Sunday, August 31, 2008
I agree with Marshall, with a twist. Sure, I think it's great to do what you love until you can't do it anymore. And, I'm not sure we need to set any deadline on that. In my coaching practice I've used the hedgehog concept from Jim Collin's work (Good to Great)to help executives, especially Boomers find their next playing field.
In fact, the other day when talking to a bunch of senior police executives I asked them to draw three intersecting circles. I suggested that in the first circle they place anything that good at now and could become world class with practice and development.
In the next circle, I ask them to look at that list (good-to-great list in the first circle) and put in the second circle only the ones that they're passionate about. Note: many of us are good and could be great at things we just don't like all that much...like driving a car or conducting audits (UGH).
Then in the final circle, I asked them to look at the first two circles and figure out a financial model (a fee process/schedule) that will make them a decent salary if they were to perform the other two circles well. In other words, answer the question: How can I make a living at the other two circles?
If you spend time on this process, the chances of finding something you can love for the rest of your life are pretty good. If you can only fill in the-good-to great circle and the passionate circle (but not the money one), then you have a HOBBY...not a bad thing either.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Saturday, August 16, 2008
John Kotter, professor emeritus of the
- Establish a sense of urgency.
- Create a guiding coalition.
- Develop a vision and a strategy.
- Communicate the change vision.
- Empower employees for broad-based action.
- Generate short-term wins.
- Consolidate gains and produce more change.
- Anchor new approaches in the culture.
Successful companies tend to be complacent and do little; companies that raise a false sense of urgency run around like chickens with their heads cut off—frazzled; only those companies working off a true sense of urgency tend to produce change that matters. Kotter further explains that complacent and under-fire companies are too focused on the internal (strengths and weaknesses) and very little on the external threats and opportunities. If you’ll recall the well-known strategic planning mantra S.W.O.T (Strengths, Weakness,
You’ll need to read the book for the valuable detail that Kotter provides. The following is a cursory overview:
- Bring the outside in (connect to the customer and the world outside the corporate walls).
- Behave urgently every day (make urgency—not anxiety or anger—part of the culture focused on external opportunities and threats).
- Find opportunity in crisis (be careful but look for opportunity in the midst of any crisis).
- Deal with the NoNos who block change (neutralize and remove those urgency-killers, who will keep the group in a deadly complacent static state in an ever-changing world. Healthy skeptics are not a threat, but the NoNos are).
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
- "Our chief want in life is somebody who makes us do what we can." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
- "When two men in a business always agree, one of them is unnecessary." Unknown
- "Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions." ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
- "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." ~Elmer Letterman (who?)
- "Chance favors the prepared mind."~ Louis Pasteur
- "Personally, I'm always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught." ~Winston Churchill
- "When you hire people who are smarter than you are, you prove you are smarter than they are." ~ R.H. Grant
- "Learning is a willingness to let one's ability and attitude to change in response to new ideas, information and experiences." ~ Peter Vaill
- "The significant problems we face cannot be resolved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them." ~ Albert Einstein
- "Over the long run, superior performance depends on superior learning." ~Peter Senge.
Friday, August 8, 2008
If Wooden decided to be a CEO, he would have been one of Jim Collins good-to-great leaders. Instead, he chose to teach others to become leaders.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
For many new leaders, there's a real urgency to hit the ground running. We all want to impress our new bosses that we have what it takes to make change, turn a profit, and succeed. After all, isn't that why we were hired? Well, yes and no.
CEOs and senior executives, the good ones, want us to succeed but not at the expense of the culture—especially if the company is doing well. Successful corporate leaders expect (but don't always tell us) a leader who will respect the corporate culture, figure out what it is, and make changes accordingly and appropriately.
In his book, The First 90 Days Michael Watkins warns against this run in and start changing everything, action imperative. A friend of mine and CEO of a large association conducted an informal survey with key executives on his mailing list. This fellow is a former headhunter and political insider in
I just had lunch with a senior FBI executive, who told me exactly the same thing. He said that baring emergencies or things that are just plain broken, he wants one of his new CEOs—called Special Agents in Charge for the field offices of the FBI in every major city in the county—to be people who listen and “respect” the culture of the office.
So, there you have it…three smart people telling us the same thing. Stop, look, and listen.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Self awareness—good for personal and business decision making. Self unaware people and leaders tend to chronically handicapped by not being able to control the amygdala make poorer choices. Such people have diminished cognitive capacity because, especially in amygdala hijacks, the brain only focuses on the threat and can do little else.
Social brain theory—what happens when two or more people connect mentally and get attune to the internal state of others. Mirror neurons…discovered by Italian scientists mapping neurons when monkey raised its arm. One day they noticed that the arm raising cell fired when monkey not doing anything…except when the researcher ate ice cream…monkey’s brain fired. Social brain operates unconsciously. Social brain knows when a conversation is over, or another is angry…mirror neurons sense the state. There’s emotional subtext.
Humor: Top leaders laughed three times more than other leaders. Mirror neurons seem to be at work here in a brain-to-brain humor dance. And top leaders seem to get how this works and use it effectively.
Rapport: Physiology of two people in rapport…if rapport is off physiology, is independent and unaligned. But when in sync, rapport results and both are in full attention, non-verbals choreographed, and if feels good.
Meditation (based on studies) has been found to be a way to develop the Pre-Frontal Cortex. Meditation strengthens this regulation part of the brain so you can build capacity to control amygdala hijacks, and when we meet with stress. The story of the experiment with a meditative monk and the confrontational professor is worth listening to. The monk was so calm in the debate that he actually calmed down the professor (both were wired for physiological measurement). So, if we can develop and strengthen the controlling section (left side) of the Pre-Frontal Cortex through meditation—we can spread calm and rationality.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
1. Promote yourself: Don't get stuck trying to do your old job. Let go and move on and don't assume what got you here will get you there (what Marshall Goldsmith's latest best seller is all about).
2. Accelerate your learning: Get systematic and focused about learning first things first (akin to what Stephen Covey also suggests)
3. Match strategy to the situation: Diagnose whether the new challenge for the transitioning executive involves a Start up, Turnaround, a Reorganization, or Sustaining Success (STRS). This is a critical distinction make by the author.
4. Secure early wins: Grab the low hanging fruit of success to set the tone of a successful tenure with virtuous relationships and not vicious ones (John Kotter—a Harvard Professor and change icon talks about this a lot in hit books on change, including Leading Change).
5. Negotiate success: Your new boss is your critical connection to the organization. Understanding and meeting his or her needs and expectations, style and energy is important if only for survival purposes! Get consensus on your 90 day plan and life will be a better place.
6. Achieve alignment: As a high flyer in an organization, you need to assure alignment with your approach and the corporate strategy (Covey chats about this a lot in his later books).
7. Build your team: Most new executives inherit teams. The key is to keep the right ones and jettison the wrong ones (remember Good to Great—Jim Collins research taught us to get the right people on the bus and the wrong ones off it).
8. Create coalitions: Whether it's Survivor, prison or the corporate boardroom, you need to figure out your critical supporters early on to survive and thrive. Don’t ever forget both peers and subordinates as critical to your success.
9. Keep your balance: Change causes stress, which causes imbalance. Trying to stay true to core relationships is important—family, work and yourself. To me the old serenity prayer holds true here—God grant me the courage to accept the things I cannot change; to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
10. Expedite everyone: Again—you live in a 360 world surrounded by a living organism called the company. It’s your primary job to adapt to the corporate culture. On the other hand, people around you will also be adjusting—help make it easy for them, especially make it easy for them to like you and see you as part of the organism and not a threat to it. Remember what organisms do when they feel threatened--they form antibodies and reject the new cell!
The editor of the Harvard Business Review interviewed the leading scientist in human relations, John M. Gottman. At Gottman's laboratory in Seattle, the editor learned some insights that are not only good for saving a marriage but also may have some direct impact on the workplace. Made famous in Malcolm Gladwell's popular book Blink, Gottman can predict a divorce with 90% accuracy if he watches people argue together in his laboratory. In a nutshell, here's what Gottman relayed about relationships:
"Successful couples look for ways to accentuate the positive. They try to say "yes" as often as possible. That doesn't mean good relationships have no room for conflict. On the contrary, individuals in thriving relationships embrace conflict over personality differences as a way to work through them." Gottman adds that "Good relationships aren't about clear communications, they're about small moments of attachment and intimacy. It takes time and work to make such moments part of the fabric of everyday life."
So, if you're married or not, at work or at home, you might want to think about saying "yes" more often than "no" and taking the time every day to pat people on the back, ask about their families, or give them a high five.
Check out the entire article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review, p.45, "Making Relationships Work." It's worth reading and passing along.
Marshall Goldsmith, the country's leading executive coach, writes in the foreword of Steve Gladis' new book,
The Executive Coach in the Corporate Forest:*
"Many executives have heard about executive coaching but don't know what it actually looks like. Through this business fable, The Executive Coach in the Corporate Forest, Steve Gladis has given such inquiring executives a clear picture of the entire executive coaching process from start to finish. I enjoyed all the fictional characters with their own quirks and issues, many of which I've seen in my own Fortune 500 clients. Steve has done an outstanding job, and the next time someone asks me what executive coaching is all about, I'll say, 'Just read The Executive Coach in the Corporate Forest.' "
* Author proceeds go to the Northern Virginia Community Foundation.
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