How to “Win the Locker Room”

April 13th, 2017

How to “Win the Locker Room”

 Dave Anderson

 

“Losing the locker room” is not a condition limited to athletic teams. Any leader engaging in destructive, selfish, or other counter-productive behaviors risks losing the hearts, minds and esteem of his or her team. Following are five ways to be a leader who wins your “locker room,” and consistently draws the best effort and results out of your team.

 

Three Signs You Have yet to “Win the Locker Room,” or Have Outright Lost It

 

  1. Team members comply, but they don’t commit. They routinely do just enough. They don’t initiate. They appear more indifferent about what they are doing than passionate about it. In fact, you can gauge your success in winning your locker room based on the amount of discretionary effort you routinely receive from team members. Discretionary effort is the above-and-beyond effort you get from others without having to ask for it, threaten them for it, or bribe them to get. Without discretionary effort, you may be losing, or have already “lost the locker room.”

 

 2. Team members aren’t engaged. A “happy” or “satisfied” team member isn’t necessarily engaged. After all, droves of folks are happy and satisfied to do the bare minimum each day, never be held accountable, and expect a maximum return. Engagement however, is when your people are emotionally invested in the company’s goals; they care deeply about the organization and their ability to contribute to it. If they’re not engaged, you may be losing, or have already “lost the locker room.”

 

 3. Team members don’t buy into new changes, processes, strategies, and more. They overtly, and covertly, resist anything new. Their attitude is mostly cynical, and sometimes hostile to your ideas. When people don’t buy into anything you try to do or change, it’s often because they haven’t bought into your leadership, which indicates you have lost or are “losing the locker room.”

 

Five Ways to “Win the Locker Room”

 

“Winning your locker room” starts with having credibility not only as a leader, but as a person. You also “win the locker room” when team members can see and feel the positive impact you’re having on their growth and development. Here are key actions that address both of these factors:

 

  1. You “win the locker room” when you “own it.” Owning it includes taking responsibility for the team’s results, admitting your own mistakes, and giving away credit to others who deserve it. These high-integrity actions build trust and belief in your leadership. Owning it also includes personally renouncing excuses, and setting the right example by focusing yourself and your team on the aspects of your job you can control; and, not allowing yourself or team members to become “victims.”

 

2. You “win the locker room” by keeping your commitments. If you commit to do something with—or for—a team member, you are obligated to do it; even if it takes more time, inconvenience, or expense than you first estimated. If you “talk right and then walk left” you break trust and leave your people behind. At the end of the day, if people can’t count on you, they won’t trust you; and, if they don’t trust you they won’t follow you.  And who can blame them?

 

 3. You “win the locker room” by making team members feel part of something special. People spend immense amounts of their adult life in the workplace and are more engaged when they feel part of something special—a meaningful team mission and vision. High quality people want, and expect, meaningful work. Making people feel part of something special also mandates you make their own contribution towards that end very personal, so they more clearly see their role in helping the organization’s success. How clear is your mission and vision? If we were to survey ten people at random today and ask them what the mission and vision are for the organization, would their answers be identical? If not, you potentially have chaos in the cubicles, competing agendas, people with “jobs” rather than “causes,” and are on your way to losing, or have already “lost the locker room.”

 

 4. You “win the locker room” by helping team members grow personally and professionally. When people feel they’re getting better on your watch, loyalty kicks in. Training them, giving fast and candid feedback, increasing their latitude and discretion, and letting them make decisions on their own are essential steps to helping leave people better than you find them. Helping your people grow also means you set personal growth objectives for a quarter, year, etc., and then resource that growth as is necessary. Human beings develop to their potential in structured environments, buttressed by intentional growth objectives—not by chance, or simply by showing up each day. If your people aren’t growing, not only will their ability to contribute to the team plateau, their own self-esteem will as well. Team members who feel stale or stuck become apathetic and indifferent—a sure and eventual recipe for “losing the locker room.”

 

 5. You “win the locker room” when you develop a team that wins. Little unifies a team and builds buy-in to your leadership faster than winning. Getting results as a team builds unity, momentum, morale, as well as your personal credibility. People may like you, but if they don’t eventually feel like they’re winning, that they can win, or that you’re a winner, they will mentally check out on you. Winning, winning often, and doing it the right way, go a long way in helping you win the affection and respect of your team, and to “win the locker room” as a result.

Accountability is up to YOU

April 13th, 2017

  Accountability is up to YOU

Dave Anderson

 

By definition, someone that leads is expected to “go in front; to show the way.” A key to leading by the right personal example—showing the way—is holding people accountable for behaviors and performances you’ve determined as essential for the organization’s success. Frankly, if you’re in a leadership position, holding others accountable isn’t an option—it’s your duty. Failing to consistently execute this duty results in ongoing damage to: your culture, team morale and momentum, your brand, the customer experience, your personal credibility, and more. Doing your job and holding people accountable however, brings forth numerous benefits that enhance your organization’s fitness.

 

Following is a compelling handful of benefits that should encourage you and your leaders to work harder to develop both the skill set and the mindset to effectively hold others accountable; in essence, making sure every person in your dealership is held responsible for both the behaviors and results you’ve outlined as non-negotiable.

 

Benefit #1: Holding people accountable protects and strengthens your culture.

When deficient behaviors or results cause your dealership’s culture to weaken, the foundation of your entire organization is at risk. By doing your job and establishing clear values and standards, a compelling mission that unites a team, and providing team members the training and tools they need to be successful while holding them accountable throughout the process, you become a productive chief architect and primary influencer of your culture.

The alternative is to fail in shaping your culture according to the right standards, and allowing outside forces—often influenced by societal trends like a rising sense of entitlement, a growing absence of absolutes, and a participation-trophy-non-performance-mindset—to shape your culture in its image. After all, you can’t not have a culture. The telling questions are whether you’ll take control and shape it according to productive values and standards, or leave it up for grabs and allow it to be shaped from the outside-in. Many weak-minded, untrained, politically correct people in leadership positions today are choosing the latter route and reaping a resulting banquet of mediocrity.

 

Benefit #2:  Holding people accountable ensures they work towards their fullest potential.

Effective leaders are effective developers of human capital. Through coaching, training, mentoring, empowerment, resolute clarity, and accountability, their objective is to continue to stretch team members to their fullest potential. Frankly, that’s not going to happen if you let people just “get by,” because you lack the skills or mental toughness to hold them accountable for using the resources and opportunities you provide, and for executing what you’ve determined as essential for their growth.

Political correctness has seduced some leaders into believing that it’s somehow harsh or offensive to tell people the truth about how they are doing, or apply consequences for behavioral or performance failures. But what’s truly harsh is letting people fail on your watch because you won’t do your job. Overall, the objective of accountability isn’t to fire people; but rather, to prevent you from having to fire them because you don’t let things get that far. Accountability also ensures that top performers continue to grow rather than slide back into their comfort zones. We live in a pampered age where many people have been lied to and coddled long enough about the realities concerning their performance. If you care about people, you will: challenge them, equip them, empower them, and confront them when necessary.

The most effective leaders I know convey the following with both their words and actions:

  • “I’m hard on you because I believe in you.”
  • “I hold you accountable because I care.”
  • “I stretch you so you never have to regret giving less than your best.”

These leaders understand that in their endeavor to help the people in their charge reach their fullest potential, they are never likely to hear these words—or words like them:

“Thanks for being easy on me. You changed my life.”

 

Benefit #3: Holding people accountable facilitates effective execution.

This one doesn’t require much elaboration: without effective execution, vision is irrelevant and strategy is worthless. At the end of the day, people do what they are held accountable for; you teach them how to treat you. If there aren’t consequences for poor behaviors or performances, you can expect to see more of them. The behavioral science principle rings true: if you want to change a behavior, you must change the consequence for that behavior.

 

Benefit #4: Holding people accountable ensures better team member experiences.

This one is obvious, and painful. When people don’t do their job, or don’t live the values, productive team members can become distracted, overwhelmed, and demoralized. They also tend to feel they’re working in a less special workplace since people who shouldn’t even be there in the first place are showing up and being paid every day—and making their lives miserable in the process.

 

Benefit #5: Holding people accountable ensures better customer experiences.

Since employees having a better experience will create better experiences for customers, the stakes are high that the prior point is a reality in your culture. The payoffs are numerous, but perhaps the biggest is that customers who enjoy better experiences are more loyal and find price less relevant, are more likely to return, and are potential referral machines.

There are many more benefits, but let’s conclude with this thought: to earn greater buy-in and leadership credibility, it’s essential to understand that holding yourself accountable to values and standards as a priority is where accountability must begin. Your number one duty where accountability is concerned is first expecting more from yourself than you do from others—being a living embodiment of consistently excellent performance and living core values. In my two-day workshop on How to Master the Art of Accountability, we spend a fair amount of time evaluating our own attitudes, behaviors, adherence of values, and execution of job duties to ensure our talk and walk are consistent. Letting ourselves slide while we preach accountability to others is a pathetic form of hypocrisy.

It’s also important to repeat, and recall that it is essential we as leaders provide the clarity, feedback, tools, and empowerment our people need to live out and execute the behavioral and performance objectives we have set forth for them. Thus, our first duties where accountability is concerned are to do our job well and walk our talk.

 

Consequences Aren’t What’s Harsh

April 13th, 2017

Consequences Aren’t What’s Harsh

Dave Anderson

 

In today’s pampered age and increasingly politically correct climate, “applying consequences” has somehow become perceived as harsh, unfair, or as demonstrating excessive intolerance. Frankly, however, what is truly harsh and unfair is allowing people to underachieve—or fail outright—on your leadership watch because you don’t have either the skill set or mindset to effectively apply consequences. What’s also harsh and unfair is allowing someone to lower team morale, create poor customer experiences, violate your values and break team momentum because he or she isn’t held accountable with consequences for their actions. And speaking of “intolerant,” the highest performing cultures happen to be highly intolerant of certain behaviors and performances that may put the entire entity at risk. I recently filmed a DVD on this topic, and placed it on our virtual training platform. The feedback was so overwhelmingly positive, that I want to share some of the principles in this piece.

 

A consequence is defined as the result of an action or condition. An important Law of Behavioral Science states that, “If you want to change a behavior, you must change the consequence for that behavior.” Without consequences for inappropriate behaviors or results, you must continue to revisit the same issues continually without any long-term change in behavior, or improvement in results. Bearing this in mind, consider these seven rules, thoughts, and strategies concerning the effective application of consequences:

 

  1. Consequences are not one-size-fits-all’s. They should be customized to fit various offenses. Obviously, you’ll most likely have a different consequence for someone who is ten minutes late to a meeting than you would the person misusing a company credit card.

 

  1. Consequences are most effective when spelled out in writing. For example, in your employee handbook, you may have something like this clearly outlined: The first time you’re late to work within a twelve-month period, you will receive a verbal warning; the second time, you are written up; the third time, your employment is terminated.

 

These, of course, are just examples and I’m not recommending them; nor am I recommending you not use them. Again, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all remedy. Consequences may vary depending on your culture’s makeup, what you’ve done previously, and more.

 

  1. Depending on the offense, consequences often include a form of progressive discipline. As set out in the prior point, the severity may increase with frequency of offenses.

 

However, for more serious offenses like sexual harassment, lying, cheating, theft, and the like, you probably don’t want to give multiple chances. In strong cultures there is no tolerance for those behaviors and the consequences philosophy is pretty much “one and done.” It’s wise to check with your HR team and legal counsel, as laws concerning outlining and applying certain consequences may vary from one city or state to another.

 

  1. Once established, consequences must be enforced. Make exceptions to stated consequences at your own great peril. You can destroy your personal credibility and open yourself up to discrimination suits.

 

As weak and pathetic as the following will sound, it is true: you are better off not to have a standard at all, than to have a standard with a pre-established consequence that you fail to enforce. As parents who raise spoiled brats can testify, you’ll actually have more credibility not establishing a rule or standard than you will by doing so, declaring a consequence, and then flinching when the time comes to apply it.

 

  1. Consequences must be specific in order to be effective and enforceable.

 

“If you come in to work late again there are going to be consequences” is worthless. What does that mean exactly? They get a spanking? You’re going to egg their house, or give them a wedgie? Laying out specific consequences is both more effective and credible.

 

  1. You don’t necessarily need consequences for everything. In strong cultures, things like peer pressure provide an unwritten consequence for things like leaving dishes in the sink, taking someone else’s lunch, or keeping a sloppy work area. However, you should absolutely have consequences for your non-negotiable behaviors (core values), outcomes, and the essential activities and processes most predictive of creating the prescribed outcomes.

 

  1. Consequences can include a wide array of possible actions.

 A.Verbal warning.

 B. Written warning.

 C. Suspended without pay.

 D. Loss of privilege.

 E. Loss of responsibility.

 F. Probationary period.

 

Keep this in mind: whenever you begin to tighten up clarity and consequences in your business, some may accuse you of micromanaging. This is nothing more than an attempt to manipulate your behaviors to their advantage, hoping you back off. Micromanage is defined as: to control with excessive attention to minor details. Bearing this in mind, it’s easy to point out that non-negotiable behaviors like core values, your desired outcomes, and the essential activities and process most predictive of creating those outcomes are far from “minor” details. In fact, the failure to execute said behaviors, activities, and outcomes puts your entire organization at risk.

Followers Are Earned

April 13th, 2017

Followers Are Earned

By Dave Anderson

 

The first section I teach in my Up Your Business 3.0 Super Leadership workshop is called, “How to Become a Leader Worth Following.” In it, I list eight essential traits leaders should demonstrate daily to add value to their team. I open the section with a few points for perspective on leadership:

  • A title doesn’t make you a leader; it simply buys you time to become one—to earn influence or to lose it, to get the job done or to blow it.
  • Ultimately, leadership is performance, not position. It’s a daily choice you make, not a place at the head of a conference table where you sit.
  • It’s delusional to believe that someone in a leadership position has “followers” simply because he or she has a leadership title. Followers are earned; they are not automatic.

In this column, I’ll address the third point and include steps to convert subordinates into followers. But first, here are three quick opening thoughts to set the stage:

1. Subordinates are not committed, they are compliant.

By definition, a subordinate is “a person under authority or control of another within an organization.” Frankly, this sounds more like a driven stake than a stakeholder. At the end of the day, a compliant subordinate tends to do just enough to get by and then stop. They have a “job,” and nothing more. It’s safe to say that you won’t build a great organization around this baseline level of effort.

By comparison, a follower is defined as, “a devotee to a particular person, activity or cause.” Someone devoted is far more likely to go the second mile than one who is just under authority and compliant.

2. Before you earn followers, you must first earn buy-in from your people. 

Buy-in is never automatic, regardless of how long you’ve been the leader, or even if you own the place. And until people buy into you, they’re not going to buy into your vision, ideas, changes, processes and more. Here’s a quick run-down of what subordinates must buy into to become followers:

  • Your character. They ask, “Can I trust you?”
  • Your competence. They need to see that you: know what you’re doing, make good decisions, and are steering them towards success.
  • Your consistency. Do you demonstrate sound character and competence consistently, or only every once-in-a-while?
  • Your compassion. Do you care about them, or are they just another head in a herd of cattle—a means to an end that you use to get what you want out of life?

3. Just as your leadership style can convert subordinates into followers, so can it demote followers into subordinates.

Your leadership ultimately elevates or devastates team effort and performance.

With the following points in mind, here are four steps to convert subordinates into followers:

4. Enroll team members in a mission and vision bigger than themselves.

Mission and vision unify a team around a common purpose and direction. This addresses an important human need, not just in the workplace, but in life: human beings want to feel part of something special; that they have a cause—a campaign—and not just an existence.

Mission is your purpose and defines why you exist as an organization. Without a clear and compelling mission, team members are prone to develop their own agendas and do what’s right in their own eyes, instead of what moves the team forward as a whole. Vision is a specific and quantifiable direction, giving the team a common goal to unite behind and work towards. Strong mission and vision bring clarity to the workplace, and clarity empowers people, focuses attention, and ignites effort.

 5. Prepare to earn buy-in daily.

Buy-in earns the discretionary effort necessary to move subordinates into the ranks of a true follower. Discretionary effort is the extra work someone puts in because they want to, not because they’re required to. It’s the mark of strong teams, robust cultures, and effective leadership. In fact, you can measure your own leadership by how much discretionary effort you’re currently getting from your team. If it’s a lot, then congratulations. If it’s anemic, you have some work to do.

 6. Learn how to motivate team members as unique individuals.

You must know people to move people; and, when you take the time to find out what moves each of your people personally, you help build the personal connection that foreruns commitment. Did you get that last point? Connection foreruns commitment. That being said, do you spend enough time connecting with, building relationships with, and trying to understand the unique makeup of each of your direct reports? If not, you have even more work to do.

7. Invest heavily in their development.

Knowing that they’re growing motivates, stretches, and inspires team members to give greater effort to apply what they’re learning and achieve even more. One of the greatest triggers for extra performance in the workplace is knowing you’re getting better and wanting to show it. As you spend time and money investing in your people, they tend to want to use what they’re learning and will become more committed performers in the process. Frankly, if you don’t invest in your people, not only do you not deserve buy-in from them, but you also don’t deserve to retain them at all; and, you probably won’t—it’s just a matter of time.

As you become more aware of the steps you need to take to earn and keep buy-in, and convert subordinates into followers, you’ll find it’s not a to-do list item that you ever scratch off as “complete.” Rather, it’s a daily leadership discipline that pays substantial benefits for the leaders who care enough about their people to prioritize their people in this manner.

Give It Up!

April 13th, 2017

Give It up!

By Dave Anderson

 

In sports you hear much about an athlete being “in the zone,” where their focus is sharper and performance excels. But being in the zone doesn’t apply only to athletics; it’s relevant in any job or endeavor where performance matters.

The “zone” is defined as: a temporary heightened state of focus that enables peak performance. With that in mind, our objective should be to make the state of heightened focus less temporary, so that peak performance can continue—and to help our people do likewise. In order to get in your zone more often and stay there longer, it’s important to identify the things that can put you there, or take you out of a heightened state of focus. Following are five things we have to give up to get in our zone more often and stay there longer, so we can then go up to the next level of performance and results.

 

  1. Excuses. You can’t focus on what you can control, maintain a play-to-win mindset, or operate at peak levels while you’re making excuses. Excuses waste time and energy as you rationalize why you’re not responsible, rather than: owning your results, staying in your zone, and moving forward. If you dropped the ball or fall short just say, “I screwed up. I own it. I’ll be better because of what I’ve learned from it, and I’m moving on.” There is no retort for that brutal honesty, nor is focus lost on achieving the objectives that matter most. Excuses are zone-busters. Owning your results heightens focus and enables peak performance.
  1. Procrastination. Procrastination breaks momentum and wastes time as you continually revisit matters that should have already been decided or executed. Nor can you maintain a state of heightened focus when you’re going in circles. Action keeps you in motion and enhances focus. Even wrong action can benefit you—if you’re paying attention, realize your error, learn something in the process, correct your course, and then restart progress towards your goals. Procrastination is a zone-buster. Taking action on what needs to be done heightens focus.
  1. Obsessing over competitors. In one of my workshops I describe the differences between caretakers, playmakers and game changers within an organization. Caretakers hope they can measure up to expectations, or to what a competitor is doing. Playmakers study the competition and devise a plan to counter them. Game changers act as though they are the competition and set a pace others must study, counter, and combat. Of course, you should be aware of your competition; but, you can’t focus on what you do best and operate at peak performance levels when you’re obsessing over them.
  1. A focus on external conditions. The weather, economy, manufacturer’s decisions, product recalls, interest rates, a competitor’s advertising and actions, the time of year, and factors like these are among external conditions that can impact results but are beyond your control. There will always be external conditions you can blame for a lack of results, and by doing so lose a sense of heightened focus on what you can control—taking a giant leap out of your zone in the process. As a leader it’s essential that you get this—you are still responsible for results, and when you blame external conditions to justify your failures you are confessing two things: you don’t have control of your destiny, and you don’t have a solution. And leaders get paid to be in control and find solutions. By resolving up front that you will not allow external conditions to dictate outcomes, you heighten your focus on what you can do and control to get the job done. Navigating through obstacles with a locked-in focus on results keeps you in your zone. Blaming external conditions is a zone-buster.
  1. Complacency. By its very definition of being calmly content and smugly self-satisfied, complacency is an obvious and brutal zone-buster. Your chances of having a heightened state of focus that enables peak performance while calmly content are nil. A heightened state of focus activates energy, creates urgency and drives alertness; not something you’re likely to feel when smugly self-satisfied.

 

Excuses, procrastination, obsessing over competitors, focusing on external conditions and complacency are common conditions in even ultra-successful dealerships, from the top down to the front line. This is why so many businesses, while “successful,” also miss their potential by a mile. People go out of their zone too often, and take too long to find their way back in, often requiring a deadline, incentive, threat, or end of the month push to create the heightened state of focus needed to finish well. And while we’re all human and can expect to take the bait and step out of our zone throughout our lives—engaging in factors like these and others like them—if we are going to grow to our maximum potential two things must happen:

  • We must increase awareness of what our zone is, how to get in it, and then recognize when we’ve come out of it so we leave it less often.
  • When we do bust out of our zone we need to recognize it faster, and return to it as soon as possible.

If we can do those two things consistently well, we will far surpass our past results as an organization, as well as improve over our former self as a leader.

Stay in Your Zone!

April 13th, 2017

 Stay in Your Zone!

By Dave Anderson

 

Effective and consistent execution requires a combination of both skill set and mindset. The five-step execution process I lay out in my book, “It’s Not Rocket Science: Four Simple Strategies for Mastering the Art of Execution” provides a framework to develop the skill set. However, until you develop the mental focus, toughness, and consistency to want to execute daily—and to hold others accountable for doing likewise—simply having another process that is implemented only occasionally won’t help much, if at all.

Following are a handful of what I call “Game Changer Mindset Builders” (affirmations, of sorts) that focus on execution. I teach these in my workshops, and they have been helpful in influencing attendees to develop an execution mentality that helps them get more of the right things done both consistently and with more excellence. Reading them as a part of your morning motivational routine, discussing them in meetings, and working them into your everyday thinking and behaviors will be a key to executing the daily disciplines necessary to reach your vision—to help you close the gap between knowing what to do and actually doing it. The reality is, until you’re thinking right you are not likely to execute right.

Just like any athlete or other performer, we all have a “zone” where we are laser-focused, energized, effective, and resilient. Out of that zone, we are spread thin, overwhelmed, and trying to play catch up. It is tough to demonstrate a killer instinct or gain momentum when you are working outside your zone.  When you are in your execution zone work is fun, time flies, and you are getting results and making a maximum impact. By getting in your zone daily—preferably before you even get to work—you will get more done in less time, and do so with less people and fewer opportunities. That’s the power of execution: you accomplish more of what matters most, with less. Despite having a great execution process, until you are mentally checked in and locked in each day, you will miss your potential by a mile. Weaving these eight points into your thinking will help put you in your execution zone and keep you there day-in and day-out.

  1. I avoid zone busters.

Zone busters take me out of my zone. They break momentum, distract me, and drain urgency and killer instinct. I avoid zone busters, and if I slip into one I get out FAST. Zone busters include things like bitterness, blame, excuses, revenge, gossip, judging, wrong associations, garbage media, immoral activities, jealousy, envy, self-promotion, selfishness, worry, self-pity, complacency, taking offense, and the like.

  1. I prove myself over again every day.

Yesterday ended last night. I will prepare my mind, and prove myself over again today. I won’t borrow credibility, nor rehearse hurts from the past. I will bring it all, fully engage, and be totally used up by day’s end. I will live with a “stay hungry” Red Belt mindset.

  1. I don’t allow external conditions to dictate outcomes.

When things out of my control conspire against me, I still take responsibility. If I blame conditions it weakens me and takes me out of my zone, and I’m admitting I don’t have control or a solution—and I always proceed as though I have control and a solution. Thus, I will take responsibility and navigate through adverse conditions by focusing on the things I can control. I won’t let external conditions dictate the outcome.

  1. I have situations not problems.

Problems are negatives, and I won’t automatically label something as a negative, because it may be a positive in disguise. Problems weaken me and can take me out of my zone, whereas situations energize me and keep me laser-focused. I only have problems if I react wrongly to situations and thereby create them.

  1. I renounce excuses.

I don’t make excuses because excuses weaken me and others, and take us out of our zones. Excuses waste my energy and distract me from executing what matters most. I can’t have a killer instinct and make excuses simultaneously. Excuses are the DNA of underachievers, and they make me less as a person. They are the language of losers. I renounce them.

  1. I am responsible.

I take responsibility because doing so empowers me and keeps me in my zone. Taking responsibility preserves my self-esteem, earns respect, and keeps me focused on moving forward. Blame makes me a victim; blame is the anti-focus and is the language of losers. I will never blame. I will always take responsibility.

  1. I own it.

When it comes to my actions, doing my job, and handling any responsibility given to me, I OWN IT. Regardless of the conditions or outcome, I take complete responsibility, even if it is not technically all mine to bear. I own it without excuse or explanation because owning it keeps me in control and in my zone. When conditions beyond my control conspire against me, I STILL OWN IT, because my mindset is to navigate through conditions and still get results. I have two options every day: performance, or excuses—and I never choose excuses because I OWN IT.

  1. I will carry the load.

Going into every day, I’m aware that at least one person on my team may take the day off mentally, and possibly physically. It will never be me. I will pick up the slack, lead by the right personal example, and carry the team on my back if I have to. I’m the leader, and that’s what leaders do.

Most leaders develop a Game Changer mindset towards the end of the month, when time is running out and their paycheck and reputation are on the line. But if you want jump from being the occasional playmaker to the consistent game changer, you have got to develop the mindset to bring the necessary toughness, focus and energy to execute incessantly every day. And every day means EVERY DAY. #EDMED.

October 3rd, 2016

Listen now to Dave’s interview on the Small Business Advocate Radio Network where he talks about Undertakers, Caretakers, Playmakers and Game Changers and how to develop a Game Changer mindset! Three segments of about 6 minutes each.

Building A High-Performance Culture Part XXV

March 29th, 2016

Words that Hurt: Pride

In this post on building a high-performance culture, I’m identifying the word “pride” as one belonging on the “Words that hurt” column. The pride that comes from satisfaction in doing good work is not the pride I’m referring to. Rather, the ego-driven pride that incites a multitude of leadership failures is the kind of pride I will highlight.

Since it has been awhile since my last post, take a moment to review the strong and weak cultural words listed so you can conceptualize the ideal culture to move your organization towards—as well as what you must weed out of your culture in order to maximize your organization’s potential.

Words that work and must be woven into culture

Earn: to acquire through merit.

Deserve: to be worthy of; to qualify for.

Consistent: constantly adhering to the same principles.

Hope: grounds for believing something in the future will happen.

Catalyst: a person or thing that makes something happen.

Responsible: to be the primary cause of something.

Tough-minded: strong willed, vigorous, not easily swayed.

Loyal: faithfulness to one’s duties or obligations.

Passion: a strong feeling or enthusiasm about something, or about doing something.

Discipline: an activity, regimen, or exercise that develops or improves a habit or skill.

Commit: to pledge oneself to something.

Prune: to remove what is undesirable.

Wise: having or showing good judgement.

Diligent: giving constant effort to accomplish something.

Hunger: an intense desire, a compelling craving.

Fitness: being in good health, especially because of regular exercise.

 

Words that hurt and must be weeded out of culture

Fault: responsibility for failure.

Blame: to assign responsibility for failure.

Excuse: a plea offered to explain away a fault or failure.

Mediocre: average, ordinary, not outstanding.

Wish: to want something that cannot, or probably will not happen.

Entitle: a claim to something you feel you are owed.

Sloth: reluctance to work or exert effort; laziness.

Complacent: calmly content, smugly self-satisfied.

Maintain: to cause (something) to exist or continue without changing.

Apathy: a lack of enthusiasm, interest, or concern.

Interest: to be curious about (as opposed to being committed).

Foolish: lacking good sense or judgment.

Micromanage: to control with excessive attention to minor details.

Pride:  having or showing an excessively high opinion of oneself or of one’s importance.

 

Cultures with a prideful leader can expect to see the following:

  1. A leader who doesn’t admit mistakes.
  1. A leader prone to blame conditions or other people for his or her lack of success.
  1. A leader who withholds, or even hogs, the credit for team success.
  1. A leader who doesn’t delegate to others.
  1. A leader who fails to empower others, and personally makes all decisions.
  1. A leader who believes certain standards or values that others must live do not apply to him or her.
  1. A selfish leader who isn’t a team player, and who is primarily in it for himself or herself.
  1. A leader who fails to develop others, because he sees little value in others.
  1. A leader prone to becoming overwhelmed because she will not ask for help, or admit when she is in over her head.
  1. A leader uncommitted to personal development because he feels he is good enough as he is.
  2. A leader who believes certain tasks are beneath him, and thus leads   by the wrong personal example.
  3. A leader who treats front line team members poorly or with indifference.
  4. A leader who talks far more than he listens, and normally it is about himself.
  5. A leader unreceptive to ideas other than his or her own; who rarely seeks them out and quickly dismisses them when offered to him or her.
  6. A leader resentful of feedback, and who is more likely to argue with it than entertain its value.
  7. A leader who develops blind spots because people are afraid to speak up and share the reality about what is going on in the organization.
  8. A leader who focuses more on being served, rather than on adding value to others and serving them.

This list could continue for a while, but the seventeen points offered paint a fairly clear portrait of what a prideful leader looks like. The harm to culture, momentum, morale, trust and personal credibility for demonstrating some—or all—of these traits is staggering.

While any leader may demonstrate an unhealthy pride from time to time—after all, we are all human—the leaders who destroy cultures and people are those in whom these behaviors are dominant, rather than the exception.

The bottom line is this: do not expect to build a fit culture with an unfit leader. And prideful leaders are the poster-children for leadership unfitness—a culture’s most devastating and insurmountable infection.

Building a High-Performance Culture Part XXIV

December 1st, 2015

Words that Work: Excellence

In this post on building a high-performance culture, I’m adding the word “excellence” to the “words that work” category. While being better than the competition is noteworthy and motivating, true excellence is something altogether different.

I’ll explain more about cultural excellence below; but first, review the strong and weak cultural words listed so you can conceptualize the ideal culture to move your organization towards, as well as what you must weed out of your culture in order to maximize your organization’s potential.

Words that work and must be woven into culture

Earn: to acquire through merit.

Deserve: to be worthy of; to qualify for.

Consistent: constantly adhering to the same principles.

Hope: grounds for believing something in the future will happen.

Catalyst: a person or thing that makes something happen.

Responsible: to be the primary cause of something.

Tough-minded: strong willed, vigorous, not easily swayed.

Loyal: faithfulness to one’s duties or obligations.

Passion: a strong feeling or enthusiasm about something, or about doing something.

Discipline: an activity, regimen, or exercise that develops or improves a habit or skill.

Commit: to pledge oneself to something.

Prune: to remove what is undesirable.

Wise: having or showing good judgement.

Diligent: giving constant effort to accomplish something.

Hunger: an intense desire, a compelling craving.

Fitness: being in good health, especially because of regular exercise.

 

Words that hurt and must be weeded out of culture

Fault: responsibility for failure.

Blame: to assign responsibility for failure.

Excuse: a plea offered to explain away a fault or failure.

Mediocre: average, ordinary, not outstanding.

Wish: to want something that cannot, or probably will not happen.

Entitle: a claim to something you feel you are owed.

Sloth: reluctance to work or exert effort; laziness.

Complacent: calmly content, smugly self-satisfied.

Maintain: to cause (something) to exist or continue without changing.

Apathy: a lack of enthusiasm, interest, or concern.

Interest: to be curious about (as opposed to being committed).

Foolish: lacking good sense or judgment.

Micromanage: to control with excessive attention to minor details.

There’s normally a strong competition among peers in an industry, company or league to become “number one” in a given area. Many believe that once they’ve achieved this ranking that they’ve also attained excellence. However, it is entirely possible to be number one and also be worse than you used to be. Thus, you’re number one not because of excellence, but simply because others are worse than you.

Excellence is defined as being “superior” or “eminent.” Again, this makes it easy to believe that because one is ranked higher than another—since they are “superior” to a competitive entity—they have attained excellence. But strong cultures take and embrace a different view: they see excellence as being superior to what they once were. They are their own competition, and by continuing the quest to better their prior best, they become eminent—excellent—in the process.

By redefining excellence in your organization in this manner you will shift your team’s focus from the pride or smugness that may come with being number one in a league everyone else is in, to striving to get so good at what they do they create an entirely different league—and are the only ones in it.

Building a High Performance Culture Part XXIII

August 21st, 2015

Words that Work: Fitness

In this post on building a high performance culture I’m adding the word “fitness” to the “words that work” category. While a healthy culture is good, fit cultures become great.

I’ll explain the difference below, but first review the strong and weak cultural words below so you can conceptualize the ideal culture to move your organization towards, as well as what you must weed out of your culture in order to maximize your organization’s potential.

Words that work and must be woven into culture

Earn: to acquire through merit.

Deserve: to be worthy of; to qualify for.

Consistent: constantly adhering to the same principles.

Hope: grounds for believing something in the future will happen.

Catalyst: a person or thing that makes something happen.

Responsible: to be the primary cause of something.

Tough-minded: strong willed, vigorous, not easily swayed.

Loyal: faithfulness to one’s duties or obligations.

Passion: a strong feeling or enthusiasm about something, or about doing something.

Discipline: an activity, regimen, or exercise that develops or improves a habit or skill.

Commit: to pledge oneself to something.

Prune: to remove what is undesirable.

Wise: having or showing good judgement.

Diligent: giving constant effort to accomplish something.

Hunger: an intense desire, a compelling craving.

 

Words that hurt and must be weeded out of culture

Fault: responsibility for failure.

Blame: to assign responsibility for failure.

Excuse: a plea offered to explain away a fault or failure.

Mediocre: average, ordinary, not outstanding.

Wish: to want something that cannot, or probably will not happen.

Entitle: a claim to something you feel you are owed.

Sloth: reluctance to work or exert effort; laziness.

Complacent: calmly content, smugly self-satisfied.

Maintain: to cause (something) to exist or continue without changing.

Apathy: a lack of enthusiasm, interest or concern.

Interest: to be curious about. (as opposed to being committed).

Foolish: lacking good sense or judgment.

Micromanage: to control with excessive attention to minor details.

There’s a lot of talk within organizations about growth and not nearly enough about health; but there’s even less discussion on the concept of corporate fitness. Frankly, an organization won’t continue to grow if it becomes unhealthy, so working to create cultural health by weaving the words that work into your foundation, and weeding out the works that hurt is an ongoing priority.

Health is defined as “being free from illness or disease.” When a culture becomes unhealthy—sick—due to infections like selfish leadership, entitled team members, lack of accountability, the acceptance of mediocrity, pervasive bureaucracy, or the tolerance of toxic achievers, growth stops and decline begins. So while ridding a culture from illness and disease is essential to becoming healthy and building a good organization, it’s not enough to allow an organization to reach its fullest potential.

Organizational greatness isn’t possible without cultural fitness. Fitness is defined as “being in good health, especially because of regular exercise.” In great organizations there are regular exercises—key disciplines—that are implemented with consistent excellence that elevate it from being good to greatness. Some of these exercises are:

  • Rigorous recruiting, interviewing and hiring processes.
  • Highly effective and consistent training, feedback, coaching and mentoring.
  • Living, breathing, walking and talking the mission, vision and values.
  • Defining, then redefining whenever necessary, the performance standards most vital to optimize results.
  • Swift accountability to check poor performance or remove poor performers.
  • Creating a ferocious focus on the key lead measures—essential daily activities—in each job position and ensuring they’re executed with excellence daily.

Just as unfit bodies are limited in their effectiveness and lifespan, so are unfit organizations. To become fit corporately, one must dismiss the “ten day diet” versions of quick fixes or silver bullets and employ disciplines like those listed day in and day out, without excuse, and regardless of the cost.

Incidentally, the fitness of a culture is a direct reflection of its leader’s fitness. A “sick” leader has no chance of creating a fit culture.