I was sitting in a CEO’s office when he excused himself to take an important call. While he was on the phone, I read through the mission, vision, and values statements hanging on his wall. When he hung up, I asked, “How do these documents influence what happens out there in the office every day?”
All too predictably, he rolled his eyes and chuckled. “Not much.”
It happens all the time. A client tells me about a difficult situation they’re dealing with and wants to know what to do. It’s a fair question and I’m happy to help. The sad part is that more often than not, the difficult situation could have been avoided altogether. The sadder part is that it will most likely happen again. Continue reading Making Tomorrow Easier
Never in history have we had so many options for how to communicate with each other. Face-to-face was once the only alternative. Then we added written words and pictures – although before paper, being carved in stone was a constraint! Radio and telephone introduced real-time remote options, and now the internet offers many ways to communicate with almost anyone, anywhere in the world instantly.
From the CEO to the low man on the totem pole, every person we hire has some effect on our organizational culture. Obviously, the higher up the ladder, the greater the opportunity for impact. And one lower-tier person has a lot more impact in a ten person organization than in a 10,000 person organization.
We hire because we need a skill or capacity. So our focus tends to drift toward the hard skills the position requires. But according to most surveys, lacking the skills to do the job is not the top reason people leave their jobs – voluntarily or involuntarily. Character and soft skills are usually the culprits. Yet there isn’t one perfect model of character and soft skills that fits every organization. Continue reading Hiring for Culture Fit
Landing a man on the moon or building a skyscraper are incredibly complex projects requiring advanced project management (PM) skills. Highly skilled project managers pull off seemingly miraculous feats of coordination and collaboration. You may not need that caliber of PM skills, but even small organizations still need to rally multiple resources to launch products, plan events, create marketing materials, build business plans, and solve other problems. Continue reading Minimalist Project Management
Like water, I tend to seek the path of least resistance through life. We don’t intentionally seek the “hard” times, but if they can make us stronger and we must go through them, then let’s get the most out of them. One thing within our control determines the positive or negative impact of tough times: our attitude.
We don’t always choose our circumstances, but we do choose our attitude in response to circumstances. But that choice begins long before the hard times hit. Continue reading Hard vs. Bad
We used to say that “knowledge is power”. Sometimes that’s still true, but these days it’s generally more accurate to say that “knowledge is ubiquitous”. We’re just clicks away from more knowledge than our grandparents ever conceived of accessing.
Consider the following characteristics of leadership:
Leadership is influence. Your followers don’t need your leadership if they’re going to do what needs done without your influence. That doesn’t mean you have to hover over them to direct their every move. It means creating the culture, values, and clarity of vision and strategy so that competent people know and are inspired to do the right thing without your micromanagement.
The goal of influence is to change behavior. If nothing needs to change, there’s no need for influence or leadership.
Changing behavior requires getting someone to do what they wouldn’t naturally do or don’t want to do. Someone has said that there are only two ways to change behavior: Manipulation and inspiration. We can manipulate by threatening loss of pay, position, promotion, or status. Or we can inspire by casting a vision and helping followers be energized to see their role in bringing that vision to reality. Do you do your best work when led by manipulation or inspiration? I’m guessing inspiration. The same is true of your followers.
“Values” is a buzzword that risks being abused into oblivion. But despite the hype, clarity about what’s important to us is a powerful lever for making us more successful according to our own definition of success.
Whether we’re conscious of them or not, our values (organizational and personal) define our behavior. One of the reasons “values” gets a bad rap is that organizations and individuals often claim values that aren’t reflected in their actions. Don’t tell me you value honesty while describing the neat trick you found for cheating on your taxes. Continue reading Identifying What Matters Most
I consider the most important values of an organization to be those that define how we treat each other. Here’s an example of such values that I developed with one of my clients. Perhaps there are some useful points here that you can adopt (or adapt), but be careful: Never claim a value as your own unless you’re willing to live every word of it. Don’t destroy your credibility by saying something’s important that you’re not willing to be held accountable to. Continue reading Defining How We Treat Each Other