5 Leadership Priorities During Times of Crises #BaltimoreRiots

“It was only a matter of time before Baltimore exploded,” Michael Fletcher explains in his excellent Washington Post article digging a level deeper into the rioting and destruction in Baltimore this week.

He stated,  “Baltimore is not Ferguson and its primary problems are not racial.”

There’s a huge economic divide that has been eating away the infrastructure of our city for years.

The city has changed dramatically in my lifetime. The once safe-feeling row house neighborhood where my father grew up now faces many of the economic issues underlying the protests.

What Baltimore needs next is strong leadership.

In yesterday’s post, I asked the LGL community to offer their insights on what must happen next in Baltimore. The response was tremendous. I look forward to continue to collect your comments to take forward to Baltimore leadership to instigate change.

5 Leadership Priorities Baltimore Must Address

The main idea was that the problem is aggravated by a lack of shared vision of what must happen next, and an unwillingness of leaders on both sides of the issues to take a united stand, roll-up their sleeves and send a clear message on a path forward.

1. A Unified Leadership Front

We’ve got glimpses–gang members from rival gangs working together, 100 church leaders marching arm in arm through the burning rubble asking protesters to stop the violence, and Orioles COO, John Angelos tweeting about decades of inequities underlying the eruption of violence.  But it’s not enough.

We need elected officials, fire chiefs, gang leaders, church leaders, student leaders, COOs, and celebrated athletes coming together to say “STOP: THIS IS OUR CITY AND WE CAN’T DESTROY IT!” along with a clear commitment to get in a room and work it through in a collaborative way.

2. A Deep and Candid Conversation on the Issues

Violent demonstrations such as this happen when people feel their voice isn’t being heard.

We need to follow the lead of other cities like Chicago who have engaged collaborative conversation through appreciative inquiry and structured conversations.

I’ve been disappointed at how many key leaders have been told “not to comment.”

I was even asked, “Are you sure you want to get involved in this? Is it good for your brand?”

My brand is authenticity, and leading with confident humility. If not on important issues like this, when?

Leadership that matters will always annoy someone.

Honestly, what has surprised me most is all the emails coming in in lieu of comments. Folks who have something important to say, but somehow only want to say it to me.

3. Swift Action

Leaders need to take swift and bold action to make some crucial decisions.

I don’t pretend to understand why the mayor vetoed the body camera bill last year, and what was different about her proposal this February that is still swirling. I do know that quick action in this arena would be a sincere step toward additional transparency.

4. A Clear Path Forward

Citizens are looking for guidance on what to do. Thousands came to Baltimore to support the clean up efforts, because someone organized it. Many churches in our area (including my own) are holding special services and prayer vigils. We could get these concerned citizens to “pray with their feet” if we just told them how, and offered scaffolding that made it feel safe.positive baltimore

What we need is a place where the anger, heartache, love, and hope can be put to good use. Outside of the broken souls who ransacked stores and scrambled through the streets last night with as much booze and stolen goods as they could carry, I don’t imagine anyone turned on the news last night and said. “Good. Let it burn!” I even saw a young man, who claimed to be Crips leader quoted as saying, “This is our neighborhood, but we can’t control it now…”

But where do you start? How can you help? I’m a middle class white-guy, born in Baltimore, but raised in the suburbs. I love the city and like to consider myself from there, but I can’t claimed to have lived it. I’ve been a spectator at best. What should I be doing? Should I grab a shovel and start scooping out the ashes of CVS and the dozens of mom and pop shops that may never recover? Maybe. Should I stand with the non-violent protesters on Eutaw Street? I probably should have done that two days ago, but I don’t know that that would have helped and the truth is we don’t know exactly what happened to Freddie Gray. It’s an injustice to be sure, but a vague one that presents little course of action other than outrage. So, most of us do nothing. We shake our head at the news and then move on with our day.

I suppose what I would say to our leaders is that the outrage, the sadness, and the concern are wasted resources. There are many who will help if given clear direction. Tell us what to do and where we’re needed. Clear a path to the greater good and build a better city than the one we had. It’s not about one night or one issue. It’s about creating an environment where last night is impossible.

5. Admitting Mistakes for Proactive Action in Other Cities

It’s hard to know what to say and do in such scenes.  God only knows I’ve said some stupid things under fire. The mayor’s “room to destroy” comment is distracting the media from the real issue. She can make this go away by saying, “Yup, poor word choice. I am sorry. What I really meant was_____.”

Here’s what one concerned LGL tribe member shared:

From an outsider’s perspective (though, an outsider that experienced something similar during Hurricane Katrina) it seems that a simple conversation between community leaders could not only resolve this, but also serve as a model for communities dealing with similar issues across the US and even the world. I think Baltimore would be smart to capitalize on the opportunity to help the world take a big step forward.

Our worst times in history are aggravated or improved by the leadership response. My hope for Baltimore is that we will have more leaders leading with confident humility, setting egos and agendas aside and rebuilding our city to be so much better than before that no lives, property or effort was wasted.

*Pics shared with me by Civic Works Baltimore a non-profit strengthening Baltimore’s communities through education, skills development, and community service.

I was delighted to share a bit of discussion on Canada Talks Radio last night. You can hear the audio here., as well as an interview with Matt Tenney in the Huffington Post. 

Riots in Baltimore: Why I Need You to Help Me Write My Next Post

I don’t usually write on Tuesdays, but it would be irresponsible to not write in the midst of the chaos brewing in my hometown, Baltimore. For my international viewers, Baltimore has joined the cities featured on CNN and the morning shows due to their looting and protest-related violence as a response to the Freddie Gray tragedy.

As I write this, the sun hasn’t even set. We’re all deeply worried about what will manifest overnight. I’ve lived in the Baltimore area my whole life. I have great childhood memories of sitting with my grandpa with the radio on listening to the Orioles game and the cheers from Memorial Stadium (precursor to Camden Yards) coming across their backyard.

I watched our Inner Harbor go from a place you feared, to “opening day” at Harbor Place with my uncles and feeling like we were in Disneyland.

And tonight we watch our city being torn apart by divergent opinion. The issues are real. People are getting hurt. Those sticking up for what they believe on both sides are suffering. Those working to express their concerns calmly are being overshadowed by violence. As the wife of a firefighter and a good friend of several police officers who I know are deeply commited to ensuring everyone is treated fairly, I worry extra hard about those working to keep the peace.

There are good guys on both sides hurting, expressing, risking.

If there was ever a need for leadership in Baltimore this is it.

What would you do next if you were in charge?

Even if you’ve never commented before, please lean in.

My next post will work to gather your important ideas into themes.

Namaste.

5 Ways to Ensure Your Voice is Heard

In the Q&A after my keynote the other day, a woman (ironically after refusing to use my microphone) asked, “You know that part where you talk about Professor Lupin and facing your fears? What if your biggest fear is that you won’t be heard… how do you make that feel ridiculous?”

We chatted for a moment about really considering what “the worst thing that could happen” was in this scenario. And what would happen if she didn’t speak up at all, which would ensure her fear had come true.  And then she said, “But what if they use the same idea when someone else says it?”

I then I understood that her question was less about fear and more of a “How do I?” question (see also David Dye’s “Leaders Are You Answering the Wrong Question?”).

Eager eyes awaited my response. Apparently she wasn’t the only one facing that challenge.

5 Ways to Ensure Your Voice is Heard:  The VOICE approach

First, when someone offers you a mic, take it. If someone else has to repeat what you say, you’ve already lost some impact. Sometimes the mic is metaphorical (like pulling your chair up to the table if you’re sitting on the sidelines). Here are a few other additional tips.

VVisualize

Visualize what you are going to say and how you’re going to say it. Include it all–the eye contact, the sitting up tall with an open stance, strong projection and confident tone. Visualize their receptive response. It’s much easier to feel confident when you’ve practiced.

O- Organize 

Organize your thoughts in advance. Make an outline if needed. Consider the key points that will support your point of view. Know your opening sentence, so you won’t be tempted to start with a pre-apology (e.g. “This may be a bad idea, but…”)

I- Inquire

If possible do your homework in advance and be aware of other’s opinions on the topic. If you’re responding spontaneously, then ask for feedback. (e.g. “How do you think idea could impact our project?”)

C- Consider

Listen carefully to the opinions and ideas of others. Thank them and respond appropriately, building on and integrating their ideas if possible.

E- Energize

Stay energetic in your delivery. It’s hard to ignore someone is genuinely passionate about their point of view.

Most importantly, be sure you believe what you have to say. If you’re unsure, your audience will be equally skeptical.

Leadership credo Spring 2015

The Power of a Change of Venue

It’s tricky for all of us. I’m teaching the only leadership course these accounting students will take as part of their masters programs. The class runs from 5-10 PM after most have worked all day in their internships, and we’re crammed into a room too small for the big moving around that is critical under such conditions.

All but a handful are on visas from China. This is their final semester, and most who are not finding a job, face a fast-ticking clock that matters.

A good number name public speaking as their greatest fear, and of course it’s a leadership class, and it’s me, and it’s five hours…everybody needs to talk.

Which brings us to tonight, where each student was asked to present their leadership credo (if you want to try this click here, or heck, let me come help you 😉

Now, this is a Karin Hurt classic. It never fails. Until tonight, or so I thought.

The Power of a Change of Venue

It was time to present the credos–the student’s “This I believe” on leadership. Each student sat straight up in their seats. I could see glimpses, so I was optimistic of effort, but nearly everyone had their credo turned face down on the desk.  I invited volunteers to share their credo. I was met with crickets. Then two brave souls came forth with rock star quality presentations— followed by (you guessed it)–more crickets. The class looked at me with big, longing eyes waiting for me to move on. I offered a prize for the creativity folks most admired–not helpful.

Perhaps it was the tenacity to not let this fail, or the panic I felt realizing that this exercise should fill an hour and “We can’t be done in two minutes!”–but, I regrouped.

“I can see you’ve got great stuff by the glimpses I caught as you entered the room. I also see most of you don’t feel comfortable sharing in a crowd.

Let’s go into the hallway.” 45 students formed two circles and I quickly arranged a “speed dating” kind of sharing.

The energy level went up about 10 times, and I quickly realized my previously shy students had something important to say.

One minute in, it was clear, we were disturbing the surrounding classes.

I interrupted. “That’s the spirit! But, now ironically, we’re too loud.” Would anyone object to going outside? (It was sunny but a bit chilly.)

And off we went. You would have thought I had started serving cocktails. Bystanders  were staring as they walked by to see what we were up to.

They shared and admired and celebrated their leadership teachable point of views.

As we returned inside, I shared my “teachable moment.”

“My leadership was failing. I tried to get you to follow and you refused. I had to take a step back and regroup and change the approach (and in this case the venue). If no one’s following, blaming it on your followers may feel good, but it won’t work. If you’re really blowing it, step back and try again.”

And then the magic happened. The class selected one of their quietest members as their “winner” for creativity and content. And then, classmates who had never participated started sharing their credos. The rest of the evening went a whole lot quicker. Ahhh the remarkable power of #confidenthumility.

Effective Communication Karin Hurt and David Dye

How to Inspire Behavior Change

You’ve tried everything, and the bad behavior continues. You don’t want to say “You need to change this behavior or else,” but the truth is–there will be consequences. Keep that “feedback-is-a-gift-and-I-care-about-you” loving feeling in mind, while having a direct conversation about specifically what must change. Don’t linger. Don’t sandwich. Do document.

The INSPIRE Method

Use the INSPIRE method to have a short, to the point, specific conversation about what must change.

I-  Initiate

Initiate the conversation in a respectful manner. Traditional feedback models always start with “asking for permission.” Most of the time that’s an awesome start. Sometimes, though, the conversation isn’t optional. You may need to be more direct.

“I need to talk to you today.  Is this a convenient time?”

N- Notice

Share your concern or observation.

“I’ve noticed there are paint drips on the floor when you leave a job.”

Or, “In listening to your calls, I’ve noticed you’re not really making a connection with the customer.”

S- Support

Provide supporting evidence.

“In the last two homes you painted, there was splattering on the hardwood in the dining room and on the rug in the baby’s room.”

Or, “When the customer told you they were calling to disconnect because their spouse had died, you didn’t express any empathy, you just said that you would be happy to disconnect the line.”

P- Provide

Provide specific suggestions on how the employee could improve.

“I suggest you put down a drop cloth every time you paint.  You should also use masking tape to protect drips on the molding.”

Or, “I suggest you stop to listen to what the customer is really saying, and pause and use an empathy statement before you jump right into action.”

I- Inquire

Ask one or two open ended questions to check for understand and one closed ended question to secure commitment.

“How would your results be better if you did that every time?”

“What concerns do you have about this approach?”

“Do I have your commitment to do that going forward?”

R- Review

Ask them to review what they are committing to do.

“Would you please recap what you’re going to differently next time?”

E- Enforce

Enforce the behavior and why it’s important, while reinforcing your confidence that they can do this.

“Using the drop cloth is a fundamental requirement of this job. In order for you to continue in this position you need to do a quality job.”

“I’m going to check back with you on your next three paint jobs (or calls) and look to ensure you keeping your commitment.”

“You are a very important member of this team and I have every confidence you can do this well.”

“Thank you.”

Often when behavior isn’t changing the feedback is too vague or the conversation goes so long, the employee forgets specifically what they need to do. Work to INSPIRE specific behavior change by using this easy technique.

37 Questions to Ask Yourself When Your Team Lacks Energy

I was giving a keynote on Saturday to large group of administrative professionals. My speech followed the recognition lunch. In addition to their formal awards, they did one of my favorites, “Stand up if _____.” “Stand up if you’ve received your certification (nearly everyone in the room stood).” “Stand up, if you’ve achieved another important professional milestone (again, the room looked like a standing ovation).” “Stand up if you made a significant contribution as a volunteer this year (nearly all again.)” “Stand up if you’ve received any kind of recognition this year at your job (about 2% of the room stood).” I’m sure the intention wasn’t to prove that point, but it raised an important issue. These hard-working admins in vital roles, felt their contributions were not being recognized as they should.

Earlier that week I was working with a group of frontline leaders who supervise construction workers. I asked “What can you tell me about your team members? Are they married? Do they have kids? What do they like to do for fun?” One of the guys admitted. “Well, I only find out about that stuff when it becomes a problem. Like if they have to call take their kid to the doctors and miss work. Now that I think about it, it’s always in a negative context.”

If you’re full of energy, but your team looks like they need a good shot of an energy drink to get going, ask yourself these questions.

37 Questions to Ask Yourself if Your Team Lacks Energy

Do I SEE them for who they are?

  • What do I know about my team members as people (e.g. What do they do for fun? What is their significant other’s name?) This free tool can help. connections worksheet
  • Do I know about their additional talents and skills (those not necessarily used in their core job) that we could tap into for special projects or events?
  • Do I help them leverage and develop their strengths?

Do I TRUST them?

  • Do I rely on them to make decisions in their areas of expertise?
  • Am I able to be vulnerable with them?

Am I SUPPORTING them?

  • How do I advocate for them and their careers?
  • Who needs more support?
  • Have I ensured they have adequate tools and resources to be effective?

Am I CONNECTING with them?

  • Does my team truly understand what we’re trying to accomplish and why?
  • Do we have times that we talk about things other than work?
  • Do we enjoy being around one another?

Am I HEARING what they are telling me?

  • How could I make it easier for them to give me feedback?
  • When someone gives me bad news, how do I respond?
  • Do I ask for their opinions?

Am INCLUDING them?

  • Do I involve them in decisions?
  • Am I willing to share sensitive information?
  • Do I give them opportunities to present to my boss?

Are we SUCCEEDING?

  • Do we take time to understand our successes as well as our failures?
  • How do I help my team become more resilient to setbacks?
  • What could we start doing today that would have the biggest impact on our results?

Am I RECOGNIZING their contributions?

  • Do I provide a good mix of positive and constructive feedback?
  • Do I say “thank you” enough?
  • Do I know how each of my team members likes to be recognized?

Are we HAVING FUN?

  • Do we find time to enjoy our work and one another?
  • Do I create an environment that fosters creativity and fun?

Am I REAL with them?

  • Do I share my thoughts and feelings with candor?
  • Do I explain the reasons behind controversial decisions?

In other news.

energize your leadership16 Authors from around the world met through social media and discovered a shared passion–leadership. We all have varying backgrounds ranging from senior leaders within organizations to consultants, coaches, bloggers, and authors. Today we announce the launch of our collaborative book, Energize Your Leadership. See the video trailer here, or visit our site.

Experts Share Their Thoughts on “Spring Cleaning:” A Frontline Festival

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. Our April Festival is all about spring cleaning. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pics and to all our contributors! Next month’s Festival is all about energizing leadership. New contributors welcome.

Spring Cleaning Our Priorities, Attitudes and Skills

“We are used to cleaning the outside house, but the most important house to clean is yourself–your own house–which we never do.” -Marina Abramovic

David Dye of Trailblaze acknowledges that whether you’re a veteran leader or a first-timer team leader, there are fundamentals that are easy to forget but vital to remember. Spring is a great time to clear your head and focus on these 15 tips David shares to remind you what’s really important for you and your team. Follow David.

Chery Gegelman of Simply Understanding asks, “Have you ever… been bored from a lack of a challenge, tempted to rest on past successes, or gone in search of greener pastures just to grow?” Continuous Improvement increases satisfaction, engagement and growth – right where you are!   Follow Chery.

Bruce Harpham of Project Management Hacks says “Spring is a great time to be proactive in renewing your leadership using these 5 strategies. Review your progress on annual goals, discover good books for leaders and how to give back to your network.”  Follow Bruce.

In the post, When is it time to do nothing? Lisa Kohn of Thoughtful Leaders  shares that spring cleaning is essential for strong leadership, and that it’s possible to get there by actually doing nothing. By stepping back to take a breather, you can recharge, refresh, and renew and then enjoy your new outlook and enthusiasm when you step back in.  Follow Lisa.

Terri Klass of Terri Klass Consulting asks if you’ve conducted your leadership spring tune-up?  Follow Terri. 

Susan Mazza of Random Acts of Leadership advises that declaring your purpose has power to complete your past, provide a mirror to your present, and guide you into your future. Follow Susan.

LaRae Quy of Mental Toughness Center shares that adding emotions as a component of mental toughness may seem at odds with the critical thinking that is required in the tough world of business today. But researchers are realizing that the key to lifelong success and happiness is the regular exercise of a single emotional muscle—gratitude. Follow LaRae.

Spring reminds us how to make leadership bloom – our eyes are opened to the beauty of what is ahead. Soul Sparks are essential to tap into the beauty of leadership within ourselves and others.  Thanks, Jon Mertz of Thin Difference. Follow Jon.

Jeff Miller of the Faithful Pacesetters admits we can all get burned out at times. Is it possible we are not following the goals we had once set?  Follow Jeff. 

Alli Polin of Break the Frame  asks “Are you wondering if it’s time to take the alternate route or hang in there with your current direction? Here are a few truths to tap into during your decision-making process.”  Follow Alli.

Skip Pritchard of Leadership Insights posits that leaders have the power to choose seasons. As winter turns to spring, pause and throw out what is holding you back. Embrace the new season of hope because leadership requires spring cleaning of the mind even more than the home. Follow Skip.

Linda Fisher Thornton of Leading in Context shares that actions such as eating healthy foods, exercising and getting enough sleep all boost our individual immune systems. What actions can we take to boost our ethical immune systems? And how could doing that help us create more ethical organizations? Follow Linda.

David Tumbarello at Tumbarello Writing Solutions shares that it’s the time of year to define what is important, clean what is messy, and look for opportunities and challenges for growth and gives some simple suggestions that may help the new and experienced leader clear clutter and allow priorities to rise to the top.  Follow David.

 Spring Cleaning Our Environment


Spring cleaning“If you want to get rid of stuff, you can always do a good spring cleaning. Or you can do what I do. Move.” – Ellen DeGeneres

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited shares a 7-minute method for de-cluttering your office (or your house.) Follow Beth.

Paul LaRue of The UPwards Leader reminds us that revitalizing a staff and standards mean setting the example ourselves. Follow Paul.

Jennifer Miller of The People Equation reminds us that effective leadership requires clarity of mind. She explores the connection between physically cleaning the office and the resulting mental clarity that emerged. Follow Jennifer.

Spring Cleaning Our Company Culture and Teamwork

Spring cleaning 3“I’ve always valued and encouraged teamwork and that collaborative spirit of ‘we vs. I’ is core to Intuit’s success…” -Brad D. Smith

Wally Bock of Three-Star Leadership tells us that human beings can’t go full speed all the time. Take breaks–it will make you and your team more productive. Follow Wally.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement shares that creating a system where continual feeding is not needed is great. But if that isn’t the state of the organization yet, then continual feeding is required: or your improvement efforts will fall short of the potential gains, or die altogether. Follow John.

Matt McWilliams of Matt McWilliams Consulting asks, “Why do some teams seem to perpetually stay motivated while others fall flat?” This spring, make a commitment to keeping your team motivated with this one “secret” to great teams.”  Follow Matt.

Todd Ordal of Applied Strategy reminds us that Company culture is not something that just happens. Here is how a CEO can peer through the mist and build the one that they want.  Follow Todd.

Springtime reminds  Jesse Lyn Stoner of Seapoint Center of fruit trees and the power of values-driven companies–or more accurately–the cost of NOT being one. It’s why her tree service company lost her business. Here are 6 tips to clean up your team values. Follow Jesse Lyn.

Thanks to Larry Coppenrath for the great maps of today’s Festival. Follow Larry (click images to enlarge).

Spring Cleaning 1Spring Cleaning 2Spring Cleaning 3Spring Cleaning 4

Call for Submissions. The May Frontline Festival is about Energizing Leadership. Please send your submissions no later than May 8th. New participants welcome. Click here to join in!

In other news:

energizing leadersI’m excited to share that April 20th marks the launch of the release of a collaborative book, Energize Your Leadership, written by 16 thought leaders (many of whom are active contributors to this Festival.) Read the story of our collaboration here AND View the trailer.

Experts Share Their Thoughts on Spring Cleaning: A Frontline Festival

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. Our April Festival is all about spring cleaning. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pics and to all our contributors! Next month’s Festival is all about energizing leadership. New contributors welcome.

Spring Cleaning Our Priorities, Attitudes and Skills

“We are used to cleaning the outside house, but the most important house to clean is yourself–your own house–which we never do.” -Marina Abramovic

David Dye of Trailblaze acknowledges that whether you’re a veteran leader or a first-timer team leader, there are fundamentals that are easy to forget but vital to remember. Spring is a great time to clear your head and focus on these 15 tips David shares to remind you what’s really important for you and your team. Follow David.

Chery Gegelman of Simply Understanding asks, “Have you ever… been bored from a lack of a challenge, tempted to rest on past successes, or gone in search of greener pastures just to grow?” Continuous Improvement increases satisfaction, engagement and growth – right where you are!   Follow Chery.

Bruce Harpham of Project Management Hacks says “Spring is a great time to be proactive in renewing your leadership using these 5 strategies. Review your progress on annual goals, discover good books for leaders and how to give back to your network.”  Follow Bruce.

In the post, When is it time to do nothing? Lisa Kohn of Thoughtful Leaders  shares that spring cleaning is essential for strong leadership, and that it’s possible to get there by actually doing nothing. By stepping back to take a breather, you can recharge, refresh, and renew and then enjoy your new outlook and enthusiasm when you step back in.  Follow Lisa.

Terri Klass of Terri Klass Consulting asks if you’ve conducted your leadership spring tune-up?  Follow Terri. 

Susan Mazza of Random Acts of Leadership advises that declaring your purpose has power to complete your past, provide a mirror to your present, and guide you into your future. Follow Susan.

LaRae Quy of Mental Toughness Center shares that adding emotions as a component of mental toughness may seem at odds with the critical thinking that is required in the tough world of business today. But researchers are realizing that the key to lifelong success and happiness is the regular exercise of a single emotional muscle—gratitude. Follow LaRae.

Spring reminds us how to make leadership bloom – our eyes are opened to the beauty of what is ahead. Soul Sparks are essential to tap into the beauty of leadership within ourselves and others.  Thanks, Jon Mertz of Thin Difference. Follow Jon.

Jeff Miller of the Faithful Pacesetters admits we can all get burned out at times. Is it possible we are not following the goals we had once set?  Follow Jeff. 

Alli Polin of Break the Frame  asks “Are you wondering if it’s time to take the alternate route or hang in there with your current direction? Here are a few truths to tap into during your decision-making process.”  Follow Alli.

Skip Pritchard of Leadership Insights posits that leaders have the power to choose seasons. As winter turns to spring, pause and throw out what is holding you back. Embrace the new season of hope because leadership requires spring cleaning of the mind even more than the home. Follow Skip.

Linda Fisher Thornton of Leading in Context shares that actions such as eating healthy foods, exercising and getting enough sleep all boost our individual immune systems. What actions can we take to boost our ethical immune systems? And how could doing that help us create more ethical organizations? Follow Linda.

David Tumbarello at Tumbarello Writing Solutions shares that it’s the time of year to define what is important, clean what is messy, and look for opportunities and challenges for growth and gives some simple suggestions that may help the new and experienced leader clear clutter and allow priorities to rise to the top.  Follow David.

 Spring Cleaning Our Environment


Spring cleaning“If you want to get rid of stuff, you can always do a good spring cleaning. Or you can do what I do. Move.” – Ellen DeGeneres

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited shares a 7-minute method for de-cluttering your office (or your house.) Follow Beth.

Paul LaRue of The UPwards Leader reminds us that revitalizing a staff and standards mean setting the example ourselves. Follow Paul.

Jennifer Miller of The People Equation reminds us that effective leadership requires clarity of mind. She explores the connection between physically cleaning the office and the resulting mental clarity that emerged. Follow Jennifer.

Spring Cleaning Our Company Culture and Teamwork

Spring cleaning 3“I’ve always valued and encouraged teamwork and that collaborative spirit of ‘we vs. I’ is core to Intuit’s success…” -Brad D. Smith

Wally Bock of Three-Star Leadership tells us that human beings can’t go full speed all the time. Take breaks–it will make you and your team more productive. Follow Wally.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement shares that creating a system where continual feeding is not needed is great. But if that isn’t the state of the organization yet, then continual feeding is required: or your improvement efforts will fall short of the potential gains, or die altogether. Follow John.

Matt McWilliams of Matt McWilliams Consulting asks, “Why do some teams seem to perpetually stay motivated while others fall flat?” This spring, make a commitment to keeping your team motivated with this one “secret” to great teams.”  Follow Matt.

Todd Ordal of Applied Strategy reminds us that Company culture is not something that just happens. Here is how a CEO can peer through the mist and build the one that they want.  Follow Todd.

Springtime reminds  Jesse Lyn Stoner of Seapoint Center of fruit trees and the power of values-driven companies–or more accurately–the cost of NOT being one. It’s why her tree service company lost her business. Here are 6 tips to clean up your team values. Follow Jesse Lyn.

Thanks to Larry Coppenrath for the great maps of today’s Festival. Follow Larry (click images to enlarge).

Spring Cleaning 1Spring Cleaning 2Spring Cleaning 3Spring Cleaning 4

Call for Submissions. The May Frontline Festival is about Energizing Leadership. Please send your submissions no later than May 8th. New participants welcome. Click here to join in!

 

3 Ways to Avoid the Slippery Slope of Inconsistency

Kendra is late because she was at the hospital with her sick child and barely got home to take a shower… got it. Every now and then managers must make exceptions, no doubt. But now, John is late too, and you feel bad saying something to him, since you just let Kendra off the hook. Before you know it, late is the new black… to work, to meetings, and the envelope is being pushed in other arenas as well.

Or, you’re a Sales Director implementing a new customer information system. Your rock star, Janice, refuses to use it, and you figure it’s no big deal. You don’t want to push her buttons, and she’s got a system that works, so you leave her alone about the requirement. The challenge is everyone wants to be like her (particularly the new guys who need the system the most). Pretty soon, no one’s using the investment and all the incremental sales you baked into the business case are a pipe dream.

3 Ways to Avoid the Slippery Slope of Inconsistency

When people REALLY need an exception, they need an exception. But, most of the time they yearn for consistency. Here are three ways to show up as a human and stay true to your vision.

Explain Your Leadership Viewpoint

Try something like this: “I believe in situational leadership and doing the right thing for people in trying situations. I can’t always disclose WHY I’m chosing to make an exception, but please know that if I do, there’s a private matter at hand that we’re working through. Other than that, I’ll be working to be as consistent as possible. I trust that you will understand that so I can maintain the same flexibility when you have an extreme situation. In order to make this work, I need everyone staying true to our game plan.”

Know Consistency is Valued

In every company I work with I hear a consistent theme in focus groups:  “I wish our managers had tougher and more consistent standards. We’d be so much better if they consistently reinforced the requirements.” I hear that 10 times more than “My manager is too hard on us.”

Chances are everyone is rooting for you to take a stand.  Be human, but often the most fair and reasonable answer is to say “No” to deviant behavior.

Invite Your “A Players” to Be Role Models Not Exceptions

Your “A Players” feel they deserve special treatment. Give it to them. Invite them to help you solve the bigger problem, not stay on the outskirts. If you doubt this can be done, call me. The biggest turnarounds have always involved getting the prima donnas to help for the greater good.

Once your team is headed down a slippery slope, it’s darn impossible to get them moving uphill. Your team is yearning for leadership, parameters and consistency, with the occassional human exception. Approach these situations with the confidence that your vision is important, and the humility to know when their situation warrants an exception.

Do you need help preparing for an important turnaround? Call me for a free consultation. 443-750-1249.

The Surprising Way to Encourage Disengagement

Within three years, Mike had gone from an excited, creative new hire full of passion, energy and ideas, to a guy with one foot out the door with disengagement like carbon monoxide: invisible and impossible to smell. Here is his story.

My first year, my ideas and alternative views were “refreshing.” I was quickly viewed as a rising star and invited to the right meetings. I was pleased to be rewarded with the coveted “exceeds expectations” rating. I was constantly looking for ways to improve our processes and make the company better. The next year, I guess I got a little too comfortable with sharing my opinions. In hindsight, I could have positioned them better, but I was saying what needed to be said. And every time I left a meeting the level above (except my boss) would thank me for speaking the truth. I just cared so much about our cause and was attached to our vision.

I received a “developing rating” that year.  That’s when I knew I was going to have to leave, but I wanted it to be on my own terms. I decided the only way to survive was to just stop caring. And that’s what I did. I buried my passion and I went along, even if I knew a better approach. And that year, I was once again given the rating of “exceeds expectations.” I “exceeded expectations” by caring less, offering less, and doing less.”

Mike’s boss made a point to chime in on the appraisal with a comment: “It’s nice to have you back.”

Mike is convinced his secret was subtle, but I doubt it. I imagine other box 9 candidates with great ideas vicariously got the “settle down” message and stiffled their enthusiasm as they polished their resumes.

It’s easy to think of engagement as everyone singing along with a merry smile.

Dig deeper. Your most engaged players may be the naysayers. They may need some polish, but be careful not to rub off their passion and value in the process.

Who Decides Your Future?

It’s been a long day, turning into tomorrow, but I can’t get her out of my mind.  Ling (not her real name) bravely raised her hand in my Masters level leadership class tonight. “Professor, I see how these techniques would be important for someone who could accomplish something great, but it’s hard to apply for someone like me…”

I gave more examples and stories of how these basic techniques are easily used in motivating frontline teams or to stand out in an interview.

Again, Ling shook her head.

Let me step back and paint a picture. Ling is early in her career, from China, taking a masters level curriculum completely in English. Life is tricky. Visas are uncertain. She’s a rock star contributor– thinking deeply and expressing great insights. She cares, she tries, she knows a great deal. She’s scared.

Someone like me…

I paused to hear more.

Ling continued, “I’m not going to accomplish anything like THAT.”

Next, a few more few anxious nods. Not from the men.

And I’m left with the nagging question so many of us feel.

“Am I someone who could accomplish something great?”

Who, or what, limits our belief that we can be great?

What’s the right level of audacious hope?

I’m sure she’s thinking, “For God’s sakes Professor, just give me enough practical advice to land a job.”

We’ll go there. But I’m not sure that advice will work.

“One notch above” won’t differentiate or lead an employer to go the extra mile to take on immigration.

Being remarkable takes bold moves, differentiated thinking, and a really strong “why.”

In an uneven playing field who defines remarkable?

How do you build audacious confidence amidst a chorus of assimilation advice to “just fit in?”

This is not just Ling’s story.

Her journey is hard. Yours is too. You can be the guy who “accomplishes something great.”

In fact, we’re counting on it.

Karin Hurt, CEO

Other LGL News

I’m delighted to announce I’ve signed a book publishing contract with AMACOM with co-author David Dye. Working title is Winning Well:  How to Lead Your Team to the Top Without Losing Your Soul.  We’re headed for an early Spring release, stay tuned for ways to get involved.

I also had fun this week with a feature article on Yahoo:  What to Do When Your Boss Drives You Crazy

Are you looking for a keynote speaker or some support in taking your team to the next level? Please give me a call for a free consultation. 443 750-1249.

Why You Should Go There

Recognizing that some members of the newly formed call center engagement task force may not know each other very well, I reached for one of my favorite, go-to, get-em-talking and laughing icebreakers, two truths and a lie. My selection was met with a few “Oh, not that again” grimaces. “Ah, you’ve done that one before, huh?” Twelve heads nodded a quick yes.

I thought of the exercise I’d just read about in Lencioni’s 5 Dysfunctions of a Team Field Guide. It involves participants sharing something about their childhood that made it particularly difficult. I’ve been looking to try it, but was reluctant in an environment riddled with trust issues, particularly with a mixed group of reps, supervisors and managers.

I tipped my hand.

“A key element of trust is knowing one another at a human level. As you know, there are respect and trust issues in this center that we’re here to fix. I want to ensure you all know a bit about one another before we dive into the work. I’ve got another exercise I’ve been looking to try, but I’ve never done it before and it could be heavier than you’re ready for. How about I explain it and then you can decide?”

My explanation was met with eager, unanimous agreement to do the more difficult exercise. Before long, stories of abuse, sibling death, divorce, and poverty filled the room. Nods of understanding, words of encouragement, and knowing looks of “Me, too” quickly warmed the room.  A few folks shared what was happening in their lives today.

We finished and sat for a moment silently breathing in the understanding.

After thanking them, I asked what they thought would happen if we brought any other 12 people from the center into the room for the same exercise. Everyone agreed similar stories would emerge.

So I asked the obvious question. “If you all know that people have this kind of hardship in their lives, why would you treat one another  so harshly and with lack of respect?”

Again the response was unanimous.

“Because we’re strangers.”

We knew where to start our planning.

It’s tempting to assume that people want to keep their personal lives private. That we shouldn’t “go there” at work, and of course everyone has different comfort levels and strategies with such boundaries. It’s important to know that everyone in any given room has something going on that makes life hard. Making it easier to “go there” could make all the difference in the world.