One of my early mentors shared the following story with me.
A police officer sees a drunken man on his hands and knees, apparently searching for something in the grass near a lamppost. She asks the man what he is doing. The drunk replies that he is looking for his car keys, and the officer helps for a few minutes, without success, then she asks whether the man is certain that he dropped the keys near the lamppost.
“No,” is the reply, “I lost the keys somewhere across the street.” “Why look here?” asks the surprised and perplexed officer. “The light is much better here,” the intoxicated man, responds, matter of factly.
My mentor continued, “Dan, as absurd as this story sounds, as you travel through life, you will see that people often make choices out of comfort, habit or peer pressure, with little thought as to whether the choices support their deepest aspirations and vision they have for their future”.
Life, business strategy and organizational success never come through one galactic decision, but rather through a number of small choices, consistent with aspiration and vision in mind.
Big changes start with small choices. Allow yourself time, particularly in the early morning hours, to think about the choices you want and need to make to shape the life and business you aspire to create. Spend time with people that engage you and challenge you to take choices that support the best you.
The choice is yours.
Enjoy your November news2use use.
“Relevant & pragmatic ideas, tools and insights to play at your best.”
Imagine you are at a business lunch with potential clients, people who you do not know very well and someone at the table has a piece of food (you believe) on the side of their face.
What do you do?
A) Reach over with your napkin and politely swipe it off.
B) Return to your meal hoping someone else will say something before the meal ends.
C) Pray intensely that the food will simply fall off and relieve you of any action.
D) Politely mention to the person that they have food on their face.
I have witnessed this scene many times – and been simply amazed at the number of times that nobody says anything to the poor soul who has food on his or her face.
Perhaps then, it should not be a surprise when leaders and employees talk about their year-end performance appraisal experiences with comments like these:
“How will I bring this information over that XYZ is not performing?”
“Why did he wait several months to tell me I am not doing a good job?”
We all get food on our face; that is doing something that does not go quite right or we do something that has unintended consequences for those around us. Yet we can only perform at our best when we are well aware of how our actions influence others, and visa versa.
Do not surprise people during performance appraisals; lead an engaging and respectful conversation addressing successes, lessons learned and strategies for growth going into the next business cycle.
Performance appraisals, full of drama and surprises, means you left someone at the table with food on their face.
Make choices in the moment that help others be and play at their best.
For You & Your Team
Hot seats or help seats in your leadership meetings?
“We do not have a “make mistakes culture” in our leadership team. It is more like; let someone else go first, and let’s see what happens to them.”
“Our Executive Meetings are very strict; you do not really feel at ease during the meeting.”
“In our leadership meetings, everyone is trying to show their best – you wouldn’t dare show a weakness in this meeting.”
These leadership comments (verbatim quotes from executives about the senior leadership team in their organization) reflect a clear choice made about the climate in their executive meetings. It is a competitive and individualist climate, where leaders have decided not to share their struggles with each other.
Imagine what this choice costs their organization. Not only are these leaders playing “hide and seek” with each other, they also set the attitudes, behaviors and culture for the rest of the organization.
Make a deliberate choice to see the chairs around your executive leadership table as help seats, rather than hot seats. Help seats encourage leaders to share their problems, challenges, struggles, welcome the ideas, insights, and support from peer leaders.
What is the climate like in your executive meetings? Make the choice that enables your leadership team, and your organization, to play at their best.
For You, Your Team & Your Business
Listen to the choices this leadership team made.
“We all have full agendas. There is simply not enough time to do everything we want to do.”
“We do not have a lot of time to build our leadership team. This also means that we do not have enough time to do our business together.”
“We do not spend enough time talking about where we want to go.”
Again, it is a matter of choice. Do you choose to move in an operational direction or in a strategic direction?
Operational direction moves from bottom to top; that is doing tactical work that fulfills strategy, goals and eventually the vision of the function or business.
This is a solid approach if you are an individual contributor and responsible for executing on operational tasks or projects, yet the operational direction means you pick up everything that should and could be done, in reality, more that anyone can manage.
Yet at the leadership team level, you have strategic responsibilities. (If you are not building the strategy for your business, who is?)
Strategic direction moves from top to bottom. You are clearly anchored in vision, then strategy and then the goals that fulfill the strategy. Strategic direction means placing yourself, your team and your business at a future point in time and constructing a plausible future success, and then working backwards.
When you choose to see your business with strategic direction in mind, it is easier to identify the larger issues that you need to address, rather than being swapped by trying to manage all details and obligations of everyday life.
Doing good work is helpful; make sure you choose to get the right work done first.
People, Places & Technology
HR Tech Outlook provides CHROS, HR VPs and senior level technology decision-makers with ideas, resources and technologies for effective human capital solutions. They recently announced their picks for the “Top 10 Leadership Developers Europe 2019” and I am honored to be selected as one of their top ten leadership providers for 2019. Thank you HR Tech Outlook!
Thought for the Day
“Do not wait;
the time will never be just right.
Start where you stand and work
with whatever tools you may have
at your command.
Better tools will be found
as you go along.