Wednesday, March 30, 2016

End of the Line

I talk about my work.
I plan my work.
I have an extensive and well organized Wunderlist.
I document every meeting in Evernote.
I need to get things done.

I have to cross the finish line with my projects. 

Talk Is Half the Battle
I'm not sure what happens to some leaders. It appears that two significant changes occur that block their ability to get to the endpoint.

1 - They get promoted and have a really cool job title.

2 - They focus entirely on maintaining their status instead of executing.

These changes are the death blow to many promising leaders. The energy, passion, risk-taking, and fearless approach displayed early in their careers suddenly slows to a crawl in an attempt to play it safe at every decision point.

They talk a good game. 
They use the right words (usually.) 
They get a few things done...


That my friends is about a pathetic description of a leader as I can muster.

Execution Is the Only True Thing
Let's be honest for a minute. Getting work done, particularly complex projects can be a real challenge.

So what?

But sometimes other people have a significant role to play in our projects.

So what?

I make mistakes...after all I'm human.

So what?

How About You

"If our corporate cultures are focused on getting work across the finish line instead of attending recurring meetings to talk about how busy we are, we might actually make a real difference in this world."

Think about it.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Vengeance Is My Name

Grace act of kindness or courtesy...

The jokes and cliches about corporate life being rife with betrayal are common for a reason. It's true. For those of us that have accepted the burden of my case quite passionately...we often end up on the receiving end of a colleague's betrayal.

Am I being overly dramatic? Hell no.

I have personally experienced over and over again the impact of leaders feeling threatened by the real leaders who make bold decisions...lead courageously...and accept risk as part of leading at a world-class level.

For those cowards that only dream of leading on a grand scale, their preferred recourse seems to be attack...spread rumors...and attempt to discredit.

Always in secret...behind the scenes...because that is how corporate cowards behave.

For as long as I can remember I've pushed hard to get ahead. I've taken risk after risk, often bringing much attention (mostly positive) to the leader brand I was building. 

However, a piece of advice I received from a healthcare executive early on has stuck with me:

"No one is going to be excited as you about your rapid success. You are moving quickly...remember that others will feel threatened by your style."

His wise words have helped me up to the present time. When I see leaders taking action on a grand scale the result is often just as he predicted. 

The other leaders on the team who live in a world of CYA and WIIFM can not accept that someone else actually leads effectively. 

When their shameful and unethical attacks begin I have always wanted one thing.


How About You
What I learned however, was that the sweetest revenge boils down to one thing:


I decided I was going to ignore the noise, push myself to keep trying new strategies and tools, and execute far better than those corporate cowards could ever dream of doing.

Grace wins.

Don't fall into the trap of joining the corporate cowards club. Decide instead to lead alone because it is a far more noble path. In's the only real path for us.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Friday, March 25, 2016

Salt the Wound (feat. You)











Making big decisions is a requirement when you lead an organization. Sometimes those decisions stem from frustration at the poor performance of the team and the need for you to intervene. 

At other times your vision for what needs to be done is the engine that drives your decision making and provides the necessary structure for others to follow.

Sometimes though, we keep pushing our agendas long after it is necessary, simply to remind everyone who has the power.

Are you with me?

Let It Go
You've already won...when change occurs

You've already won...when your ideas are approved

You've already won...because you have the power and authority in your leadership role

Don't underestimate your words, your influence or your impact. 
You're a winner...even when you feel mired in administrative and political madness.

How About You
Everyone knows the rules, the pecking order, the hierarchy. There is no need to salt the wound of those around you. Remember...

You don't need to flex your executive muscle
You don't need to talk so damn much... need to take action ethically, professionally, and fairly...


I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Your Community - Your Future

The incredible power of communities in today’s world of work is literally transformational. Particularly for the untapped world of healthcare human resources or other risk-averse industry professionals. 

I’ll give you a real life example…me.

I spent twenty years in hospital human resources leadership, including the last fourteen in executive roles. As I watched the world of effective leadership change rapidly, I realized I either had to step up or stop claiming I was a leader.

"Harsh? Not really. I take the title of leader very seriously, and I believe leaders have to actually do the work, not just sit around fancy conference rooms tossing around leadership quote meme ideas."

Leadership is not only talk…leadership is action. I took ownership of what I knew had to change and completely reinvented myself and how I practiced HR. I made the conscious decision to grow my communities, and ended up positioning myself (unknowingly at the time) for the job I have now.

Oh, and by the way...making these changes revolutionized the talent function at my last hospital far beyond my wildest expectations.

Getting Started
1.  The first step is learning…branching out to try new tools…and it is surprisingly simple:

"Get over yourself."

Forget about your ego, your loaded LinkedIn profile, and your inflated sense of self. I'm're not that special (neither am I.)

2.  The second rule is to select one tool to help grow your community. For example if you choose twitter start by setting up your account, be sure to use the same picture from your LinkedIn profile, and be patient.

No one will expect you to be a power user on day one! Search the tool to find other leaders in the #HealthcareHR space (it will be a quick search!) or other industry. Look for other leaders, organizations, and thought leaders you trust and connect with them.

3.  The third step is to start using the tool. One of the best ways to do that on twitter, or snapchat (which is now #2 behind facebook, yes!); or any tool for that matter, is to participate. Retweet and share content. Let others know you like their work. Compliments are completely risk-free!

Remember, you talk to people all day…every day…so you can certainly handle hitting the Retweet button!

How About You
4.  The last step is to reach out directly to others, particularly those outside your specific industry space. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, explain that you are learning and want to participate. While this may sound like a long slow road, what you will quickly discover is that your online communities will grow so quickly you won’t believe it.

...and that impacts your leader brand.
...which impacts your employer brand.

I’m living proof.

Please do not feel like you need to do this alone. 

I want to help! Connect with me and let's get you started:

twitter:            @jrkuhns
snapchat:        jrkuhns
Instagram:     jrkuhns
Swarm:           Jay Kuhns
Pinterest:       jrkuhns
anchor:          Jay Kuhns

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.  


Monday, March 21, 2016

No Community - No Future

I’ve been pushing myself to learn lately. The new tools that are redefining how executives transform their brands, their teams, and their organizations are exploding all around us. I know that if I do not stay current I will fail. We no longer have the cop-out options of having too many projects, too many meetings, or not enough time to keep up.

When have effective leaders ever had “enough time?” For God’s sake, stop saying that.

Your Community
For most healthcare human resources leaders that I meet their definition of community is the team they work with at their current employer, plus the people they’ve worked with in the past. If you throw in a few people they’ve met at conferences over the years and add that all up you get…their teeny, tiny community.

That approach worked well while Gerald Ford was President, but means absolutely nothing in today’s world.

Let me ask a couple of questions:
- Do you need high quality talent on your team?
- Does your organization need high quality talent?
- Does your employer brand dominate your market both regionally and nationally?
- Are you completely satisfied with the morale in your organization?
- Do you have the ability to reach out to people you’ve never met in person…and get the support you need?

Leaders Take Action
Never before has it been so easy to start connecting. Never before has it been so easy to learn from people far beyond the comfort zone of our “industry.” Are we still so narrowly focused on how “special” our industries are that we are afraid to learn from another sector of the economy?

And God forbid we learn from someone younger than we are! 

How About You
The role your communities play in your professional life have never been more critical to your success. In my next post I'll focus on how to build, engage, and grow your communities across some of the tools I’m using personally and professionally.

Are you willing to lead differently; or, are you simply too busy preparing your next PowerPoint loaded with excuses as to why the talent shortages are not your fault?

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

World In A World

The modern workplace has two worlds that exist simultaneously. I know this because I've lived in both of them for many years. I didn't realize what was happening early on though.

Time to Talk
As a young HR Manager at my first hospital I tried hard to get along with my colleagues and team members. I wanted to be the one that wasn't afraid to jump into the fire, but did so in a way that I could maintain relationships with people even if we didn't agree on some issues.

That seemed like a natural approach to leadership, particularly after learning how not to lead in my first couple of jobs out of college.

When leaders and employees alike reached out to me "just to talk" I thought I was doing my job. So I listened...

...and I learned more than any textbook or leadership course could ever teach me.

Theories and "best practices" mean absolutely nothing when you're eye to eye with an employee who is struggling with an ineffective manager who is treating them poorly.

Many of those employees thought I helped them find their way. The reality is I learned more from them in my early years than they will ever know.

Time for Action
Now that I have many more years behind me, I now realize what was happening in those early days. Those discussion with employees, managers and executives continue to this day. The public world of meetings, protocol, and big powerpoint presentations pale in comparison to what is happening in the other world.

The other world is where real feelings...real issues...and candidly, the real decisions are made.

You know that, right? The real decisions are made outside the room.

How About You
Are you paying attention to the world in a world? It's paying attention to you, whether you know it or not. Make sure you lead in both worlds.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Stay of Execution

"I know, I're "crazy busy" at work."

"Oh, that's have to finish up a couple of projects before you can get started."

"Of course, you need to have your team do that stuff, that's not something for real leaders."

"I remember now, this is a very conservative area...we don't use social media that much."

It's 2016, Right?
I recently had an opportunity to meet a group of human resources professionals who have not embraced contemporary tools for business. Candidly, I was a bit surprised. I know that not every leader is going to use social tools the way I do.

However, I find it incomprehensible that in today's incredibly tight market for talent...a market where every person you or I will ever hire again is using one or more social media platforms...HR leaders continue to tuck their heads into their turtle shells and ignore the world around them.

It is time for HR to stand up and be counted as cutting edge leaders across all industries. 

It is time for HR to show their executive colleagues that embracing social tools with a defined strategy will transform their organizations.

It is time for HR to demonstrate to our marketing colleagues what leader brand and employer brand are all about.

It is time my friends, for us to stop talking, and complaining, and throwing our hands up in the air.

It is time for action.

How About You
Do you fall into one of those groups that still takes pride in not being on a social network? How could you possibly consider yourself a leader when you choose to embarrass yourself and your organization by hiding behind your own insecurities and excuses?

We have been given one more chance...a stay of professional execution. What are you going to do with this rare opportunity? I will help you if you'll just reach out.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Who Got You Here?

There are many people that shape our lives. Whether it’s our parents, siblings, extended family, friends, colleagues or mentors the list could go on and on.

I’d like you to take a moment and think…yes, we’re all “super busy” but you can stop for one moment…and list the five most influential people in your development.

- Who were they?

- What did they do that was so meaningful?

- Have you told them how important they are to you?

How About You
For as much as we (ahem, that would be me) take pride in being strong, independent, and progressive…none of us made it this far on our own. Perhaps in an era of massive self-promotion and competition it would do us all some good to say thank you to those that got us here.
I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Finesse Factor

Have you seen them? You know, those leaders who are so smooth, so polished, and see the big picture so effectively they can pull together what feels like a hopeless set of circumstances and keep things moving forward.

They’re fabulous...

…and they are rare.

Finesse is a Competency
Let me be very clear…leaders with the finesse factor do far more than weave together words in a way that makes people feel good about themselves or their situation. Lots of leaders talk…very few deliver on that talk.

It is something beyond words that sadly is so foreign in the world of work today. Leaders with finesse actually deliver on what they say.

Think about the leader struggling to understand their future path, and suddenly an executive steps in and not only explains their vision for the future, but takes action to ensure it happens quickly…

Or a new manager who is struggling to find their way in the organization, and their leader invests the time to not only be patient, but to paint a picture of how their strengths match with the complex layers of the company...

And then there is life outside of work…stress and strain is not exclusive to the workplace, and that same leader guides those around them to see a clear path through the “impossible situation” of the moment.

How About You
Do you understand the role finesse plays in leading effectively? 

Having lots of experience, or being a really smart hard-charger only gets you to the start of the race. It is finesse that will get you across the finish line.

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Do You Remember?

Something seems be changing in our world. People are angry, and want change, and are apparently making their views known in ways that are very different from what I remember. To be honest with you I’m rattled by all of this anger and what it may lead to in the not so distant future.

I remember….

- teaching my children that people of every color, religion, sexual orientation and nation were equal

- deciding to speak out against bigotry in my personal and professional life

- losing friends and colleagues because I stood up against narrow minded racist attitudes

- learning about the risks the leaders of the American Colonies took to create a new country based on freedom

- admiring Abraham Lincoln for stopping the scourge of slavery once and for all

- the chills I felt hearing Martin Luther King, Jr. when he said “…I may not get there with you…"

- gaining a deep understanding for the incredible leadership Dietrich Bonhoeffer demonstrated in fighting against the Nazi message of hate against specific groups of people, ultimately becoming one of the millions they murdered

- watching my parents fight for civil rights throughout their careers…and make a real difference

- my transition from someone who talks privately about diversity and equality, to being a leader who pushed through the MLK holiday and same sex partner benefits at a hospital I worked for

I remember when real leaders were admired for doing the right thing, not scaring people.

I remember being proud of America. I hope I will still feel that way in November.

How About You
What is it that stirs your soul to action? Is it your career, family, politics, or maybe just your core values that shape how you decide to lead each day?

Whatever it is…make sure those around you will be proud to be in your world.

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.