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 . . . .
- I have never done what is being asked of me and asking for help seems weak, so I will think a little more
- I am a leader and it is important to be right so I need to think about it some more
- I wish there were one where the people, the business, and our customers all won
- My Strengthfinder talent is analytical, so I will keep using it and then switch to reason #2
- 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.
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?
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.
If you want to go FAST, go Alone.
If you want to go FAR, go Together.
As a leader, have you ever wondered “Why can’t people do what I tell them?” or made the statement “I will just do it myself.” I once wrote a trUTips to talk about moving past that to become a more effective and healthy person/leader. Alone in leadership is not ‘without’ people, it is more just about leveraging the talent/resources around me to just do my work in the way I want it done. From the outside, it looks more like dependence and less like a true team or relationship.
Going alone as a leader means adopting a method of leading where your ideas always trump others.
Going alone as a leader means having meetings where information is exchanged but nobody solves any problems together – after all, working alone as a leader means creating a culture where that is the norm.
Going alone means running into an invisible barrier repeatedly that serves as a cap to your business.
Alone is one way to do it, but it becomes just that – Lonely.
In a tool I use to help leaders and teams move past Alone towards really working together.
The fundamentals are simple, and yet hard.
- Start with asking the fundamental questions – “What are the roles we need to grow?” and “Who is willing, able, and capable of doing those roles?”
- The second piece is creating a vision for the next 90 days by establishing the BIG priorities for the organization – or ROCKS.
- Finally, commit to meeting weekly to connect, prioritize the work, solve problems together, and support each other in the work.
That is together, and to go FAR past where you want it is about learning to work together first (gain Traction) then defining FAR together (Strategic Plan) and learning to lead towards that point.
Leaders can go alone if they want, but that is not really leadership. Look around – which part of this quote describes your team?