We Always Have Choices

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When faced with adversity at work, we have three choices. We can leave, we can stay and help change the offending things, or we can stay and change how we respond to those things so that they no longer offend.

All three options are possible. All will work and create more freedom, happiness, and growth. All have pros and cons. And all require heavy emotional lifting. Choosing one doesn’t always preclude choosing the others later.

Which we choose depends on which sort of lifting and outcomes we’d like to try.

Despite what we may think, we have choices.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: There are, of course, two other options. We can shut up, put our heads down, suck it up, and take it. Or we can complain, revolt, or otherwise decry our fate. But these fail to deliver any freedom, happiness, or growth. So, yuck, right?

 

Today’s photo credit: Aaron Jacobs cc

A Deep Insight

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Growth, Leading, Organizations, Success, We=All Who Matter
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It can look like complaint, frustration, withdrawal, fear, defensiveness, anger, worry, guilt, pushing, or avoiding. No matter. If anything has led you to believe that you are separate, above, below, isolated, or disconnected from any and all others, please–please–look again.

The deep-down insight here is that, despite appearances, all of us are intimately connected. We are not only all in this together, we are all this together.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: And, despite appearances, we each can experience this deep-down insight first-hand. It usually sneaks up on us and feels a-bit-scary-a-lot-wonderful.

PPS: When we get this, business and life flows so much better.

PPPS: And then we unleash all that creativity, fun, and success we’ve suspected was always there.

PPPPS: Too vague? Too esoteric? Yah, that happens.  A tip: pretend “we are one” is true and see what happens.

PPPPPS: A big part of our job as leaders is to hold this open for others to get, too.

 

Today’s photo credit: modesrodriguez Cosmos via photopin (license)

The Three Poisons

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

There are three poisons that, left unchecked, will seriously damage our companies: blame shifting, waiting to be poked, and win-lose.

Blame shifting includes defensiveness, making excuses, throwing others under the bus, and complaining.

Waiting to be poked is the tendency to wait for others to initiate and follow up on work. It includes hiding behind rules and procedures, building up unhelpful rules and procedures, avoiding work, protecting the status quo, and doing bare minimums.

Win-lose is the tendency to put self ahead of others. It includes being egotistical, political, aloof, special, or disrespectful with or to anyone. It also includes seeking to come out on top in negotiations and deals, fostering unfair competition, and valuing short-term over long-term gain.

Our role is to spot these poisons whenever they appear, to stop them through redirection, coaching, or reassignment (usually outside the company), and to hire at all levels only those who possess the qualities of personal accountability, self starting, and win-win.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: You may find these poisons in action wherever you notice your company struggling.

PPS: We may not be comfortable confronting these poisons. But we must lest our organizations slowly rot from within. Ya, it’s that important.

 

Today’s photo credit: Michael Till p group 08 via photopin (license)

What Is Your Sense of the Sum?

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Career, Organizations
Reading time: 2 min.

What is your sense of the sum? Negative, zero, or positive?

Some people are zero-or-negative sum. They believe that the world is a harsh place, that you have to get your share before someone else takes it, that you have to protect yourself, that big problems are non-existent or someone else’s fault, and that we need a savior to go to battle for our side.

Some people are positive-sum. They believe that the world is full of wonder, that there’s plenty to go around, that our big problems are real and solvable, that all boats float, that helping you succeed helps me succeed better, and that we need systems of leadership that foster more trust, accountability, and interdependence.

Everyone else is somewhere on the continuum between these extremes.

The dance between these extremes is one of the major sources of both conflict and creativity in our world. “If only I can get you to see it my way, everything would be better,” seems to be the universal mantra. But the extremes are not going away. Yet fighting about who’s right can drain our energy and our souls.

Knowing where we are on this spectrum is important. Knowing where our ideal clients and workmates sit on this spectrum (they will sit within a range, usually but not necessarily near us) is also key. We can give our careers a great boost of meaning and reward by choosing to work with mates and serve clients who resonate with our sense of the sum.

No need to fight about this anymore.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Anders Sandberg cc

dinosaur? moi?

It May Be Time To Evolve, Leader

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading, Organizations, Strategy
Reading time: 2 min.

As our organizations grow, our leadership must grow in tandem. But it is so easy to miss the signs indicating it’s time to evolve our leadership.

These signs include:

  • Stagnant results,
  • Lots of imploring and activity without much change,
  • More frequent, painful losses of good people,
  • Feeling unsure or out of control, and/or
  • The people in our organization telling us that we have to change.

Notice that most of these signs appear in the organization. We may be tempted to affix blame to it or the people in it.

But we are (usually a large part of) the problem. We all are subject to the success trap: using what got us here yesterday to win again today. The ways of leading that had worked so well have stopped working and now continue to harm the organization. When we see some of those signs, it’s time to acknowledge we’re trapped.

The success trap can be hard to avoid but it is simple to escape: we reset our understanding of our value as leaders. Often we think we are valued for assessing, making decisions, directing, approving stuff, or getting things done. But usually the organization needs us to focus on cultivating and making real the vision, engaging the best people, and ensuring we have the systems to support everyone else doing the assessing, deciding, directing, approving, and doing.

As a first leadership-evolution step, try asking everyone this question: “In an ideal world, how will you know–what results will you see to tell you–that I have done my job well this year?”

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Triceratops on Black (Zachi Evenor) via photopin cc

process

How Much Process Is Too Much?

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Organizations
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We each have a process and procedure comfort zone. We fall somewhere on a continuum from, “We can never have enough process, procedures, and policies (plus data and analysis),” to, “Whoa! Just because you did it that way yesterday doesn’t mean I have to do it that way today.” Neither approach is right; both are valuable. Most of us are some blend of these two approaches. 

We will likely argue, based on our personal preferences, how much process we need in our organizations. But a Goldilocks balance is probably best. The right amount of process for our organizations is whatever we need to help us efficiently, sustainably generate our desired results.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: HJ Media Studios via photopin cc

evolution

Evolving Our Leadership

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading, Organizations, Success
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As our organizations grow, we must shift. If we hold too long to the methods that got us here, we will strangle our organizations. So we move away from being a task-master focused on getting it all done and toward being an executive.

To be executives (with or without title), we

  • Steward the creation and maintenance of a clear, compelling goal for the organization.
  • Build a win-win-centered team capable of achieving that goal.
  • Constantly inspire (authentically, not rah-rah) people; we show them where they fit and they contribute to that goal.
  • Insert just enough structure and process to make things easier and to support that goal.

In your corner,

Mike

PS: We must evolve before the company can.

 

Today’s photo credit: opacity via photopin cc

squeegee

How to Change the Wearying Work World

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Organizations, We=All Who Matter, Will=Our inner game
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Work can get wearisome. Every day, we face ineffective, short-term, and unkind things in our work lives. When we witness or partake in any approach, assumption, norm, belief, thought, or action that feels bad, we drain our batteries. These things have been going on for ages. It’s as if we have inherited a wearying work world.

Luckily, good feeling thoughts and actions count more and do more. One good-feeling thought or action will wipe away a hundred or a thousand bad-feeling ones. Good feeling thoughts and actions are much more effective, long-lasting, and self-reinforcing.

Try it. Catch yourself struggling with something wearying and flip it. Trust your heart and inspire others to do the same. With just a bit of focus, we can wipe away the wearying.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: Wow.

 

Today’s photo credit: lazysupper via photopin cc

monolith

Change is Simple

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Organizations
Reading time: 2 min.

Because they are complex (and filled with people who tend to be quite complex themselves), organizations of any size are notoriously difficult to change. The assumptions, unknowns, and hidden dynamics normally overwhelm even the best change plans.

To change an organization, let’s forget about big project plans. Instead :

  1. Let’s study the current situation and answer the question, “Where are we?”
  2. Next, we describe our desired outcome, that is, “Where do we want to be?” Let’s ignore for now any notions about if we can or how we will do it.
  3. Given where we are and and where we want to be, let’s select the best next step and try it.
  4. Let’s Measure results.
  5. And we then repeat from step 1 until done.

This may seem way too simplistic. Yet it works. Here’s why:

  • People will trust–and therefore support–this approach more because we are making real progress. Instead of over-promising results, getting distracted by the next “flavor of the month” idea, or struggling to prop up a rigid, faulty, big plan, we are steadily delivering.
  • Instead of having to justify huge change budgets, we justify continuous, small investments.
  • Though any of the small “next steps” may fail, the damage would be small.
  • With each loop through this process, we gain precious learning. We get to test our assumptions. We correct our course as we learn.

Give it a try.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: Is there no room for big projects and planning? Sure, as long as you can know that the desired project goal and underlying business environment will remain, unchanged, accurate, and relevant throughout your project.

 

Today’s photo credit: stevec77 via photopin cc

leaf

Change

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading, Organizations
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Change is turbulent. Be clear, direct, and persistent.
Change is tough. Be encouraging.
Change takes time. Be understanding.
Change is complex. Be thorough and adaptable.
Change hurts. Be the one who believes in them more than they do.

After all, if you were part of an organization in change, wouldn’t you want your leader to be all that?

It takes a certain caring steadfastness to create change in an organization. We need not be the CEO (though it helps). Any of us can spur change with compelling vision, a win-win approach, coaching low-stress-highly-effective action, and a quiet knowing that we will succeed.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: AMANITO cc