VIDEO: Failure Can Be the Beginning of Something Special

Personal defeats can bring on feelings of giving up, especially if we have invested ourselves totally.

The challenge is what to do next. First is to analyze what went wrong. Consider mistakes you made and why there were made. By understanding the problem you can come to a solution.

Tony Robbins once wrote, “I’ve come to believe that all my past failure and frustrations were actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy.”

Knowing that “failure and frustrations” are part of life is fundamental to deciding to make the best of what happens next.

It requires faith in yourself, a faith in your ability to learn from the past and face the future.

First posted on 11/2/2018

VIDEO: When Tragedy Strikes

When crisis strikes, will you be ready?

That is a question that every senior leader asks regularly. We like to think that we can be prepared when disaster or tragedy strikes, but will we be?

One such person who reflected on what it was like to face tragedy not once but twice was C.J. Price, a hospital administrator at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. On Nov. 27, 1963, he put down his thoughts in a memo about what it was like to have the eyes of the world on his hospital after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and killing of Lee Harvey Oswald.

Not only must you be prepared, you must identify people who will respond well in a crisis. Look for individuals who are studious not rash, practiced not sloppy, and — most of all — self-assured and not wild-eyed.

The thing about a crisis is you never know when to expect them. The only thing for which you can prepare is have the right people with the right plan in place.

First posted on 10/5/2018

VIDEO: Performance as Presence

Presence is an outward manifestation of performance.

This is something that Bruce Springsteen delivers when he is on stage. He feels an obligation to do his best for his audience.

Leaders can learn from performers. First, like a good actor, leaders know that performance is not about them; it is about generating an experience for the audience. A leader’s role is to pull the best out of others in order to deliver on the mission.

Second, also like an actor, the leader invests himself in the performance of others. The leader supports the team, individually and collectively, by setting expectations and then following through with whatever is necessary to get the job done.

The leader delivers the resources but also serves as communicator, coach and occasional taskmaster to keep people targeted and focused.

Presence is the leader’s acknowledgement of another by saying you exist, you matter, you are necessary to our effort. And, most specifically, presence is the cry of “I need your support to do my job better.”

Presence is the act of connecting to those who look to you for leadership. They are counting on you to deliver.

First posted on on 9/27/2018

VIDEO: How Do You Find Gold in Losing?

We live in a culture that worships winning. Be it sports, business or entertainment, we love winners.

And by extension we don’t care much for losers. So what’s it like to be on a losing team? A team that didn’t just lose once in awhile, but all the while, winning just 19 of 82 games one year.

Well, that was the life that two NBA broadcasters Tim Roye and Jim Barnett lived for decades. Their team, the Golden State Warriors, routinely finished at the bottom of the league, posting a dozen consecutive losing seasons.

“I always said, ‘OK, here’s how they can win tonight,’” Barnett told the Scott Cacciola of The New York Times, “I think I kept up my enthusiasm that way.”

“We have to be ready to do our jobs,” Barnett added, “because everybody is watching and everybody is listening.”

This was not just words but also an approach. Roye, along with his producer, would take interns out for a meal in order to set them straight on expectations for the season. Be professional.

Then fortune smiled. Their team started winning. So much so, the Warriors set a record for most victories in a season. The Warriors have won two NBA titles in three years.

Roye and Barnett are good examples of remaining professional in losing situations. While their spirits may have flagged at times, they kept focused on doing their jobs and reveling in the opportunity to practice their crafts.

Winning is more than a sum of wins and losses; it’s an approach toward work that demands professionalism and positivity.

First posted on 9/7/2018

VIDEO: Lessons from Fr. Greg Boyle on Eating Your Humble Pie

If you want to help, you first need to listen.

The Rev. Greg Boyle, known as Father Greg, is the founder of Homeboy Industries in East Los Angeles. He says, “If you’re humble, you’ll ask the poor, what would help you? But if you’re led by hubris, then you tell the poor, here’s what your problem is; here’s how you fix yourself.”

Homeboy Industries’ origins date to Homeboy Bakery close to 30 years ago, and the organization offers a means of providing employment to gang members in East L.A. Few businesses would hire ex-gang members, so Boyle, then pastor of Dolores Mission Church, the poorest mission in the L.A. archdiocese, created a business to provide those jobs.

The minute you think you know how to help someone may also be the moment you get it wrong. Your intention is admirable, but your approach may be wrong. No one likes to be told how to get better; they want to participate in the process.

Managers, too, can learn from this approach. As the boss, you set direction, but it is up to individuals on the team to perform the tasks necessary to do their jobs. A manager who is always hovering, say to help out, is doing nothing more than hindering the individual’s ability to learn..

It also helps to be humble.

Humility is that openness to others. It unfolds a pathway of service to others that is rooted in self-knowledge.

First posted on on 8/24/18

VIDEO: How Much Impact Can You Have?

Generating impact through better management is integral to organizational success.

Here are three questions to evaluate your impact.

  1. How are you making things better for people? Put simply, if you cannot manage, you cannot lead. Effective managers set clear goals and help people achieve them. They stand ready to support and to evaluate for results.
  2. How are you making things better for the organization? Alignment with strategic intentions is essential to managerial effectiveness. When a department is not in alignment, it gets crosswise with the larger organization.
  3. How can you continue to expand your impact? This question gets to the heart of what you can do to improve your ability to manage yourself. Are you keeping abreast professionally?

As a manager, you have influence over others. How you employ that influence creates impact.

Your leadership depends upon your ability to manage well, including bringing out the best in people on your team.

What you do matters to people as well as to the organizations they serve.

First posted on 8.10.18

VIDEO: Collaborate or Go Solo?

Collaboration is the way of work today.

Our workplaces require collaboration because we work in teams. But working in a team need not subject individuals to collectivism. That is, you don’t need to sublimate your creativity. You can have the freedom to inject your ideas when appropriate.

At the same time, individuals can set limits on how they collaborate. Doing such is not being anti-social, or even anti-team; it is an act of setting parameters on what you do so that you can do your best work.

Writers, designers and craftspeople are by nature soloists; managers who supervise others must be collaborators, otherwise nothing ever gets done.

Collaboration is an exercise by which you can get the best out of others by working with them. The result is that you produce something better — be it a service, a product or a comedy sketch.

Team leaders need to be especially attuned to the needs of individuals. Knowing how they like to work as well as how they can work better enables them to succeed for themselves and for the betterment of the team.

Knowing how you prefer to work is the secret to being a successful collaborator.

First posted on 7/27/2018

VIDEO: Decision-Making 101

Executives are hired to make decisions. As such, it’s a topic worthy of study.

Evaluate your assumptions. Before you can move ahead, you need to know where you stand. What is prompting you to make a decision? What is the basis for your thinking?

Consider the alternatives. Knowing your assumptions, what choices do you have? Why would you pursue those choices? Sometimes there are not good alternatives. For example, shutting down a plant or laying off people. Neither is good, but one solution might be better for the health of the organization.

Game-plan the possibilities. When time permits, you can narrow your options to one, two or three choices. Consider what happens in each instance. It’s a bit like stacking dominoes.

Make a decision. Leaders are judged by their decisiveness. When an executive wavers over a major decision, the organization remains in stasis. Nothing happens. Therefore, a leader must choose what do it and why to do it. Next, the leader must communicate that decision widely so everyone knows what happens next.

Only the future will determine if a decision made today was the best choice, but when a leader makes time to think, that is all you can ask.

First posted on 7/13/2018

VIDEO: In Business, as in Novels, Cut to the Chase

The British novelist David Cornwell, aka John Le Carre, once advised writers to get to the heart of the action quickly in order to hook the reader’s interest.

Not only is this excellent advice for novelists; it’s also good advice for anyone in management. And it works in two ways.

Case one. You have a major presentation to make in front of your boss. You have been working on it for months; it’s a reflection of the thinking and doing that you and your team has been sweating over.

So where do you begin? Start with the challenge facing the team as it tackles the problem. Address the problem and the solution you are delivering.

Case two. Management is about problem-solving. Your challenge is to get others to solve their own problems so that you can help them overcome the obstacles and, in the process, become stronger contributors.

Again, where do you begin? Not with the minutiae but with the facts of the matter.

What’s happening and how it is happening? By asking questions beginning with “why?” you will uncover the thinking that led to the problem.

Good managers know how to get to the essence of the matter in their presentations and in their management style. Not only does such a style lead to brevity; it leads to the clarity people need to do their jobs better

First posted on on 6/29/2018

VIDEO: Make Friends with Your Satisfaction

Dissatisfaction is a key driver of human motivation.

If humans were satisfied with one good meal or one good sexual encounter, the human race would not have survived.

In this regard, dissatisfaction is linked to natural selection, says Robert Wright, author of “Why Buddhism Is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment,” while speaking on NPR’s “Fresh Air.”

On a personal level, dissatisfaction drives people to push themselves to achieve goals. Consider this more of a personalized natural selection.

Channeling dissatisfaction can be a challenge. Here are three ways to make it work for you rather than against you.

  1. Accept dissatisfaction. Humans are not engineered to be blissful. We have to work to achieve it. Seeking to accept it and make it work for us is powerful.
  2. Channel it. Do something with your dissatisfaction. Feeling stuck in your career, consider acquiring new skills to improve your current lot, or embark in a new direction.
  3. Stoke it. Achieving your goal may take months or years. Big things take time to accomplish, whether it’s going back to school or developing a new skill. You will be tempted to quit. Let dissatisfaction with the current moment push you to keep going in your new direction.

Dissatisfaction is indeed a key driver of human survival. Making it work for us is a challenge that can, at times, be unsatisfying. However, in the end, using our temporary discomfort to achieve a chosen goal is very worthy.

First posted on on 6/15/2018