Monday, November 30, 2015

Teach or Stop Leading

"No one learns as much about a subject as one who is forced to teach it."
Peter Drucker

The leadership lens I use to see the world often tricks me. I am accustomed to talking about leadership behavior, leadership style, leadership savvy, and perhaps most important of all...leadership presence.

I expect myself, and other leaders (including new ones), to perform at a high level. Candidly, that's not entirely fair. But then's not about being fair. Leadership is about doing the hard work...making the difficult decisions...and being both strong enough and humble enough to deliver your words with confidence.

When we see new leaders struggling to establish their executive presence what do we do? Are we quick to criticize to justify our own shortcomings?

When we see early careerists trying to contribute and they fail mightily what do we do? Are we quick to admonish and embarrass to justify our own authority and power?

When we see an experienced leader who has clearly lost touch with how the world works what do we do? Are we quick to write them off as old school and no longer valuable despite their years of experience?

We have an opportunity to teach them. We need to demonstrate what it means to be effective today. We need to use questions to help them understand without sounding arrogant. 

We need to know what we're talking about before we teach them.

How About You
When do you intervene to support a colleague? Is it to provide constructive criticism; or, is it something more? Think about a time when one of your role models supported you. It was powerful wasn't it?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

No Shame this Season

"When I look back upon my life,
it's always with a sense of shame.
I've always been the one to blame."

Happy Holidays?
One of the most exciting times of the year is kicking off right now...the hectic, joyous, family-oriented and festive stretch from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. I love it...even though I know I can't see everyone that is important to me, it is still a great time of year. Plus, I will make sure I connect with those that are too far away for me to see in person.

But not everyone in our personal and professional networks will experience the holidays in this way. The burden of life's struggles, the challenge of broken relationships, the disappointment of a stalled career...can all build up to a very different view of "the best time of year."

We have an opportunity to make a difference in their lives.

Happier Holidays!
There is no simple solution to "help" our friends and colleagues. One thing is clear to me though, doing nothing adds no value. 

Here's a short, and admittedly woefully inadequate list of options available to us this year that might...if nothing else...bring a moment of caring front and center for those in need.

- call them
- connect via social media
- send a note (yes, an old school hand-written note)
- give a public shout out to let others know how special they are to you
- invite them to spend time with you
- encourage others to reach out to them
- purchase a small gift to show them you care

How About You
"So I look back upon my life,
forever with a sense of shame.
I've always been the one to blame."

Lets not have this be the mantra for those in our world this holidays season.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, November 23, 2015

The Morning After

I spend a lot of time focusing on action in my work. Building plans, developing complicated and sensitive relationships, and making decisions quickly to keep a long list of priorities moving forward.

Lots of time, energy and words invested in my daily life.

One of the greatest leadership failures in my opinion is when a decision is not made. The never ending quest to ensure success; or rather, lack of mistakes, is a clear signal that the leader is anything but one. 

The ability to make timely decisions is a mandatory competency for leaders today. (It has always been this way!) But sadly, we see many who show their fear of leading with phrases like "review" or "take a closer look at" or "we'll follow up on that" instead of deciding.

Why invest so much time and energy into a plan and not execute it?
Why set expectations with your colleagues and not meet them?

The ultimate test of any leader is their ability to deliver. If you have a terrific plan and never execute it what is your worth as a leader?


If you talk up how great things will be once you set your plans in motion but never actually build those plans let alone launch them, what is your worth as a leader?


If you are the classic all talk no action member of the team what is your worth to the organization?

Absolutely nothing.

How About You
The words we say are powerful. They represent who we are and what we do for our organizations every day. Don't be the one who wakes up the morning after it's all slipped away and wonder what happened.

Don't just talk about the work, get started. It doesn't matter if the plan is perfect. Get started now before a different decision is made about who the organization believes in to lead the way.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

You I Need

I think it's fascinating how some leaders make their lives so difficult. Those same leaders typically make the lives of those around them equally as difficult, yet they can't see how disruptive they are. SMH.

I Need You (in the mirror)
There is a simple reality to getting work done these days in my opinion. You have to do the heavy lifting. Unless you understand what is happening and invest the time to help build work plans, you are not leading. We can talk about delegating work all day long, but I've personally seen many executives fail because they believed they no longer needed to learn anything, and that delegating was actually leading.

Um, no. 

I've had to learn over and over again throughout my career in order to both grow my career and to understand what it actually takes to lead at a high level. (I'm still learning by the way...that's the fun part!) 

Beware the leader that says  they are an expert or have figured it all out. The world is moving so fast, I'm not sure anyone is an expert any longer. 

You may be damn good...but be careful with the self-appointed labels.

What does need to manifest itself however is the inner drive that the best leaders demonstrate each day. They have vision, they build plans, make decisions, and have stopped running scared of the political noise that can dominate an organization but provides zero value.

I Need You (everyone on the team)
Newsflash: real leaders are not individual contributors. Honing your communication skills, understanding that different members of your team need different levels of attention and guidance, and appreciating that without the team's efforts you will fail are all hallmarks of the best of the best.

Let me say it will fail without them. Now, how do you think you should treat your team?

How About You
Trust yourself first. Trust your team second. "You" need them.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, November 16, 2015

HR Reflections: Learning to Lead

It was all about that first opportunity...and learning what I didn't know. 

Laws, compliance, rules, policies, structure, control, process...that was good HR.

Then it was about managing...and learning what I didn't know. 

People, behavior, expectations, deadlines, accountability, communication...that was good HR.

Next it was about complex organizations...and learning what I didn't know. 

Corporate values and politics, the business of healthcare, governance, bizarre third party behavior, national perspectives...that was good HR.

Later is was about thinking beyond my organization and industry...and learning what I didn't know. 

The digital world, social media, employer branding, national strategies that go far beyond traditional ideas...that was good HR.

Today it's about one thing: courage...and I'm still learning.

I no longer have time to focus much energy on those that are so caught up in their own stuff that they suck time and energy out of those around them. 

Those leaders have failed. They won't recover, and we don't have time for them.

There is simply too much ahead that must be accomplished. Maybe if I can be courageous enough, I can help make it happen.

How About You
Ignore the noise. Be courageous instead.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Apex Predator

I'm a super competitive guy. I like to win. I push myself hard at work, in my workouts, and in how I try to cram two lives into just one. I like the pressure to differentiate myself, my company, and my clients from the competitors in their respective markets.

I like to win.

Every time.

Winning Without Being A Loser
Part of winning is making sure I try to help everyone on my team win. This is no small task. Think about the people you work with and how they (read here --> many) are slow to accept change. 

Some may be early in their careers and don't want to make a mistake. Others may be long-tenured but still cling to the prehistoric notion that a command and control leadership style actually garners credibility in 2015.

Whatever obstacles we confront, it is essential that we try to include everyone. Candidly, not everyone will make the journey with us. It is easier to accept this reality when we know we've done our best to be inclusive.

Winning Comes in Threes
When you commit to winning you can not simply state you want to win and expect to get a good result. It requires courage and thick skin (particularly when hearing the criticism from those that want 'everyone' to win --> impossible, by the way.)

Let's take a look at my big three:

1. An endless supply of enthusiasm
Are you the one that everyone knows is fired up...all the time? Can you be relied on to jump in front of a group of people and get them engaged on a new project, strategy, or set of business tools?

If not, what the heck is going on? It's up to you to change your organization for the better. No one else. That means you must be the one who is out in front.

2. A willingness to take risks
Are you the one that is pushing to try new things and challenge the status quo? Or, do you wait for "approval" for everything and make sure each issue is so "safe" that you never take a step forward? 

If so, what the heck is going on? It's up to you to create a culture where innovation and creativity are normal. If you're not role modeling this behavior who is going to do it?

3. An ability to execute
Progress never occurs when we "wait and see" or "take a closer look at something." Do these phrases sound all too familiar? Is it suddenly uncomfortable reading this post?

If so, what the heck is going on? You must be the one must be the first one through the must make decisions and move forward.

How About You
Do you want to be the apex predator in your industry, organization, and life? 

Reality check...the only thing stopping you is you. 

Get yourself fired up, take some risks, and above all else execute more effectively than anyone you've ever seen. 

In the're going to make a world of difference.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

We Only Need One HR Policy

I’ve been in human resources for twenty years. I’ve written, revised, edited, printed, emailed, posted and leveraged policies to make decisions over and over again. Too many times following the policies morphed into the focus of the work…instead of the work being the focus of the work.

Sound familiar?

We Need A Policy for “That”
My favorite policy of all time is the “policy on policies.” You know the one. It describes the proper format, headers, indentations, when to bold and not to bold, etc. Argh!

How has such a high impact function in the organization devolved into a paper pushing bureaucratic machine? 

It’s as if we in human resources believe we are the core business, when in fact we are the engine that fuels the core business. I’ve even seen policies called “Policy on ___.” 

Seriously? We love them so much we even put the word policy first! 

All for One and One for All
Here’s where I'm going with this concept. The noise, criticism, and candidly glacier-like movement that typically comes from HR relative to change must end. The one-policy approach can send a powerful message to the organization, that no longer will human resources hide behind a stack of excuses…er, paper…any longer.

Here's my human resources policy of the future:

“We will follow all applicable laws that impact our organization and will treat each team member with respect as we strive to be a truly world class company.”


How About You
One policy says it all. The only piece you need to ensure you keep track of is the consistent practices for various issues so as to avoid unwarranted discrimination or third party claims. Let’s start moving away from the paper, and get into the business of driving the business forward.

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Wellness Isn't About the Workplace

Now before my HR friends get all wound up hear me out. Let’s think for a minute about what wellness is ultimately intended to achieve:
- lower benefit plan costs
- fewer missed days of work; and,
- theoretically a healthier workforce

Let’s be honest. Do you actually believe large employers have launched program after program simply because they felt a passion for the personal health and “wellness” (which is a very odd word if you think about it) of their workforce?

Um, no. It’s capitalism, remember? 

So What Is the Deal?
If any of you are still reading let’s take this a step further. I’m a fitness fanatic. I work out a lot, push myself (too) hard…and eat healthier than I have to. I’m motivated to stay healthy and strong. But it has nothing to do with any workplace program that was ever launched at the organizations where I worked…and I’ve launched some really good ones!

When was the last time you heard a woefully out of shape colleague announce to the team “thank God the company launched that wellness program, now I can finally get healthy!"

Um, never.

In my view there are only two instances when workplace wellness programs make an impact. 

1. Financial incentives are put in place.
2. The employee experiences a personal health crisis or scare.

That’s it. No amount of pedometer propaganda or limited availability of sugary drinks in the cafeteria can come close to the power of money and the fear of dying.


So Why Even Launch Wellness Programs?
The answer here is simple. Once employers understand what the real drivers of these programs are (save money, reward employees who either are motivated by money or literally are scared to death due to their own lack of motivation and now poor physical health) only then can real progress be made.

Be honest with yourself about why these programs are useful.
Align your incentives properly.
Make sure your leaders participate as role models.

How About You
Are you fired up about wellness program that are based on grandiose ideas but in reality are not aligned with what really matters? Make the changes necessary, and get moving. For the minority of employees that will truly embrace your program it will make a world of difference.

And that makes all of it worthwhile.

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.