‘ext Before ‘ent, Please

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in We=All Who Matter, What=Compelling Focus
Reading time: 2 min.

For the sake of speed at work and home, we tend to concentrate on content: who’s doing what and how & when they are doing it. But, oh wow, does this generate resistance! People will actively or passively fight over these details. They fight mostly because they have no ways or means to agree. Our biggest mistake is trying to press harder and go faster to get past this resistance and on to performance.

The better way is to start with and frequently come back to the context. Context gives us a foundation to agree and build upon. We clarify what is true now, what we want to be true in the future, and why. A great way to kick things off is to ask, “What results will let us know we’ve done a good job here? And how will we know we’ve done a good job along the way to getting those results?” With context set, the content conversations will flow much more easily and productively.

‘ext before ‘ent, please.


In your corner,


PS: It is so much easier to find agreement or come up with creative win-win solutions at the context level than we ever can at the content level.

PPS: Another word for context is strategy. Another word for content is tactics.

PPPS: The simplest way of describing the difference: why vs. how. Next time you notice the team getting stuck, see if they’re open to setting aside the how for a moment and focusing on the why.


Today’s photo credit: Free the Image First contact. via photopin (license)

The Siren Songs That Tempt Every Leader

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Leading, Strategy
Reading time: 1

Trying to figure it all out and get it all done are the siren songs of leadership. They snare us every time.

We can avoid the rocks of micromanagement and the shoals of overwrought strategy by leading instead of deciding or doing. We have more than enough to do as captain of the ship. Our work is getting clear on desired outcomes, setting up rules of engagement so that everyone can win, believing (really, really) we will succeed, tracking and tacking, and getting out of the way so that others can execute.

Let them do the figuring out and executing.


In your corner,


PS: One sign that you are headed for the rocks: the sense that it’d just be faster if you did the work instead of them. Steer away! Pure siren song, that.


Today’s photo credit Lorenzo Costa – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH., Public Domain, Link

What to Do When We See People Struggling, Pushing, Fighting, Complaining, Burning Out, or Leaving.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Hiring, Leading, Strategy, We=All Who Matter, What=Compelling Focus
Reading time: 2 min.

Every business must have a rhythm for people getting the right things done well together.

The rhythm includes

  • regular, sane, productive meetings,
  • a way to select, do, track, and course-correct strategic projects,
  • communication and accountability norms,
  • role designs that say what results (not tasks) we expect from each person,
  • hiring people who understand and support the rhythm, and
  • an organizational design (how to split up the work, who reports to whom) that supports the goals.

Our job as leaders of both new and existing organizations includes ensuring that this rhythm always evolves to match the age, stage, and size of our organizations, that people know how it all works, and that they work with the rhythm to succeed well, often, and happily.

It’s time to improve the rhythm whenever we see goals missed and people struggling, pushing hard, fighting, complaining, burning out, or leaving. We can tell we are doing this well when the right things consistently get done well, with ease, and we are hitting our goals.


In your corner,


PS: We may think that being the leader means being in charge. That is, we set the direction, make decisions, and delegate. Being in charge is an important part of leadership. Stewarding the rhythm is the other important part. If you prefer doing one part, consider hiring someone to take over the other part.


Today’s photo credit: Lif… cc