One thing I see plaguing most organizations today is a lack of clear standards. And, when these standards do exist, there is minimal adherence to them on a regular basis. We all like to talk a good game when it comes down to what we value and expect of one another, but do we […]
We need leaders to reclaim the positive leadership narrative and model responsible behavior. We need leaders in charge who genuinely care about other people and want to make the world a better place.
Today is George Washington’s birthday. There are very few people (and an even a smaller number of Americans) where you can honestly say that their birth ended up changing the course of human history. Not only did he lead the upstart Continental Army to victory against of the most powerful military power in the world at that time, he also walked away from supreme power when he refused to become king of the newly formed United States of America, and voluntarily gave up his position as our first President. I think sometimes we forget how unusual, risky, and selfless these two actions were at the time. You can seriously argue that if George Washington had not existed, the U.S. experiment with democracy would have never had a chance of taking flight and much of modern history could have turned out differently.
By Glen Calderon In January 2014, McKinsey & Company conducted a study that examines the 4 main reasons why leadership development programs fail: 1. Not allowing for context. Simply, leadership development training is unique. One size does not fit all regardless of a homogenous company, management or culture. An organization should ask why do we […]
Whenever you get a disproportionate angry response from someone, there is usually something else deeper going on. People don’t normally go from 0-60 emotionally in a noticeably brief time span unless they are already vulnerable and/or irritable to begin with. Moreover, although you may be the target of their invective, they may be trying to […]
I often observe many leaders who think they are the exception to the rule. Maybe in some regards they are, but not across the board. Moreover, not all exceptions are created equal or warrant consideration. There are some obvious rules of personal and business behavior that we should all respect or at least take heed […]
We need to move towards not away from one another. I worry that lately, we are a culture that has embraced a “divide and conquer” mindset. Instead of “win-win”, we think “win-lose.” Instead of choosing to co-exist with people who think differently from ourselves, we further and further isolate ourselves from others who could potentially […]
The leader of an organization always sets the tone. Never forget this fact. I am often slightly bemused when I hear a leader complain about the state of things in their organization. It’s almost as if they remove themselves from the equation. They wonder how things have devolved to this point as if it is some deep mystery when all they have to do is look in the mirror. Your people are a reflection of your hiring decisions; the quality of your meetings is directly related to how you lead them and model this behavior for others; missing deadlines is a reflection of what you are willing to tolerate in others and yourself; a lack of focus almost always starts at the top; teamwork only ever happens when the coach sets the expectations and creates the conditions for this to happen; optimistic or pessimistic cultures are usually a reflection of leader’s point of view; etc.
I have always been a fan of Dr. Gordon Livingston and his four books: Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart; And Don’t Forget to Dance; How To Love; and The Thing You Think You Cannot Do. I highly recommend all of them. I often refer to each of these books for inspiration and guidance. Today, I thought I would share some excerpts from his first book to help launch the week on a positive and thoughtful note:
I spend a majority of my work life in meetings or one on one conversations. It never ceases to amaze me the different attitudes people have about basic communication and meeting etiquette. We’ve all read countless article about the importance of “being present” and minimizing distractions, but I’m not sure the message is sticking. Moreover, I haven’t seen one article that supports the premise that multi-tasking makes you more effective as a leader. In fact, it is quite the contrary.
What do you stand for? This is a question all leaders should able to answer fairly easily but most struggle with addressing. I’ve been in many organizations where if you asked the question, “What does this business stand for,” you would get blank stares. Values are the building blocks of any organization. Without a common set of beliefs and principles, a company is like a ship without a rudder – adrift in a sea of individual interpretation and situational experience. It has never been just about making money but how you make your money that matters the most. And, the how involves many issues such as the way you treat your customers, employees, vendors, the environment, etc.
A conversation without listening is merely the exchange of two monologues. If we limit our exchange of information to what we already know or believe, we are limiting our capacity to learn, grow and have healthy relationships. Almost everyday you witness evidence of public or private figures that really have no interest in hearing what anyone else is saying. It has become practice to become intractable in your views and block out any contrary evidence. In reality, our society tends to reward brashness and poor behavior these days. Just look at who dominates the airwaves.
Life is about habits and behaviors. All time represents is a series of moments and actions stitched together that seemingly always exist in the present. We can reflect on what we have done in the past, think about what we may do in the future, but we can really only ever control now. Part of my job is observation. Sadly, my best case study is often myself when it comes to areas of needed improvement. I never cease to amaze myself with what I consciously do wrong and regret later although I am getting better. I am also certain my human experience isn’t unique. You may catch your self doing some of the following things over the course of any given day that inhibit rather than promote feelings of self-satisfaction and happiness:
The more success you have the more temptations will come your way. It’s easy to start to think of yourself as different or special when you outperform your peers. You may begin to rationalize that the same basic moral rules don’t apply to you, but they do. Character is certainly forged in the fires of adversity. However, you also learn a lot about someone’s character when everything seems to go their way. The saying goes “if you want to know who someone truly is then give them money and power.”
It’s easy to sucked into petty disputes and inter-office politics, but as the leader you need to rise above it. You must always remember that your employees take their cultural cues from you. You are a role model! If you get enmeshed in office gossip then they will. If you use a divide and conquer management approach than they will do the same. If you treat people poorly and/or without proper etiquette then bad behavior towards others will become acceptable. If you have a short fuse, then anger will become an acceptable management strategy.
I’ve always been a bit annoyed with people who are grouchy in the morning on a regular basis. Sure, everyone has a tough morning every once in awhile, but to wake up every day in a bad mood is hard to comprehend. What could have happened between the time you first put your head on your pillow and when you woke up that is so bad you need to make everyone else around you unhappy? If you are too tired, then go to bed earlier. If you are having problems sleeping, then do something about it. Part of growing up is learning how to act like an adult.
There are many things in life beyond our realm of control, but you get to decide how you behave. You can take the high road or low road. You follow the belief that two wrongs don’t make a right or you can escalate the pattern of bad behavior. You can allow people to continually stretch your moral/ethical boundaries or you can stick to them. You can play the victim or move on. You get to decide who is in your social circle and who isn’t. I listened to a speaker utter the phrase many years ago that, “we are what we tolerate” and it resonated with me right away. We are also what we continually do and who we do it with.
One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn in my line of work is that you can’t save everyone. Despite your good intentions and best efforts, sometimes the formula will not work. In some cases, you might have to accept the fact that you are not the right fit for a given engagement or client relationship. In other instances, there is always a reason why someone is struggling and until they fully come to grips with this fact and take ownership of their behavior, there is only so much you can do.
We all get in our way sometimes and leaders are no different. Just because we know we shouldn’t do something doesn’t always mean we won’t do it. However, not all mistakes are created equal. There are fifteen things a leader should strive never to do:
You have to believe in what it is you are doing before you can fully believe in yourself. Life is a constant search for meaning and understanding. The tragedy of many people’s lives is that they are unwilling to put themselves out there because they won’t put forth the required effort, are afraid of public scrutiny and lack the courage of their convictions. Being the hero of your own life isn’t easy.
It’s very important that leaders are clear about and enforce standards of acceptable behavior. You will never win long-term in an “anything goes” environment. Winning isn’t everything. Moreover, people will get easily confused if you take a situational approach to moral and ethical issues. If something is wrong for one person it is equally wrong for someone else (even in family businesses). One of my favorite quotes of all time is that “we are what we tolerate.”