Don’t Coach Integrity Violations – Fire Them!

A very wise leader, Alan Mulally, the former CEO of Ford and Fortune’s #3 greatest leader in the world 2013, once told me, “The key to your success is having great customers. If you have a great customer, your process will always work. If you have the wrong customer, your process will never work.”

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PALEOVENTURES Takes Teams Back to Nature

Trudy and Jack

Nothing is more vital to business success than strong, effective teams made up of healthy and cooperative individuals.  One way to help both individuals and teams become stronger and more effective is to try outdoor teambuilding – but not the old fashioned ropes courses and trust falls!

PALEOVENTURES, a San Francisco based company, provides meaningful outdoor survival skills learning combined with organizationally relevant communication skills training.  Founded and facilitated by Jack Foley, an experienced outdoor educator and Trudy Triner, an organization development expert, PALEOVENTURES provides high engagement, low impact training which stresses that teamwork in an organization is just as important as being the person with all the right answers.

According to the Institute for Outdoor Learning, benefits of outdoor learning include:

  • Developing self esteem, taking personal responsibility, cooperating with and respecting the needs of others,
  • Enhancing practical problem solving and team work skills,
  • Promoting a positive and knowledgeable response towards personal health and well being.

Their own experience has convinced Triner and Foley  that teams welcome an opportunity to learn more about themselves and their colleagues, to learn  real survival skills for use in an emergency, to build team and communication skills, and just to have fun together.

Managers say the one-day experience breaks down long-standing silos which improves customer service, and overall morale and corporate culture.

Trudy Triner and Jack Foley

925-899-0809

http://www.paleoventures.org

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What Do You Do When You’re Stuck in a Job You Hate?

This is a dilemma most of us have faced at one time or another, some of you might even be facing it right now. What do you do when you are in a job that you really don’t like? Perhaps it’s an issue with your boss or co-workers, or the responsibilities and focus of the position just doesn’t thrill you like you thought it would when you took the job. And, now, for whatever reason(s) you just aren’t able to leave. What do you do?

You have a couple of choices.

One choice is to suffer through day by day until you either get fired for your poor attitude or you find another job that you like more. All the while you’re in the position you make everyone around you nearly as miserable as you are, repelling potential customers, and bringing the company down. That’s one option.

The other option is to create happiness and meaning in your work life regardless of the current circumstances. This is a tall order. And, I’ve not seen too many people who are able to do this 100 percent of the time. I have seen that attitude – a focus on the positive, on finding happiness and meaning in tough situations – is key to success, change, and moving forward to better situations.

So, how do you create happiness and meaning when you’re stuck in a job that you hate?

I suggest that you break your days down into one hour segments. For example, imagine that you have to go to a one-hour meeting. You are dreading this pointless, unnecessary meeting and everything about it!

Now, imagine that at the end of this boring, time-sucking meeting, you are going to be tested with four simple questions about how you spent that hour:

  • Did I do my best to be happy?
  • Did I do my best to find meaning?
  • Did I do my best to build positive relationships?
  • Did I do my best to be fully engaged?

If you knew you were going to be tested, what would you do differently to raise your score on any of these four items?

I’ve posed this question to thousands of executives around the world. Some typical responses are:

  • I would go into the meeting with a positive attitude.
  • Instead of waiting for someone to make it interesting, I’d make it interesting myself.
  • I’d try to help the presenter in some way instead of critiquing her in my head.
  • I would try to build a positive relationship with someone in the room.
  • I would pay attention and put away my smartphone.

Here’s my radical suggestion for what to do when you’re stuck in a job you hate. From now on, pretend that you are going to be tested every hour. Your heart and mind will thank you for it. Each hour that you spend at this job is an hour that you won’t get back. If you are miserable, it is your misery, not the company’s, not your boss’s, not your co-workers’. Why waste your hours being disengaged and cynical? By taking personal responsibility for your own engagement, you make a positive contribution to your company. Even more important, you begin creating a better, happier you!

Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.

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Are You Wasting Your Time on Values Statements?

Recently, during an interview with Moustafa Hamwi for his show Passion Sundays, Moustafa asked me an important question: how valuable is it for a company to invest in helping employees find their own personal passions, not just business passions?

This is a great question! I think there is a huge value in helping employees find their personal passions! My friend Jim Kouzes, co-author with Barry Posner of The Leadership Challenge, did an important study. Jim found that there is a strong connection between values and engagement and that the key to engagement is not that the company has stated values. The key to engagement, Jim found, is that employees can live their own values while working at the company.

We all know “the corporate credo”. Companies have wasted millions of dollars and countless hours of employees’ time agonizing over the wording of statements that are inscribed on plaques and hung on walls. There is a clear assumption that people’s behavior will change because the pronouncements on plaques are “inspirational” or certain words “integrate our strategy and values.” There is an implicit hope that when people — especially managers — hear great words, they will start to exhibit great behavior.

Sometimes these words morph as people try to keep up with the latest trends in corporate-speak. A company may begin by striving for “customer satisfaction,” then advance to “total customer satisfaction,” and then finally reach the pinnacle of “customer delight.”

But this obsession with words belies one very large problem: There is almost no correlation between the words on the wall and the behavior of leaders. Every company wants “integrity,” “respect for people,” “quality,” “customer satisfaction,” “innovation,” and “return for shareholders.” Sometimes companies get creative and toss in something about “community” or “suppliers.” But since the big messages are all basically the same, the words quickly lose their real meaning to employees — if they had any in the first place.

Whether or not the company chooses the right words for the plaque on the wall is not the real question you need to ask when it comes to employee engagement. The real question is: Can your people live their own values every day? People who can live their own values while they are working at an organization are highly engaged. People who cannot live their values while working at an organization are often not engaged.

Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.

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Do You Love Where You Work?

What I’ve noticed in my travels from organization to organization is that there are many, many talent people who work at organizations where they were never a good “fit” or are no longer a fit at the company. The result is high turnover and lackluster employees. People may stay in their positions with no passion for what they do, unhappy, disengaged, and unmotivated, or they may leave and try to find another, better position at another company.

There is a way to shortcut this unhappy journey.

When you’re considering taking a job or accepting a promotion, the key is to ensure not only that your skills and abilities match up with the needs of the organization, but that you fit well with the organization’s culture. There are a couple of things to consider: the culture of the organization at large and that of the team of which you will be a member.

The following are a few suggestions offered for reducing the risks of becoming a casualty of cultural conflict:

  1. Know thyself. It is vital to understand yourself as fully as possible — especially your business-related beliefs and decision-making processes. It’s also helpful to identify those aspects of different cultures that you relate to and those you don’t. Write them down and refer to them as you gather data about the opportunities under consideration.
  2. Inquire about the culture at hand. Do people treat it as “that soft ‘people’ stuff?” That in itself tells you a great deal about where and with whom you will work.
  3. Use your network to verify what you have observed about the company’s cultures. Former employees, suppliers, or consultants can shed light on what you will actually encounter. You can also ask to obtain permission to talk to a few potential peers, direct reports, maybe even your boss’s boss. Think through the questions you want to ask about “how things get done around here” to get a sense of how much agreement there is about the makeup of the organization’s culture.

Remember, while a new situation may seem like the perfect match, failing to fit adequately with the company cultures you encounter will increase your chances of not loving where you work. What’s more, the higher up you go in any organization, the more important fit becomes — and the more difficult it is to recover from a situation that “just didn’t work out.”

Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.

 

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Great Leaders Stand Out When Times Are Hard!

For years now I’ve done three things: I give talks, I coach executives, and I write books and articles. I travel constantly. On one airline alone, I have 12 million frequent flyer miles. You could say that I keep myself pretty busy!

One of the most common questions I’m asked is “how do you have so much energy?” I laugh because I can see the person is often thinking, ‘you’re an old man, you’ve been flying on a plane for 18 hours, how can you possibly you step onto the stage with so much enthusiasm?’

What’s my secret?

I can sum it up in just a sentence: “There’s no business like show business like show business!” Before I step on stage, I do this chant. It gives me energy! Every day before I work I tell myself, “It’s show time.”

And, I share this secret.

When I work with my coaching clients, I share this secret. Sometimes they fret and worry about how hard life is for them. And sometimes it is. Sometimes though, they are whining and complaining instead of focusing on leading. When this seems the case, I’ll say, “Have you ever seen a Broadway play?” They usually say, “Yes!” I’ll say, have you ever seen an actor stop the show and say, “my foot hurts” or “I have a headache”? “No, no” they say, they’ve never seen that. “You make about a 100 times more than what that kid is making every night. If they can get out their night after night with passion like that, you can too! It’s show time.”

That is the secret to where I get all of my energy. It isn’t too complicated.

You go first!

One of the most important actions things a leader can do is to lead by example. If you want everyone else to be passionate, committed, dedicated, and motivated, you go first!

Two of the best leaders I have ever known are Frances Hesselbein and Alan Mulally. Alan is the former CEO of the Ford Motor Company and was ranked by Fortune magazine as the third greatest leader in the world in 2014. Frances Hesselbein was the head of the Girl Scouts and Peter Drucker said she is the greatest leader he ever met.

I have never seen either Alan or Frances be down. They have always demonstrated passion to lead.

I was with Alan just after 9/11 when he was running Boeing Commercial Aircraft. It was a devastating and difficult time to lead the company. Alan said something I’ll never forget. He said, this is what I get paid for. Anyone can have passion and be an example when times are good. It’s when times are hard that great leaders stand out.

Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.

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What Is the Secret to Winning Big?

The higher up you go in your organization, the more you need to make other people winners and not make your job about winning yourself. This is a hard concept for people who like to win to grasp. The more successful you become, the more helping others win is how you win! This is the secret to winning big.

For those in leadership positions, this means closely monitoring how you hand out encouragement and how you “help” others improve. If you find yourself saying, “That is great…” and then dropping the other shoe with a tempering, “BUT” stop yourself before you speak. Take a breath and ask yourself if what you’re about to say is worth it. In most cases it isn’t. If you really want to succeed and encourage others to do the same, try stopping at “great!”

This is a challenge even for those who have acknowledged they do this and think they are past it. Let me share a little story with you. A few years ago, I taught a class at a telecom headquarters. One of the men in my class mocked me when I mentioned this problem that so many of us have with “That is great, BUT…” He thought it was easy not to use the words. He was so sure of himself that he offered $100 for each time he used these words. I made a point of sitting with him during our lunch break. I asked him where he was from, and he replied Singapore.

“Singapore? I said. “That’s a great city!”

“Yea,” he replied, “it’s great, but…”

He caught himself immediately, and reached into his pocket for cash, saying, “I just lost $100, didn’t I?”

That’s how pervasive this urge to win can be. It creeps into our conversations even when the discussion is trivial, even when we should be hyperaware of our word choices, and even when it might cost us $100.

That was a description of the lighter version of those possessing this bad habit. Those who have the more serious version are even more harmful and discouraging. We all know negative people. My wife calls them “negatrons”. These are people who are incapable of saying something positive or complimentary to any of your suggestions. Negativity is their default response. You could walk into their office with the cure for cancer and the first words out of their mouth would be, “Let me explain why that won’t work.”

This is the telltale phrase of negativity. It’s emblematic of a need to share negative thoughts, even when they haven’t been solicited. “Let me explain why that won’t work,” is different from adding value—because no value is added. It’s the big, bad brother of “That is great, BUT…” because rather than hiding our negativity under the mask of agreement, it is pure unadulterated negativity under the guise of being helpful.

As with “That is great, BUT…” we employ “Let me explain why that won’t work” to establish that our expertise or authority is superior to someone else’s. It doesn’t mean that what we say is correct or useful. It’s simply a way of inserting ourselves into a situation as chief arbiter or senior critic.

If you think one or both of these phrases might be your mode of negative operandi, I’d advise you to monitor your statements the moment someone offers you a helpful suggestion. Paying attention to what you say in response to their ideas is a great indicator of how you come across to people. If you find yourself frequently saying, “That is great, BUT…” you know you need to take a breath, pay attention, and stop yourself at “great”!

Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.

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Does Your Boss Squash Your Enthusiasm?

If you feel like your boss is squashing your enthusiasm for your ideas and projects, it may be that he or she has the classic bad habit of Adding Too Much Value.

This bad habit can be defined as your boss’s overwhelming desire to add his or her two cents to every discussion, and it is common among leaders who are used to running the show. It is extremely difficult for successful people to listen to other people tell them something that they think already know without communicating somehow that (a) they already knew it and (b) they know a better way.

What is the problem with adding too much value?

It would seem like it would be better for all concerned if our ideas were always improved upon. It’s not. Imagine as an energetic, enthusiastic employee you go to your boss’s office and excitedly share your idea with your boss. Your boss thinks it’s a great idea and instead of saying, “Great idea,” she says, “That’s a nice idea. Why don’t you add this to it?” What does this do? It deflates your enthusiasm; it dampers your commitment. While the quality of the idea may go up 5 percent, your commitment to execute it may go down 50 percent. That’s because it’s no longer your idea, it’s now her idea.

An exceptional leader will take heart of the following equation:

Effectiveness of Execution = a) Quality of the idea X b) My commitment to make it work.

Effectiveness of execution is a function of a) What is the quality of the idea? times b) What is my employee’s commitment to make it work? Oftentimes, our leaders get so wrapped up in trying to improve the quality of an idea a little that they damage our commitment to execute it a lot. And as you rise in levels of leadership in the organization, it’s important to recognize that the higher you go, the more you need to make other people winners and not make it about winning yourself.

A lesson in Adding Value from a great CEO

I asked my coaching client J.P. Garnier, former CEO of the large pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmith Kline, “What did you learn from me when I was your executive coach that helped you the most as a leader?” He said, “You taught me one lesson that helped me to become a better leader and live a happier life. You taught me that before I speak I should stop, breathe, and ask myself, ‘Is it worth it?’ He said that when he got into the habit of taking a breath before he talked, he realized that at least half of what he was going to say wasn’t worth saying. Even though he believed he could add value, he realized he had more to gain by not saying anything.

The flipside to this concept is that we often take leaders’ suggestions as orders. I asked J.P, “What did you learn about leadership as the CEO?” He said, “I learned a very hard lesson. My suggestions become orders. If they’re smart, they’re orders. If they’re stupid, they’re orders. If I want them to be orders, they are orders. And, if I don’t want them to be orders, they are orders anyway.”

What does this mean for leaders and people who want to be leaders?

It means learning how to closely monitor how you hand out encouragement and suggestions. If you find yourself saying, “Great idea,” and following it with “But,” or “However,” try cutting your response off at “idea.” Even better, before you speak, take a breath and ask yourself if what you’re about to say is worth it. You may realize that you have more to gain by not winning (adding value)!

Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.

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What Drives the Greatest Leaders?

When assessing the potential of future leaders, we often forget to ask one key question: How much do you love leading people?

Over years, I have had the privilege of working with many wonderful leaders. Upon reflection, the best of the best have one quality in common. They love leading people and they are passionate about it!

What do great leaders look like?

One of my best friends is Frances Hesselbein. Frances is the former CEO of the Girl Scouts and now chairman of the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute. Whenever Frances discusses her work as a leader, her eyes sparkle and her face glows. No matter what personal or professional challenges she is facing, she is always upbeat, positive, and inspirational. Frances defines leadership as “circular,” with the leader reaching across the organization to colleagues, not down to subordinates. Her motivation has never come from the outside, meaning from money or status. Instead, it has always come from the inside, from her love of service and what she does.

Another wonderful friend of mine is Alan Mulally, former CEO of Boeing Commercial Aircraft and Ford Motor Company. Alan was named by Fortune Magazine #3 top leader in the world in 2014. Needless to say he is a fantastic leader and I am not the only one who thinks so! At Ford and Boeing, Alan faced many challenges that would make most people want to give up. He didn’t give up and led Ford through one of the most successful turnarounds in history.

I have never seen Alan get down on himself, his people, or his company. He has an infectious enthusiasm that radiates to the people around him and an almost childlike joy in what he does. He once told me: “Every day I remind myself that leadership is not about me. It is about the great people who are working with me.” Alan’s love of what he does enables him to work incredible hours, face daunting adversity, and serve as a leader with a smile on his face. His personal example says more about leadership than his words can ever convey.

How much do you love leading people?

To assess your leadership potential, ask yourself: “On a scale of one to 10, how much do I love leading people?” If you have never been in a leadership role, ask yourself, “How much do I think that I will love leading people?” If your score is low, you may want to rethink that prospect of becoming a leader.

Although high levels of leadership may bring status, power, or money, these benefits come at a cost. Almost all great leaders work extremely hard, take their jobs very personally, are subject to ongoing (and often unfair) criticism, and pay a price for their success.

Find reward on the inside!

If you love leading people like Frances Hesselbein and Alan Mulally, leadership will be a joy and service will be a blessing.

If you do not love leading people, leadership will be an ongoing pain.

Don’t become a leader because you are looking for reward from the outside. Become a leader only if you will find your reward on the inside.

When you stand up to lead, the people that you are serving will not just be listening to your words, they will be looking into your eyes. Ultimately, you will not be able to fool them or fool yourself.

You can only inspire the people you are leading if you are inspired to lead.

 

Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.

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The Three Box Solution: A Strategy For Leading Innovation

My colleague and friend Vijay Govindarajan (VG), who is on Dartmouth and Harvard faculties, has just published his book The Three Box Solution: A Strategy For Leading Innovation today. The book is rated #1 New Release on Amazon.

The book explains how companies can meet the performance requirements of the current business—one that is still thriving—while dramatically reinventing it (two fundamentally different management challenges that are hard to do simultaneously). You can get more details on the book from the book web site or watch the book trailer.

I suggest you order the book. You will receive bonus gifts if you can confirm in an email to VG (vg@dartmouth.edu) that you have ordered the book.

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