Blame or Praise? Leaders and Failure

Admittedly, some mistakes are more blameworthy than others. As a manager, how do you make it safe for people to report and admit to mistakes?  Harvard management professor  Amy Edmondson  delineates a “spectrum of reasons for failure” in “ Strategies for Learning from Failure ” ( It is only $1.71 now on Amazon!! ), as summarized here:   Deviance : An individual chooses to violate a prescribed process or practice.   Inattention : An individual inadvertently deviates from specifications.   Lack of Ability : An individual doesn’t have the skills, conditions or training to execute a job.   Process Inadequacy : A competent individual adheres to a prescribed, but faulty or incomplete, process.   Task Challenge : An individual faces a task too difficult to be executed reliably every time.   Process Complexity : A process composed of many elements breaks down when it encounters novel interactions.   Uncertainty : A lack of clarity about future events causes people to take seemingly reasonable actions that produce undesired results.   Hypothesis Testing : An experiment conducted to prove that an idea or a design will succeed actually fails.   Exploratory Testing : An experiment conducted to expand knowledge and investigate a possibility leads to undesired results.  Notice how this spectrum progresses from mistakes that are blameworthy to those that could be considered praiseworthy. Imagine that, recognizing mistakes as praiseworthy. Is that the type of culture you are building?  How many of the failures in your business are truly blameworthy? Compare this to how many  are treated as blameworthy , and you’ll have a better understanding of why so many failures go unreported.  You cannot learn from your mistakes when the emphasis is on blaming. You cannot learn to become more resilient when your energy is tied up in assigning or avoiding blame.  Perhaps Procter & Gamble’s  A. G. Lafley  said it best in his   Harvard Business Review interview  : “I think I learned more from my failures than from my successes in all my years as a CEO. I think of my failures as a gift. Unless you view them that way, you won’t learn from failure, you won’t get better—and the company won’t get better.”  What about you? Do you learn more from failure or success? I'd love to hear from you, leave a comment.

Admittedly, some mistakes are more blameworthy than others. As a manager, how do you make it safe for people to report and admit to mistakes?

Harvard management professor Amy Edmondson delineates a “spectrum of reasons for failure” in “Strategies for Learning from Failure” (It is only $1.71 now on Amazon!!), as summarized here:

Deviance: An individual chooses to violate a prescribed process or practice.

Inattention: An individual inadvertently deviates from specifications.

Lack of Ability: An individual doesn’t have the skills, conditions or training to execute a job.

Process Inadequacy: A competent individual adheres to a prescribed, but faulty or incomplete, process.

Task Challenge: An individual faces a task too difficult to be executed reliably every time.

Process Complexity: A process composed of many elements breaks down when it encounters novel interactions.

Uncertainty: A lack of clarity about future events causes people to take seemingly reasonable actions that produce undesired results.

Hypothesis Testing: An experiment conducted to prove that an idea or a design will succeed actually fails.

Exploratory Testing: An experiment conducted to expand knowledge and investigate a possibility leads to undesired results.

Notice how this spectrum progresses from mistakes that are blameworthy to those that could be considered praiseworthy. Imagine that, recognizing mistakes as praiseworthy. Is that the type of culture you are building?

How many of the failures in your business are truly blameworthy? Compare this to how many are treated as blameworthy, and you’ll have a better understanding of why so many failures go unreported.

You cannot learn from your mistakes when the emphasis is on blaming. You cannot learn to become more resilient when your energy is tied up in assigning or avoiding blame.

Perhaps Procter & Gamble’s A. G. Lafley said it best in his Harvard Business Review interview: “I think I learned more from my failures than from my successes in all my years as a CEO. I think of my failures as a gift. Unless you view them that way, you won’t learn from failure, you won’t get better—and the company won’t get better.”

What about you? Do you learn more from failure or success? I'd love to hear from you, leave a comment.

Finding New Strategies for Bouncing Back

When it comes to developing better  resilience  in the face of uncertainty and failures, both self-awareness and political awareness are key.  Whereas self-awareness helps you understand the messages you’re sending, political awareness helps you understand the messages others are receiving. It requires you to know how your organization defines, explains and assigns responsibility for failure, as well as how the system allows for remedial attempts.  When I'm coaching executives, ( coaching4ldrs.com ) we work a lot on developing personal awareness. Personal awareness involves finding the right way to approach mistakes within your organization and understanding your role. This process includes soul care. Taking time with God to explore where we fall short is the road to humility which often is the character trait necessary as a foundation for bouncing back.  Once you’ve become more aware of your failure response style (and your bad habits), you can move toward more open and adaptive behaviors.  Business consultants Ben Dattner and Robert Hogan suggest several effective steps in  “Can You Handle Failure?”  ( Harvard Business Review , April 2011).  Practice these strategies the next time mistakes and failures present challenges:    ·        Listen and communicate.  Most of us forget to gather enough feedback and information before reacting, especially when it comes to bad news. Never assume you know what others are thinking or that you understand them until you ask good questions.  ·        Reflect on both the situation and the   people.  We’re good at picking up patterns and making assumptions. Remember, however, that each situation is unique and has context.  ·        Think before you act.  You don’t have to respond immediately or impulsively. You can always make things worse by overreacting in a highly charged situation.  ·        Search for a lesson.  Look for nuance and context. Sometimes a colleague or a group is at fault, sometimes you are, and sometimes no one is to blame. Create and test hypotheses about why the failure occurred to prevent it from happening again.

When it comes to developing better resilience in the face of uncertainty and failures, both self-awareness and political awareness are key.

Whereas self-awareness helps you understand the messages you’re sending, political awareness helps you understand the messages others are receiving. It requires you to know how your organization defines, explains and assigns responsibility for failure, as well as how the system allows for remedial attempts.

When I'm coaching executives, (coaching4ldrs.com) we work a lot on developing personal awareness. Personal awareness involves finding the right way to approach mistakes within your organization and understanding your role. This process includes soul care. Taking time with God to explore where we fall short is the road to humility which often is the character trait necessary as a foundation for bouncing back.

Once you’ve become more aware of your failure response style (and your bad habits), you can move toward more open and adaptive behaviors.

Business consultants Ben Dattner and Robert Hogan suggest several effective steps in “Can You Handle Failure?” (Harvard Business Review, April 2011).

Practice these strategies the next time mistakes and failures present challenges:
 

·       Listen and communicate. Most of us forget to gather enough feedback and information before reacting, especially when it comes to bad news. Never assume you know what others are thinking or that you understand them until you ask good questions.

·       Reflect on both the situation and the people. We’re good at picking up patterns and making assumptions. Remember, however, that each situation is unique and has context.

·       Think before you act. You don’t have to respond immediately or impulsively. You can always make things worse by overreacting in a highly charged situation.

·       Search for a lesson. Look for nuance and context. Sometimes a colleague or a group is at fault, sometimes you are, and sometimes no one is to blame. Create and test hypotheses about why the failure occurred to prevent it from happening again.

How to Learn from Our Mistakes

“ That which does not kill us makes us stronger .” ~  Friedrich Nietzsche   Failure is one of life’s most common traumas, yet people’s responses to it vary widely. Many managers have learned to reframe personal and departmental setbacks by stating: “There are no mistakes, only learning opportunities”—and it’s a great sentiment. In practice, however, their companies often continue to view failures in the most negative light.  Part of the problem lies in our natural tendency to blame. We perceive and react to failure inappropriately. How can we learn anything if our energy is tied up in either assigning or avoiding blame? Still others overreact with self-criticism, which leads to stagnation and fears of taking future risks.  One of the common things that come up frequently in my coaching sessions ( coaching4ldrs.com ) is dealing with mistakes and the excessive blaming that goes on in the work place.  In the 1930s, psychologist  Saul Rosenzweig  proposed three broad personality categories for how we experience anger and frustration:  1.       Extrapunitive : Prone to unfairly blame others  2.       Impunitive : Denies that failure has occurred or one’s own role in it  3.       Intropunitive : Judges self too harshly and imagines failures where none exist  Extrapunitive responses are common in the business world. Because of socialization and other gender influences, women are more likely to be intropunitive.  Fortunately, managers at all organizational levels can repair their flawed responses to failure. Business consultants Ben Dattner and Robert Hogan suggest several highly effective steps in  “Can You Handle Failure?”  ( Harvard Business Review , April 2011):   Cultivate Self-Awareness   First, identify which of the three blaming styles you use. (Note: They occur automatically and immediately, so they are unconscious emotional responses.)  1.      Do you look to blame others?  2.      Deny blame?  3.      Blame yourself?     It’s hard for us to see our own personalities clearly, let alone our flaws. It’s harder still to learn from our mistakes if we’re caught up in the blame game.  Next, take at least one self-assessment test to help broaden your view of your interaction style. Two popular assessments are the  Myers-Briggs Type Indicator  and the  Big Five Personality Test . (You can take a free version online at  personal.psu.edu/j5j/IPIP/ipipneo120.htm .)  Finally, work with a coach or mentor ( coaching4ldrs.com ) to improve your level of self-awareness. While it takes some time to shine a light on our attitudes with respect to failure and blame, each of us can benefit from such reflection and discussion.     For example, think about challenging events or jobs in your career, and consider how you handled them. What could you have done better? Ask trusted colleagues, mentors or coaches   marc@mocoach4ldrs.com )   to evaluate your reactions to, and explanations for, failures.  Pay close attention to the subtleties of how people respond to you in common workplace situations. Ask for informal feedback. If you’re in a managerial position, you may underestimate how what you say may be perceived as criticism, due to the hierarchical nature of your job.     What are your suggestions for improving self-awareness in the workplace? I'd love to hear from you, leave a comment.   

That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Failure is one of life’s most common traumas, yet people’s responses to it vary widely. Many managers have learned to reframe personal and departmental setbacks by stating: “There are no mistakes, only learning opportunities”—and it’s a great sentiment. In practice, however, their companies often continue to view failures in the most negative light.

Part of the problem lies in our natural tendency to blame. We perceive and react to failure inappropriately. How can we learn anything if our energy is tied up in either assigning or avoiding blame? Still others overreact with self-criticism, which leads to stagnation and fears of taking future risks.

One of the common things that come up frequently in my coaching sessions (coaching4ldrs.com) is dealing with mistakes and the excessive blaming that goes on in the work place.

In the 1930s, psychologist Saul Rosenzweig proposed three broad personality categories for how we experience anger and frustration:

1.      Extrapunitive: Prone to unfairly blame others

2.      Impunitive: Denies that failure has occurred or one’s own role in it

3.      Intropunitive: Judges self too harshly and imagines failures where none exist

Extrapunitive responses are common in the business world. Because of socialization and other gender influences, women are more likely to be intropunitive.

Fortunately, managers at all organizational levels can repair their flawed responses to failure. Business consultants Ben Dattner and Robert Hogan suggest several highly effective steps in “Can You Handle Failure?” (Harvard Business Review, April 2011):

Cultivate Self-Awareness

First, identify which of the three blaming styles you use. (Note: They occur automatically and immediately, so they are unconscious emotional responses.)

1.      Do you look to blame others?

2.      Deny blame?

3.      Blame yourself?

It’s hard for us to see our own personalities clearly, let alone our flaws. It’s harder still to learn from our mistakes if we’re caught up in the blame game.

Next, take at least one self-assessment test to help broaden your view of your interaction style. Two popular assessments are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Big Five Personality Test. (You can take a free version online at personal.psu.edu/j5j/IPIP/ipipneo120.htm.)

Finally, work with a coach or mentor (coaching4ldrs.com) to improve your level of self-awareness. While it takes some time to shine a light on our attitudes with respect to failure and blame, each of us can benefit from such reflection and discussion.

 

For example, think about challenging events or jobs in your career, and consider how you handled them. What could you have done better? Ask trusted colleagues, mentors or coaches marc@mocoach4ldrs.com)  to evaluate your reactions to, and explanations for, failures.

Pay close attention to the subtleties of how people respond to you in common workplace situations. Ask for informal feedback. If you’re in a managerial position, you may underestimate how what you say may be perceived as criticism, due to the hierarchical nature of your job.

 

What are your suggestions for improving self-awareness in the workplace? I'd love to hear from you, leave a comment.

 

Bouncing Back with Optimism and Resilience

What do you tell yourself when you goof? Did you know we have a default explanatory style? Leave it to the psychologists and social scientists to study this one!  Actually, people working with clients in a managing or coaching role ( coaching4ldrs.com ), as I do, hear how individuals explain what happens to them frequently enough to spot such patterns.  Research clearly demonstrates that people who are naturally resilient have an  optimistic explanatory style —that is, they explain adversity in optimistic terms to avoid falling into feelings of helplessness.  Those who refuse to give up  routinely interpret setbacks as temporary, local and changeable :  ·       “The problem will resolve quickly…”  ·       “It’s just this one situation…”  ·       “I can do something about it…”  In contrast, individuals who have a pessimistic explanatory style respond to failure differently. They habitually think setbacks are permanent, universal and immutable:  ·       “Things are never going to be any different...”  ·       “This always happens to me...”  ·       “I can’t change things, no matter what...”  The scientist who's studied this the most is University of Pennsylvania psychology professor  Martin P. Seligman . He believes most people can be immunized against the negative thinking habits that may tempt them to give up after failure. In fact, 30 years of research suggests that  we can learn to be optimistic and resilient —often by changing our explanatory style.  Seligman is currently testing this premise with the U.S. Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, a large-scale effort to make soldiers as psychologically fit as they are physically fit. One key component is the  Master Resilience Training  course for drill sergeants and other leaders, which emphasizes positive psychology, mental toughness, use of existing strengths and building strong relationships.  This military program will no doubt provide insights for civilians who wish to become more effective within their workplaces and organizations.  Resilience training may be able to prevent traumatic stress disorders for soldiers. I wonder what it can do for stressed out executives. Your comments welcome; what do you think?

What do you tell yourself when you goof? Did you know we have a default explanatory style? Leave it to the psychologists and social scientists to study this one!

Actually, people working with clients in a managing or coaching role (coaching4ldrs.com), as I do, hear how individuals explain what happens to them frequently enough to spot such patterns.

Research clearly demonstrates that people who are naturally resilient have an optimistic explanatory style—that is, they explain adversity in optimistic terms to avoid falling into feelings of helplessness.

Those who refuse to give up routinely interpret setbacks as temporary, local and changeable:

·       “The problem will resolve quickly…”

·       “It’s just this one situation…”

·       “I can do something about it…”

In contrast, individuals who have a pessimistic explanatory style respond to failure differently. They habitually think setbacks are permanent, universal and immutable:

·       “Things are never going to be any different...”

·       “This always happens to me...”

·       “I can’t change things, no matter what...”

The scientist who's studied this the most is University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Martin P. Seligman. He believes most people can be immunized against the negative thinking habits that may tempt them to give up after failure. In fact, 30 years of research suggests that we can learn to be optimistic and resilient—often by changing our explanatory style.

Seligman is currently testing this premise with the U.S. Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, a large-scale effort to make soldiers as psychologically fit as they are physically fit. One key component is the Master Resilience Training course for drill sergeants and other leaders, which emphasizes positive psychology, mental toughness, use of existing strengths and building strong relationships.

This military program will no doubt provide insights for civilians who wish to become more effective within their workplaces and organizations.

Resilience training may be able to prevent traumatic stress disorders for soldiers. I wonder what it can do for stressed out executives. Your comments welcome; what do you think?

The Art of Bouncing Back - Your Response to Failure

How Do You Respond to Failure?    “Some of the most important and insightful learning is far more likely to come from failures than from success.”  ~ Former Procter & Gamble CEO  A.G. Lafley , interviewed in   Harvard Business Review (April 2011)    How we  respond to failures and bounce back  from our mistakes can make or break our careers. Resilience is a key to successful leadership. The wisdom of learning from failure is undeniable, yet individuals and organizations rarely seize opportunities to embrace these hard-earned lessons.  Harvard business professor  Rosabeth Moss Kanter  is unequivocal: “One difference between winners and losers is how they handle losing.” Even for the best companies and most accomplished professionals, long track records of success are inevitably marred by slips and fumbles.  Kanter has written many stories from business and sports about resilience in  Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streak Begin and End.    Our response to failure is often counterproductive: Behaviors become bad habits that set the stage for continued losses. Just as success creates positive momentum, failure can feed on itself. Add uncertainty and rapidly fluctuating economics to the mix, and one’s ability to find the right course is sorely tested.  Long-term winners and losers face the same ubiquitous problems, but they respond differently. Attitudes help determine whether problem-ridden businesses will ultimately recover.  Luckily, most of us can learn to become more resilient with training and coaching, visit my website at    coach4lrds.com     The Best of Times, the Worst of Times   Take the example of two typical MBA graduates in my coaching practice who were laid off from their positions during the recession. Both were distraught. Being fired provoked feelings of sadness, listlessness, indecisiveness and anxiety about the future.  For one, the mood was transient. Within two weeks he was telling himself, “It’s not my fault; it’s the economy. I’m good at what I do, and there’s a market for my skills.” He updated his resume and, after several failed attempts, finally landed a position.  The other spiraled further into hopelessness. “I got fired because I can’t perform well under pressure,” he lamented. “I’m not cut out for finance; the economy will take years to recover.” Even after the market improved, he was reluctant to apply for positions and feared rejection.  How these individuals handled failure illustrates opposite ends of the spectrum. Some people bounce back after a brief period of malaise and grow from their experiences. Others go from sadness to depression to crippling fear of failure—and in business, inertia and fear of risk invite collapse.  A great resource for understanding how our minds work as illustrated by the above example is   Mindset   by Carol Dweck Ph.D. This work clarifies the power of our brains and how to develop disciplines and our ability to manage our thinking. When we discipline our mind we increase our ability to get where we desire to go!  The Bible is full or guidance with regards to our mindset. Paul’s guidance in to the Philippians encourages readers: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Phil 4:8. Throughout the Bible we are admonished to disciple our minds while remembering God wants our best even when we cannot see the best or even the good.  Author and pastor  John Maxwell  writes on the idea of mindset in his book  Failing Forward . This work encourages readers towards an understanding that failing is our friend. He helps his audience learn that how we perceive our failing is teachable and learnable.  Especially in these uncertain times when your next failure may be just around the corner, it's worth spending some time with your coach ( marc@mo coach4ldrs.com   )     to learn how you can become more resilient. Ask me about this if you're interested in learning how…

How Do You Respond to Failure?

“Some of the most important and insightful learning is far more likely to come from failures than from success.” ~ Former Procter & Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley, interviewed in Harvard Business Review (April 2011)

How we respond to failures and bounce back from our mistakes can make or break our careers. Resilience is a key to successful leadership. The wisdom of learning from failure is undeniable, yet individuals and organizations rarely seize opportunities to embrace these hard-earned lessons.

Harvard business professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter is unequivocal: “One difference between winners and losers is how they handle losing.” Even for the best companies and most accomplished professionals, long track records of success are inevitably marred by slips and fumbles.

Kanter has written many stories from business and sports about resilience in Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streak Begin and End. 

Our response to failure is often counterproductive: Behaviors become bad habits that set the stage for continued losses. Just as success creates positive momentum, failure can feed on itself. Add uncertainty and rapidly fluctuating economics to the mix, and one’s ability to find the right course is sorely tested.

Long-term winners and losers face the same ubiquitous problems, but they respond differently. Attitudes help determine whether problem-ridden businesses will ultimately recover.

Luckily, most of us can learn to become more resilient with training and coaching, visit my website at  coach4lrds.com

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

Take the example of two typical MBA graduates in my coaching practice who were laid off from their positions during the recession. Both were distraught. Being fired provoked feelings of sadness, listlessness, indecisiveness and anxiety about the future.

For one, the mood was transient. Within two weeks he was telling himself, “It’s not my fault; it’s the economy. I’m good at what I do, and there’s a market for my skills.” He updated his resume and, after several failed attempts, finally landed a position.

The other spiraled further into hopelessness. “I got fired because I can’t perform well under pressure,” he lamented. “I’m not cut out for finance; the economy will take years to recover.” Even after the market improved, he was reluctant to apply for positions and feared rejection.

How these individuals handled failure illustrates opposite ends of the spectrum. Some people bounce back after a brief period of malaise and grow from their experiences. Others go from sadness to depression to crippling fear of failure—and in business, inertia and fear of risk invite collapse.

A great resource for understanding how our minds work as illustrated by the above example is Mindset by Carol Dweck Ph.D. This work clarifies the power of our brains and how to develop disciplines and our ability to manage our thinking. When we discipline our mind we increase our ability to get where we desire to go!

The Bible is full or guidance with regards to our mindset. Paul’s guidance in to the Philippians encourages readers: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Phil 4:8. Throughout the Bible we are admonished to disciple our minds while remembering God wants our best even when we cannot see the best or even the good.

Author and pastor John Maxwell writes on the idea of mindset in his book Failing Forward. This work encourages readers towards an understanding that failing is our friend. He helps his audience learn that how we perceive our failing is teachable and learnable.

Especially in these uncertain times when your next failure may be just around the corner, it's worth spending some time with your coach (marc@mocoach4ldrs.com) to learn how you can become more resilient. Ask me about this if you're interested in learning how…

The Bridge to What Matters Most

The Bridge to What Matters    Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.  ~  Helen Keller   Great leaders like  Martin Luther King Jr . and  Walt Disney  always communicated their “why”—the reasons they acted, why they cared and their future hopes. Great business leaders follow suit:  ·        Herb Kelleher , founder of Southwest Airlines, believed air travel should be fun and accessible to everyone.  ·       Apple’s  Steve Wozniak  thought everyone should have a computer and, along with  Steve Jobs , set out to challenge established corporations’ status quo.  ·       Wal-Mart's  Sam Walton  believed all people should have access to low-cost goods.  ·       Starbucks’  Howard Schultz  wanted to create social experiences in cafés resembling those in Italy.  Once company leaders have identified and clearly articulated what they stand for, it’s up to you to build a bridge between the business’ purpose and your own values:  ·       In what way can you make a difference through company products and services?  ·       How can you express what truly matters in the work you do?  ·       In what ways can you make a difference in the world through the people you work for and with?   Making a Difference   When you share your greater cause and higher purpose, listeners filter the message and decide to trust you (or not). When listeners’ values and purpose resonate with your own, they are primed to become followers who will favorably perceive subsequent messages.  You cannot gain a foothold in someone’s brain by leading with  what  you want them to do. You must first communicate  why  it’s important.  Strive to be like the leaders who never lose sight of  why  they do what they do and  why  people should care. Only then will you inspire your people to attain sustainable success.   Leaders are the stewards of organizational energy. They recruit, direct, channel, renew, focus and invest energy from all the individual contributors in the service of the corporate mission. The energy of each individual contributor in the corporation must be actively recruited. This requires aligning individual and organizational purpose.  ~ Authors James Loehr and Tony Schwartz,   The Power of Full Engagement    I challenge you to think long and hard about both your personal sense of purpose, and your organization's purpose where you work. Do you see ways of aligning them?  It certainly takes work to think through these concepts. The reward is a self-renewing source of energy for you and your team. The invitation into the spiritual realm takes the thinking to a whole new level.  Embrace the challenge of finding your pathway to energy and renewing the enthusiasm you probably felt in the early days on the job. If you struggle with finding purpose, I suggest getting a good coach who can help you find more fulfillment and meaning in how you spend your days.  Let me know if I can help.   

The Bridge to What Matters

Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. ~ Helen Keller

Great leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Walt Disney always communicated their “why”—the reasons they acted, why they cared and their future hopes. Great business leaders follow suit:

·       Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines, believed air travel should be fun and accessible to everyone.

·       Apple’s Steve Wozniak thought everyone should have a computer and, along with Steve Jobs, set out to challenge established corporations’ status quo.

·       Wal-Mart's Sam Walton believed all people should have access to low-cost goods.

·       Starbucks’ Howard Schultz wanted to create social experiences in cafés resembling those in Italy.

Once company leaders have identified and clearly articulated what they stand for, it’s up to you to build a bridge between the business’ purpose and your own values:

·       In what way can you make a difference through company products and services?

·       How can you express what truly matters in the work you do?

·       In what ways can you make a difference in the world through the people you work for and with?

Making a Difference

When you share your greater cause and higher purpose, listeners filter the message and decide to trust you (or not). When listeners’ values and purpose resonate with your own, they are primed to become followers who will favorably perceive subsequent messages.

You cannot gain a foothold in someone’s brain by leading with what you want them to do. You must first communicate why it’s important.

Strive to be like the leaders who never lose sight of why they do what they do and why people should care. Only then will you inspire your people to attain sustainable success.

Leaders are the stewards of organizational energy. They recruit, direct, channel, renew, focus and invest energy from all the individual contributors in the service of the corporate mission. The energy of each individual contributor in the corporation must be actively recruited. This requires aligning individual and organizational purpose. ~ Authors James Loehr and Tony Schwartz, The Power of Full Engagement

I challenge you to think long and hard about both your personal sense of purpose, and your organization's purpose where you work. Do you see ways of aligning them?

It certainly takes work to think through these concepts. The reward is a self-renewing source of energy for you and your team. The invitation into the spiritual realm takes the thinking to a whole new level.

Embrace the challenge of finding your pathway to energy and renewing the enthusiasm you probably felt in the early days on the job. If you struggle with finding purpose, I suggest getting a good coach who can help you find more fulfillment and meaning in how you spend your days.

Let me know if I can help.

 

Want to Inspire? Start with WHY!

When a mission statement is well written, it serves as a declaration of purpose. But corporate mission statements are often little more than a descriptive sentence about products, aspirations or desired public perceptions. They’re more powerful when they clearly and specifically articulate the difference your business strives to make in the world.  Looking at mission statements is a great way to start your journey.  Here's an example from Roy Spence's book   It's Not What You Sell, It's What You Stand For:    Consider this mission statement by a large grocery chain: " Our goal is to be the first choice for those customers who have the opportunity to shop locally in [our stores]. To achieve this goal [we] aim to be best at fresh, best at availability, best at customer service, best at product and price ."  It's a long list of what the company will be best at, but nothing about customers, employees, communities or society. Compare that with another food chain's mission statement:  " To help consumers find foods that offer more nutrition for the calories as they make choices in each department of our stores, thereby helping food shoppers make healthier choices. "  Which statement do you find more engaging? If your mission statement isn't compelling and engaging, you can't expect employees to care, can you?  Leaders who want to succeed should straightforwardly communicate what they believe in and why they’re so passionate about their cause, according to business consultant  Simon Sinek , author of   Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action   (Portfolio, 2010).  Most people know  what  they do and  how  they do it, Sinek says, but few communicate  why  they’re doing it.  “People don’t buy  what  you do; they buy into  why  you do it,” he emphasizes.  If you don’t know and cannot communicate  why  you take specific actions, how can you expect employees to become loyal followers who support your mission?   The world is before you, and you need not take it or leave it as it was when you came in.  ~  James Baldwin , author  I have found that there are great tools and prompts to help moving your thinking forward. A favorite tool that I use is  The One Page Business Plan  which offers a process and prompts to move leaders forward as they lean into the power of why for themselves and those they lead.  I'd love to hear from you: what's been your experience with the mission statements of the companies you've worked for?   

When a mission statement is well written, it serves as a declaration of purpose. But corporate mission statements are often little more than a descriptive sentence about products, aspirations or desired public perceptions. They’re more powerful when they clearly and specifically articulate the difference your business strives to make in the world.

Looking at mission statements is a great way to start your journey.

Here's an example from Roy Spence's book It's Not What You Sell, It's What You Stand For:

Consider this mission statement by a large grocery chain: "Our goal is to be the first choice for those customers who have the opportunity to shop locally in [our stores]. To achieve this goal [we] aim to be best at fresh, best at availability, best at customer service, best at product and price."

It's a long list of what the company will be best at, but nothing about customers, employees, communities or society. Compare that with another food chain's mission statement:

"To help consumers find foods that offer more nutrition for the calories as they make choices in each department of our stores, thereby helping food shoppers make healthier choices."

Which statement do you find more engaging? If your mission statement isn't compelling and engaging, you can't expect employees to care, can you?

Leaders who want to succeed should straightforwardly communicate what they believe in and why they’re so passionate about their cause, according to business consultant Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (Portfolio, 2010).

Most people know what they do and how they do it, Sinek says, but few communicate why they’re doing it.

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy into why you do it,” he emphasizes.

If you don’t know and cannot communicate why you take specific actions, how can you expect employees to become loyal followers who support your mission?

The world is before you, and you need not take it or leave it as it was when you came in. ~ James Baldwin, author

I have found that there are great tools and prompts to help moving your thinking forward. A favorite tool that I use is The One Page Business Plan which offers a process and prompts to move leaders forward as they lean into the power of why for themselves and those they lead.

I'd love to hear from you: what's been your experience with the mission statements of the companies you've worked for?

 

Finding a Business Purpose - Remember God!

The more I speak with people ( coach4ldrs.com ) working hard in organizations, the less I see a "9 to 5" mentality. As work evolves in the 21st century, separating our professional and personal lives proves to be an artificial divide. Your personal purpose influences your work purpose, and vice versa. The opportunity to connect how you were made and the work that you do may reveal new exciting vistas of meaning.  A company’s purpose ( Why Am I Here? )  starts with its leaders and works its way through the organization. It shows up in products, services, and employee and customer experiences. It shows up in relationships with stakeholders: employees, customers, vendors, investors and more. The mindset of you were made to work and finding that work with an eternal perspective is the doorway to freedom and joy.  An inspirational purpose often lies hidden within an organization. The following suggestions will help you identify and articulate key elements:  1.      Revisit your organization’s heritage (past history). Review your personal journey  2.      Review successes. At what does the business excel?  3.      Start asking “why?”  4.      What won’t your organization do? Review false starts and failures.  5.      Talk to employees.  6.      Talk to top leaders.  7.      Talk to high performers.  8.      Talk to customers.  9.      Follow your heart.  10.   Explore  Bigger Purpose Ideas –  Why does God have you here?   Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, there lies your calling.  ~ Aristotle  A purpose is informed by the world’s needs. When you build an organization with a concrete purpose in mind — one that fills a real need in the marketplace — performance will follow.  Ask the following questions:  ·       Why does your organization do what it does?  ·       Why is this important to the people you serve?  ·       Why does your organization’s existence matter?  ·       What is its functional benefit to customers and constituents?  ·       What is the emotional benefit to them?  ·       What is the ultimate value to your customer?  ·       What are you deeply passionate about?  ·       At what can you excel?  ·       What drives your economic engine?  ·       Explore how excellence reflects you and your creator  ·       Explore relational opportunities created by your organization   Mission statements used to have a purpose. The purpose was to force management to make hard decisions about what the company stood for. A hard decision means giving up one thing to get another.   ~  Seth Godin , marketing expert   

The more I speak with people (coach4ldrs.com) working hard in organizations, the less I see a "9 to 5" mentality. As work evolves in the 21st century, separating our professional and personal lives proves to be an artificial divide. Your personal purpose influences your work purpose, and vice versa. The opportunity to connect how you were made and the work that you do may reveal new exciting vistas of meaning.

A company’s purpose (Why Am I Here?)  starts with its leaders and works its way through the organization. It shows up in products, services, and employee and customer experiences. It shows up in relationships with stakeholders: employees, customers, vendors, investors and more. The mindset of you were made to work and finding that work with an eternal perspective is the doorway to freedom and joy.

An inspirational purpose often lies hidden within an organization. The following suggestions will help you identify and articulate key elements:

1.      Revisit your organization’s heritage (past history). Review your personal journey

2.      Review successes. At what does the business excel?

3.      Start asking “why?”

4.      What won’t your organization do? Review false starts and failures.

5.      Talk to employees.

6.      Talk to top leaders.

7.      Talk to high performers.

8.      Talk to customers.

9.      Follow your heart.

10.   Explore Bigger Purpose Ideas – Why does God have you here?

Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, there lies your calling. ~ Aristotle

A purpose is informed by the world’s needs. When you build an organization with a concrete purpose in mind — one that fills a real need in the marketplace — performance will follow.

Ask the following questions:

·       Why does your organization do what it does?

·       Why is this important to the people you serve?

·       Why does your organization’s existence matter?

·       What is its functional benefit to customers and constituents?

·       What is the emotional benefit to them?

·       What is the ultimate value to your customer?

·       What are you deeply passionate about?

·       At what can you excel?

·       What drives your economic engine?

·       Explore how excellence reflects you and your creator

·       Explore relational opportunities created by your organization

Mission statements used to have a purpose. The purpose was to force management to make hard decisions about what the company stood for. A hard decision means giving up one thing to get another.  ~ Seth Godin, marketing expert

 

God - Give me Energy and Creative Flow

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Having a purpose provides context for all of one’s efforts, and it’s a chief criterion for “flow”—the energy state that occurs when one’s mind, body and entire being are committed to the task at hand. Flow turns mundane work into completely absorbing experiences, allowing us to push the limits of skills and talents.

Flow and commitment also create healthier, happier employees, while driving innovative thinking. To tap into full engagement, leaders must clearly identify and articulate what truly matters to the company:

·       Why are we in business?

·       What difference do we want to make in the world?

·       What’s our most important purpose?

On some level, everyone wants to live a purposeful life, yet we are distracted by societal pressures to achieve wealth and prestige. There are indications, however, that this is changing. Just as GNP fails to reflect the well-being and satisfaction of a country’s citizens, a person’s net worth actually has little to do with personal fulfillment.

It is difficult to impossible to truly inspire the creators of customer happiness — the employees —  with the ethic of profit maximization…It is my experience that employees can get very excited and inspired by a business that has an important business purpose. ~ John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market

Leadership starts on a personal level and permeates one’s function in a company, community and society. While countless books address the importance of finding personal purpose, how does it play out within an organizational context? How do you link your personal purpose and values to those of your company?

The thinking around purpose is energized when centered in a Christian context. As believers we are certain there is an eternal meaning in all we do, which of course includes our work. Remember the classic Your Work Matters to God. When we allow ourselves to see our work with and eternal perspective the possibilities are endless.

It may seem that parts of your job are mundane and insignificant. Perhaps your organization hasn't articulated their purpose, vision and values clearly enough. Perhaps you have yet to articulate your own. I see this happen frequently in the organizations where I'm called on to contribute workshops or coaching (coach4ldrs.com)

What's been your experience? I'd love to hear from you, leave a comment.

Is Your Work Fulfilling?

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In a company without purpose, people have only a vague idea of what they’re supposed to do. There’s always activity and busyness, but it’s often frenetic, disorganized and focused solely on short-term goals. There’s a lack of direction and commitment to purpose (Why Are You Here blog)

Top executives erroneously look to the competition when making decisions, rather than making up their own minds about what really matters. This lack of clarity leads to poor business decisions and failed product launches. Employees who work without purpose experience the consequences.

“Across organizations, nearly every survey suggests that the vast majority of employees don’t feel fully engaged at work, valued for their contributions, or freed and trusted to do what they do best,” reports Tony Schwartz in a recent  HBR.org blog post. “Instead, they feel weighed down by multiple demands and distractions, and they often don’t derive much meaning or satisfaction from their work. That’s a tragedy for millions of people and a huge lost opportunity for organizations.”

Lack of Full Engagement

Put simply, satisfied and engaged employees perform better. In a Towers Watson study of roughly 90,000 employees across 18 countries, companies with the most engaged employees reported a 19% increase in operating income and 28% growth in earnings per share. Companies whose employees had the lowest level of engagement had a 32% decline in operating income and an 11% drop in earnings.

People enjoy being engaged in meaningful work (Meaning Vs Happiness – Fast Company) Humans, by nature, are a passionate species, and most of us seek out stimulating experiences. Companies that recognize this and actively cultivate and communicate a worthwhile corporate purpose become employers of choice.

A major Gallup Organization research study identified 12 critical elements for creating highly engaged employees. About half deal with employees’ sense of belonging. One of the key criteria is captured in the following statement: “The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.” (TED Talk – Simon Sinek “Start With Why) After basic needs are fulfilled, an employee searches for meaning in a job. People seek a higher purpose, something in which to believe. If, in your role as a leader, you aren’t articulating what you care about and how you plan to make a difference, then you probably aren’t inspiring full engagement. This holds true for you as a leader as well. Anchoring your WHY for you as the leader will ignite your passion.

In the work I do (Coach4ldrs.com) this is a major concern for people: they either aren't sure what it is that their own true purpose is, or they are not sure what their organization's is. Coaching is designed to help people find the connection between job requirements and fulfillment and meaning. I call this your DECLARATION. What are you passionate about that will motivate you to change for your best? This is a process that creates great momentum in life and work.

If you aren't clear, ask your coach for help in finding answers. And if you need help in finding the right coach, let me know.

Why Are You Here - Connecting to What Truly Matters

Knowing why you’re here, and who you want to be, isn’t a part-time job. The challenge is to live out what you stand for, intentionally, in every moment.  ~  Tony Schwartz , author  Far from being touchy-feely concepts touted by motivational speakers, purpose and values have been identified as key drivers of high-performing organizations.  ·       In   Built to Last   ,  James Collins and Jerry Porras reveal that purpose- and values-driven organizations outperformed the general market and comparison companies by 15:1 and 6:1, respectively.  ·       In   Corporate Culture and Performance,     Harvard professors John Kotter and James Heskett found that firms with shared-values–based cultures enjoyed 400% higher revenues, 700% greater job growth, 1,200% higher stock prices and significantly faster profit performance, as compared to companies in similar industries.  ·       In   Firms of Endearment ,  marketing professor Rajendra Sisodia and his coauthors explain how companies that put employees’ and customers’ needs ahead of shareholders’ desires outperform conventional competitors in stock-market performance by 8:1.  Leaders who have a clearly articulated purpose and are driven to make a difference can inspire people to overcome insurmountable odds, writes Roy M. Spence Jr.  in  It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For.    “Life is short, so live it out doing something that you care about,” he writes. “Try to make a difference the best way you can. There’s an enormous satisfaction in seeing the cultural transformation that happens when an organization is turned on to purpose.”  This author makes some very good points backed up with real examples of some of the most effective companies in the world. In the work I do with people in organizations, so often I find that there's confusion over what's really important.  While a well-designed strategy and its effective implementation are required for business success ( coach4ldrs.com ), neither inspires followers to maintain engagement during troubled times. Purpose must tap into people’s hearts and help them give their best when the chips are down.   Don’t ever take a job— join a crusade! Find a cause that you can believe in and give yourself to it completely . ~ Colleen Barrett, president emerita of Southwest Airlines  It's up to leaders to find that spark that can light up the hearts and minds of employees at all levels. And, it's also up to each of us to find that inner purpose that's the guiding light for our energy. Purpose is an energy source that sustains us through and motivates us forward. Coaching ( coach4ldrs.com ) can help find it if you haven't already identified and articulated it for yourself. Remember God made you for a purpose. Our journey is seeking that with Him.

Knowing why you’re here, and who you want to be, isn’t a part-time job. The challenge is to live out what you stand for, intentionally, in every moment. ~ Tony Schwartz, author

Far from being touchy-feely concepts touted by motivational speakers, purpose and values have been identified as key drivers of high-performing organizations.

·       In Built to Last, James Collins and Jerry Porras reveal that purpose- and values-driven organizations outperformed the general market and comparison companies by 15:1 and 6:1, respectively.

·       In Corporate Culture and Performance, Harvard professors John Kotter and James Heskett found that firms with shared-values–based cultures enjoyed 400% higher revenues, 700% greater job growth, 1,200% higher stock prices and significantly faster profit performance, as compared to companies in similar industries.

·       In Firms of Endearment, marketing professor Rajendra Sisodia and his coauthors explain how companies that put employees’ and customers’ needs ahead of shareholders’ desires outperform conventional competitors in stock-market performance by 8:1.

Leaders who have a clearly articulated purpose and are driven to make a difference can inspire people to overcome insurmountable odds, writes Roy M. Spence Jr. in It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For.

“Life is short, so live it out doing something that you care about,” he writes. “Try to make a difference the best way you can. There’s an enormous satisfaction in seeing the cultural transformation that happens when an organization is turned on to purpose.”

This author makes some very good points backed up with real examples of some of the most effective companies in the world. In the work I do with people in organizations, so often I find that there's confusion over what's really important.

While a well-designed strategy and its effective implementation are required for business success (coach4ldrs.com), neither inspires followers to maintain engagement during troubled times. Purpose must tap into people’s hearts and help them give their best when the chips are down.

Don’t ever take a job— join a crusade! Find a cause that you can believe in and give yourself to it completely. ~ Colleen Barrett, president emerita of Southwest Airlines

It's up to leaders to find that spark that can light up the hearts and minds of employees at all levels. And, it's also up to each of us to find that inner purpose that's the guiding light for our energy. Purpose is an energy source that sustains us through and motivates us forward. Coaching (coach4ldrs.com) can help find it if you haven't already identified and articulated it for yourself. Remember God made you for a purpose. Our journey is seeking that with Him.

Your Best Tool for Preparing for Bad Times - Bring Out the Best in People

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How can busy managers bring out the best in people (Best Part 2) Nothing is as difficult as managing people in uncertain times. With the rapidly changing competitive environment and new technologies, it’s hard to keep up.

Dr. Edward Hallowell, in his book, Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People suggests five steps to help people to achieve peak performance (Bring Out the Best)

1.      Select: Put the right people in the right job, and give them responsibilities that “light up” their brains.

1.      Connect: Strengthen interpersonal bonds among team members.

2.      Play: Help people unleash their imaginations at work.

3.      Grapple and Grow: When the pressure’s on, enable employees to achieve mastery of their work.

4.      Shine: Use the right rewards to promote loyalty and stoke your people’s desire to excel.

Managing people well is even more challenging when you’re constantly putting out fires. You can't sacrifice performance in the name of speed, cost cutting, efficiency, and what can be mislabeled as necessity. When you ignore connections, deep thought disappears in favor of decisions based on fear.

These five areas of focus can help you avoid fear-based management practices. Use these five steps to identify problem areas and decide on a plan of action. In this way you creatively manage for growth, not just survival.

Lastly, in order for one to achieve peak performance, one needs to be in top shape, physically and mentally. Psychologist Sherrie Campbell, in an article on Entrepreneur Magazine, lists five habits worth cultivating that managers can suggest to help people achieve peak performance:

1.      Get enough sleep: Sleep deprivation can leave one feeling scatterbrained, foggy and unfocused. Good sleep improves our ability to be patient, retain information, think clearly, make good decisions and be present and alert in all our daily interactions.

2.      Get daily exercise: Exercise is the best way to reduce the stress that impairs performance stamina. Exercise increases our “happy” mood chemicals through the release of endorphins, which help rid our mind and body of tension.

3.      Connect for emotional support: Having healthy, loving relationships increases our happiness, success and longevity by promoting the capacity to function in life as our best self.

4.      Be unapologetically optimistic: Look for the best in every situation. Optimism is the commitment to believe, expect and trust that things in life are rigged in our favor. Even when something bad happens, find the silver lining.

5.      Create alone time: Time spent alone for reflection refuels our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual self. This is time to recharge, focus on values and purpose, and cultivate self love and respect.

“Put simply, the best managers bring out the best from their people. This is true of football coaches, orchestra conductors, big-company executives, and small-business owners. They are like alchemists who turn lead into gold. Put more accurately, they find and mine the gold that resides in everyone.” ~ Dr. Edward M. Hallowell, Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People (Harvard Business Press, 2011)

As you reflect on these ideas of sleep, exercise, emotional support, optimism and solitude remember that you and those you lead were the greatest creation of the Creator of all. There is a rhythm to life and we are given guidance on how to stay healthy, wealthy and wise throughout the Bible. The Shine ideas are good and reinforce ideas that have been around for thousands of years.

What do you think about these ideas? As always, I'd love to hear from you. I can be reached here marc@mocoach4ldrs.com  or on LinkedIn

3 More Steps to Bring Out the Excellence in God's People

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In my last post (Using our BRAIN), I talked about research from brain science psychiatrist Dr. Edward Hallowell. In his book, Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People, he suggests five steps to bring out the best in people.

I wrote about Step 1: Select (Bring the BEST) the importance of putting the right people in the right job and Step 2: Connect: the importance of trusting relationships to bring out the best in people.

Here are the last three steps.

Step 3: Play
Play isn’t limited to break time. Any activity that involves the imagination lights up our brains and produces creative thoughts and ideas. Play boosts morale, reduces fatigue and brings joy to workdays.

Encourage imaginative thinking with these steps:

·       Ask open-ended questions.

·       Encourage everyone to produce three new ideas each month.

·       Allow for irreverence or goofiness (without disrespect), and model this behavior.

·       Brainstorm.

·       Reward new ideas and innovations.

·       Encourage people to question everything.

·       Being creative reflects God in a wonderful way

4: Grapple and Grow

Help people engage imaginatively with tasks they like and at which they excel. Encourage them to stretch beyond their usual limits.

If tasks are too easy, people fall into boredom and routine without making any progress or learning anything new. Your job, as a manager, is to be a catalyst when people get stuck, offering suggestions but letting them work out solutions.

Step 5: Shine

Every employee should feel recognized and valued for what he or she does. Recognition should not be reserved solely for a group’s stars.

People learn from mistakes, and they grow even more when their successes are noticed and praised. Letting them know that you appreciate victories large and small will motivate them and secure their loyalty.

When a person is underperforming, consider that lack of recognition may be a cause. An employee usually won’t come right out and tell you that he/she feels undervalued, so you must look for the subtle signs. In addition:

·       Be on the lookout for moments when you can catch someone doing something right. It doesn’t have to be unusual or spectacular. Don’t withhold compliments.

·       Be generous with praise. People will pick up on your use of praise and start to perform for themselves and each other.

·       Recognize attitudes, as well as achievements. Optimism and a growth mindset are two attitudes you can single out and encourage. Look for others.

When you’re in sync with people, you create positive energy and opportunities for peak performance. Working together can be one of life’s greatest joys—and it’s what we’re wired to do. God created people to be creative and the experience of doing that in relationship with others creates a glue for the good times and the times of challenge.

In what ways do you encourage imaginative thinking? Are you providing just the right amount of challenge so that people aren't bored? And— this is often the most difficult for busy managers— are you providing enough positive feedback?

As always, I'd love to hear from you. I can be reached here marc@mocoach4ldrs.com  or on LinkedIn

5 Steps to Bring Out the Best in People

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How can you be sure to bring out the best in people (Reality is Our Friend Blog) If you're on a team and responsible for results, you know how hard it can be to get everyone engaged and pulling in the right direction. Energy sprays every which way and then fades like Champagne bubbles.

In my last post, I talked about research from brain science psychiatrist Dr. Edward Hallowell. In his book, Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People he suggests five steps to bring out the best in people. Here are the first two.

Step 1: Select

 To match the right person to the right job, examine how three key questions intersect:

1.      At what tasks or jobs does this person excel?

2.      What does he/she like to do?

3.      How does he/she add value to the organization?

Set the stage for your employees to do well with responsibilities they enjoy. You can then determine how they will add the greatest possible value to your organization. The resource that is the best for employee selection is a screening tool developed by Wiley. The profile surfaces how a candidate thinks, acts and what their interests are and shows alignment with successful individuals in that specific job. The odds of being the right fit increases dramatically.

This concept of right people in the right job is a way of honoring the way God made individuals. Taking the time and making the investment honors God and people.

Step 2: Connect

 Managers and employees require a mutual atmosphere of trust, optimism, openness, transparency, creativity and positive energy. Each group can contribute to reducing toxic fear and worry, insecurity, backbiting, gossip and disconnection.

A positive working environment starts with how the boss handles negativity, failure and problems. The boss sets the tone and models preferred behaviors and reactions. Employees take their cues from those who lead them.

To encourage connection:

·       Look for the spark of brilliance within everyone. Each individual is created by God!

·       Encourage a learning mindset.

·       Model and teach optimism, as well as the belief that teamwork can overcome any problem.

·       Use human moments instead of relying on electronic communication.

·       Learn about each person.

·       Treat everyone with respect, especially those you dislike.

·       Meet people where they are, and know that most will do their best with what they have.

·       Encourage reality. Reality is our friend and where we meet God.

·       Use humor without sarcasm or at others’ expense.

·       Seek out the quiet ones, and try to bring them in.

This is common sense, but we fail to use it when it is really required. When people are floundering, the last thing they need is to have their flaws and mistakes spotlighted. Instead, make sure you understand where they are at and what the real problems are.

Be generous with your time, energy, and your words. Look for what they are doing right. Most people have talent but often don't realize it themselves. A great resource for the power of encouragement is Extraordinary Influence by Dr. Tim Irwin. This book could change your life and the lives of those you lead.

This area of connecting again reflects the core of God as a relational being! God's perfect relationship of the Trinity is a call for us all towards better relationship by seeking to know others and allowing ourself to be know.

Find the spark and light the fire. Coach people to bring out their best. What's happening where you work? What do you do with your team to encourage peak performance?  I’d love to hear from you. I can be reached here marc@mocoach4ldrs.com  or on LinkedIn

 

Using the Brain God Gave to Bring Out the Best

What are you doing to bring out the best in people for peak performance ( Developing Perseverance Blog Post )? While no management guru has found the golden key to unlocking the full panoply of human potential at work, research sheds new light on the possibilities.  As far back as a 2005  Harris poll , 33 percent of 7,718 employees surveyed believed they had reached a dead end in their jobs, and 21 percent were eager to change careers. Only 20 percent felt passionate about their work.  The situation isn't improving.  In 2014, 52.3 percent of Americans said they were unhappy at work, according to a report by the  Conference Board , the New York-based nonprofit research group.  When so many skilled and motivated people spend decades moving from one job to the next, something is wrong. They clearly have not landed in the right outlets for their talents and strengths. Their brains never light up.  The better the fit, the better the performance. People require clear roles that allow them to succeed, while also providing room to learn, grow and be challenged.  Dr.  Edward M. Hallowell , author of   Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People     (Harvard Business Press, 2011), synthesizes some of the research into five steps managers can apply to maximize employees’ performance.  Hallowell refers to the five cited essential ingredients as “The Cycle of Excellence,” which works because it exploits the powerful interaction between an individual’s intrinsic capabilities and extrinsic environment. A psychiatrist and ADD expert, he draws on brain science and peak performance research for bringing out the best in people:  1.       Select : Put the right people in the right job, and give them responsibilities that “light up” their brains.  2.       Connect : Strengthen interpersonal bonds among team members.  3.       Play : Help people unleash their imaginations at work.  4.       Grapple and Grow : When the pressure’s on, enable employees to achieve mastery of their work.  5.       Shine : Use the right rewards to promote loyalty and stoke your people’s desire to excel.  The whole idea reminds me of Jeramiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”  God designed us to proper in out work and as leaders we have a responsibility to seek to understand those that we lead and make sure they are in the right spot – inspired – growing and effective.  “Neither the individual nor the job holds the magic,” Hallowell writes. “But the right person doing the right job creates the magical interaction that leads to peak performance.”  I’m curious: what do you do with your team to encourage peak performance?  I’d love to hear from you. I can be reached here at  marc@mocoach4ldrs.com  or on  LinkedIn    

What are you doing to bring out the best in people for peak performance (Developing Perseverance Blog Post)? While no management guru has found the golden key to unlocking the full panoply of human potential at work, research sheds new light on the possibilities.

As far back as a 2005 Harris poll, 33 percent of 7,718 employees surveyed believed they had reached a dead end in their jobs, and 21 percent were eager to change careers. Only 20 percent felt passionate about their work.

The situation isn't improving.  In 2014, 52.3 percent of Americans said they were unhappy at work, according to a report by the Conference Board, the New York-based nonprofit research group.

When so many skilled and motivated people spend decades moving from one job to the next, something is wrong. They clearly have not landed in the right outlets for their talents and strengths. Their brains never light up.

The better the fit, the better the performance. People require clear roles that allow them to succeed, while also providing room to learn, grow and be challenged.

Dr. Edward M. Hallowell, author of Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People (Harvard Business Press, 2011), synthesizes some of the research into five steps managers can apply to maximize employees’ performance.

Hallowell refers to the five cited essential ingredients as “The Cycle of Excellence,” which works because it exploits the powerful interaction between an individual’s intrinsic capabilities and extrinsic environment. A psychiatrist and ADD expert, he draws on brain science and peak performance research for bringing out the best in people:

1.      Select: Put the right people in the right job, and give them responsibilities that “light up” their brains.

2.      Connect: Strengthen interpersonal bonds among team members.

3.      Play: Help people unleash their imaginations at work.

4.      Grapple and Grow: When the pressure’s on, enable employees to achieve mastery of their work.

5.      Shine: Use the right rewards to promote loyalty and stoke your people’s desire to excel.

The whole idea reminds me of Jeramiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

God designed us to proper in out work and as leaders we have a responsibility to seek to understand those that we lead and make sure they are in the right spot – inspired – growing and effective.

“Neither the individual nor the job holds the magic,” Hallowell writes. “But the right person doing the right job creates the magical interaction that leads to peak performance.”

I’m curious: what do you do with your team to encourage peak performance?  I’d love to hear from you. I can be reached here at marc@mocoach4ldrs.com or on LinkedIn

 

Bring out the BEST in People

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How do you bring out the best in people? Managers want their people to achieve excellence at work. Leaders and management alike know that they can't achieve expected business results without the participation and engagement of individuals and teams.

Without people motivated for peak performance, companies will go out of business. Peak performance is defined as a combination of excellence, consistency and ongoing improvement.

To achieve peak performance, one must find the right job, tasks and conditions that match his or her strengths. Therefore, facilitating the right fit becomes one of a manager’s most crucial responsibilities. While every employee has the potential to deliver peak performance, it’s up to the manager to bring out the best in people.

This process aligns with the idea that every person is uniquely made. The leader’s role starts with valuing people because they were made in the image of God. However they are not God and leaders need to align who they are and what they do.

Disengaged Or Bored?

Disengaged employees often appear to lack commitment. In reality, many of them crave engagement. No one enjoys working without passion or joy.

While many factors cause disengagement, the most prevalent is feeling overwhelmed—or, conversely, underwhelmed. Disconnection and overload pose obstacles to performance, yet they often go undetected or ignored because neither qualifies as a disciplinary issue.

Meanwhile, managers try to work around such problems, hoping for a miraculous turnaround or a spark that reignites energy and drive. They try incentives, empowerment programs or the management “fad du jour.”

While it’s impossible to create “flow” moments all day long, any manager can greatly improve on the ability to help people achieve peak performance. Traditionally managers try various motivational methods, such as incentives and rewards, but with only temporary success.

Managing Knowledge Workers

You can’t force peak performance with knowledge workers—those employees who need to think to do their jobs. The brain needs careful management and rest. Brain science tells us that knowledge workers must manage their critical thinking skills with care.

In addition to variety and stimulation, all humans require food, rest, engagement, physical exercise and challenge. It is unrealistic to expect a human being to sit at a desk for hours and produce quality work without providing these essential elements, and more.

We often forget that thinking is hard work. When we work too many hours, the brain’s supply of neurotransmitters becomes depleted, and we are unable to sustain top performance. Without proper care, the brain will underperform—and brain fatigue mimics disengagement and lack of commitment. Brain research offers a bridge into how to design work towards higher performance

Peak performance also depends on how we feel: hopeful, in control, optimistic and grateful. We need to know that we’re appreciated. I’m curious: what do you do with your team to spark performance?  I’d love to hear from you. I can be reached here marc@mocoach4ldrs.com or on LinkedIn

 

 

Master of Godly Perseverance

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Leaders achieve success through their talent, intelligence, flexibility and wisdom. Those who overcome the odds often point to an even more powerful trait: perseverance. Have you mastered the power of perseverance?

As I wrote in my last post, (Developing Godly Perseverance)  perseverance can be learned and mastered if you make the commitment and accept the challenge. Learning means taking one small step to become proficient in the next one. No one can change his or her character in one leap. Here are two more steps to master perseverance:

Find your purpose

Many leaders lack purpose and fail to persevere in tough times. Maybe their focus is too narrow. Are you more concerned about your own well-being or the organization as a whole? Are you a limited decision-maker or a grand vision-maker? You have the opportunity to make a significant impact on many levels and on many people. Find your purpose there.

If you can’t find a way to love your work, seek ways to love the results. There’s purpose in adding value, making improvements and growing people. By deciding to be the best at something, you can have a calling with great purpose. Fuel your perseverance with this kind of thinking.

Remember, people are the ultimate “WHY” or purpose.  Align your purpose with God’s. God points us towards saving the lost, discipling the saved and helping the most-needy. Finding a bridge into these areas gives you purpose that will not only fuel your perseverance but fuel in forever.

Be positive 

A leader with a critical or pessimistic view will never muster the determination to plow through a crisis. If you lack positivity, you probably feel a force dragging you down, without understanding why. Fortunately, this can be addressed.

Become more self-aware, and catch yourself having negative thoughts or moods. Try to determine why you have these feelings, and create positive alternatives. A seasoned leadership coach (MO Leadership) can be of great benefit. Coaching accentuates the positive and leans toward it. Focus on the ways a situation can work instead of getting mired in negatives.

Foster Perseverance in Others

The best way to help your people persevere is to model optimal behavior. Develop grit and build on it. Use your authority wisely to instill organizational toughness. Developing a culture of perseverance maximizes people’s strengths and pushes them to achieve peak performance. An authoritarian approach is unhelpful, while a coaching, encouraging manner is powerful. Grasp how your leadership style comes across, and adjust to your people’s needs.

Leaders make great strides by helping their people understand that success is an accumulation of many ordinary jobs done well. They push people out of their comfort zones, giving them challenging assignments and timely feedback. Letting staff devise solutions ultimately engages them.

Organizations become persevering machines that weather the strongest storms when leaders build relationships and foster a good work ethic.

What do you think? Have you mastered the power of perseverance? I’d love to hear from you. I can be reached here marc@mocoach4ldrs.com and on LinkedIn

The journey of thinking about perseverance has helped me in my work and my leadership. In my next series I will explore: How to Bring Out the Best in People. Hope you join me as I think through the idea.

Developing Perseverance for the Godly Leader

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If you’re a leader who struggles with perseverance, you can adjust your mindset and behavior. I see this all the time in the clients I work with. (MOcoach4lrds.com) Perseverance can be learned and mastered if you make the commitment and accept the challenge. Learning means taking one small step to become proficient in the next one. No one can change his or her character in one leap so start one step at a time. The most important step is most certainly prayer. As you gain some perspective and see the gap bring that to the Lord. Areas to pray about might include: READ MORE

Harness wisdom

If you’re a seasoned leader, take stock of your experiences and draw upon what you’ve learned. Try to be more patient with long-term projects, and reject a rapid-reward mentality. Look back over your career and note what has worked and what hasn’t. Learn from past mistakes, and avoid any plans that resemble past failures.

By reflecting on past setbacks, you can see how your worst fears were probably unjustified. Likewise, future setbacks won’t be fatal, and they offer an opportunity to learn and be better prepared.

You’re better positioned to persevere when you rely on what you know to be true, rather than succumbing to feelings that throw you off course. Focus on facts substantiated by your past.

Enjoy your work

Seek work that makes use of your interests and personality traits. If you have a vivid imagination, find a position that permits you to be creative. If you love people, assume a role that allows you to foster strong relationships. If you’re analytical, take a job solving complex problems. Duties that align with your interests and values will fulfill you. These traits are God given. They are an invitation towards your best. They are the fingerprint of God you your person.

You can persevere when you love what you do. Not every aspect of your job may be gratifying, but if you enjoy your work, you’re more likely to push yourself when circumstances get tough.

Develop discipline

If you lack the discipline to stick to plans, you’ve probably encountered difficulties at work. Failing to stay the course disadvantages you and your people, who depend on you to do what’s best.

Develop contempt for complacency. Leading people is hard work. There are plenty of needs to address, even in highly effective organizations. Maintaining a well-run company takes discipline and trying to correct a struggling one takes even more. You can persevere with a disciplined approach to your duties. Keep yourself accountable, perhaps with a trusted colleague, mentor or professional coach, who holds you to your tasks, to stay on course. Don’t let yourself give up. Discipline is a character trait of a godly leader. Commit to grow in your disciplines: physical, spiritual, financial, intellectual, leadership and relational. Knowing that the most important discipline of all is the relational discipline with God. He is waiting.

What do you think? Do you struggle to persevere? How are you developing your perseverance? I’d love to hear from you.  I can be reached here marc@mocoach4ldrs.com and on LinkedIn.

 

Leaders Who Persevere

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I’ve been doing some reflecting on leaders who persevere

The persevering leaders I’ve met in business and non-profit stand out from the rest: they have a significant impact, usually without commanding the limelight or fanfare. Their energy and attitude are distinct—sometimes refreshing, sometimes demanding. They fall into several categories, each one a vital part of an organization’s path through challenging times.

The mature, seasoned leader

I wrote about this category in my last post. I have found that older leaders are generally wiser, steadier, more focused and more familiar with the causes of success or failure. With age come wisdom, clarity and more discernment over what corrections need to be made at the corporate level.

Mature leaders have greater self-awareness. They know their weaknesses and strengths, and how to fine-tune them for specific circumstances. They’re more diligent about making solid commitments and strive for the highest levels of accountability. They act responsibly and do what’s expected of them. They recognize the need for perseverance.

The leader who loves his/her work

Passion is another key ingredient for success. Blend passion with perseverance, and you’ll reap optimal rewards, notes Angela Duckworth, in Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (Scribner, 2016). Loving what you do makes you more determined and creative. You’ll experience greater curiosity and challenge yourself to make improvements. If you fuel your passion, you’ll enjoy a stable career, with an even greater platform to contribute.

Leaders with passion for their work generate many ideas, and they’re likely to see them take shape. They persevere through many attempts at achieving success, adjusting along the way.

The disciplined leader

Disciplined leaders are driven to persevere and always apply their best effort, day in and day out. They achieve a great deal, even in tumultuous times. Duckworth’s research on leadership shows effort to be a driving force that’s even more critical than skill. Many people have considerable skills but fail to persevere. The literature is rife with stories of successful leaders who didn’t have the greatest skills, but accomplished the seemingly impossible through valiant effort.

Disciplined leaders want to continuously improve and develop a skill until they’ve mastered it. They’ve learned to withstand defeats because giving up is unacceptable to them. They persevere instead.

The purpose-driven leader

Leaders who establish a purpose for their work experience a calling for what they do. They feel the need to contribute to something bigger than themselves. When their company improves because of their efforts, the results fulfill them. They benefit others, add value and enjoy the outcome.

Leaders driven by purpose don’t view failure as the larger culture does. Failure isn’t to be avoided at all costs, but is a part of learning, with no cause for fear. Perseverance is more attainable when setbacks have no effect on one’s calling. Circumstances may change, but a purpose-driven leader’s calling doesn’t.

The positive leader

Positive leaders know they can improve their circumstances. They envision a better future and wholeheartedly pursue it. They embrace challenges, knowing they’ll learn something significant.

Positive leaders see a benefit in each step taken, even when some are backward. They’re confident that diligent effort pays off, and they persevere through storms because they know there’s sunshine on the other side.

What do you think? Do you fall into one (or more) of these categories? Are you a leader who perseveres? I’d love to hear from you.  I can be reached here marco@convenenow.com and on LinkedIn

 

Which Leaders Persevere?

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Do you find yourself frequently changing course midstream, altering your goals as you go? Are you prone to disillusionment when things go awry? Do you lose interest in long-term projects? If so, you may lack the power to persevere. (Power of Perseverance Blog)  When situations get tough, your organization may lose money, people, and direction.

Alternatively, persevering leaders grow their interests and remain focused on them. Their consistent pursuit of gains moves them through the roadblocks that stymie more passive leaders. When you persevere, you’re not as bothered by setbacks or letdowns. You’re motivated to embrace and overcome them.

There are myriad business success stories about leaders who had a persevering spirit and led their companies through crisis, bankruptcy or startup hardship. Steve Jobs and Lee Iacocca had the stamina to save Apple and Chrysler, respectively, from bankruptcy. Jeff Bezos endured the long startup struggle at Amazon. Dan Hesse led Sprint out of the gaping jaws of killer competitors. Not all stories are this dramatic, but the principles of perseverance equally apply. Every company faces trials that call for persevering leaders.

Biblical leaders that persevered are numerous and brings to mind names such as Moses, David, Joseph, Job, Paul and so many more. When I look at marketplace leaders and faith leaders, I see both have a strong commitment to their big “WHY.” The sweetest spot in my life has been when the big “WHY” is a godly centered and core to an enterprise delivering an excellent product or service.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

Persevering leaders stand out from the rest and have a significant impact, usually without commanding the limelight or fanfare. Their energy and attitude are distinct—sometimes refreshing, sometimes demanding. They fall into several categories, each one a vital part of an organization’s path through challenging times.

The mature, seasoned leader

 Older leaders are generally wiser, steadier, more focused and more familiar with the causes of success or failure. With age come wisdom, clarity and more discernment over what corrections need to be made. The key here is discernment. The knowing of which way to go. The understanding that truth and evil are both always present and the leaders

Mature leaders have greater self-awareness. They know their weaknesses and strengths, and how to fine-tune them for specific circumstances. They’re more diligent about making solid commitments and strive for the highest levels of accountability. They act responsibly and do what’s expected of them. They recognize the need for perseverance.

What do you think? How easily do you connect perseverance in work with your faith? Are you prone to disillusionment when things go awry? Do you lose interest in long-term projects? I’d love to hear from you.  I can be reached here marco@convenenow.com and on LinkedIn