Is Good Enough Good Enough? by Jim Johnson

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Is good enough good enough? You’re tracking your results. You’re meeting some corporate goals. You’re exceeding others. You’re falling short on a couple. Overall, it’s pretty good. Your staff is happy. They’re feeling good about where they are. If things stay this way, the year could end good enough.

Is that good enough?

Does good enough foster new ideas and innovation?

Does good enough prepare your company for any unseen obstacles (i.e. gov’t regulations, economic sharp turns, major employer lay-offs, war, etc.)?

Does good enough build your company’s culture?

How does good enough protect your team from complacency?

What is the motivation to go out and find new business?

Believe me, I am a HUGE supporter of celebrating achievements! When your team has reached and surpassed new goals, party! I’m not talking about that here.

What happens when good enough (keep on keeping on) becomes good enough?

What I’m wondering is this:
* Will maintaining current sales levels be enough to grow your company?
* Is good enough enough momentum?
* Given your competition, the economy, your talent pool, will good enough keep you in business in 5 years?
* How will you fight stagnation with your staff? If there is no call to keep growing, pushing, reaching, stretching, achieving, what else is there?
* When does good enough become a decline in growth?
* When did good enough give cause for creating pride in the company? (Who cheers, “We’re #3! We’re #3!”?)
* Where is the line between perfection, excellence, and good enough?

I would love to read your insights on this.

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Focus Means Sometimes Having to Say “NO” by Jim Johnson

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When a leader is focused, things get done. When things get done, others take notice. When others take notice, the leader (many times) gets presented with more things to do.

WARNING: your focus could be in great peril!

You know your goals. You’re on your way to producing great results. You have your team focused on the right things.

Then someone from another department comes to you and says, “Hey, I’m leading a project. You are recognized as someone who gets things done. Your team is doing great. I would love to have your expertise on my project team. Would be willing to join this team to insure its success?”

Ego inflates. Common sense begins to fog over. WAIT!

There is a time and a place for everything. Is this project commitment the right time for you? Think about these things:

* Will this project help move the company forward or not? If not, say no.
* Is your involvement in the project that critical? If not, say no.
* Is the project leader desperate to build a project team? If so, say no.
* If you get involved, can you delegate some of your other tasks to others on your team? If so, say yes.
* Who will “own” this project initiative once the project is done and something new is implemented? If it’s you or your team, you should get someone on that project.

Saying “no” is not the end of the world or your career. If you say “no”, be sure to give a professional, clear explanation as to why you are not going to be involved.

Sometimes, being focused means you have to say “no”.

Focused or Obsessive? What Kind of Leader are You? by Jim Johnson

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In business, successful people are focused. They know the difference between the truly important and that which is urgent. They know their goals. They look for the next challenge that will lead to more success. They keep their eyes on the prize in spite of obstacles.

FOCUS. OBSESSION.

Aren’t successful leaders really obsessing as well? Aren’t focus and obsession the same thing?

Obsession: “the domination of one’s thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image or desire.” Synonyms: fetish, neurosis, craze, delusion

Focus: “close or narrow attention, concentration, or center of interest or activity.”
Synonyms: target, core, center, heart

From those definitions, these two words are clearly not the same.

Obsession has inherent blind spots. When someone is obsessed, they rarely see anything else. Their hunger and thirst for the object of their obsession blinds them to everything else – sometimes at their own peril. A drug addict or alcoholic is willing to sacrifice all for their obsession. Finances, family and friends are easily tossed aside in favor of their obsession.

Think about Gollum from “The Lord of the Rings”. His whole being was transformed on his quest to have and keep his “precious”. He lost everything for the ring – ultimately his own life.

Obsessions reveal mental/emotional weaknesses and even sickness. Obsessions are extremely selfish. Yes, at the center of an obsession is the desire to satisfy the self.

While being focused has a narrow concentration on a target, it is not to the exclusion of all else.

* Focus knows the target and modifies behavior to reach that target.
* Focus uses information and resources gathered from the surrounding environment to achieve results.
* Focus has a core – a center – the goal.

Many leaders today confuse these two words. The ineffective leader obsesses about his/her reputation, personal power, self-worth as they lord over their staff. Hitting goals becomes personal and not achieving goals becomes a personal affront.

Focused leaders are effective leaders. They empower others. They educate. They encourage their teams to succeed.

Focused leaders understand the targets and can clearly communicate them to others. They understand the story behind the numbers and they enjoy helping others understand.

Focused leaders know its not all about them. They know that an efficient, effective, educated team accomplishes far more with them than with an obsessive boss.

Focused leaders coach their team toward goals that strengthen the company and bring success built upon success.

Keys to Being Focused:

1. Understand your goals. What is needed to make your company successful? Know your metrics.
2. Align your activity around those goals.
3. Make sure your team understands and acts on the corporate goals.
4. Coach your team toward goal achievement.
5. Filter. If a project, activity or attitude doesn’t move you, your team, or the company forward, ditch it. You don’t have time to waste.

Each of us as leaders has choices everyday. Focus is your key to success.

Leadership is an Activity…not a Position by Dr. Martina G. McGowan

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Everyone responds to good leadership! Period! It is in every aspect of your life, not just business. A mother is a leader in her home. A son may be leader of a team sport, or a daughter the leader of her debate team. A group relies on the person in charge to actually lead them to success. A true leader is highly ethical, honest and respected.

In every aspect of society there are leaders and followers. Are we born to be or become one or the other? No! Can you hone your leadership skills? Absolutely! Positively!

What things do we all admire in leaders we respect?

1. They think BIG! They don’t place an automatic ceiling in place. Instead, they look beyond the previous limits to find out how big or how much better something can be.

2. They are firmly focused on their goals.

3. They are clear. They make it known to everyone involved the final product/ goal that the team is working toward. Selling x number of widgets, or winning a football game. Know what you are aiming for.

4. People buy in. They can get compliance to their requests.

5. When goals are met, they celebrate the victory and the people. Then they set new goals or raise the bar.

People willingly follow your lead if you are honest, ethical, reliable, consistent and treat them with a modicum of respect. Rewarding someone when a job is well done is always appreciated.

A few simple rules of the road, and you can improve your own self-respect while becoming an inspiration to others. How great is that!

About Martina McGowan
Servant, MD (gynecologist), blogger, businesswoman, seminary student, mother, grandmother, sexual assault survivor’s advocate, minister, speaker, teacher, leader, writer, occasional haikuist

http://martinamcgowan.com/2013/07/leadership-is-activity-not-position/

Your Prime Directive by Jim Johnson

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Remember the intro to the Star Trek TV program? “The ongoing mission…to seek out new life and new life forms…to boldly go where no one has gone before…” Once they found new life, they were to observe and not mess with it. This was their prime directive.

Each of us in our work as a prime directive (P.D.) as well. While it doesn’t involve space ships, transporters, and aliens (at least I don’t think it does), our P.D. shapes our days and guides our team’s activities. Right?

Too often, a manager can become involved in many things at work and take his/her eyes off the P.D. Busy-ness takes over and focus is lost. Then the call from the regional manager comes and you’re scrambling for words and excuses…

How do you keep the prime directive – your performance goals – the focus?

1. Make Goals Visible. Not just to you, but to your entire team. They need to understand the goals as well as the progress toward the goals. Communicate the goals weekly. Email your team. Use your intra-net to talk about your goals. As you do walk-bys, talk about the goals with your team.

2. Publish Goal Progress. Keep a scoreboard of your progress toward your goal. Don’t wait until the end of the month to see if you hit the goals. It’s too late then! Create smaller, stepping stone goals that will be the leading indicator of your progress. Everyone on your team needs to know where they are in regards to the achievement of your goals.

3. Tie Behavior to Goal Achievement. The goal of your team is not to be busy. Their activities and behavior MUST tie back to the goals. You cannot afford your team to waste their time on things that are not moving your department and company forward.

4. Recognize and Reward. When team members do all of the right things that help your team succeed, recognize and reward them. Don’t tell, “heck, that’s your job.” It is, but that tactic won’t last long for you. Build momentum by encouraging performance that impacts.

As a manager, you’ll be bombarded with stuff that will take your eyes off the goal. Part of your job is to manage that stuff. But your greater calling is to keep yourself and your team focus on that prime directive that will drive success for you, your team and your company.

Slow Down and Focus Why Don’t You? by Brian Hagman

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Do you know someone who always seems to have a million things going on but doesn’t really get much done or have much success? Of course you do. We all do. What we think is helping us is really only delaying our own success. Too many projects and activities going on will not allow you to become extraordinary in your craft.

I recently heard that multitasking reduces your IQ by at least 10 points at any given time. I believe it judging by some of the mistakes I have made and what little I accomplished after trying to take on too much at once. So why don’t we slow down and focus? Below are just a few things I have begun to do in order help me from becoming an unproductive busy bee.

– I try to plan my day ahead of time so I don’t just wing it.
– Write down three of my most important goals or actions for that day and don’t worry about anything else unless I have these things completed or under control.
– This is really tough for me at the moment but I am trying to take on the most difficult or dreaded tasks first. It’s uncomfortable but I save a ton of time throughout the day. I can easily chew up hours doing meaningless tasks.
– Schedule phone calls and meetings instead of playing phone tag with people. Big time waster that can make me feel busy by leaving voice mails for everyone under the sun and returning calls that I missed from leaving all those voice mails.
– Stop worrying what people think if I don’t get back to them right away. Yes, some things need attention right away but the reality is that I do not have to respond to every email in less than 4.3 seconds. I try to focus on what’s really important and what tasks are going to get me closer to my 3 or 4 most important goals for that day. Which in turn will get me closer to my goals for the month and year. Jumping from one random task to another isn’t a trait of the world-class.

Read more and follow Brian’s blog here: http://brianhagman.com/slow-down-and-focus-why-dont-you/

One Thing I’ve Learned About…Simplicity

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by Jim Johnson

Over the past few months, I’ve developed and introduced a new initiative to my team. I lead a great team who is responsible for: a call center, eServices (online/phone lending), fraud, card admin, deposit operations, online account opening, etc.). We are calling this initiative the “Challenge to Change”.

What I wanted to do was to show the team how they can impact our bottom line (we call that our Measures that Matter) by adding something to their daily habits/routines. I didn’t want them to stop doing what they should be doing. No, I wanted them to add a simple step – a simple addition that could have significance in hitting our corporate goals.

Our call center, for instance, handles hundreds of calls every day. This team is effective in handling a wide variety of issues. They have been asked to view the customer’s financial profile and determine if this person has a full relationship with us (we are a credit union). Once they look at the profile, they are to ask themselves: “what’s missing?” Even if they see that more than one thing is missing, we have kept it simple. PICK ONE. Then talk about it.

We have created a list of “conversation starters” that assist the call center rep to begin a conversation that will lead to a deeper relationship with us. We are using current technology tools to log this interaction. Our technology can be viewed by anyone in the company and will keep the conversation momentum moving as the customer is in the deciding stage (we don’t assume that the sale will be made on the first attempt – it will take multiple interactions).

Here’s what I’ve learned while developing this initiative:

1. Know what my team is already doing. I spent significant time with team members asking them to show me what they look at when beginning an interaction with a customer. I had them explain (when necessary) what they could see/know from the data available on our core system. I gained valuable information with this step.

2. Understand their routine. Everyone approaches the same job in different ways. I had to discover how my team works. Some take short cuts. Others don’t. Some know their technology tools well. Others? Not so much. But I had to spend time with the team to know what they know and do.

3. Keep it simple. I knew that if I wanted to introduce a new habit, I couldn’t turn their work world upside down. Knowing my team and understanding their routine helped me know when and where to introduce change. It helped me to keep this process simple.

The new process only adds one step in their routine. One step. That’s it.

4. Communicate. I met with my call center 3-4 people at a time. I’m a word-picture guy. I drew charts, pictures, and graphs to lay-out what they do and where the change was going to happen. I asked a lot of questions and listened. I asked for feedback and got it. I made changes to the process based on the feedback. It was critical that we were all on the same page.

We are planning to launch this initiative this month. We have some testing to do with our current technology. We believe it will work and be a great “leading indicator” of our monthly corporate goals. It will drive more business to our branches. It will keep the relationship conversation going.

We didn’t build a complex machine to do this. We’re keeping it simple. We’ll be inspecting what we expect and encourage development and growth as we launch.

Change isn’t always easy. But keeping things simple, understanding the team’s work and process helps change happen.