The Buck Stops Here!

I ended the last post by emphasizing how ineffective barking orders and cracking the whip is for a leader who needs to get long term engagement (and results) from their team, and I also referenced how that can often look like an easy approach to someone who hasn’t held leadership responsibility or someone who isn’t considering the impact it will have moving forward. As leaders, we need to consider the future as much as we need to take care of what’s in front of us right now. If we choose to bark orders, crack the whip, blame our team when things go poorly, and take all the credit when things are great, leader isn’t likely a word that will be used to describe us and we probably won’t have any of those strong alliances I’ve referenced previously.

One of my good friends owns a growing company locally and has a sign on his desk that reads “The Buck Stops Here!” In many cases, that could be interpreted as him saying he’s in charge and...

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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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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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Controlled Response

In working through the importance of controlling our delivery in the last post, I stopped just short of detailing the scenario in question. Without going into specifics and tossing anyone under the proverbial bus, I’ll touch on that briefly now as it tees up the topic we’ll look at this time…

A business associate who was doing some work for a friend we referred to them had been asked to make a few changes in some documentation. In a normal world, those changes may realistically take an hour or two to get knocked out. The request was made on Dec 1. On Dec 14 or so, our friend was told that the changes still weren’t complete but would be no later than Dec 21. That day came and went without the changes being made. On Dec 23, our friend received an email saying that the person responsible for making the changes had decided to close their office until Jan 4 without providing any detail on when the changes would actually get some attention.

Hey, I get it....

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From You, Down…

We’ve worked through some critical things we can each take complete responsibility for controlling in our own lives and with the teams we lead in the last several posts. Before we get the milk & cookies ready for Santa and prepare for New Year, assuming he’s allowed to travel this year as long as he’s wearing all of his PPE, let’s consider one final thing about Controlling What We Can Control!

I often reference the nearly 15 years I worked in behavior-based safety. And for good reason, I learned some amazing lessons then that have applied to so many other areas of leadership and life in general. The behaviors we studied so closely certainly tied directly to our overall safety performance as a company, but the same behaviors tie back to just about every other part of our lives too!

One of the things I don’t often reference from those years is the massive amount of data we collected regarding the safe and at-risk behaviors that were observed and...

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