Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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We place a value on people, products and services everyday. For example:

1. The value of the service we receive from the waitress at lunch will determine her gratuity.

2. The value of the automobile we drive may be measured in reliability and driving characteristics. When these two characteristics connect in a meaningful way the higher the value we’ll attribute to a vehicle.

3. The value we receive from a financial institution may be partially based on our experience using their online banking portal as well as the pricing they give customers with our financial profile.

All of these value judgements are subjective and are determined based on our individual expectations and experiences.

There are some value judgements that are harder to quantify. For example:

1. What is the value to your organization if you were to increase your leadership effectiveness by 15%, 25% or 50%? What would that allow you to do now that you’re not doing, and what is the professional and or financial value to your organization?

2. What is the value to you if your level of passion and enthusiasm for work were to increase by 15%, 25% or 50%? Is that possible and what would be the result?

3. What is the value to you if your direct reports were to increase their level of innovation, growth and enthusiasm by 15%, 25% or 50%? Can you envision this increase? If not, what does that say about your team?

You may not know the answer to these questions, but asking the right questions is far more important than having the right answers.

I think there is tremendous value in asking yourself these questions. Do you?

Five Steps to Mastering Change

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Video Notes:

This week I’m going to answer a viewer’s question that comes from Chris Bauman at Pepperdine University. He asked, “Hugh, how do I maintain forward progress when the senior most leader above me is in transition?” I think that is a really good question. Chris, I’ve got five suggestions for you.

#1. Tell the truth. To your cohorts, to your constituents, to the people that report to you, tell them the truth. Tell them here’s what’s taking place, here’s the information I have, and of course be incredibly credible. Don’t try and fake it because if you fake it, it’s going to be the death knell of your credibility.

#2 Expect miscommunication. There are going to be rumor mills surrounding this transition you’re making and about the recruitment process. Just expect miscommunication, don’t be surprised by it, and just deal with it head on.

#3 Stay the course. Whatever plan you had in place for achieving certain business outcomes, stay that course because it will be comforting to people to know that’s not in transition. So as much as you can remain steady as to what you are moving toward, that will provide comfort and will allow people to continue to do good work.

#4 Choose growth. You’ve heard me say this. Change is certain, growth is optional. So even in the midst of transitions and uncertainty, people can choose to learn about themselves personally, professionally and be able to grow through times of adversity. So even in the midst of this transition, ask people to focus on growth as opposed to stagnation.

#5 Praise people frequently. People need to know what they’re doing well especially during times of transition. Make sure you are praising people telling them repeatedly, publicly, privately, what they’re doing well and help them to focus on that.

If you do those five things Chris, you’re going to sail through this time of transition with flying colors. If you have any questions let me know.

As a reminder everyone, if you send me your questions on the blog I’ll answer them here on the Monday Morning Minute. That is it, I hope you have a fabulous week and I’ll see you here next week. Take care.

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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Take off your blinders.

Blinders are used to reduce a horses peripheral vision from 180 degrees to 30 degrees.By wearing blinders horses remain focused on what’s in front of them and eliminates any distractions that come from beside or behind them.

Far too many leaders and teams wear blinders in a similar fashion. They are hyper-focused on what is directly in front of them and are blind to events and activities beyond the narrow confines of the immediate and urgent issues of the day. When you remove blinders you’ll experience the following three benefits.

1. Increased insight. Without peripheral vision teams and leaders are incapable of seeing what’s taking place around them. They believe that having their nose to the grindstone and being hyper-focused on what’s in front of them is practical. However, without the insight that stems from new perspectives it’s easy to convince one another that working hard equals doing valuable work. That’s not true. Without new insights about your customer, your processes and your business impact, your results are based on a limited perspective and sample size.

2. Increased enthusiasm. When you expand your perspective from what’s directly in front of you to what’s taking place all around you, alternatives and possibilities that were previously hidden from your view come into focus. New perspectives which provide new possibilities, ignite in teams the power of greater choice, a greater sense of control and an enthusiasm for experimenting to accomplish something that will be important. Without enthusiasm you are destined to do ordinary work with ordinary results.

3. Increased confidence. Far too many teams are unaware of how valuable they are to their organization. They lack the real world confidence about their contribution to making a customers life easier or better. Without confidence, the work that takes place is filled with uncertainty and trepidation, both of which are anathema to growing a department of business.

What should you do? I have three suggestions:

1. Earmark people on your team to explore the current boundaries of your work. Ask them to bring new information and insights to the team so as to plan for new products, services or heightened customer satisfaction.

2. Based on your insight from number one, ask which alternative is most compelling not only to your customers, but for your team also. Which one does your team have real enthusiasm for deploying? Go do that one.

3. Building confidence comes in two forms. The first is hearing from customers just how valuable your work is. To that end, you can do a brand audit. A guide for doing this audit can be downloaded here. The second is to develop new skills. Determine one new skill set for your team and devote ninety days to learning it. Once a new skill has been learned a teams confidence increases.

Which of the three suggestions is best for you and your team?

Hugh’s Formula for Increased Results

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Video Notes:

This week I want to share with you a formula for having increased results that I think will be really advantageous for you. It is CP + RM x T = IR. What does that mean? Well, first of all I think it looks really cool, but actually there’s a real method to my madness here. It says, “A compelling purpose plus a roadmap multiplied by time equals increased results.”

Ladies and gentlemen I know that every single one of you is focused on getting increase results, but we have to work backwards, we need to have a formula. And this formula is really pretty simple. If you do not have a compelling purpose, you may have a road map but you will lack the enthusiasm and passion to get it done.

If you have no roadmap but you have a clear and compelling purpose about the results you want, then you’ll have false starts because you won’t have a way of tracking how well you’re doing or clear a delineated process for going from point A to point B.

If you don’t have time you may have a compelling purpose, you may have a roadmap, but the compressed nature of time will preclude you from ever being successful, and so you’ll not get the results you want. You may not even be crystal clear about what increased results you’re looking for.

Ladies and gentlemen, this week, if you want to get increased results you need to make sure that every aspect of this formula has been addressed. Do you need a clearer purpose? Do you need a roadmap? Do you need time? Do you need a clearer definition of what the results are that you’re looking?

Take the time, play with this formula this week and find one area where you can improve and I promise you, you’ll have a much more effective week if you do. That’s it, if you have any questions let me know, and I’ll see you here again next week. Take care everyone.

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesdays

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I was sitting in a Top Pot Doughnut shop in downtown Seattle waiting for a colleague to join me when I noticed the window washers cleaning the twenty-five foot tall floor to ceiling windows. Since I have a neighbor who runs a successful commercial window washing company, I was intrigued by how you go about cleaning twenty-five foot tall windows without ladders.

What I noticed more than the cleaning technique was the difference in perspective I had of the surrounding landscape with a clean window versus a dirty one. When the smudge, grime and pigeon droppings were removed from the window it was as if the surrounding landscape was brighter, more appealing and worthy of my attention. I also noticed other restaurants nearby that had dirty windows and found myself asking about them – what else in that restaurant is dirty?

We all have dirty windows that block our perspective both personally and professionally. The way we look at our work for example may be distorted by years of accumulated smudge, grime and the occasional droppings from bad leaders, and we need to clean these windows. Here are three steps for ensuring you are seeing clearly the landscape around you:

1. Interrogate your reality: Seeing clearly starts with reading beyond the confines of what we know and are comfortable with. By reading an opposing view of your most cherished belief; with the intent of finding one thing you can agree with, broadens your perspective and challenges you to think critically.

2. Pay attention to what you pay attention to: Seeing clearly entails understanding not only that which goes on around you, but also what goes on inside you. Being able to notice what grabs your attention, your reaction and WHY you react the way you do is an essential element of seeing clearly.

3. Take a mental sabbatical at least once per month: Getting away from your day-to-day schedule and having time to think is essential if you want a clearer perspective. Whether for two, four or eight hours, disengaging with the pressures and demands of work frees you to think broadly and creatively.

Which of these three strategies will pay the greatest dividend for you?

Pay Attention to What You Pay Attention To

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Video Notes:

This week I want to talk to you about paying attention to what you pay attention to. No, this is not a Hugh Blane riddle. It is actually a really good piece of advice. Here’s what I mean by that.

What you pay attention to, whether it’s an asset versus a liability, a strength versus a weakness, what’s working versus what’s not working…if your attention goes to things that are broken and to things that are not working, it permeates your attention span. And then, your attention span, that which you give attention to, will influence the decisions you make.

Any decision that is rooted in brokenness as opposed to what is possible and what can be done, will be degraded. And decisions that are rooted in negativity and things that are not working will not produce the ideal result.

If you want a more effective workweek, whether in your personal life or in your professional life, choose carefully what you pay attention to because it drives everything else that you see.

That, ladies and gentlemen is the Monday Morning Minute. I hope you have a fabulous week, and I’ll see you here again next week.

3 Steps to Getting Really Good at Something

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Video Notes

This week I want to talk to you about how do you get really good at something. It’s really quite simple.

#1. Fall in love with an idea, hope, dream or aspiration. You cannot like something if you want to be really good at. You have to love it! You have to have a resounding YES to the idea.

#2. You have to learn it. You have to continually study your idea. You willingly look for other people’s perspectives, read and study continually because when you love something you want to get better at it.

#3. You have to live it. You stretch yourself and your behavior. You say to yourself: if I want to get really good at something I will be uncomfortable and I have to be willing to fail. I will take uncomfortable actions and try new things this week because I know that living out my hope, dream or aspiration is a learning process and is aligned with that which I’m in love with.

You do that ladies and gentlemen, if you love it, if you learn it, if you live it, you’re going to get really good at that which you choose to get really good at. I hope you have a fabulous week, and I’ll see you here again next week. Take care.

Clarifying Your Leadership Purpose

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Video Notes:

This week I want to talk to you about your purpose.

To do something on purpose means that you are doing it intentionally. I have found that the vast majority of people do not have clarity around what their purpose is and in turn, don’t lead purposefully, but rather accidentally.

One of the most valuable things you can do in your organization, in your work and your personal life is to get clear about your purpose. Ladies and gentlemen, most people don’t know how to do that…but I do, and want to help you do just that.

I’m going to make available to everyone who’s watching this Monday Morning Minute the first module of a thirteen-module program I developed called The Transformational Leadership Project. The first module deals specifically with purpose.

What’s included is a four to four and a half minute short video and a fifteen page Purpose Planner. This module asks the most targeted questions I found that help you clarify your purpose. Questions such as; what am I really passionate about? What am I really good at doing? Where do I provide the most value?

I am making this available to you because so many of you are asking how to get clear about your purpose, and I am making this available on a complimentary basis. It is my gift to my viewing audience in the hopes that you will get clear about your purpose.

What you will do is look directly below this video on the webpage, not in the newsletter, but on the web page and you’ll see the Purpose video as well as the Purpose Planner for you to download.

Also, in the month of November I will do a teleconference on transformational leadership and the role purpose plays in organizational transformations. This is my way of saying thank you to my viewing audience for your participation with my content and for your feedback.

So if you want to get clear about your leadership purpose, you’ll find everything you need in my video and in the planner below it. I hope that you find it valuable.

The Transformational Leadership Project

bonus materials

Free download: Purpose Planner

Hugh’s Words of Wisdom Wednesday

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ALERT: You only have ONE chance to make a good first impression with new customers.

Gone are the days where customers will give you a second or third try. We live in an culture where doing things accurately, quickly and with a deep regard for the customer experience is expected.

My wife and I went to dinner at one of Seattle’s finer steak restaurants. We ordered a very nice bottle of wine and ordered dinner which included steaks cooked medium rare. When our steaks arrived Alyson’s wasn’t cooked as requested. When we mentioned this to our waiter he told Alyson in a dismissive and definitive tone “that’s how you ordered it.” Alyson reminded the waiter that we ordered our steaks together and that mine was cooked just right. The reply? “That is the way you ordered your steak. Now if you want me to take this back to the chef and ask him to fix it I will, but that is how you ordered your steak.”

After dinner I told the manager about our experience and he apologized profusely and offered to buy us dinner as a way of showing it was simply a one off situation. We declined his offer. Why? When you spend several hundred dollars on a dinner there are far too many other restaurants where we can be assured of excellent food, superior service and an experience that is memorable. We declined the managers offer because there wasn’t a compelling reason to return to the restaurant and give them a second chance.

Any business that wants to create a memorable experience for their customers must work tirelessly to create highly differentiated customer experiences that delight their customers. If they don’t their customer will not return and in turn let others know about the lackluster experience they had.

If you want to make a good first impression with new customers or enhance the experience existing customers have, leaders and teams must answer three key questions:

1. Who is our ideal customer and what is really important to them?

2. What part of your work needs to be highly differentiated in order to please our ideal customer and meet their needs?

3. Are our ideal customers happy or even delighted? If not, why not? If they are, why are they?

My Best Monday Morning Minute Advice Ever

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Video Notes:

The one piece of advice I have for you this week may be some of the best advice I’ve ever given on the Monday Morning Minute. Do you know what it is?

It is to … do your best work, and then go home.

I’m not trying to be cavalier or flippant. Ladies and gentlemen, the world of work is more frenetic and stressful now and many employees are complaining that the amount of stress they’re experiencing is overwhelming.

To be clear though, my recommendation of doing your best work and then going home does not mean that you should not be fully engaged in providing the maximum value to your organization or that you care less. Au contraire. Do your very best work for your senior executives, for your team, for whomever is your key customer and then go home and spend time with people that you love and that nourish you. If you don’t do this then when you return to work you will be less productive and unable to provide value because you’ll be worn down and spent.

My best advice for you this week? Do your best work and then go home and spend time with people you love and that nourish you. If you do that you will have a fabulous week.