Another aspect of creating leaders in your organization is how assignments for subordinates are designed and managed. I was very lucky in my first management position to be overwhelmed immediately. What happened was that I was managing a group of… Read More »Creating Leaders in your Organization, Part 2: Leadership and Delegation
Emerging leadership in organizations can be developed, suppressed or ignored. Unfortunately, rather than encourage the emergence of leadership, it is often not considered, or even worse, suppressed. Leadership, as distinguished from management, is present when unprecedented results are produced through… Read More »Creating Leaders in Your Organization, Part 1: Talk is Not Cheap
As I’ve worked with clients and associates to create a foundation for high performance, it is often our approach to deal first with the areas that, upon investigation and evaluation, are clearly lacking integrity (in the dictionary sense of integrity: being whole and complete). In our model, integrity for an individual boils down to one’s word being whole and complete, and it is often easiest to start that inquiry by addressing the already-apparent areas: where are you not doing what you said you’d do, what you know to do and/or what the people around you could expect you to do? Usually, discovering what’s missing in these areas doesn’t take a lot of looking, as we are often already aware of many of them and yet still aren’t in action.
Certainly, taking this route of starting with what we already know is lacking can be very productive and, whether we see things that were missing that we weren’t already aware of or we get some new insight into the impact that our lack of integrity has had, can produce large shifts in performance through very simple, “small” actions. However, in many cases the “stuckness” persists and the actions remain undone. Why is this?
Let’s start where you are. Your organization is meeting expectations. Clearly what you do works. You have a track record of producing reliable results and growing at a rate that is satisfactory. You know how to do many things that when combined, produce predictable results. You sell an acceptable amount of product or service, deliver it at an acceptable quality of service and do so at a margin that works. This demonstrates a sensible approach and solid management. Without both, this would not be possible. This represents an excellent foundation for true high performance with two caveats. First, A solid reliable organization cannot make dramatic shifts, what we call breakthroughs, without recognizing that breakthrough performance does not come from what we already know. Second, leaders must be willing to commit to getting somewhere specific. Without a known destination it is possible to do lots of great work, but it is not possible to correct our course. Predictable breakthroughs happen only when we know where we are going and they happen in an environment where we are willing to work with the unknown as well as the known.
In most large organizations, leaders can either be developed, ignored, or suppressed. Unfortunately, in many cases, rather than encouraging the emergence of leadership, it is not considered, or, even worse, suppressed.
In my career, I’ve taken over existing organizations several times. In one case, the executive I replaced was the only person in the organization that had the overall picture of what was going on. He was the one that met one-on-one with his boss to present status. His staff meetings consisted of his asking questions and handing out detailed assignments. None of his direct reports had ever been asked to recommend a course of action. Not surprisingly, when he was asked to put together a list of people in the company who could replace him, none of the people in his organization were on the list.
Buying Leadership Support: A Biased Opinion On The Single Most Important Factor in Choosing A Coach/ Trainer/ Consultant
Over the past 18 years I have worked with clients and colleagues on literally hundreds of projects. I have done so in the context of Leadership Development, Training, Consulting or Coaching. I have been told that for most organizations, the cost of such development work has been thought of as HR cost, an investment in their people and as such an overhead issue. In my experience, this is an error. In my opinion, organizations get the greatest value when their retained support is focused on and committed to producing specific results that make a difference to the organization at the bottom line. This applies equally to corporate organizations and non-governmental organizations, (NGO’s). My suggestion: do not ever hire anyone to train or coach the leadership of your company who will not agree to be responsible for the results that are produced as a result of said engagement. There is such a thing as a consulting engagement where what you are asking for is nothing more than opinion and advice. Even in this case, what will be the outcomes if you follow that advice? A consultant who will not commit is not worth retaining.
There are runners. And then there’s me.
Though I understand fully the possible benefits of running, and have many times over the years set out on a regimen, I’ve never carried it out for more than a couple weeks and, in fact, have never run more than a mile at once—and I’ve only run a mile one time. That’s my track record over the past couple decades.
In less than eight weeks (on May 3), I will participate in, and complete, a 5K. So, the question is: What’s required (and what am I doing) to fulfill on a commitment to an outcome that seems extraordinary given what my past says is likely?
(Disclaimer: This is not “The Truth”. This is a possible view, and it is my view. Though what is presented in my blogs bears true in my experience and is corroborated by modern science, I am presenting it simply as a possible view that may provide you some value in fulfilling on what you’re committed to in your business and life. Take it or leave it.)
“The future is bleak.”
“The future is bright.”
Which one of these statements best fits your thoughts about your future?
Here’s the rub: either way, you’re wrong. There is no future.
Well, there’s no future as in a real future. “The future” is but a concept. Or, said another way, the future only exists in our language—our speaking, and our thoughts and mental images. There is no real, fixed future out there waiting for you to enter it; there’s only a predicted future that you’ve created (or that your brain has created), a projection based purely out of your past. Actually even the past that your future is based on is a construct—an assembled pattern of selected and inaccurate memories of distorted and incomplete perceptions, arranged and experienced in a way that the brain thinks best to ensure your continued survival.
Legend tells us that Alexander the Great visited the city of Gordia, in asia minor, before he conquered most of the known world. The shrine in the city held an oxcart that was fastened to a pole using an intricate knot with no loose ends. It had been prophesied that the one who could solve this Gordian knot would become the king of the world. The Alexander solution to the problem of the Gordian knot has become a timeless metaphor for the solution of intractable problems. It was, according to himself, his greatest victory.
There are actually two different solutions to the Gordian knot with somewhat different implications. Aristobulus tells us that Alexander removed the pole from the oxcart and thereby exposed the loose end of the knot. This implies that sometimes, the way forwards is to look for a clever shortcuts that cut through all the difficult steps. The other account, the classical one, from Plutarch tells us that Alexander used his sword and cut the knot in two. This would invite us to look for an elegant out of the box solution, simple and resolute or perhaps even a brute force solution. The key to either of these solutions is to look at the problem from a new perspective or to redefine the goal.
I am sure we have all experienced that one deal that was done on a handshake, and ultimately became the deal “from hell” that turned into a money pit. Perhaps it was as simple as a customer signing your proposal that might have the innocuous wording of “we strive to make our customers happy,” yet it turns into “scope creep” (because the customer never became happy) and you wind up spending more time, effort and resources than what you were paid (if you were paid at all). Many of us have also experienced a deal making process that included so many provisions for every possible scenario, that crafting the agreement became an obstacle to getting the deal done.
So, what do you do? Do you try to have a 30-page contract that contemplates every terrible scenario (and risk scaring off your customers with an over-reaching agreement) or do you leave out critical issues and risk that an agreement casually entered into will cost you more than it is worth? Sometimes, well thought out agreements of only a few pages can do the trick; addressing the critical needs of both parties and outlining a process for revision that works for all.