A married couple went to a college football game where their alma maters played against each other in a rival game. Two people who love each other at the same event watching the same plays unfold. Their reactions, as predictable, were polar opposite. When team A made a great play, the wife jumped in exhilaration while the husband dropped his head in sorrow. The quality of athleticism of each play on either team was irrelevant to how each reacted. This story is relatively easy to decipher. Each spouse feels loyal to their school. They went there, have four fond years of experiences and many more alumni memories. As a resident of Charlotte, NC, I was struck at how the events of the last week were interpreted and experienced differently divided largely by racial lines. Continue reading
There are so many ways that leaders start their weekly staff meetings. Some use ice breakers, some share successes, some share big events coming up and the like. The idea is to start on a positive note. There is nothing wrong here. However, it’s rare to insert into the agenda failures of the past week. I’d like to suggest considering doing so. Continue reading
Like most parents, I struggle with balancing allowing a child to be a child with expecting them to be a little more mature than their actual age. On some frustrating days, I may even have the gall to expect my children to behave adult-like. Leaders in the workplace have similar struggles. Employees are diverse not just in age but in dozens of ways where behavior is not uniform as perhaps might have been decades ago. The idea of wearing shorts and sandles would be considered unthinkable but Steve Jobs proved that what you wear has little to with how productive you are. Despite this diversity, there are two universal expectations: (1) that performance not be compromised and (2) a level of Maturity be exhibited in behavior. Performance is easier to process, teach, and expect. Maturity is not. So let me introduce both a parenting and workplace term to process maturity. It is “Howhen” – one word – a new word – easy to remember.
The “what” is intellectual. It is the task to be executed. For example, you make a decision to eliminate a large budget item. This is the “what.” Some “what” are better than others, but most problems do not come from the “what.” After you made the decision, you decided at 2PM in the afternoon when everyone was working in the cubicles to yell that decision as loud as you could standing just outside your office. The “when” was at 2PM and the “how” was by yelling in the hallway. In this example, most of what will be discussed after will not be the decision regarding the budget item, but the decision to communicate that to those impacted by yelling in the middle of the afternoon. This would be considered immature even if the “what” was the correct decision.
The notion that a large part of our identity and our performance (decision-making) is dependent on the prevailing thoughts in our minds, specifically our monologues, is not new. “We are what we thinketh” the adage goes. What IS new is the neuroscience that now supports this age-old belief. Neuropathway-mapping now shows that our response to experiences is far less objective that we think. In fact, our response to just about everything is not based on a rational and critical-thinking set of neuropathways. They are significantly subjective and based on the thoughts that have inhabited the context of that experience. Continue reading
Entrepreneurs, investors, and executives have all fallen in love with the “fail fast” motif. It’s a simple concept: Make your mistakes early in the game whilst it is easy to make changes to avoid digging out of a big hole. Sounds very logical. I am calling this a myth because the logic works if two other components are also sequentially included. Failing fast only works if (1) there’s an acceptance to the failure (2) a subsequent process to learn, and change quickly. Continue reading
Many years ago, I was asked to work with a veteran executive at a company he had been with for over 15 years. In the previous year, his behavior had changed. He had gone from being an effective leader with all the right attributes to being highly disliked exhibiting an autocratic and impatient style. “He needs to revisit his leadership style” I was told. Once I started working with him, it became quickly apparent that his personal life was a mess and his 25+ marriage was at an impasse. His issue was not lack of leaderships skills, but that those skills where hijacked by a personal trauma whose impact he had failed to recognize. Continue reading
When driving your car, you look at your speedometer to get a measurement of how fast or slow you are driving. It’s a necessary gauge and every car has it as the primary gauge in plain sight for the driver to see easily. If the gauge were not there, you would be guessing at your car’s speed and not know when you were going above or below the speed limit. The speedometer helps you to perform within the established road speed limit. Similarly, I want you to consider adopting an EQ Speedometer – a gauge to help you monitor your emotional temperature. I’ve blogged about this before sharing the Red, Yellow and Green levels in the Emotional Speedometer where GREEN is a calm state, RED is a very agitated state and YELLOW is somewhere between the two where most of us operate. Continue reading
F.Scott Fitzgerald wrote: Show me a hero and I’ll write you a story of tragedy. Indeed, most over-achieving people, whether in business or athletics, find their drive in some form of inequity – either personal or one in their environment. Can a logical argument then be made that tragedy can be a source motivation? Could it also be argued that since tragedy is random (not orchestrated) in nature, then either avoiding it by not taking risks or not willing to use it when it does occur are both ways to rob yourself of a drive to live better and perform better? Continue reading
I had the great privilege of having lunch recently with a retired and aging former college professor of mine. He was in good spirits sharing the many adventures he had taken since retiring about 18 years ago often quoting some great philosophers and thinkers in his stories. I loved the way he weaved in his youth, his family life, his academic life into all the experiences creating stories where I hung on to every word. His stories were rich in content and pure in spirit. I only had about 90 minutes with him and it made me wonder how many more stories I could have heard had we had more time and subsequently, what would happen to these stories, so full of amazing and timeless lessons for any generation or person, once he passed? Afterwards, I wondered if his knowledge would be used to its optimal potential or simply be taken to his grave. Continue reading
According to Yves Morieux of the BCG Institute, annual productivity increase peaked in the business sector in the 1980s at 3%. In the 1990s, it dropped to 2%, to 1% last decade and continuing to decline this decade. It is worth noting that this steady decline is occurring during the most revolutionary changes in the workplace both in terms of technology and maturity of management principles. How is this possible and what role are you playing in it? Continue reading
The term currency is used to describe a purchasing power. Money, the most commonly understood currency, is used to acquire all kinds of stuff, for example. But is it the only purchasing power, currency, you have? What about imagination? Could imagination be used to acquire stuff? Why not? You could be creative with an idea and provide a solution that then enables you to acquire another’s confidence, love, respect or freedom to pursue other endeavors. So imagination does have purchasing power and in certain roles and certain times, is the most powerful purchasing power. If there is a problem that needs to be resolved, a solution that needs to be acquired, then it more likely that creative thinkers will have a higher purchasing power than actual money. I am not devaluing the role of money, merely making the case that there are other currencies at your disposal that need to be valued just has highly as money.
It is rare to see a 3-minute video on any subject and understand everything about that subject. So here is Colin Powell simplifying Leadership in the most simple and powerful way in 3 minutes ….
Steve Jobs said that ‘more was accomplished by moving ahead with incomplete plans than by waiting for perfect plans before moving forward.’ Others have argued to “not let perfection get in the way of progress.” Entrepreneurs will tell you that they make many mistakes with their initial “brilliant” idea before they land on the one that is a hit with the market. “Fail fast” is an operating mantra for many successful businesses that have disrupted their industries. So why then is it still not acceptable, both personally and institutionally, to try new things at work where the probability of failure exists?
I often ask people to share their most salient experiences of the past year. In most cases, they were experiences that resulted in meaningful dialogue with someone else. In some cases, it was actually just that – catching up with an old friend or relative who knows you really well and reminiscing on pleasant memories, some being silly or embarrassing ones that you can laugh at now but perhaps not at the time. Great conversations really are spices that make the meal of your bigger life taste so much better. But you probably already knew this. So what about having those same type of conversations … with yourself? Continue reading