A Friday thought for parents/leaders – Thank you Bob Goff

A Friday thought for parents/leaders – Thank you Bob Goff

I shared in my last blog about Bob Goff’s guarantee of answering his phone when called. I called and here is what it said “You have reached Bob Goff. I am sorry but I am in a place where I don’t have cell service. Please email me at bob@bobgoff.com and I will get back with you promptly.” So I did and here is what I asked:

I asked:

Your final call to action was Love Does – So what do I do?  Our oldest son graduates in the spring and my wife and I have been coming along side him to support him in making a successful jump to work and life after college. I know you have been in this situation, so what advice would you give us about what we can do to help his transition?

Bob’s response:

Our son is just out of college too. We keep telling him about who he is, and I bite my lip before telling him what to do.  There’s a lot of “You’ve got this!” happening, and not a lot of “Here’s what you need to do.” It’s kind of hard because you and I do know what our kids should do, but having the confidence of a father is better than all the advice.

For leaders – What if, as leaders, we focused on showing confidence and providing support vs direction and oversight?

For parents – What if we practiced some of the same things at home that we do at work?

Finally, Bob provided a guarantee that he did not hit, after all, he did not answer the phone like he promised. Yet he gave me a reasonable option and followed up as promised (< 5 minutes). I could have called out his error, maybe even went so far as to point out the hypocrisy of his promise. That would have taken energy and framed my relationship with Bob as an adversary. The cost of doing that would have been in missing some good advice that has the potential to take me much farther in a role that I cherish – father.

Don’t be afraid of what guarantees might cost you, but have the courage to move the balance of your focus on what they tell the world about you. There will always be ‘gothch’ customers, and over time a guarantee could be a way to ask them to go away.

I am still a fan of guarantees, and I have EOS® (entrepreneurial operating system® to thank for that.  I am now a huge fan of Bob Goff, and it is because of a guarantee and the conversation that happened because of it. Thank you Bob!

Listen . . . Lead/Parent. Repeat often!

(ps. Bob Goff approved me sharing his advice – and responded to my request within an hour. 🙂 He gets it!)

What’s your guarantee?

What’s your guarantee?

Every business does not have a guarantee. But should you?

Less than half of all businesses have a guarantee, and when I work with EOS® clients this is hard for them to do, because once you say it people might use it. Here are some guarantees that came to mind for me:

  • USPS has a guarantee on overnight shipments
  • Buffalo Wild Wings has a 15-minutes or it is free for lunch
  • Our local running shop, Gazelles, will accept shoes for return after you run on them if they don’t fit right
  • Bob Goff gives his phone number at the end of his book, Love Does, and guarantees he will answer

I use a strategic planning system my business called the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®) that I also use the clients. EOS® has a guarantee I use for the rest of my business – No contracts/No pay guarantee: If our work together does not meet your expectations don’t pay me. If it does, pay me when we are done.

Here is the thing about guarantees:

  • They tell people what you are serious about
  • The commitments make you better at what you do because you focus on meeting that pledge
  • It provides immediate feedback for something you need to fix

My personal experience is that I am focused on preparing with my client for planning sessions because bringing value for them is my guarantee, and it takes work. But it is work that I believe in, and making it fundamentally makes me work at improving my capacity to deliver excellence every time I work.

I think it is a question I will start asking all leaders – What do you guarantee to your team? Your peers? Your leader?

What are you willing to guarantee?

fyi – I called Bob Goff and he picked up. 🙂

Tip: Instead of asking your people what their guarantee is, ask:

  • What are the communication standards that guide you? (answer in terms of preferred method and timing of responses)  
  • When I work with you how will I know it is going well?
  • How will I know if it is not going well?

Imagine the power of everyone on the team answering these, putting them on the wall, and then determining a standard for working together? That is a guarantee.

 

 

 

Will you be my mentor? 4 Steps to make this effective.

Will you be my mentor? 4 Steps to make this effective.

I was talking to a group of graduate students and the question was asked, “What advice would you give to someone about finding a mentor?”

I asked the follow-up question, “How many of you have ever had a mentor?” 

Less than half of the hands went up. So I started at the beginning because, from my experience in working with learners of all ages, I knew most of them (even the ones with their hands up) were missing some key knowledge they needed to create a great mentoring experience.

Mentoring is a personal growth and development strategy where a mentor supports the mentee by sharing resources, expertise, values, skills, perspectives, attitudes, and proficiencies.

 

The short version –

Mentoring is finding someone smarter than you and learning from them so you get smarter faster.

 

As I work with leaders of high growth companies, I encourage them to find people who have faced the same challenges they have faced and learn from them. I do this because as a consultant and coach, I need them to own their development and find people to help accelerate their development.

I believe that in growth transitions (double-digit growth or moving into a new leadership role), there is tremendous opportunity for growth and tremendous risk. Having a support team around you in those transitions that is focused on your development is critical. I am confident in what I can do as a coach or consultant, and I also know I cannot do it all. Encouraging mentors is my way of asking for help without eroding their confidence in me as a consultant and coach.

Here are the 4 Steps for creating a positive and productive mentoring experience:

  1. Identify what you are trying to learn or what problem you need help solving.
  2. Do some research: Who do you know that has the knowledge or experience that you are seeking?
  3. Determine who is the best fit and how long you think it will take to meet your objectives.
  4. Make the ask by reaching out (or being introduced); be ready to provide this information:
    • What input/expertise are you looking for?
    • Why are you asking them?
    • What is the time commitment? (guide is 1-2 hours a month for 3-6 months or until objectives are met)

Recently, I reached out to a friend who is about 10 years ahead of me in consulting. I am reaching a point where I need to run my business differently to continue the growth I have experienced in 2016. I followed these steps, we had two sessions, and I left with a pretty big assignment: analyze my time and use it to create filter on my work in 2017. In this way, I can focus on the most important things, find help for some things, and say no to other things.

My commitment was to follow up with her by the end of the year with my progress. In my experience of mentoring dozens of people, this follow-up is the #1 missed step. Remember, at the heart of every mentor is a desire to help. Follow-up lets them know how they helped and demonstrates our ability to follow-through on commitments. It is also a fundamental belief/value of my business:

Learning + Doing = Growth

 

Whether you are a leader charged with developing your team, an HR leader supporting questions around development, or an individual that is committed to mastery in what they do, mentoring is probably the most powerful and accessible tool to help achieve your outcomes.

Here is a document I share with coaching clients to help them build powerful and positive mentoring relationships.

Lead well . . .

The ONE question leaders should answer hourly

The ONE question leaders should answer hourly

In the next week, I’ll be publishing a list of 5 books I recommend for leadership book clubs. A new addition is my favorite book this year: Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith. Here is why.

I believe that great conversations start with a question. Marshall Goldsmith asks some great questions in his book Triggers.

Some of the best:

  1. What is the most memorable change you have made in your adult life?
  2. Did I do my best to set clear goals?
  3. Did I do my best to make progress toward my goals?
  4. Did I do my best to find meaning in my work?
  5. Did I do my best to be happy?
  6. Did I do my best to build positive relationships?
  7. Did I do my best to be fully engaged?
  8. Am I willing, at this time, to make the investment required to make a positive difference on this topic? (called AIWATT for the rest of this post)

There are many reasons I love this book, and the main one is the author’s sharing of powerful questions that he has accumulated in his career as an executive coach. This post will focus on the significance of question #8, and how you can use it as a leader.

In a recent EOS quarterly, a leader shared a learning – “When we set goals, we need to make sure we set them so we can be excited about them and use that energy to complete them.” That is a powerful learning, and something that every leader needs to be thinking about when they accept a To Do or a Rock (quarterly goal). The AIWATT question is the action to ensure this happens.

Remember my 5 Tips for Managing Your Career and Performance? The first tip is Own It, and it is my way of saying what Goldsmith does by posing this question to us. If you answer No to AIWATT, then some other conversations need to happen.

This brings me to a second belief I have – Leadership is about honest conversations that lead to thoughtful actions and improved performance. One of the powerful outcomes for me from Triggers is that, as a coach, I need to always be focusing on creating space that allows honesty to happen, because that is the hard part. In my experience, thoughtful action is the easier part.

Two myths that leaders need to remember:

  • We need to love 100% of our work. There is an eastern adage: Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.  After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. Here is an example: I don’t like confronting people I don’t know. However, as president of an all-volunteer athletic booster organization, one of my roles is to call volunteers who have made commitments and are not doing the work. It is my job and the team depends on my doing it – so I do it because I have to, and make sure I overbalance it with other tasks I enjoy doing.
  • We have to do 100% of our work. Delegating pieces of our work to others who have more talent/passion for that work is fine. Just don’t always pass on the hard conversations, and tell them why you are asking for their help – because they are better at it/more passionate about it.

Let me propose two actions:

  1. For EOS leaders: Teach the AIWATT philosophy. As you go through the To Do list, ask people to answer the AIWATT question with the caveat that if the answer is No they acknowledge who they will ask for help – or that I will Own It (and use those words). *Note: Make a note for anyone answering the latter, and follow-up with them one-on-one to do some micro-supporting.
  2. For individuals: Put an AIWATT on two post-it notes and stick one to your computer screen and one to your phone for a week. Ask yourself that question continuously during meetings, when you answer emails, and when you do any morning/evening quiet time. After a week, do 5 minutes of personal reflection with the question, “How did AIWATT impact my leadership this week? Of myself? Of others?” If this reveals something for you that you need to bounce off someone, just call me and we can do a 15-minute coaching session: 616-405-1018.

I believe . . . great conversations start with a question.

 

Leadership is . . . having honest conversations that lead to thoughtful actions and improved performance.

 

Lead well . . .

Micro-manager or Micro-supporter? One tip for starting the change.

Are you a micro-manager or micro-supporter?

A leader recently admitted that she did not stay close enough to a new leader and let them make decisions that were harmful to the business.  Her thought was that she needed to direct the next person more in the beginning. Expensive lesson, and one that will make her a more effective leader.

Micro-managers . . .

  • Direct the work even if the person has (or should have) the capacity to do it.
  • Sometimes say (and always think) “If I want it done right, I need do it myself.”
  • Consistently lose the people who want to lead and keep the people who want to be told what to do.
  • Are either over-involved or not involved – they have no self-control for meddling.

Micro-supporters . . .

  • Ask for the details of the plan because they either, a) Are building confidence in someone’s decision or, b) Want to see the details so they know how they can help.
  • Frequently meet with their people to brainstorm, problem solve, and delegate.
  • Know when to say “I need to take this,” and don’t do it often.
  • More often say – “Let’s work close on this one because it will be good learning for you and me, and it is important enough that two brains should be working on it.”
  • Have teams of loyal, hard-working, energized people that know they have a great leader and don’t want to leave.

If you are not sure which one you are, just look at your teams and the significance of the problems that get solved when you are not there.

The good news is, you can change.  Pick someone who gets their job, wants their job, and has the capacity to do it and do more.  Tell them what your intent is (support vs do their job) and ask for help.  Then start practicing.

If you don’t get what it looks like, read the New One-Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard.  Then start practicing.

Wait Not – Waste Not

Wait Not – Waste Not

I attended a leadership team meeting for a company that started 15 minutes late.   Half the team was there on time and the ninety minute meeting ended up taking two hours.  The team laughed about it, and yet during the meeting they spent a considerable amount of time talking about waste around spending and labor costs.   The leaders all scampered off talking about the meetings they were now 30 minutes late to.

In the age of lean thinking waste has become a focus.  While the focus is often financial and physical waste, the waste to our organization of waiting is often overlooked.  Think about the impact of waiting on your organization and the opportunity generate waste in the minds of the people around you.  Ever thought this?

  • John is late again, his department must still be a mess. Is he the right leader?
  • Well, if the boss does not view this as important why should I?
  • We can’t make a decision until she arrives – another example of her micromanaging style.
  • All I can think about is being late to my 2pm stand-up with my team – I would vote for any solution now so I can leave.
  • If I share my opinion it will just make this meeting longer.
  • Just another reason why we should only meet once a month.

While it might seem counter intuitive, the biggest part of an effective strategy is building the discipline to meet weekly and manage all the change that is associated with a short term (90 day) goal.  One reason the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) focuses on starting and ending every meeting on time is to harness and focus the energy of everyone on the needs of the people and the business.  Think about “start and end on time” as is not as a military leadership philosophy, but the commitment to being a team that values the person next to them above all else.

No hugs needed.  Just be on time.

Simple but not Easy

Simple but not Easy

Simple doesn’t always mean easy.

Seth Godin shared this wisdom on February 28th, 2011 and I printed the post and hand it out every time I start an EOS strategic planning for an organization.

The reality, when we face decision points as leaders Simple but not Easy means – My options are clear, and . . . .

    1. I have never done what is being asked of me and asking for help seems weak, so I will think a little more
    2. I am a leader and it is important to be right so I need to think about it some more
    3. I wish there were one where the people, the business, and our customers all won
    4. My Strengthfinder talent is analytical, so I will keep using it and then switch to reason #2
    5. I am just plain scared of what I have to do

Simple blurs the resistance that keeps us from moving forward.  Seth calls it Shipping. Simple makes us feel like ‘I just need to figure this out.’ We move by the resistance by speaking the truth and using it to gain the support that will help us ship.

I sat with a leader recently that shared a story about a difficult conversation they had just had with an employee that was not performing and it was too important of a job to allow it to continue.  The employee agreed with the non-performance, and it looks like they will probably leave in the next 30 days or be let go.  Simple.  This conversation has been evolving for 12 months.  Not Easy.

Simple doesn’t mean easy.

Choose to ship. Encourage and support others to make the same choice.

trUTip – QuickTip:  Want to explore the concept of resistance?  Check out this video by the author of Taming Your Gremlin: A Surprisingly Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way by Rick Carson.  I also like the book.

Friday Thought: Finding Your Growth Mindset – Is it there?

I work with high growth companies and growth focused leaders.  Daily I get to experience people that, in spite of setbacks, inspire me with their resiliency.  There is a name for it this – growth mindset.  In her book Mindset, Carol Dweck shares her research and belief that there are growth and fixed mindset individuals.

We all know these people:

  • Growth mindset people believe in their ability to learn and figure out almost anything.
  • Fixed mindset people are quick to point out ‘why not’ when faced with a challenge – and keep that voice throughout the work.
  • Growth mindset people have a mechanism to adapt when situations require them to make a personal change.
  • Fixed mindset people lead and/or end with That is the way I am.
  • Growth mindset people are quick to set aside their EGO, and ask a question.
  • Fixed mindset people are quick to protect their EGO, and make a statement.
  • Growth mindset people have feelings and get butterflies, they just don’t hide behind them or allow them to define their next step.

Which one do you see or hear in yourself?  Which do you see most prominently on your team?

Entrepreneurial spirit is a trait that is desired by both Fortune 100 and Inc. 5000 companies.  The powerful thing about this distinction is that it’s quickly displayed when the work starts.

It is one reason why a company in Ann Arbor called Menlo Innovations does a test in an interview where two people have to solve a problem with on pencil and one piece of paper.  It is why a strategic planning process I use (EOS) has direct feedback from your teammates in day 1 around whether you Get It, Want It, and have the Capacity to do the job the organization needs you to do.  It is the reason selection for a growth company first asks the question  – Right Person?  The Right Seat will show up eventually if it is not there already.

I have a formula in my book that urges people in the midst of change to manage their mental state so Hope > Fear + Anger + Frustration + Worry + Hunger + Weariness + ______ + _______.  NOBODY is always in balance – but I have watched growth mindset people bounce back time after time from tough situations where they were clearly in a Hope < Fear + Anger + etc. situation.

As you end your week – how is your formula looking?  Which label are you living into?  How can you support a shift in someone around you?

Leadership as a Buffer

Leadership as a Buffer

My job was to be a buffer between the media, the president, and all the other parties so General Schwarzkopf could do his job.”

I saw General Colin Powell speak last night, and this is the comment he made when asked about his relationship with Stormin Norman.  It made me think about situations I hear about and have experienced before, especially as I try and streamline decision making in high growth companies and help leaders create processes that support decentralized decision making and yet still help the organization effectively balance priorities.

I often here the word politics or territory in conversations about how work gets done.  One of my goals when working with clients around the EOS process is helping them lead more effectively by NOT making all the decisions, and yet giving up some instant access to everyone in the company.  You see – no matter what size the company, when the CEO comes in and says something most people will take anything they say as a ‘to do’ and drop everything.  I think back to a CEO’s surprise that his suggested reading list had become a must do item for new leaders and totaled 2,461 pages.  When executives speak, whether it is an order or a suggestion, it either becomes a deliverable or a source of extreme frustration for people who won’t object .  In my experience a majority of the time it becomes both.

It is hard to have an open and honest conversation between the top and bottom of the organization, and yet it is critical to figure out a way to make it happen.

  • What if we asked other leaders to talk to us before talking to our people not because we wanted to protect our people/agenda, but because we wanted to be a buffer so we could help our team re-prioritize work when needed?
  • What if we did it because we had an amazing performer that was a hot head, and being a buffer allowed us to work with them on not swearing when they get frustrated – and it was okay if they made a few mistakes with us for now?
  • What if we did it because you wanted to make sure our people knew how to constructively share their opinions with executives, and being a buffer gave us a chance to coach them on speaking up?
  • What if you had one of these three reasons above AND you shared them with your peers up front so they did not see your actions as SILO Building but TALENT Building?  It might also put you in a position to support their development on listening more effectively and clearly communicating the WHY behind their requests.

There are lots of reasons to respect and admire Colin Powell, and my 90 minutes with him last night certainly reinforced that.  He is definitely a leader worth listening to.