The Five P’s of a Manager’s Portfolio Allow Right Building

The Five P’s of a Manager’s Portfolio Allow Right Building

Assessing a business operation takes scrutiny of the right five P’s.  Get it wrong and you can find yourself damaging more than building.  Get it right and the right stuff comsolum3des together.  Look to the heart not the surface.  Uncover riches.

Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.  Abraham Lincoln

First Things:  Begin with the end in mind.  This is another article, but you need to be reminded before you look into the P’s.  Every operation includes an objective to be measured and met.  Don’t look too deeply into the organization before you determine this item.  Otherwise, the P’s, which may be out of position, can lead you to wrong places.  If they were perfect, why would anyone need you?  They must continually be adjusted to measureable objectives.

People:  Take time to review the people set.  Are the right passions, personalities, and portions (skills sets) on the team?  Is this set to succeed or set to fail?  Has this team been intentionally built and honed or sporadically pieced together?  What will it take to realign and make productive?  What is missing?  What is unbalanced?

Props (Tools and Technologies): Examine the tools and technologies in the operation.  Are they current?  Are you trying to hit a big hairy audacious goal with skinny, smooth banana peels?  Has the shop been kept upgraded or held back with cost cutting for years?  What will be the investment?   Is the team “too techy” and loaded up with an oversupply so that no tool is really mastered?

Processes:  If you can’t document the processes clearly, you don’t know what you are doing.  Deming said something similar to that.  He’s right.  In one shop, it took two years to get process documentation settled.  Development teams kept changing the underlying processes without ever settling on the existing.  No one really knew what a good result at the end of the day looked like.  After documentation was settled, the team performed smoothly and on time every day according to company needs.   This is a touchy and tough area to address.  Don’t avoid it.

Projects:  Projects in motion reveal major needs if they are rightly designed.  The lack of defined  projects is a sure sign of a disparate, disorderly, and dying operation.  Are capital improvements in motion?  What services are being designed for future delivery?  Is there a training program?  Crosstraining?

Products and Services:  Well, why do you exist without these?  Service catalogue?  Do the focused customer groups know how to get great service and what service is available?  What of these are core critical to the overall organization?  Why?

Summary:  If you take these five P’s and write down three notes, you have the beginning of a great business plan.  1. What is the inventory or status of the P?  Make a list of the items and critical criteria, benefits, advantages, and demographics.  Assess alignment to objective and need. 2. What needs changed?  3. What is the impact on the other four P’s when I change it?

That’s enough for now.  Business is building.  Never stop building.

There is no magic route to riches in your business.

In 2004, Dick Gorelick wrote this insightful 101 Ways for printers.  It applies to any endeavor.  Just sub your business where it says graphic arts or printing.  You will be amazed at the insight you gain.   Printing was entering a revolution of digitization at this time.  It is a $640 billion business and continues to grow.   Here are some of his opening words and a link to the full article.  You will fell like you have been mentored by a tremendous manager after you read and will have much to do.  Read.  Muse.   Grow.

In our world, business is building.

There is no magic route to riches in the graphics arts

There is a positive side to every business challenge. Turning lemons into lemonade is dependent upon one’s inclination to avoid assigning blame and a willingness to accept — and understand — change as a permanent condition in this dynamic business environment.

There is no single, magic route to riches in the graphic-arts industry. That’s because success is the product of coordinated management of customers, supplies, staff, equipment and the graphic-arts community at large. Equally as important, management of these elements needs to be accomplished under the umbrella of a strategy that is credibly differentiated from competition — something that is critical if a company is to cope with the impact of price competition.

Since not all companies are the same, it is highly unlikely that all 101 ways outlined here will be applicable to everyone. In many cases, printers may already be addressing these issues. No one way is likely to revolutionize a profitability statement, no matter how conscientiously it is adopted. However, improved performance is likely to result with the adoption of many of these ways, when they are used to support a differentiated strategy.

Action without purpose loses its potential. Implementing several ways in this article can contribute to the attainment of your organization’s business objectives.”  Dick Gorelick

Full Article at American Printer

Pareto For Managers Building People

“80% of the results come from 20% of the effort. Focus on the right 20%.” Phil

Phil...the brain
Phil Larson

Right this minute, my desk is a mess. Multiple projects for clients and engagements in the non-profit sector press for attention. How do I decide what to pick up and what to put down? Building the people around me seems the best and most prudent decision to engage effectiveness. Those built today become power for tomorrow.

The decision mechanism of important versus urgent seems inadequate. Important plus urgent must be priority one. Important but not urgent brings best results and is priority two. Not important but urgent earns a three. Finally, not important and not urgent should go to trash bin or some holding pattern for when it changes to something that needs attention.

Executives and managers can make multiple critical decisions every hour. Sometimes it seems there are multiple decisions each minute. There is a way to sort. There is a way to prioritize and get optimum results.

Rebellion to tyranny is obedience to God. Thomas Jefferson

Maybe this quote is a little out of place for the discussion. Or is it? Is the tyranny of urgent matters as tyrannical as a king in a country across the ocean? Maybe it is closer to home and more impactful on bad and disorderly living than a governmental system could be. Somehow, I don’t think Jefferson was pointing us to Godliness as much as making a strong position for self governance. Self governance reduces tyranny of the urgent

80/20 : 80% of results come from 20% of the people. 80% of sales come from 20% of the customers. 80% of our smiles come from 20% of our thoughts. One and one we can make comparisons of 80% from 20% whether they are true or not. This is not a rule but a guideline. In the work of developing people it is most applicable when you focus on the right 20%.

The Right 20% Takes Right Approach

Stimulate Creative Thought: This is a right 20% in developing others. Don’t just allow creative thought, stimulate creative thought. Management by the book and standard operational procedure can produce quality and it can also produce stiff brained obeisance. Robot staff will not produce the right 80%.

Challenge Progress Reports: How often do you open a progress report and wonder if anything of any real value was accomplished? Do you ask questions? Do you get clarification? Are you managing for effective, right results or just results? Our desire to please others and do the expected job can cause us to use reports as promotional material instead of decision making material. Unchallenged over time, everyone can get caught in meaningless redundancy and semantic fluff.

Affirm Specifically: “Good job, Jack.” That is a lame statement. “Jack, I appreciate your taking care of the details on this report while providing a succinct executive summary from which I can make a decision.” Okay, Jack can curve his future results to match that statement and bring me the 80% effectiveness I need from 20% of his efforts.

Correct in Private: It is tough to resist correction at the time of fault.  When coaching a developing team, it was painful to watch failure after failure pile up at an event. Stupid is as stupid does. Finally, I interjected some correction. The result was an angered staffer, who was doing the best he had been coached in the past. Now, I had to get him aside, heal the pain, and get him reengaged in the success of the moment. Better would have been to take mental notes and review in a post mortem along with all of the successes.

Summary: You can get 80% of results from your staff with 20% of your effort. They can get 80% of their results from 20% of the effort. All the fancy grids and principles are useless if you are not concentrating on the right 80% and the right 20%. Those come from developing your team to target in manners that build the person not just the results. In the end, it is the person that will make the results appear within any system or process or procedure.

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Face and Voice = Essential Communicators

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There are certain bridges that are not worth crossing, no matter what others think. Loyalty and relationships are important.  Tony Dungy, Quiet Strength

That quote jumps from every picture and presentation I’ve seen of Tony Dungy.  He never needed to say it because his face and voice always say it.  You should be like that.  Your face and voice define you.

Use your face and voice to communicate needed messages and lessons to those you serve.  Engage the power of your passion and allow the deep roots of your heart to be visible.  Common management philosophy leads to common results.  Great leaders such as Tony Dungy, legendary coach and motivator, allow face and voice to say, “Commitment counts,” even when others want to avoid transparency.

Speed of communication does not replace the need for face and voice.

Mass of communication does not replace the value of face and voice.

Repetition of communication does not replace the power of face and voice.

Face and voice communicate beyond words into value, passion, and power.

“Let’s discuss this,” announces the executive.

A gregarious and generous leader brings comforting value in communications that reaches the heart of those following when face and voice are engaged.  An opportunity to discuss with such a person is welcome.

An angry and tempestuous leader stirs anxiety through face and voice.  An opportunity to discuss may be avoided.

A pompous and persuasive face and voice bring different understanding to the same words spoken by a serving and heartfelt communicator.

The message can be the same, but face and voice provide platform.

Great leaders are masters of face and voice and command control of them at appropriate times and places.  Greatness of communications comes out of the transparency of that face and voice.  Sure there are false faces and feigned voices of politician leaders.  You don’t have to be in politics to lead politically.  You don’t have to be a political leader if you are a politician in the service of the people. Those around the false faced politician discover over time the difference and words become hollow and leadership ability wanes.

One of my great communicator friends is Carey Casey, CEO of the National Center For Fathering.  I love to be around Carey and let him rub off on me.  During one of our early conversations, upon walking up to me he said, “I remember you, you’re the one with the kind face for everyone.”  His observation shocked me and pleased me.  Certainly there are many days my face and voice communicate other stances, but this was the one he received and valued and affirmed.  It was a transparent communication back to me of what value I was bringing into relationships.  Face and voice communicated for me where letters and email might not.  Carey’s face and voice will always say to me, “open, honest, forthright, committed” framed in that and other interactions.  Every communication I receive from him will be tampered with his face and voice. (Catch Carey at www.fathers.com)

Be you.  Let that face and voice of your deepest heart come out.  Quit hiding behind emails and power point presentations. Take your face and voice out there and engage.  Of course there needs to be a compassionate and concerned heart that leads for the good of others for a servant leader, but that is another missive.

Ready to do something big in your organization?  Call me at 405-388-8037.  Let’s talk.  phil@shepherdok.com

Vitalize!: 4 Ready Executive Tools Increase Best Value

Increase asset value.  Do it.  Quit waiting. Isolate key components for value and recover.  Print communication services have declined in value as a viable business asset.  Communication channels have changed. Entrenched opinions view print as a commodity.   Look through that tinted lens and business value will suffer.   There is great value to be activated.  Right understanding and fresh vision can cause print communication to give value business results.

Think back.  What was the last department or business unit you overhauled that reaped benefit quickly?  How did you drag value out?  Did you offload a business unit with aging impact?  Why is it not working here?

Finish the quick article at GCWORLDBIZ

Vitalize!: 4 Ready Executive Tools Increase Best Value http://ow.ly/lLPe0

You Stand for What You Tolerate: Two Intolerable Stances for Any Leader

Tolerance has a clear definition and requires clear standards.  When you live with weak tolerance, you live weak.  When you live with strong tolerance, others become strong.  Any leader must have standards to define the limits of tolerance.  Those standards assist in accomplishing vision and mission in both short and long term initiatives.

Who said it, “You stand for what you tolerate.”?  I found it well said in Marlo Thomas’, The Right Words At  The Right Time Vol 2. Many would say, “You get what you tolerate”.  But I like the prior phrase.

The ancient proverbial Solomon wrote, “Out of the fullness of your heart, your mouth speaks.”  That is pretty close.  He wrote more than a few other wisdoms on the need for discipline and vision.  You stand for what you tolerate.

There are two intolerable stances for any leader.

-Tolerance without standard.  How often do we act in fear in our organizations and in front of those we are called to lead by example?  Someone points an accusing finger at another’s actions and we react in fear of some unknown legality or loss of face in the masses.  No leader can lead long without standards.  An issue arises and we allow weakness to make decisions because we do not have dedicated enough time prior to establish our priorities and principles.

A computer installation for a large company hit a standstill.  Managers had been pleading for right electrical backup in an area plagued with storms, but the company standard of “tolerate failure until it costs a fortune or breaks a visible law” was in play.  Now it was getting ready to cost a fortune.  Every worker was doing something different and the manager responsible could not direct the mess effectively.  Yes, it did cost a fortune to get out of the mess, but standards based risk policy would have deemed the situation intolerable well before the failure and have avoided major expense and exhaustion of staff.  You stand for what you tolerate and you get what you tolerate

-Standard without tolerance.  This one will strangle the best of leadership and organizations.  “Well this is the decision of the board and we will implement with no questions.”  Of course, no decision has thought through every implication or situation that will transpire.  Thinking people were dispatched to manage through the muddle.  Have you ever made this mistake.

A successful company was hard at work following the directions of the consultant.  Why would  this group not just comply?  These manufacturing based principles must work in service sectors, too, right?  Wrong.  They would work with some revision, but not straight out of the guru box.  Smart managers needed to be allowed to apply the principles in a slightly different manner than the book.  The result was a struggle.  And with wisdom, in this instance, the team managers prevailed and were allowed to make right modifications.  The result was a 40% decrease in costs alongside a service turnaround deliverable that went from 10 days to 2 days on a regular basis.  A strict adherence to the standard would have brought everything to a standstill and crushed the teams involved.  Team members were energized and worked for years coming up with improvement after improvement because tolerance was built into the standard.

Summary:  You stand for what you tolerate.  You get what you tolerate.  These two intolerable stances can cost you major progress and undermine morale and loyalty.  They are quite common.  Take a few minutes this week to mull over your standards and ensure you haven’t violated these.  If you have, you are suffering now.  The evidence may not have surfaced.  It will.  And it will cost you in ways you would not tolerate if you realized it.

 

Let us help you.  This is what we do.

Start a conversation.  phil@shepherdok.com

The Three Hats Of A Mature Manager – Syncing Yourself For The Next Step

Don’t read this if you are under 35.  It won’t make much sense.  Then again, if you read and understand it, you can improve your ability to work well with mature managers.

Professionals are intentionally developed.  Through involvement in projects and initiatives and departments through your career, the best of who you are is evident.  There is a skill to gaining enjoyment and value out of who you are.  There is an art to applying that value to your daily business endeavors.  You can be the best you, doing the most fit assignments and have a great amount of fun.  Or not.  Choose. Make sure you consider your Three Hats before you choose.  Be you.

A friend reminded me that people focus on your weaknesses because they struggle with allowing your strengths.   People are like that.  They pick at what they don’t understand in the most negative ways.   But you don’t have to let pickiness impact your confidence and connection.  You just need to work on your Three Hats.

 This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day,Thou canst not then be false to any man  

William Shakespeare

Three Fields of Play

First, let’s take a look at three fields of play.  Then we can talk about the Three Hats.

Play to your strength.  You know this.  Do what you do best.  But, you need to really know what that is.  Strength can be as limiting as weakness if not tamed.  A hard-nosed, goal-driven executive can find herself isolated by dwelling too strong on this strength.   Soften the edges of your game. Don’t dominate the play, just lead with excellence. People can mistake strength for rigidity.  That won’t help you or others.

Cover your weakness.  Of course you have them.  You’ve found them haunting you every turn of your career.   Six courses of style management can’t change these core items of who you are.  As a manager, I’ve always had to focus hard on listening.  Why?  I’m 50+% deaf since birth. So, I arrange my office for optimum face to face contact and limit noise interference.  People are usually amazed when I tell them about my limitation as I’ve mastered masking through sitting in middle spots in conferences and making sure I get directly across from those I expect to be key stakeholders in any meeting.  What is yours?  Find a cover.  Bad note taker?  Make sure a good one gets that assignment in every meeting.   Take double notes.  Find  a cover.

Build disciplines.  There are some skills that just have to be at a good level whether they are a weakness or not in your specific regimen.  Know what they are and find a way to strengthen them.  It is not an option to be weak in an area that must be strong.  Sorry, it is tough, but you need to fix it.  If promptness is hard for you, you must repair.  If attentiveness is hard for you, you must repair.  You must.

Three Hats

So what the heck am I talking about, Three Hats?   Each of us over time discovers from 3-5 core areas of expertise.  For me it is operational excellence, communication, and people development.  After working multiple companies in multiple industries, these items just keep coming back on top.  Sure, I have many skills and abilities like project management and administration and meeting management and facilitating brainstorming,, and marketing, and sales, and, and, and… But what are the Three Hats that never come off no matter what I am doing?  Find yours.  Know them.  Develop.

Hat One:  This is your core passion.  When you get up in the morning, what gets you started?  At the end of the day, what are you thinking?  What is that core?  For me?  People development.  I love to see people grow.

Hat Two:  This is your core performance.  Okay, when you example “velocity”, where does it happen.  Velocity is the ability to do the right thing at the right time that advances you and everyone around you and the business.  For me?  Operational excellence.  Seeing how to adjust an operation to perform the charter is a natural for me and advances the organization.

Hat Three: This is the core producer.  This is the trait that makes the other two shine.  What is it that you do so well that enables core performance and passion to be energized?  This is all about ‘vitality’.  This puts energy into the performance and keeps you engaged long after others would give up.  This secret brings it all together for you.  I love encouraging with communication and clarifying with communication and setting vision with communication.  Communication enables my passion and let’s others walk along with operations.

When your Three Hats are working well they become one hat.  The brim, the bill, and the band form one unit for others to see and appreciate.  That maturity developed and seen in you can be applied to your next career steps in the position you have or the one you are getting ready to have.  Just make sure the hat fits before you engage.

Want To Develop Yourself and Your Business?

Busting Barriers: Two Tips To Activate Leadership In Others

Phil Larson, Director Shepherd Consulting and Community Transformation Initiative

Every leader is challenged to develop leadership in key followers.  It is frustrating to look out and yearn for true leadership in our team. Yet, we find that people today don’t stay with any company for any length of time.  Leadership takes time.  You can get long term commitment.  It is possible.  You have to do things differently.

One of the greatest managers of all history, Solomon, put it this way in his comprehensive book on managing life, relationships, business, and government, Proverbs:

To know wisdom and instruction,
To perceive the words of understanding,

To receive the instruction of wisdom,
Justice, judgment, and equity;
To give prudence to the simple,
To the young man knowledge and discretion—

 

Good Goals: Seems like a good objective.  For centuries others have read Solomon’s snippets of wisdom.  Solomon transmitted what he knew to others that were managing his affairs.

Sun Tzu attempted the same objective from the Chinese war lord perspective and penned, The Art of War.  It really is much more about living than dying.  It is about managing and relationships in a turbulent society.  He was intent in training others.

Others have done the same.  My bookshelf is full of snippet books from great managers and leaders.  The lessons of great men and women can give us guidance in tough situations.

Time Counts: But, if no one stays the task to work out the wisdom and be developed in the fine nuances, you simply lose your investment.  They move on and build another business that may in fact take away from your business.  Astute business managers are not happy when they lose the value of an investment in either people or property.  People are not property.  They have wills and emotions and desires and must be treated differently.

Tip One:

Be Loyal: Handle Conflict Up Front and Fast  The common business practice of today is to demand loyalty from staff, yet make decisions without being loyal to them and their families and lives.  Making the legal decision is not always a loyal decision.  Listening to accusations and gossip concerning staff without direct clarification and consultation is not a position of loyalty but fear and low self-confidence and politicking of the negative kind.

“The first job of a leader—at work or at home—is to inspire trust. It’s to bring out the best in people by entrusting them with meaningful stewardships, and to create an environment in which high-trust interaction inspires creativity and possibility.” ― Stephen M.R. Covey, The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything

Greatness: A great leader for whom I worked early in my career came into my office with an anonymous letter. It accused me of some indiscretions.  The letter had gone to the president of the company.  We had been in a turnaround organization situation where hard decisions were being made daily.  Of course people were not in 100% agreement.  Of course people are people. The prior management of the company had been prone to politics and finger pointing.  Everyone knew that and knew how to trip the wires to get what they wanted.  This new management had better integrity; otherwise, I would not be working for them.

Openers: The leader’s opening comment set the stage.  “Phil, before you read the letter you need to know that both the CFO and I told the president that this does not sound like you.”  He started from a position of loyalty and honesty and open communication.  We discussed the contents, who might have sent it, why they might have sent it, was there anything I needed to adjust in managing, and moved on.  The company came out of a chapter 11 situation in record time and we all enjoyed our time together.  Loyalty and trust were the words of the day and the owners received great benefit.  I would go to work beside this man again in a minute if the opportunity arose that was mutually beneficial.

Dear Failure, I am writing today….  Failure on this point costs dearly.  Typical management style would have been to have secreted the letter into the unofficial personnel file, brooded over the contents, discussed it with others, and promoted politics.  That is how most organizations roll.  Yes, you do.  Admit it and quit it.  Little birds leak that style into the hallways and the entire organization suffers loss of key staff at the most inopportune moments.  Disloyal behavior in the board room promotes disloyal behavior at the point of customer contact.  It is not a secret.  Get real and get honest.

Tip Two:

Go Ahead And Share Insights:  All of us have insights gained in leadership.  Most of us hold them close to the chest and make upcoming leaders dig them out like some buried treasure.  Why are you leaving leadership undeveloped by forcing them to guess?  Are you afraid you are wrong about what you know is right?  Take a few minutes every day to intentionally leak leadership.

An Amazing Gift: Last year my team brought me an amazing gift.  It was thirty-one leadership wisdoms they had learned from me over the course of the prior three years.  They could repeat them and could apply them.  They made them into a flip calendar.  I was amazed and humbled.  It shocked me that they had discerned so willingly tips of leadership and management and relationship and had integrated them into their work and home habits.   Somehow, great leaders had taught me to be open with wisdom and it was building other leaders.  Pass it on.

Starting Right: My mind goes back to my first assistant supervisor position.  One day I went into the manager’s office somewhat nonchalantly for a meeting.  He looked me direct in the eye from across his desk.  “Phil, go get a pen and paper and come back.  Don’t ever go into a meeting with a leader without expectation of receiving instruction, noting it, and being responsible to follow up.”  Now, he probably said something different, but that is what he communicated.  Wow!  I listened and have repeated that wisdom hundreds of times to those for whom I’ve had responsibility to develop as leaders.  Leak leadership.  Do it intentionally.

To Work, Two Work: Do these two and you’ll increase your leadership impact.  These are core items.  They can guide you and prevent major mishaps.  Sure, I can tell you stories of when I’ve violated them or seen others violate them and the destruction it caused.  You know those stories.  None of us are perfect.  But perfect practice might just result in better performance as a leader, longer relationships with other leaders, and some real fun and satisfaction watching development of trusted leadership and sustained organizational progress.

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Lead with Solutions: Five Key Phrases To Lead

There is power in your words, Leader.

Leaders lead.  We lead with our words, our actions, our intent, and our example.

Leaders lead.  Leading flows from the inner core of a leader outward for followers to follow.  Wisdom literature intrigues and builds me.  Two principles that regurgitate in my meditative time apply here.

  1. What is in your heart comes out your mouth.
  2. Words carry life or death.

Uncomfortable as that may be for some, it is life and energy for leaders.  Those that deny they are being led are fools looking for a place to fail.  Those that accept they are both being led and leading others have matured to a grasp of reality needed for contentedness and success.  Watching words is a key necessity of leadership.

One of the ways leaders lead is with the entry words they use in conversations and meetings and personal engagements.  So let’s look at five phrases that lead well and lead to impact and influence.

How can we lead effectively with our entry words?

Lead #1: How do you feel about this situation?  Leaders fail many times by leading with precooked answers.  Try leading with a question.  The conversation is headed a positive direction based on your quick and thoughtful lead.  Watch out for asking how people think.  That will get you 80% less response than asking them how they feel.  They will tell you what they think in response to asking them how they feel.  For the most part, people are less threatened when asked how they feel than asked how they think.

Lead #2: There could be some amazing benefit to this approach.  You just opened the other person or group up to a positive view of what follows.  Yet, you have not committed anyone to a position of yes or no.  The engagement is now open to include a description of the issue being addressed, but with an expectation of a positive outcome.  Lead on.

Lead #3: What worries you most about our issue?  Wow.  You just posed an emotional tie to the others in conversation.  It is not someone else’s issue, but our issue.  You’ve entered into a supportive stakeholder position and communicated you will be there to help work through the blips.  At the same time, you gave the other person influence in the next steps.

Lead #4: Have you considered a possibility of option X?  This is an enticing lead that suggests a solution without forcing compliance.  Leadership contains an element of power along with authority.  By opening with consideration of an option, meaning there are other options, you give power to the others in the conversation.  It can be a big win when working with a strong leader.  Some leaders place themselves in defensive stance over a position they have taken in the past.  You just graced them with a way out that saves face for them and could bring them better success than a present entrenched option.

Lead #5: Having considered many options, here is one I’d like to bring to the table for discussion.  Okay, this is a lead based on research prior to this moment.   You’ve opened the discussion to include consideration of other options and problem barbs and even rabbit trails.  It is an empowering position for all included.  Sometimes an entire room will just go quiet at this point and let you lead forward.  Be ready for that.  After all, you are a leader.

Summary:  Notice none of these leads starts with the issue at hand.  All of these communicate co-ownership of the issue and the solution and confidence in a positive outcome.  Avoid leading with the issue.  My days are full of conversations that start, “Phil, I have a problem.”  That is a position of weakness.  Sometimes the individual just wants to discuss their ideas.  Many times they are looking to offload the problem and responsibility.  Take responsibility by leading into a solution.  Leading with the solution in today’s environment can be considered pushy and too strong.  Lead with compassion and listening and strength with some key phraseology that reveals intent to engage along with intelligence and ownership.  Lead on, Leader.

Five Leadership Tips for Tough Times Every Mature Executive Needs to Learn.

Five Leadership Tips for Tough Times Every Mature Executive Needs to Learn.

Working as an agent of change in support of executives comes with scars and stars.  The stars are the memories that have power to change us for the better.  The scars are best left as lessons learned and give time and attention to heal.  But, wow, when you work beside a star boss or on a star team, your life is never the same.

There are five top performing bosses and the teams that surrounded them that have taught me powerful lessons in living and management.  Let me share these with you.  You can grow in a minute under the right coaching.  It would take a book to list all the lessons each of these leaders taught me, so I’ll just highlight five lessons that I believe every mature executive should learn.

Schille’s All StarsHard Times Bring Growth: John Schille is an incredible coach and leader.  In 2004, John was distinguished as the number one CIO in the United States and his organization received the same accolade.  At the time, I wa honored to be a director on John’s direct report team.  The performance level of the organization was tops.  The responsiveness to technical disruption was specific and on target.  The vision for the future, while working with John was unending.

During one incredibly hard season of growth of a department I had been assigned to improve, I remember sitting and discussing with John.  He looked directly into my eyes and said, “Phil, you’ll find that under the hardest times you look back and realize you grow the most.”  He was right.  I’ve remembered that lesson among many others ever since.

Guida’s Good Days: Reward When No One is Looking:  John Guida has a hard compassion about him that molded me.  He believed in me in extreme circumstance.  We had some tough discussions as we worked alongside a great team to pull a company out of chapter 11.  In 18 months, it was accomplished through amazing team effort.  After a pressing year, John came into my office with a sizeable surprise bonus.  By company regulation I was not eligible for bonus.  It was just not that company’s style.  But, here it was.  John had gone up the chain for me when I had no idea what was happening.

McCreery’s Mountain:   Be Gracious In All Seaons:  Mike McCreey is one of the most grateful men for whom I have worked.  As CFO of a struggling company, he exampled kindness and gratitude.  Every Friday, when the key operational management team would meet, Mike was first to have the coffee made and served.  He exemplified servant leadership.

One afternoon, I was in Mike’s office waiting for the third person to join us in a decision.  His secretary came in to serve us.  Mike made sure he thanked her for her act.  I’m sure he must have said thank you many times a day.  He turned to me and spoke in a calm and deliberate voice, “Phil, this world would be much better if people just learned to say thank you.”  It was a real strength in his life.

Heil’s Salvation:  Build the Man With Care:  Bob Heil was a mountain of man.  Heil means salvation in German.  Bob lived to serve others and assist them in rescuing themselves from themselves.  For two years, I was honored to study under Bob in a school he and Linn Haitz started to develop young men into movers and shakers.  It was leadership intensive.

At one point, Bob and I crossed swords.  I was young and impulsive and wanting to run out on my own and take the world.  He was mature and sensitive and giving me ample rope to hang myself but not so much to die doing it.  When I realized how stupidly I was acting, I went to Bob and asked his counsel.  He immediately understood, forgave me my stupidity, and gave me great counsel.  He could have responded in many ways to my mistakes.  He chose to respond with wisdom in order to allow me growth.  He chose to build the man in me with care and firmness.

Dryden’s Dynamics: Rest Stop Ahead: Ron Dryden has a sense of compassion and marketing and team dynamics not seen in many.  I think of many of the great coaches of national champion teams when I think of Ron.  Keeping a stable of stallions in motion is an art and a craft.  He did it well.

Our team took on an amazing challenge.  How do you take a white non-profit organization and move it to become multi-cultural while tripling the size?  This was a hard task.  There were many days of pains and problems.  The community in which we served was racially divided and antagonistic to these ideals.  My office was full of complaints and finger pointing as were the offices of the other team leaders.  As the Director of Operations, I handled everything from plumbing to prisons.

Big events were common, time consuming, exhausting, and rewarding.  Ron taught us to be rested going into a big event versus thinking we would rest on the other side.  That wisdom has served me well over the years.  Our tendency is to believe we can push to the max and then rest.  Yet, what if the big event works and we harvest big on the other side in sales, people, whatever we looked to accomplish?  Then we will be exhausted and unable to work the harvest of our efforts.  Rest up ahead of a big thrust.

Summary:  These five lessons can serve any leader.  As a change agent for most of my career, I’ve been called upon to work through tough situation after tough situation.  In each I’ve been able to act with growth, reward, graciousness, care, and rest.   It was these leaders that developed that into me by example.  Leadership is example.  That is another lesson.

Contact Phil Larson, Director of Shepherd Consulting  phil@shepherdok.com  405-388-8037…

Phil is a dynamic speaker, author, mentor, and agent of change.  His organization works to help executives and managers achieve their goals and dreams through decisive dynamics.  he is available to help you achieve your dreams.