Power Plays – How Power Flows Part 2

So, you have choices to make when it comes to building power lines. The process of delegation is not complicated, but it is complex. There is the mixture of opinions and attitudes that must be appraised and evaluated. You need to know what needs to be done, the urgency of the task(s), the capacity of the possible delegates to handle the full range of criteria demanded by the task, their levels of competence and confidence, and your level of confidence and tolerance for error.

Once you’re ready to delegate, you have four choices:

  1. Refer the task to the right person.
  2. Whether to delegate the authority to carry out the task and make decisions.
  3. Whether to delegate the task without decision-making authority.
  4. Or whether to keep the task and handle it yourself.

The process of delegating goes like this:

Clearly define the activity

In terms of YOUR vision for the job. It helps here to paint the picture of what the completed task will result in.

In terms of the OBJECTIVES to be reached.

Define the extent of authority. You could say these things:

  1. “Look into the problem, report the facts to me. I’ll decide what to do.”
  2. “Look into the problem. Let me know of the alternatives, include the pros and cons of each and recommend one for my approval.”
  3. “Look into the problem and let me know what you intend to do. Don’t take action until I approve.”
  4. “Look into the problem and let me know what you intend to do. Plan to do it unless I say otherwise.”
  5. “Take action and let me know what you did.”
  6. “Take action, no further contact with me is required.”

Reaffirm trust. Try here to impart confidence and enthusiasm without sounding insincere.

Reveal how you will prepare them to do their job (if you will do anything – you might not need to).

Come to a verbal contract and be certain to get a verbal response.

If you’re on the receiving end of a delegated task, or conversely when you are training your associates and subordinates, these 5 things are necessary:

  1. The knowledge or skill required to handle the task.
  2. An understanding of what is requested.
  3. Belief that it is in one’s best interest.
  4. Belief that it is in the best interest of the organization.
  5. Confidence in the validity of the work.

Once you’ve set about the process of delegating and have selected the person(s) that will receive the responsibility for the job, MUTUALLY establish this:

  1. The key result area(s). This will include, the direction we want to go and an articulated vision for what the department, company, job, facility, or  whatever will be like if the key result is realized. Try to avoid defining tasks. You want to measure results not merely processes. The obvious need to observe safety criteria is implied. But when you define all tasks, and the project fails, the delegate can rightfully claim they “did everything you asked them to do.” If the project succeeds after you have defined each and every task, the delegate has missed out on the opportunity to grow and learn by having to employ skills of evaluation and decision-making. You are in the position of developing capable people which means some reliance on initiative and strength training is best.
  2. How the responsibility will be measured. You should define a way to know if you’re moving in the right direction. Constant performance feedback keeps the power level high. Let me say it again. Constant performance feedback keeps the power level high. If possible, people should manage their own feedback system. You’re trying to give jobs a way, not make more for yourself. Making others responsible for their department or task is the fast track to developing capable people. When someone does something wrong, try to let the measurement system tell them. When someone does something right, you tell them.
  3. Finally, set goals. Define and discuss devices to tell everyone where we are on the way and when we’ve arrived. You’re experienced so you already know that an effective goal must be measureable, attainable, and relevant to the task.

Ok, the power lines are beginning to go up. Next, I’ll discuss responsibility. See you in a few days. If you missed part one of “How Power Flows” you can get it here.

Keeper Trait #14 – Teach-able

showing someone howWhat is the purpose in employing associates? They are brought on board to:

Extend your reach,

Multiply your effectiveness,

Divide your work.

The principle of multiplication does not end at the first level, or perhaps I should say it needn’t end at the first level. Almost certainly some participation will be required on your part whenever you bring in another first level employee. But if your company or organization is going to grow so that your capacity to focus on what are your most critically important tasks and objectives.

So, you train and teach, but you need others who can train and teach too. Permit me to borrow a leadership principle from the New Testament that is totally non-religious in its universal application.

An apostle in the world of the early days of Christianity was a man who served as a church planter, a person who starts several enterprises in different locations. As head of those enterprises, he installs a leadership team headed by a local church pastor. Once such local leader was a young man named Timothy.

As is to be expected, the local enterprise headed by Timothy began to prosper and grow. Timothy began to struggle under the load of work that fell upon him. Paul, the apostle, knew how to handle the load and passed on the benefit of his experience.

So, Paul wrote a letter to young Timothy and said, “You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.”

The principle of reproduction is born. Your experience, knowledge, insight, skills, and the little tricks of the trade you’ve discovered have value. You can pass them on to your subordinates and associates with the full expectation that they will be able to teach their subordinates and associates.

That is what is meant by being teach-able and precisely why it is a keeper trait.

Now for a few tips about what it means to be able to teach others. Aside from the expected skills of being able to present information and techniques logically and safely, there are those attributes of mentoring that keep responsibility located upon the right people. HINT: It does you no good if the responsibility keeps falling back on you. It must be passed on to others. You receive accountability from them because they accept responsibility from you.

I recently became a volunteer counselor with SCORE – Service Corps Of Retired Executives. If you’re not familiar with that organization, they are affiliated with the Small Business Administration and assist aspiring and veteran business people with their businesses. Check them out at www.score.org

As part of their training, they have defined their mentoring methodology in an acronym – SLATE

Here is their mentoring methodology:

S – Stop and Suspend Judgment. Do not be hasty to sum up someone based on first impressions. There are many reasons why someone makes a bad impression. Look beyond them.

L – Listen and Learn. Talk later, hear first. Discover what is the problem, the challenge, the situation.

A – Assess and Analyze. Use your skills of evaluation to determine what is going on, what dynamics are at play, and then decide what needs to be done next.

T – Test Ideas and Teach With Tools. When I was a novice sales specialist at Lowes I encountered a problem with damaged merchandise and did not know what to do. When the area manager came by the department, I asked him. He asked a few questions then asked me what I thought should be done. It turns out my proposed solution was the correct one. The advantage of more people is more viewpoints. More people offer more options. Suggest ideas, use whatever tools may be necessary – charts, diagrams, tutorials, whatever!

E – Expectation Setting and Encouraging the Dream. Leaders are always developing and releasing more leadership at many levels. Use your role as teacher to keep expectations within reason and encourage others to pursue their dreams too. Never forget that we are all wired to receive signals from WII-FM – What’s In It For Me?

We are near the end of this series, just two more traits to go – Initiative  and Grace. See you later this week.

Keepers trait #4 – Personal and corporate loyalty

loyaltyYou can buy a person’s hands but you can’t buy their heart. The heart is where enthusiasm and loyalty is.

You can’t build a team without team players. Experience teaches that those who are hold a job solely for personal advancement will not be team players. They will, whenever the opportunity presents itself, choose personal gain over group gain.

Now, I am not so naïve as to think every person should be altruistic and self-sacrificing. I am not even inferring such. I am, however, suggesting that there are associates who can balance both personal ambition (not a bad thing) and build your team as well.

Loyalty manifests itself in two dimensions – personal and corporate or organizational.

A personally loyal associate is someone will have your back, not stab you in it. It is a person in whom you can place complete confidence knowing they will do what is right for themselves and right for you.

Here are the characteristics:

First, they are single-minded. They have one objective and that is to further the vision as you have defined it. I am very, very emphatic about the need for all leaders and managers to have a clearly defined vision for their work. They should know in very specific terms what will be the end result of their efforts and the efforts of those they recruit. That vision will compel those who embrace it to see how daily tasks propel the organization toward its ultimate manifestation. I wrote about this earlier here and will launch even deeper into the subject in an up-coming series. The problem is that when those who work with you have a different vision for what should be the results of their work, they cannot support your vision. Do not be uncertain or reticent about promoting your vision. It is the primary responsibility of all leaders. Managers, whose role it is to organize the efforts and activities of their group, have a sub-vision, if you will. They see how their department or group fits into and advances the vision of the entire organization. Remember this:

Two visions = Di-vision and when division exists the chance for destructive in-fighting and mean-spirited competitiveness multiples exponentially.

Second, loyal associates are not sycophants. Because they are demonstrably loyal to you and to your cause (the organization or business), they have earned the right and responsibility to speak up when they question the values being manifest, the decisions being made, and the actions being taken. Do not conclude that I ever suggest the idea of blind loyalty. It is dangerous and foolish to expect it from your associates and employees. Blind loyalty is the demand of tyrants. If someone always agrees with you they are either not thinkers or they lack courage. Truly loyal people are neither.

Third, loyal people remain when all others flee.

“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.”  J. R. R. TOLKIEN, The Fellowship of the Ring

Oprah Winfrey has observed that  “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”

Loyal associates are enduring associates. They are in if for the long haul, through thick and thin, up and down, good and bad. They possess the quality of faithfulness motivated not by selfish ambition but by strength of character and a resolute heart.

Fourth, loyalty indicates an agreement of values. People choose to associate with you and your organization or company because they respect you and your company’s values.

Fifth, loyalty works two directions. Donald Regan, former Secretary of the Treasury and Chief of Staff to President Reagan, said “You’ve got to give loyalty down, if you want loyalty up.” He couldn’t be more correct. Loyalty is a two way street. To get loyalty you will need to prove your own. Ineffective leaders see their associates as objects, devices to be manipulated in order to advance one’s purposes. Effective leaders see their associates as partners and contributors to the process, enablers of the vision who make fulfillment possible. They do what three things”

Extend your reach.

Multiply your effectiveness.

Divide your work.

(If you know those three before you read them here, it means you’ve been paying attention to my previous posts. Thank you.)

If you expect them to have your back, you’d better have theirs.


Let me end with the quote I began with:

You can buy a person’s hands but you can’t buy their heart. The heart is where enthusiasm and loyalty is.

Loyalty indicates enthusiasm, that intangible source of energy and creativity that makes the entire machine work more efficiently and effectively. You can buy time and effort. You can rent cooperation. You can neither buy nor rent loyalty. It resides within the heart of a character-driven associate.

The previously posted Keeper traits are:

 #1 – Resource-fullness

#2 – Aggressive accountability

#3 – Psychological and emotional security

#5 – Creativity, is the topic of Thursday’s post. See you then.

If you’ve been trying to subscribe to my newsletter but couldn’t…

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I have two sign up forms – one for the newsletter and another for a free ebook. Well, it seems that the captcha in the the form located on top works while the captcha in the second one down the sidebar does not. It doesn’t seem to matter which. If I reverse them the same is true. Both forms were ceated the same way and are coded the same way.

So, I have been in communication with the tech people and they haven’t figured it out yet either. So, until they do, I have disabled the free ebook. When we get it resolved I will set it in again.

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Do you sanction incompetence? 6 questions that will reveal if you do.

incompetenceTwenty six! Twenty six employees came…and went.

They didn’t quit. I let them go. Most quietly, some not so. But they left. Eventually and over time I hired, fired, gleaned and screened until I assembled a crew that could think, plan, and work without constant direction from me.

Now, I am not so naïve as to expect that employees can or should be entirely self-directing neither can they or should they function in complete independence. I have written about this here.

Depending on the competence and confidence of an associate in any particular position, the degree of your engagement as a leader/manager will vary. The farther down the scale the more participation will be required from you.

Employees/associates, depending on their experience, education, confidence, and competence will rank somewhere up and down this scale:4 levels

Lower level employees typically require more intervention and interaction with their manager. This consumes time and attention which, if too many associates demand it, the overall productivity of the group will suffer.

So, why did I hire and fire 26 people? Because none of that 26 could ever rise to the point where I could confidently let them work with an advanced degree of independence that would permit me to do what I as owner and manager have to do. I was limited in the challenge of doing what I could and should uniquely do as owner and manager because the people who worked for me could not shoulder their responsibilities without significant input from me.

I am consulting for a business now looking for ways to make it more efficient and therefore more profitable. Yesterday I had to fire the manager. After several weeks of intervention on my part he was unable to rise to the level of performance the job requires. Too many facets of the job just fell beyond his grasp. I instructed him to complete a simple task that would prevent internal theft of a certain product. The remedy would take less than ten minutes to complete at the end of the day. Nine days later it still was not being done and the losses continued.

The higher the level of an employee’s responsibility, the greater demands there are upon his line of site. He must be able to see farther and better than those who serve under him. In the circumstance at hand, the manager I recently dismissed consistently failed to grasp both the scope of work required and the detail necessary to manage the business.

Now, all this is predicated upon your ability to understand and define the demands of the job. What’s more, the following 6 tests will reveal if you are sanctioning incompetence.

Question #1 – Have you settled in your thinking and behavior that the demands and criteria you must establish are strictly business? You should possess with some reasonable clarity what will be the successful outcome of an employee’s engagement with your company. It might be easily measured by profit margins. It might be counted by widgets made in a measured amount of time. It might be, as I explained above, in the capacity to determine what needs to be done and make sure it is done. A friend once recommended that I hire a friend of his because the man was having a hard time adjusting to adult life and needed a father figure to help him along. My response? My business is not a therapy center and I am not a therapist. Therapy is costly, too costly for me (or you) to absorb just to “help people along.” You are in business, your organization exists to pursue and eventually realize the stated objectives, not provide work therapy for troubled individuals.

Question #2 – How well do you and your clients attack the problems brought to you by your customers? All businesses and non-profits are problem solving entities. We exist to resolve an issue or issues. We fix problems brought to us by our clients. This is easy to see in repair or service companies. It is less obvious in other companies but true nonetheless. In my millwork business, I educated all my employees that we are problem-solving people. A client needs something made or installed to satisfy functional or aesthetic problems, usually both, and it is up to us to do it. Further, in creating that resolution, your employees will encounter numerous problems to overcome – understanding the intent, engineering a workable design, devising a logical and safe sequence to produce the resolution, finding and sourcing the materials and components necessary to make it happen. You do not need, and cannot tolerate, excuses. You need results and that is what you pay for.

Queston #3 – Do your employees solve more problems than they create? If an employee or an associate is creating more issues than they solve, the indications that they are in the wrong position grow more pointed.

Question #4 – Do you underwrite and support work that falls short of the standard? You can excuse incompetence but you must never sanction it. Never, and I mean never rob from strength to pay for weakness. One of my more successful failures was a brief venture in a partnership. It was a door and window manufacturing company. My part of the deal was to be the front man. I did the marketing, met with clients, and sold products. Our very first job was for several windows and doors, all of hardwood. I turned the order over to my business partner whose job it was to oversee the manufacture of the products. In due time the components were delivered to the client who then called me the next day. He was not happy. I visited the jobsite and discovered why. Honestly, any high school woodshop class could have turned out a better product. I brought back one of the defective windows, set it up on the bench, and gathered the crew.

“This is what we are turning out,” I showed them the window.

They looked it over and incredibly said, “What’s wrong with it?”

I then showed them item by item the flaws and there were many.

My business partner then countered, “Well, we can’t do any better.”

“Then,” I argued, “we can’t be in this business.” Soon thereafter I sold my shares because it became very clear that the manufacturing side could not do any better indeed. In a short time the company was out of business. Be frank, be honest, be frankly honest, be brutal in your assessments of performance. Some people are excruciatingly nice but they may not be up to the job. The decisions to be made are business ones. We are surrounded by incompetence because we sanction it. Margins of error can become very broad highways for incompetence if we let them. If you are required to go back over an associate’s work, to continually monitor their performance, to run them down and demand accountability, there is a problem and if won’t go away by itself. You might be able to fix it by more training. But if you try that and fail, it’s time to make the hard business decision.

Question #5 – Do your employees or associates mistake forbearance for indifference? You may be patient, tolerant of error, slow to react, willing to invest time and effort to bring someone along. However, make sure all your associates know that your forbearance should not be taken to signal indifference. If you continually ignore poor performance, missed goals, and failed attempts, if you set a standard but do not enforce it your associates and employees will lose respect for you and exploit what they assess to be weakness. I fired the manager yesterday because I am serious about the standards required by this business and I intend to make certain they are in place.

Question #6 – Do you play fair? Demand the same principled level of performance of everyone. Never let one get away with neglecting what another is required of another. This fosters the concept that a good ole boy system is in place and truthfully, if you do favor one over another, a good ole boy system is indeed in place.

I am sure you have discovered more What principles and practices of building competence have you tried? How well did they work for you?

Does everyone who works with you understand what business you are in?

There is a story about a man in Chicago who was rather wealthy and interested in boats.  His interest was in more than bass boats. He was interested in large boats, ocean-going blue water yachts and had the money to buy them.  As he looked through a boating magazine he found one he liked listed for sale at more than $100,000.

He called the boating company to see if it was still available and when he could look at it. The time was about 4:00 pm when he called.  He was leaving later that afternoon on a business trip, however.  When the man called, he reached a receptionist who informed him they had the boat.  However, she told him, the company closed at 5:00 pm. and the office would be closed by the time he could get there.  The man was very disappointed and left on his business trip later that evening.

While the man was on his business trip, he called the boat company again.  This time he managed to get past the receptionist and spoke with the sales manager.  The potential buyer told the sales manager about the particular boat he wanted to buy.  The manager assured him they still had the boat.  They made an appointment for the buyer to look at the boat when he arrived back in town. 

While they were on the phone, he told the sales manager what had happened on the day he originally wanted to see the boat.  He related the story how the receptionist told him they closed at 5:00 pm and that, though he wanted to, he couldn’t see the boat that day. 

As soon as he hung up the phone, the sales manager called the receptionist into his office.  He asked her, “Do you understand what business we are in?  We are in the business of selling boats.  If we don’t sell any boats, we don’t make any money.  If we don’t make any money, you don’t have a job.  The          only reason that you exist, the only reason that this company exists is to access people to the boats that they want to buy.”

Incredibly, the receptionist said, “I didn’t understand that.”  She failed to understand her particular role in that company.  That she was there only to facilitate people, to access them to what it was that they wanted.  She thought that she was the protector of the phone lines.  She viewed herself as the guardian at the door.

She considered herself to be responsible.  She thought what she had done was the responsible thing to do.  It didn’t matter that it could have cost the company thousands of dollars in commissions and certainly cost them in public relations.  She did not understand her role in relation to the organization that she worked for. 

So, what business are you in? HINT: It is almost certainly problem solving. When I owned a millwork company I explained to everyone who worked there that we are in the business of solving problems for our clients. They have a need for a piece of furniture, matching trim, a custom fixture, or a place where the visual or utilitarian appeal is deficient and we can fix that problem by our design and production facilities. Continuing on with the concept, ours was a high-end business. We did not market and we did not try to compete on price. Some companies do and if that fits your business model, there is nothing wrong with that. My business model was to market to a small but well-heeled market share by producing outstanding work in a timely manner at a price that reflects the quality of component and construction our clients want and deserve.

Restaurant owners provide more than food. They provide a dining experience whether it be fast food or fine dining, they deliver for their clients the food and beverages the client wants to buy in the manner and atmosphere he wants to purchase it in.

Someone once asked the CEO of Rolex “How goes the watch business?” His answer? “I have not the slightest idea.” Why? Because he is not in the business of selling watches. Rolex and other luxury product manufacturers are selling much more than the product the consumer buys. They sell the cache’ that their product has come to represent.

In the 1950’s luxury car manufacturer Packard abandoned their cache’ and began selling just cars. In less than 5 years the company was gone.

In the 1970’s General Motors, headed at that time by an accountant, thought they needed to be in the business of selling a cheap car. What the consumer wanted was an inexpensive car. GM produced some of the worst cars in its history in those days because they lost track of what their business was.

What business are you in? Take ten minutes right now and write out your definition of your business. For help, here was mine at my millwork business: To provide for our clients outstanding work delivered in a timely manner at a price that reflects the quality of components and construction our clients want and deserve.

Next, are you certain that everyone who works for you understands what business you are in? If not, how will you bring them up to speed?

Please pass this along to someone you know that could benefit from it?

9 tasks of leadership, Task #9 – Renewing

refreshThe public is hungry for the newest and greatest. Advertisers know this and are quite good at hyping the new and improved features of products. The public will shake loose money if they think there’s a new wrinkle in something they want that will somehow make their lives better or at least more interesting.

But what works well with consumers and keeps them coming back to the store does not always work so well with producers. People who work in systems – retail clerks, salespeople, managers, factory workers, associates, anyone who actually does the hands-on work that makes fulfillment of your vision possible – need two things.

First of all, they need clarity. They need to know where the company is headed and how their role in the big gear box of your company’s (or department’s) machinery enables the machine to actually go somewhere. Admittedly it is a challenge to educate and inspire each member that their participation is vital. Lowe’s Home Improvement Centers instituted a bonus program that pays quarterly bonuses based on a matrix scored by several components that demand participation throughout the store. Everyone from the department managers down to those who handle incoming freight are supposed to be inspired. It hasn’t worked all that well because those employees who virtually NEVER interact with customers (shipping clerks, inner office personnel) cannot SEE how what they do has anything to do with what everyone else does.

I have used the work clarity because it really is a visual experience. You as leader have to see how the pieces fit together and how the machine runs AND the people who work with you have to see where they are going, how they get there, and how what they do (or don’t do) either advances that cause or retards it.

Secondly, they need consistency. Jerking things around strips gears. It wears them down and makes them so they won’t mesh (interpersonal conflict, friction, and stress) and it degrades their efficiency (takes more fuel and effort to get the same amount of work done). If you keep coming out with a new vision of the week, you will confound and dismay those who are responsible to make the latest vision into reality. Changing course quickly and often puts stress on the entire structure. Stress cracks will begin to appear after time and far more maintenance will be required. This can only mean more work for you and since one of your objectives is to create less work, you are working against yourself.

So, you ask, what does this have to do with the task of renewing? I began this article as I did by showing you what renewing is NOT! Renewing could also be termed refreshing in the sense of keeping the vision of your company, department, or group fresh, vital, and appealing. It happens when you tie everyday activities to the intermediate and ultimate objectives. It continues when you do this on every available occasion. As often as you can, tie “then” with “now”…clearly and consistently.

Here are 3 things you can do:

1. Let people grow. People change, their abilities increase, their attitudes develop, and their reasoning matures. Let them know you know.

2. Tell people you appreciate them and their efforts. You may have told your significant other you love them ten years ago but they want to hear, and you need to say it more often. The job gets old when you associates begin to feel their efforts are underappreciated and that their contribution is taken for granted. And make it specific. Tell them exactly what and how. Saying “You’re doing a good job” is ok. Saying “You handled that Morgansen job especially well is much better.”

3. Use graphs, charts, and accurate visuals to demonstrate how the associate’s performance and that of their group has contributed to the overall effort. People see far better than they hear. It takes time on your part but pays really big dividends.

What ways have you seen that renew the energy and enthusiasm your associates have or once had for their job? How clearly and consistently are you handling your job?

Who do you know that could use the information in this article? Pass this on the them and do them the favor of helping them become even more effective.

9 tasks of leadership, Task #3 – Capitalizing on motivation


Adam36 - http://www.stockfreeimages.com/
Adam36 – http://www.stockfreeimages.com/

Motivation cannot be readily created by a single, isolated act. Motivation can be unlocked, channeled, and maintained, but you cannot create motivation that endures from a pep talk, a monthly award, or a company newsletter.

People are motivated or they are not. Wouldn’t it be helpful to have a motivational act you as a leader can perform that would work like an energy drink? It’s been tried but it takes much more than that to make motivation stick.

Most skilled leaders know that the secret is to capitalize on the motivation that intrinsically exists within their associates and keep the fire burning. It is far, far easier to perpetuate motivation than it is to initiate motivation.

Why? Because motivation is much more personal and individualized and requires far more effort than bromides of enthusiasm can ever hope to unleash or perpetuate.

Motivation is the result of successful encounters with the exigencies of life. Victory begets victory. Failure sets us up for another one. Few people rebound readily and quickly from failure if the preponderance of their experience has been failure. Few people tackle new assignments with vigor if their past ones were not successful. So, you have to grab enthusiasm where and when it exists then do what needs to be done to keep it going.

Here are 5 keys to capitalizing on intrinsic motivation:

  1. Do what you need to do to comprehend the hopes and fears of your associates. Some are universal, most are personal. Let me say again that motivation is very, very personal. There are general principles to be sure, but each person runs on their own blended fuel.
  2. Appreciate bread and butter needs. For some, the need for the next paycheck is paramount. For others, their energy comes from more intangible assets like job satisfaction, admiration for their boss, or helping people solve problems.
  3. Appreciate the need for security in a broad sense, i.e., confidence in the group they work for and with to solve problems. A major retail corporation recently announced a comprehensive modification of the way it does business. It was going to bring the company into the 21st century with a capital investment in technology. The news was met with cynicism (motivation’s negative counterbalance) by the company’s employees because the company had been promising an updated computer system for over five years and failed to produce even a minor advancement. To support their commitment to the future, the company spent multiple millions on I-phones for the sales floor. The problem was the I-phones worked worse than the old wireless phone system. Soon, employees were carrying both I-phones and the new phones. Then, the company installed credit card swipe machines at sales desks throughout the store in major departments. With great fanfare the machines were introduced, but they wouldn’t work. It seems the company could not work out the technological side of connecting the machines to the store’s computer system. They kept revising the date when the machines would become operational until they finally announced that they had no idea when they would get them to work. Every employee saw the non-functional machines setting on the desks every day, reminded that the company had yet again failed to follow through with its big promises. Confidence by the associates in the group’s ability to solve its problems plummeted and remains virtually non-existent.
  4. Comprehend your associates’ longing for a good future. They have hitched their hopes, ambitions, and dreams to you and your organization and have every right to expect that the future will be better than the present.
  5. Inspire confidence by being upfront about reality. One manager completely de-motivated his sales staff when he announced that the company was cutting sales commissions and retaining any earned vendor spiffs by saying “This is a positive move going forward.” The associates not only faced a reduced paycheck, but now considered their boss to be out of touch with reality.

When associates lose confidence, it provokes images of defeat and failure, helplessness, and self-contempt. Any and all of those emotions deflate motivation. The result is employees who go through the motions but bring little more to the job than their physical presence.

The direct result is incapacity to summon energy and creativity in the pursuit of purpose. Associates demonstrate an unwillingness to take risks which yields a fatal timidity to act when moments of opportunity break. They will move less meaning you will have to move more.

The most common response when negative attitudes arise is bureaucratic defensiveness with the result that the entire system rigidifies. A stand-off  brings the whole movement to a stop. Those who had been committed to their job and their company and more than enthusiastic about making the company a success (because the company’s success translated into personal success) now abandon that notion.

So, the most effective approach is to not go down that road at all. Remember that every person on the face of the earth is wired to WIIFM – What’s In It For Me? It is your job as leader to channel that righteous self-interest in such a way that BOTH their interests and yours are fed.

Barrier #3 – We Have Preferences Because of Our Personality

relayraceEvery person is a blend of attitudes, opinions, gifts, and experiences. There are open people who will readily reveal things about themselves. Others who are more closed would not tell someone very near them. Some are quite direct and to the point. Others can be so indirect that some consider them devious, even scheming and conniving. If you are open and direct, indirect and closed people will find you forward and threatening. If you are indirect and open, others will wonder why you don’t get to the point and focus on the topic at hand. If you are indirect and closed, others might consider you to be devious. If you are direct and closed, others will likely consider you to be solitary and hard-driving.

In the grand setting of leadership and life, no personality style is superior to another nor is one more effective than another. They’re just different. People of every personality type achieve success and enjoy effectiveness, but the really successful and effective ones have done two things.

First, they have accurately identified their personal manner and style, understood what advantages they lend and what disadvantages they offer. They learn, hopefully sooner rather than later and easier rather than harder, that the personality they brought with them from birth through adolescence both propels them forward and holds them back.

Second, successful people add to themselves those who will supplement their strengths and compensate their weaknesses. Only secure, confident people can do this. They identify what they will need before they qualify whom they would add.

The upshot is that you will likely be able to relate well to only about 25% of those you work with.  (Check back to this post for a real-life example of how this syndrome manifested itself in a real-life setting.) The problem comes when we don’t recognize this as a fact of life and take action to compensate for it.

I do not think you can correct it. You are who you are by virtue of the personality your encoded genetically and by the training you received as your matured. With some knowledge of your personality type and management preferences, you can adapt…somewhat. In an earlier post I addressed the differences between Y and X style leadership, first identified and articulated by Douglas MacGregor. This calls for an adaptation of your APPROACH to managing tasks in any given set of circumstances. As an intelligent and self-aware person, you should have little challenge managing this.

But the large set of behaviors that make up your overall personality which manifests itself all day every day is another story. Those behaviors are written in the code and cannot be readily rewritten. So, accept that as a fact and do what must be done to compensate for it. This series is dealing with the four barriers to extending your reach so that you are able to find and address the limits of yourcircle of concern circile of concern which doubtless extends well beyond the circle of your abilities.

Knowing what those limits are is a start. Accepting those limits as you would accept any set of conditions is progress. Doing something intelligent and appropriate is great progress.

Here’s a common mistake. When leaders add people to their strategic staff, they often add people who are just like they are. Those staff additions are people with similar personalities and temperament. Why do we add people like ourselves?

Because we are comfortable with them. We understand them. We like them. But that will not readily extend your reach! Surely, they can do more things because they are another moving body. But they cannot do things necessarily differently and better than you can, just more of the same.

You will want to add people who possess skills and traits that complement yours but not simply duplicate yours. The idea is to get more done, yes. But it is also to get everything done. And that demands people with additional skill sets and personality traints. They can reach people that you cannot easily and comfortably reach. They can motivate and connect with others who might find your personality uncomfortable to be around (admit it now, there are those who just don’t like you and that’s not because your an unlikeable person).

We call personality and skill deficiencies SHORT-comings because they cause us to fall short of where we want to be. Longer reaches require others who can make up for those short-comings. So, identify yourself. Use plain and accurate terms to detail who you are, what you can readily do, and who you are not and cannot readily do.

List out the skills and traits that compensate your own generous set of skills and traits. Find those people and bring them on board. Hear’s a caution though. Find people who possess the maturity to COMPENSATE you not COMPETE with you. In no uncertain terms define what you are ddoing with them, why you have selected them to compensate, and what you expect.

Monday’s post will reveal the final barrier to extending your reach. See you then.