I was able to attend my fourth Leadercast seminar earlier this month. This year I attended a simulcast in Orlando, FL. As always, it inspired me with both new and familiar ideas. The theme this year was bravery. Here are some of my key takeaways – and you can also catch up on the social conversation with the tags #leadercast and #thebraveones.
Is complexity leaving your organization behind?
That’s a question we considered at a workshop I attended recently. Author Mark Miller and a team of facilitators walked a large group through the content of his new book Chess Not Checkers. The boardgame imagery? It’s symbolic for what happens as organizations grow. In the early stages of most small organizations or teams, the rules are simplistic and team members may play interchangeable roles much like the game pieces in a checkers game. But as growth occurs, complexity kicks in. Roles require specialists to address additional complications. The playing field starts to resemble a game of chess, rather than checkers. If we’re not careful, we’ll fall behind.
“I’ve got a guy.”
That was one of the key messages of a sales training event I visited recently. The new sales consultants were supposed to realize they didn’t need to know everything about the services they were providing – they had plenty of other “experts” to support various parts of the deal. It’s a lot easier to sell when you don’t have to know everything yourself.
Which leads me to ask the question: whose “guy” (or gal) are you? And do they know it?
Here’s why it matters:
What happens when you fall down? I have a pastor friend whose church plant recently had to shut its doors after a couple years of financial, emotional and time sacrifices. Another friend’s restaurant wasn’t able to renew the property lease and now it’s closed. Several colleagues have had high profile work projects in both the recent and distant past overlooked, postponed or shut down after significant mental and emotional effort. What comes next?
There’s no question that setbacks are a part of business – and a part of life. We can minimize some of them, but we won’t be able to avoid them completely. Once they happen, it’s what comes next that is the crucial part. If you find yourself encountering a setback, here are some next steps.
How much is waste costing your organization? It’s possible you may not have thought much about it before. After all, things are busier than they’ve ever been and we all have our jobs to do. As long as we can get the work done and enough funds are coming in the door, it’s a good day, right?
You’ve heard the old adage “a penny saved is a penny earned.” But consider the following business scenario: if your operating profit is 10% and you are able to eliminate enough waste to lower your costs by 10%, your profits will nearly double without earning any addition revenue. Pennies aren’t worth much in today’s dollars, but add a few zeros on the end and it adds up quickly.
You don’t need to be in a profit-producing role or be Six Sigma certified to be a productivity leader. There’s waste everywhere – in for-profit and non-profit organizations alike – and in every function. It’s a leadership responsibility to identify and drive out waste when we see it.
You don’t have to look far to look far to see the verbal abuse bosses take. Whether it’s water cooler gossip, happy hour banter or social media posts, people aren’t happy with their leader and don’t hold back when telling why. Some are more politically savvy and only think what others say out loud.
Forbes reported recently that as many as two million employees quit their jobs each month. One of the most significant reasons: they dislike their bosses.
It’s only fair to acknowledge that some managers earn their scorn. I should know, one of my jobs as an organizational development consultant is to help make bosses better bosses. I suppose if everyone was already excellent, I’d have less to do. But it’s only fair to give credit where it’s due. So let’s take a closer look at the great things bosses do.
If you’ve been responsible for delivering business results for any length of time, you’ve probably hit a wall once or twice with people. Someone’s feelings got hurt, another manager is difficult to work with, company politics create unseen landmines, some colleagues disagrees with you and a couple may be out to get you. As often as not, we may be the problem. Additionally, we humans are the ones causing the accidents, forgetting key dates or deliverables, creating ambiguity, making mistakes and communicating poorly. Getting results are tough enough as it is, before we introduce people into the mix!
Automation has added enormous business efficiency over the years and will continue. But it’s important to keep in mind that whatever business we’re in, we’re ultimately in the people business. Since we can’t eliminate the human element (besides, would we really want to?), we’ll have to figure out how to capitalize on it.
As a University of Kansas basketball fan, I’ve never rooted for Duke. But there is a Duke moment that stands out in my memory. It occurred probably 10 or 15 years ago. Duke was in the process of getting upset in the NCAA Tournament. They were playing hard that day but not well. Near the end of the game, the senior star player fouled out, highlighting the frustrating day for everyone. As he exited the floor for the last time as a college athlete, he headed straight for Coach Mike Krzyzewski with tears streaming down his face and the two shared a prolonged embrace.
My first thought was that Coach K must have really messed up his black suit hugging a really sweaty guy (probably a sign that I’d make a terrible basketball coach). The second was how evident the bond between the leader and the followers was that day. It wasn’t an expression of victory, but one of commitment.
I was asked to sit in on a large group interview several years ago that a group of managers was conducting. There were a handful of openings and they wanted to efficiently select several candidates to move to the next level. I was supposed to provide input after the fact. In hindsight, I think I did more harm than good.
A new year is often a great opportunity for new beginnings. But the truth is, we can get a new start anytime. New jobs, new projects, new goals, new hobbies – the possibilities are endless. When was the last time you started something new? If you’re just getting started now, here’s a game plan to get you moving fast!
It’s been another great year for Everyday Leadership. Visitors stopped by from nearly every country. My Trusted Leadership Advisor ebook finally got posted (check it out, it’s free!). Thanks for making it another a great year!
Here are the top 10 posts from 2014. And incidentally, you can also see the top 10 posts from every other year as well. See you in 2015!
Who gets to be a leader? From time to time, I hear an someone admonish a group of individuals by saying “you are all leaders.” Other times, I see organizational messaging indicating “leadership” is reserved for a small group of individuals who occupy certain positions. Which is it? Are we all leaders, or only some of us?
And how do we get more leaders in our organizations?
In order to figure that out, we’ve got to start by defining what leadership is begin with.