Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Speed of the Strike

Work moves fast. In my little sheltered universe it's moving like a McLaren P1. Just so you know....that's fast!

It seems like there are projects, deadlines, external pressures, internal pressures, political landmines, and, oh yes, getting the work done.

Maybe it's similar for you?

Speed Kills
The phrase speed kills often refers to sports team that move fast and win, or cars that blow away the competition. My focus is something a bit different. 

"Speed kills those that can not keep up."

Consider your workplace. Are decisions made slowly and methodically over a series of months? Is there plenty of time to consider every single option so the organization can make "fail-proof" moves? 

Candidly, I can't think of any organization that expects to thrive today that moves that slowly.

Not one.

Need for Speed
There is another way to look at the concept of speed. It can be the energy blast that separates you from your competitors. It can be the rush that drives you to take risks, think big, and lead even bigger.

One thing is very clear though...if you are not moving fast in today's world, you have effectively turned in your leadership card.

How About You
How do you view the pace of your work? Is going fast scary and unsettling? Good! It's supposed to be. Are you running and hiding from it; or, are you fired up about all the possibilities you see?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, January 25, 2016

Make or Break

"Strategy execution is the responsibility that makes or breaks executives."
- Alan Branche and Sam Bodley-Scott

Today I have a singular focus.


Getting to the execution phase of our work requires time, planning, lots of collaborative discussion...

...and doing the work!

My first question today is simple. How do you ensure the executives in your world actually do the work?

Do they talk and talk and talk?
Do they have an endless list of excuses to justify why projects aren't moving forward?

Do you feel like you're doing more of the work than they are?

My second question is more direct. Why are you tolerating this lack of leadership?

How About You
How do you handle the reality of working with leaders who are weak when it comes to executing strategy? It is common, and often requires focused coaching in order for them to improve. What has worked for you?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

You Make All the Difference

We have many influencers in our lives. Some of them we're aware of...role models, close colleagues, and supervisors are easy to identify. 

Other influencers are not so obvious...the media, group-think in our organizations and the infamous "society."

I'd like you to take fifteen seconds (not a big ask!) and think about the short list of people who are influential in your life. 

- who are they
- why are they so special to you

Thinking about who and why the influencers in our lives have achieved that important position informs how we are going to behave and make decisions. I'm living proof. When I needed to make a major career decision I leveraged the influencers closest to me to help make that decision.

I'm going to ask for five more seconds. Let's fast forward a few years ahead...and imagine that someone is asking someone you work with who their influencers are. Wouldn't it be amazing if you were on their list?

You can make that a reality. Consider your influencers....integrate your style...and you will be that special person for someone else.

How About You
Some leaders shy away from the responsibility of actively working to be an influencer. Sadly, that means they've decided to stop leading. For others, it is a privilege to be cherished. Which one are you?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Monday, January 18, 2016


Sometimes work can be...well...funny! I thought I would take a little break from the normal energy I pump out on leadership and laugh a little (at myself) today.

So, I was fired up to be part of the #shrmchro event and to be a #shrm15blogger. I flew to Las Vegas...stood in line in the hot sun behind 450 others at the airport for a cab...and then waited forever in line again to check in to my hotel.

Except I didn't book the hotel properly ahead of time and had no room!

In my previous role I launched a podcast that I absolutely loved hosting. As I prepared for the first show I was a bit nervous. I had all of my questions typed up so I would be ready.

Except I ran through my questions in the first five minutes and had to improvise for the remaining twenty-five minutes!

Time Zones
I now work in a role that has me communicating constantly in multiple time zones. This should not be difficult. 

Except I am now the master of the double-booked calendar for no other reason than I apparently can not tell time!

How About You
Have you made any gaffes lately that make you step back and laugh at yourself? Candidly, in the moment these mix ups might not seem very humorous. Looking back now, I think they are a good reminder for me that I'm not that special after all.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Rise of Our Demise

I'm troubled today.

The growing gap between common sense and the world of corporate noise is keeping me up at night. Our list of projects doesn't seem to slow down...that is a good thing. However, the faux expectations that are placed on many in the corporate world simply do not make sense in 2016. 

Why are we working for our organizations?

- To achieve personal career goals at the expense of others?
- To cover our own backside when times get tough?
- To gossip and stir the proverbial pot instead of standing tall and leading?

Um, no.

Leaders get paid to make ethical, positive, and sometimes risky decisions. They are not paid to join cliques and ramble endlessly about why things can not get done. Yet for some reason personal behavior changes when the power suit and bling wanders from conference room to conference room all day long. 

You know I'm right.

Lead for Real
Why is this happening? What could possibly motivate so many bright minds to somehow get off track and slip down this path? Candidly, an embarrassing path!

The answer I believe is simple. The link between being "smart" and being able to actually "lead" is grossly overestimated. 

The end result is that bright people receive opportunities to move into positions with greater and greater responsibility, but are ill-prepared to lead for real.

Committing to leading for real requires much more that talking about it...complaining about others to justify personal failures...or gossiping.

How About You
Take a moment and be honest about your situation. What are the challenges you're facing today? Are you part of a, I mean close group of colleagues that you complain to about everyone? Do you have the courage to accept that you might have some work to do on your self?

If so, I have no doubt that you will lead for real very soon. Let's get after it!

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Every Word Unheard

I'm one of the most competitive people I know. Sure, I come across here as calm and focused (ha!); but in reality I play to win. Period.

Now, how I go about wining can take on many forms and requires different strategies based on the circumstances I find myself in. One of the most important tools I use daily is listening effectively. 

Before you roll your eyes and dismiss me (see item #1 below), play along. 

Listen to Win
"Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply."
Stephen Covey

If the only way I ever thought about my role as a leader was to win, then I would surely find myself with zero credibility and no job. Neither one of those options is very appealing, so I try to avoid falling into the trap of focusing on my words while my colleagues are speaking.

Yes, most leaders today are expected to be quick on their feet and be able to respond well under pressure. But it is literally impossible to do that if you haven't heard what the others in the room are saying. Focusing on you (read here --> myself) all the time is a recipe for failure.

Listen to Learn
"I remind myself every morning: nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I'm going to learn, I must do it by listening."
Larry King

This perspective on leading can be a struggle for me. I've become accustomed to people looking to me for insight, guidance, and learning new approaches. But when do I learn if I'm not listening to them? We can learn from everyone regardless of their tenure with the organization or experience in the role.

Listen to Lead
"To learn through listening, practice it naively and actively. Naively means that you listen openly, ready to learn something, as opposed to listening defensively, ready to rebut. Listening actively means you acknowledge what you heard and act accordingly."
Betsy Sanders

It really is a simple formula. When we listen for real...allow ourselves to process what we've heard...and then engage professionally with others we win. Remember that the team you work with is watching...every move...hearing every word...and assuming that our behavior is what is acceptable in our corporate cultures.

How About You
How do you listen? Is all about the win...or learning...or hopefully, to lead as a role model for your organization?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Messenger of God

"People exercise an unconscious selection in being influenced." 
T. S. Eliot

Position and Power
I have been fortunate to serve in leadership roles for more than twenty years. It's hard to believe so much time has passed. One issue that continues to be ever present regardless of where I've worked or my position is the influence leaders have...but don't realize the real impact of that influence.

On one level, leaders bask in the new found glory of their position. Right? They have authority to make purchases, hire team members, and impact how the culture will be experienced by the employees.

That my friends is a lot of power. Remember, employees do not set the culture without leaders having a culture tolerance. Sadly, most organizations still have a low culture tolerance and thus those leaders power becomes a burden.

On a very different level, effective leaders understand the profound responsibility they have at all times. They understand that how they conduct themselves, even in more private settings, reflects directly on their credibility and the culture tolerance they will allow.

The best of the best embrace this responsibility and leverage it in a thoughtful and intentional way. They make calculated decisions all day long, not to manipulate, but rather to build their organizations in a spectacular way.

Yes, spectacular. If you're not up for making your organization spectacular why do you accept a leader's pay check?

How About You
What messages are you sending each day, and do you appreciate the breadth of your influence? Does the team look to you for support, vision, and leadership? Or, are you so above the masses that you don't have time to deal with simple things like culture, people...and success.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, January 4, 2016

Setbacks and Kicking Ass

It’s funny how profoundly our mood affect us. We can go from feeling like we could conquer the world, to feeling like we’ve been conquered in a matter of moments. I had one of those dramatic swings last week when I was settling down to work at a local Starbucks.

Long story short….spilling coffee on your MacBook Air can change your mood…and your plans for the next few days…fairly quickly.

Moving Backwards
The danger of these unexpected detours in life is that we can sometimes frame our whole life by what is happening in the moment. Although I remained surprisingly calm, didn’t utter a word, and went about cleaning up (and attempting to drain) my computer, my mind was racing.

Here we go again.
Why do these things keep happening to me?
I can’t take another expensive hit right now.
Whine, whine, whine, whine….

Negative self-talk is an insidious adversary. It can shift from an unfortunate moment, to the definition of all your moments. The end result is not progress, in fact it often feels like life has been thrown into reverse.

Kick Ass Instead
I’ll admit, I was rattled for the next day or two. The negative questions kept creeping into my mind as I had my computer checked out…realized I needed a new one…and was given a “gift” of a fully functioning hard drive with no loss of data.

It was a lot to process. But something happened as I allowed myself to wallow in self-pity for a while. I decided setbacks are just that…a setback. They do not define my life. They don’t define yours either. Yes, now I have to scramble to load software and get caught up this week. That’s okay.

This first awkward week of the new year will not define me as a person. My mindset to kick ass all year will!
How About You
What is your mindset coming into 2016? Are you fired up; or, feeling like you’re on fire? Either way, it’s the long view…the energy you bring to power through challenges…and the commitment to kick ass all year that will make the difference.

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.