Monday, February 29, 2016

Silence Calls the Storm

Leadership experience is a funny thing. The more I get…the more I see through the behavior of those that claim to be effective in their roles. They talk it up, yet their choices seem to contradict the rhetoric. It happens in the corporate world, it happens in our personal lives, and it happens to those in public life too.

Too Many Examples
The actions of others, above all else, have shaped how I view the responsibility I have as a member of my organization’s leadership team

Sadly, some of the most poignant examples of behavior I've experienced have come from those leaders that preached leadership frequently, yet were absolute failures. Let me share...

- the executive who dropped the f-bomb when he was upset, and threw reports across the conference room table at the team for doing a poor job (when in fact the team was beating the national industry performance average)

- two executives who held an ambush meeting attempting to intimate and discredit another member of the leadership team (when in fact their data was completely wrong and they ended up looking foolish and lost all credibility)

- the executives who secretly tried to undermine a colleague who was clearly the boldest, and most courageous member of the team (their efforts backfired and they were shamed into backing off)

How About You
When you see disgraceful behavior from other leaders what do you do? Is it too scary to stand up to them? Are you worried that you might compromise your own career if you do the right thing? 

Are you so self-absorbed that these issues would only matter if they were happening to you?

Guess what? If you don’t take action, no one will be left to help you when it’s your turn.

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Speed Wins

I consider myself a pretty high energy leader. I want to build strategies that make a real difference for my clients, and I want to execute them at an accelerated pace. It's how I've worked in the past...and it's why I am in the job I'm in now. High energy execution runs circles around the uptight corporate risk-averse stale leaders every day of the week.

I don't want to hear about internal politics, because they are a lame excuse to avoid taking action.

I don't want to hear about the old way of doing things. It's 2016, there are no old ways that matter anymore. Get over it.

I don't care if you want to be popular. Popularity has absolutely nothing to do with getting things done.

I don't want to hear about internal protocols, or taking a long time to build consensus so I end up having another birthday waiting to get started, those are lame excuses too.

I want results now

How About You
That is what I get paid to do...and when it comes to executing a kick ass strategy that will differentiate my clients from the competition...well, I want to do it at supersonic speed.

Speed wins in the market...

...and I like winning.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, February 22, 2016

Stop Talking About Diversity

You read that right. Stop.

Here's why...

All Talk
Many organizations, leaders, and employees claim to be be pro-diversity. They preach fairness for all...a culture of support and risk-taking...and the open door policy.

They're lying.

All of that talk does nothing except disappoint. Why? There is no follow through. There is no real risk-taking...and there certainly isn't an investment in diversity in a meaningful way for most companies.

Mirror Time
Let's do a little self-assessment of ourselves and our organizations, shall we?

1.  Do you have a Chief Diversity Officer?

2.  If not, have you aggressively advocated for one?

3.  Do you reward employees for taking risks; or, is your corporate culture based on a small group of leaders (typically pale and male) deciding who is a "good fit?"

4.  Does your organization recognize the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday?

5.  Do your benefits policies include employees who are part of the LGBT community?

6.  Do you focus on having a diverse slate of candidates for open positions?

7.  Are wages for men and women in similar roles....similar?

8.  If not, how are you possibly justifying that values-based decision? (Yes, it is a statement about your corporate values.)

How About You
The list of priorities around diversity is a long one. I've highlighted a fraction of those opportunities here...the proverbial low-hanging-fruit we all love to take care of right away.

Are you going to pick this fruit in your organization?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Trend Killer

I don’t know about you, but it feels like the pace of change is at an all time high. Combined with a hyper-competitive struggle to find and keep the best talent, it is clear that staying current as leaders is no longer a ‘nice to do.”

It truly is a “must do."

New social media tools are exploding onto the scene everyday, and they all can be used to connect with employees and candidates alike.

Let me say that again. They ALL can be used to connect with employees and candidates alike.

Just A Trend?
Have you fully embraced social media yet? If not, are you comfortable filling the role of “empty suit” in your organization?

I hate to break it to you, but simply because you’ve been so scared to look bad in front of your team because you don’t how to use these business tools (yes, business), doesn’t mean you are some sort of strong leader. What you’ve actually done is position yourself as the odd man (or woman) out.

Put simply, all of your employees and the talent you want to hire are using multiple social accounts. However, since you are now invisible you no longer matter. Oh, and saying you have a LinkedIn account with (hopefully) a picture, and a couple of job titles and dates of employment doesn’t count.

You’re invisible.

Much More Than A Trend
The solution to the seemingly bottomless pit that you continue to dig for yourself has two simple steps.

1  Stop taking pride in the fact that you don’t use contemporary tools for business. Just be quiet. You’ve all ready proven how clueless you are with respect to how all of society now interacts, and you aren’t going to kill this trend. Just. Be. Quiet.

2  Eat a gargantuan slice of humble pie and reach out to someone you trust to help you get started. (Insider tip: social media tools are so ridiculously easy to use even you will be a pro in a few hours.)

How About You
Am I fired up about this topic? Yes! But it’s really not social media that I’m focused on today. If that’s all you’re taking away from this post then either you’ve completely missed the point; or, I’ve done a poor job of explaining myself.

You and I must be contemporary leaders. We don’t have a choice. We need to push ourselves into areas where we are uncomfortable. It's time for us to be better every day. Claiming that we’re “old school” and “don’t have time for that stuff” makes us sound stupid. 

Don’t be stupid. Suck it up and lead the way instead.

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Dead World Assembly

I hear a lot of leaders talking about culture, teamwork, and how they have a "vision" for how work should be done.


Sadly, many of these same leaders are so out of touch with how the modern world of work functions that they don't even realize they are the root of the problem.

Let me toss out a few questions to get us started:

- Are you losing valuable employees?
- Have you convinced yourself and the other executives that this is all "good turnover?"
- Do you still believe in the embarrassingly ineffective command and control style of leadership?

How is that working out for you?

I'm Calling You Out
The responsibility to create a culture that actually values employees in a tangible way is entirely up to the leader. No one else. 

I don't want to hear that employees complain too much. 

I don't want to hear about your fancy job title. (I've had a fancy job title for years, and the only result was that the burden on me to be a better leader grew exponentially.)

Guess what? Your staff meetings are nothing more than a dead world assembly. 

Stop trying to justify your struggles. No one believes you anymore.

How About You
It's time for a new start. Get over yourself. Accept that you've made some mistakes...and open your mind to leading in 2016.

Otherwise, you're going to lose the rest of your team. I promise.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Play to Win

S: "Jay, do you ever not win?"

Me: "No."

Maybe it's just me, but the world of work seems to be more competitive than ever. Whether people are jockeying for a new opportunity; or like me, are working hard to grow the company they work for to its fullest potential.

That includes finding the best talent.

Don't Just Play
As the crushing force of political correctness invades the world of work, and in particular Human Resources, it seems increasingly distasteful to be ultra-competitive.


Am I a bad person if I push myself hard to be successful?
Am I perceived as uncaring if I don't take care of my competitors as well as I take care of my company?

What is going on? Have we all become so soft that the options are either you end up labeled as a cold-hearted capitalist, or an ineffective "leader" trying to win some sort of popularity contest...but never actually execute because that would require standing up to someone?

Play To Win
Despite all of the "correctness" that I'm supposed to conform to (...not happening, by the way...) I'm going to do everything in my power to represent the three brands that matter most:

- my own
- my organization's
- the clients my company works with


Nothing will stand in the way. There are too many amazing people working at my company, and candidly, they expect me to be more driven than any of our strongest competitors, regardless of their size.

How About You
Are you one of those people that believes there is enough for everyone, and if we all share everyone can win? 

I'm not.

There is simply too much riding on my success, and the success of the team of people I work with to risk doing anything less than my very best. 

Do you play to win? If the answer is no....why the hell not?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, February 8, 2016

Answer My Fall

So much of our online personas are filled with "exciting" projects, "beautiful" locations, and "fantastic" people.

...and those are just my updates!

Real Life is Different
All kidding aside, those posts that we share actually are exciting, and beautiful and filled with fantastic people. It's what we don't post sometimes that impacts our lives far more than what we are willing to share.

I'm Good at Falling
As I grow...ahem...a bit older, it is clear that stumbling, and candidly falling flat is part of  how I roll. You might falter once in a while too.

How About You
How do you get through it? What are the strategies you use to not let a fall define you? Who are the people that you rely on...who you know will simply come along, pick you up, and push back out into the world?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

There Are No Rules

"The future of work will not include the archaic rules we cling to today."

How many times do you consider protocol before making a decision? When you think about what is "acceptable" in your workplace do your decisions change? Why?

Is there an established set of rules, policies or procedures that everyone must follow? Probably yes for some things, but I'm guessing not for how to raise issues, take risks, or God-forbid, identify break-through thinking.

So then, what is so powerful about protocol?

Corporate Culture
The answer I most often hear has to do with something called corporate culture. What surprises me most about this response is the inherent assumption that an organization has one homogenous culture. That is impossible.

Corporate cultures are actually made up of the dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of micro-cultures that exist at the team or department level. 

That is where the core values and mission of the organization must be effectively communicated and exemplified by leadership if a "corporate culture" is going to materialize at some higher level.

The Future of Rules
The only way I've been able to make real progress over the years was when I simply disregarded the norms, protocol, and generally risk-averse ineffectiveness of "modern" leadership.

The leaders of tomorrow are openly wondering why things move so slowly; why their big ideas do not get the obvious support they deserve; and how they can continue to push themselves to be more than they ever imagined.

How About You
I'm thrilled about the future of work. Candidly, I'm going to continue to lead as if the future is now.

Rules be damned.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, February 1, 2016

And Just Like That

There are different periods in our lives when the pace of change seems to come in waves. Maybe it's just me, but I seem to have significant personal and professional issues hit all at once.

One of the ways I've decided to manage the flood of emotions that comes with "so much" happening at the same time is to frame it all as a real blessing.

The self-talk goes something like this..."thank goodness this is all happening now, so I'll be done with these chaotic times all at once."

Um, that is not exactly how life works though.

The counterpoint to my thank-God-I'm-enduring-so-much-madness is that lots of change simply feels like a curse.

Now, I'm a pretty optimistic guy which is why my first reaction is usually in the "blessing" mindset.

But...there are times when the emotions gain control and my attitude gets sidetracked for a time.

That is how life works sometimes too.

How About You

What is your gut reaction to the reality of change in your life? Is it a burden...a opportunity to grow...or a curse?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.