If everything is changing, why does everything feel the same?

If everything is changing, why does everything feel the same?

There isn’t an organization out there that isn’t implementing some type of change, some more transformative than others. However, very few it seems have cracked the code on making the change real. Lately, the common malady that I am coming across in most of the organizations that I am working with – is the “It’s not me it’s them” leadership ailment. You know the old – “if everybody around here would just do their job” and “the Sales/Engineering/ IT organization (you fill in the blank) just don’t get it,” and so on, and so forth. So, why is leadership alignment, collaboration and partnership just so darn difficult? If only everybody could get along … It goes back to some of the basic theory I learned when I was a graduate student … power and control are really powerful. You don’t make your way to a senior leadership position by being meek and unassertive, you likely have a take charge attitude and been able to make good things happen. So when you put a bunch of type A personalities (male or female) together – it is no surprise that there is often a lot of jockeying for power and control.  How they demonstrate this will look different but don’t kid yourself – there is not one senior leader out there who isn’t convinced that he/she has what it takes to get things done. So how do you harness all this power and control and direct it towards Good… the change you are trying to implement? Well, for a start you need a strong leader at the pinnacle who explicitly articulates...
Are You Starving Your Workforce?

Are You Starving Your Workforce?

It used to be that people left companies to advance their careers but now more and more employees are physically or mentally checking out because they don’t feel a meaningful connection to the work they do or the company they work for. This could be due to a convergence of disillusion by both Baby Boomers and Millennials or just the natural cycle of things. Whatever, the underlying cause – it is becoming increasingly important for leaders to address this growing hunger if left unfed, could literally starve the company of its much needed talent. The good news here, is – you don’t need another transformation or major initiative to get this going – you just need to engage your employees in a conversation by asking the following types of questions. Do you know how your job is important to the organization? What skills do you get to use on the job? What talents do you have that you don’t use or would like to use more? What do you find challenging about your job? Rewarding? In what areas within your current responsibilities would you like to have increased involvement? How can you draw upon your strengths to solve challenges or overcome obstacles? What would you like to have a chance to learn or get involved with? Asking these questions will communicate to your employees that you are interested in finding ways to make the work environment compelling and enjoyable, and it will provide valuable information that you both can act upon. What have you done lately to feed this hunger within your company or yourself?...
To Be or Not To Be … A Leader

To Be or Not To Be … A Leader

I was driving in my car the other day and I was listening to the TED Radio Hour.  The subject of that day’s broadcast was Everyday Leadership. As I was listening I was harkened back to a time right after 9/11 where the company I was working for had an enterprise initiative with the tagline One Firm. One Team. Be a Leader.  An initiative, my former colleagues who are reading this, will likely remember. Our objective was to encourage all employees to act as leaders, specifically to take the initiative to deliver the full breadth and depth of capabilities our company had to offer both externally to our customers and internally to each other. In our employee engagement sessions we drew upon and shared examples of true leaders – who, not because of their titles, salary grade or self-importance, took the initiative to help or lead others, some during one of our countries most tragic and horrific moments. Were these everyday people doing everyday things? No – they were self-appointed leaders who stepped up during an extraordinary time in service of something bigger than themselves. But what holds true today and everyday – is that anyone can be a leader.   It’s just that most of us look to others because we lack the confidence and/or we would just rather … have someone else do it. So the next time… You see someone struggling with a challenge BE A LEADER One of your colleagues disagrees with your opinion or how you see things BE A LEADER You hear one person telling another “things will never change” BE A LEADER You...
Can you ever be too confident?

Can you ever be too confident?

Those of you reading this post, who know me – know that I am pretty confident person, and some might even say I can be over confident at times.  So why is that a bad thing? Well … when confidence crosses over to arrogance it can definitely put people off.  But there are also people who have a quiet confidence about them – so when does that become a problem? I have worked with many successful leaders who pride themselves on being able to provide the answers when others may be struggling.  It feels good to be the person people turn to in times of trouble … but who does that leader turn to? I remember the first time early in my career when I was consulting with a leader who was brought into the organization to drive significant change within the IT function, and during the employee focus groups we heard time and time again that they wanted senior leadership to tell them what the change specifically would look like – to get rid of the uncertainty and ambiguity they were feeling.  So – what do you do when you really don’t have all the answers yet want to come off as a strong and confident leader that others will want to follow? There are some who would take the approach – to fake until they make it – which on the surface sounds like it might work but only if the leader has a strong team or set of confidantes who he/she can confide in and help him / her to figure it out.  But if the...
What ever happened to constructive criticism?

What ever happened to constructive criticism?

    It is very tempting to be brutally honest when someone messes up or something goes completely wrong. With the old adage “misery loves company” in mind – I am definitely not above having a complaint fest or commiserating with my likeminded comrades. It definitely feels good at that moment but when it’s over I don’t feel very energized to do anything to turn the situation around. I am also not a person who tends to sugarcoat things but I have learned that pointing out other people’s failures doesn’t win you long lasting friends or allies … because while people may applaud you for having the guts to say what everyone else is thinking, they can’t help wondering who will be the next target (…possibly them!). In my experience striking a balance between being foreright about what hasn’t or doesn’t work with being sincerely interested in fixing or making things better – is a more effective method for seeking others’ support in affecting change. Let’s do a test. Read these statements and take a note of how you feel after reading each. That was a complete failure. This outcome was not what we had hoped for. You don’t know what you are talking about. It seems like you don’t have all the facts. What were you thinking? It looks like you overlooked several areas. Can’t you get anything right? Did you consider all the viable options? You haven’t succeeded in anything you tried. It seems like what you have tried has not worked well for you. Ok – I think you get the gist. You can still point...