Archives for September 2011

It just won’t go away…

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…the “It” I’m referring to is cancer.

Cancer has been an all too frequent and unwelcome visitor in the lives of my family and friends. Five of my fathers brothers and sisters died of cancer; my former business partner, Linda Russell Callecod, is a breast cancer survivor; my friend Fred survived prostrate cancer, my sister has had a cancerous growth removed as have I, and now my old high school friend, Alison Large, from Birmingham Alabama, is having surgery this week to remove the cancer she was diagnosed with recently.

This post isn’t about work. It’s about how at the end of the day none of us will sit on our deathbed and wish to have spent more time at the office. We will wish to have had more time listening to children laugh, to spend time with those we love in ways that uplift our spirits, to sit quietly and watch the sun rise or set, to play fetch with our dog, and to hold the hand of the ones we love.

For those of you with cancer I salute your courage and send you my prayers. For those of you caring for family or friends with cancer, you are a life saver in ways you might not fully understand. And while Martina McBride may not be your cup of tea, her video “I’ll love you through it” is a wonderful reminder of how important we are to one another.

Monday Morning Minute 09-26-2011

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Monday Morning Minute 09-19-2011

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The Law of Diminishing Returns

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I was forwarded a video today from a colleague in Washington by the name of Seth Kahan. The video explains research conducted by the Franklin Covey Company on how successful teams are when it comes to achieving their strategic objectives.

After interviewing thousands of teams they discovered the Law of Diminishing Returns. Specifically, the number of strategic objectives you have will determine how successful you’ll be. The bottom line is:

1. If a team has two to three primary objectives they are likely to achieve those two or three objectives. (Who only has two or three primary objectives though?)

2. If they have between four and ten objectives they are likely to achieve one or two.

3. If they have eleven plus objectives they are likely to achieve none! (Now I know why I should only have two to three strategic objectives)

So, the question you have to ask is how many strategic objectives do you have for yourself, your team, or your business? If you have more than eleven you will really benefit from watching the video.

Just before you watch the video I have a disclaimer. I don’t usually recommend large box training companies. I see them as focused on the law of large numbers and less inclined to customize their content to fit a clients core strategic objectives. It’s typically an off the shelf mentality that believes one size fits all. But, in the case of this video I made an exception and believe you’ll benefit from investing seventeen minuets of your time. And besides, it’s a well produced video.

If you’d like to learn more about their program, visit them on the web.

Monday Morning Minute 09-12-2012

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Ten Leadership Questions That Predict Team Performance

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Ten years ago, while helping to facilitate a seminar for at risk kids and their parents, I heard another facilitator say to a fourteen year old girl “show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” The girl was making some bad choices with drugs and alcohol and claimed her choices were sound because her friends were making the same choices. She believed everything would be SO much better if her parents could just understand the pressure kids of her age were experiencing. “It’s not like it was when you guys were my age.”

I don’t know what happened to the young girl, but I do know the words got my attention and still resonate with me today. For leaders, this same admonition can be equally powerful when put into a business context. It would read as follows:

Show me your team and how you lead them, and I’ll show you your future business results.

Leaders make choices about the members of their team and how best to lead them using the same logic the fourteen year old girl used. You may have heard a leader lament, “If you only understood the pressure I’m under and how many of my colleagues are doing the same thing.”

What I’ve found is that leaders have good intentions, they just don’t have an objective framework for looking at team performance. If you want to see clearly how the leadership choices you’re making today are impacting your teams future performance, here are ten questions that will allow you to peak into the future.

1. Am I crystal clear about my philosophy of leadership? Have I crafted a philosophy that inspires me as well as my team? If I typed my leadership philosophy and left it in the break room without my signature would people know it was mine?

2. Have I asked people on my team, as well as my key customers, how my leadership is impacting them? What words would they use to describe me? What words would my customers use to describe my team? If any of the words are not in service of creating something truly extraordinary then my leadership is not positively influencing my future business results.

3. Do I see more commitment or compliance exhibited by my team? Commitment is getting things done irregardless of the circumstances. Compliance is getting things done when we get around to them. Whichever is present, what behavior have I exhibited that created the existence or absence of commitment? Are there behaviors I need to do more frequently and some I need to do less frequently in order to create greater commitment? The answer is always yes.

4. Do I have a clear business strategy with clear and actionable operational goals?

5. Do I experience high levels of accountability throughout my team? Do team members take full responsibility for their own personal actions as well as hold others accountable for the overall teams performance?

6. Have I articulated clear roles, expectations, and competencies for each member of the team? If the answer is no then the likelihood of seeing high levels of accountability is significantly reduced.

7. Have I cultivated the willingness and ability to address conflict? Am I personally willing to have difficult conversations in a respectful manner and am I able to do so in ways that builds trust? If your answer is no go back and look for a connection to question number six.

8. Do I have a clearly defined and agreed to process for making decisions? Are my team members clear about how decisions will be made, who makes them, who will be consulted, and who has authority? If not, then execution will surely falter.

9. Do I role model placing an equal emphasis on people and relationship mastery as I do on the technical and task side of our work? If I do, trust and respect will be enhanced. If I don’t, we may be achieving our results no matter the impact on fellow team members.

10. Do I know specifically know what each team members natural talents and skills are? Have I developed a process for harnessing these talents and skills effectively? Am I deploying these skills in such a way as to enhance performance?

How you answer these questions is a powerful determinant of future performance. How your team answers them is equally powerful especially if their answers are different from yours.