Does Your Team Know What Your Team Does? by Jim Johnson

I’ve been working on a little project here at work.  I lead 4 different, unique divisions.  We are all on the same floor.  There is a lot of collaboration between the teams.  But I discovered something.  The team still doesn’t always know what the team (overall) does.

So I addressed it.

With the help of my leadership team, I created a document (12 pages long) that highlights each of my divisions, the work they do, and the up-to-date results they are getting.  In each of their sections, I also shared the company awards they’ve received over the past couple of years (it’s always good to be reminded of this!).  Each team member was listed and all of their photos were included.

Teams can do the work day in and day out.  We all are busy.  My team is full of flawed, human beings – myself included!  We are not perfect.  But we do a lot to move our company forward.  We work hard to serve our customers (members) to our best ability.  We care about each other inside and outside of work.

I created this document to be sure my team understands all that goes on.  I want them to appreciate their own efforts and results.  I want them to appreciate the efforts of those working on the other side of the room.  Together, we are making a positive impact.

I challenge you to do something similar with your team.  This exercise helped me focus on the positive strengths this team has.  I think it will help my team focus on that, too.

winning teams

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Brainstorming & a Shock Test

In a little over an hour, my leadership team and I will gather in a room to start a brainstorming session.  We’re going to talk about how we can become better/do better.  But instead of talking about ethereal topics, we’re going to put a timeline on our path to improvement.  We’re going to get specific on how we plan to improve.  We’re going to own our journey and our results.

MS Leadership TeamLast week, we all attended the Global Leadership Summit (#gls17, #fwgls) here in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  We were exposed to a lot of great content.  It’s time to put that content to work for us.  Today’s brainstorming session will kick-off this process.

Shock Test?  Yes.  We’re going to discuss what we would do/be differently when a deadline is applied to something we are expected to provide every day.  More on this later…

Today is about being intentional, creative, and influential.

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It’s about leadership.

I am Accountable – are you sure?  by Michael Cahill

All along my employment journey, I have had positions that had varying amounts of responsibility, and I believed I held myself very accountable. If asked in the summer of 2008 (when I became CEO of a publicly traded company), how accountable I held myself, I would have answered that I held myself extremely accountable.

I was wrong.

That is hard to say, and it took me a few years to see the light, and probably another year or so to admit it. What happened?

I was in front of the very same board (I was CEO of the company’s largest subsidiary prior to the summer of 2008). I knew all the details and activities of the company. However, there was now no one between me and the directors. One of the directors sole focus was holding the CEO accountable – period.

At first, I thought it was about blame. Then I thought is was just about picking on me. Then I thought is was personal.

Once again, I was wrong.

This director did not care about blame. It was not personal, and he was not picking on me. He just cared about what I was going to do to correct things going forward and to insure poor results did not reoccur.

He did not care how it happened, or who did it. He did not care if 15 of the 16 key metrics were good. He wanted to know why all sixteen were not good. What was I doing about the one bad metric?

I could not play CYA. I could not say that overall we were good. I could not use any other tactic to get around it. I had to own everything. I was CEO because a great majority of my decisions were good ones. I was CEO because a great majority of my actions were the right ones. I was CEO because I had selected the right strategies. However, as CEO I had to be held accountable for 100% of what is going on. It was the board’s job to hold me to that standard.

A funny thing happened along the way. I became more and more comfortable with this level of accountability. I recognized it was not about blame. It was about always getting better. It was about improvement. It was about be able to face adversity and take on that challenge versus hiding from it. The more accountability I took, the easier it became.

Errors or bad results are just challenges to overcome. Bad things happen – always. It is not about avoidance, but honestly admitting these ‘bad things’ and coming forward with solutions and actions to overcome them.

So how do you respond when bad things happen? Do you blame others? Do you divert attention? Do you CYA? Do you hide, or do you own it, see it as a challenge, and come back with solutions, ideas, and tactics to overcome the issues?

I want to work with people who hold themselves and others accountable. Easier said than done, but it is so worth it!

As an aside, as I was working on becoming more accountable and less defensive, I would sometimes say in a board meeting – “Thank you for pointing that out. I am sure I will appreciate it tomorrow.” I was half kidding, but once I got over my defensive posture, I knew I would be a better person for it.

The cool thing? The more accountable I became, the less fear I had. The less fear I had, the more accountable I was. It was a self fulfilling prophecy.

So next time something bad happens to you or to your company, or division, or team, go down the checklist. Did you hide? Did you blame? Did you CYA? Did you divert? Or did you state the issue and lay out how to correct the problem and keep it from happening again?

Who would you rather be around?






Leading is What’s Possible by Tony Jeary

I’m working my way through Tony Jeary’s book, Life is a Series of Presentations.  If you speak in front of your team, a project team, the executive team, a community organization, etc., this is a must-read for you.  Here’s Tony quoting Scott Klein:

“Leadership…is the ability to teach people and organizations to surpass themselves.  It’s about maximizing human potential and about the ability to see what others don’t see.  Leading is the ability to find where people or an organization should be going, while managing is handling a collection of tasks.”

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The Ripple Effect at Work

I’m leading a couple of groups at work that I’m calling “Emerging Leaders”.  I meet with both groups for just 1 hour each week.  Currently, we are working through Jeff Olson’s book, The Slight Edge.  Starting in November, we will be studying John Maxwell’s The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.

For today’s session, we will be discussing the Ripple Effect.  Olson explains this:

“When you create positive improvements in your life, you create positive ripples that spread out all around you, like a pebble of positivity dropped in a pond.”

And the ripple effect can impact others to do the same…

“When you reach out and positively affect one other person through your interactions and words, you create a slight change in that person, who is then more likely to reach out and positively affect someone else.  Simply put, one touches another,                    who touches another, who touches another.”

Are you looking for improvements within your team?  Are you overwhelmed at the thought of moving the entire team to better results, increased improvement?

Take the time to invest in a couple key team members who are positive influencers.  Help them see their potential.  Give them solid tools for success.  Fan their flames.

If they are truly people of influence, the ripple effect can work.  As these key team members demonstrate positive results, work habits, healthy collaboration, this can ripple to others.  As you coach all of your team, encourage growth and development.  Point out the positive and address what needs to improve.  But get your team to work together towards success.  Make this your culture within your department.

The ripple effect can work for you.

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