Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Corporate World's Hot Mess

I'm not one of the young guns anymore. I'm not that 'rising star' (in my mind) that takes bold action, launches new strategies, or sets the world on fire. Wait a second, who am I kidding, of course I still do all of those things! 

However, I view the responsibilities of executives differently now.

Pushing the envelope will always be how I roll...but being so caught up in covering my ass, or feeding my fragile ego at the expense of the amazing people around me, is just about the biggest sin in the executive bible that I can think of. Yet I've seen it happen all too often.

I Wish I Had One of "Those Jobs"
It's actually pretty easy to be an executive...under one basic premise:

Every single thing,
about every part of the entire organization, 
in every circumstance, is perfect in every way, 
at every moment.

The rest of the time, it's hard as hell.

Do Your Job
When you consider the "priorities" that many executives focus on, they are often quite far from the reality of successfully operating their companies. Political infighting, building alliances, scolding direct reports for issues that have no real impact on the business but do impact the warped view the executive's have of leadership, all add up to failure. 

These massive insecurities result in catastrophic damage:
- loss of credibility for the executive 
- loss of focus on the drivers of success (or failure) for the organization
- hours of wasted time addressing the behaviors of executives who have potential, but move down a path that is counterproductive

Is all of this harsh and offensive? Out of touch with reality? Um, no it's not. If I were to spend a few minutes with the leaders who report directly to executives, I would have more than enough "proof."

I've also been hearing it from these same folks (as well as other frustrated executives around them) for years and years...

Oh, where to begin! While it is easy to blame our colleagues across the many organizations we encounter in our careers, that doesn't actually help. 

The real opportunity here is for HR to play a far more bold and active role in the operational life of the company.

Some questions to consider as you step up your game:

- When executives get caught up in protecting their position and power instead of focusing on the most important challenges ahead, do you speak up or remain silent?

- When you see high potential leaders being promoted too rapidly, do you speak up or allow it to happen?

- When political agendas start to impact organizational decision making, do you expose it or try to join the club?

How About You
We must be proactive.

We must be internal executive coaches.

We must take control of dysfunctional situations, not just slide into secondary roles.

We must be the executive role models for our junior executive colleagues (regardless of their 'senior' titles) to help them develop into truly effective leaders.

...and we must start today.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Remember Why You Started

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving."
Albert Einstein

Grey, not Black and White
Think back to when you finally broke through and landed that first big job. Whether it was in leadership or not, you soon realized two important things:
- the greater the responsibility you have, the greater the impact you can make
- the greater the responsibility you have, the greater the pressure coming at you from all directions

Finding the balance between the these two things, and not losing your energy and enthusiasm can be a challenge!

The pressure, unclear road ahead, changing dynamics in the workplace, and self-talk inspired depression can often get in the way of why you started down this path in the first place.

Acceptance and Action
There is a fairly straightforward way to deal with these pressures however; one that is often overlooked.

Accept them.

Whether or not something "should be this way" or "should be that way" we must accept the reality that the world is not going to operate exactly the way we think it should.

Accept them.

Feeling frustrated with our colleagues once in a while, wishing we could have avoided a communication failure, or believing we should have removed a poor performer sooner are all normal. Getting ourselves all worked up however, or worse, spending extra time lamenting it all is incredibly counterproductive.

"When we accept the fact that the world of work is never going to be perfect, we free ourselves to remember why we were so excited about work in the first place." 

There are still many opportunities to make a difference. 
There are endless chances to impact another person's life. 
There are no limits to what we can do.

How About You
What is getting in your way as you think about work? Have you allowed yourself to become so frustrated that you spend your days feeling down and depressed? Or, will you decide to accept that we all have our failings, but they should never stand in the way of why we love what we do?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

I've Arrived!

The desire to 'play' at the highest level is a powerful aphrodisiac. Whether in sports, academia, research, entertainment, or climbing the corporate ladder, the laser focus to get to the top is sometimes a hindrance to our success.

Chasing Glory
For many professionals, that first taste of a high level role feels like winning a career championship game. The new found power can often be confused with having "arrived." 

Is that big promotion an end point to a long quest? 

Is that breakthrough job offer an affirmation of what you've always believed you could be?

If the answer was yes, the risks to future success just became exponentially more complicated. You see, chasing the glory of career success is actually a never ending series of milestones and new beginnings.

Years of hard work and professionalism can lead to exciting opportunities. Those opportunities, in effect, are a reset of everything you once knew. The previous behavior, routine, and internal peer network all change. 

You have to be open to change too.

Learning the Role, Not the Tasks
The most important step many successful new leaders miss is the ramp up phase into learning "how" to do their new job. Not focusing exclusively on the tasks listed on their new job description.

Think about that for a second...learning the role, not the work.

How does a junior executive behave? What interpersonal skills are now mandatory, regardless of what feels comfortable? 

Is a fragile ego going to be put to the side in order to do the work, make decisions, and earn respect? 

Or...will the previous goal of "most popular rising leader" be the label that supersedes all else?

How About You
Who do you know that is very talented, yet has not invested the time to learn their role? How are they doing? Could they use your trusted consultative support?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Expectations and Engaged Employees

The concept of employee engagement is used so frequently in the world of work, I often see my leadership colleagues in a variety of industries roll their eyes when it comes up in conversation.

Yet, they publicly espouse the value and priority of having an engaged workforce...that it will make a huge difference in the performance of their companies...and that without it they will fall behind their competition.

Wait, what? 

I think I've stumbled onto one of the disconnects between leaders and engaged employees.


The Leader Lens
In my experience, I see many leaders wishing they could somehow "see" or "feel" the engagement of the employees. I'm not entirely sure what this means though.

- Should there be big smiles all day every day?

- Should there be verbal expressions of gratitude?
- Should there be public displays of a$$ kissing?

Regardless the expectation, the notion that a tangible behavior validates a degree of workforce engagement seems to be more important than whether or not they actually are engaged in the first place.

The Employee Lens
Here's my candid take on the employee side of the engagement issue. 

Create a positive energy in the workplace, prioritize their needs, be supportive and inclusive, share as much as you can as quickly as possible, pay competitively, recognize good performers and remove poor ones, be accessible to the team, be clear on expectations and performance, don't trick yourself into believing your job title makes you smarter than the team, laugh at yourself, be honest, be fair, be human.

Oh, and I don't think they necessarily want to jump up and down in joyful praise...they just want to do a good job.

How About You
Try strapping the employee lens on when you walk out of your office this afternoon. How does your world look now? Any different?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.