Thursday, November 30, 2017

Scared to Death

"Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things."
Peter Drucker

I feel like I've been a rule-breaker in human resources leadership for many years. Ours is a profession filled with policies, rules, SOPs, laws, regulations, and a hell of a lot of scared HR pros.

Scared to make decisions.
Scared to be bold.
Scared to 'get in trouble.'
Scared to take risks.
Scared to be different.
Scared to put it all on the line.
Scared to try new things.

Friends, it seems like HR is scared to death.

What Is Up With HR?
What is it that holds HR professionals back? What could possibly be so pervasive that nearly an entire profession is mired in writing policies, saying no, avoiding all risks and yet still consider themselves as contributing?

I don't get it.

I've met a growing number of HR pros who are all about making an enormous difference in their organizations. Why isn't everyone in our profession clambering to get to the front of the innovation line?

Enlighten me friends! Who is leading the way in HR?
- in the US

- in Europe
- in India
- in Australia
- in New Zealand
- in China
- in...well...everywhere else!

How About You
When did you make the transition from scared to fired up? What made the difference? Was it an inspirational colleague; a progressive CEO; or maybe a new corporate culture that made it "okay" for you to be what you always knew you could be?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, November 27, 2017

Market Garden Leadership

I hear a lot of big talk from leaders. Epic plans! Grandiose statements about "doing this" and "delivering on that!" 

Big talk is important. It can inspire others to follow you. It can motivate teams to take that extra risk to achieve breakthrough results. It can be...something special.

It can also be a colossal failure.

Plan the Big Talk
I've tried lots of bold strategies in my career. Some were wildly successful, and others....well...not so much. One phrase, however, proved to be true in each scenario whether it was a winning idea or a losing one: preparation and execution.

The common trap of over-preparation often leads to inaction, which I've railed against many times before on this blog. We can never be fully prepared; rather, we just have to be as prepared as possibly without delaying the second half of this phrase.


Execute (and monitor closely) the Big Talk
Simply putting together a good plan is not even remotely close to actually leading the effort. High success rates require leaders understand what is happening, recognize when the situation starts to drift from the original intent, and most importantly, not be afraid to jump in and literally lead the project across the finish line.

Too many leaders cower in fear when the anticipated outcome is "suddenly" at risk. They freeze up hoping to blame others instead of making real-time decisions to keep things moving forward.

Oh, how arrogance and fear get in the way of success!

How About You
When have you seen a leader struggle with the execution of a plan? Have they frozen in place when that plan seemed to be in jeopardy; or, did they have the resolve to pivot and personally ensure the correct decisions were made?

What did you do while they struggled? Did you jump in to help...or, stand idly by?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic wwii

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Crazy Thankful

Ah, yes. Thanksgiving. That special time of year when we get really thoughtful about those who mean the most to us. Those we love, those we miss, those who make a profound difference in our lives...

It's really powerful when you think about it. 

Then, of course, the next day we open up the shopping mosh pit and beat the crap out of each other at Target trying to save $100 on a TV we don't need.


Thankful for Work Stuff
After so many years driving to hospitals for work, I now travel extensively to...wait for it...hospitals!

I know...huge change, but I'm actually thankful for that. Although nothing says "I'm blessed" like switching your commute from a car to an airplane.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Jay, you have a cool gig with a cool company and you get to do all of that traveling!

Sure, I'm thankful...that hotel rooms have's the little things.

Thankful for Work People Stuff
The really important part of Thanksgiving however, is remembering the people in our lives.

- The hiring managers that never get back to us with their feedback.

- The leaders who are afraid of social media. They keep me employed. 

- The wanna be executives who are so full of themselves they miss the point of leading.

- The executives who still think the world knows how good their organizations are because...well..."they're special!" See "permanent employment for Jay" above.

How About You
So many things to be thankful for this year. But most of all...I'm thankful that you all have a sense of humor.

Keep pushing friends...we're going to change the world if it kills us!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Friday, November 17, 2017

I Can Handle It (All)

I've been told recently that when work issues get a little complicated, I switch into "I will handle everything mode" in order to resolve the crisis of the day.

Well...that kind of makes me sound like I believe I'm Superman...and for as much as I would LOVE to believe that is true...

...sadly, it's not.

Leading vs. Owning
My role quite honestly is not necessarily to resolve every single issue that pops up. Instead, my role is to ensure every single issue gets resolved. 

That doesn't mean that I am supposed to manage each step of the process; rather, just to provide the appropriate coaching, guidance, and occasional kick-in-the-pants to make sure the work gets done in a world class way.

Leading through issues is harder than owning them.

- Leading means I have to trust others.

- Leading means I have to open my mind to other ideas.

- Leading means I have to go with ideas that I many not necessarily agree with.

Owning can be awesome (and overwhelming.)

- Owning means I can control every single thing at every step.

- Owning means I don't have to listen to anyone's ideas or input.

- Owning means I get all the credit for fixing things.

...and owning is absolutely impossible to be done alone.

The flip-side of all this self-reflection and humility is this...

...what about results?

Sometimes a driving force is not only helpful, but required to achieve those results.
Sometimes a bold decision-maker is the only one that will push the team far enough.
Sometimes ensuring results are achieved is the only way to prove that risk = success.

Sometimes...we have to go far beyond what is safe and comfortable to get across the finish line.

How About You
Where is the balance point for you between trusting the team and driving the team forward? 

Is there something we're all missing; or, is there something that the best leaders do in the moment that allows them to dance on the line between foolish trust and bullying arrogance?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, November 13, 2017


I see the world in a certain way. I don't think that's a bad thing; in fact, I'm not sure how I could see it any other way. I'll always have those unconscious biases playing in the background and influencing how I think, speak and act.

The challenge, of course, is what to do about those biases as I become aware of them? 

My Lens
The lens I use to see the world is clouded with high expectations, little tolerance for excuses, and even less patience when it comes to repeated leadership failures. I'm not trying to be cute here...failings in these areas send me right over the edge. 

That clouded lens of mine has served me well, but it has also been a source of much frustration. So, where is the gap?

The value I place on being a savvy leader is not merely because it is important. Quite the opposite...everyone who is actually paying attention to the practice of effective leadership understands it's importance. 

The challenge lies in helping those leaders who don't understand what it means to be savvy. You know who they are in your organization. They use lots and lots of words, yet somehow for all of their "knowledge" they fail miserably when the moment comes and they have to be savvy.

In the moment.

Without thinking.

Without running to a supervisor for guidance.

Acting with the full knowledge of what is at stake, and the accompanying dynamics that will play out.

...and they have to do it instantly.

Is this difficult to do? Of course it is.

Are we supposed to wait and wait and wait and wait while our "leaders" take an inordinate amount of time to "get up to speed" and be savvy?

Absolutely not.

How About You
Achieving results for our organizations does not happen because we make excuses. We do not grow, open new jobs, pay our people, or create an employer brand that is second to none while simultaneously justifying why the same errors are repeated.

Be the savvy leader your organization needs. Push yourself to be what you've always wanted to be. If you're not ready...don't pretend. Everyone can see through your talk. Instead, be humble, listen, learn, ask questions, and give yourself a chance to take your career to the next level.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Sports, Business, and Missing the Big Picture

The link between business and sports is a powerful one. We often refer to our employees as members of the "team"...and we hope that unselfish "play" will result in a "big win" for the company. 

Some claim that sports references go over their heads...yet they drop the "team" label in their next breath.

So, what's happening? Here's where I'm at with sports and business.

I Love Teams
I am a big fan of creating an environment where our employees feel like they are a member of the organization in a meaningful way. The sense of community, the trust, the camaraderie all go a long way to creating a culture that most organizations only give lip-service to.

But...just like with any successful team, it is the leadership that must step up, be a role model, and not just talk about professionalism and culture, they have to live it. For those leaders that fail to do so, what happens?

Morale slumps.

Profit slumps.
Turnover suddenly becomes "a thing."

Leaders who talk too damn much are worthless.

Everyone Is Not A Starter
For those leaders that believe they are suddenly an all-star simply because they have a fancy title, I have some grim news. Teams are rarely made up of superstars. Several marquee players often elevate the play of the rest of the team. 

The same holds true in business. Leaders, just like talented young players, need to learn from the veterans. It is impossible to develop leadership savvy on your own. Paying attention to the details, and learning the nuances of effective leadership that separate the focus on personal convenience, to understanding the larger picture is critical.

The awareness of how important it is to maintain strong relationships in the workplace often separates the "hungry" new leaders who repeatedly fail, from those experienced leaders who could help them develop. The simple rules our parents taught us about crossing the street are helpful here...



How About You
What role do you play "in the room?" Are you the veteran who sees how all of the pieces of your organization and key relationships fit together? Or, are you so hungry to prove that you know what you're doing, that you constantly show you have no idea?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

It's A Secret

Sometimes strange things happen when people are promoted to leadership. They don't turn into creatures of the night or anything cool like that; but they do seem to suddenly feel empowered to hoard information.

Yes, this sounds absolutely ridiculous.
Yes, this builds zero trust.
Yes, this still happens all the time.

They Won't Understand
Early in my career I learned of an executive who "coached" his leaders to edit information that was shared in hospital-wide leadership team meetings. I wondered why anyone would withhold important information....the answer..."the employees won't fully understand..."

Eventually I inherited that same team...

...and shared every bit of information that was rolled out in those leadership meetings.

The Power and the Glory
Let's peel back the layers here. What exactly happens when leaders hoard information? Is it an ego thing? Perhaps a power play? 

How is it that on one hand we rely on our employees to literally handle our business...and in the same moment, not trust them enough to get an update on what is happening, might be happening, or isn't going to happen?

Are we so much smarter than the rest of the team simply because we have a fancy job title?

How About You
Who are the leaders in your organization that are so stuck on their own greatness that they have completely missed the point of being a leader?

Share everything you can as quickly as you can. 100% of the time. You'll be amazed at the trust, credibility and loyalty you create.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.