Slow Down to Speed Up

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Leading, We=All Who Matter
Reading time: 2 min.

We need to influence other people’s actions every day.

To do so, we usually try what I call “going faster to speed up.” We tell, suggest, teach, make a case, or argue. Sometimes we’ll use indirect influencing emotions like excitement or guilt. Then we hope that they’ll do what we want sooner than later.

The problem is that these methods actually slow you down. They raise the other person’s defenses and cause resistance. Why?  People always resist being told–directly or indirectly–what to do, how to do it, and how to think. Even if they don’t show it and even if there is trust between you, they will resist.

You can succeed by pushing: doing more and more of the above tactics. And that will not work for very long.

Or you can take the time to do things like

  • Flex to match their communication style.
  • Agree on what is true now in the situation and what you’d like to be true.
  • Seek to understand their perspective, their suggestions, and what would make a win for them.
  • Make requests and negotiate what will be done by when and by whom.

You need not do all of these all the time. As trust builds (which it will) and on less important issues, you can do fewer.

As you slow down, you’ll speed up results now and down the road.


To your continued success,


Why Organizations Fail – Another Symptom

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Leading, Organizations, Strategy, Success, We=All Who Matter, What=Compelling Focus
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In the previous post, I said that organizations often fail because they are focused on the wrong things.  Symptoms include people arguing over how something gets done, who decides things, and when things get done.

Here is a related symptom of the same problem: protracted arguing over which ideas, projects, strategies, and investments should be chosen.

You can tell a team or organization is focused on the wrong things if you notice they are stuck and

  • arguing about which ideas, strategies etc. are better without first agreeing on how they will evaluate the ideas etc.,
  • unable to select and stick with a strategy,
  • making seemingly random decisions,
  • rejecting certain reasonable ideas out-of-hand, or
  • accepting other reasonable or not-so-reasonable ideas without due consideration.

Have you noticed any of these symptoms recently?  Not to worry, the solution is simple.

Next post: what they need to do instead.

Why Organizations Fail

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Leading, Organizations, Strategy, Success, We=All Who Matter
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Organizations often fail because they focus on the wrong things.

When you see any group (leadership team, functional team, sports team, board, entire organization, family, etc.) stuck and

  • bickering,
  • power struggling, or
  • getting lost in the minutiae,

they are likely focused on how something should be done, who does or decides what, and when these things will get done. Though important, focus on these things leads to dysfunction or destruction unless the group first focuses on the right things.

To succeed, any group must first focus then agree on the answers to these three questions:

  • What is true?
  • What do we want to be true?
  • Why?

Then the detailed arguments about how, who, and when can continue because they will make sense in the light of the right context.


To your continued success,


Believe It More Than They Do

Posted 6 CommentsPosted in Hiring, Leading, We=All Who Matter, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 1

To lead, coach, teach, parent, influence, or sell, you can study lots of techniques. And I recommend you do.

To do these very well, cultivate your belief in others. Develop such a strong belief in each person’s abilities, potential, and future successes–even before you see any evidence–that they begin to believe it, too.


To your continued success,


P.S. If you have trouble imagining that this could work, consider this: What would happen if you believed the opposite? Also, you don’t have to believe something ridiculous. Just believe something that is even a little bit better than what they are now.

Politics is a Symptom

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Leading, Organizations, Success, We=All Who Matter, What=Compelling Focus, Will=Our inner game
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Where you see politics in your workplace, resist the temptation to blame your co-workers. Yes, there are some people who are naturally very political. They foster power struggles, intrigues, backstabbing, and information/asset hoarding. But most of the politics you see at work are symptoms of larger problems. These problems are

  1. a lack of a clear, commonly understood, and compelling direction,
  2. a lack of win-win relationships throughout the organization based on trust, clarity of roles, and accountability,
  3. a lack of effective habits of execution, and
  4. a lack of leadership habits and tools to create the 1-3 above.

If your organization shows symptoms of politics, which of these 4 areas do you have the most influence over right now? Let’s start there.


To your continued success,



The Best and Worst Ways to Describe a Role

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Hiring, Leading, Strategy, Success
Reading time: 2 min.

“Fit” is such an important driver for people and need for organizations. Everyone–from the big boss to the mail room clerk–in every organization–from the largest multi-national to a sole proprietor–needs to understand where she fits and how she contributes to the organization.

The worst way to define a role is with a job description. A job description lists things like tasks or functions performed in the job, who the job reports to, and the skills required to do the job. Job descriptions don’t guide the person in the role because they are hard to recall, follow, and change as time and business needs change. Example: “The job of special assistant to the associate team leader includes drafting, distributing for comment, and publishing the daily TPS reports.”

The best way to define a role is with key accountabilities. Any role can be described in three to five of these sentences that answer the question, “At the end of the year, what will we see to know that this job has been done well?” Roles defined by key accountabilities are simpler to grasp and easier to manage. Example: For a sales person, the key accountabilities might be “Generate at least $20M in revenue for the company this year,” “Support existing clients; 80% of revenue will come from existing clients.”

Try it. Define your role (or one you have to hire for soon) in three-to-five mostly measurable sentences. Then watch how much easier it becomes to do, hire, or manage that role.


To your continued success,


P.S. Do any companies still have mail room clerks?

The Leader’s Secret

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Leading, We=All Who Matter
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A client and friend asked, “How do I get my team to work smarter?”

We could talk about a practical set of steps to take. But the real secret is the finesse needed to have these steps work. The finesse…

  • …is almost impossible to see in action unless you are looking for it.
  • …starts with an unwavering belief in your team members’ worth and ability to achieve despite any evidence to the contrary.
  • …finishes with each of them recognizing–perhaps only subconsciously– that you believe in them.
  • …does NOT mean you pull punches when things go wrong. You don’t sweep things under the rug. You address issues directly and quickly.
  • …does invite them to work smarter, respond to feedback, act, and push back as needed to achieve the goals.

Make the choice to believe in them and you set the stage for success.

To your continued success,


Plug In

Posted 4 CommentsPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Leading, Success, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 2 min.

One quick way to cultivate access to you (Effectiveness Habit #7) is to read brief quotes, sayings, or thoughts that you agree with and that feel good to think.

Part of my daily refresh is a scan of now nearly 100 quotes, sayings, or quick thoughts that feel good. “Plugged in” is how I describe the feeling I get. Reading just a few each morning helps set me on track for a great day. When I neglect to do it, I can tell.

Here’s how you can add this tool to your toolkit:

  1. Make a new list (yes, another one  🙂 ). I call mine, “Plug In.”
  2. Add a few thoughts, quotes, or sayings to this list that feel good to you and that you agree with. Statements that don’t feel good or that you don’t agree may work for others and will keep you from “plugging in.”
  3. Scan this list during your daily refresh. Look to generate a good, plugged-in, inspired feeling. How you experience this feeling will be unique to you. You will notice at least one physical sensation. Others describe it as a tingling, lightness, buzz, or warmth in their chest, back, neck, arms, legs, belly, feet, hands, etc.
  4. As you notice them in your day-to-day, keep adding to this list any other quotes, sayings, and ideas that feel good and that you believe.
  5. If your “Plug In” list gets too long or you find some of the ideas less than inspiring, feel free to delete items or move them off this list and onto another list perhaps called, “Archived Plug In.”

Here’s to you having a plugged-in kinda day!



(P.S. You can use this list any time your need to feel better, as with Effectiveness Habit #2: Feel good. Then act.)

Effectiveness Habit #5: Know Why

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Leading, Strategy, Success, Sweetspot, What=Compelling Focus, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 2 min.

The weight of all your tasks can wear you down. Build resilience and feel good with today’s habit:

Effectiveness Habit #5: Know Why

It’s all too easy to get lost and disheartened in the day-to-day. When we do, we’ve lost sight of what we’re really shooting for and why.

Knowing the big picture and knowing why that big picture is compelling takes away the drudgery and leaves meaning, focus, and fit. It’s exciting to know that what we’re doing contributes. It helps us navigate the quotidian. And we all want to know how we fit into the bigger picture.

To use this habit,

  1. Write down a list of the key accountabilities (3-5 sentences answering, “What results will tell me I’ve done my job well?”) for your main work role.
  2. Write down a list of your and your organization’s goals, objectives, core and aspirational values, and mission.
  3. Review these at least monthly. More often is better. Recall the intent and more importantly the feeling of the intent of these big picture items.
  4. Maintain these lists over time.

(If you don’t have your key accountabilities or your goals, objectives, values, or mission, I suggest you build them ASAP. Drop me a line for some tips.)

Next time you find yourself struggling in the minutiae of your work, remember to come back to these lists and know why what you’re doing makes sense. And if what you’re doing does not make sense for the big picture, consider carefully why you are doing that.

Go for the Understanding

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Career, Leading, Organizations, Success, We=All Who Matter
Reading time: 1

From the “you have to slow down to speed up” department comes this reminder: seek, first, to understand the other person’s perspective. Want to get more done quicker? Then slow down and take more time to understand what the other person really means, needs, and will do.

Try this: ask someone to explain their perspective. Then listen. Say what you think you heard them say, in your words. Ask the person if she thinks, based on what you said, that you understand what she had said. If not, ask her to reexplain. Keep going until she says you understand her perspective. When you do, then turn the tables and ask her to do the same favor for you. Use this technique anytime. It is especially good when you and the other person are stuck on an issue, not coming to resolution.

Does this take time? Yup. Typically about 20 minutes. Is there anything better you could be doing with that time. Unlikely.