle “The Law of the Lid”. Leadership coaching can help raise the lid on leadership effectiveness.

Don’t Invest in Coaching, Invest In Results

Busy executives and business owners don’t need reasons to spend money, they need results. Leadership coaching can help you get the right results:

  • Find new ways to better utilize direct reports
  • Improve communication
  • Foster higher levels of team trust
  • Provide sound advice for change management initiatives
  • Uncover blind spots in a person’s leadership ability
  • Raise executive presence

In addition to all of those opportunities, solid leadership coaching also provides the Executive with a private and confidential sounding board for ideas, fears, doubts, and concerns.

“It’s lonely at the top” is a very real and present danger for leaders. You can’t share just anything with anyone. Having a coach to hear the thoughts keeping you awake at night can be very freeing.

On that note let me stress, coaching is not psychotherapy. That is reserved for other licensed professionals. Coaching is about looking forward to a future state you plan to achieve, not looking back at one’s past.

coaching call

The Choice Is Yours

Whether you believe in coaching or not, someone is going to have to lead the next wave of our growing workforce. Why leave it up to chance?

Before you choose an executive coach, there are things you should consider. Learn more about what to look for from your coach. Click Here.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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