Monday, April 8, 2024

Chief Work Officer

 No organization has this role…at least not any that I’m aware of.

We focus on tech; and trends; and hot button issues; and external drama; and quite often a heck of a lot of internal drama too; we can be fearful to hold people accountable because we may bruise a few egos; but…

…how much time is devoted to execute and improve the actual work?

Have we become so ‘busy’ that we don’t have time to do the work?

Often times we refer to “operations” as having this responsibility. Yet, isn’t operations focused on execution and delivery? That feels different than improving how work gets done.

Maybe it’s just me; but I’d love to hear how your organization brought a laser focus to improving work. 

What intentional decisions did you make to dramatically improve how the work is done?
What barriers did you face to gain consensus to make the investment necessary?
How did you measure your success?

Work is a complex concept…thinking about it holistically can make a dramatic difference.

Thanks for being here.

Jay





Monday, April 1, 2024

Two Things That Drive Organizational Change

I’m back from some time away to rest and recharge. During that break I couldn’t help but think about the world of work, and why it all seems to be so difficult. Conference content is loaded with the challenges we face, how we might begin to climb the almost unclimbable mountain of problems in front of us, and how the world seems to be changing faster than ever (more coming on AI soon.)

And then I heard a comment from Dr. Po-Shen Loh that absolutely resonated with me…one which kept popping into my head last week.

“We should only hire people who have two primary qualities: they love change…and they are incredibly curious.”

That one hit hard. 

Imagine, everyone on your team embraces change and does not get hung up on the petty slogans of “that’s now how it used to be around here” - and, they have a need to learn more, explore more, challenge traditional thinking more.

Wow.

How might the challenges you face be addressed if your team prioritized change and curiosity?

The possibilities are endless, right?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, March 18, 2024

1,000

More than 13 years.

Some years with many things to say…some years with very few.

Self-doubt;
Self-confidence;
Vulnerability;
…all constant companions.

Professional growth.

Career pivots.

Personal growth.

Dark valleys;
No path forward;
Fear;
…and suddenly light.

Bucket lists.

A book.

Forever taking risks through it all.
And some of you have been along for the ride since day one.

1,000 blog posts in the rear view mirror. Many more to go before it’s done.

Thanks for being here.

Jay

 

Monday, March 11, 2024

Affirmation Not Information

When was the last time you changed your mind about something? It seems like we should be changing our minds all the time when we review data, understand complex issues more fully, and take the time to think something through.

But we don’t.

We often look for the data elements that will reinforce our already locked in point of view. Candidly, that’s a shame. It’s as if we would rather be unaware of reality instead of taking criticism for changing our point of view.

Think about the number of new ideas that bubble up in organizations only to be shot down by more…seasoned…leaders who believe they are the only ones who see the path forward.

For politicians the journey is even more treacherous. What happens the moment an elected leader changes their mind? They are immediately labeled as flip-flopping on issues. 

Yet, lobbying groups, normal citizens, and just about everyone else is constantly trying to educate those same politicians to better understand the issues and make better decisions.

Better decisions. A novel concept sometimes.

So help me understand why changing our minds is a negative?




I believe it comes down to one thing: we love to affirm our opinions, but aren’t necessarily excited about real information that might change our views. 

Fair statement? I think so.

When was the last time you changed your mind?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, March 4, 2024

Indomitable

Indomitable. What an impressive word. It speaks to inner strength, conviction, and a level of dedication unmatched by most.

You are indomitable.

Sounds good, right?

But, how does one get to a place where this powerful word actually applies? Is it something we’re born with…something we learn…something else?

We’ve seen leaders who appear to have it all together. They’re polished in front of a crowd. They are composed. They think quickly and rarely misstep.

…and we think to ourselves…I want to be like that.

But how? Mentors can play a vital part. But don’t wait for your employer to launch a mentorship program. Go find the one you want. Breakthroughs come when we bring them to life, not because we waited around for someone else to tap us on the shoulder.

How else? Pay attention to those inside and outside your organization who are making things happen. Moving toward indomitable is a proactive series of steps.

And always, ask for feedback. Show your humility in order to get stronger. Those that are always ‘strong’ are burning a tremendous amount of energy hoping you’ll believe their story is true. No one is always on top of their game 100% of the time. 

No one.



So, how do you get to a place where this applies to you?

You decide, that’s how.

Indomitable. That my friend, is you.

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, February 26, 2024

When to Bet on Your People

When do you know it’s time to give a member of your team a new opportunity? How can you tell if someone is ready for the next step in their career? What are the signals that indicate you should trust one of your people to lead an initiative, particularly when you may not agree completely with their path forward?

Despite the dramatic shift in worker expectations, the world of remote work, and more pressure than ever for companies to perform, the challenge of leading people is still, in many ways, unchanged.

Senior leaders still make the decisions that allow more junior leaders the chance to grow.



It would be great if there was a playbook that told us exactly what needs to be done before we take the risk and let those junior leaders fly. 

I would love a checklist that guarantees those decisions so I wouldn’t look bad…and neither would that young leader. Their success is my success, right?

But these tools, in most cases, don’t exist. We have to gather multiple data points to help us gain confidence and make that decision. 

It’s their time…and we have to let them fly, fail a bit, coach them back on track, and watch them succeed.

What process do you use? Or, is it simply easier to do everything yourself?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, February 19, 2024

What Do Other People Get Wrong About You?

What do other people get wrong about you? Do they make superficial assumptions because of your style, hobbies or other interests? This has been a struggle for me at various times when I find myself being too judgmental of others. Why is that such a persistent element of human nature? 

I don’t like it…particularly when I’m the one doing the judging.

We’re all complex people. For example, I’m passionate about effective, inclusive leadership and view that as the only legitimate way to shoulder the responsibility of leading others with any measure of credibility. I have a deep faith, attend a men’s small group bible study every week, and am on the Board of the Children’s Cancer Center in Tampa, FL. 

I also love tattoos, heavy metal music, and have more energy than just about everyone I know (and want to be ‘on the go’ all the time.) 

I told you…we are all complex beings.




So, where does that place me on the assumptions continuum? Am I a decent person, a scary person, or maybe just like you…unique in my own way?

I struggle with judging others and work hard to minimize the impact. My approach is (usually) this: if they’re not hurting anyone, they’re okay with me.

What do others get wrong about you? And, how do you combat the instinct to judge others and risk getting it all wrong?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, February 12, 2024

Refuge

Sometimes the combined pressure of work, personal relationships and societal expectations can be a bit too much. Many times that pressure isn’t negative, it can simply be…a lot.

Layer on top the role leaders play and you can quickly find yourself on a collision course with reality. 

Having it all together, all the time, for everyone, is a tall order even for the most effective person.


So, what are we to do? Let the stress overwhelm us? Have a breakdown? Curl up in a ball all weekend trying to gather the energy to face it all again on Monday?

Of course not.

Life is not only about work…or relationships…or what society thinks of us. 

It starts with us. Finding ourselves. Feeling comfortable in our own skin. And, ultimately not giving a damn what society thinks.

Refuge begins on the inside.

At least it does for me. It also begins with a focus on my faith before anything else.

That has been, and continues to be, the most important step to successfully navigate the world around me.

What is your refuge?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, February 5, 2024

Green Shoots

How do you view the junior members of your team? Do you cling to the concept that “they’re not quite ready?” If that’s where you’re at…and that’s okay…do you have a plan in place so you’ll know when they are ready?

You can’t have it both ways.

I’m not necessarily talking about succession planning, that is a far more complex and rarely executed well strategy.

The opportunity for us all is to follow one of my core leadership tenets: risk. When we identify someone on our teams who has potential, we need to explore what they can do. And that can be messy in the beginning.

Think about putting in a new lawn. The yard is muddy, we spread grass seed, and then we let those seeds find their way.

Just like with our team members. We drop them into new experiences, and normally expect them to thrive immediately. That philosophy makes no sense to me. We need to let them learn and grow. Just like those grass seeds. 


So back to my opening question…when will those employees be ready? Perhaps it’s time to reconsider whether the ‘gut instinct’ you have about people is enough in today’s world of work?

Instead, why not build out a specific development plan that ensures you’ll not only have the leadership talent required down the road, but that those same up and coming leaders will give you the benefit of the doubt and actually stay.

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, January 29, 2024

Little Moments

We often think of leadership moments as charismatic performances that sway organizational direction toward success.

Actually, they’re… 

Not always in the middle of a crisis,

Not always driving your vision forward,

Not always hammering through your competition.

Sometimes…the most impactful leadership moments are the littlest ones…

A smile,

A handshake,

A check-in,

A text,

A look,

A coffee,

A thank you.

What little moments do you embrace as a leader?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, January 22, 2024

You’re on Mute (thankfully)

There’s always one person on the team who gets so fired up they just can’t…well...they just can’t stop talking about how exciting things are.

You know them well. Seemingly amped up all the time…and that’s a good thing…most of the time. At other times you’d like them to take a breath!

C’mon man…let someone else in here. Am I right?

Fortunately I have such a profound level of self-awareness that I’m absolutely 100% totally confident that on our team I am certainly not…or…I am mostly 90% sure that…um…I’m reasonably sure that my colleagues understand why I…

…oh crap, it’s me.

I’m that guy.

Sorry everyone. Feel free to put me on mute whenever I get too fired up.

(In fairness to me, over the last few years we have been crushing it and that’s something to get excited about!)

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, January 15, 2024

The Future of Work

More employee influence.

Less leadership ego.

More social engagement.

Less politically correct paranoia.

More transparency with the workforce.

Less playing it safe in the executive suite.

More time to volunteer in the community.

Less “it’s just business” as a leadership excuse.

More savvy leaders.

Less employee entitlement.

More faith.

Less fear.

What do you think about the future of work?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, January 8, 2024

What Gets You Through the Day?

We’ve all read the articles that tell us to not sit for hours on end, don’t stare at our screens without a break, and if possible get a few minutes of fresh air between meetings. I like all of these ideas, and depending on the physical environment (and latitude) where you work, perhaps you can take advantage of this advice.

There is another element that has become absolutely essential to help me regardless of whether or not fresh air or a 5 minute walk is an option.

Music.

Not just any music. In my case, a very specific type of music has transformed how I stay energized, focused, and inspired to keep crushing the day. 

One of the greatest things about music is that there is a genre (or multiple genres) for everyone. What I get from listening to the style of music I’m most passionate about may not be what works for you. And that’s okay…it doesn’t have to.



It’s worth trying to incorporate non-stop music (other than when in meetings, obviously) into your work flow. Too distracting? Try a lower volume setting, not switching genres. Play what you love, and experience your days differently.

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Faith, Work, and Corporate Culture

I spent many years as a human resources executive separating my faith from my work life. 

That was wrong. 

I fell into the politically correct trap that many HR leaders…and other executives…fall into. In an attempt to never offend anyone for any reason at any time under any circumstances, we’ve eliminated what could transform the cultures of our organizations.

Keep in mind that most world religions are grounded in kindness, humility, support for others, and defending those who need help. Those sound like pretty good leadership values to me.

When we sanitize the workplace in an attempt to ensure everyone feels welcome, we inadvertently alienate just about everyone.

And we wonder why the sense of belonging has shifted away from an organizational focus? 


Perhaps it’s the perfect time of year to consider moving away from a sterile workplace, and moving toward one that actually backs up the phrase so many cling to…”our culture is what makes us different.”

Thanks for being here, and Happy New Year.

Jay


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