The Single Most Important Ingredient

I truly believe that one of the most essential qualities of leadership is serving the team we’re leading. Unfortunately, the idea of serving those team members is often mistaken for catering to those team members, which doesn’t serve anyone!

As we worked through that quality of service in the last post, I closed by sharing that some of the most effective servant leaders I’ve ever known weren’t willing to accept mediocre performance; they certainly certainly weren’t ones who catered to each passing whim any of the team members came up with. In fact, the leaders I’m picturing as I share this had some of the highest expectations for their team of anyone I’ve ever been around. And because they led by providing a consistent example, their teams delivered on those expectations!

Here’s where I need to stress a critical point… Those expectations weren’t met simply because the leader demanded that level of performance. Those...

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Clear Goals and an Expectation for Action

I closed the last post by referencing something we can do to help remove a bit of the reluctance leaders often face when faced with addressing tough situations with team members - often due to the concern of hurting or offending them in some way. Separating a behavior contributing to an issue that needs addressed from the individual performing that behavior is far easier said than done! But as we begin to develop that kind of awareness, and really hone our skill in actually doing it, holding the team member accountable for the behaviors they choose involves so much less emotional stress…

So what does that have to do with why leadership training fails? Understanding what should be done and knowing what the specific behavior looks like to accomplish what needs to be done are very different things. Just like we, as leaders, will need to work at being able to separate the behavior from the individual in order to have effective conversations about improving performance,...

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Knowing is the Easy Part. It’s the Doing that’s Tough!

In his Forbes article, Peter Bregman commented “I’ve never seen a leader fail because he or she didn’t know enough about leadership. In fact, I can’t remember ever meeting a leader who didn’t know enough about leadership.” But knowing and doing are two very different things, huh…?

During the dozen or so years I oversaw a behavior-based safety process for my home facility and traveled across North America training folks on that process in other facilities, one of my responsibilities was to attend an annual conference on the topic so I could learn about new developments in the field while bench-marking with my peers from other companies around the world. I always left that three day event with pages of notes and dozens of business cards for people I could connect with moving forward to bounce ideas around. The challenge was always in having time to ensure the rubber met the road… Between the travel/training schedule and the full time...

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Accountable for Results

Once we’ve been intentional about defining leadership development, our work should be done! Right?

Before you fall completely out of your chair, laughing at that ridiculous statement, I’ll challenge you to show anything of significance that’s truly that simple… If we want to achieve significant results, especially the tangible results that make a measurable impact on our organization’s bottom line, we’ll have to be sure to see it through - not just issue a statement and call it done…

For close to 15 years, I worked for a Human Resource Manager who was always very vocal about what he expected from me anytime I attended any type of class or conference. I was required to report back to him, and often the entire management team, showing I had learned and what steps I would be implementing in the process I led. I was also responsible for seeing this through and for showing a tangible return on the investment that had been made for me to attend...

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I Am Responsible!

Let’s dive right in where we left off in the last post with an experience I had recently while helping my mom with something. We had attempted to use an online service to fill a very specific need that should have been fairly simple. We took the necessary hour or so to work through the questionnaire tool on the company’s website and received a message that we’d be receiving the legal documents we needed within a few hours. Simple enough…

Except it wasn’t!

In reviewing the documents, almost none of the details we provided were included. For that matter, the title of what we received didn’t even resemble the selection we made when we started the online process. I submitted a help ticket clarifying what we were looking for and received a response from what seemed to be a real person almost immediately outlining the exact step necessary to get what we were looking for. The only problem was that those were the same steps we had taken on our own to...

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Who’s to Blame?

While I know the same thing can’t be said for everyone on the planet, those of us who are blessed to live in the United States have very few reasons for pointing a finger at someone or something as the cause of our limitations or failures. Not only do I believe that we have some of the most amazing opportunities on the planet, I also believe that the resources we have direct access to - many at no cost whatsoever - are second to none!

Let’s pretend for just a few minutes that what I’m fairly accurate in this assumption… How many people do you personally know who absolutely refuse to take advantage of the tools that are almost always at their fingertips in order to drive positive improvement in their personal or professional situation and constantly point a finger of blame for their lot in life?

Please don’t respond to this with their names! That’s not my goal here… I just wanted to get you thinking. That said, I do genuinely appreciate the...

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It’s Not My Fault!?

Be it a job we didn’t get, a performance issue in our department, or we just busted our tail on a patch of ice in the parking lot, a fairly natural inclination is to look for someone we can assign the blame to. And in many cases, we’ve even built fancy processes to guide us in doing just that; 5 Why, Root Cause Analysis, 6 Sigma just to name a few…

Oh, I know… The real intent behind each of those problem-solving tools is actually identifying breakdowns within a system in order to prevent recurrence and produce better results moving forward. But is that what typically happens? 

And this issue certainly isn’t limited to corporate cultures, the barrage of personal injury attorney commercials on the afternoon TV we play to keep our dogs from barking at every single noise in the universe drives that point home daily! Nearly everywhere we turn, something in society points a proverbial finger of blame… This has become such a common issue that...

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Sometimes It’s Just HARD!

Apparently the last post sharing my near-death experience during that less than half mile run was somewhat amusing… Not only did I receive a few direct email responses about the humor folks were able to find in my stupidity, I heard Cindy laughing uncontrollably from the other side of the house as she read it. I suppose she’s earned the right to laugh at me since she had a front row seat when it happens, and she’s tolerated so many similar instances!

So that was clearly an example setting an unrealistic goal that I was in no way prepared to even come close to achieving, but there are times where sticking with even the best laid plans to reach modest goals can get incredibly hard. In each of the last few posts on this topic, I’ve continued to call attention to the importance of consistency. I won’t be varying from that here either! 

I learned about habits more than twenty years ago through the work I was doing with behavior-based safety. Sure, I...

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Maybe Not Slow, But Definitely Steady!

First off, let me apologize for the last post. I had no intention of pushing anyone to break any New Year’s resolutions so early on by sharing how little will power I have when it comes to greasy pizza. Judging by a few of the replies I received, I may have been a bit too graphic…

As I closed that post though, I referenced the old fable so many of us have heard about the tortoise and the hare. The hare gets a blazing start, runs way ahead of the tortoise, then decides there’s time for a nap since the tortoise is so far behind. The tortoise keeps moving, ever so slowly, and eventually passes the sleeping hare to win the race. It's a cute story for sure, but it’s not so cute when it matches our own behavior!

I’ll emphasize here again, I’m not knocking the importance of setting goals and working to press forward toward them. But if we give it all we have out of the gate, and the changes we’re attempting to make (like cutting out every bit of...

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Control the Effort We Put In!

As we consider each area that we can take responsibility for controlling that we’ve worked through to this point, there’s one thing that ties back to every single one… And without being very intentional about how we control this final thing, the control we’ve assumed for each of the others is likely to have a very limited impact!

In the last post, I referenced reaching out to the manager of the company to provide a heads up about our friend’s experience. I shared that he took responsibility for the issue, even though it wasn’t something that he had any direct contact with. I also mentioned that he asked me to pass along an apology on his behalf, which I did. 

Here’s where that final thing we need to control comes into play....

In his role, and with the issues that industry has dealt with over the last several months, he has an incredibly full schedule and I believe he works extremely hard. As Cindy and I teach on the 3 R’s and...

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