Category: Leadership

What Light Do You Cast?

What Light Do You Cast?

He and I had worked together for a few years when he stopped by my office. He needed an unbiased ear to help with a staff issue. His team had taken on the habit of always criticizing each other. At first, he thought it was a good sign because he believed that they had started to bond. But the more he listened, the less he liked what he heard. They were disrespectful to each other.

He didn’t know what to do.

 

The people that you have around you are your biggest influence.

RJ Mitte

 

I asked him how their performances were. He described a litany of issues that each of his team members was having. Listening to him, I would not have believed there was a good one in the bunch.

“How valuable are the players on your team to the organization’s goals?”

“Valuable,” he replied, “we have accomplished so much.”

“When was the last time you told them?” He stopped, pausing, “It had been awhile.”

“When you talk about their performance do you focus on how well they are doing or what they can be doing better?”

“I want them to be better so we can keep doing amazing things.”

“I get that,” I explained, “but let me ask you this, why do you think they criticize each other?”

It took him a moment, but he realized that they were following his lead.

Our job as leaders is to influence those individuals around us. And we do this by our behaviors. Studies have shown that people adopt similar patterns of behaviors from those they respect and those that are in positions of power. I separated respect and power because they are different qualities. Respect is something that is earned within an organization. Power is something that is given due to a higher level of authority. Great leaders get their power through respect. Bad leaders get their respect through power.

In either case, we are apt to imitate the behaviors of those around us. We can see this easily in our families. Think about your parents, what behaviors of theirs, do you do? For example, my father is an avid hiker, each week leading hikes through the mountains of South and North Carolina’s. I too am an avid hiker and enjoy hiking in the woods whenever I get a chance.

At work, this influence may not be as easily recognized but does happen. I collaborated with a group of individuals who were all fantastic about being open about their strengths and their limitations. At first, I was guarded and spoke more of my strengths, but as time passed, I noticed that I too was talking about my limitations. This built trust up in the group and allowed us to work together to get the best possible outcomes.

Our behaviors influence those around us.

The good news is that we also positively affect people. Have you ever worked for a manager who was good at going on break, leaving on time and taking vacations? I bet, in time, you started to get these habits as well.

 

There is no influence like the influence of habit.

Gilbert Parker

 

The aim is to know that your behaviors affect those around you and to make the best effort to influence their behaviors positively. When you have a behavior that is negatively impacting the team, focus on it and work to improve it. If you can share your work to change your behavior with the team, even better. This action will stop them from imitating you and may also provide you feedback so you can continue to improve.

The Leadership Team

The Leadership Team

Donald Trump has been elected 45th President of the United States of America. The moment Hilary Clinton conceded, his transition team started working in overdrive to figure out who would serve on his Leadership Team.

In his Book Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about how important it is to have the right people on the bus as you lead an organization to greatness. Mr. Collins stresses, and I whole heartily agree, it is not about having one genius and a thousand soldiers. It is about having a team of equals working together to achieve greatness. In his cabinet, Abraham Lincoln had a team of rivals because he wanted to get best people for his team.

 

“We” multiplies the power of “I”.”
― Aniekee Tochukwu Ezekiel

 

Below is a crucial list of items to consider when building your leadership team;

Diversity of thought: One person, no matter his/her experience, cannot have as great of perspective as a group of individuals. Having a diversity of thought allows old ideas to be challenged and for new ideas to be advanced. In one instance, I was working with a group of leaders to discuss the potential of a major reorganization of the broadcasting division of a major electronic retailer. We stood in a conference room, talking, arguing, challenging and finally agreeing on the best organizational structure for the department. It was not easy work, but by having a group of individuals, we got to see and hear from a greater perspective than if one person made the decision.

Balance of Strengths: All of us have strengths that we offer to the world, we also have limitations that hold us back. By creating a balance of strengths in a team, we can offset the limitations and build on our individual’s strengths. Working with a small manufacturing company, I noticed that the leadership team was a diverse group of people who had various strengths and limitations. One member was good at communicating and getting messages across; one was an idea generator; one was process driven; one as good at working with people. Separately they could not have succeeded, but together they did some amazing things.  When you are looking to build a team, consider the following strengths: Social + Emotional Intelligence, Communication, Systemic Thinking, Operational and Process Excellence, Technical Expertise, Problem Solving and idea generator. What other strengths should be on your team?

Trust: Trust among team members is crucial to the success of the team. Will the individuals on the team trust each other? Trust is multifaceted. There is trust that each can and will do their job to the best of their ability. Trust that when a team member has limitations they will ask for assistance. Trust that each is working for the betterment of the team and objective. Trust that although we may disagree, we will continue together to find the best solution. Trust that we can share our concerns and not hear them on the nightly news. Trust happens not by expecting it but by building it. By showing you are trustworthy and in return trusting others.

Work Ethic: Have you ever worked on a project and one individual did a lot less work than all of the others? This lack of work ethic or more precisely this unequal work ethic can negatively impact the team. Work ethic is not just about the amount of time; it is about the amount of effort an individual is willing to dedicate to reaching success for the team. This may mean working long hours. It also may be sacrificing other corporate activities to support the team. When you become a member of a President’s Administration, there is a lot of challenging work to accomplished; you cannot expect to work only forty hours each week.

Common Vision: This may challenge the notion of diversity of thought but when you are working together, a shared vision of a better future is necessary so the team is working toward a single objective. For instance, I served on a non-profit board, and we had the goal of improving our infrastructure. In all of our meetings, we were able to keep this as a focus. However, we had spirit discussion on how best to do this. The shared vision grounds the team on what they are working towards and what they will accomplish.

Level of Expertise: This may be challenging because it is easy to use this as the first measurement for the team. They must have a certain degree of competence in a particular area. And if this is use, you may eliminate diversity of thought, the balance of strengths and trust. However, I do agree that some level of expertise needs to be considered when building a team. In general, you would not want a middle school footballer on a college level team. However, at times, we hold individuals back because they don’t have a level of expertise but we could use their strengths in communication or emotional intelligence to balance out the team. In this case, knowing this person limitation as a subject matter expert helps you balance out the team with other subject matter experts.

 

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”
― Phil Jackson

 

Building a leadership team is critical to the success of an organization. My research and experiences have shown me that a leadership team has more impact on an organization than a single leader. When leaders surround themselves with other excellent leaders, the team can achieve great things. There is a trend in the NFL to hire ex-head coaches as assistant coaches, not only can the head coach tap into their skill level and knowledge of the ex-head coach but can also tap into their experience and shorten their learning curve.

Is your leadership team set? Or do you need help building your leadership team?

Embrace Gratitude

Embrace Gratitude

Embrace Gratitude. Simple words in this time of Thanksgiving. This Thursday we will gather around tables small and large, and reflect if only for a moment, on the kindness and blessing in our lives. We will share food and fellowship. Football games will be won and lost. Turkeys stuffed. Vegetables roasted. Pies baked and meals blessed.

Studies show that when we embrace gratitude as a daily practice, we have more positive emotions, we sleep better and feel more alive. In turn, we express more compassion and kindness to others. When we do embrace gratitude, we turn from the discouraging towards the encouraging.

A daily practice of gratitude. Sit quietly in the early morning light and reflect upon the kindness and blessings in your life. Or in the warmth of the bedroom at night, write in a journal the goodness and blessings that have been granted to you. Or before a meal, take a moment to express the kindness and blessings of the day.

Share Gratitude: The essence of gratitude is that it is meant to be shared with those who have bestowed kindness and grace upon us. In this busy, hectic, self-indulgent world, we forget to pause and thank one another for their efforts for us, for their attention to us, for their love of us. Gratitude is not measured in syllables; it is measured in connection.

Some simple guidelines allow our gratitude to be felt:

  • Express gratitude when you feel gratitude. Don’t hesitate until a perfect time, do it at the moment. The flip side of this is not to express gratitude if you don’t feel gratitude. People will see you are insincere.
  • Be full-throated: A quick thank you may leave the recipient puzzled about your intent. Be specific as possible. Instead of saying, “Thank you for all that you do for me,” say, “Thank you so much for helping with Project A, especially your insights into how to improve delivery.” Gratitude is a deep rich feeling and should be expressed as such.
  • Reach the recipient. In today’s world, we have a thousand ways of communicating with each other. What I have found is that when I include gratitude in group communications be it a town hall, social media posts or an email, the impact on the recipient is lost. A direct connection between my gratitude and the recipient is best. This includes an e-card, handwriting thank you note or a personal conversation.

I worked with a leader who would send handwritten thank-you notes to her staff when she was grateful for a job well done. Walking around the office, I noticed that these cards lingered in their workspaces for weeks, if not months, after being received. What a measurable impact this leader was having on her team.

Embracing gratitude is the act of appreciation for the kindness and blessings in our lives. It allows us to focus on the hope instead of the fear. It allows us to welcome the possibilities of the future. It allows us to know we are not alone in our journey.

Embrace Gratitude.

How to Succeed at Almost Anything

How to Succeed at Almost Anything

The last thing most of us are thinking about right now is completing our New Year’s resolutions for 2016. It is the mad holiday rush. Shopping, Gift Wrapping, Holiday Concerts, Travel Plans, and Office Parties. Statistically, only eighteen percent of individuals who set New Year’s resolutions will succeed. This figure has preoccupied me over the last two years as I studied and research what makes leaders successful and what doesn’t.

In November, I was asked to put together a workshop on How to be Successful in Business. As I compiled the information what I came to realize is that the actions that make a business leader successful can make us successful as well. The one characteristic that all successful leaders have in common is a drive to be successful.

If you are willing to work towards your goal, you too can be successful. In this newsletter/blog, I provide four ideas when used in concert can provide you guidance toward your destination. These four ideas are from my leadership research and experience working with clients. Like all researchers, I stand on the shoulders of giants and build on the works of others including Marshall Goldsmith, Teresa Amabile, Seth Godin and numerous others who have provided me insights on my journey to success.

I hope that as you read this newsletter, it will inspire you to start your journey to success.

Dream Big:

 

“If you can imagine it, you can create it. If you can dream it, you can become it.”

William Arthur Ward

 

My life’s work is to be a leadership guide; a person who assist others to be successful organizational leaders. Where I cannot help, is when they cannot envision a better future self. My first interaction with any client is understanding what success feels and looks like to them. Only then can we start working together to develop a strategy to get from point A (present self) to Point B (Future Self).

Success does not have to be “Big Change the World Dreams.” Success can be “change your world dreams.” It might be as simple as losing ten pounds, saving for a new car, getting a new job, taking a family trip, better communications with your significant other, or start a business. For my business clients, it usually centers around having a greater impact on the business.

The first step is to put your dream into writing and to follow the rules of SMART Goals by making it Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. If you do this, you have started on your journey to being a success. For some, this is a difficult task because although they can envision it in their mind, translating it to paper so others can understand it. For these individuals, I suggest doing self-brainstorming where you are capturing pieces of your dream and pulling them together in a single place. This process will help you visual what success looks like for you and help you better explain it to others. This process is not a quick process and will take time for you to develop a clear understanding of your definition of success.

Focus:

 

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
Maya Angelou

 

 

When working with my clients, the next step to being successful is understanding what actions or behaviors they need to focus on to be successful. For this, I use a tool called the change triangle which was introduced to me by an executive Vice President I worked with. It is a simple but powerful tool that helps us understand what we need to do to be successful by asking ourselves three questions.

  1. What behaviors or actions do I need to continue to be successful at my goal? This question allows us to keep certain behaviors to be successful. It grounds us in our present day self, reminding us that we do not have to discard who we are to be successful. For example, if it is your goal to lose ten pounds before the next college reunion (Note the SMART goal elements in this goal), there are probably certain behaviors you are presently doing that are helping with that goal. For my wife and I we like to walk our dogs, this is an activity we should continue to help us in our goal of losing weight.
  2. What behaviors or actions do I need to stop doing to be successful at my goal? For most of my clients and participants in my workshops, this question defies logic. For most of our lives, we are told to grab the gold, reach for your dreams, or become all you can be. All forward driven phrases. Except if we do not stop doing certain behaviors our chances of being successful diminish. When I was a teenager, my father would take my siblings and me hiking. One of the things, he always reminded us, was to make sure we kept our pack as light as possible, especially when we were climbing some of the higher mountains. This wisdom is good for our goals as well. What are those behaviors that hold us back, create extra weight on our journey to success? For me when it comes to losing weight, I know that I need to stop sitting on the couch at night. Not only am I not getting any exercise; it tends to be the place I eat subconsciously.
  3. What behaviors or actions do I need to start doing to be successful at my goal? For most people this is straight forward; they understand the activities they will help them be successful in their pursuit of their goals. If not, they can hire life or business coaches like me to help them develop an awareness of what behaviors will make them successful at their goal. As you develop behaviors, it is important that you define them regarding SMART behaviors. They should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. For instance, for losing weight, you might write your response as, “I will do cardio exercise for forty-five minutes three days a week.” This action helps you measure the progress you are making toward success.

Measure Progress:

The next step toward success is measuring our progress so we can see how far we have come. With holiday travels starting soon, I am reminded of those road trips with my family where one road looked like the other, and I could never figure how far we had progressed toward my grandparent’s house, hence the question from the back seat of the car, “Are we there yet?”

In their book, Progress Principle, Teresa Amiable, and Steven Kramer note the importance of creating small wins to keep moving toward our goals. The challenge for most of us is how we track our progress to make sure we are heading in the right direction. I have two basic methods which I have used with my clients.

The first was introduced to me my Marshall Goldsmith, Executive Coach, and New York Times Best Selling author. He calls it the Daily Questions and wrote about it in his book “Triggers.” In its basic form, it is a spreadsheet with the list of the behaviors/activities we want to focus on in one column and the days a week in the row above.

Each day rate yourself against the behaviors by asking the question “Did I do my best to …” and then the behavior. If you do this for two weeks, a month. You will start seeing trends; those behaviors you are putting effort towards and those you are not. At this point, you have a choice to either work on those behaviors so you can be successful or admit that you are not willing to change certain behaviors. Moreover, if the latter is the case, you have an additional choice to decide whether the goal you are working towards is important to you and if you can succeed in that goal without changing that particular behavior. For instance, if I am trying to lose weight and have chosen not eating potato chips as a behavior but realize that after a month, I have not been as successful as I like at stopping eating potato chips. I know have a choice. Do I allow myself to eat potato chips or do I refocus my energy on not eating potato chips or do I stop trying to lose weight? Hard choice for sure. However, changing our behavior is not easy.

The second way to measure our progress is to use technology. There are numerous coaching apps on our smart phones that we can purchase to help us. And if you have the resources and are going to make a concentrated effort, go for it.

However, I have found an easier way to use technology to help us. All of our smart phones come with a reminder app which we can use to our benefit. Right now open your reminder app and write this question down.

 

“I have I done my best to change my behavior so that I can reach my goal of. . .”

 

Now set this as a daily reminder so that it appears as an appropriate time for you. If you are a morning person, it may be first thing in the morning. If you are an evening person, it may be right after dinner. When it appears, visualize your goal for five minutes and think about your behaviors and if you did your best to succeed. In time, you will be able to create a better focus approach on how you can exceed.

Find your community.

Lastly, find your community or tribe. In his book, Tribe, Seth Godin tells us the importance of having likeminded people in our lives. When you are trying to be successful toward a goal, whether it is losing weight or saving money, running a successful business, it is important to have people who are on the same journey as you.

I always envision the pioneers who crossed our great country in the Conestoga wagons. They were a tribe of like-minded individuals searching for a better life. Together they dealt with all the obstacles and challenges crossing the Great Plains, and the Rocky Mountains by sharing information, working together and supporting one another.

Most people will turn to close friends and family to be part of their community, but this is wrong. Although they will be supportive, they are on different journeys and will not be able to understand the challenges and obstacles you face. If you are trying to lose weight, you are not going to look for your community of dieters at your local bar. The best place to look will be in your local gym. So think about who your community is and where you can best find them.

Success:

 

“We often miss opportunity because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
Thomas A. Edison

 

 

Opportunity and Success are siblings; one leads to the other. The more success you have, the more opportunities are given to you. Above I have provided four ideas to make you successful in reaching your next goal. These tips will be useful as you begin your journey to success. They will provide you touch points to help you keep moving in the right direction.

Does your team know when it is winning?

Does your team know when it is winning?

It is always satisfying at the end of the game to see my Green Bay Packers with the winning score. Every player knows, no matter how well they did individually, it does not matter unless the game ends in the win column. This same expectation is found in the performing arts as well. When the audience rises in ovation at the end of the show, the cast and crew know they have succeeded in delighting the audience with their work.

In business, the connection is not always clear cut. Sure profits are always good. Increase Sales are also always good. High customer service ratings are also always good. Best Product or Service Best Quality Awards are also always good.

Unlike a single game or performance, work is an ongoing process that never has a satisfactory conclusion. There is always more you can do the next day to change the score. However, like a game, there are times when you are losing (not meeting expectations), or there are times when you are winning (exceeding expectations). Near the end of each financial period, we tally, looking at the data whether we are successful or not. At the year’s end, we look even harder at the numbers squeezing every piece of information to achieve our objectives.

However, these defined objectives are hard to understand because they can seem arbitrary to the people on the front line. For instance, at one large corporation, I worked for our goal was to increase EBITDA by a certain percentage point each year. We use the traditional business formula to make this happen, cutting expenses and increasing sales. When we meet our goals the front office was happy; when we did not achieve our goals, they were unhappy. The staff on the front line felt the difference in numerous ways but had a hard time understanding how their work impacted the outcome.

However, there are successful companies that are transparent on how success is measured. In one company I know, they were bold and proud about what success was. In the manufacturing plant’s main hallway a sign was posted defining success.

We win when:

  1. There are zero safety or security issues or violations.
  2. Our values remain intact
  3. We produce ### of widgets at a rate of 96% Quality Perfection Rate
  4. Keep waste to 1% of the run – the aim is zero. (It is our Planet, after all)
  5. We hug our families today

At the end of each shift, the General Manager would record how well they did on each with the exception of #2. The #2 tally was given to an employee chosen at random who privately handed his score into the General Manager. Because it was more subjective, it was always interesting to see how the score varied day to day. No matter, the general manager always addressed the score and talked to the shifts about it. Good or bad.

The employees at this manufacturing plant knew when they had succeeded; they also knew they would have an avenue to discuss challenges that kept them from being successful at the end of the day.

Unfortunately, this is not the case for most employees. The information necessary for an employee to understand if the team has been successful is too far removed, i.e. the percentage change in EBITDA or too vague, good customer service values, to have any impact. Every manager needs to communicate clearly, consistently and continuously how the individual is successful, how the department is successful, and how the business is successful.

In one case, one of my colleagues had a new role and started working on what success looked and felt like for one of the positions within his team. He did this first my understanding the position through interviewing and shadowing the employees. After a period, he narrowed the definition of what success looked and felt like to his team. He presented this to his team and then listened to their feedback and made adjustments he thought made sense.

He started tracking success for each shift and each employee. The employees knew when there were and when they were not meeting this new definition of success. In time all his employees were exceeding his expectations, so he raised the requirements slightly to challenge the employees. Moreover, again his employees rose to the challenge. Some struggled at first but he paired them with more successful employees, and they too raised to this new level of excellence. However, what he was must proud of was during this whole period, was that his employee engagement scores continued to rise. He contributed this to working with the employees to set the expectations and to the communication of the results on a consistent basis to his team. They knew they were winners.

Does your team know if they are winning?

How to Help Entrepreneurs

How to Help Entrepreneurs

Last year, I did something that I didn’t expect I would ever do. I started my own company.

On both sides of my family, I come from a long line of intelligent, hardworking individuals who spent years working with the same organizations. My dad worked for over thirty years for the same company. My mom did social work for the county government for over two decades. My grandfathers had similar track records. There was only one exception in my life.

It wasn’t that I didn’t have the urge to start my own company. I did, at least conceptually. Yet, I am risk averse, my comfort zone for most of my life has been small. Starting a business is a grand risk that takes self-confidence, courage and a little bit of crazy. Not to mention a lot of resources.

The one exception was my older brother who after getting his MBA and Doctorate decided that working for himself was the best avenue for him. He started a business providing learning solutions to corporations and organizations. Occasionally, we would talk about his business, and although he was proud of his work, at times he was frustrated by the challenges of running a business. A common theme in talking to entrepreneurs.

After being downsized through a corporate reorganization and a move to new city, I decided to take the plunge. Luckily, I had the resources and a loving wife that allow me to make this incredible journey into business ownership. Over the past year, I have pushed my zone of comfort, learned new skills and connected with amazing individuals within my new community.

When I talk to friends, family and old business acquaintances, I am asked how can they assist an entrepreneur like myself.

Here are my answers:

  1. Introduce them to your connections: In the 1950’s they tried an experiment to see how people were connected, their research showed that ever person on the planet was connected by six other people. In today’s world, with Facebook, Twitter, the Internet, and Snapchat, we are now connected by three to four people. Building strong business relationships is critical to the success of start-ups. One of your connections may be the one that allows them to make it big.

  2. Buy them a coffee or an adult beverage and listen: Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey. We are focused on the challenges of starting a business, getting financial support, marketing our products or services, finding partners, and building a team. At times, we need others to remind us that the world is still turning. Although somehow, we will figure out a way to talk about our business. (smile)

  3. Invest in them: The simple form of investment is to purchase their product or services. This simple gesture may provide the necessary motivation to keep the business going. Of course, in my case, I realize that not everyone believes that they need leadership development, although, I know that leaders who use business coaches are more successful. (just saying). However, some of my best clients come from referrals from people I know. Lastly, invest in them directly by donating to their go fund me page or other social funding sites. It is amazing how much funding an individual can raise through their connections.

  4. Give them an audience: Most of my entrepreneur friends have built a good connection by standing up and front of people and telling them their story. I worked for an organization that gave entrepreneurs a chance to stand up in front of millions of people and tell their story. It worked. People are more willing to buy a product or purchase a service when they hear the story of the business owner. Everyone belongs to organizations that need speakers ask your entrepreneur friend to tell their story.

  5. Follow them: Social media is a boon for small business owners because they can connect with their customers, clients, etc. directly, at very little to no cost. Maybe your favorite entrepreneur owns a small shop down the street, perhaps across the country. One of my favorite restaurants is in Bath Maine (a three-day car ride), but I am still connected with them through social media. By following entrepreneurs and small business on social media, you can increase their circle of influence, especially by liking and sharing their posts.

Small Businesses powers are the economy. They are the individuals who are investing in our community. They are the leaders who are serving on boards of local non-profits. They are the people who are hiring employees. None of this will happen unless we invest our resources in making entrepreneurs successful.

 

John Thalheimer is a leadership expert from Nashville Tennessee. He continues his entrepreneur journey where he runs True Star Leadership and works on guiding individuals to better leadership. He has a master’s degree in organizational leadership and dual certification in leadership coaching. When asked, John will admit he doesn’t drink coffee but has yet to turn down a chance to talk anyone about his adventure.

Invite John to coffee john@johnthalheimer.com
Leadership: The Ostrich Myth

Leadership: The Ostrich Myth

Did you know that it is a myth that Ostriches hide their head in the sand when they face danger?

However, in the world of leadership, I find various behaviors that mimic the myth of Ostrich with their head in the sand. As leaders, we need to make the best possible decisions to lead our organization forward. At times, we continue not to accept a contrary position, either because we are isolated within our corporate headquarters, or don’t believe the information we are being presented is correct.

I worked with a vice President who spent a lot of time isolated in his office; developing ideas, concepts, and ways to move his organization forward. He was one of the smartest individuals I knew. He could analyze a problem and develop amazing solutions. Unfortunately, his solutions would routinely fail when implemented by his team. At first, my thought was that it was an implementation issue but the more I talked to him and his staff, I realize that his isolation was limiting the information he received. His results were good in theory but didn’t work within the real world of his organization.

After working together, he implemented a new process where his team would present real world solutions to the organization’s challenges and the team as a group would discuss what the best option was. Not only did the solutions work better, but the vice president was also more in touch with his team and the challenges they faced. It also allowed the team to be more involved in the decision-making process, giving them ownership over the solution.

As humans, we are limited in our decision-making ability by the shared experiences we have in our lifetime. One of the reasons, our social and emotional intelligence continues to grow is that we continue to experience life and learn how to deal with the many challenges it offers. If we hide in our figurative office, we will not be receiving the experience we need to make the best decisions for ourselves. We need to step outside of our comfort zone and have new experiences that challenge us and create new perspectives.

The Ostrich with his head in the sand was an optical illusion. From a far distance because of the difference in size of the ostrich’s head and their body, when they are foraging for food, it may have looked as if the head is in the sand.

This is why it is important to change our perspective.

Clean Slate

Clean Slate

Monday’s Clean Slate:

Each Monday Morning, I clean off the “white board” in my office. I love the possibility a clean slate gives me. When I worked in the theater, my favorite time was after the old show had been “struck” (remove from the stage) and before the new one began. The stage was empty except for the infinite potential of future shows.

I have this same feeling each Monday morning as I remove the old notes, scribbles, and lists from the previous week and before I begin adding my top three goals for the week. This week networking, a project submittal, and sharing leadership best practices.

What is on your slate for the week?

The Importance of Routine

The Importance of Routine

It was Thursday Afternoon, and I was waiting for a manager I coached to arrive at the local coffee shop. It has been a good year for her. She managed a team of high-performing individuals and had focused on continually improving their performance, creating and changing processes to get better results. I was looking forward to our conversation.

As I waited, I noticed that a good portion of the customers were greeting each other by name, exchanging pleasantries and waving their goodbyes, saying they would see each other tomorrow. It was their afternoon routine.

The Manager arrived sitting heavily in the chair next to me. Apprehension showed on her face and in her body language. This wasn’t going to be the conversation I had imagined.

“I just reviewed the numbers. I wanted to give you an update, show you the improvement.”

A long pause as she gathered herself.

“Productivity is down ten percent from last month. And it’s not a blip; I looked at the previous week, it is down fifteen percent.”

“How is it year to date?”

“Still good we are up overall by twenty-five percent.”

“Good then?”

She smiled. She knew what I was doing, trying to get her to look at the big picture; to see the improvement in her team. What they had accomplished together.

“I am just frustrated that the team is losing their level of commitment to the new changes.”

“How does the team feel?”

“Frustrated, to be honest. They are complaining about the latest change. Too complicated they say.”

“Is it?”

“Not any more than the last few changes.”

“Maybe it’s not the change but the amount of change.”

“Huh?”

“Let me give you an example. Do you remember when they were working on the major interstate and each morning you had to take a different way into work?”

“Ugh. That was terrible. I could never get my rhythm in the morning. I felt out of sorts.”

“Yes. Each day there was a new change. You had to adjust.”

“I did. I had to watch the detour signs. In fact, it was so confusing; I turned off the radio so that I could concentrate on where I was going.”

I sipped my drink.

“Oh no. My employees are feeling confused. They are working harder when I told them they would be working smarter. They aren’t sure where they stand because our expectations are changing with each change.”

“And now what?”

“I need to work with my team to develop a routine so we can smooth things out and get them feeling better about the job they are doing.”

“So how are those numbers?”

She smiled.

With all the push for evolving, changing, progressing and growing our organizations, leaders have forgotten the importance of routine. Humans have a basic need for security and stability, to be able to forecast the possible future when change disrupts this, it makes us uncomfortable.

As a leader, I made touching base with my staff part of my daily routine. Each day, I set aside time to get out of my office and talk with my team. This method allowed me to see what their day was like, what challenges they were facing and how I could support them. Usually, there were little to no, short-term gains, i.e. there wasn’t anything I could do to support them at that particular moment, however in time, I learned who my employees were, saw trends impacting the business and was able to make better management decision based on this routine.

Routines are also beneficial to the productivity of your team as it provides them with a sense of security, a feeling of stability and increases their overall confidence. In a study done by Dinah Avni-Babad (2010), showed that individuals use routines to increase their sense of well-being.

Routine also allows for the automation of thought. The benefit of this can be seen in our average commute to work. As I used in the example with the manager I was coaching, her commute to work was disrupted by the road work. She had to increase her concentration, and she was continually out of sorts, emotionally tired. However, when the road work was done, and she was able to get back to her morning routine, her energy came back, and she was able to plan for her day as she drove into work.

In his book, Daily Rituals: How Artists work Author Mason Currey describes the importance of routines for some of our greatest thinkers. In one instance he talks about Benjamin Franklin, who at the end of each day asked himself “What good have I done today?” used a routine to make sure he was accomplishing all of his goals. His routine provided structure for his day. Like Einstein who wore the same clothes each day, Benjamin Franklin did not have to think about how his time would be spent and was able to focus on the work at hand.

When an individual creates a sense of well-being for themselves through routines, it offers an increase confidence. Allows them to project forward and create a sense of control over the future. It also gives them the platform to take risks, be creative, be innovative, and paradoxically challenge the status quo.

To recap routinely provides the following benefits:

  • Better sense of well-being
  • Increase focus on high priority tasks
  • Daily or weekly structure
  • Reduces distractions
  • Increases overall confidence
  • A platform for challenging the status quo.

When we realize the importance of routine on the individual, we can now appreciate why people are naturally resistant to change. We can also understand the importance of Change Management to help facilitate bringing an individual from their old routine to their new routine. Change Management is the framework that allows the organization to manage the people side of change. Without Change Management there is a greater risk that change initiative will fail.

Emotional Intelligence: Awareness

Emotional Intelligence: Awareness

A little more than a year ago, Jeff Lurie, the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles fired his head coach Chip Kelly before the end of the season, a rare act in the prestigious NFL football league. The reason Mr. Laurie gave for firing Mr. Kelly was Emotional Intelligence.

The term Emotional Intelligence has been used in the corporate world for years to help executive and managers to lead their organization better. It first became attention to the business community through the work of Daniel Goleman and his 1995 breakthrough book titled Emotional Intelligence.

According to Laura A. Belsten, Ph.D. of the Institute for Social & Emotional Intelligence, Social and Emotional Intelligence is the ability to be aware of our emotions and those of others, at the moment, and to use that information to manage ourselves and manage our relationships. Simply put Emotional Intelligence is your awareness of your emotions and making the appropriate behavioral choice for the situation.

As you define your goals for 2017, make sure to include increasing your Emotional Intelligence. The benefits include better relationships, handling change better, being a better leader and most importantly getting better results at work and home.

The first step to increasing your Emotional Intelligence is to become aware of your emotions and the behavioral choices you are making based on them.

One of the best ways to understand your emotions is to acknowledge the emotions you are experiencing. This can be done in a formal manner by writing down your emotions at regular intervals through the day. For example, in the morning, midmorning, early afternoon, later afternoon, after dinner and at bedtime. Or less formally you can recap your day writing down all the different emotions you experienced and when.

Secondly after acknowledging your emotions for a week or two, start to assessing when you are experiencing those different emotions. Do you consistently get anxious when meeting with your supervisor? Do you constantly feel grumpy when you first wake up? Are you happiest when you are making progress at work?

Now, think back to any behavior changes that can be contributed to those emotions. For instance, you tried to start your monthly results oriented staff meeting, and two of your managers came in fifteen minutes late. What emotions were you feeling? Were you frustrated; were you annoyed; were you incensed; did you feel disrespected?

How did you react? Did you berate them in from of your other staff? Did you ignore them to the detriment of the meeting? Later, did you cut them out of important decisions?

As the emotions and behaviors become more linked in your daily life, you can start making choices on how you want to handle certain situations. For instance, if you know when people are late to meetings, you will feel disrespected; you can make choices on how you want to react? You can get angry if you think that will benefit the situation but more likely, you can let the slight go at the moment and focus on the message you need to deliver.

This exercise takes practice and will not be easy at first but as time passes and you become more aware of your emotions you can start making better choices.

We are not sure what particular aspect of emotional intelligence Chip Kelly is missing. We do know that in the future that if Mr. Kelly works on his emotional intelligence, he can increase his performance; build a stronger relationship with his players; have the ability to handling conflicts and focus his energy on winning games.

If, in 2016, you would like to increase your emotional intelligence and achieve all the goals you have set for yourself, please reach out to me at john@o3consultingllc.com, or one of the many Institute of Social and Emotional Intelligence Coaches at ISEI.com.