Wednesday, 21 December 2016

The Way We Were

As we approach the end of the year, for many it is a time of reflection.  We look back not only on this year, but on the end of years in times past.  We visit our memories; some pleasant, others not so much.

When times are difficult we tend to recall the ‘glory years’ when everything came easily, almost effortlessly, though we know that was not the case.  We find ourselves longing for the good ole’ days and melancholy starts to wash over us. 

When this happens we begin to get experience the paralysis of inaction and indecision.  We wonder how we can roll back the clock to see how good the emotions of success made us feel.  We stop leading and start reminiscing.

And if we have had a successful year, there is a natural tendency to be somewhat smug.  We have new experiences on which we can rest our laurels. We stop leading while we accept the accolades.

Both of these responses are normal under the circumstances.  But as a leader you have no time for these indulgences.  Your job must always be forward looking.  There are no such things as ‘future memories’.  You are in the ‘memories building’ business and it is one that has no end; it has only infinite possibilities.

This season, be certain to recall…reflect…rest…and rejoice.

But remember tomorrow is only a day away and others are counting on you to do your job so that they can do theirs.  It may not be fair but it is the reality.

My very best regards for health and success in the New Year!  I will talk with you again in January.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Let's call a spade a shovel.

The headline said that we are in a ‘post-truth’ era.  Not quite sure what the heck that is.
Then a story appeared on the news that reported on a ‘false news’ posting that appeared on Facebook.

Is it just me or has the whole world gone nuts.  In my Webster’s both ‘post-truth’ and ‘false news’ appear as definitions for the same word…LIES!

I mean, how hard is it to understand?  Frankly it is a binary proposition.  If it is not truth…it is a lie.  There are no fifty shades of gray here.

Have we really devolved so far that we are now sugar coating lies so, like medicine, we can swallow them more easily?  It used to be that only accounts receivable was required to put up with this nonsense.  You remember ‘…the cheque is in the mail…’ or ‘…I didn’t get an invoice…’  Kids told teachers that the dog ate their homework.

As the leader, you know how imperative it is that you conduct yourself with integrity.  If your word cannot be trusted then there are no absolutes.  You are simply presiding over controlled chaos. I strongly doubt that your employees want a new division of HR called ‘Fact Checkers’ to know which of your strategic plans are real and which are intended to waste your time.

Take the high road.  Be honest, be consistent and be accountable.  Don’t accept as a ‘fait accompli’ this notion of post-truth.  Ensure that your team, your division, your company stands for something worth defending. 

I am reminded again of an oft-repeated quote:

‘…Reputation is what others think of you; character is what you are…’

Push back against the trend before it becomes the norm. 

Friday, 2 December 2016

Solomon's choice.

I have written frequently about the need for leaders to exhibit character even at the expense of skills.  That said, one cannot lead effectively when they are devoid of competencies.  This begs the question as to what skills are the most important, not only for a leader, but for the leader’s aspiring leaders.

Clearly the answer will vary depending upon the specific responsibilities of the role; the nature of the products or services you provide; or the type of people who report to the leader.  But I would submit to you that there is one skill, one quality, one competence that not only overrides the others but also is transferable to any position.  That quality is wisdom.

It is no coincidence that the Biblical King Solomon, when asked what gift he wanted, asked for wisdom above wealth, fame or even good health.

Wisdom is commonly recognized as a combination of knowledge and experience.  But a wise person can be identified well before the accumulation of either.  Telltale signs include the following:
·        A willingness to say ‘…I don’t know…but I want to learn…’
·        Someone who listens more than they talk.
·        Someone who shares the moment of success.
·        The person who pulls others up alongside, not down to their level.
·        The ability to have an open mind, but grounded opinions.
·        One who is not swayed by the flavor of the day.

Clearly there are other indicators of wisdom even when that wisdom is young.  As the leader you want to identify and then nurture these future leaders.  Engage them and challenge them to grow into their potential.  As your behavior models  and guides them, your whole organization will benefit.

Wisdom does not imply infallibility.  We all make mistakes or fail from time to  time.  The wise mitigate the consequences because they made a considered decision to begin with and they don’t ride a mistake to its’ logical conclusion in the misguided hope of a miraculous recovery.

As you build your team of leaders, look for character first.  But then seek wisdom. You should not be surprised to see the latter as a function of the former.