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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

If you enjoyed reading this article, please recommend and share it to help others find it!

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If you want to increase your influence as a manager, business owner, or community leader and learn some valuable life hacks, then subscribe to my private mailing list.

Click here to subscribe right now!

It’s Not Over til It’s Over

finish strong

There’s an interesting phenomenon in business and in personal affairs. When a work project or season of life has been particularly protracted, some of us have a hard time staying the course to reach the period at the end. People don’t always finish well.

sliding homeThere is something about sensing the finish line that causes us to lose focus as we stop doing those things which have proven successful or when we celebrate prematurely.

Here’s a quote from a colleague who was sharing experiences at a big client project.

You’re halfway between 3rd base and home. Don’t start sliding now.

Finishing Well

Some long-running TV shows are notorious for having less than satisfying ending. Skeptical? Think fade to black for “Sopranos”. Or the confusing ending to “Lost”. Even the wildly popular “Seinfeld” had its detractors when the final episode aired.

It’s not easy to finish well. Finishing is a great deal more difficult than starting. Day 1 holds much more excitement than both Day 2 and certainly more than Day 176. It is why New Year’s resolutions die early deaths. We don’t finish well.

What can we do? Here are five things to consider.

  1. Renegotiate your relationship with Perfect. Perfectionism is the enemy of good. Too many of us stop what we have started because we realize it won’t be perfect. Instead of accepting a good outcome, we stop altogether. If we believe it cannot be perfect we decide to abandon the effort.

How sad. Would perfect have really made that much difference? How much is the incremental difference between good and perfect worth anyway? Change your need to be perfect. Get a new deal. Then use your skills and talents to generate as much good as you can muster. Forget about being perfect.

  1. Manage the right thing or things. Is time management really more important than managing your energy? Regardless of the time of day, energy levels vary. You can produce better outcomes when your energy levels are at their peak.

Brain function and awareness operate better with increased energy levels. Instead of watching the clock, learn to pay attention to your energy cycles. Save the really big tasks for windows of time when energy levels are high.

  1. Set achievable, incremental (and achievable) goals. Leave the huge, impractical ones alone. Those will only serve to frustrate and overwhelm you. The guys who choose to climb Mount Everest do so by training on smaller climbs. They work up to the big goal.

Remember the old joke about “how do you eat an elephant?” Answer “one bite at a time”. Goals are like that. By failing to choose the right set of incremental goals, we can become discouraged by one monumental goal.

Keep your goals measurable, achievable, and shorter duration. Build up the cumulative effect of completing a consistent series of smaller goals.

  1. Build in accountability. I tend to be somewhat a loner. Solitude is actually good for me; I like it. Yet staying in a solitary operating mode gives me way too much opportunity to avoid deadlines. I can find dozens of convenient excuses to not do the important things I should be doing.

This is where accountability comes in. Being accountable to a partner or a team wipes out the easy excuses. Promising deliverables to others makes you aware of the need to complete the task at hand.

finish strong

  1. Don’t stop short. Just like the baseball quote above, don’t start sliding into home base too early. You’ll never get there.

Run through the finish line. Sprinters even lean into the tape. They don’t hit it in an upright position. They lean in.

Make whatever last lap effort you must to give yourself the power to finish strong. Lean into your finish. You can relax and celebrate after you reach the end of your task.

Question: What have you done lately to finish strong? Leave a comment

PS – This article’s title came of course from the great Yogi Berra. American baseball legend Yogi Berra first uttered the phrase about baseball’s 1973 National League pennant race. His team was a long way behind when he said it and they did eventually rally to win the division title.

It’s not the only offbeat quote from the sportsman – there’s also the existential “It’s like deja-vu all over again” or the wry “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t go to yours” – but there is something about the never-say-die, no-matter-the-odds-we-can-do-this spirit of “It ain’t over…” that finds a place to inspire, time and time again.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

If you enjoyed reading this article, please recommend and share it to help others find it!

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If you want to increase your influence as a manager, business owner, or community leader and learn some valuable life hacks, then subscribe to my private mailing list.

Click here to subscribe right now!

 

Using Halftime Thinking for Greater Significance

Bob Buford

Busy professionals seldom think about the total impact of their lives until they get to an age where the end is near. When your own mortality becomes a reality, you begin to think in terms of changes you want to make to move from success to significance.

Younger adults don’t think about this much. After all, in your 20s and 30s you feel invincible, right? I know I did.

In 1995, a very successful businessman named Bob Buford wrote “[easyazon_link keywords=”Halftime” locale=”US” tag=”thredoth-20″]Halftime[/easyazon_link]”, a best-selling book that came out of his desire to find fulfillment in the second half of life. The second book in 1997, “Game Plan” continued the sports metaphor, but presented practical ways to go through the process to make a change. His writing in this two-book series was a life changer for me.

The attention from these best-selling books led to the founding of the Halftime Institute.

Bob suggested that our lives can be viewed as a football game. In the middle, there is a halftime, where the teams retreat to their locker rooms. Depending upon the results of the first half of the game, they make adjustments to their plans for the second half. If you are winning, what can you do to keep the lead and finish the game as a victor? If you are behind, i.e. not getting the results you hoped for, what can you change to have a more significant second half?

Buford’s thinking was that we all go through our careers striving for success; climb the ladder, get the next raise, get the promotion, do the next big deal, and so on. Yet at some point, there is a time when we realize there is much more. The ‘much more’ is not about a bigger bank account, but rather about making a difference in the world around you.

Buford proposes taking a halftime break. Be introspective. Take note of your current circumstances. From that vantage point, you can make decisions about the things that have genuine value. You can reset your life priorities.

Right now you may be saying “Well, that would be nice but I have bills to pay, payrolls to meet.” Yes, you do. But to what end? What is it all about? Are you creating a legacy for the time you spend here or are you just turning the wheel?

Profile

Buford, born September 16, 1939, in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, achieved considerable financial success as CEO of Buford Television, Inc., a business started by his mother. It had begun with a single ABC affiliate in Tyler, Texas. It grew it into a network of cable systems across the country. In 1999 Buford helped sell the family business interest in order to create philanthropic initiatives designed to serve churches. He often joked that he hoped the last check he wrote just before he died would bounce—because he had given away the last of his millions.

Buford’s awakening to this halftime thought came as the result of a tragic family accident. His son drowned during a rafting trip. The grief and ensuing recovery spawned his search for purpose and significance after losing his son.

In 1984 Buford—at age 45—and Fred Smith, Jr. started Leadership Network, along with Gayle Carpenter, as a way of trying to help the newly emerging wave of pastors who were breaking worship attendance barriers of 1,000 and sometimes 2,000 or more.

During his business years, Buford had spent countless hours talking with and seeking guidance from Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, and he now tapped into Drucker’s guidance for how best to frame Leadership Network. He later remarked that Leadership Network would not be the same—in fact, might not exist at all—were it not for Peter Drucker. (Buford later developed that 23-year mentoring relationship into a book, Drucker and Me.)

I share this back-story on Bob Buford for two reasons.

First, Bob Buford passed away recently at age 78. He had made a very valuable shift from his business success to use his God-given skills and experiences to influence millions of others through his life work. His inspiration to teach people how to make the shift, moving from success to significance, changed so many lives. It certainly changed mine.

More importantly, I share this to encourage you to begin your halftime. Your current age is not a factor. The purpose you sense in your life is. If your purpose is unclear or forgotten in the day to day battle for achieving success, stop. Take an inventory. Do a self-assessment.

You can write a new game plan. I help clients do this. Making a new plan for your journey in this world can be a life changer. You don’t need to have amassed great wealth to do that.

Another story

Once there was a lady attending my career transition organization. To that point, her career had been working as a hotel housekeeper. While she took pride in her work, she knew there was something missing. Through a series of meetings and coaching sessions given by my group, she devised a whole new vision map for herself. She stopped coming to our meetings. I was concerned she had lost hope.

About six months later, I received a copy of the vision board she had crafted from our workshops. Everything on the board was marked complete. She informed me she was the happy owner of a restaurant in her hometown, offering country-style food to the locals along with a charity kitchen on Sundays for the homeless in her town. The change to significance had begun. You can make the change too.

Here are Bob’s Top 10 Values. Enjoy.

1. Build on the islands of health and strength.

2. Work only with the receptive and only on what’s trying to happen.

3. Go big or go home. Focus; don’t do dribs and drabs.

4. Who is our customer? What does the customer consider value? What is our business?

5. Giving is not a result— changed lives are.

6. The fruit of our work grows up on other people’s trees.

7. The entrepreneurial-style leader is where the leverage begins.

8. The essential ingredient for success is a steady stream of innovation.

9. Leaders –  It’s your job to release and direct energy, not to supply it.

10. Structure follows strategy, and strategy begins with clear desired outcomes.

Growing Influence: Using Easy Leadership Moments

Lead in the MOMENT

Key executives and business owners get consumed by thoughts of big picture responsibility. Thinking big is a valued trait, right? Sure, we expect our leaders to provide us vision. You have to be able to see the big picture to become a successful executive.

Lead in the MOMENT

However, there is one big catch to this blue sky thinking. Sometimes you get so heavenly minded you are no earthly good.

While good leadership helps build and communicate the vision, great leadership does something really small too. The best leaders know how to lead in the moment; right here, right now. They don’t wait for the stage at the shareholders meeting. They use the easy moments to demonstrate their ability to lead. They seize each and every moment with their team to assert their leadership influence.

Living in the moment is a concept we know too well in sports. The quarterback who leads his team to a come-from-behind score as time runs out (think Brady, Manning, Brees, and Favre). The golfer who sinks a 20 foot put to win on the 18th hole of the final round of a 54 hole tournament. The hitter who swings for the fences and hammers a home run with the score tied and two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning.

All of these are memorable moments that make sports history but wouldn’t have happened unless the athlete had trained for that moment. Leaders can do that too. By preparing for and making ready for each little moment, the small things can make a leadership career famous.

What are some examples?

Before the Meeting – The senior exec who has called a meeting of his team can exhibit some amazing leadership skills in the small moment right outside the conference room. Walking up, he or she sees the attendees waiting. Making small talk can become a make or break situation. Rather than hurriedly rushing into the room without eye contact or a warm comment, use the moment to acknowledge those present. Say something to express a connection. Crack a simple joke or tell a short story about how proud you might be of this “amazing team”.

When I’m in this mode, I’ve sometimes said something like “I hope this is going to be good.” The joke, of course, is on me because I called the darn meeting. I can control how good it may be.

You have to be genuine and sincere or don’t try it at all. But those leaders who can pull this off create huge volumes of goodwill with their staff.

One on One – For many executives this is actually the toughest thing they do; holding one-on-one meetings. Don’t let the intensity of the moment consume you. This is a great moment to shine. Break the ice. Help the other person feel at ease. Welcome them into the discussion. Be clear and specific about what you’d like to talk about, but make the moment feel real.

Avoid the pompous air. This moment might be happening in those stuffed chairs in your private office, but help the other person feel at home.

Once, I worked for an executive who led a group of over 400 employees. She had developed the uncanny ability to recall everyone’s name. Passing them in hallways or seeing them in meetings, she spoke to them by name. Her stock value as the department head was greater than any other manager at her level. I wish I could say I too had developed that skill. Not so. Yet I have made it a practice to be open and available, even vulnerable when I engage employees and team members wherever we may be.

In Small Groups – Great leaders really shine in small groups. Those with the best reputation often know how to tell a story to set the tone, ease the tension, or make clear, decisive points. Then the meat of the discussion can open up. Again, warm and genuine wins the day.

With Their Peers – The best leaders can work the moment with their peers. Some of the same traits that work for the moments mentioned above work here too. Being able to connect with your peers despite the known edge of competition that might exist, is a delicate balancing act that only the best leaders figure out how to perfect. However, it still comes down to living in the moment.

What can YOU do?

Think about the next time you’re going into one of these situations. Try a new approach. See what comes of it. Building your leadership muscle takes practice. Build a repertoire of warm, genuine comments and questions to ask those around you. Engage them whenever possible. I guarantee you’ll see a rise in the relationships and a new respect for what you are trying to do.

[reminder]What do you do to lead in the moment?[/reminder]

The Power of a Personal Vision Statement

Finding Vision

If you’ve ever gone through an attempt to write a company’s vision statement, you know how tough it can be. If the end result is 50 words or less, it is likely there were 500 drafts before the final statement came out. Yet it’s easier to think about a company’s vision statement than think about your own, personal vision statement.

Finding Vision
Finding Vision

Stephen R. Covey is famous for teaching us to “begin with the end in mind” (this is part of his “7 Habits” book). What does that mean?

Beginning with the end in mind is so easy in many parts of our life, but very hard in the most important aspect. It’s easy to decide on a restaurant for dinner or choose a movie to go see or even pick a destination for an awesome vacation trip out of the country.

Yet when our future is on the line, few of us really have a vision for what the next 3 to 5 years should look like. Instead, we wake up in the morning and let destiny happen. How’s that been working out for you?

Vision

Much is written about relying on leaders to give us vision. Whether the leader wrote the vision statement or was given the vision by stakeholders or the Board, the vision becomes the rally point for the team/organization to drive toward.

Without vision, the people perish. ~Prov 29:18

In addition to executing on the corporate vision strategies, successful leaders invest the time and energy to periodically review their own personal vision statement. Your view of who and what you are will directly impact your ability to perform and win in this world.

Our lives are perfectly designed to give us the outcomes we are currently experiencing. If you don’t like the experiences and/or outcomes you are having, in your life, then you should give serious consideration to new possibilities, be open to new paradigms, and redesign your life in a manner that will give you the outcomes that you desire and deserve. ~John Younker, Ph.D.

The absence of a personal vision plan creates drift. By drifting from day to day, week by week and month by month, you find yourself on a course that has no particular purpose.

Just as you drifted through an entire day without a plan and accomplished nothing, some people drift through their entire lives. They do it one day at a time, one week at a time, one month at a time. The months run into years and span a life. It happens so gradually that they are unaware of how their lives are slipping by them until it’s too late. ~Mary Kay Ash

Personal Vision or Charter Statements can be simple and concise while others are longer and filled with detail. The length of your personal charter statement will not be determined until you follow this simple equation to create your motivational springboard for the future.

vision

The Process

Definition: A Personal Vision Statement defines and describes, in sufficient detail, an individual’s “ideal future state.” A well-conceived and written out Personal Vision Statement energizes and mobilizes the individual, in question, to realize and live out their ideal future state. It empowers you and creates enthusiasm, within us, by describing the unique and distinctive contributions that we intend and will make in our lives. It is a statement of both affirmation and purposefulness. (excerpted from John Younker’s “Vision-Based Personal Charter Statement Guide”).

To begin the process of preparing your personal vision statement, you will need to write out the information for the following five steps:

What are your core values? Values steer your actions and determine where you spend time, energy, and most importantly, money. Be specific and unique to yourself. Too much generalization will not be as effective. It is called a “personal” charter statement for a reason. Core values encompass your whole being, not just work related endeavors. Think big here. Include family plus really personal, and community life too.

For starters, I usually ask clients to get five close friends to provide three keywords they would use to describe them. It is always amazing to see the patterns this feedback reveals. Use that trick as a starting point for yourself.

What are three important goals you hope to achieve this year and over the next five-to-ten years, of your life? Keep your list of important goals small and give them a date. It is better to focus on the horizon and not the stars. Realistic goals are keys to ultimate success.

One of the best programs for goal setting I have ever known is Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever. He’d argue it’s much more than just setting goals. I have to agree. He only offers this material in Q4 each year, so if this interests you, be on the watch for his offerings.

What image (vision/outlook on life) do you hope to project for yourself? How you see yourself is how the world will view you. Think about this carefully. Your future image should encompass what you look like and feel after you have achieved your goals. State this in terms of the future state.

Look at it this way. If I ran into you at an airport five years from now and said “Wow, you look great! What in the world is going on with you?” What might your answer be?

What are the action statements that come from each core value? These action statements describe how you will use those core values to achieve your three goals. Start the statement with “I will…”

The journey toward realizing your true future-self begins with action statements to get you moving toward your new future.

Rewrite your personal charter statement that includes your action statements. Put it all together. Make portable copies for your wallet, car or office. Refer to it often. Some actually commit this to memory, reciting the creed to reinforce the behavior.

You deserve the future

That’s a loaded statement. Do you want consequence or accomplishment? It’s all up to you.

I offer a special acknowledgment to my friend and colleague John Younker, Ph.D., Vistage Master Chair, Silver Fox Advisor, PEP Executive Volunteer, Trusted Advisor – A Career-Life Coach. John introduced me to this way of thinking and has been my mentor to revisit this critical planning step, one which I now review and refresh year over year.

 

 

Tips for Living Through Change

managing change

It just seems we can never get away from change. It’s an ever-present topic that leaders and business owners struggle to manage and survive. What is so darn hard about managing change?

managing change

Lately, I have been surrounded by various types of change. It seems every one of my clients, my volunteer efforts, and even portions of my personal life are facing major change events. Situations range from major organizational change being implemented by a Fortune 100 company to executive moves/retirement, staff shakeup at a nonprofit, and the upcoming birthday of a five-year-old grandson. Change is everywhere.

It’s not a surprise that I carefully observe each of these situations with guarded optimism coupled with caution and anticipation. Why? Because I’ve been around the block enough times to see people’s reactions coming a mile away, yet it cannot be stopped.

We face change at work, at home, and in the community around us. Couples watching kids grow and leave the nest face daily change moments. That sweet cuddly toddler becomes a terrible two or thirteen. Then it’s off to college or work. Relationships get tested, sometimes broken.

As we begin to think about finding our special someone we face changes in meeting new people and trying to establish the right relationship. Too often people ignore big red flags in choosing their relationships. Why? Because change is too painful after a certain amount of time is invested. I love that thought. Invested in a bad relationship. Really? I digress.

Why don’t people handle change very well? It’s an age-old problem that scholars and technicians have tried to solve. I’ve read articles from brain surgeons who have theories about synapse firing in the brain and chemical changes brought on by change (fight or flight syndrome anyone?).

More important to me is the key question: what should a leader do in the winds of change?

The Job Description

Leaders by definition execute on things. That’s why we’re called executives. The CEO is the chief executive officer; the head guy for making change happen. Our role and job description churns change. Yet we have to be sensitive to the impact of change. There is a clear and present problem with effectuating change while controlling the chaos that ensues.

The dynamic doesn’t change. Regardless of how big the organization or the charter it may be formed under, the people on the team either thrive or dive with change. Leaders can and should make the difference.

Far too often I see the chief executive or at least the senior officer get sucked into the energy being spun up by the pushback from the team. Either they overreact or they become paralyzed. I’ve seen both of these scenarios in the situations I mentioned above.

It’s All About the Fear

From my experience, the biggest noise in the face of change is all about fear. Most people fear the unknown. The new guy or the new structure or the new policy or the new program sets fear in high gear. Very few of us get excited about change.

Moving away from the known to the unknown is the biggest problem I see.

For the new manager who is thrust into a role where change has been ordained from above, as in the case of corporate reorganization, people don’t blame the corporation, they blame the boss.

In mergers, the “winning” side usually takes the lead in making things settle in, but that comes at the angst of those who came over from the “acquired” firm. Yes sometimes the buyer is sensitive to these aspects and places leaders from the opposite side into key roles, but the shakeup is just that, a shakeup. Trust is crumbled and must be rebuilt.

Every person who takes on a new role faces the same thing. The team wants to know who you are, what you think, and how you operate. If the predecessor was highly regarded by the staff, the new guys get points off just for not being the old guy. The trust has to be rebuilt.

Better is Not Always Better

I’ve seen situations where an outgoing person gets replaced by someone who is supposed to upgrade the role. Those changes impact the way things were. Even when the former person was considered a marginal performer in a role, the new guy has to overcome an unfair bias. It doesn’t matter how talented or gifted the new person may be, the crew expects nothing to change.

If things do start to change, feelings get hurt. It’s that fear thing again.

When your status quo is not quo anymore (bad grammar, but solid thought), you start to imagine things that may never become problems. Change causes that kind of irrational logic.

What’s a Leader to Do?

There are several key things I recommend. I think they speak for themselves.

  • Face the music. Realize change does cause unrest. Deal with it.
  • Don’t give in, but let the people have their voice. Talk through the concerns.
  • Work hard on building trust. Lead don’t push.
  • Avoid taking sides early. Be objective. Get both sides of the story before making any declaration.
  • Manage up when you have to. The executive who mandated the change might not realize what they have launched.
  • Keep communication lines open. Demand free flow of discussion about the changes. Don’t let opinions fester and brew.
  • Shine the brightest light you can on what surfaces as the biggest problem.
  • Invest in a high-quality brandy for after work (OK I’m getting silly now, you get the picture)

Change is GOING TO HAPPEN

No one lives in a vacuum. There will be change. Leaders must do more to embrace the recognition of this absolutely guaranteed aspect of moving a business, a relationship, or a team forward. The way we deal with change becomes a big yardstick for how effective we might be as leaders.

PS – I’ve got more thoughts about living through change coming later this week. Stay around.

[reminder]What are some of the ways you manage change where you are?[/reminder]

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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Leaders: Want to Up-level Your Communication?

communication

Managers face a constant struggle to improve communication within their work teams. Besides being able to accurately articulate any technical aspects about the work (every industry has its key phrases, terms, and buzzwords), business leaders have to be ever-mindful of some very basic principles of effective communication.

communication

We usually think about communication as a two-part/two person transaction. You speak, I speak, we hear and we act. This is the way most adults perceive the process of communication. When we need to talk to our teams, we usually just think about crafting a message as though it is being addressed to one person.

I submit to you that there are really four stages of communication. Being an effective communicator requires a laser focus to ensure the parts are working to their maximum potential.

The four stages are:

1. What You Mean to Say –  Your communication as a manager must first be grounded in the thoughts you develop as facts and circumstances come together. When you process all of the information at hand, some kind of thought process should lead you to a decision. A message to the team begins with the thoughts that you will have. Sometimes the thoughts are significant and profound. At other times they are pretty simple. Your thoughts become the root of your message.

Be sure your mental checklist is functioning clearly before you start talking to the team. Be clear about what you mean to say.

2. What You Actually Say –  You have your thought, but then words must be applied to express that thought. Numbers 1 and 2 here are very closely tied together but are just different enough to cause a potential problem.

Let’s face it, most of us have had a moment where an idea pops into our head, but we cannot find the perfect words to explain the essence of that idea. Our words fail us. This phase is especially troublesome when you have to communicate ‘on the fly’, meaning impromptu communication.

When you have a chance to write a speech, you get more time to process your thoughts and formulate the words. Great speechwriters make careers doing this for politicians and celebrities. However, managers on the front line seldom have that luxury. As events unfold at work, you are required to respond quickly. Your words can easily become muddled.

If words fail you, it is possible you will be sending a message that is different from your original intent. Also, words that have double meanings can confuse the message. Tone and positioning of words can impact the meaning. There are numerous ways that the words you DO choose to express may send a message different from what you intend.

3. What the Listener Hears –  When we think of translating a message from one language to another, we often hear about ‘something getting lost in translation’. Unfortunately, that can happen with communication within the same language. You can take a perfectly structured thought (Item #1) that is represented well by the words you choose (Item #2) but still have trouble getting your message across.

Clearly, the responsibility to correctly hear a message falls on your listener. Any form of translation that changes the message corrupts it. The risk at this stage is that word meanings can vary from person to person. As the manager, if you make a statement “I am concerned about this _______”, some may hear the message as saying “I am mad, but just not telling you”.

4. What the Listener Now Feels –  Whether the translation being heard is correct or not, there is still one last hurdle to overcome. How does your message make the listener feel? The content of what you meant versus the listener’s conclusion after processing your words may spawn a surprising reaction.

For some, there are trigger words that spark bad feelings. For others, there are words that inspire and motivate. The listener’s initial feeling about the message will have a direct impact on the success of the communication. If the effort ends poorly, the manager must essentially start over with this entire 4 stage process.

We’ve discussed the four stages of communication. What is a manager to do?

In situations where people have solid, effective relationships, there is a history that can smooth any of the rough edges stemming from a breakdown of any of these four parts. When people have worked together for some time, they can (and should) develop a sense of understanding that helps to bridge the communication gap. Keywords and phrases take on meanings of their own and become the go-to way to express a topic.

Yet, when someone new joins the team, communication bridges are not yet available, so the manager’s message needs to stick to the basics until the history can be accumulated. The latter is also true when new topics are introduced to the team.

As the Manager, it is your responsibility to watch for breaks in all four of these stages. Better communication can be achieved by effectively using all elements. Find ways to let your team know that for their benefit you want to be a good communicator. Let them provide feedback, too. Iron out phrases and words that miss the mark or generate the wrong conclusions.

If you can broaden your view of the communication process, you can become a more effective manager. Click To Tweet

Question:In what ways have you experienced communication problems with your work team?

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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Management is Not for Everyone

management

What’s the big deal with becoming a Manager? Why do some try to do that? And why do companies promote people who end up being terrible managers and lousy bosses? More importantly, if you are one of the people being put into management, what can you do to make it a success?

management

Being in management is associated with a position, title, and certain responsibilities and compensation. People naturally strive to make those career advancements, but it’s not for everyone. Sadly, few consider becoming a real leader in the role. You can truly manage something without ever becoming a good leader.

You can press the buttons, push the paper, and make people do their work (fear, power, and oppression/intimidation) but that doesn’t inspire productivity and loyalty. When a work team is run this way, there is low morale and high turnover. Plus you get tagged “bad boss”.

Leaders inspire their team. They create trust and loyalty. They naturally motivate people, turnover is low.

I don’t advocate anything about management practice alone. I feel (and experience has proven) that someone who focuses only on management won’t be around long.

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Leaders make the difference

When you take on a management role, you should begin thinking about what it takes to become a leader. If you’ve never studied leadership, here are five ways you can get a jump start on rising above the crowd.

Read –  Yes, read about successful leaders. Ask around to get references for some great books. John Maxwell is a world renown expert on leadership theory, practice, and teaching. He’s written some 25 books, sold 16 million copies, and presented leadership conferences in over 30 countries. He’d be a good start.

Find a Model –  A role model that is. Identify someone at your work or in your community who stands out as a role model for good leadership. Just ask them if they will be willing to spend some time sharing ideas and helping you build some leadership muscle.

Preferably you find a mentor who will agree to a longer term relationship; someone with whom you can explore leadership ideas.

Hire a Coach –  OK, yes, I am a coach, so I think hiring one is smart. Forget me for a minute. Think about where coaching is used elsewhere. Coaches have been around for a long time in all things sports. Why? Players need help developing their “better self” to get stronger, more flexible, more agile, and better informed about the sport.

We think of sports coaches as a natural fit. So why not career coaches or executive coaches to help build leadership muscle. More and more, professionals in all walks are turning to coaching to help build better leadership skills.

Join a Mastermind –  Iron sharpens iron. Find or create a group of like-minded managers who also want to grow. Share ideas and experiences in a highly confidential and trustworthy way. Help each other grow.

Practice –  Back to the sports connection. You won’t get better without practice. Take the information you receive and put it into practice. See what works and what doesn’t work. By using the principles you learn, you exercise that leadership muscle, helping it grow.

With practice, you will find more confidence in your ability to lead the team. Your decisions will come easier and be more reliable.

Don’t get stuck or left behind

Moving into management can be a great opportunity. Just don’t get bogged down in the weeds. Get the job going, but then focus on developing as a leader. Take the simple but important steps to move forward each day. Find ways to grow your awareness of the big difference between just being a manager or becoming a leader.

The world needs leaders everywhere; at work, at home, and in the community. By growing your own capacity to lead, you can make a difference in this world, right where you are.

[reminder]If you are a manager, what are you doing to make a better difference?[/reminder]

Leaders: Having Haters Hate

haters

The life of a manager/business leader certainly has its benefits, but there are downsides to being a leader too. Not long ago, I received an email from someone who had served on a large project with me. Their recall of my role was, let’s say, less than flattering.

haters

The project was a large one. We started with a team of 457 professionals and grew it to over 700 before the project ended. I was the overall lead executive running the show. The effort called for organizing 9 different work teams, handling 9 distinctly different focus topics and work plans. In the middle of it was a just-in-time software development project that would have been a big enough challenge all by itself.

The work was spread coast to coast in 4 large work centers. To say we had occasional personnel problems would be an understatement.

My duty to lead and manage this group was a really big challenge. Thankfully, I had a close, but small support staff with me. My deputy, second in command, became my traveling problem solver.

Back to the Email Message

The person who wrote me the email said he did recall my presence on the project, but called me one of those “stiffs” who sat in the glass offices and didn’t come out much. While some may say I fell short in a few areas during that project, getting out and around to the work teams was not one of the failings. In fact, my support crew saw me early in the morning then seldom saw me until late in the day.

Why? Because I was moving from team to team, meeting to meeting, or training to training, dealing directly with the teams and their unit managers. I was as much cheerleader for the vision of the project as I was operator and executive.

Frankly, I am proud of the project and the team we recruited. I met some amazing professionals who worked tirelessly to accomplish our goals, all under a tight time clock of deadlines and deliverables. The fact that some who were present either didn’t see it this way or have their own different opinions are just reality.

I am a Realist

If I’ve learned much of anything in my years as an executive, I’ve learned you have to be real about people’s expectations. You will never win them all. I am convinced that if you recruit three people to be on the same team, you will find one negative Ned or Nelly. Heck, this can even happen just hiring two people.

The Challenge as a Leader is Threefold

First, you must do the best you can at recruiting and selecting people for your team. For a small business, this can be the most difficult challenge an owner undertakes. It is certainly true in big business too. You will not win them all here either, but you can do things to make better selections through detailed screening, background checks, and by giving practical tests to applicants.

If you have specific skills you need to be performed, you have to test for those skills. The “soft stuff” like customer service can be a bigger challenge. After all, people have learned how to ace interviews and smile pretty. Yet, once they land, you can only wait to see whether they fit correctly into your roles and execute on the duties?

Next, you must equip them to win. As a leader, you must impart the best information you can provide to help them understand the job, the requirements, and winning factors that work for the specific need you have them fill. That is on you as the leader to provide this understanding.

As soon as an employee demonstrates an unwillingness to embrace the framework and perform against the standards, you need to begin remediation actions. Whether that is retraining, reassignment, relocation, or removal, the manager must move swiftly to eliminate the lingering impact of an underachiever.

Lastly, there will still be those who hate your leadership. Regardless how much you work to win the hearts and minds of your team, you will have some who don’t get it. No leader anywhere should expect of themselves the ability to win everyone over. There are just enough personalities in this world to occasionally find the ones who don’t mesh well.

I like to say it’s not right or wrong, it’s just different. When you identify the difference, you have to accept it for what it is.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

On occasion when you get some really negative feedback from a former employee (or current one), take it with a  grain of salt. They pay you the proverbial big bucks to have the thick skin to take it.

If there is substance in the feedback, embrace it. Use the input to improve your leadership skills. However, when you know you gave it your best shot, proven by the feedback from those who mattered at the time (your client, your boss, and the team around you) forget about the Hater. Haters will hate. That’s what they do.

Be bold. Be strong. Don’t let one loud voice drown out your ability to make a difference for everyone else.

Oh, by the way. After over 30 years managing and directing thousands and a current day social media following of over 200,000, I’ve gotten two such letters in four years.

“Not bad. Not bad at all.” (President Whitmore –  Independence Day)

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

If you enjoyed reading this article, please recommend and share it to help others find it!

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If you want to increase your influence as a manager, business owner, or community leader and learn some valuable life hacks, then subscribe to my private mailing list.

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