Here in the US, we are celebrating Halloween today. Our children will be out and about this evening trick-or-treating and filling their bags will all kinds of sweets. It is rarely scary and always a lot of fun.
So allow me some latitude to ask: do you know what is frightening you in the workplace today? Let me offer up some scary realities that left unattended can bring on unproductive teams and can often lead to chaos. Leaders, be ware!
Lack of communication
No company-wide vision
“Do as I say, not as I do” coming from leadership
Failure to confront issues
Passive aggressive behaviors
Lack of investment in the team in mental, physical, and financial wellness, personal/leadership development, community outreach
I listed just a few here. So what is the remedy?
Ask yourself: “what am I blind to?” Then address those things.
Develop authenticity. You may need help with this. You cannot merely dictate real change. You need to model it.
Ask your team where they need help? Then act on what you learn.
Bring in a consultant to help you deal with really tough issues that have been ignored for too long.
Communicate. Be vulnerable while keeping the team moving in a positive, forward-moving growth mode. It can be done.
Address what is frightening you and your team/organization. Take the lead to recalibrate if necessary. Keep things real. Keep accountability at the forefront.
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.
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.
Last 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.
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?
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.”
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.
I was introduced to the book The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. I began reading it yesterday morning while waiting for some work to be done on my wife’s car in the shop. I am enjoying it and highly recommend it to you .
I sent the following in an email to my team here at work. Olson makes a great point on success, and I want to share it with you now.
Jeff Olson shares that most people in life want to experience success but only around 5% actually do something to become successful. According to Olson (and I agree with him), “success comes through simple, productive actions, repeated consistently over time.” That is TRUE.
Here’s an example of that. In the past 3 years, I’ve lost nearly 50 lbs. I did not wake up the other day and BAM! those 50 lbs were mysteriously gone (wouldn’t that be great!?!). No, here’s how that happened:
I decided to fight my diabetes by changing the way I ate.
I researched eating a LCHF (low carb/healthy fat) lifestyle.
Every day, I concentrated on reducing my carbs. For me, I worked to keep my daily carbs to <100g
Every day, I used My Fitness Pal app to keep track of what I ate and how many carbs I consumed at each meal.
Every day, I stuck to my plan.
I didn’t intend to lose weight. My goal was to reduce my blood sugar numbers – I was unhealthy! But as a “side effect”, I was losing weight by focusing on reducing carbs every day.
Did you read that? “every day” My weight loss success was due to the “simple, productive actions, repeated consistently over time.” I lost 30 lbs in less than 120 days earlier this year. I’ve kept it off, too.
Here in your job, you can be successful. It will require daily disciplines that are easy to do. Really, they are easy. But just like trying to lose weight, disciplines are also easy not to do. The choice is yours.
So here are 10 Core Commitments for you. This is my challenge to you. Work on these commitments every day at every opportunity. There may be days when you don’t get to all 10, but if you make it a focus, I bet you’ll do more than you think.
10 Core Commitments
Follow-up (issue resolution, member service one step beyond)
Follow-through (keeping our promises)
Ask for the business (connect to our experts)
Be pleasant & professional (smile and use their name)
Ask for referrals (members who are “fans” will promote us – ask them!)
Communicate appropriately (in-person, on the phone, email, texts)