Never Stop Learning

Never Stop Learning

The last four days, I had the privilege of attending the 2015 Fortune Magazine/Gazelles Growth Summit, in Dallas, Texas.

Four days with my fellow Gazelles coaches and presentations by some of the greatest business thought leaders (and authors) of our day:  Ron Kaufman on Uplifting Service, Adele Revella on Buyer Persona, Andrew Davis on Brandscaping, John Mullins on The Customer-Funded Business, Jeff Sutherland on Scrum, David Rendall on The Freak Factor, and Verne Harnish on Scaling Up.

We shared ideas, debated issues and sharpened our saws.

This session impacted my entire being – brain, heart, soul and spirit.  At the core is the love of learning.  I want to continue learning.  To not learn means I stop growing, expanding and changing and I start dying (little by little each day).

I want you to keep learning about whatever it is that you love, whatever it is you are passionate about.  Read books, magazines, blogs and articles.  Watch videos, YouTube and webinars.  Listen to podcasts and audiobooks or any other way you like to learn.

You will become smarter and discover new parts of yourself, plus you will impact and inspire others – your family, friends, teams, colleagues and associates.  And there is no greater gift that you can give.

Daily huddle

The Daily Huddle – Instantly Communicate and Execute

Do you hear these things in your company?

  • “I didn’t know you were working on that.”
  • “That’s great news!  Why didn’t you tell me?”
  • “I was working on that too.”
  • “I could have helped if you told me.”
  • “Things are chaotic and moving too fast.”

What if I said you could quickly eliminate issues around communication and execution if you started one new practice a day?  Have a Daily Huddle!  It takes discipline, a leader committed to the process and only 8-10 minutes a day.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Bring your team together at the same time everyday (use an “off” minute to start, such as 8:07am).
  2. Conduct the huddle standing up.
  3. Everyone needs to be prepared to answer:
    – What is one piece of good news from yesterday?
    – What is your most important priority for today?
    – Where are you stuck or need help?
  4. The leader goes around the circle three times, asking one question per round.
  5. No problem-solving or extra discussion (the huddle is for raising problems, not solving them).
  6. Bookmark items to review/discuss after the huddle.

Each leadership team member then conducts a separate huddle with their team (the team they lead). Keep cascading this down in the organization.

By having a Daily Huddle you will:

  • Speed things up in your organization
  • Ensure teamwork
  • Heal relationships

Try it for 30 days.  I’m confident it will become part of your daily practice!

Setting priorities for yourself

Setting Priorities for Yourself

In the fast-paced, ever changing world we live in, many executives, professionals, entrepreneurs and leaders tell me how busy and “maxed-out” they are.  With demanding schedules and lengthy “to-do lists”, the question arises, “how do I get it all done”?

The truth is…you don’t because you can’t.  Here are some of the causes of poor prioritization:

  • Action junkie; always on the move
  • Difficulty saying no
  • Ego; overestimating capacity
  • Perfectionist; need to do everything
  • Time management; too busy to set priorities

The higher you go in the organization, the more responsibilities you have with less time to get it done!  In order to survive and prosper, you must prioritize what’s important on a daily basis.

Here are 7 things you can do to make it happen:

  1. Be clear about your goals and objectives.  Use a personal or strategic plan.
  2. List goals in order of priority.  Get clarity about what’s mission critical for you.
  3. Watch for the activity trap.  Rather than trying to do all 37 items on your to-do list, focus on one or two that are most important first.
  4. Don’t play favorites by only focusing on what you like.  Use data and intuition, not just feelings.
  5. Be efficient in how much time you make for others.  Get to it and get it done!
  6. Write it down.  Taking time to plan upfront frees up time later.  Stephen Covey calls this “sharpening the saw”.
  7. Don’t procrastinate.  Avoidance makes life more complicated – make a decision and move on.

What are you waiting for…get started…NOW!

Having a feedback conversation with a difficult person

Having a Feedback Conversation with a Difficult Person

We’ve all smiled at the phrase “you know, feedback is a gift”.  But the receiver’s defensive reaction(s) can be a significant deterrent, when you are simply trying to be helpful by providing them feedback.  This is especially true if the receiver is someone who typically responds with difficult behaviors such as: interrupting, justifying, arguing, or worse, lashing out with brutal attacks.  They are often unaware (or even in denial) about their behavior.  I refer to these people as B/C Players.

Some leaders of B/C Players will “look the other way” and tolerate these behaviors.

The most common excuses I hear are:  “But they’re so productive and produce results”, or,
I don’t have time to deal with stuff like that”.

I find that B/C Players are usually poison in an organization.  They provide obstacles and make it difficult for A Players to thrive.  Oftentimes, they are poor examples of living the core values.

Leaders MUST deliver the tough feedback message by doing the following 8 things:

  1. Collect examples of behavior through first hand observations and interviews with A Players.
  2. Spend time thinking about how to make your feedback message behavioral (citing the actual behavior).
  3. Schedule a feedback meeting that is formal and structured.
  4. Deliver the feedback directly,  no sugar-coating.
  5. Actively listen to the B/C’s point of view, but don’t waiver from yours.
  6. Be willing to offer coaching.
  7. Get agreement about behavior change and follow up minimally on a monthly basis.
  8. Recognize improvements; stay firm if no improvement.

Leaders have an obligation to the organization and to A Players to deal with difficult people on their teams by having these conversations.

Building a high performing team

5 Steps for Building a High Performing Team

Imagine 2 Organizations…

The first is led by a leadership team whose members:

  • Are open with one another
  • Passionately debate important issues
  • Commit to clear decisions even if they initially disagree
  • Call each other out when their behaviors or performance needs correction
  • Focus their attention on the collective good of the organization

The second is led by a leadership team whose members:

  • Are guarded and less than honest with one another
  • Hold back during difficult conversations
  • Feign commitment
  • Hesitate to call one another on unproductive behaviors
  • Pursue their own agenda rather than those of the greater organization

What steps have you taken to build a higher performing organization where you work?

 

 

What Makes a Winner a Winner?

I had an opportunity today to coach and train a young middle management team at one of my Fortune 100 clients.  It inspired me to ask myself, what are the qualities that leaders need to demonstrate to be a winner?

The topic was helping them develop strong and effective meeting facilitation skills and getting groups to make a decision.  They came in a bit resistant, but within minutes I could see enthusiasm, desire and willingness to not only absorb the material but to connect with it, apply it and see new possibilities for introducing the skills and concepts into their organization.

I was in the company, all day, with “A Players”.

I can’t over emphasize the importance hiring and retaining A players in your organization.  To do this, you must focus on finding talented people who are not only smart and capable but demonstrate the values of leading, commitment, making a difference and of learning. For me, that creates a winner.

what makes a winner a winner?

What Makes a Winner a Winner?

I had an opportunity today to coach and train a young middle management team at one of my Fortune 100 clients.  It inspired me to ask myself, what are the qualities that leaders need to demonstrate to be a winner?

The topic was helping them develop strong and effective meeting facilitation skills and getting groups to make a decision.  They came in a bit resistant, but within minutes I could see enthusiasm, desire and willingness to not only absorb the material but to connect with it, apply it and see new possibilities for introducing the skills and concepts into their organization.

I was in the company, all day, with “A Players”.

I can’t over emphasize the importance hiring and retaining A players in your organization.  To do this, you must focus on finding talented people who are not only smart and capable but demonstrate the values of leading, commitment, making a difference and of learning. For me, that creates a winner.

Critical Conversations in a large group

Having Critical Conversations As a Large Group

I’m amazed at how critical meetings and the simplest elements for group communication continues to stymie the organizations that I work with.

I recently spent a day with a client’s leadership team. The following day, we added the next level of management below them to the meeting.

Initially the CEO asked me, “can you bring in the middle managers and facilitate a meaningful conversation among us?  There are half a dozen issues on which we’re not aligned, where we have conflict, and where we don’t communicate”.

We ended having an effective day, had a number of good conversations and solved several key issues.

In doing so, we identified the 5 things that an organization must do to be more effective:

  1. Leaders must become strong facilitators.
  2. A Leader must create a thoughtful agenda that includes critical conversations with outcomes.
  3. Teams must gain an appreciation for conflict and passionate debate.
  4. Team members must develop trust and be authentic with each other.
  5. Discussions need to come to a close with problems solved and decisions supported by all.

Leaders and organizations can and must learn how to do these things in order to scale and achieve outstanding results.

Having Critical Conversations As a Large Group

I’m amazed at how critical meetings and the simplest elements for group communication continues to stymie the organizations that I work with.

I recently spent a day with a client’s leadership team. The following day, we added the next level of management below them to the meeting.

Initially the CEO asked me, “can you bring in the middle managers and facilitate a meaningful conversation among us?  There are half a dozen issues on which we’re not aligned, where we have conflict, and where we don’t communicate”.

We ended having an effective day, had a number of good conversations and solved several key issues.

In doing so, we identified the 5 things that an organization must do to be more effective:

  1. Leaders must become strong facilitators.
  2. A Leader must create a thoughtful agenda that includes critical conversations with outcomes.
  3. Teams must gain an appreciation for conflict and passionate debate.
  4. Team members must develop trust and be authentic with each other.
  5. Discussions need to come to a close with problems solved and decisions supported by all.

Leaders and organizations can and must learn how to do these things in order to scale and achieve outstanding results.

Has Amazon Embraced Core Values?

As I read what Jeff Bezos said in the NY Times responding to the latest news at Amazon, it brings up the importance of having core values in your organization.

Core values are a handful of rules that guide behaviors in the organization.  There are 3 key tests to determine if they are for real.

The first test – would you really fire someone who repeatedly violates a value?  The second test – would you be willing to take a financial hit?  Would you be willing to actually cut out a vendor, or cut out a customer that broke a core value?

And the third test, which is most crucial is, are the values alive and well in your organization?  Which means, do your people talk about them?  Are leaders talking about them?  Are you telling stories about them?

If you can’t pass those three tests, you don’t really have core values in your organization.  It makes me wonder how much work Amazon did in instilling values into their organization?