they follow courage.” Braveheart

Are you a courageous leader? Is that why people follow you?

Okay, some of you might think it’s a stretch to call what corporate and government leaders do courageous. Like former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s admission that he colluded with then Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to mislead the public and shape the government’s messaging during the 2008 Lehman Brother’s collapse in a book called – get this –  Courage to Act.  Heaven forbid we perpetuate the over-inflated sense of self-importance many senior leaders have.

But the question’s still valid: do people do what you say because of your title or because you’re a courageous leader?

I like the Braveheart quote, because during my long association with the military’s special operations community, I got to know a lot of really courageous leaders – some with titles and some without. They were followed because they had the courage to go forward in the face of extreme adversity, and they had the courage to admit failure when their best wasn’t good enough.

They had the courage to speak out against a bad plan, but they had the discipline and commitment to fix the plan and execute it with everything they had. Some even showed courage by hanging up their spurs when the organization’s culture grated on their personal integrity like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Great corporate leaders do those kinds of things, too, so I guess courage isn’t reserved for the battlefield. History is full of examples where those with the guts to take risks, forge ahead, and lead change during trying times are remembered for their courageous leadership.

So one more time: do people follow you because you display confidence and gutsy leadership, or are you hunkered down behind the status quo exercising your authority over them? And yes, I watched the movie to the end and saw Mel Gibson’s character meet a painful and gruesome demise. I’d like to think that was against your company’s HR policies.

Here are some of my favorite ways I’ve seen leaders display courage away from the battlefield:

  • Be real. No rose-colored glasses or pretending it’s all unicorns and rainbows. Confront hard reality head-on and be honest about it with the people you lead so they know the true state of the organization.
  • Tell it like you see it. That doesn’t mean you get to use the truth like a club, but sometimes real conversations can be awkward, and it takes guts to not avoid them. Especially when you have to tell the boss what she doesn’t want to hear – naked emperors ruin organizations.
  • Encourage constructive debate. Have the guts to stand in there in the face of dissent, knowing that when reasonably intelligent, well-intentioned people disagree, the organization is generally better off.
  • Indecision kills. Make a decision and move on. Even if it’s unpopular. And then have the guts to make a better decision if that one doesn’t pan out. That kind of courage is contagious when you build a culture where people aren’t afraid of the occasional failure that comes with taking risks.
  • Don’t tolerate bad behavior. You endorse what you tolerate, and if you put up with negative performance issues, everyone knows it. It’s demoralizing to your high achievers to listen to Billy Do-Little BS with his pals about how long is too long to take for lunch. Back to having hard conversations, don’t let bad behavior slide – reinforce expectations and get a commitment from the miscreant to improve – or get rid of him.

About 20 years ago in the Air Force’s senior service school, I was part of a group of a half-dozen or so having an intimate chat with a recently retired Air Force Chief of Staff. We talked about selfless service, leadership, integrity, and courage, and I asked him how he knew it was time to leave. His answer should resonate with all leaders.

Though he could have stayed in his position much longer, he said after he knew in his heart that the moral compass of those above him was pointing in the wrong direction, leaving was the only option.

He didn’t follow a title, he followed courage.

EQ man

Why know what your EQ is if you don’t use it?

It’s been 20 years since Daniel Goldman’s book “Emotional Intelligence” was published, and interest in the subject doesn’t seem to be losing steam. There are volumes of research that link social and emotional abilities to personal success and seemingly countless self-help books on improving your EQ. A recent unscientific consultation with The Google quickly returned about 14 million hits on the subject.

Not to sound blasphemous, but emotional intelligence is just not that complicated.

Most people have way more EQ than they give themselves credit for. In fact, I’ve only met two people with really low emotional intelligence: my teenage daughter’s boyfriend and a senior government executive whose entire Johari Window is a blind spot.

Using sophisticated words to describe your EQ may make you sound sagacious at the office cocktail party, but measuring your EQ matters much less than using what you have for good instead of evil…kind of like a super power.

If the answers to any of these questions ring a bell, you probably have a higher EQ than you think:

Is it important to be aware of your emotions and how they influence interpersonal and group dynamics? Absolutely. Can I always control my emotional response because I know what pushes my buttons? Nope.

Does being able to recognize another person’s emotional state help you respond in a way that de-escalates the situation and yields a more positive outcome? Certainly. Do I occasionally pass on the opportunity to de-escalate just for the entertainment of watching a jerk lose his mind? Yep.

Can showing empathy to a frustrated co-worker turn things around and bring them back off the ledge? Almost always. Do I occasionally poke the badger because I’m tired of the whining? Guilty.

See – you don’t need to know your EQ score or fancy vernacular to know whether a response to a given situation is going to make it better or worse. But if you’re looking for the success that comes with more developed social and emotional abilities, you have to be intentional about using your EQ for good.

Look at it this way: If you’re forever finding yourself in emotionally charged or awkward exchanges, you’re either doing it on purpose, or you’re too self-absorbed to realize what’s happening until it’s too late. Either way, it’s YOU. Like my oldest daughter told me the other day, “if everything around you smells like $#!+, you should probably check your shoe.” If you’re doing it on purpose, that’s using your EQ for evil – stop it! Assuming it’s the latter, a little EQ boost is easier than you think.

  • Begin with some healthy introspection about your interactions with others and how you view your co-workers.
  • Start appreciating what your teammates are contributing, and treat them like human beings that have good days and bad days.
  • Look for the good in others (instead of expecting the worst), and don’t just help them because of what they can contribute to your cause, but because helping others is what we’re on the Earth for.

Good leadership creates an environment where using EQ for good comes naturally. It creates a “we” organization with people who have a shared sense of purpose. It develops people who know how to have healthy disagreements without the emotional escalation that stems from a lack of trust. It builds a culture where feedback isn’t a dirty word, and it creates teams that know success isn’t hiding behind a thin veneer of playing nice.

So, you can be content with the EQ you have, or you can read the books, attend training seminars, and take as many self-assessments (notoriously unreliable for those with low EQ) as you can stand to measure your EQ improvement. Just know that regardless of how emotionally intelligent you are, if you’re not using your “super power” for good, your organization is better off without you.

How are you using your EQ?

It’s up to you, leaders.

You have the stick.

Cold Steel

Leaders have got to get better at delegating!

Intentional leadership takes time, and there are already plenty of demands on the 24 hours we have. Our jobs certainly aren’t getting easier, and I’m betting that most of your day isn’t consumed by core leadership tasks like motivating, developing, mentoring and guiding others toward the implementation of a vision.

So, how much of your job as a leader should you delegate? Almost none of it, since leading more effectively will bring the most benefit to both your people and your organization.

On the other hand, when it comes to management tasks, you should delegate virtually everything that someone else can do. Here’s when I learned it:

Not long after 9-11, I was feeling a little overwhelmed juggling tasks as the commander of a little special operations flying outfit. Not only were we in near constant motion supporting the very young war effort, but we’d also just been told that our unit was closing in six months. The challenge: maintaining combat capability to the last day while working the not-very-responsive personnel management system to find everyone jobs. All while coordinating shut-down activities like asset disposition, facilities turnover, audits, ceremonies…you get the idea.

One day, I caught my second-in-command re-typing (yes, typing) a flight authorization to correct some minor errors made by one of our young Airmen. I’m afraid I reacted poorly to his justification that he was just showing the troops he wasn’t afraid to get “in the trenches.”

Trenches, hell, get up here and help me lead!!

I’ve got the stick for a minute.

It was a watershed moment for both of us. When I started delegating tasks to others in the organization, people jumped at the chance to get more engaged. And when we reviewed progress toward the various goals, it was their moment to shine as their extra effort was recognized. It was easy to make it about them, and it made me a better leader because I could focus on my core leadership tasks.

Why aren’t we good at delegating? For most it’s somewhere between “If I want it done right, I’ll have to do it myself” and “I don’t want to admit I need help getting all this stuff done.”

It’s time to put your ego aside and remember that there is almost always more than one way to successfully accomplish a task. It isn’t necessarily wrong just because it’s not the way you’d do it, and if you’ve created a culture where it’s a sign of weakness to ask for help, you have bigger problems than being a poor delegator.

In most office settings, everyone has some spare capacity. Use your employees’ spare capacity to create more time and space for you to focus on what’s important as a leader. Not just for your benefit, of course; delegation helps people learn and grow as they take on a greater variety of tasks, and they feel more engaged with each task accomplished.

So how do we become more effective delegators?

Start with a list. Make a list of tasks that can only be done by you – core leadership tasks and those that can’t be done by others because of policy or serious risk of organizational failure (real failure, not the Henny Penny kind). Then make a list of everything else you do; that’s your list of tasks to be delegated.

Choose the right person. But don’t over-think it – just start matching your task list with the most logical people. Think about giving them input about what they’d like to take on as additional duties. You might be surprised how much more willing they are to give extra effort when you get their buy-in up front.

Give clear guidance. When delegating, make your expectations clear, and then step back and give them room to succeed. As long as you’ve established clear boundaries, empowered them to make decisions at a lower level and let them feel like they’re contributing to the organization in a more meaningful way, you’ve set them on the right path. It’s okay to check up on them – that’s good management – but don’t micromanage them or you’ll both be worse off than you started.

Oh yeah, make sure you tell others that someone else with be taking over some tasks they’re used to you doing.

Re-evaluate your task list in a couple of months to see what needs to be refined. Don’t be afraid to make some tasks rotational or to give additional guidance where needed. Learning to delegate effectively is a process; don’t expect overnight success.

Are routine tasks keeping you from spending your time taking care of your people? What’s keeping you from being a more effective delegator?

It’s up to you, leaders.

You’ve have the stick

Changes Ahead

If we want change to be lasting and more effective, we have got to get better at leading it.

A group of us were talking the other day about leading through change, and I couldn’t help but recall the many reorganizations I’ve watched (or been part of) during my years in the Five-sided Puzzle Palace. It might surprise you to know that not all my experiences with change in the home of the world’s greatest military were positive. Some were slightly less painful than others, but almost all were less than effectively executed – yes, I’m being charitable – because the changes weren’t well led.

In fact, we’ve led it so badly for so long, the very word “reorganization” has taken on an adversarial connotation. I’ve heard it called realignment, refocus, transformation, shake-up, even “simply changing who people work for,” but not once did it feel like we were doing anything but reorganizing.

I’ve got the stick for a minute.

Here’s some lessons that came from examples I’ve see of how NOT to lead during change. I know there are other kinds of change besides a reorganization, but the leadership lessons learned – or not learned – apply across the board.

Most importantly, don’t plan the change in secret. I know… you don’t want to distract anyone from their work by giving them something else to stand around and have fact-free conversations about. Well guess what – too late. You can’t stop the rumor mill with secrecy, and they’re already distracted all day long by wondering “How does this change affect me?” They’ve even given it a pet name, like The Great Disorganization of 2015, Musical Cubicles or Rearranging Deck Chairs on the Titanic.

Instead, communicate, communicate, and communicate some more. To the whole organization. Start with the “why” you’re changing, follow with “what” you’re trying to get out of the change, and continue with soliciting “how” it might work better from the people whose day-to-day activities are affected by the new way of doing thing. You’re trying to get buy-in from the doers, not the affirmation by middle management that they’re okay with the new power distribution.

Next, pleeeeeese don’t change the organization to fix someone’s lack of performance. As in, don’t move a function away from a poor manager and give it to a top performer as a reward. If you do, you can bet you’ve just sent a horrible message to your workforce.

Instead, make sure the change is about the good of the organization. Individual needs do not override the collective goals of the organization (thank you, Mr. Spock). If a manager’s not getting the job done, get him some help (development, coaching, etc.) or replace him. It shows that accountability is more than a slogan on the break room bulletin board.

Finally (almost), don’t continue down a dead-end road just to save face. Not all newly-created organizations work the way they’re envisioned. Teams don’t gel, new leaders don’t lead, promised resources don’t materialize, etc., etc. In fact, a lot of changes don’t pan out the way we think they’re going to, so…

Fix what you messed up, and don’t be shy about telling people why you need to change again. Help your people build change resiliency, and keep everyone’s focus on organizational performance.

Okay, really last… don’t drag out the implementation date. It’s hard on people to have to dance between their current, but soon-to-be-former boss and their soon-to-be boss. Would you rather have your tooth pulled in one appointment or have pieces of it extracted over a series of months?

Change happens, and there are winners and losers in every re-shuffle, but the only people who are happy with change are those in charge of it and those who benefit by it. Still, led properly, growth and success are its by-products, and everyone can get behind that.

The alternative is not as good.

It’s up to you, leaders.

You have the stick.

I survived another meeting

An old friend sent me a picture the other day of this blue ribbon that says, “I survived another meeting that should have been an email.” He obviously remembers how I feel about meetings.

Turns out you can actually buy the ribbons here, and I know a lot of bosses who should pass them out.

You leaders have got to get a handle on the endless parade of time-wasting, morale-draining meetings you expect your people to sit through!

Routine, regularly scheduled meetings – the ones that are on your calendar until the end of time – are the worst! They typically involve endless droning around a table about activities that only one or two people in the room care about. When the boss at the head of the table tolerates such time wasting, the expectation is that everyone has to say something, and we’ve all experienced the guy who’s a little too fond of his own voice.

Several years ago, everyone in my directorate went to a weekly staff meeting like the one I described above. I used to tuck a couple of Sudokus in my notebook to make it look like I was taking notes (I know, not setting a good example). One week, I asked the director if I could skip the meeting if I was too busy. He said, “Sure.” I never went again.

I’ve got the stick for a minute.

When I was talking the other day with a senior government leader about making meetings more productive, I got some pushback on my value judgement. He said, “It’s the only time we all get together. How else will everyone find out what the others are working on?” I remember one time a Deputy Under Secretary actually saying, “The daily meeting’s not for you; it’s for me to find out what everyone’s doing.”

Trust me, there are far better ways to connect the people who need information with the people who have information. If you’re the boss and doubt what I’m saying, give this to your people and ask for their thoughts.

Productive meetings don’t happen by accident. If you want to see a dramatic improvement in Return On Time Spent In Meetings (ROTSIM – a new metric?), try these proven steps:

Put someone (preferably someone who values efficient use of time) in charge of the agenda. Meetings without agendas usually end up being free-for-alls. If you absolutely have to have a routine meeting to update the boss, make it clear in advance that no one brings more than two or three of their most critical issues that a majority of people around the table really need to know about. Any issues that only the boss and the person speaking care about should be handled one-on-one or in an email.

Get rid of as many routine meetings as you can. I was once part of an organization (for a very short period of time) who actually tracked the number of meetings attended as a performance metric. Try only having meetings when there is something to decide. Have clear objectives, not open-ended ones like “Discuss employee engagement.” Send pre-work to the attendees so they can come to the table as an informed participants, not as sponges.

No marathon meetings! People lose focus and creativity when you hold them hostage for more than an hour or two, especially after lunch. If need be, break the agenda in half and have two shorter meetings appropriately spaced.

Finally, make sure someone’s keeping track of decisions and deferred issues. Make it a written record and include who is responsible for each along with a deadline. It can be part of the pre-work if you need a subsequent session.

What about the time you spend around the conference room table? Want to reduce it and make it more productive?

It’s up to you, leaders.

You have the stick.

Sorry Key Shows Online Apology Or Regret   

      Admit nothing, deny everything, and make counter-accusations (not!)

I didn’t see much press uproar last month after Southwest Airlines grounded nearly a quarter of their fleet because they hadn’t conducted required inspections on a backup system, resulting in over a hundred cancelled flights.

I wondered why it didn’t reach the media screech most companies get for public safety compromises (think GM’s ignition and Nissan’s break switch lawsuits). Could it be because they caught it themselves, admitted fault to the appropriate oversight, presented a plan to fix it and then did?

I won’t get started on my disdain for mainstream media, but would it be too absurd for me to believe Southwest actually handled this correctly, and so there wasn’t much chum in the water to feed the media?

Let’s assume that’s the case. Is that how your organization admit mistakes? Or does it?

I’ve got the stick for a minute.

Early in my Air Force career, I was a squadron Safety Officer (an additional duty, which shows the priority leadership put on it). It was one of those thankless jobs, but one that required unquestioned integrity to be effective.

During my tenure, a boat we were carrying on our airplane vented fuel into the cargo compartment right after takeoff, which required an emergency return to the airfield. No doubt our fault, since we believed (but didn’t confirm) that the boat’s tanks were empty. I properly reported the incident to higher headquarters – and was thoroughly wire-brushed by the commander for admitting our mistake.

But we fixed our processes as a result, and it didn’t happen again.

It can be hard to admit mistakes, especially as a leader. But nothing cements the trust a leader has with followers like saying, “I made a mistake; here’s what I’m going to do to make it right.”

The alternative is the equivocation and “conflation of events” that we keep hearing about in the media, usually resulting in a scab that keeps getting picked. Or, worse yet, we don’t hear about the cover-up until it threatens the very success of the company.

It’s really not that complicated to admit a mistake, but there seems to be a palpable resistance in many organizations to do it. After some very unscientific research, I turned up nearly a zillion versions of How to Make the Perfect Apology. I’ve summarized them for you:

1. Act quickly.
2. Don’t cover it up.
3. Own the mistake.
4. Take the necessary steps to make it right.

It’s that simple, and my hat’s off to Southwest for getting it right this time.

What about your organization? Do you have a culture that encourages people to admit mistakes, or hide them?

It’s up to you, leaders.

You have the stick.


Probably too many attempts have been made to define leadership.

Everyone seems to have their own favorite definition. More often than not, it comes down to “I know it when I see it.”

So instead of struggling to identify good leadership behaviors, try looking at the leaders you’ve known through a different lens. Ask yourself, “What did their leadership feel like?”

We follow leaders because they make us want to, not because we have to.

It’s an emotional decision to choose to do more than we have to. Good leaders get our discretionary effort because we appreciate how they make us feel – about them, about ourselves and about the organization.

Over the course of my Defense Department career, I had the privilege of working for and with a number of great leaders…and some not so great ones. There were as many different styles as there were leaders. I tried to emulate the good ones; the bad ones…well, let’s just say not everyone served as a good example.

I’ve got the stick for a minute

My favorite leaders aren’t necessarily charismatic or outgoing; they’re not all what you would call mighty warriors; some can’t (and never could) hold their own at the club on Friday nights.

But they all have one thing in common: they have a certain presence about them – leadership presence – that makes me like being around them.

Here are my three favorite traits that I think contribute the most to their leadership presence:

They have integrity. They don’t just do the right things when no one’s watching. They also have integrity you can feel, knowing in your heart that they’re going to do what they say – or own up to it when they can’t. No false promises and no excuses. Because of that, I trust them.

They’re genuine. They’re comfortable with who they are, and there’s no pretense in their behavior. Their compassion is real. That doesn’t mean they’re cuddly – far from it – but I’m certain of what they stand for and what they care about. They don’t have a need to be seen as more than they really are, and they don’t hide behind a veneer.

They’re present. They make me feel like what we’re discussing is important to them. They don’t act distracted by what else they could be doing, and they’re not casting glances at their computer screen or caller ID. It’s very calming, even if it is only for the few minutes I’m with them.

How do you make your followers feel? Look for the common traits in your favorite leaders and decide where you could improve your leadership presence.

It’s up to you, leaders.

You have the stick.



As a leader in your organization, who’s got your back? Are the people you work with watching out for you, or do you find yourself covering your six to keep from being stabbed in the back?

I’m a huge supporter of the new “Got Your Six” campaign to unite nonprofit, Hollywood, and government partners to support our veterans. The commercials touch my heart when they explain how “got your six” means we’ve got our veterans’ backs as they transition from military service to civilian life.

They also remind me of lessons I learned in pilot training about how to keep enemy pilots from maneuvering to my ultimate position of vulnerability: my six o’clock position – the blind spot directly behind me where I wouldn’t recognize I was about to be killed. Translated into corporate language: where someone is about to make us look stupid or incompetent without us realizing it.

I’ve got the stick for a minute.

“Covering your six” is what pilots have wingmen for. Wingmen fly behind and above (or below) their lead to make sure no one sneaks up on them. Pretty easy analogy to apply to the corporate world, but who’s really going to watch your back in the dog-eat-dog of office politics?

Your followers, that’s who. The ones who trust you and know you have their backs as well.

When a leader is intentional about creating an environment of trust and cooperation in the office, coworkers watch out for each because they want the organization to succeed. It’s much more difficult to blindside an entire group of people watching out for each other than it is an individual outside the circle of trust.

You build that environment of trust by having non-negotiable integrity and demonstrating you both care more about your employees than you do yourself (compassion), and you can and will use their efforts for the good of the organization (competence).

You instill that trust only if your actions are consistent with your words. If you’re one who talks about others behind their backs, you can assume you’re also being talked about. If there is even a hint that you might sacrifice one of your people for your benefit, you’re headed for a Julius Caesar ending.

Now, I’m not Pollyannaish, and I’ve certainly worked in places where the motto was something like “it’s not enough that I succeed; others must fail.” Competition can be fierce, and insecure or power-hungry people backstab from a variety of motivations.

But you can’t focus on helping your employees achieve great things if you’re always sitting in the corner with your back to the wall. You’ve got to be out there doing your best for them, trusting them the way they trust you. That’s the leader’s role, and while it’s vulnerable, it doesn’t have to be unsafe.

So who’s got your six? It’s up to you.

You have the stick.

Goals On Dartboard Shows Aspired Objectives

   – it’s not the same as setting goals.

I hate goal setting. The whole business of it.

That’s why I was surprised by a conversation I had with my daughter a couple of weeks ago. Home from her fall semester, she was describing her goals to me – her grad school goals, financial goals, career goals, life goals – and I was amazed. When I asked how she learned about goal setting, she unexpectedly answered, “from you, of course.” I didn’t know I’d passed goal setting to another generation, because (if I hadn’t mentioned it) I hate goal setting.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate setting goals; it’s the only way I know I’m on track to where I want to go. But there’s so much of the institutional process of individual goal setting that is all about process and almost nothing about the accomplishment of what really matters.

I’ve got the stick for a minute.

Leaders who have vision and can translate it into an executable plan that followers buy into can be the Holy Grail to an organization. On the down side, results can easily be torpedoed by the intermediate level managers who don’t know how to get the people who actually DO work to set performance and developmental goals that support that vision and plan.

I would propose that few leaders have a good grasp on the goals his/her workforce sets. That doesn’t mean they aren’t held accountable for their workforce’s results. It’s past time to get involved.

As 2015 begins, we’re all being encouraged (or required) to set goals for the coming year. We all know what SMART goals are: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound. I prefer clear, concise, actionable, and tied to organizational performance, but that would require a new acronym (C-CAT would only appeal to a very narrow audience).

The problem is that a step in any direction looks like progress to someone who doesn’t know where they’re going. Most organizations are horrible at getting individuals to understand how what they do contributes to organizational success. That breeds mediocrity at best, and sincerely misdirected efforts at worst.

THIS IS IMPORTANT: For the workforce to actually tie their performance to what leaders expect their organizations to do this year, serious effort is required at every level. Leaders and managers have to get more involved in communicating both how their people can contribute to organizational goals and how they can develop into more productive contributors.

STOP asking them to write nebulous performance goals (like “superior customer support measured by no negative customer comments”) and developmental goals (like “take an online course on how to get along with others”). They can easily meet those goals with no actual benefit to your organizational goals whatsoever.

Jack Welch said that before you’re a leader, success is all about growing yourself; when you become a leader, success is all about growing others. For those of you who think you’re leading, it’s about time you get more interested in helping others set meaningful goals than in setting your own.

It’s up to you.

You have the stick.

 2014-12-08 15.15.04    

      –But what is it?

 I looked up from my desk the other day and noticed (again) a retirement present from a good friend and co-worker that says, “It is what it is.” Too often, I hear that phrase uttered in a tone of voice that conveys resignation to an unpleasant situation or acceptance of defeat. It doesn’t have to be.

As leaders, a key to success is in understanding the last part of the sentence:  “…what it is.”  It might be something we have control over, something we can only influence, or something that affects us and our people but is out of our hands.  How quickly we ascertain which of the three It is, and how we communicate that to those who work for and with us often determines whether we (the royal we) are going to rise above the challenge.

I’ve got the stick for a minute.

In a past life, I commanded an organization responsible for deploying personnel to all parts of Europe and Africa. We were too short staffed in certain specialties to do what were we being asked to do, and getting additional manpower was out of our control. What was in our control was how we used the personnel we had. Instead of being resigned to playing the victim to asymmetric workload distribution between specialties, we developed an aggressive cross-training program that enabled the willing but underemployed to team with those who were in danger of burning out. As a result, we built a greater number of very capable, cross-functional teams that were scalable and incredibly efficient to deploy and employ, and we significantly improved morale in the process.

This speaks to three core truths of leadership: leaders create “we” organizations; leaders don’t play the victim; and, leaders help others manage change.

As the chief executive, my job was to instill a sense of shared purpose, creating a “we” organization that excelled at overcoming adversity and delivering client success. Those given additional training knew they’d be asked to work harder but were willing to give their discretionary effort to reduce the burden on their co-workers. If you know your organization has spare band-width in some areas, maybe you can tap into it through a renewed sense of shared purpose.

When leaders fail, they can’t play the victim. I tried so many times to get additional personnel, they called me Kevin de la Mancha. As frustrating as it was, we didn’t sit around and blame others for not being able to accomplish the mission; we got off our morass and found an alternative that gave us control back. If you’re not encouraging your people to find innovative ways to overcome It, they may not think you have what it takes to lead them to greater successes, and they’ll be less likely to follow.

Leaders have to model change resiliency; if you don’t have it at the top, you won’t find it at the bottom. Understanding and anticipating resistance to the status quo hierarchical way of tasking made it easier for me to communicate the positive effects we could generate (both up and down the chain of command) and involve those most affected in the implementation plan. When those affected demonstrated their buy-in, it silenced the nay-sayers and motivated others to want to do more work for the good of the team.

How are you dealing with It?  Are you resigned to suffer its impact on your organization, or are you aggressively developing alternative strategies to deliver success by giving your people the tools and opportunities they need to exceed expectations?

As the leader, overcoming It depends on you…

You have the stick.