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,

Mike

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¬† ūüôā ). 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!

 

Mike

(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
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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.

5 Easy Pieces of Career or Corporate Strategy

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Career, Leading, Organizations, Success, What=Compelling Focus
Reading time: 2 min.

Strategy exercises–whether for your career or your organization–often fail because they are incomplete. They scratch the itch we all get to have our daily work align with something important but they often don’t fix the problem.¬† Some fail because they are incomplete in concept; they don’t cover enough ground nor include important perspectives. Others fail because the process is incomplete. They usually ignore the important implementation, follow up, and–most important–course correction steps. And others fail because they try to do too much or too little.

What you really need to do:

  1. Set the scope. How big is your focus? How far out in time? How will you know you’re done?
  2. Start with constructive perspectives. This includes having the right people involved and trusting your own knowledge about your talents, passions, and needs. And it includes solid information about who you might serve.
  3. Clear process. Know before your start the major steps and how you’ll complete them. If working with others, agree on ground rules like the definition of consensus.
  4. Facilitation to focus thinking, maintain momentum. Have someone with a neutral agenda help you think through and avoid the mental, emotional, and political traps.
  5. Execute, Track, and Course Correct. Follow through. It’s so important to commit to the follow-through work as part of building your strategy. Career and corporate strategies succeed when there are simple plans, processes, and ways follow up and adjust course without losing the dream as time passes and things change.

Invest in these 5 pieces and they will pay off handsomely for you and your organization.

Want some help with your career or business strategy? Happy to help.

What if you decided what success is?

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Career, Good: Your Good Work, Leading, Success, Sweetspot, What=Compelling Focus
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If you look at it–really look at it–success for your life, career, or organization has to be what you say it is. Others do influence that definition because your success always includes the success of others. But you get to choose where you’ll focus, with whom, and for whom.

Find and follow your definition of success, this moment and then the next.

It’s not a communication problem

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

“We have a communications problem.”

In working with people and their organizations, I often hear statements like that one.

Truth is that it’s almost never a communications problem; it’s a relationship problem.

What’s the difference? The word communication has evolved away from its roots (think, “commune”). It is used mostly today to describe an activity, task, or transaction (think, “communications plan” or “communication system”).

The word “relationship,” on the other hand, points to a connection–mostly emotional–between people.

We are all in relation to everyone else. We are all human beings who have a spark of intelligence, consciousness within. We see this as important, even precious in ourselves and others.

When the transactions of communication aren’t working well, it’s pretty much a guarantee that the real solution will be in a sustained strengthening of relationships. There typically isn’t enough trust or accountability. False civility and politics may also be present.

Strengthening relationship is simple

It is not difficult to strengthen relationships. A good place to start is by simply acknowledging or remembering–and it doesn’t have to be spoken or written–that the other(s) have that spark within them. The ancient Sanskrit word namaste captures this well. Loosely translated, it means, “The spark that I am sees and respects the spark that you are.”

Build on that simple acknowledgment by knowing and growing your emotional intelligence, using practical models and tools (such as DISC), and getting good feedback. This will help you and your organization become better relaters and communicators.

Better relationships then make the communications smoother, easier, and more effective.

In the movie, Cool Hand Luke, the character called The Captain is famous for saying, “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”

No, sir. What we have here is failure to relate.

Two Simple Habits for the Ultra-Busy

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Leading, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 5 min.

How is your week going?

No, really. How is it going? On a scale from “Calm waters, smooth sailing” to “Rough Chop” to “Gale” to “Tempest”, how effectively are you sailing through your week?

Chances are that most of you—most of the time—will say, “Gale,” “Tempest,” or “What word do you have for something worse than a tempest ‘cuz that’s where I am?”

We live every day with wave upon wave of tasks, competing priorities, and interruptions.

And that sucks. It feels bad, it saps our energy, and lowers our productivity. It’s also a downward spiral; the more storms we experience, the more behind we feel, the more we push, the less energy we have, the more we don’t get done, the more storms we have.

For those of you who manage a team, you’ll recognize that this is not just a personal issue; it affects teams and entire companies the same way.

GOOD NEWS: Two simple habits; you choose when to take them on.

(Of course there’s good news!)

What doesn’t work is trying to fight the storms by working harder, going numb, blaming, or hiding. There will always be new waves of tasks and interruptions and they’ll wear you down.

What DOES work is learning to surf these waves. And you are just two simple habits away from hangin’ ten.

If your frustration with the way things are is high enough, grab these two habits and run with them; they’ll change everything.

If you’re not ready, bookmark this post for a time when you are ready, when the way things are is no longer acceptable.

HABIT ONE: Plan-Do.

If you start your workday by diving in to your work, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Instead, invest a relatively minute amount of time to plan you day and your week. When you do, you’ll put yourself above the waves.

This type of planning gives you the proper perspective to know what your will work on given of all the things your could work on.  It also gives you the information you need to decide in the moment whether to allow this next interruption or that request.

Set aside time–maybe 40 minutes–before each work week (e.g. Friday night, Sunday night, or Monday morning) to review all your projects and commitments to know what you’ll select to work on and what goes to the back burner. Set aside 10 minutes or so before each work day (either that morning or the night before) to select what you’ll work on that day and adjust your weekly plan based on what’s happened.

Have with you the lists of your projects/commitments/appointments as you do this planning.

For more information about this habit, see this article in Fast Company: http://www.fastcompany.com/article/work-smart-how-to-avoid-the-busy-trap?partner=homepage_newsletter

For more help, email me with your questions or post a comment below.

HABIT TWO: Be here now

This habit is about changing your state of mind–your attitude–instantly and often as you can.

If you see this habit as less practical and even a waste of time, give me a moment to explain. It’s actually a surprisingly powerful and productive tool.

This is deep topic that we can spend our lifetimes learning about. For now, let the loosely constructed logic below point you in the right direction. If you’d like to learn more, email me. You can also skip this logic and go right to the practice that follows.

  • Performance in our jobs and life comes only from action.
  • Our state of mind affects our ability to perform, to act well.
  • Without focus or training, our state of mind comes from our habitual thoughts and emotions.
  • We build our habitual thinking and emotions from very early on life. They are there for what was a good reason.
  • Some of these habitual thoughts and emotions are no longer useful; they really detract from our performance today.
  • The thinking and emotions more in conflict with our performance today can be categorized as “regret about the past” or “worry about the future.”
  • We may not think we are regretting or worrying. Typically we react to the word “regret” and “worry;” looking deeper, we see we indeed are expending too much time and energy on the past or the future.
  • The best barometer for measuring whether we’re too focused on the past or future is how we physically feel. Tense, nervous, ill, numb, in pain, and excited are some of the usual signs.
  • Regretting the past or worrying about the future pulls our focus from the ONLY PLACE EVER WE CAN PERFORM: here and now.
  • We can tell we are in the here and now when the physical sensations disappear or diminish.
  • We can’t force ourselves to be here and now. Forcing creates an ugly reaction of not-here-and-now.
  • We can release ourselves by simply observing. Naming what we are thinking, feeling, doing drives a wonderful wedge between us and our habitual thinking.
  • Regular observation gives us the ability to catch ourselves caught up in habitual thinking and emotions and release ourselves without much effort at all.
  • Regular observation is like building a muscle. As we strengthen our observation muscle, we naturally have more energy and focus to act well, right here and now.
Practicing Habit Two
  1. For the next 24 hours, notice your thinking and emotions. Just name them and go no further; resist the temptation to describe, evaluate, judge what you notice. One easy way: quietly say to yourself as often as you can today, “This is me thinking_______.” Or, “This is me feeling_______.” Or, “This is me______.” Examples: “This is me thinking this meeting is a waste of time.” “This is me reacting to my colleague’s comment.”
  2. Extend this practice by making a commitment to it and using the habit builder to make it stick.

Post a comment below with your questions, observations, or improvements to these habits.

Real change is fast, not slow.

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Career, Leading, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 4 min.
How Long Does it Take?

How long does it take…

  • …to turn around the culture of an organization?
  • …to find your ideal career?
  • …to reform a criminal, change the dynamics in your family, turnaround a business, change a habit? achieve peace in the land,or have balance and satisfaction in your life?

Months? Years? Lifetimes? Strings of attempts ending in failure or at least less-than-hoped for results?

Perhaps. Or perhaps there’s a way to speed things up. Let’s first look at what blocks real, lasting change.

Why change fails or lags

Most change fails because we act at the wrong level. We work the symptoms, not the causes.  We get trapped, for instance, in the drama about things or by the discomfort of looking too deep.  This is true for us as individuals or in organizations.

Getting trapped like that not only delays change and presents hard work, it reinforces the belief that long and difficult is the way of things and that the next change will be long and difficult, too.¬† More insidiously, we can believe that there’s something deeply, fundamentally wrong with us or our organization.¬† Look closely, and you’ll see this belief hiding and driving people and organizations everywhere.

Real change is just one thought away.

Here’s how to make real, sustained change quickly.¬† It starts with just one thought.¬† Find the right thought at the right level, investigate its truth, and choose a thought that supports your goals.

We tend to start looking at the symptoms; these are our “first thoughts” about the situation.¬† To go deeper ask two sets of questions:

  1. Where do you or your organization say, “That’s impossible.”?¬† These indicate you are bumping up against a too-limited view of the world and yourself/your organization in the world.
  2. What question is too painful or sensitive to ask or answer?¬† These indicate the thought that you or your organization can’t handle reality.¬† This type of thinking block has power when you don’t investigate them.¬† They lead to avoidance and stagnation for fear of the consequences.¬† Far better to jump into the jaws of these questions to realize they are toothless and timid.

Once you’ve found the thought, ask yourself, “Is it true, 100% true?”¬† Typically it’s not.¬† Acknowledge your tendency/habit to think like this.¬† Then decide, “What thought would better support me or us?”

Career Example

Situation: A friend wants to change careers, doesn’t know what he wants, it tired of not knowing (and not having any income) and isn’t taking any action. He’s been struggling for more than a year.

First thoughts: “I am a procrastinator.”¬† “This is hard.”¬† “Maybe it’s not meant to be.”

Underlying thought: “I don’t act so others won’t criticize.¬† I’m afraid of criticism; others will say I can’t have what I want or that I’ve screwed it up.”

Is this true? Pausing here for a moment, he sees it’s not true.¬† Those he fears would criticize merely express their own lack of direction and certainty.

Better thought: “I see my tendency to avoid possible criticism.¬† I act anyway to discover my SweetSpot and bring it life in my work.”

Organizational Example

Situation: A company that has enjoyed a large, protected market is now facing stiff competition from new and powerful entrants.

First thoughts: “We can’t change our stripes fast enough to react to these guys.¬† Our way of doing business is so ingrained and the politics amongst the players inside [think along the lines of management-union divisions] are so bitter that we can only make cosmetic changes; we fiddle while Rome burns.”

Underlying thought: “We cannot change anything because the other party is so unreasonable and so greedy that they rather let the whole thing go to hell rather than change.”

Is it true? Reflecting on the fact that both groups have the same thought about each other, they agree that it might not be true.

Better thought: “Though we’ve fought each other for years, we see there’s probably common grounds for cooperation AND even a possibility that our current organization gives us unique power in the marketplace.”

What’s your thinking?¬† How long will it take you or your company to change?

Don’t Join This Revolution!!

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Good: Your Good Work, Leading
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There’s a revolution afoot. ¬†It is big. ¬†It is global. ¬†And it’s going¬† to change everything, for the better.

You can not join this revolution.  There is nothing to join.  No leaders, no organization, no followers, no enemies.

But you can be this revolution. ¬†The power of this revolution lies within you and everyone else. ¬†And it’s quietly waiting for you to nurture it and bring it to life.

Can you feel it? see it?