Monday, June 30, 2014

The Thing That Should Not Be

The world of leadership is filled with many things. Grand mission, vision and value statements adorn the walls of our organizations. We send internal press releases to keep our employees "engaged" and "informed" about what we feel comfortable sharing with them.

It's as if we have mastered the art of convincing ourselves that if we do what "we" feel is right, that somehow that covers all the bases. 

Here's "The Thing"
I continue to be amazed at how much attention I get as a leader in my organization. Over the years I've come to appreciate the "attention-by-default" circumstances that leaders find themselves...but it is still somewhat odd. At least if feels that way to me.

The end result of being in the leadership spotlight is that our behavior, above all other things, matters most. Not the important words on a piece of paper...not the press releases that say how wonderful we are...and certainly not the well rehearsed speeches that help us stay "on point."

Our behavior alone dictates our credibility.

The Thing That Should Not Be
My take on leadership behavior comes down to a simple list...
- Never discriminate against anyone. Ever.
- Never take anyone on your team for granted.
- Never assume people are "okay" simply because they responded that way.
- Never be afraid to take risks and show others that it is appropriate to do so.
- Never underestimate your power to build the brand of your organization.
- Never stop learning.

How About You
Do you see leaders saying one thing, and yet behaving differently because "the reality of operations" requires it? Are the public messages in your company inconsistent with the decisions that are made in the name of "making breakthrough progress?"

I think it is time for us all to take a collective step back and evaluate if we truly have our messages and behavior aligned properly. What do you think? Your credibility could be riding on it.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Balance and Flow

The world of work has an odd sense of humor. When we find our passion...and commit ourselves to it...we end up having greater demands placed on us. Those demands become a source of energy and motivation to push ourselves even harder (at least they have that effect on me.)

My competitive side loves the world of work's sense of humor.

Finding Balance
Much is written about the ever elusive notion of work/life balance and how differently this concept is applied in the modern world. Should we compartmentalize our lives into neat little time slots? Should we only check email twice a day? Should I only focus on three tasks every Monday? Do I have to be present for every single thing in every part of my life every time?

I'm exhausted trying to figure out how not to be exhausted.

Stop Chasing Balance
As our scope of responsibility grows...our project list stretches into double digits...and apparently everyone on Earth feels compelled to send us email...we need to stop doing one important thing.

Stop trying to "find" balance. 

"Balance does not have an address. It is not hidden on a website. You can not sign up for balance through an RSS feed. Nor can you register for balance at an event. Balance is a fantasy."

The Joke Is On You
For those living in the modern world it is impossible to separate work and life. That is not a bad fact, it is quite freeing. Stay with me now. 

Once the pressure to turn off work and turn on home (or any other non-work part of your life) is no longer present, your complete life can simply flow.

My friend Doug Shaw understands this concept and has helped me understand it too. Don't let unrealistic concepts force you to live an awkward life. Life is about flow...and it is a powerful way to integrate all of the pieces of your world.

How About You
Have you allowed yourself to believe that balance exists in your life; or, have you embraced your whole life as one flowing experience that integrates everything that you are? 

I'm glad I listened to Doug when he said "flow beats work/life balance." He was right.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Power, Transparency and Culture

Culture change is an interesting concept. Typically driven by a desire to become a world class organization, the core tenets of a major culture change must include the willingness of senior leaders to be humble, transparent in their decisions, and be unafraid to confront those that are resistant to change.

Humility Is Hard
The interplay between power and humility is a daily struggle for many leaders. Finding a way to appreciate the authority they have, while simultaneously doing everything possible to give that power away (you've heard of delegation, right?) is simply too difficult for some leaders.

The perception that the leader, particularly a newer leader who suddenly has more power than ever before, is making decisions without including others because they know best is dangerous. The leader may be correct in their ideas, however the delivery is so critical to achieve buy-in from those affected that simply making proclamations from on-high engenders no loyalty. After all...most leaders like loyalty among their teams, right? 

Transparency - Can You See It?
One of the easiest ways to achieve culture change is to be open about why decisions are being made. This sounds embarrassingly simple, yet time and time again decisions are made but the rationale for those decisions is kept close to the vest. Why? 

Is there a fear that by explaining why certain things are happening in an organization the leader will open to criticism? Is that so bad? Don't we all perform better when there is healthy dialogue, constructive feedback, and improved decisions emerge?

Confrontation Is For the Real Leaders
The trap I see so many leaders fall into however is exercising their authority in the absence of sharing why decisions are made. Their credibility quickly erodes. Sadly, they don't realize this is even happening because of their painfully obvious fear of confrontation. How in the world can anyone lead and do so from behind closed doors; or worse, through sending their team to deliver messages that should be delivered by them in the first place?

Confrontation is not is not fun...and it is absolutely required if one is to be an effective leader that builds trust.


How About You
Is building trust on your radar screen? If so, you'll need to push yourself outside your comfort zone of power. Otherwise, you'll simply be the hamster on the spinning wheel of power, transparency, and culture change dreams.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.



Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Succession Failing in Three Easy Steps

Change is good. If it's a change for the better. Are you with me? The world of work is changing so rapidly that I'll be honest...sometimes I barely have enough time to process the changes taking place, let alone evaluate whether or not they're actually good for my company.

Change Requires Leadership
One of the changes that seems to be on the rise in the world of work is new leaders emerging, experienced leaders moving on, and at some level a renewed sense of confidence that the economic disaster of the last few years is actually moving from the present to the past.

Those changes, at least at face value seem to be good, right?

In taking a closer look at leadership changes however, several key issues quickly emerge that must be addressed if change is going to be successful.

1. Are the new leaders experienced enough to lead your organization through the upheaval that significant change triggers?

Simply being excited about a new role, and maybe even bending the CEOs ear regularly does not equate with being effective. That can actually be disruptive. Leaders, now more than ever, need to think beyond their circle of contacts and team members and stay focused on the organization in it's totality. Not an easy task, but absolutely essential if the new leader is going to be taken seriously and get the results they need to produce.

2. Are the new leaders willing to listen to their colleagues vs. bulldozing their way to the perceived goal?

A common pitfall for new leaders, particularly at high levels, is that they feel tremendous pressure to prove their value and that they deserved to be placed in their new position. What they so often miss is the incredible opportunity to listen and learn from their peers, direct reports, and external network. 

Showing others that you are open to feedback and will adjust your approach based on the trust you have in the team builds far more credibility than forcing an initiative through without engaging those around. After all, the people are the ones that execute our plans!

3. Are the leadership transitions in the organization done thoughtfully, or is it a free-for-all?

Infusing companies with fresh ideas and new energy is always a good idea. The challenge for companies today is to balance the changing of the guard with the perception that change is occurring simply to change.  

Moving out leaders who no longer embrace the vision or culture of an organization is not only recommended, it is expected. Caution must be exercised however to ensure there isn't a hidden agenda behind those transitions.

How About You
What do you see happening in your company? Is the succession process morphing into a tornado of change; or, are the changes you're making helping your organization become the best of the best? Remember, changes for the best are always good ideas.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, June 9, 2014

What If?

What if....

- my assumptions turn out to be way off base?

- my experience hasn't prepared me for the "next big thing" in the world of work?

- my career path turns out to be a dead end?

- my plans to improve my organization's performance fail?

- my team loses confidence in my ability to lead them?

- my vision for my future is wrong?

- my colleagues no longer value me as a member of the team?

- my planning missed something critically important?

- my contribution isn't what I believed it was?

What if...

...I spend all my time worrying and don't get focused?

...I get caught up in all the noise around me from others?

...I don't keep pushing myself to get better?

...I start accepting that I should lead like the others do?

How About You

What are you going to spend your time on today: worry...or action?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Friday, June 6, 2014

Symptom of the (HR) Universe

Here we go again. For years we in human resources have tried to convince everyone around us that we are legitimate leaders. A few of us actually behave that way, or at least are going to die trying. Forget whether or not someone allows you to be influential, you just need to act that way. Right? 

HR Still Can't Figure Itself Out
Recently the mother-of-all HR organizations decided to throw our world into another tailspin. SHRM has now launched an all out assault on HRCI

These former partners are now locked in a very public battle that once and for all will prove to the world that HR is not ready to sit at the grown up table. 

Our Track Record Was Already Weak
Now that we've announced we were just kidding about those credentials we convinced our companies to value (competing credentials... really?) instead of acting like a unified group of professionals, we have nearly sealed our fate. 

Oh wait, I'm not sure that any of the other professions pay attention to us any more. We've collectively whined and complained for so long they probably tuned us out around the time of Reagan's second term.

Our years of hiding behind compliance, clinging to a risk averse leadership style, and behaving like second class corporate citizens instead of acting like we are true leaders in our companies has positioned us well for this massive public failure. 

A Glimmer of Hope

How about we stop fighting with each other...and complaining...and focusing on how other professions don't respect us. This isn't helping anyone; and, guess what, we haven't earned their respect anyway when we act like we can't get ourselves organized.

I am comfortable putting myself out there...taking risks...and not acting like I need to talk, walk, act, and quote policies like every other HR pro. You can put yourself out there too!

We should be driving culture change...building our organizations into world-class companies...and creating positive environments for our employees to do their work. That is our job...because let's face're not always going to have a leadership team with the guts to take risks and create a culture that blows away the competition. 

How About You

If HR is going to continue to act this way, it may be time for me to find a profession that actually respects itself. I love HR...but I want HR to love HR too. Is that too much to ask?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.