Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Want to succeed?

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

Stop blaming the outside world

Jim Harter at Gallup was recently asked what successful organizations have in common. The answer might surprise you.

It isn’t huge financial resources. It isn’t charismatic leaders. It isn’t perfect products or services.

Sure, these things help. But it turns out these are not the deciding factors in success. So what is?

It’s a refusal of employees at every level to use the economy, or any outside circumstances, as an excuse for failure.

The economy will ebb and flow. That’s a guarantee. And across all industries, Harter has found that those companies taking the lows as an excuse to fail are much more likely TO fail than those who, as he puts it, “just leaned into it a bit more.”

Just a bit more!

A recession or tough economy can get into your head like a cancer. And once you have that excuse, it’s easy to let yourself fall short of success.

But if you want to join the winners, don’t find excuses outside of yourself. Meet the inevitable challenges, and lean in!

Work Like Your Life Depends On It

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

When winners are studied—in sports, business, or any other area of life—they consistently display the same attitudes and practices. One of the most important is working or playing like their lives depend on it.

For a winner in sports, every practice, every game, and every action taken is intensely committed.

And what about the business world? A survey measuring efficiency in the workplace found that the average worker operates at about 50 percent capacity.

Worse yet, the average manager uses only 30 percent of his or her time in an effective manner.

Winners understand that every moment, every transaction, and every decision is an opportunity to score big, whether you’re on the football field, in the board room, or playing the game of life… play big!

The Three Questions That Drive Critical Thinking

Monday, December 28th, 2015

Critical thinking isn’t just stopping and stroking your chin. It’s a very specific set of steps that helps you get the right answer—and your boss expects that.

The next time you make a major decision, STOP. Ask yourself three questions:

1. Is there more than one way to interpret the data? The answer to this is almost always “yes.”

2. What interpretation would you prefer to be true? That’s almost always one answer that makes you look better, or casts your department in the best light, or shows your company headed in the right direction.

3. Does your conclusion match your preference? It’s amazing how often our conclusions line up perfectly with our preferences.

It isn’t magic—it’s our natural bias. If the decision is an important one, there’s only one thing to do—march out the door and find someone outside of your own zone of bias to look at the data independently. Better yet, become a critical thinker and outline the best, worst and mostly likely case scenarios and evaluate your options based on how they line up with your choices. Your supervisor will be thrilled to see how you’ve developed a rational case that isn’t biased.

A company full of critical thinkers who follow these three steps will be more in touch with reality and better able to thrive as a result.

The Courage to Raise Your Hand

Monday, December 14th, 2015

Years ago I did some consulting for a firm that had 7 presidents of 7 different divisions.

Susan was the only female of the group, and she was the only one to raise her hand and ask questions when the CEO did the presentation that I was in the room for. She didn’t just ask one question—she asked questions all day long. The only one to ask questions!

I was new to the organizations so I assumed that perhaps she wasn’t a good listener—it sure seemed like all the guys in the room understood.

At the end of the meeting, I asked the CEO about each of the divisions. Come to find out that Susan’s division was the only division that was profitable—and she carried all the others with the profit she made.

Hmm.

I’ll never forget that day—the day I realized the person asking the most questions is inevitably the smartest person in the room and is the most committed to “getting it.”

The next time you find yourself not understanding something, know that others are almost certainly feeling the same way. And if everyone else DOES happen to know, it’s still okay to reveal that you don’t because NO ONE KNOWS EVERYTHING.

So next time you get the chance, do everyone a favor. Be like Susan. Be the one who is honest and courageous enough to ask for clarification. You’ll be an asset to the workplace and a hero to your buddies.

Implied Agreements

Monday, December 7th, 2015

Most people think an agreement is something that requires a handshake, or a signature, or at least a verbal contract. They don’t understand that we make informal implied agreements all the time, and that these are every bit as important and binding as anything bonded with the seal of the king.

When someone asks you, “Hey, can I have the TPS report by Tuesday at 10?” unless you negotiate, “Maybe I can’t get that done, because the client seminar trumps that, but I’d be delighted to have it complete by Tuesday at 4:00. Is that okay?,” you have an implied agreement for Tuesday at 10. A lot of people get to Tuesday at 10 without delivering on that agreement, and they brush over it, thinking, “Whatever, I’ll just explain that I was busy,” or “Hey, at least it’s on my desk by 10. I’ll deliver it, maybe later today.”

But unless you explicitly said “no,” you had an implied contract from the moment the request was made.

Living your word means that you will deliver by that time without fail. If somebody asks you for something with a deadline and an outcome, you now have an implied contract, and you should apply all your energy and focus to make sure you live into that contract, just as if you had signed away your life for a mortgage on your home.

That’s the way to live. Your reputation depends on it.