Leadership Lessons: Success and Fatal Flaws

3 Flaws That Never Get Talked About

Fatal Flaw

There is so much glitz and glamour that comes with that power-word “success.” It says “You’ve made it!” And “From here on, life is good! Right?”

Well, no… Not so fast…

The biggest distraction to success is all the stress and anxiety that sits like a weight in the pit of the stomach that often comes with the territory. It has to do with the worry that it will all disappear tomorrow, the next day, someday.

Falling From Grace

You know the saying:

The higher they go the harder they fall?”

It’s a warning to watch out, be careful because you never know when the party is over.

How about this saying:

“Don’t rock the boat.”

This tells you to play it safe and not take too many chances, especially once you have the houses, the cars, the perks.

Keeping Your Grip

So many films show the fall from grace; quickly going from success to the gutter. Why is this amorphous thing that we all covet, called success so tenuous to grab and to hold?

Partly because once success hits, there is a tendency to hide the fear by acting over-confident. You get used to being bowed to, applauded, and respected by folks who only know you by reputation.

They never see your uncertainties, hesitations, and inadequacies.

  • But what explains the unsettling tendencies for success to be so tenuous and difficult to support?
  • What are the enemies to success?
  • What causes a strong journey to fail along the way?

Take a look at these recipes to sabotage success.

3 Fatal Flaws

Here are the 3 Fatal Flaws that never get talked about:

1) Entitlement

Paradoxically, many people do not feel entitled to success.

Stupid idea? Perhaps.

However there is a sense that many successful people have, the “if they really knew me syndrome.” That thought of being in a masquerade, being seen as more than one really is, waiting to be “caught with pants down” often is a fatal flaw that sets up the fall down the slippery slope to failure.

You see so many times we have these self-fulfilling thoughts and deep in us we would rather be right than to be happy!

Doesn’t make logical sense, yet in the emotional parts of the brain, it is exactly correct and makes total sense.

2) Loyalty

Another flaw is loyalty spawned from generational expectations. This is where we look at success in terms of our lineage to understand benchmarking and standards. Consider this line of thinking:

If it is good enough for my parents and grandparents, then it is good enough for me.”

That is a set-up to not be capable of going beyond the level of the family, often for generations and generations. It means that if no one ever went to college, well you may be able to wear that cap and gown, but don’t ever expect to get the top job.

Or, if you do become the top dog, expect the fall from success to come along eventually. “After all, one shouldn’t stray too far from living at the level of the rest of your family.”

Does this make sense? Not really. Does it happen often? Absolutely.

3) Patterns

We all play roles in our families that become familiar ways to stay safe and accepted. Often these patterns show up when we are tense and anxious. When stress hits the hot button, we all tend to revert to childhood patterns that were there for security and survival.

These patterns may not be effective in high level positions, yet there they are making us look like we have spilled a bowl of oatmeal on our shirts.

So, if you think you’ve been acting like a baby, you’re right!

Now you know the flaws to watch. Take the time to understand and work on these areas of entitlement, loyalty, and patterns. By bringing to light these often invisible forces you can harness and refine them so that you will continue to build on success after success and leave a powerful legacy for future generations.

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——————–
Dr. Sylvia Lafair, Business & Leadership Coach

Sylvia Lafair, PhD. is President, Creative Energy Options, Inc.
She does Workplace Relationships, Conflict Resolution, Exec Coaching & Consulting

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Improve Your Team by Developing the HERO Inside You!

Be The Hero

Real heroes don’t really wear capes or have supernatural powers. In the real world, HERO’s are simply ordinary people who choose to respond to a set of circumstances in a way that inspires others. And it IS possible to develop the HERO inside you.

But before you can lead others, you must first learn to lead yourself.

That’s how you develop into a HERO.

The Hero Inside

There are battles inside you that go on every day, and those battles are the reason that you haven’t accomplished as much as you promised yourself you would back on New Year’s Eve. Internally, there is a part of you – a HERO – that wants to succeed and has strong values and great ideas and when you wake up it is your best self that is energized and bold and determined.

Friedrich Nietzsche called it the Übermensch. The term, loosely translated, means “superhuman.”

But your best self, your internal hero, has enemies…

  • Every day your HERO has to wage a battle against distractions, and disappointment, and disparagement.
  • Every day he has to struggle with ghosts of regret or monsters of misfortune.
  • Our history, things that happened in the past.
  • And our experiences, things that happen to us and around us, can sometimes seem devastating.

Fighting Your Battles

Imagine being a recently divorced woman, caring for a 3-month old daughter, forced to go on welfare after losing her job. Those would be hard battles to fight! And even though those circumstances and experiences are dangerous adversaries, they are not as powerful or impactful as our internal response to them.

If we respond poorly, we experience more painful outcomes. We become victims of our own negative responses. 

People, and teams, are not victims of circumstances. They only feel this way when they do not develop and use the HERO within them.

Winning the Battles Within

Too often our internal HERO’s greatest threat is our own fear, or contentment, or excuses, or doubts… those deceitful soldiers that protect the walls of our comfort zone.  And it is amazing what sometimes we can allow ourselves to grow comfortable with.

But if you want to develop the HERO within you and accomplish your ambitious goals, you have to:

  • Exile your excuses
  • Dump your doubts
  • Crash through that comfort zone that has caged you

The HERO Formula

So, what separates the average man from Nietzsche’s Übermensch?

The answer is a simple equation.  H + E x R = O

History + Events x Response = Outcomes

We cannot control our history… or the events that occur to and around us. But we CAN control our RESPONSE to them. And no matter what the first parts of the equation are, OUR RESPONSE DETERMINES THE OUTCOME!

To get something different, to feel something different, to become something different, you will have RESPOND differently!

I offer team building for teachers, for athletes, and for corporate groups that inspire unity and boost morale, but the key to any group’s improvement is each individual within the group claiming responsibility for their response to the history and events around them.

The HERO Attitude

Remember that single mother we imagined above? Well that was J K Rowling, author of the famous Harry Potter series.  She developed her HERO because she decided to choose a positive response to her circumstances.

We cannot control our circumstances.  But we can control our responses. Regardless of the circumstance, we get to choose our attitude and our actions. We can develop a victim attitude and spiral down, or the kind that J K Rowling did and ascend far beyond expectations.

And if you keep a good attitude and take appropriate action consistently, those habits will lead you to accomplishing the goals you have set for yourself.

But your focus must be on changing the equation with a quality response. The world is not going to change  and we remain victims as long as we are waiting on someone or something else to change for us.

Becoming a HERO

So, how does one become a HERO? Commit to responding to your history and your experiences as your best self. Remember, you cannot choose where you were planted – but you CAN choose to bloom there.

Want to improve your organization and inspire team development? Want to improve your family?  Your community? Your workplace? Then develop the HERO inside you. Your example and responses WILL impact others. Whatever your history or experiences, your response to the events you experience will determine your teams success.

So how are you responding to your past and current situations in life, at work, and in your community? Are you mentally stuck in the past and still paying a heavy price? If so, WHY? What steps can you take today to reprogram your responses so that you can get those superhuman results and lets the HERO soar? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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———————–
Sean Glaze

Sean Glaze is Speaker, Author, Coach, and Facilitator at Great Results Teambuilding
He delivers Engaging Events that Transform Laughter into Lessons
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Real Leadership! Are You Ready? (Dog Ear Publishing, 2013)

Real Leadership! Are You Ready?: Rethinking and reframing personal and organizational potential and performanceAs Leadership goes, so goes the group, the organization, the nation, and everything else in between.

Yet in spite of this multi-millennial axiom, and the simple fact that we are the best leadership-educated society in the history of business, our encounters with genuine leaders remain extremely rare.

Real Leadership! Are You Ready? examines this perplexing phenomenon and qualifies the principle cause as an unwillingness and/or inability to take new leadership information and use it to improve our performance.

It also provides the solution: a Leadership Enrichment LIFE-cycle (LEL-c) to help individuals and organizations build and sustain durable Leadership Platforms.

More About the Author Here

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——————–
Richard Dillard

Richard S. Dillard is Founder/ Managing Partner at Dillard Partners, LLC
Pursuing Success at the Speed of Leadership!
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L2L Infographic: 10 Qualities of Great Community Leaders

Infographic Courtesy of Wake Forest University’s Master in Counseling

 

Why Great Leaders Value Reputation Before Revenue

How to Put Principles Into Practice

Reputation

In 1996, I walked away from my first million-dollar client. Anyone looking at my company’s profit and loss statements would have questioned my sanity.

We were less than a year old at the time, and this was by far our highest-profile customer. I made this seemingly crazy decision because I value my company’s reputation over its revenue.

Making Business Decisions

Many leaders rely on Excel spreadsheets to drive their decision-making. They think something is only worth doing if the numbers add up and the price is right. My company, on the other hand, uses a set of five core principles to gauge every business decision it makes:

  • Employees come first, always.
  • Work as a team; win as a team.
  • Reputation comes before revenue.
  • Commit to safety.
  • Make it happen!

Our big client didn’t share any of these values with us. Further, he was overly harsh with my team members and set unrealistic expectations. Our weekly status meetings with him became sources of dread because it didn’t matter how well the previous week went; it was never good enough.

The entire office’s morale suffered, and I had to make a decision:

Do I put my principles first, or do I put my revenue first?

I quickly realized that if I put revenue first, there didn’t seem to be much of a point in having principles. If I sacrificed our core values in the name of profit, how could my team ever respect me or our values again?

The decision became easy — we walked away.

Money is Fleeting. Reputation is Forever

As leaders, we’re often tempted to compromise things — be it ethics, principles, or happiness — to maximize short-term profits. While compromise might immediately boost our portfolios, it doesn’t necessarily help build our reputations.

I’d argue that a company’s reputation is all that really matters, and having a good one is the only way to ensure long-term success. It’s the reason my company has so many great clients today, and it’s the reason they constantly refer new business to us.

This is a philosophy that was instilled in me during my youth in the Midwest. We had a folksier way to sum it up, though:

Pigs get fat, and hogs get slaughtered.”

Everyone has a right to a living, but greed yields guaranteed downfalls — and I’m not interested in being a hog.

Staying on Course

The benefits of this approach aren’t just lasting. By removing immediate profits as sole drivers of business decisions, you’ll no longer be tempted to veer your company off course to accommodate difficult clients with deep pockets. This will solidify your brand as a stable, upstanding, and moral institution — and that reputation alone will drive your growth today and tomorrow.

The great corporate scandals of the world (think Enron) typically involve companies that value short-term revenues over all other considerations. And what does that earn them? Bankruptcy, bad press, and prison time.

Putting Principles Into Practice

Having personal principles is one thing, but having company-wide shared principles that guide every level of decision-making — from the corner office to the reception desk — is something that requires practice, patience, and communication.

Here are a few tips to help you instill this reputation-centric mindset into your company:

  • Provide mentorship and coaching. Look for opportunities to mentor, coach, and train your employees to make sure they have clear understandings of your company’s core values. Show them what it looks like, and feels like, to do the best quality work in your industry while maximizing your company’s reputation.
  • Ask great questions. There’s a management style called “inspect what you expect” that involves asking your employees quality questions to ensure the things you want completed are, in fact, being completed. It’s a low-impact form of oversight that’s more trusting and less stressful than full-on micromanagement — and it will help you determine what’s going on outside the walls of your office.
  • Align expectations. Meet with every employee and client to make sure they understand what your company is all about and how you got to where you are. Also provide them with a list of your core values, as well as specific examples of those values in action. This will give everyone a clear understanding of what to expect, and it will also show employees how to exceed expectations.
  • Make happiness your success metric. Don’t look at your bottom line to assess whether your company had a good year. Instead, look at the quality of your work, the happiness of your employees, the contentment of your clients, and the state of your recurring

Don’t let that one difficult, deep-pocketed client turn your business into something it isn’t. If you stay true to the values near and dear to your heart, the right clients will find you.

So, do you have a client or supplier that has dramatically different values than your organization? If so, would you give them up despite the cost to save your reputation? How important is your reputation you? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————–

Steve Randazzo is the founder and president of Pro Motion Inc
He builds deep emotional connections with consumers to create lifelong relationships
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On Leadership, Threats and Operational Security

Navigating Cyber Insurance for Your Small Business

Hacking Threats

A few years ago, a small business in San Diego was hit my malicious cyber attacks over the internet that were launched from local IP addresses.

As they were protected as much as they felt they could be, they contacted the national carrier to deal with the denial-of-service component of the problem.

Too Small to Service

After going through several levels of management, the answer that they heard was that the carrier gets about 10 million threats per day on their network and it is pretty difficult to assume that they would be given some kind of priority as a small business to have your problem explored.

Understanding that type of threat, which was simply a script being run through several zombie computers, can escalate to actual specialists trying to actively access your Internet information was enough to drive the owners towards looking at specialized business insurance that could keep them safe from liability.

What is Cyber Insurance?

The most common way for small businesses to get protection is to first ensure that they have as industry security compliance on their cloud presence as possible. After they have done so, they can look at cyber insurance. Cyber insurance is a form of insurance that covers almost any type of business attack from hacking to data breaches.

If you lose a client’s data or valuable data of your own, you can recover some of your losses or offset the liability with an insurance claim. Some forms of coverage also cover the loss of work time due to denial of service attacks.

Small companies are fortunate that almost 90 percent of the policies that are available provide coverage to companies inside the United States. Another nice feature is that the bulk of the policies can be priced by getting insurance quotes online.

Preparing to Get a Policy

As mentioned, upgrading or validating that you have industry standard security compliance is an important part of qualifying for cyber insurance. If you have an online e-commerce site, you should have encryption, a good hosting provider, and potentially a third-party service that verifies your site security.

The cost of preparing for cyber insurance can be a consideration for small businesses, so if you are just starting you might consider talking to cyber insurance representatives about the requirements that they have so that you can focus on meeting their criteria.

Another area that comes into play is knowing the type of coverage that you think you will need. If you store client credit cards online in a database, you will likely focus on a different type of coverage than if you are a company that uses a third-party payment processor’s site to process transactions for published material that carries copyrights.

Are They Really Out There?

A lot of smaller companies have not formerly had too many problems that they know of when it comes to the information that they keep online. Two trends are changing that picture. The first trend is one that has more businesses relying exclusively on computing in the cloud.

The second is that security researchers are finding pieces of data from every size company imaginable online in what is known as the Internet ‘dark’, or an area that people use to store information that may be for sale. Gone are the days when hackers were exclusively interested in finding ways to beat security or promoting a cause. With billions of people online, the focus has shifted to money and information.

New Operational Threats

As far as attacks are concerned, in addition to outright hacking and employee theft, there are a couple other types of attack that are growing in popularity.

  • One is stealing the anonymity from people and putting together a trail of behavior that can be used as business intelligence.
  • The other is creating boiler rooms that are information clearinghouses of stolen data that goes on the market to whichever organization or person that will pay for it.

The net result for small businesses is a competitive disadvantage for their online offerings unless they have adequate security- and potentially some insurance protection in place. For the small business owner who hasn’t recently checked their security arrangements, 2016 is a great time to start looking at turning a disadvantage into a sales advantage by validating the notion that your client and internal data is secure.

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———————
Robert Cordray

Robert Cordray is a freelance writer with over 20 years of business experience
He does the occasional business consult to help increase employee morale
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On Leadership, Communication and the Personal Touch

Why Leaders Still Needs the Personal Touch In Today's Digital World

Digital channels like email, instant messaging, social media, and video conferencing can make communication within a business a lot easier easier.

It can allow leaders and teams to keep in touch with the office even if you are on the other side of the world.

However, it is important to realise that these methods cannot completely replace face-to-face conversation.

The Power of Person

Indeed, speaking to someone directly offers several benefits that cannot be recreated digitally. Personal communication remains the best method for delivering crucial information. If you need to get an important point across, inspire your workforce, handle a sensitive issue, or move people to action, face-to-face remains the best way to effective communicate.

This is why leadership training should still contain a strong direct communication element.

This article looks at some of the reasons why a good leader in the digital world still needs the personal touch.

The Personal Touch

Personal Relationships

Despite the obvious convenience aspect of modern digital communication methods, a significant part of leadership involves forming personal relationships with the people you are leading.

This is much easier to do when you are in the same room as them, talking to them directly.

Furthermore, direct conversations allow you to give people your undivided attention. If you are on a video call, or using an online messaging system, you may become distracted by an email or by having multiple communication channels open at once.

Talking to someone on a one-to-one basis lets them know that you value them enough to drop everything else and allows more authentic, individual connections to form.

The importance of forming meaningful connections with your employees is often emphasised in management skills training and it is significantly more difficult, if not impossible, to do that through an electronic device.

Clarity and Nuance

One of the primary advantages of digital communication is said to be speed. And indeed, when it comes to simply getting a message to someone else, it can be extremely quick. However, that speed can be counter-balanced by a lack of clarity, ultimately making it less efficient than face-to-face conversation.

Mina Chang, CEO of Linking The World explains it this way:

It’s easy to misinterpret a text or email. For sensitive or otherwise important communication, having tone and body language for context makes a difference.”

Research shows that effective communication relies on non-verbal cues. Generally, digital communication removes these, along with nuance, increasing the chance of misinterpretation. Tone, for instance, cannot be conveyed through email or text messaging, while even video communication impacts upon the ability to read body language.

Sensitivity

Throughout their leadership career, people will encounter a number of serious or sensitive issues, which need to be dealt with carefully. For example, they may need to address an employee’s personal appearance, deal with a complaint about workplace bullying, or give a staff member a strong verbal warning about their conduct.

Dealing with such issues face-to-face demonstrates your personal commitment to reaching the best possible outcome. It helps to foster a greater level of trust between you and the employee in question and it is the best way to ensure that their dignity is preserved and your message is clear.

Reactions and Feedback

Finally, leadership often relies upon feedback and the ability to gauge reactions accurately, which can be done more easily through direct communication. You may notice hesitations or changes in facial expressions, which can act as a cue for you to develop points further or ask for opinions.

This ability is inevitably lost through digital communication channels.

Employees like to feel as though they are valued and their contributions to discussions matter. Once again, it is easier for them to make contributions during face-to-face conversations, which allow for interruptions or deviations.

Moreover, people pay closer attention and participate more actively in conversations if the person they are speaking to is actually present. This is partly because they are also aware that that person can pick up on their reactions.

So, what can you do to make your communications more effective by making them more personal? How can you create environments that make it easier for all team members to communicate confidently with personal tones and calm body language? What steps can you take to evaluate how you come across to others? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————–
Alison Brattle

Alison Brattle is a marketing manager at Uk Based Company AchieveGlobal
She specialises in providing Exceptional Leadership Management Courses
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Employee Development: Who Should Take Responsibility?

Training Development

Having been on both sides of the manager-employee equation, I sometimes wonder who should take responsibility of an employee’s growth and development.

This because I am a firm believer of self-awareness and constant growth of an individual.

Finding the Way

The process of identifying a development area and then working on it is now ingrained in me and I consciously work on it. However, some aspects of an individual are harder to identify and work on, than others. Some habits if not identified and worked on in the nascent stage can become an annoying trait.

These annoying traits can come back to bite an individual in the most crucial times.

I believe that in addition to an employee taking responsibility for their growth, managers should also take the time to give timely and appropriate feedback. Levitt LLP will help you with your employment law or labour law issue.

On Strengths and Weaknesses

Of all of my personality traits I have worked on over the years, some were easily identifiable by me. However, there were a couple of weaknesses that if not pointed out by my manager, I would never have identified the root cause and possibly never worked on them.

From my experience, each and every aspect of an individual can be worked on by carefully identifying the root of the problem and then coming up with appropriate steps to correct it. Having an understanding mentor or coach is the key to this process especially for those problems that are harder to work on.

Sometimes a couple of different solutions may have to be tried before one can completely fix a problem but the key is to keep trying.

Performance Reviews

What I have often seen is that most managers (if not all) dread when the time comes to giving performance evaluations to their employees.

This begs the question why?

  • Evaluating an employee’s performance should not be such a fearful process.
  • After all aren’t managers are also supposed to be coaches for their direct reports?
  • Isn’t annual review the time for employee growth and development?
  • Shouldn’t performance evaluation be the time where managers can be proud of their coaching skills?

Well, there is only one explanation of why this happens. These managers don’t give direct feedback to the employees all-year-round and wait for the yearly performance evaluation cycle. Some companies conduct mid-year evaluations. Even if companies don’t mandate a mid-year performance evaluation, managers should make it a habit to give feedback to their employees throughout the course of the working year.

Be Wise, No Surprise

Another important aspect of the review process is that any feedback should not come as a surprise to the employee at the performance evaluation time. If the feedback is a surprise, it would certainly make the process difficult and dreadful.

Coaching employees is one of the most rewarding skills for a manager and they should make it work to everyone’s advantage.

I would urge all managers to not let any annoying habit fester in an employee. Help them identify the root cause and work with them to correct it. It is quite possible that they may not be fully aware of the issue and simply need an empathetic guidance.

Source: Labor Law Compliance Center

So how are you doing at identifying your personal and professional needs for growth? And better yet, how well are you doing this same thing for the people that you lead? What can you start doing TODAY to provide the helpful feedback your people need to help them learn, grow, and develop better performance? I would love to hear your thoughts!\

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Aditi Chopra
Aditi Chopra is an experienced leader in the software industry
She is a consultant, writer and a leader
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Imaginary Leadership (Part 2 of 2)

Ending the Persecution of People, Productivity and Profit

Empty Suit

Many leaders may be imaginary, but the pain, problems and privation they cause to people, productivity and profit are all too real!

In part one of the two-part series, I compared the profile of Imaginary Leaders to that of Real Leaders—a distinction with a profound difference—and introduced what I consider to be the top three practices of Imaginary Leaders:

  • The persecution of people by proxy
  • The persecution of productivity by process
  • The persecution of profit by policy

Now I want to spend some time breaking these down a bit, so they’ll be easier to spot for Real Leaders and those who endeavor to make the transformation to Real Leadership.

Persecution of People by Proxy

A “proxy” has the authority or power to act as a substitute and, in this case, it is the Imaginary Leader playing the part. It could also be the Manager who confuses his roles and supplants Real Leadership with Managership. In either case, the persecution of people occurs when their:

Personal strategies related to aspirations and conduct

Interpersonal strategies related to one-on-one interactions with others

And organizational strategies related to using systems, structures and resources to influence the thinking, behavior and performance of others actually promote a defensive/unadaptive operating culture.

Punishing Pratices

I’ve written elsewhere about these types of unhealthy cultures and the damaging effects they have, so I won’t go into detail here other than to reinforce the idea that they devastate people through the Leadership-Culture-Performance Connection.

Below are a few of the more popular punishing practices that emerge in a cause-effect layout, along some ideas on alternatives for your consideration:

Personal

  • Withholding information from someone who could learn, change and grow from it or could actually fix/ improve the system as a result of having it.
    • Effect: “An individual without information can’t take responsibility. An individual with information can’t help but take responsibility.” – Jan Carlzon
    • Alternative: Follow Meg Wheatley’s advice in Leadership and the New Science: “…create much freer access to it….everybody needs information to do their work….it is no wonder that employees site poor communication as one of their greatest problems. People know it is critical to their ability to do good work. They know when they are starving.”

Interpersonal

  • Using fear to manipulate performance (e.g., annual performance/ merit review, management by numbers/ objectives, as well as outright threats, intimidation, bullying, etc.) or allowing fear to be propagated by others.
    • Effect: Personally, fear is an extremely limiting emotion. According to Dwoskin in The Sedona Method (Chapter 3), it is just above Apathy and Grief in the hierarchy of suppressed emotions, limiting our energy to the point it is mostly painful. Organizationally, it creates loss from “…an inability to serve the best interests of the company through necessity to satisfy specified rules, or…a quota” and “…where there is fear, there will be wrong figures.” – Deming, Out of the Crisis (Chapter 8).
    • Alternative: Deming suggests driving out fear (Point # 8 of 14, Chapter 2) through embracing new knowledge—to discover by calculation whether performance deviations are out of control with respect to other conditions—for improving the system and also eliminating annual performance appraisals/ merit reviews (Deadly Disease #3, Chapter 3).

Organizational

  • Applying extrinsic motivators, otherwise known as reward and reprimand or “carrots and sticks.”
    • Effect: Destroys intrinsic motivation and any value in the work itself, as well as pride and joy in workmanship.
    • Alternative: Commit to removing the demotivators (e.g., micro-managing the down-line, telling them that their “job is to make you look good” and holding them accountable for things they can’t control) and barriers to successful work that exist. Use the Deming/ Scholtes-style of MBWA—not just walking around, but knowing what questions to ask and stopping long enough to talk to the right people and get the right answers (e.g., Genchi Genbutsu or Gemba)—as a strategy for finding out what those demotivators are. This “go and see at the real place” approach will provide feedback from the voice of the customer (i.e., the employees) and the voice of the system (i.e., the process) that will invariably require something the leader must work on improving, whether related to him/her self or the system.

Stop and ask yourself this:

To what extent am I relying on these strategies as part of my personal leadership platform?”

Then yield to an awareness that produces learning, acceptance that produces change, action that produces growth and achievement that produces new levels of Real Leadership.

Persecution of Productivity by Process

The persecution of productivity (and I include quality and competitive position in my use of the term) occurs when Imaginary Leadership doesn’t understand the work that they or their down-line are responsible for and, as a result, can’t do much of anything to measure or improve performance.

Deming once quipped:

If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you are doing.”

He also said in The New Economics:

We should work on our process, not the outcome of our processes.”

The Heart of Quality

As Scholtes taught in principle number two of his six Principles at the Heart of Quality:

Leaders must understand their systems, processes and methods in terms of capability and variation. Data gathered on the variation of systems and processes over time will help leaders understand the characteristics of work performance in their organization.

When managers don’t understand the variation inherent in their systems and processes, they make themselves vulnerable to some serious problems:

  • They miss trends where there are trends.
  • They see trends where there are none.
  • They attribute to employees–individually or collectively–problems that are inherent in the system and that will continue regardless of which employees are doing the work.
  • They won’t understand past performance or be able to predict future performance.”

Understanding Process

But how many leaders today still don’t understand processes—not to mention the system; what Deming defined as “a network of interdependent components that work together to try to accomplish the aim of the system—or, if they do, still focus more on process outcomes (results) than on the process (effort) itself?

This isn’t a hard question to answer. Just check to see how many of your current metrics are defined around outputs vs process or inputs. Better yet, just think about where you spend most of your time.

Is it truly on understanding characteristics of work performance like variation around materials, methods, equipment/ machinery built into the end-to-end process or on trying to improve certain outcomes of a sub-process (usually by focusing on the attentiveness, carefulness and speed of individual workers) that you know “the boss” is going to ask about?

Deming would again suggest that this invariably leads to optimizing the sub-system at the expense of the total overall system.

Persecution of Profit by Policy

This may seem harsh, but research and reality suggest that, as mission and operating philosophy (e.g., goals, strategies and policies) emerge as part of any organizations maturation and development process, ways of people relating to each other and their work are collated into a comprehensive framework of “the way to do things,” and much of that operating philosophy is not conducive to improving financial performance.

The persecution of profit occurs when Imaginary Leadership continues to deploy policies that constrain organizational value-creation for customers, whether related to innovation, quality/ service, speed or cost.

These include policies that are intended to govern/ control who, what, where, when, why, how and how much a company purchases in products/ services, attracts/ trains/ retains talent, measures/ improves performance, et al., and the outcomes typically effected include things like teamwork, turnover, earnings/ sales volatility and net profit after taxes (NPAT).

For what to do instead, I’ll simply refer the reader to an article on The W. Edwards Deming Institute Blog by John Hunter: Nobody Gives a Hoot about Profit, which includes an incredible video with Dr. Russell Ackoff about Values, Leadership and Implementing the Deming Philosophy.

Ending the Practices of Persecution

It is not going to be easy, but it is worthwhile. It starts with changing your point of view and I’d refer the reader back to Continual Improvement (CI) in part one of the two-part series. This commitment to transformation must come from you, personally…there is nothing anyone else can do.

Personal transformation can’t occur without your permission. It is a choice, and herein lies a danger that both Deming and Drucker pointed out. It is not mandatory. No one has to change. Survival is, and always will be, optional.

Choose wisely!

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Richard Dillard

Richard S. Dillard is Founder/ Managing Partner at Dillard Partners, LLC
Pursuing Success at the Speed of Leadership!
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Leaders: You Do Not Need to Be Nice to Be Kind

Kindness is not softness, it is not weakness, and it doesn’t always have to be nice.

In fact, sometimes kindness requires you to be tough and direct. I have seen the misinterpretation of this word negatively impact many organizations.

Leadership Mistakes

Leaders, in an attempt to be kind, move under-performing employees from position to position in the hopes that they will finally succeed or at least survive. Others allow deadlines to pass without repercussion or avoid having that fierce conversation that is needed in order to drive improvement and productivity.

Many of these leaders have adopted this style of kindness out of a reaction from working with or for a tyrannical ruler. They have witnessed how ineffective fear is in motivating people and driving an organization forward.

However, in an effort to be the antithesis of what they witnessed, they too have become ineffective.

Some are just new to their leadership role and worry about being liked. They lack the self-confidence needed and therefore, spend much of their time trying to please who that work for them.

But, neither of these is true kindness.

Leadership Wisdom

People need to understand where they stand, how they need to improve and what is at risk if they don’t.

Kindness requires empathy, honesty and trust. It means that at times you must be a mirror, reflecting back to a person the impact of their habits and behaviors.

Feedback, constructive criticism and accountability are all forms of kindness. People need to understand where they stand, how they need to improve and what is at risk if they don’t.

Leadership Looking Glass

It means that at times you must be a mirror, reflecting back to a person the impact of their habits and behaviors.

It may be counterintuitive, but letting someone go from their job could be a great act of kindness. For that individual, it very well may be that you are releasing them from the pain of being in the wrong job, giving them the freedom to finally pursue one that better fits their skills.

It could also be that difficult but teachable moment, where someone with a sense of entitlement finally realizes in fact they are not. Although no longer employed by you, they are now much better prepared for their next employment opportunity.

Maybe most importantly, it is an act of kindness to the rest of the organization.

It can be so demoralizing to be hard-working, a driven performer and not see those who aren’t be held accountable for their lack of performance.

Leadership Courage

When we care about others, we don’t want to be the cause of any pain or suffering.

No one relishes having difficult conversations or enjoys taking tough action. When we care about others, we don’t want to be the cause of any pain or suffering. But, avoiding those conversations and failing to take the needed action can be far more damaging in the long run.

Not only damaging to that individual, but also, to the efficacy of your own leadership and to the organization as a whole. Kindness requires that you push past your own discomfort and insecurity to take the needed action that best serves the interest of the company you help to lead.

You do not need to be nice to be kind. But, you must make people feel heard, cared for, valued and respected.

It is also essential that you always act with integrity and honesty and, that you have the conversations and take the action needed to best serve the organization you represent.

If you do all that, you are in fact a kind leader.

Remember: You do not need to be nice to be kind.

Thanks for reading.

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Elliot Begoun

Elliot Begoun is the Principal Consultant of The Intertwine Group, LLC.
He works with companies to Deliver Tools that Enable Growth
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