Humility = Great Leadership

Becoming aware of Ego

Humility

To develop humility in leadership you have to learn about you and become especially aware of your ego. The ego is your sense of self.  Your boundaries; a feeling of being you. Ego gives all of us definition in the 3-dimensional world:

”This is my body. This is my mind. This is me. These are my preferences, my limits – my, me, mine.”

Ego is a necessary component of human life. It informs you of your choices in the world and it prevents you form being harmed. It gives you the power to act and keeps you feeling independent and strong.  It allows you to value your uniqueness and, when properly tended to and channeled, prepares you for greater service to others.

However, ego is by definition limiting.  Its function is to keep you safe, to contain you. The ego understands only that which it can grasp; “I am safe because I have a house, money, food in the fridge” is typical ego reasoning. Putting security in that which can be seen is what the ego does.  Also the ego thrives on comparison. ”Why does he get that and I don’t?” is a familiar phase from your egos repertoire.

For these reason the ego it finds it easier to generate fixed mindsets.  “When I have X I will be a success.”  “When I have Y I will be more important.” These limitations create rules and belief systems that can make it hard to become a great leader.

Why is it difficult for senior executives to form teams?

Most people believe teams outperform individuals. However, this is not always the case, and certainly not when it comes to top teams.

I have met many CEOs who have told me about their frustration trying to get their top executives to act as a team.  They talk about silo thinking and lack of the four C’s; cooperation, collaboration, communication and compromise.  Listening to their stories, I understand why they want teamwork, but I am always struck by their misunderstanding of teams.  The fact that how they work together depends on the structure and purpose of their meetings and the choices they make implementing a work-group process or a team process.  I think the four C’s might make life more enjoyable, but I am not convinced that these behaviours alone can improve the performance of a team.

 

Solving your dilemma

 

Watch a few meetings, and note two things; the purpose, and the way members are asked to participate.  After a short period of observation you will notice a number of similarities. Notably, most executive meetings tend to fall into a one of a number of categories; readouts, where members give each other information; governance, where members discuss specific propriety issues; policy, where members decide on principle actions to be adopted by their organisation; and strategy reviews, which examine planned versus actual.  The nature of these meeting and how they are structured makes teamwork unnecessary to achieve the outputs required, therefore trying to force the participants of these meetings to be more of a team is counterproductive. 

These types of meeting are designed to use a Working-Group, not a TEAM.   They require a strong, focused leader to manage the agenda and work through each topic.  Individuals are accountable for their piece of the work, whether that’s a report, a policy update, or information regarding strategic decisions.  The group’s purpose is the same as the broader organisational mission and individuals produce separate work products that add value to the agenda.  These meetings need to run efficiently, and the measures of effectiveness indirectly influence others (such as the financial budgets, headcount, benefit schemes etc.).  Inside these kinds of meeting senior leaders use the 4Ds, they discuss, debate, decide, & delegate.

This working-group was defined in ’93 by Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith in the HBR article The Discipline of Teams.  A Working-Group is highly effective and appropriate for senior executive meetings.  Time is at a premium; everyone is a competent professional in charge of their piece of the pie, and required results are well understood.

 

Is it ever appropriate for senior executives to act as a team?

 

The answer is yes when the propose requires teamwork; this is when it is important for CEO’s and other senior leaders to be precise about their definition of a team and what they are trying to solve.   I always remind CEO’s that a team is only required when there is no obvious solution to a problem and no single person can solve it.

Let’s define a team.

A team is a small number of people with complementary skills and knowledge who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and an approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.

The discipline required for effectively forming and operating as a team is very different to that needed to run a work-group.

Each element needs to be in place.

Small means between 2 and 7.

Complementary skills is a diversity of skills such as creative, process, people, task, financial acumen, visioning, sales and production.   A diverse and complementary skill-set aims to ensure that the team can see the problem from many perspectives, all with equal merit, and can find a solution that is a product of the team’s thinking, not one dominant player.

Being committed to a common purpose encompasses two elements, commitment to stay with the team and work through issues, and common purpose means a shared goal or objective.

Performance goals are agreed amongst the members and measure outputs as well as the quality of the team’s interactions.

Lastly, an approach for which they hold themselves accountable means that the team agree on the way they will work as a team.  This is a mixture of values, rules of engagement and the problem-solving models they plan to utilise.

Successful teams spend time considering how they work together and make adjustments to improve performance.  They review how each person is contributing; asking each other for suggestions to improve; talking openly about feelings and performance without blame, and they understand that are subjugated by their purpose, not my organisational hierarchy.     Each member knows that they win only when the team wins.

Where to begin?

Once everyone understands the definition of a team, the CEO, or Executive taking the lead, lays out the problem to be solved.

The next step is critical.  Who is needed to solve this problem?  Forming a team that can be successful, requires members with complementary skills and the capability to make decisions.

Once the problem has been defined, and the team has been selected, they will need a process for working together. Team meetings are very different from work-groups.  Firstly, the leadership is shared amongst the members.  Secondly the meetings are messy, the agenda is open; teams value conflict, and are comfortable letting topics lie unresolved over multiple sessions.  Not every meeting ends in resolution, and it may be necessary to start over several times to find the most valuable solution.

Once the team is formed allow them to progress without interference, offer coaching and mentoring but not drive the solution.  The solution must belong to the team so that ownership and accountability remain shared within the team.   While oversight is always important,  trust is more important; teams need to know that they are trusted to find the answers this is the only way to build the capability of teams.

Think before you choose

 

Many meetings are designed to use a workgroup because of the structure used the outputs required.  Choosing to work in this fashion is a perfectly acceptable approach to executive leadership.  Individual leader structures are fast and efficient and work well when one person really does understand what is needed.

The most important consideration is the time/value equation. Establishing a top team requires time to build high performance, so it’s always worth asking if the rewards merit the investment.  The next consideration is whether your top team is aware of the diversity of the members and is willing to value the mix of complementary skills and knowledge. Organisational status, as in job titles, are not part of team working. Next, consider if the mix is fit for purpose, i.e. can this group of individuals  deliver the goal?

Lastly, consider the long-term benefits.  Building the leadership bench strength in your organisation requires opportunity.  In teams, the leadership role shifts among the members giving opportunities for less experienced executives build up their knowledge of what works and what doesn’t when enabling a team to achieve its goals.  The collateral benefit is that executives who learn to use teams in this way are more likely to cascade the practice inside

their part of the of the organisation, thereby building the overall leadership capacity of the organisation.   They will also learn how to make the crucial choice between workgroups and teams and deploy the right organisational structure appropriately.

 

Where do executive teams find opportunities for teamwork?

Complex issues where the answer is not an extension of, business as usual, is a great place to mine for opportunities.  These include business turn-a-rounds, vision building, new business model creation, value proposition design, new product strategies, integrating acquisitions, market disruption, and innovation projects.

These types of challenges have common characteristics:

  • The solution is not obvious, and obvious solutions will not deliver the paradigm shift required.
  • The solution requires a complementary skills-set
  • There is an urgent need to find a solution
  • There is a clear advantage for using a team over a workgroup
  • The rewards are worth the risk of investing time and energy

The answer to why is it difficult for senior executives to form teams comes down to the choices they make about what model fits the purpose of their meetings.

There is no doubt that teams need time together, they need to work on real issues and learn how to be a successful team by following the deceptively simple rules of the discipline of teams.

A workgroup is fit for purpose.   A team acts differently from a workgroup, and that is good when that is the most appropriate choice.   Remember, the events in life and business will continue to challenge all of us, the response we chose creates the outcome we experience.

 

We are the masters of our destiny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abolish the myth of THEM

The tip for success in 2018.  

The myth of THEM leaves you believing you are separate from the problems you see in others. For 20 years, I have been a witness to, and party in, this delusional story that always begins with this sentiment, “When these people show better leadership we will be able to……….” this is what I call the myth of THEM.

Back in 1950 Albert Einstein had noticed the same behaviour and wrote these words in a letter to Robert S. Marcus. “A human being is part of the whole, called by us “universe,” limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness”.

Because we experience looking out upon the problem, we see it separated from us. I have noticed that the observers are often delighted with themselves for noticing the issues, which in turn reinforces the most seductive part of the delusion, It’s not me!

The question to ask after hearing the myth of THEM begin is;
What part do I play in all of this?

As Einstein posits, we are all connected in what we call the “universe”; therefore, we are all connected to the company where we have observed the challenges.

This leads to the irrefutable truth; there is no THEM there is just US.

Einstein goes on to warn that the delusion of separation is a prison that restricts our personal desires and limits us.

As a leader, you must free yourself from this prison by widening your circle of compassion to embrace all the people connected in your company and beyond. You must learn through personal awareness that the whole has more value and that the behaviours you see are, in part, created by you.

Your power to create change and build a better company begins when you tear down the delusion of THEM and take your place in US.

good luck in 2018

Tim

“The universe is not outside of you. Look inside yourself; everything that you want, you already are.”

― Jalaluddin Mevlana Rumi 13th century

Centred Leaders

It is so easy to begin your day rushing frantically to work. However, that perceived value of getting in early is often lost because of the stress you experience.

Choosing a different path will help your productivity precisely because it reduces feelings of stress and overwhelm.

Being centred brings you to a calm place within yourself, where you can notice your inner-self, your energy and your connectedness to the energy around you.

When you take time to acknowledge you as a being without labels, without tasks, without obligations, you will find a calm serenity that will help you keep your perspective on what truly matters in your life.

Noticing that there is a space between hope and disappointment, success and failure, joyfulness and sadness, between passionate and indifference, where you can be still, reminds you that calm can exist within the chaos of daily work.

This sense of tranquility will help you be more productive, make better decisions and better choices.

Enjoy…

Companies that are led by passion are remarkable places

Companies that are led by passion are remarkable places to work because they hold the potential for greatness.

When most of us think about start-ups, we build pictures of smart, young, vibrant entrepreneurs with technology to sell.

When I think about start-ups, I am excited by experiencing passion that is so palpable it infects me too.

Start-ups and early stage growth companies are places fuelled by possibilities and unlimited opportunities.  They face many interesting challenges, from building systems just ahead of the business need, to working with fewer people than needed to get the job done comfortably, or satisfying customers who are only just discovering they have a need.

There is also an important, and often hidden, challenge how to hold on to the ethos of the business as it grows.

It doesn’t matter if the pathway to growth is organic and through acquisitions, scaling-up creates new problems that won’t we solved with technology.    These new opportunities are largely organisational and interpersonal which is why founders who have been successful understand that the most critical capability they needed to successfully scale-up was leadership.

Good advice

When starting to lead the change program that will see your company transform, take a little advice from Meg Whitman “… figure out what that company’s doing right, and do more of it.”  The real challenge when growth happens is holding on to the essential ethos of the business.  The first step I ask founders to take, is to protect the culture their passion has created, because this is their secret weapon.   I tell them take time-out to understand what you have created; why it works? And why it is important to the people that have made a choice to join you?

Looking at what is great, and understanding what makes people happy, will tell you what to focus on as a starting point.

Shifting attention

Most founders fall in love with the technology or the idea that they saw as the opportunity for their business.  Once teams are in place, and the products are being delivered to customers, it’s time to shift attention.  This move can be tough, but it is essential to the successful transition into sustainable growth.

Skyscanner, a company that has enjoyed fast growth and success understands this shift and has managed to create awareness throughout its management layers.  Filip Filipov, Director of Product in 2015, blogged a quote from Peter Drucker, ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’ highlighting the philosophical shift from logic to the importance of the emotional element of leadership. He then went on to write “…. the watershed that splits good companies from great ones will be the culture and the leadership behaviours that shape it.”  Filip humbly signed off with an apology for not exhibiting the right leadership behaviours as often as he would like to have.

The Skyscanner leadership team understands the value of this shift as the source of its success.

It’s not beanbags and pinball machines

Culture is the feelings you share working in a place; it’s the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular group of people working for a common purpose.  It’s unique. It can’t be faked into being by buying pinball machines, or painting art on walls, or having beanbags and cool furniture. The authentic nature of any group’s culture is observable. How they treat each other, what they share, how they look, the documents they create, the meetings they have, the things they talk about and what they produce are clues to the culture at work.

Cultural artefacts also include myths and stories that tell how the company became a success. These stories have heroes and heroines who have been key to the business; they (the stories) become a system of metaphors that tell people what is expected of them. The same too can be said of physical attributes, such as, how the office or factory looks, the interior and exterior design, the equipment used.  Fuzzball tables, beanbags, coloured walls, and slogans, are valuable artefacts or rituals that work for a business when they are genuine expressions of a core culture that is aligned with the future ambitions of the business.

Words and actions count

When Meg Whitman tore down the wood panelling of the old executive offices at HP, it sent a clear message of a change in culture. She commented “… we never actually had to publicise this; 330,000 HP people knew [it] within about 32.5 seconds.”

Gandhi wrote.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.”

His words are remarkably relevant to today’s leaders and founders creating new value for a future world. Beliefs and values shape how things get done, announce what is important and dictate how people are treated.   Keeping the culture, relevant, aligned, vibrant and enabling takes care and attention.

Howard Schultz, the man who founded the most successful coffee company in the world, Starbucks, has lived through start-up to a high-growth company and offers this lesson “Success is not sustainable if it is defined by how big you become or by growth for growth’s sake.  Success is very shallow if it doesn’t have emotional meaning.”

Belief is an emotion that expresses who we are in the world. If you are the leader what you believe matters because it can shape the way your managers handle your business.  When Schultz left Starbucks, managers lost their way over time and nearly destroyed the business he had started. When he returned his first order of business was to re-establish the values to get back to the core ethos that shaped the company in the first place. He then took the bold, and expensive, step of closing every outlet worldwide to train each member of the Starbucks team how to make a great cup of coffee.

He wanted Starbucks to be known, once again, for the quality of its coffee and not for the size of the company.

Understand – Shift – Symbols – Breed

Growth is a good thing that can make your company great if you understand what you are doing right and do more of it.

Shift your attention to building your leadership team and take care to tell the stories that matter.

Create positively authentic symbols of your culture and care about your beliefs enough to breed a great leadership culture that will take your company into the future.

It’s never too late to follow your dreams

2016 is almost gone

Inspiring Vision

2016 is almost gone.

Was it the year you wanted it to be?  Big changes happened, for sure. Some have left some people worried and others elated.   These big changes will affect all our lives slowly.   The changes that matter most are the little ones because they affect our lives more quickly and more meaningfully.   Little changes that make a difference to your significant relationships, to your health, or to your dreams.

 

Make 2017 the year you care about the little changes.

 

Start with your dreams.

  • What had you planned?
  • Where were you going?
  • How close are you now?

Dreams change as life shows up and we see new value in things we didn’t understand.  For instance, when you have kids.  When you are young, children are a possible part of your future, but when they arrive and you hold your baby in your arms for the first time, your dreams change in little ways that have a profound affect on your future.  This is normal and it’s OK.

However, the drama that surrounds change can obscure your view and stop you from staying connected to what is important to you, perhaps forcing you to make compromises that seemed inevitable.   Sometimes all we seem to have is Hobson’s choice, which is no choice at all.

The good news is, you are older now and wiser too.  You can examine your life’s choices and compare these to the dreams you had for yourself and decide where you want to go now.    If you do this today, focus on your heart’s desires, your passion in life and not material possessions.  In the final analysis, stuff won’t bring meaning to your life, whereas purpose and passion will.

Age is not a reason for not chasing your dreams, being older can be a real bonus.  If you need some inspiration check out this list of awesome people who didn’t launch their dreams until they were older.

 

In their 40s

  • At 40 Donald Fisher, with no experience in retail, opened the first Gap store in San Francisco in 1969 with his wife, Doris.
  • Vera Wang only entered the fashion industry at 40; now she’s a world-famous designer.
  • At 43 Samuel L. Jackson had only had bit parts and then in 1991 he landed an award-winning role in Spike Lee’s film “Jungle Fever”.
  • Sam Walton was a retail manager through his 20s and 30s. He was 44 before he stepped out on his own and opened the first Walmart in Rogers, Arkansas, in 1962.
  • Henry Ford was 45 when he created the car that revolutionized the auto business – Model T.

In their 50s

  • Jack Cover became a successful entrepreneur at 50 when he invented the Taser gun in 1970, before this he worked as a scientist for NASA and IBM.
  • Betty White was 51 when she joined the cast of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” in 1973, this was the break that leads to her iconic status today.
  • Tim and Nina Zagat were both 51-year-old lawyers when they published their first collection of restaurant reviews under the Zagat name in 1979. It eventually became a mark of culinary authority.
  • Ray Kroc was 52 when he decided to leave his career as a milkshake device salesman and bought McDonald’s which, as everyone knows, he grew into the world’s biggest fast-food franchise.

In their 60s

  • If you grew up loving the TV show “Little House on the Prairie,” consider that Laura Ingalls Wilder published the first in the “Little House” books at age 65 in 1932.
  • Harland Sanders was 62 when he franchised Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1952.
  • Anna Mary Robertson Moses, better known as Grandma Moses, began her prolific painting career at 78.

 

Look into your heart, find your dream again, and start a new in 2017.

The biggest risk to business growth is the BOSS

TheBoss

If you are the BOSS then pay attention.   Generally speaking, most bosses I meet want to succeed and they want their businesses to grow.  This seems very reasonable, given the alternatives; no growth, little success or complete decline.

Yet many businesses do suffer decline or no growth.   When I get a call it usually starts with “we need more leadership…..”  and this logic again sounds reasonable, “ If we had more managers who could step-up we would have more strategically important problems solved.”

 There is nothing wrong with this assertion.   General idea: If we give managers new skills, feedback and develop their self of awareness success will follow.  WRONG!

If we do these things and then give them a new management environment to work in, success would have a real chance.

So what is wrong the management environment?  The BOSS.