Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday Inspiration - Bonhoeffer

If you are motivated to read the true story of one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century, pick up Eric Metaxas' book Bonhoeffer.  You will learn about a whole new level of leadership sacrifice that goes far beyoned the day to day worries of onboarding, vacancies, and corporate strategy.

Let me know what you think.  I'd love to discuss Dietrich's work, and Eric's book, anytime.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Don't Be A Culture Vulture

I worry about finding talent for my organization.  We need people with highly specialized clinical skills to care for some of the most fragile patients imaginable. Maybe we need a talent manifesto to make sure we go about it the right way.  What I do know is that sometimes I get too caught up in worrying about "culture."

Good Word - Misguided Focus
Time for some self-disclosure...I get a bit fired up about culture.  I worry about cultural fit, cultural diversity, corporate culture, and sometimes do my best to spread the culture agenda across my organization.  Just what exactly is cultural fit anyway?  Are new hires supposed to fit in perfectly with the rest of us?  Are they supposed to conform to some subjective perspective on what corporate culture is all about?  Why would I ever want a bunch of conformists versus the opportunity to bring fresh perspectives, ideas, and enthusiasm into my already high-performing organization?  

Hovering Above
I'm afraid that I'm not alone in my sometimes obsession with force-fitting cultural fit. It's as if I've morphed into a culture vulture and I'm circling above waiting to swoop down and feed upon unsuspecting candidates who fit into the "culture." That doesn't seem right, does it?  It seems to me organizations  should do everything possible to enrich the make-up of the team; to add new perspectives; to focus on progress, not cling to the old excuse of "it's the way we've always done it here."

How About You
Are you caught up in the culture agenda game?  If so, it's time to take a break.  Stop circling, and start appreciating the value that all of those non-conformists can bring to your company.  I know I'm going to start doing it too.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of guardian

Monday, July 25, 2011

Are You A Believer?

"Believe me, this is the right thing."
"I've got to believe we're on the right track."
"We believe this is the best move going forward."

Having strong beliefs is an integral part of society.  Whether they are personal, spiritual, professional, or corporate beliefs, it seems we all have some whether we consciously think about them or not.  So what is it that society is pushing us to believe?

Three Categories of Belief
1.  You can believe anything.
For many, it appears that as long as you believe in something, you're okay.  It doesn't matter what the category or subject is, just be passionate about it.  Believing in something instead of nothing at least gets us noticed...I think.

2.  You can believe in the "wrong" things.
Now things start to get tricky.  Believing in the "wrong" things opens the doors for us to be politically correct -> "I may not agree with you, but I respect the fact that you have the right to have your opinion."   While this may sound good from a theoretical perspective, what happens when that other person's beliefs are truly wrong?  What if they conflict directly with your corporate strategy going forward?  Do you still respect them as much?

3.  You can believe in the "right" things.
If #2 was tricky, this one has to feel almost impossible to deal with.  Who exactly decides what the "right" things are?  Is it your Manager, Senior Management Team, Board of Directors?  Your conscience?  

This Is A Tough Topic
Sometimes in true leadership roles we must support decisions that we may not necessarily completely agree with.  Does that mean those decisions are the "wrong" ones?  Certainly not!  The challenge is making sure we do not compromise our values when we execute strategies that may not meet with our particular belief system.

Think of a leader who did not just believe "anything" or the "wrong" things; but someone who demonstrated to those around them that they believed the "right" things.  How did they show it?  How did people react?  How did the course of your leadership path change because of that person?

How About You
What do you believe about leadership?  Do you believe the "right" things; or just as importantly, do those around you know what you believe?  If you simply say you "believe" but you never show it, you really don't believe in anything at all.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of sydney

Friday, July 22, 2011

I Figured It All Out

With so many pressures on today's leaders and aspiring leaders to make a difference in their organizations, their communities, and in their personal lives, it can all seem like too much.  I've been wrestling with this issue for a long time and I think I've made somewhat of a personal breakthrough and I wanted to share it here with you.

I finally figured out that...
  • I'll never know enough
  • I'll never be thorough enough
  • I'll never think of everything
  • I'll never treat everyone the way I really intend to
  • I'll never be able to do my best 100% of the time
  • I may never realize my full potential
  • I may not be the leader I ultimately want to be
But I do know that I have never been more fired up to try.

How About You
Are you stuck in a rut...feeling helpless...wishing things were different?  I've been there too.  Everyone has been there at some point.  Effective leaders pause for a moment, dust themselves off, and get back to it.  Are you ready to get going again?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of sparkpeople

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Do. Not. Quit.

"We don't do it that way here."
"It can't be done."

Don't accept these words. 
They suck. 

They are for the weak.

That's not you. 

Take them as a personal challenge.

Visualize success.

Now go achieve it.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of creative overflow

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The "Just Like Me" Trap

Filling vacancies is a daunting task.  Finding talent that fits both with your team and organizational culture, plus brings the skills, experience and credentials can feel like the old "needle in a haystack" exercise.  One of the issues I've had to avoid over the years is falling into the trap of hiring myself...sort of.

So what exactly is this trap?  Let me explain the pitfalls to help avoid making a major hiring mistake.  We've all been there, and those lessons are difficult at best.  If you build these questions (to yourself) into your hiring process, you will have a greater chance of avoiding the "Just Like Me' trap:

Does the candidate:
- look like me?
- sound like me?
- share my same interests?
- connect with me immediately?

Time out!  It's important to make sure we're not being won over on impressions and superficial issues before we dig deep into the candidate's history.  (Any shrewd candidate that interviews in my office should notice the hockey puck and start talking hockey.)

Interviews Should Be Difficult
In order to overcome these pitfalls, try these specific approaches to get a great interview result:
1.  Always use a consistent set of prepared questions for every candidate applying for the same position.
2.  Focus on their past behavior as that will predict their future decision-making, particularly when under pressure.
3. Do not accept anything but specific answers that detail the candidates issues, actions and results.
4.  Trust the data you collect, not the designer suit they're wearing.

How About You
Do you get caught in the "Just Like Me" trap?  It's easy to do.  I know, I've had to break free from it myself.  Whether it's new team members or new friends, collect good data as you get to know them before making any serious commitment.  You won't regret it.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pics courtesy of ucla and specific

Friday, July 15, 2011

You Have The Power

Alarm goes off....hit the snooze button.  Grab a shower, grab a coffee, and hit the road.  "Good morning everyone."  Power up the computer...check the today's calendar and task list.  Up and out of your office to round on your employees...the organization's employees...your customers.  No big to a meeting.

Just another day, right?  No big deal.  Guess what, it's a big deal.  Every time you interact with your team, your employees, your customers, is a very big deal.  Don't mess it up.

I Don't Feel Any Different
Of course you don't.  You're not supposed to, and that's the beauty of leadership.  You didn't get this job because you suddenly woke up one day, hit the snooze button and *poof* you morphed into someone else.  You were hired to be you.  Here's the rub... everyone is watching.  Your staff, your organization's employees, your superiors...and that person in the mirror.  You are the example.  You set the tone.  You drive accountability...and so do I.  Is that too much to worry about?  If so, get out of your job today.  You don't deserve to lead.  If however you think you have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of your employees and your organization, hang in there.  It's hard to lead; it's supposed to be.

You're Not Alone
One of the things that strikes me about leaders is that they think they are alone trying to figure all of this out.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  They have resources to help in their organization, their community, and through social media.  For example, you all have me to reach out to any time you need me.  That's what colleagues do...they step up...just like you do for me.

How About You
Do you realize the power you have when you walk by a group of employees in the hall and don't acknowledge them?  What do they think?  What happens when you greet everyone...what do you think the employees say about you?  Don't kid yourself...they are talking about you because you have the power.  It really is a big deal.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of syd

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mixed Messages

When was the last time you sent a confusing message to your employees?  Can't remember?.....let me help.  "Our policies clearly state we are committed to a positive corporate culture that supports our employees and makes sure their voice is heard."  Oh really...when was the last time you got up out of your chair and actually rounded on those employees that the policy is intended to support?  I thought so.  I've hidden in my office sometimes too.  I hate it when I do that.

Actions Scream but Words Whisper
Despite our best intentions, our actions very often send a different message than what we put on paper.  Add to that we live in a world where we're expected to make quick decisions and solve problems immediately, and you have a recipe for conflicting messages.

Are you:
- quick to blame
- quick to find a scapegoat
- quick to hide behind your desk
- quick to convince yourself you're too busy to help others

Being quick is lame.  Stop it.  I'm going to stop it too.

How About You
Whether or not you tell your people that you have a zero-tolerance for harassment, or retaliation or any other nasty sounding behavior; first decide to back up those words with action.  Only then will your staff hear something other than a zero-tolerance for blah, blah, blah.  What message are you sending?  

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of english idioms

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Are You Certifiable?

What difference does it make?  I know my stuff, I don't need to get any credentials.  It won't really matter when I'm trying for my next job...will it?

Will You Be Ready
As tens of thousand of baby-boomers retire in the coming years the number of leadership opportunities will grow dramatically.  For those HR leaders that are paying attention and are hungry to take the next step in their career it is important to understand what will separate you from the pack vying for those positions. Certification.  Yes, experience, skills, knowledge and high energy are also important; but for the shrewd HR pro who presents with one (or even two) credentials, the future will be bright.  Period.

Something for Everyone
The Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI) has done a great job putting together a series of certification options including the PHR, SPHR, GPHR, and California versions of both the PHR and SPHR.  Maybe you've been thinking about stepping up. Maybe you have a friend in the industry who has recently passed an exam. Maybe you tried and didn't quite pass the first time (as many others do too).  Don't give up...get going and try again.  The exams are difficult because they are supposed to be.  They force us to study, and study, and study, because that's what legitimate certification exams require.  When was the last time you heard of an accountant who didn't prepare for the CPA exam?  That's right, never.

How About You
Are you willing to reach out to your your local SHRM Chapter for support?  Are you willing to get back up on that horse and take the exam again?  Are you willing to separate yourself from the pack?  Or, is it easier to justify why it's all just a bunch of letters after your name?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of marriottschool

Sunday, July 10, 2011

"Bring It" This Week!

I have a busy week ahead that will have me out of pocket most of the time.  So while I'm tied up on a really cool project, I want to encourage each of you to have one of the best weeks of the year.  I know, you have a long task list, too many meetings, and sometimes it all just feels overwhelming.

Make it a great week because you have all of that going on, not because you have loads of free time. You'll never have loads of free time.  Ever.

So let's all bring it this week and make a difference.  Are you up for it?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of the times union

Friday, July 8, 2011

Plan to Fail

When was the last time you felt comfortable failing?  I don't mean a little misstep; I mean trying something that you hoped would work out but it just didn't.  It took time, resources and money to put together and it fell flat.  What did that feel like?  Did you worry that you would look ineffective in the eyes of your supervisor, peers, and employees?  Did you vow never to try anything risky again so as to avoid failure?  That doesn't do much for innovation, does it?

Now think about your team.  What environment have you created so they feel confident trying new things knowing that many of them won't work, but also knowing you have their back?  Have you set the tone for innovation and risk-taking?  If you have, you'll probably end up filling every vacancy from within, because the word will get out that you are the leader to work for in your organization.

How About You
Are you willing to publicly recognize a member of your team for failing, because it showed how committed they are to try new things?  Or, maybe it's just safer to keep your head down and stay quiet.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of cloudave

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Leadership Freedom and the Status Quo

There is a certain sense of freedom that comes with leadership.  Often times we miss this piece as the burdens of big decisions, risks, goals, budgets, deadlines and employee issues monopolize our time.  But it is the freedom we need to embrace.

Take A Stand
Now you may think that I have a somewhat twisted view of freedom.  For me, having the ability (insert courage here) to take a stand for what is right represents a big part of leadership freedom.  The tired excuses of not having authority, or a proverbial seat, or enough respect just don't cut it.  You have all of these just may not have enough courage to do anything about it. 

Except now you have the take a stand. 

Break the Chains
Too often we allow our circumstances to dictate our path.  That only works if you're committed to wallowing in self pity.  You can break free of your situation but only if you're willing to do something.  Change will not come if you wait for it.  It will only come if you make it happen.  These limits may have felt too heavy a burden to carry in the past.

Except now you have the break the chains.

At What Cost
Are you afraid of being labeled?  Will you be known as someone who stirs the pot; or is a rebel; or isn't doing things the way they've always been done?  What price will you pay for pushing ahead of everyone around you?  Will you compromise your career?  Certainly that has never been a safe play, right?

Except now you have the pay the cost.
Leader Sticker (Bumper)
How About You
Do you recognize the freedom you enjoy; or, are you trapped in a world of "status quo is the way to go?"  You've been hired to step up whether you realize it or not.  Do you have the lead?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pics courtesy of calligraphy london and cafepress

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Rodney Dangerfield, HR and Social Media

I’ve incorporated social media fairly thoroughly into my personal and professional lives.  I use multiple social media tools everyday, and even plan my work schedule around terrific resources like Drive Thru HR where I learn from HR pros inside and outside the US.  I leverage my network to get answers to questions in real time versus doing a massive internet search that invariably returns 100,000 options for me to explore.  But because I am an early-adopter in my organization of using these tools to do my work more effectively, I sometimes feel like the Rodney Dangerfield of Social Media.  Maybe you do too.

Yes, You're Alone...So What
Being an early adopter can be scary.  You don't want to make any mistakes, or look foolish, or compromise your organization in any way.  But you also know that taking that first step (and second and third) are absolutely necessary if you are going to stay current in today's business world.  Avoiding social media is like avoiding monthly financial statements -> not possible.

Being Alone Means You're the Leader
One of the significant advantages of going social early on is that you can help lead the rest of your organization as it moves ahead.  You can help others through their anxieties, paranoia, and lack of knowledge as these new business tools are implemented.  Be prepared to get push-back though; as many who are nervous about the new world order may not give you much respect at first.  That's okay, it will come in time.  Be patient, and reach out to your colleagues who can help keep you going.

How About You
Are you feeling like it's time to jump into the world of social media?  Do you see other organizations passing you by while your company wallows in risk and compliance fears?  Help them understand how social can help them directly too.  You might just get a little respect as well.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of yahoo music

Don’t fall into the Rodney Dangerfield TRAP

Friday, July 1, 2011

Diversity is You

I’ve been having more and more conversations about diversity lately.  Many of the people I speak to jump to the conclusion that I’m somehow discussing employment practices.  Not true…selection is such a small part of diversity.  I have had somewhat of an epiphany on the topic recently (thanks in large part to Joe Gerstandt.)  As I look around my world, my coworkers, friends, family members, and neighbors, I’ve realized that each of us is different.  Here’s where Joe comes in…diversity is difference.

Damn, that’s good.  Simple and good.

That Means You…and Me
Diversity isn’t only about people, but that is where it starts.  Policies and behaviors and corporate cultures don’t happen without people.  So I’m going to focus my energy in two very specific places at first:  1. Me.  2. Those people around me.

Quint Studer says that when he has an issue with anyone he first looks in the mirror to understand his role in the situation.  I think his approach can work in many settings, including how we view diversity.  If we don’t appreciate our own impact in every encounter with other people, then we are going to miss countless opportunities to embrace difference and make ourselves, and our organizations stronger.

You Are Already Making A Difference
When you walk down the hall and greet an employee you’ve never met before, you are making an impact.  When you greet a customer with a smile and a handshake you are making an impression.  When you intentionally reach out to someone who is struggling you are demonstrating what you are all about.  You are already embracing diversity through your leadership style.  It’s time to recognize it for what it is, and make it grow.

How About You
Have you ever felt intimidated by the term diversity?  When it’s brought up in meetings is it a buzz kill?  Or, is it an opportunity for you to clarify that diversity is simply difference, which means every person in that meeting is already a part of the diversity effort underway in your organization.  Sounds a lot less threatening that way, doesn’t it?

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of bc