Why Can’t I Fix Him?

My heart sunk as I heard all Kathy had done attempting to fix the scene. Actually, despite the reason for her call, the “scene” was progressing remarkably. They’d come so far in such a short time: a clear vision for 2015; a strong action plan on the biggest rock; a shared leadership model for execution; and Kathy had stepped up to lead her peers in coordinating the action plan. When they presented the plan to the CEO he remarked that the plan was “gold,” all they need now was execution.

She had tasted the beautiful, supported cocktail of pressure coupled with opportunity, and was ready to change the game.

But the call wasn’t about all that. It was about her stuckness.

“Everyone’s on board. But one of my peers hates it.”

She went through everything she had tried to get him engaged.

Connection. Listening. Disclosure. Listening. Questions. Vulnerability. Inclusion. Sharing Credit.

Nothing worked.

Her conclusion.

“This means I’m failing as a leader.”

EDITORIAL TIMEOUT: How many times have you drawn that same conclusion? P.S. Yes, start with humility and do everything you can. But sometimes, it’s not about you. Ironically, being sure it’s about you, is not humility.

Careful to be sure I hadn’t missed anything, I asked her to repeat exactly what she’d said. This time she added, “I know I’m not always like this, but I this time, I’m sure. I was really nice. I promise.”

EDITORIAL TIMEOUT: This could be part of the issue. Folks have memory of our past behavior, even as we’re looking to grow. 

She shared the connection she’d made with others. The engagement. The helping people get past “I’m not sure.”

She was nailing it.

EDITORIAL TIMEOUT: Yikes, maybe I was failing. I was out of provocative questions, and even worse, advice.

And then I went where I usually don’t.

“Can you succeed without him?”

“Yes,” she replied, “But it won’t be as much fun.”

That’s the spirit. She had the big picture.

“I understand. Does the business need this? Is everyone else all in? ”

Reinforcing the obvious.

“Yes. Yes. Yes.”

Sadly, my best advice, “Do everything you can to keep trying. Stay confident in your vision, humble in your approach. But at the end of the day. Keep moving the project forward.”

“Oh yeah, and be sure your boss is in the loop.”

Why Can't I Fix Him?

My heart sunk as I heard all Kathy had done attempting to fix the scene. Actually, despite the reason for her call, the “scene” was progressing remarkably. They’d come so far in such a short time: a clear vision for 2015; a strong action plan on the biggest rock; a shared leadership model for execution; and Kathy had stepped up to lead her peers in coordinating the action plan. When they presented the plan to the CEO he remarked that the plan was “gold,” all they need now was execution.

She had tasted the beautiful, supported cocktail of pressure coupled with opportunity, and was ready to change the game.

But the call wasn’t about all that. It was about her stuckness.

“Everyone’s on board. But one of my peers hates it.”

She went through everything she had tried to get him engaged.

Connection. Listening. Disclosure. Listening. Questions. Vulnerability. Inclusion. Sharing Credit.

Nothing worked.

Her conclusion.

“This means I’m failing as a leader.”

EDITORIAL TIMEOUT: How many times have you drawn that same conclusion? P.S. Yes, start with humility and do everything you can. But sometimes, it’s not about you. Ironically, being sure it’s about you, is not humility.

Careful to be sure I hadn’t missed anything, I asked her to repeat exactly what she’d said. This time she added, “I know I’m not always like this, but I this time, I’m sure. I was really nice. I promise.”

EDITORIAL TIMEOUT: This could be part of the issue. Folks have memory of our past behavior, even as we’re looking to grow. 

She shared the connection she’d made with others. The engagement. The helping people get past “I’m not sure.”

She was nailing it.

EDITORIAL TIMEOUT: Yikes, maybe I was failing. I was out of provocative questions, and even worse, advice.

And then I went where I usually don’t.

“Can you succeed without him?”

“Yes,” she replied, “But it won’t be as much fun.”

That’s the spirit. She had the big picture.

“I understand. Does the business need this? Is everyone else all in? ”

Reinforcing the obvious.

“Yes. Yes. Yes.”

Sadly, my best advice, “Do everything you can to keep trying. Stay confident in your vision, humble in your approach. But at the end of the day. Keep moving the project forward.”

“Oh yeah, and be sure your boss is in the loop.”

Shooting Freethrows: 7 Basic Competencies Every Team Leader Must Master

You need your team to get to the next level. Tomorrow. Actually, you’d prefer if some of them could get there this afternoon. After all, the stack ranks don’t lie, and you need traction. Fast. No time for theory, you need execution.

You’ve talked to your A players and have a good understanding of their Harlem Globe Trotter stunts. I hope your team is there, and the roll-out of a few fancy moves will save your game.

But first, be sure they’ve mastered the free throw.

7 Basic Leadership Competencies Every Team Leader Must Master

The biggest request I get for leadership development is not:  “How do I get my A players to the next level?” Instead it’s “How do I get all my leaders grounded in the fundamentals so they are ALL inspiring exceptional results?” I find before we can get to more complex issues like  building trust, leading with confident humility, or communicating strategy, we need to get them out of the frenetic feeling of being completely overwhelmed.

If you’ve got frontline leaders struggling, don’t assume they’ve been exposed to some of the tools that have become second nature to us. Check to ensure they’ve got this list nailed before moving on to deeper development.

1. Planning their Day

Do they begin each day with a plan and a strategy to work on what matters most? Do they run from one urgent priority to another, but miss big deadlines? Have they been exposed to Covey’s urgent/importance matrix  and know how to use it?

2. Connecting with their Team

I’m not talking about the alphabet soup of personality indicators and other rich ways to improve team performance. Start with basic human courtesy. Are they casually checking in with each team member to say “Good morning?” Do they say “please” and “thank you”? Do they know a bit about who their team members are as human beings (e.g. what they do for fun, their children’s names)?

3. Giving Effective Feedback

This one will require more than asking “How comfortable are you coaching and giving feedback?” When I ask this, I find most folks feel they’ve got the basics down. A role play or two later, I often uncover there’s significant opportunity to improve.

4. Working with their Peers

If you’ve got several team teams working toward similar objectives, there’s real opportunity for saving time by sharing best practices and supporting one another. Stack ranked environments and busy days often mean that team leaders focus on their own team, and are reluctant to spend time to support their peers and the greater good. This may take some careful questioning to find out what’s really going on. Everyone wants to be considered a team player, so you’re likely to hear “It’s all good.” Probing deeper, I often find that a little work here can have a dramatic and immediate improvement in results.

5. Modeling the Needed Behaviors

When team leaders are really struggling, it’s often a confidence issue. They’re not really sure they know how to teach and develop their team, because they’re lacking some needed expertise and they’re trying to fake it. When “faking it” doesn’t work, they start to withdraw (or the words I often hear are “hide.”) Be sure your team leaders have the competence they need to model the way. If they’re leading a customer-facing team, be absolutely certain they’re not afraid to talk to customers.

6. Welcoming New Team Members

Do they have an organized way of bringing new members onto the team? Do they set them up for success by having the tools needed on day 1, a place to sit, and a peer buddy? Do they know what to do and how they’re measured? An overwhelmed team leader may feel they don’t have time to do this well, and push it off– losing trust and confidence during the time the new employee is building first impressions of “what it feels like to work here.”

7. Your Turn

What have you found are the most frequently underdeveloped leadership basics?

For My LGL Call Center Peeps

call_center_week_250x250I know many of you work in a call center world. I’ve been doing a good bit of work and writing recently for call centers that I thought would be useful to share.

5 Ways to Build Service Rep Competence

5 Myths Hurting Your Call Center Strategy

What Every Great Call Center Needs

Also, if you’re interested in attending Call Center Week in Las Vegas this June, please let me know. I’ll be there doing a book signing and making a social media ruckus. I have a discount code you can use to get 15% off your registration. 16CCW_LETSGROWLEADERS

 

Professor Lupin on Facing Your Fears #confidenthumility

Our biggest leadership screw-ups are fear in disguise. Fears have a powerful and dangerous habit of shape shifting into a monster that stands in our way, blocking the behaviors we most need for success.

Mike’s arrogant approach and intimidating demeanor is covering up his biggest fear–that the team will discover he’s not really an expert. The team talks about him constantly–about his horrible leadership–and avoids interaction. His fear wins.

John doesn’t start the blog he’s always wanted to write for fear of being irrelevant. His fear wins.

Rachel doesn’t share her best practices with her peers, because she wants to be the best and get promoted. She doesn’t get promoted because she’s not a team player. Her fear wins.

When we pretend we’re not afraid, fear wins.

By denying what scares us, our worst characteristics emerge bigger than the demons we fear.

But if we can NAME our fear, and see it for what it truly is–a ridiculous exaggeration of the worse case scenario–we stop the cycle.

We show up stronger, and have the strength to lead from a place of bigger confidence.

No one teaches this better than J.K. Rowling’s Professor Lupin.

Name your fear. Visualize it. Face it. And discover what makes it ridiculous.

I agree with Seth, “the worst trolls are in your head.” Give them a name. Laugh at them. And lead well.

7 Career Frustrations Every Go-Getter Feels

Odds are that some executive in your life is making it all look easy. The quick rise to the top. In perfect shape, with the the perfect family all dressed cleanly in the company colors at the company picnic.  The exec’s declaration that he’s “never missed one of his kids games” leaves you stunned.

You look at your hectic life, the challenges, the tradeoffs, the disappointments, the times you let your family down staying late again.

All for a career that led to this pivotal moment of deep frustration.

We all have them. Those moments of true career angst, when we wonder… is it worth it?

It’s easy to feel you’re doing something wrong.

Don’t buy it.

Those other guys have been there too.

I promise.

I hear their stories.

I know mine.

7 Frustrations Every Go-Getter Feels

1.  I worked my butt off, and that guy (or gal) got the promotion for reasons that have nothing to do with competence.
Maybe that’s true. Maybe she really is more qualified. Either way, the sting is real.
2.  My team killed themselves on this project, and now a strategic change in direction means most of that work is wasted.
You’re so frustrated you want to punch your fist through the wall, but you’ve got to put on your game face and convince the team their work really was important, even if it’s for what we learned along the way. Deep inside having to do that just ticks you off more.
3. No one that matters is really listening to me.
You’ve got a GREAT idea and you know it will change the game. But, it’s a little risky and your boss, mentors, and sponsors are all ducking. You can’t get your voice heard.
4. I don’t know where I stand.
You keep being told you’re on the short list for advancement, but you’re still in this job. When you ask what’s wrong, you get nothing but praise. You know something’s being said behind closed doors, but you can’t figure out just what that is.
5. A peer I trusted stabbed me in the back.
You can’t believe it, and your first thought is revenge. But you’re better than that so you take the high road– which is right, but is missing the catharsis slipping some laxatives into his coffee would provide.
6. I got screwed in the restructure.
The regime changed and the musical chairs landed you in a less than ideal scene. You’re sure politics trumped logic. Your friends tell you to be grateful that you have a job. You’re not so sure.
7. ________________ (your turn).
People are watching for your response.

Responding elegantly in these scenes may be the most important career move you can make.

What those who make it look easy may not be telling you is that they’ve been there too. We all have. It’s all part of the leadership journey. They’ve grown through the pain, and you can too.

If you’re feeling at a particularly blessed moment in your career. Amen. Look around. Who needs some extra care and support?

5 Ways Social Media Can Accelerate Your Old School Sales Strategy

I was talking to a very successful sales executive friend of mine. “Oh, I don’t need any of that social media crap. I’m old school. You know, like building relationships, having a real conversation, solving problems…”

I laughed, “Sounds like the perfect way to use social media to me!”

Whenever someone spouts off about how “The rules of selling have changed,” I raise a skeptical eyebrow. The tools have changed, but not the rules that matter most.

5 Ways to Use Social Media to Improve Your Sales

1. Understand your competition

This used to be so much harder: mystery shopping stores, lurking at conferences, stealing talent from the competition. Now you can go onto Twitter and find out not only what companies are saying about themselves, but also what their customers are saying about the brand, AND how the company is responding in return. Not only that, you can reach out to your competitor’s dissatisfied customer and offer support to save the day. What old school ninja wouldn’t like to have a list of their competitor’s most disgruntled (and vocal) customers?

2. Identify key stakeholders

Whenever what appears to be a done deal turns into a dead lead with no real explanation, it’s typically the result of an unknown stakeholder weighing in. The best old school sales folks know that you’ve got to build relationships wide and deep with your customers and prospects. Whereas we once had to rely on prospects telling us who’s who, LinkedIn maps it for you, along with backgrounds, interests, and where they’re hanging out.

3. Show up where they’re hanging out

Of course not everyone in  your prospective company will be hanging out in forums, Tweet chats, or in LinkedIn groups, but someone likely is. And the old school chaps know all about the strength of loose ties. Begin making connections by inviting yourself to where they like to “party.”

4. Solve a problem

The old school handbook says, “People don’t buy products, they buy solutions.” Social media provides endless opportunities to be helpful, share expertise and save the day from the privacy of your office. 20 minutes a day offering value will open doors.

5. Know before you go

An old school teacher would tell you to scan a customer’s office to look for points of connection: children’s pics, sport paraphernalia, diplomas. Now a Google search can give you more than you’ll ever want. Want to know their birthday? If you’re even connected through one of the most benign platforms, Google+, you can get your connections birthdays all automatically imported to your calendar. Want to talk sports? There are lots of places to look for chatter. Know they’re running a marathon? Google their race time and call them to congratulate them. The possibilities are endless.

Don’t think of social media and relationship selling as competing strategies, but as a beautiful opportunity to leverage all you know, with tools to build your business faster.

I can help you think about your business differently. Call me on 443-750-1249 for a free consultation.

Why Competitors Will Make You Question Everything

In business school we teach SWOT analysis. Know what your competitors are doing so you can outsmart them.

There’s power in benchmarking, and many a company has met their demise by a sudden competitive surprise.

But any time your energy is focused on what OTHER people are doing instead of honing your craft, you’re at risk. Watching your competition puts you in the passenger seat of their story, instead of blazing your own trail.

When I was a competitive swimmer growing up, I had a terrible habit of looking for my competitors in the lanes beside me every time I turned my head to take a breath. Out of complete frustration, my coach threatened to move me to the lane next to the wall if I didn’t stop. From that lane, I wouldn’t be able to see any of my key competition, and it wasn’t exactly considered the rock star lane–I told you, I don’t have this humility thing licked. I stopped looking. You guessed it, that streamlined movement was just what I needed to move from second to first in many of my races.

I was reminded of this phenomena this week. Mike (not his real name), a consulting client, was going for an important promotion. He’d spent weeks honing his strategy and materials. He’d identified all the right stories to share, and had nailed the first interview. He’d gotten great feedback and was preparing for round two when he discovered another smart and popular guy had just put his hat in the ring. Confidence level went down five notches and panic set in. Naturally, he began rethinking his strategy.

When you’ve been preparing for weeks, the day before is not the time to rethink your plan, particularly from an unsettled frame of mind.

A few hours later I got this email:

“…I am going to take sage advice from the Disney movie my daughters watch, Ice Princess. “Put in ear plugs about your competitors. If they do well it will shake your confidence and if they do poorly it will make you cocky.”

Amen.

Play your own game the best you can. Leave it all on the field. Stop worrying about everyone else.

How to Outsmart The Competition

This is part 6 of a 7 part series on outsmarting the competition. In case you’re just catching up.

1. Get there early

2. Be an explainer

3. Pay attention to your own game.

4. Help your team get smarter

5. Be easy to follow

10 ways to be easy to follow

10 Ways to Be Easy to Follow

Are you easy to follow? Before you say “Of course!” please know that every where I go these days, I ask this question. “Is your boss easy to follow?” The #1 response is just a belly ache laugh. The #2 usually contains some expletive. I’ve also heard some great metaphors, like how understanding what their boss thinks is like putting together Ikea furniture. It looks easy when you leave the store (meeting), but when you get back there a lot more screws than you need and the directions are in another language.

Most leaders make following harder than necessary.

10 Ways to Be a Leader Who’s Easy to Follow

1. Be crystal clear

Be sure your team knows the number one mission so well they can say it in their sleep. Sure you’ve got competing goals, but be crystal clear on how your team can change the game, and what you need them to do to make that happen. I recently ran into a guy who once worked on my sales team at Verizon Wireless. He was now working at a small company where I was consulting. He heard I was there, so he walked into a leadership program I was doing to say “Hi.”  We had just finished talking about being crystal clear, so I took a chance. “Eric, back when we worked together, what was the most import goal?” He didn’t miss a beat. “Winning in the SMB space. Everyone needs to get ‘All Aboard’ (which meant everyone needed to sell at least five lines a month)” 6 years and another company later, he remembered.

Be that clear and you will be successful.

2. Be approachable

You want them to understand what needs to be done. If they don’t, they’ll spend a lot of time guessing. Be über approachable.

3. Be a teacher

Get in there and show them what to do. You’ll be seen as credible and helpful. Don’t do it for them. Be a teacher.

4. Be forgiving

People want to follow human beings who understand they’re human too. Be forgiving.

5. Be human

Show a little vulnerability. Be clear you don’t have all the answers. People find it easy to emulate people, not rock stars.

6. Be knowledgeable

For goodness sake, know what you’re doing. And if you don’t, do everything you can to get smarter on the subject matter quickly. It’s hard to follow a bozo.

7. Be connected

The easiest to follow leaders are those who remove roadblocks by phoning a friend. Have lots of genuine connections to call when your team is need.

8. Be trustworthy

Do what you say. Every time.

9. Be a role model

10. ?

Number 10 is up to you. What would you add?

If you haven’t done this recently ask your team. “What could I do to be easier to follow?” And then be open when she tells about the “damn spreadsheet” that’s making them crazy, or the meetings that suck the life out of them.

Great leaders are easy to follow. Be that guy or gal.

P.S. I’m here to help. Please call 443-750-1249 for a free consultation on how we can make this your team’s best year ever.

This is number five in the series on 7 Ways to Beat the Competition. If you’re just tuning in…

1. Get there early

2. Be an explainer

3. Pay attention to your own game.

4. Help your team get smarter

3 Ways to Help Your Team Get Smarter

Build Smarter Teams: 3 Ways to Help Your Team Get 10% Smarter

Your team is smarter than they look. I promise. If they’re not learning as fast as you would like, stop and consider. What if it’s not them– but you? Here are three ways to make your team 10% smarter.

1. Stop Interrupting

I didn’t get this right away when I first started in an executive role. I figured these were seasoned leaders. If they were busy when I called, they’d tell me.

But I soon learned that despite my best intentions, I was considered “the boss,” and they would drop everything and do what I asked.

Of course, every now and then that’s EXACTLY what you need. The sky is falling, the customer’s really ticked off, or your bosses’ hair is on fire. Got it.

Just remember, creative work and breakthroughs require concentration. No one does their best thinking in a constant barrage of interruption.

If it can wait, give back some mental energy by making ongoing lists for each person and setting a time to run through what you need. They’ll be in a better space to think and respond, and in the meantime, they got on with their other priorities. Resist the urge to just pick up the phone and disrupt their flow.

2. Give Permission to Do

I recently met with the founder and CEO of a medium size company who had brought me in to do some leadership development work with the frontline team.  I shared the laundry list of amazing business improvement ideas that had surfaced as we talked leadership– literally side effects of deeper conversation. These were solid ways to improve revenue and customer service.

His response, “Karin, what CEO in their right mind would be upset with them just doing these things? If they’re good ideas, why didn’t they just do them?”

His entrepreneurial spirit couldn’t imagine a mindset of waiting for permission, but he’d not said that out loud. Be sure if your team is busting with ideas they feel encouraged to share and try them.

3. Expose them to More

In almost every company I’m working with one of the big asks is to help the team think more strategically. As I dig in the number one issue is almost always lack of exposure to the bigger context of the vision, the financial strategy, or how their work connects with other departments. It’s impossible to connect the dots if you only see half of them. The more your team knows, the deeper their thinking will become. If you want to grow big picture thinkers, give them something to think about beyond their current role.

 Looking for someone to help your team get a bit smarter? Please call me at 443- 750-1249 for a free consultation.

Are You Letting Your Team Outgrow Their Past?

Most leaders mature (and yes, that’s me on the right). And yet, often when someone has been with the company for a long time, it’s their old image that sticks. Be sure you’re helping your team outgrow their past.

I’ve seen too many companies go “in search of” the ideal candidate, hire them, and then find they had the right guy all along (after the first one didn’t work out). In fact, I’ve been that guy.

This post was inspired by a recent post by Dan Rockwell encouraging his readers to overcome their past. Brilliant insights. As I was reading it, my heart felt heavy for all the leaders I know who are desperately trying to escape their past and can’t grow beyond their early reputations.

“The past is a weight that grows heavier with the passage of time. Little mistakes grow larger. Offenses get heavier. Failures persecute.” -Dan Rockwell

Most leaders mature. And yet, often when someone has been with the company for a long time it’s their old image that sticks.

Be brave enough to see who’s really showing up.

Anticipate maturity and watch it florish.

Don’t miss out on the most fun part of being a leader– watching others grow.

Be an advocate.

Don’t overlook the game changers who were once young, naive and a little overly _________(brash, politically inept, unconfident, overconfident).

You were too.

Who do you need to give a second chance to?

What are you going to do this year to take your leadership development program to the next level? Call me at 443-750-1249 for a free consultation.

Who Do You Trust? An Easy Team Exercise

“Do you trust me?” What a loaded question. It’s tough, even with people we love. “Sure, I trust you to be faithful, but do I trust you’ll remember to pick up the dry cleaning?” Even small actions can build or diminish trust over time.

Defining the behaviors that breed trust can go a long way in encouraging more of the good stuff on teams. Let’s have some fun with this easy trust building exercise.

An Easy Team Trust Exercise

Materials Needed:

for the initial conversation

  • yellow sticky notes
  • a wall or white board
  • easel paper and markers

to make it last

  • an artist (if you don’t have one on your team, you can find one online for a reasonable price. Joy Guthrie does a nice job. Or you can find other creative help on Fiverr)
  • a laminator

Process:

  1. Ask each team member to write down what they consider their own most trustworthy characteristics, one per sticky note (e.g. set clear expectations, tell the truth, follow-through). They can come up with as many examples as they like. Don’t skip this step, introspection is an important part of the process.
  2. Ask each person to share three of their trustworthy characteristics with the group. Some discussion may occur naturally here. Allow that to happen.
  3. Have each team member place their sticky notes on the wall or white board, and begin to group them into similar clusters.
  4. Identify the themes and write them on the easel paper.
  5. Now the fun part: have the team design their ideal trusted team member. For now this can be just a stick figure with labels, but encourage the team to get creative (e.g. sincere eyes, strong arms for heavy lifting, transparent heart). Name this little guy, or gal (e.g, Trusted Tracy).
  6. To keep the conversation going, have an artistic team member (or rent some help online) draw up the caricature of your ideal trusted team member (with labels highlighting the characteristics). Laminate the caricature (like your very own team Flat Stanley)
  7. When your team comes together for team meetings or other events, find time to ask who wins the “Trusted Tracy” award? And why. This is a great way for people to nominate and highlight the trusted behaviors that are happening on the team. Team members can do a casual “vote” to select a winner, and that person gets to hold on to “Tracy” in his or her cube or office until the next time. This works for virtual teams as well, just take a pic and turn it into an email-able image.

Let’s have some fun ourselves! Send me your ideas for building our own Trusted Tracy, and we’ll turn it into pic. If there are artists out there who want to play, I’ll include them in the post as well. Let’s have a big LGL Friday virtual team builder Even if you’ve never commented before, this is an easy time to chime in.

Thanks for all your contributions!  Here’s our composite (click to see a bigger version).

TrustedTracy(800x600)

how to outsmart the competition

Outsmart the Competition: One Secret to Better Brand Positioning

The hard sell is so old school. Your customers and employees have become conditioned to respond to any hard sell with a Google search to find out if what you’re saying is too good to be true. The minute the Google-search has begun, you’ve missed the opportunity to build trust and connection and outsourced your brand positioning to the vortex. Not to mention giving them a chance to take a second look at your competition.

And yet, the world continues to be filled with executives over-selling their vision, recruiters over-selling unrealistic lifestyles, and salespeople with a hard sell of features and benefits. More than ever, telling the whole truth has become a competitive advantage.

Outsmart the competition by being an explainer.

3 Ways to Outsmart the Competition by Being an Explainer

If you want to outsmart the competition, don’t sell, explain. If you want to engage your employees with your vision and aligned with your brand, be sure they can see themselves in the bigger picture.. They take time to explain your ideas, perspective, and values. Welcome the tough questions and be willing to risk a few slippery slopes. Embrace the tough conversations.

1. In Marketing: Teach Before Selling

So many people ask me why I give away so much content. I’ve been told “I don’t understand your model” more than once. But the companies who work with me get it.

My mission to grow leaders is vital. If you really can’t pay, you still need our Winning Well tools and techniques, and I will share for free. I also know that the best work I do is face-to-face, helping you and your team go deeper. The deeper magic happens when we explore your world together.

I encourage you to adopt a similar approach. No matter what your mission, be a teacher. Help people understand the industry and the competition.  Give boldly. Important work will follow. If it doesn’t, improve your message.

2. In Recruiting: Give a Realistic Perspective

I was shocked to hear one of my MBA students come back disillusioned from a recent sales pitch of one of the big consulting firms. It was the exact same pitch I rejected 20 years ago. The story was “work-life balance.” The label I heard back then was “more nights home than away” (which I soon found out counted weekends, vacation, and holiday… essentially 4 nights of every workweek away.) Today, all it took was a few quick searches to hear the real message “We make it easy for you to hire people to raise your children, clean your house, say your prayers and do your gardening. You won’t have time.”

If you want to recruit the best talent away from your competition, work to be an attractive place to work.

3. In Engaging Commitment: Tell The Truth

For God’s sake (and everyone else’s), don’t BS. If you are in a conference room trying to spin an uncomfortable message and your heart is sagging, listen to the voice. Your team will see right through any spin you are weaving. Do your best o tell the truth with the best words you can muster. If there’s still stuff you can’t share, whatever you do don’t lie about the future. You will win hearts, minds, and engaged arms and legs by telling the truth at every juncture. I’ve made a career of telling bad news well. Nothing opens the door for true engagement better than that.