As personal circumstances change, self-assess and “adjust you” as a first step.

We all go through changes in life, and every change has an impact on the trajectory of what happens next. Some changes we control and some we do not, but what we can always control is how we deal with change. Just speaking from my own experience…… I remember when I was in my twenties, which was when my role at work was mostly sales related. I prided myself on being one of the hardest working and most efficient sales people, which is what I knew I had to be in order to create enough business to scale to our company to the next level. Then I met my future wife and got married at 29. Of course this was a great change, and one that made me realize I needed to make some adjustments to me and how I spent my day so that I could spend quality time with her, while not letting my foot off the gas pedal in regards to my career and our company. I knew I did not want to give up my health and at the time I was working out in the evenings. My wife is an evening person and I am a morning person, so my self-assessment was that I needed to switch my workouts to happen before she would wake up, and I would work a bit later, so that when I got home, it would be home time and no more work.

Then at 32 we started having babies. We had our first baby girl and I realized I could not work late hours any longer. I did the self-assessment and realized I needed to get my non-interruption work (working when others are not, to focus on strategy/catch up items) done before my workout, so that I could come home around 5:30 p.m. or 6 p.m., rather than an hour later. The diagnosis was that my 5:15AM wake-up time needed to shift to 4:15AM. Done.

Then….. I ran out of my own 24 hours. I had taken away most of my “me” time, while still preserving my 1 hour alone time, my workout, and my family time. There were no more efficiencies to gain; so it was either accept that the professional pace could not continue and just settle for “normal”, or stay dedicated to growth on behalf of our clients, employees, and all other stakeholders. I chose the latter which meant bringing on additional leadership (and me changing regarding giving up leadership of certain areas), who had to be like-minded with similar drive and commitment to growth. I also had to shift my focus to making sure our management team continued to be solid, growing, and have the right mindset. If I had not made these choices, we would not have grown from 46 employees to 120 in the last three years.

In summary – had I known all the personal time changes I would need to make in order to continue having the GWC (“Get It”, “Want It”, and have the “Capacity” to do it) factor, I could have really been a superstar in my 20s; life was much easier, however we don’t know that until we experience each change in life. The main point of my message is that we all control how we choose to react to change, and we should never fall victim to believing outside factors are contributing to our new capacity issues we experience, without doing our own self-assessment and making changes to our own disciplines first.

The choice can also be to not change; just be conscious about it and recognize that all the factors around you have not changed and there will be issues to address and ultimately changes you will need to make so that you can stay balanced and satisfied in life.

 

“If you want something you’ve never had you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” – unknown or maybe Thomas Jefferson

My wife and I were visiting Asheville, NC this past weekend and walked by a local shop that had this quote in their window.  I did check the source and while it is listed as unknown, some believe it came from Thomas Jefferson.

I normally post original thoughts only, but this really struck a chord and I wanted to share. As leaders we are constantly trying to develop other leaders and the ability to grasp this concept and be motivated by it is something we must see in them.  Most “good” performers need to know something has been done before and then have to be motivated to achieve the same or better results; it requires good leadership to lead good performers and we need this foundation in our organizations. But how do we find and develop other leaders who will innovate and create tremendous growth for all stakeholders?

When striving for consistent exponential growth, we must find (or develop) team members that have the capability and desire to be entrepreneurial, which is what this quote is all about.

 

Age old lesson learned from a 1st grader’s teacher…..

This morning my oldest daughter (Eloise) asked me to sign her binder to confirm that she had done her homework, and her reading assignment last night.   She had done both so I signed it and she was all set.   As I was getting ready to head into the office, my wife told me that the day before Eloise had forgotten to get her binder signed and as a result only received 1 “pom pom” which is indicative of how well they do on any given day.  It was the first time Eloise had not received the highest mark (2 pom poms) and she was devastated.  After learning this, it made total sense in regards to how eager she was to have someone sign off this morning (her mom has always done this and she was not awake yet).

My biggest takeaway as it relates to adults and the professional world is that all organizations need awesome 1st grade teacher types (Like Mrs. Dunn in Eloise’s case) as part of their management/leadership teams. The result of setting clear expectations, inspecting results, and holding people accountable is that all are given the chance to reach their own optimal success level.  Everyone needs guidance and accountability.   While it may not be a daily focus like it is in 1st grade, the best business leaders know the importance of this same concept and it can surely be exemplified by doing a review of what the best-in-class organizations are doing.

Failure to practice the same concepts as grownups is simply a failure to lead.

We are the ones who…….

  1. Make time to take care of ourselves and our families
  2. Prospect and look for new opportunities, even when business/life is good
  3. Make corrections (and be the one to point them out) rather than excuses
  4. Look for issues when none are apparent
  5. Do not allow 8-5 to be a factor in achieving our goals
  6. Celebrate and recognize the success of others
  7. Write down our goals and consistently inspect performance against them
  8. Stomp out complacency; we look for it throughout the organization, especially after big wins
  9. Understand and accept leadership risk (relying on others for success)
  10. Strive for those who lead us to not have to worry about anything under our control

Early this morning while exercising in a small hotel gym, I reflected on how fast things are moving in life.   My kids are growing up too fast; I am getting older; MCCi is growing faster than ever and our team is phenomenal.  I was reminded that balance, growth, and leadership are tough, and that a certain level of stress (each person has their own tolerance) will be present when we are trying to do it all perfectly;  The reality is that perfection is impossible and that is the reason for reflection.  Consistent adjustments are what is key.

This week I am in three different states and will be part of some very important meetings.  We are prepared, and they will go as well as they can because our team is awesome.   But what am I most excited about this week?  The daddy daughter pool day with my 4 and 6 year old daughters on Saturday.   Just as much preparation is going into that:  Early morning grocery store run, hot dogs, popsicles, all-day pool day, bubbles, games, umbrellas……..

Progress is stressful, but much less so when it is your desire / your plan rather than someone else’s

Leaders are entrepreneurial in that they create growth through ambition, research, collaboration, validation and go to market strategy.  They go to their leaders with “Here is the plan and I would like your feedback”, rather than their leader coming to them with “What is the plan?” or building out the plan for them to follow, mandating that there be a plan, etc.   You ask any leader out there if they would rather impose pressure on others to grow or have their team approach them with growth plans for collaboration and feedback, and I am confident that the vast majority will choose the latter, and that those that do the latter will rise at a much faster rate.

It is very easy to spot the plans that are built with thought leadership/passion vs. the plans that are put together as part of a requirement imposed by others.   It is not about the structure of the documents, or the fact that there is required data to include – it is more about the ownership that can be felt in the document.  It can be felt based on creativity, humility in admitting what needs improvement, strong goals, and a strong plan for executing.   Those plans are motivating to all and they can only start with the leader being passionate, putting the time in, and holding themselves accountable to producing a plan that will motivate all stakeholders and ultimately lead to growth.

Continuous incremental progress (not money) is the path to happiness.  This is why even the most successful people continue to have the the highest level drive and passion.  It gives them purpose and fulfillment to know they are better today than they were yesterday.   Once we have this fundamental belief, it is a crazy thought to let others impose the pressure for us to progress (be happy).

 

 

Be most thankful for the leaders in your life who give guidance and feedback, but who let you/require you to lead and do the work.

I remember a moment 15 years ago when I told my boss, and told him with conviction, that I realized my job was for him to not to have to worry about what I was doing at all.   My job was to eliminate the need for him to have to manage me or any part of the business I was running.   The reaction was a genuine expression of relief on his part and we have operated under that creed without wavering for the last 15 years.   The other thing it did was allow him to go focus on other ventures and continue growing (This is what I would call nirvana for a leader; to have other leaders impacting growth in an exponential way).  Another vivid memory from an event that occurred in the last 3 years was when a new and very strategic team member came on board.  That person said the same thing, except this time it was directed a me; I was relieved and rejuvenated; it is what I wanted and needed.

Managers lay out a plan and tell their folks what to do.  They inspect, coach, and make sure the results are being realized.   The team members they manage expect them to do these things, which often limits strategic thinking, leadership development, and overall growth all the way down the food chain.   Organizations really only get the boost and the growth when managers transition to leaders and have more expectations from their teams, and of themselves.  It is on the existing leaders in the organization to stop doing what they have always done, and let/require the up and coming managers/leaders take the reins.   This requires acceptance that mistakes will happen, which is alright as long as new/different inspection systems are put in place so that mistakes are not detrimental.   This also requires managers to subscribe to the leadership concept of “if it is to be, it is up to me”, and the underlying principle that their job is to make sure their leaders do not have to develop strategy, worry, or handle execution for the area they are in charge of.   It is also on the manager/up and coming leader to not let their leader do their work.   Leadership development is a two-way street, especially in high growth organizations where everyone is growing and replacing themselves.

Regardless if we are thinking about Management or Leadership concepts, everyone needs to feel supported.   Even the President/CEO needs to feel supported by their Board, Leadership Team, etc..  However, there is a huge difference when it comes to support expectations and how they differ between Leaders and Managers.  In summary, the less managing/leading you need yourself, the more of a leader you have become.

Manager’s (Someone who has not crossed the Leadership Chasm) beliefs on the type of support they need:

  • Leadership training
  • Guidance
  • Feedback on performance
  • Assistance with personnel matters
  • Assistance drafting strategy
  • Assistance creating inspection systems
  • Assistance in motivating team members
  • Accountability

Leader’s beliefs on the type of support they need:

  • Feedback/Accountability from their Leader/Board – Primarily when they ask for it.
  • Validation of the plans, inspection systems, culture/people/motivation strategy that they put together

So if you would classify yourself as a Manager or an Up and Coming Leader, who is trying to get cross the chasm into full leadership, have you looked your leader in the eye and said – “I got this and I understand and am committed to doing what it takes so you do not have to worry about my area”?  If you are not ready to say this – don’t.  And only say it if you really understand what it means to fully lead and ready for that awesome responsibility.   Also know that your leader wants you to do this, expects you to get there, and that it is your growth path.   Own it – Crush it!

Why? and Millennials

Millennials ask WHY all the time don’t they?

I find value in the characteristic of being asked why.  I also ask the question quite a bit myself and believe it is key in business.   The only challenge is when the person asking does not understand/accept the answer, even when the answer is accurate and comes from years of experience.  When this happens, I recommend putting that person in a situation where they can witness the why or even letting them them fail so that they can learn.   If not, they may start building up these scenarios in their memory log and leave the organization because they feel like they were not listened to.

A couple of other thoughts:

  • If the why question leads to an improvement to be made, we should always capitalize on those and recognize the person in a very positive way.   This makes them feel like they have made an impact and that is what they are seeking.
  • If how the person asks the why question is aggravating or too frequent, others will stop including them because they will see it as inefficient and non-productive to do so. If you have someone who acts in this way please SAVE THEM.  They just need some major mentoring in regards to their style.   They likely do not know they are coming across this way and you can make a big impact in their life by helping them correct it.

In our organization, more than 50% of our staff falls in this generation and I missed it by only 2 years.  The percentage of millennials in organizations is increasing each year and that will continue given that the youngest of the millennials is now 22 years old and they are still entering the workforce.    Given these statistics, organizations should like stop looking at the situation as “trying to understand millennials” and start thinking of it as “understanding themselves as an organization”