Are your meetings the butt of work-related jokes? Why is it that we roll our eyes with disdain when our calendar is loaded with meetings, and more specifically, why do we dread the planning meetings that are so important to our strategic success? Let me ask, have you used senior team members as facilitators? If so, you’ve very likely chosen the wrong facilitator. Save yourself a bad decision before your next planning session. Don’t choose your CEO or an executive team member for strategic planning facilitation. If you do, you’ll pay for it all year (or quarter) based on the plan developed and the pain to get there. Most executives are great at their jobs, but they don't have all of the qualities of a good team facilitator. When you are in charge, it is hard to be an active listener, which is extremely important to bring out all of the great ideas from the team.
Are you fostering an accountability-based team, department, or organization? Accountability takes a step beyond responsibility. Responsibility is a felt obligation to act within an organization's values, whereas accountability adds that you can be called to answer for your own actions.
In an accountability-based organization, the onus is not only on direct reports (and their reports) to be accountable, but also on managers and executives to produce a culture that fosters accountability in its employees. This can be scary at first, but will pay off in the long run.
I really enjoy learning during client interactions. When I’m working onsite in planning sessions, coaching executives 1-to-1, or working with teams virtually through Zoom web conferencing, I am often learning as much as helping. Working hand-in hand with smart people and fielding their questions give me the opportunity to guide participants while expanding my knowledge, understanding, and ability to communicate.
I must admit, I’m an enthusiast for developing emotional intelligence. It’s one of the reasons I became a certified facilitator for EQ-i. But, the real shame is why I got certified. The short answer, I often let emotions overrun my intelligence, and I needed to further develop my own skills in this area.
As a leader, I’ve sometimes felt like a nut – nutty ideas, feedback that indicates I’m crazy, looks from others that could … well, you get the point. And just like a nut without a bolt, a leader who isn’t growing his/her skills is a leader falling short of his or her potential. It’s a good time to take stock of your professional role, priorities and influence. What has worked well for you so far this year? What changes have you made in your leadership style that made you more effective? What have you tried for the first time?
Imagine the circular conversation in your workplace. The movie you’ve seen before, where you know the outcome, and can predict that there will be no change. It’s likely the conversation happens in the hallway, the restroom, or after hours while having pizza. It’s the one where you conclude in the end that your company (or team) is just that way, no one would listen and it’s always been that way. Productive team members work around them, they’re known as just lazy, etc. It’s the déjà vu conversation that nothing ever changes – things just stay the same. I’ve had them and so have you.
You can imagine I was pleased as emcee for Rhythm Systems Breakthrough Conference to have Joseph Grenny, co-author of Crucial Conversations, confirmed as a speaker. I was giddy to have the chance to hear confirmation of what I learned from our earlier 2-day training on Crucial Conversations. I was expecting sort of a refresher on material I’d previously learned. Even so, deep inside, I was a bit sad for our attendees. They would only get what seemed to me like a small spoon at the ice cream shop, you know, the one that’s used for tasting only. They wouldn’t be filled, but I knew they’d like the flavor.
It was 6:30 pm on a summer evening. Since I had agreed that my youngest son could go out with friends only after the grass had been cut, I felt confused. I heard the upstairs shower running while at the same time I still heard the roar of the lawnmower going back and forth on the side of our home. I looked out the window and there, cutting our grass, was one of my son’s friends.
As my son emerged from his bathroom, I inquired how he had gotten a friend to mow the grass? He replied, “I told him if he wanted me to go out tonight, he needed to cut the grass while I took a shower and cleaned up for the evening.” I knew then that my son could have taught Tom Sawyer a thing or two about a whitewashed fence – and I realized that Tom Sawyer, the fictional character, was actually a great leader.
I’ve observed a common theme in client companies. I should say, a specific type of client companies. The type that successfully grow year after year. Not companies that had a great year because of the economy, or a tariff, or a one-time software win, or companies that had some government protection that made their success easy. I’m talking about companies in competitive markets and industries who won over strong competition year after year.
Like many great business learnings, it began with glass of wine. I had a business manager named Jim who was experiencing employee problems, sloppy results and missed deadlines.
As we sipped our wine, I realized that there was a pattern. This pattern has proven true in my consulting with great companies in 20 countries and across 4 continents.
You may have heard the old saying; “Putting lipstick on a pig doesn't make it more attractive!” You may chuckle at the meaning, yet I see it often with CEOs and leadership teams while hearing their argument that they move too fast to slow down and work on the things other successful companies do.