The Intentional Intrepid Effect

The Intentional Intrepid Effect

A good friend of mine is on a twenty day guided trek through the Himalayas – ending at Mount Everest base camp at over 18,000 feet.  She has no mountaineering experience. She hates the cold.  The conditions are anticipated to be harsh and primitive.  She is simply going in order to learn about herself and the world. The obvious ripple effects have been a host of well-wishers on Facebook: lots of smiley faces, heart emojis and “likes.”  The less obvious and more substantive effects (on me at least) have been part pressure and part permission.  Pressure to challenge current comfort levels and permission to think about possible personal growth opportunities.  My sense is I am not alone in this response.  I am calling it the Intentional Intrepid Effect. Models are like that.  They push us to lift our sights, take a new perspective and set new levels.  Modeling is one of the “big three” of leadership. As leaders we can only really lead by telling, guiding or modeling.  The last happens whether we will it or not. What are you modeling today? What positive inputs are you letting in to promote your own growth?   Photo by Siriwan Srisuwan on...
ID Unhealthy Beliefs that Lead to Value-crushing Behaviors

ID Unhealthy Beliefs that Lead to Value-crushing Behaviors

Behind ever behavior is a belief.  When a person speaks up it is likely they believe they have valuable insights to share.  When a person sticks with a new health regimen it is likely the person believes it will be worth it in the end.  Likewise, the behaviors that a leader projects at work are backed by beliefs. It is important to be aware of our own beliefs (or the beliefs running through the organization) in order to support value-creating behaviors and lose the value-crushing behaviors. Marshall Goldsmith (in his book What Got you Here Won’t Get you There) has an entertaining list of “20 Unrecognized Habits of Leaders.”  Each of these unproductive habits has related beliefs just under the surface.  For example, “Winning too much (at all times and in all situations)” may be a result of a belief that MY winning is more important than OUR winning.  As another example, “speaking when angry” may be a result of a belief that it is OK for someone at my level or “I don’t have time to be nice.” As work culture (or for that matter any culture) can be defined as how we do things around here, it is crucial to look at both the behaviors and the beliefs that are driving the behavior.   Photo by Jeremy Bishop on...
Using Natural Processes for Natural Leadership

Using Natural Processes for Natural Leadership

There are many natural processes that can greatly impact leadership effectiveness. And yet too often leaders make things too complicated.  They rely on complicated models or artificial constructs that make a book author feel good but are in reality hard to apply.  How many times has an employee rolled their eyes when they see a new leadership book on our desk? DON’T stop reading, but DO remember that there are plenty of natural processes that can be applied to boost organizational effectiveness. Before getting esoteric, try (or revisit) these natural processes: It is natural for people to want to know they are valued and that they are doing a good job.  Use acknowledgement to highlight that fact.  A good example is “good job.” A better example is “your good work got us a lots closer to our budget. Thank you.”  A great example “You are great at analysis and that helped us close the gaps and make the quarter.” It is natural for people to want to get better by learning.  Leaders can be that teacher that helps a person grow their capacity in tandem with getting great results. It is natural to give and receive feedback.  In terms of feedback choices we can give positive feedback, negative feedback or say nothing at all.  In terms of engagement, saying nothing at all is by far the worst (but common) choice. It is natural to grow and develop in two steps: 1) raising our vision for ourselves and 2) developing the skills to get there.  My global career was to a large extent made possible by a college professor suggesting...
Avoiding Organizational Indigestion Syndrome

Avoiding Organizational Indigestion Syndrome

Organizational Indigestion Syndrome is the unfavorable condition that occurs when an organization tries to do too much at once.  My wife and I once enjoyed a celebratory prix fixe meal at one of the top resorts in Sedona, Arizona.  Over eight courses we were introduced to a wide variety of excellent offerings.  However at the end both of us were uncomfortably stuffed to the gills.  The dishes at the beginning were great, but towards the end the dishes started to feel like too much.  This feeling can happen at work too. Organizational Indigestion Syndrome can result in top talent feeling burnt out and leaving, top performers becoming mediocre performers, or the potential impact of all the initiatives diluted to being a mile wide and an inch deep. “OIS” can be a major growth inhibitor. As I explained to one leader recently, focus on one or two top strategic initiatives is an obvious remedy. In addition to that I would add these often-overlooked points: Factor in “ease of implementation” for priority-setting. Don’t just look at absolute value of a project, but also look at how easy it will be to implement.  A simple change in workflow steps may not have the paper return of a new ERP system, but it is certainly easy to change and the benefits (like more efficiency) can be enjoyed now. Be wary of allowing too many top performers on too many projects or committees. Often the best people in an organization are nominated to participate in projects and committees and too often the same people get requested again and again.  As Scott Adams observed through...
Master Monkey Mind to Grow Faster

Master Monkey Mind to Grow Faster

In meditation, practitioners refer to something called monkey mind.  Monkey mind is a state of mind in with our mind restlessly jumps around from thought to thought to thought.  Mindfulness meditation helps people notice their monkey mind and trains them to regain focus.  When meditating the practice then is to notice when our mind wanders and to simply bring it back.  If the mind wanders again, just bring it back. The workplace is a hive of monkey mind.  The primary job of leaders is to both manage their own focus and also train others to manage theirs.   In the absence of this discipline the organization wanders, time is wasted, people are worn out for no good reason, and goals are not reached – or not reached as soon as they could which is a big cost. The US Congress is quick to take up discussion of the flavor of the day, but is quick to move on and away from tough discussions like healthcare.  A leader shared with me that his CEO has them working on (an oxymoronic) “thirteen priorities.”  By contrast, the response of the citizenry and emergency personnel to the hurricane in Houston showed extreme focus: remove the helpless from danger and provide them with food and shelter — right now. Some key steps to tame your monkey mind at work: Master your own day and calendar. In addition to normal advice of “start and end meetings on time or before”, insist on an agenda or at least start with “what will we accomplish in this time?”  If you don’t like the answer then renegotiate the purpose...