Monday, July 30, 2018

ObligatoryRun

Leadership (whether we're talking parenting or CEO work) is best done with the end in mind.  What is that end?  The day when the child/organization can function effectively and prosper without us.

Regardless of the level of our own egomaniacal tendencies, the day is coming when our children and/or organization(s) will be required to function without us.  

So what does that developmental process look like?  Some examples:

  • Talk - Tell them what's important, often and in many ways. 
  • Walk - Model the appropriate behaviors, the ones that lead to healthy living, productivity, self-actualization, and consequential existence.
  • Reflect - Both individually and collectively, to tease out the "What went right?," the "What went wrong?," the "How can we do it better?," and the "Are we on the right path?" assessments.
  • Learn - Curiously mine as much knowledge, data, feedback, connectivity as possible, in the interest of getting and being better.
  • Run - Huh?  Run?  Yep.  Like the person who helped us learn how to ride our first bike.  Running alongside, issuing encouragement, prompting bravery, proffering a little guidance, occasionally putting a steadying hand on the back, and, yes, picking us up and dusting off when we crashed.
Until such time, of course, we are inevitably left in their dust.

Call it servant leadership.  We need desperately for them to be ready when we're no longer there.  

Run!  Intentionally.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Judgemental

Judgement gets a bit of a bad rap.  We exercise judgement every day.  Fundamentally, judgement is comparing some thing/action against a standard we value.  The bad rap occurs when we judge against questionable standards (or assume that ours are the only righteous ones).  

The most valuable judgements occur as we look into the mirror.  Three standards can be helpful (for your consideration), as we look in that mirror:

  1. Goals - Have we chosen for ourselves and our organization worthy and noble goals?  Are the things we've chosen to pursue good for others as well as ourselves?  Are they good for the planet?  Are they good for our grandchildren, and great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren, and ...?
  2. Allocations - Once we're clear on the chosen goals, are we sufficiently and sensibly dedicating the finite time we have toward the achievement of those goals?  How about the financial resources?  How about the cognitive/physical/emotional effort? 
  3. Culture - Ah, that behavior thing.  Do our daily habits (personally and organizationally) reinforce the attainment of our espoused goals?  Are our ambitions supported by our actions/talk/thinking?  Do our habits promote health, wellbeing, compassion, acceptance, liberty, service?
We are almost always intertwined with others in these endeavors.  Our family.  Our social circles.  Our political affiliations.  Our business organizations.  Our faith organizations.  We are rarely alone in these choosings. 

As we peer into this metaphorical mirror (whether personally or organizationally), we CHOOSE.  We choose the goals.  We choose the allocations.  We choose the culture.

Time will judge the efficacy of our choices.

Monday, July 23, 2018

MarkMakingMaturity

Some of the notable markers of immaturity (aka, childishness) are: 

  • Self-centeredness
  • Impetuousness
  • Shortsightedness
  • Inexperience
  • Reactiveness
  • Fecklessness
  • Obliviousness
  • Directionless
As we move away from immaturity toward maturity (and teach our children to do the same), we shift toward the following:
  • Far-sighted thinking/behaviors
  • Consequential intentions
  • Service toward others orientation
  • Appreciation for learning (or, at least, ignorance intervention)
  • Tolerance for differences (of all kinds)
  • Persistence
  • Resilience
  • Reflective disposition
For those in positions of influence and leadership the latter list, on steroids, is most helpful.  It's the surest way to make a meaningful mark and leave a lasting legacy.

What we do matters.  What we leave matters more.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

UnDecided

Most of us have worked in environments in which those in leadership seem allergic to making decisions (even simple ones).  

Undecidedness sucks energy from an organization in these ways:

  • Rudderless - we feel like we're working without clear direction.
  • De-energizing - like a persistent bleed-out.
  • Distracted - pettiness and politics fill the empty spaces.
  • Marking time - clock watching, busyness, hide-n-seek predominate.
  • Disappearance - either literally or figuratively, checking out is SOP.
Daniel Pink posits that talented folks prosper and produce in environments that provide three things:
  1. Autonomy - we're given latitude in pursuing clearly defined, worthy goals.
  2. Mastery - we have the opportunity to exercise our best gifts in that noble pursuit.
  3. Purpose - we actually feel/know that the pursuit is consequential.
Decide that!  (Then let others know that it's been decided.)

Thursday, July 12, 2018

DramaticDoubleDutch

Double Dutch is a jump rope game played around the world.  It heightens the difficulty of jumping a single rope which is moving in one direction by adding a second rope, moving simultaneously in the opposite direction -- with ever increasing speeds.

In effect, the level of the challenge gets ramped up, a bunch.

Drama has the same impact on organizational problems.  It adds little or nothing in the way of resolution likelihood, and more often than not exacerbates the complexity of issues that are already more than challenging enough.  Call it Double Dutch Drama, but it's no game.

The best leaders I know infuse the organization with people and processes that effectively minimize the prospects of drama turning problems into a Double Dutch nightmare.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

ReflectionDeflection

Reflection is a powerful tool we can use to get better - as individuals and as organizations.

Reflection can (if we're not careful) deteriorate into deflection, a commiseration tool for identifying scapegoats and making excuses.

Reflection is at its best when it centers on some fundamental questions:
> What are we doing?
> Is that doing moving us toward worthy/noble/righteous goals?
> What parts of that doing need to be abandoned (due to being either unproductive or misaligned with those goals)?
> What parts of that doing need polishing/ramping/revision in order to improve our performance and goal attainment?

In short, reflection is looking in the mirror for the answers to betterness.

Deflection, on the other hand, is looking outward at others and/or circumstances to assign blame and dodge accountability.  Not helpful.  Not healthy.

Our world -- THE world -- gets better as result of authentic reflection.  Deflection has the opposite effect.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Deliveries

Back when I was pretending to be a football coach, I learned the importance of delivering.

Bert (not his real name) was one of my athletes.  He had better than average athletic ability, better than average intelligence, better than average initiative.

Bert spent endless hours telling me about how he was gonna get stronger, about how many tackles he was gonna make, about how he was gonna improve his speed, about the awards/titles he was gonna win (and help us win).  Bert would espouse these proclamations to me on the field, in my office, on the bus, in the weight room, in the hallway...

Bert spent all his time telling me about what he was going to do, and very little time delivering.  I later observed that same sort of Bert-like behavior as I moved on to work in other organizations.  

My learning?  
Most common:  When the folks delivering the goods are the ones who spend the least time talking about what they're gonna deliver.  
Extremely rare:   When the ones doing the Bert-talk are the ones delivering the goods.

Deliveries matter.

Monday, July 2, 2018

ChatterBlasters

"Talking about it" is a necessary step, but it is best a very brief one.

Endless chatter around an idea, an initiative, a plan almost always foretells its inevitable circling of the drain.  

If the idea/initiative/project meets the following tests, then go for it:

  • Does it fit our big, bold goals?
  • Is it good for people (both inside and outside our organization)?
  • Is it good for the planet (ecologically speaking)?
  • Will the world be a better place if we can pull it off?

If it's truly risky, then make it a pilot project.  Just get off the starting line.

But PLEASE, get past the chatter and get to the doing -- and the failing and the fixing and the re-doing and...

The most impactful leaders I know are master chatter blasters.