Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Raising the Bar for Morality

October 1, 2021
Making Decisions So We Do Right and Do Well

This month, I will be speaking on the topic of ‘Corporate Citizenship, Ethics and Morality’ when nothing’s normal to a group of senior HR executives. This is an important topic as nobody can rely on laws and regulations for each scenario, and decision-making relies on the use of good judgment and high moral standards.

I’ll frame my remarks based on Lawrence Kohlberg’s six stages of moral development.* Although Kohlberg’s research was about how children develop their sense of morality and justice based on moral dilemmas**, I believe that it was deep implication in the corporate world.

What’s relevant are the corporate use cases around doing the right thing. Relevant use cases for today include the below:

  • Outsourcing your work
  • Taking credit for someone else’s work
  • Promotion, bonus and hiring practices
  • Resource allocation
  • Project assignment

These issues have been with leaders since we first started gathering in groups, but with today’s war for talent, with the focus on retaining, growing, and promoting the most qualified and engaged talent, with the new definition of normal, the stakes become much higher.

Laws and precedence and short-term rewards aren’t sufficient guidelines on how to make ethical, proactive choices. Below is a framework to consider as you evaluate the options for each moral dilemma.

  • Is it the truth? How do you know it’s the truth? Don’t act without knowing the truth…
  • Are all parties being transparent about what’s true? Insist on transparency in most cases…
  • Would it be helpful to share the truth? Sometimes, the truth is better not shared…
  • Is it the right time to share this truth?
  • What are the best options for being firm (but kind), fair, and consistent? You don’t have to be the person who implements the best options…
  • What is the morality/ethics of the dilemma given the best options available?
  • What is the ripple effect for decisions made on culture, brand, relationships, business, etc.,?

Making the right choices on ethics, morality and civility is the responsibility of people at all levels every day – not just the responsibility of senior executives and not just sometimes. Therefore, it’s everyone’s responsibility to step up and speak out, to err on the side of doing the right thing, for every transgression or injustice ignored is an implied approval…

What we each think, say and do has implications for others. Doing the right thing for the business, for the people, may not present the recognition and reward you’re seeking, but it may raise the bar for civility, morality, and culture. And this is a good thing.

* The Philosophy of Moral Development: Moral Stages and the Idea of Justice (Essays on Moral Development, Volume 1) Hardcover – July 1, 1981 https://www.amazon.com/Philosophy-Moral-Development-Stages-Justice/dp/0060647604

**Kohlberg Dilemmas http://ww3.haverford.edu/psychology/ddavis/p109g/kohlberg.dilemmas.html

In Honor of the Heroes and Victims of 911

September 1, 2021
The Story of Hope, Despite the Events of 911,
as told by a stewardess from Delta Flight 15

In honor of the 20-year anniversary of 911, I thought I’d share this true feel-good story, as told by a stewardess of Delta Flight 15 (anonymous), which was directly impacted by the attack. It gives me hope for a better world, and positively taints my perspective about fellow humans.

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, we were about 5 hours out of Frankfurt, flying over the North Atlantic. All of a sudden the curtains parted and I was told to go to the cockpit, immediately, to see the captain.  As soon as I got there I noticed that the crew had that “All Business” look on their faces.  The captain handed me a printed message.  It was from Delta’s main  office in Atlanta and simply read, “All airways over the Continental United States are closed to commercial air traffic. Land ASAP at the nearest airport. Advise your destination.”

No one said a word about what this could mean.  We knew it was a serious situation and we needed to find terra firma quickly.  The captain determined that the nearest airport was 400 miles behind us in Gander, Newfoundland.

He requested approval for a route change from the Canadian traffic controller and approval was granted immediately — no questions asked. We found out later, of course, why there was no hesitation in approving our request.

While the flight crew prepared the airplane for landing, another message arrived from Atlanta telling us about some terrorist activity in the New York area.  A few minutes later word came in about the hijackings. We decided to LIE to the passengers while we were still in the air.  We told them the plane had a simple instrument problem and that we needed to land at the nearest airport in Gander, Newfoundland, to have it checked out.

We promised to give more information after landing in Gander. There was much grumbling among the passengers, but that’s nothing new!  Forty minutes later, we landed in Gander. Local time at Gander was 12:30 PM!…that’s 11:00 AM EST.

There were already about 20 other airplanes on the ground from all over the world that had taken this detour on their way to the U.S.

After we parked on the ramp, the captain made the following announcement:  “Ladies and gentlemen, you must be wondering if all these airplanes around us have the same instrument problem as we have.  The reality is that we are here for another reason.”  

Then he went on to explain the little bit we knew about the situation in the U.S. There were loud gasps and stares of disbelief.  The captain informed passengers that Ground Control in Gander told us to stay put. The Canadian Government was in charge of our situation and no one was allowed to get off the aircraft.  No one on the ground was allowed to come near any of the air crafts.  Only airport police would come around periodically, look us over and go on to the next airplane. In the next hour or so more planes landed and Gander ended up with 53 airplanes from all over the world, 27 of which were U.S. commercial jets.

Meanwhile, bits of news started to come in over the aircraft radio and for the first time we learned that airplanes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York and into the Pentagon in D.C.  People were trying to use their cell phones, but were unable to connect due to a different cell system in  Canada.  Some did get through, but were only able to get to the Canadian operator who would tell them that the lines to the U.S. were either blocked or jammed.

Sometime in the evening the news filtered to us that the World Trade Center buildings had collapsed and that a fourth hijacking had resulted in a crash.  By now the passengers were emotionally and physically exhausted, not to mention frightened, but everyone stayed amazingly calm.  We had only to look out the window at the 52 other stranded aircraft to realize that we were not the only ones in this predicament.

We had been told earlier that they would be allowing people off the planes one plane at a time.  At 6 P.M., Gander airport told us that our turn to deplane would be 11 am the next morning.  Passengers were not happy, but they simply resigned themselves to this news without much noise and started to prepare themselves to spend the night on the airplane.

Gander had promised us medical attention, if needed, water, and lavatory servicing.  And they were true to their word.  Fortunately, we had no medical situations to worry about.  We did have a young lady who was 33 weeks into her pregnancy.  We took REALLY good care of her.  The night passed without incident despite the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements.

About 10:30 on the morning of the 12th, a convoy of school buses showed up.  We got off the plane and were taken to the terminal where we went through Immigration and Customs and then had to register with the Red Cross.

After that, we (the crew) were separated from the passengers and were taken in vans to a  small  hotel.  We had no idea where our passengers were going.  We learned from the Red Cross that the town of Gander has a population of 10,400 people and they had about 10,500 passengers to take care of from all the airplanes that were forced into Gander!  We were told to just relax at the hotel and we would be contacted when the U.S. airports opened again, but not to expect that call for a while.

We found out the total scope of the terror back home only after getting to our hotel and turning on the TV, 24 hours after it all started.

Meanwhile, we had lots of time on our hands and found that the people of Gander were extremely  friendly.  They started calling us the “plane people.”  We enjoyed their hospitality, explored the town of Gander and ended up having a pretty good time.

Two days later, we got that call and were taken back to the Gander airport.  Back on the plane, we were reunited with the passengers and found out what they had been doing for the past two days.  What we found out was incredible.

Gander and all the surrounding communities (within about a 75 Kilometer radius) had closed all high schools, meeting halls, lodges, and any other large gathering places.  They converted all these facilities to mass lodging areas for all the stranded travelers.  Some had cots set up, some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows set up.

ALL the high school students were required to volunteer their time to take care of the “guests.”  Our 218 passengers ended up in a town called Lewisporte, about 45 kilometers from Gander where they were put up in a high school.  If any women wanted to be in a women-only facility, that was arranged.  Families were kept together.  All the elderly passengers were taken to private homes.

Remember that young pregnant lady?  She was put up in a private home right across the street from a 24-hour Urgent Care facility. There was a dentist on call and both male and female nurses remained with the crowd for the duration.

Phone calls and e-mails to the U.S. and around the world were available to everyone once a day.  During the day, passengers were offered “Excursion” trips.  Some people went on boat cruises of the lakes and harbors.  Some went for hikes in the local forests. Local bakeries stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests.

Food was prepared by all the residents and brought to the schools. People were driven to restaurants of their choice and offered wonderful meals.  Everyone was given tokens for local laundromats to wash their clothes, since luggage was still on the aircraft.  In other words, every single need was met for those stranded travelers.

Passengers were crying while telling us these stories.  Finally, when   they were told that U.S. airports had reopened, they were delivered to the airport right on time and without a single passenger missing or late.  The local Red Cross had all the information about the whereabouts of each and every passenger and knew which plane they needed to be on and when all the planes were leaving.  They coordinated everything beautifully.

It was absolutely incredible.

When passengers came on board, it was like they had been on a cruise.   Everyone knew each other by name.  They were swapping stories of their stay, impressing each other with who had the better time. Our flight back to Atlanta looked like a chartered party flight.  The crew just stayed out of their way.  It was mind-boggling.

Passengers had totally bonded and were calling each other by their first names, exchanging phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses.

And then a very unusual thing happened.

One of our passengers approached me and asked if he could make an  announcement over the PA system.  We never, ever allow that.  But this time was different.  I said “of course” and handed him the mike.   He picked up the PA and reminded everyone about what they had just gone through in the last few days.  He reminded them of the hospitality they had received at the hands of total strangers.  He continued by saying that he would like to do something in return for the good folks of Lewisporte.

He said he was going to set up a Trust Fund under the name of DELTA 15 (our flight number).  The purpose of the trust fund is to provide college scholarships for the high school students of Lewisporte. He asked for donations of any amount from his fellow travellers. When the paper with donations got back to us with the amounts, names, phone numbers and addresses, the total was for more than $14,000!

The gentleman, a MD from Virginia , promised to match the donations and to start the administrative work on the scholarship.  He also said that he would forward this proposal to Delta Corporate and ask them to donate as well.

As I write this account, the trust fund is at more than $1.5 million and has assisted 134 students in their college education.

I just wanted to share this story because we need good stories right now.  It gives me a little bit of hope to know that some people in a faraway place were kind to some strangers who literally dropped in on them.

It reminds me how much good there is in the world.

In spite of all the rotten things we see going on in today’s world this story confirms that there are still a lot of good people in the world and when things get bad, they will come forward.

*This is one of those stories that needs to be shared. Please do so…

Redefining ‘Normal’

August 1, 2021
Building Culture When Nothing’s Normal

All the talk has been about the pandemic and how it has been affecting our work and personal lives, as well as how it’s impacting how we do business now and going forward. As the sands keep shifting beneath all of us, independent of gender, race, education, role, and background, we wonder when things will go back to normal and how we can survive and thrive until then.

However, the truth is that some things, including corporate culture, have fundamentally changed, and won’t return  to ‘normal’. With that said, there are things that leaders and managers at all levels can do, despite this fact.

This article will be the first chapter for a book I’m writing entitled ‘Building Culture When Nothing’s Normal’. I will release more chapters in upcoming blogs. The book outline is shown at the bottom of the chapter. 

For this article, we will pontificate on why things won’t be returning to normal.

  1. Our shared experience

Never before have we had such a common experience – one which has touched everyone everywhere so deeply, so directly, one that connects us viscerally, while also isolating us unapologetically. 

Leaders and managers at all levels must leverage this sense of shared experience to drive engagement, to promote meritocracy, to correct misperceptions, to update policies, processes and procedures, and ultimately to connect more deeply as ONE team with a common purpose.

  1. Our sense of purpose

Regardless of whether you or your loved ones were directly impacted, the pandemic caused health and welfare issues which helped us all see the fragility and preciousness of life. With that realization, it’s only natural to look at how you’re living your life and whether your day-to-day life choices are in alignment with your values and your life mission. Thus, many are looking at securing more meaningful work that’s in alignment with their values.

As managers and leaders, emphasizing the mission and vision of a company and ensuring that each employee feels like they are contributing to that purpose has become more important than ever. 

  1. Our ability to embrace change

We had to change our habits when the pandemic hit us to meet our minimum basic needs. For some, that meant working from home and ordering everything with no-contact delivery. For others, that meant embracing new technologies, processes, and people.

Leaders and managers at all levels must accept that change is inevitable, and that change will happen much more quickly now. The new standards or ‘normal’ will keep evolving, but it’s a given that rapid change will be an integral part of that evolution.

  1. Our dependence on technology

Whether we were masters of tech or mere newbies, the pandemic’s made many of us embrace technology at a new level so that we can do our jobs and carry on with our lives. With technology now more ubiquitous than ever, its adoption and advancement will only continue to accelerate. 

Managers and leaders at all levels must address the challenge of providing resources and support so that people can efficiently upgrade to more versatile, more powerful, more personalized technology solutions – those which would ideally also respect privacy, access and security protocols. 

  1. Our desire for balance

Gone are the days when we work long hours, depriving ourselves and our loved ones regularly of quality time together. We are willing to work hard, but not as a matter of course, and not exceedingly often.

Leaders and managers must recognize everyone’s need for balancing work and life and provide appropriate compensation and recognition for reasonable hours. Otherwise, they will risk losing employees who highly value a balance between life and work.

  1. Our focus on efficiency and convenience

Out of necessity, many of us found the most convenient and efficient way to stay safe while also addressing our basic needs – like food, water and safety! We adjusted well to ordering-on-demand and expecting things to be delivered to our doors efficiently.

Managers and leaders must acknowledge this mindset as it will transfer to work. How can we more efficiently provide customized, personalized goods and services to our employees  and teams so that they continue to be efficient at work?

  1. Our drive to deeply connect with others

Humans are social beings, but our desire for social connection varies. Some of us thrived in social isolation. Others of us wilted as social circles shrunk. As more and more people begin to return to in-person work, many have thought deeply about what type of social interactions they’d like to have, with whom, and how frequently.

As leaders and managers, it’s important to recognize these preferences and find ways to ensure bonding and connection within a team or company, despite the wide variance of social connection needs.

  1. Our respect for science

It’s science that has helped us move beyond the reactive response mode to the logical mode by understanding the mechanisms of the virus and how vaccination can increase our immunity. Recent pandemic-related scientific accomplishments showcased how science and technology can more quickly and effectively address challenging issues.

Managers and leaders must bridge the divide between those who are pro-science/pro-tech and those who might be vaccine hesitant, while also investing in science and technology and research. 

  1. Our interest in justice

Many of us have witnessed the injustices highlighted by the pandemic, the divide between the haves and the have-nots. It forced us to look at what’s just and how to provide more equal opportunities for all. 

As leaders and managers, equal opportunity and treatment will be a much higher priority to many.

  1. Our search for our selves

Many of us have gone on a journey of self awareness, asking ourselves what it’s all about. We have a greater understanding of what we stand for, who and what is important to us, what we need to do to ensure our loved ones feel important, and that our every thought, every word, every action is in alignment with our purpose.

As leaders and managers, we must take an inside-out, outside-in approach to ensure that we meet the needs and objectives of the people who work with and for us.

We look forward to sharing this journey with you, as we build culture and redefine normal. We welcome corporate managers and leaders at all levels to contribute to our online survey for inclusion in our upcoming blogs. 

The Choice Between the Stimulus and the Response

July 1, 2021
The Choice Between the Stimulus and the Response

There will always be stimuli for us – whether they’re sensory, emotional, or mental. Between a stimulus and a response comes a choice. The key is how to make a choice that’s more productive, more proactive, more practical, and more prudent than other options.

  1. First consider the information available from the stimulus.
    • Is this stimulus real, based on information from your senses? If so, which senses are validating this and how urgently is a response needed? See point 2.
    • If this stimulus is not validated by your senses, see points 3-10.
  2. If the stimulus is real, as validated by your senses, consider available choices before making a response. The Amygdala and the sympathetic nervous system have you covered with the flight, fight, and freeze responses. The adrenaline and cortisol plus the stress and anxiety will help you address that stimulus. Taking a moment to consider your choices, time permitting, might help you better optimize your response to this ‘real’ stimulus.
  3. If the stimulus is in your mind, take the time to examine your thoughts, stories, memories, judgments, biases, etc., to see how they might be (negatively) impacting your choices and your responses.
    • Consider making it a habit to be more measured, to take more time, and to include more choices before you respond.
    • Consider including alternative strategies and plans so that you might address the situation in different ways.
  4. Look for an opportunity for personal growth.
    • Consider how a choice might make you more open to alternative ways of thinking, speaking and acting. For example, an unexpected cancelled account or sale might lead to an unexpected new client or new industry target.
    • Consider how you can expose yourself to other people, things, ideas, and processes which stretch your comfort zone. In this same example, if a former client gives you the feedback that your current offerings no longer serve their needs, perhaps it’s an opportunity to expand your product or service offering, or expand your offering to a different client or market segment.
  5. Look for an opportunity to grow your team, product, or organization.
    • Consider the market and technology implications of your options.
    • Consider how you and your team/product/organization can become more competitive, more productive, and more innovative.
  6. Consider how you see people and things not-like-you.
    • Consider your personal feelings and views about people not-like-you, and about things that you’re not comfortable with or don’t know much about.
    • Consider how you can become more open-minded, more compassionate, more inclusive and what that would mean for you if you do so. In the iconic book ‘Green Eggs and Ham’, Sam I am does convince us to try something new and different, and it does change our perspective about not just green eyes and ham, but about other ‘strange and untried’ foods. 
  7. As you start looking more proactively at all the choices in front of you, consider how you can become less reactive as you get better at managing your thoughts, emotions, and stress.
  8. As you more habitually take a breath to evaluate how ‘real’ a stimulus is, and how to respond to a stimulus that’s more in your mind, consider how you can become more self-aware. Notice how this awareness impacts both your professional successes and your personal happiness.
  9. Notice how you can become more proactive and less reactive by more consistently inserting a choice between a stimulus and a response.
  10. Be open-minded and compassionate to others around you who may be reactive, as we all seek to better manage our choices between each stimulus and each response.

The Pursuit of Happiness

June 1, 2021
The Pursuit of Happiness

If you’re like me, your days are very full and you are very busy with the demands of work, family, friends, hobbies, obligations, and surprises.

But when you settle in for the day, do you wonder if you’re happy?

Do you ask yourself, ‘What would make you more happy’?

And are you the only one who asks yourself ‘How can I make different choices to bring more happiness into my life’?

In this blog, I share some tips for pursuing happiness.

  1. Be self-aware enough to know what makes you happy, and disciplined enough to keep checking with yourself on how you’re doing on the happiness meter, no matter how you’d like to measure it.
  2. Savor your best memories longer and deeper, without dismissing the learnings from growth opportunities.
  3. Be grateful for the little things, and make a point of enjoying the little things with the ones you love.
  4. Choose to forgive yourself and others for past transgressions, actual or perceived. 
  5. Be open and curious about people who aren’t like you. Assume that they too have good intentions.
  6. Be kind, patient, supportive, generous and gracious with others, especially if they are not acting as their best selves. 
  7. See the world with more humor and light. See other people with more tolerance and hope.
  8. Regularly do things which make your heart sing with pleasure, your head swell with knowledge, and your hands tingle from a task well done. 
  9. Enjoy the journey as an exploration, rather than feeling like ‘happiness’ is just a few steps/years/dollars/tasks/jobs/titles/ relationships down the road.
  10. Remember that happiness is a choice. Make a choice that brings you joy.

May you find the happiness you pursue, and share that gift of happiness with those you love.

The Ten Ps to Look for in People

May 1, 2021
The Ten Ps to Look for in People, a FountainBlue Blog

When you’re looking to grow your network and team, you want to set a high bar and get the right people on-board. But how do you know who’s right for you for now and for the long-term? Below are ten qualities to look for when evaluating someone’s fit: 

  1. Passionate – why do anything half-heartedly? Look for someone who’s passionate about the mission and vision and can bring energy and excitement to day-to-day activities.
  2. Patient – Everything takes time. A patient person understands this and knows when to wait, and when to accelerate.
  3. People-Focused – Work with individuals who put people first. Choose people who are supportive and kind to others, even when things are not quite going as planned.
  4. Positive – Attitude is everything. A positive outlook helps build resilience and perseverance. This fortitude and positivity is contagious and positively impacts others, which is especially important when circumstances are challenging.
  5. Pragmatic – A practical person is more likely to get things done and more likely to be creative in seeking solutions. Pick someone who is pragmatic and practical for your team.
  6. Professional – A professional person knows when to focus on the business objectives and communicates in a way which is not-personal, while also enabling and empowering others. 
  7. Principled – It’s much less confusing to communicate and connect with principled leaders as they are generally aligned with values – in thoughts, words and actions.
  8. Proactive – A proactive leader takes initiative even when it’s not their job, even when it means much more work. Erring on the side of the action also improves productivity.
  9. Productive – A productive leader gets things done – no matter what’s asked of them, no matter the constraints, timelines or challenges. Generally, productive leaders are also versatile, agile and excel at multitasking.
  10. Purpose-Driven – A purpose-driven leader passionately works to deliver to their values, connects with teams, delivers to specifications, and, in general, moves the needle forward for both the business and the cause.

May you find the right people for your team – people you who will work and grow with you.

Note that all ten listed qualities start with a ‘P’ and that the list is alphabetized. It’s up to YOU to decide the weighting of each quality – what the must-haves are, the nice-to-haves, and the OK-to-skip, because nobody can have it all, right?

Consultative Sales in the Next Normal

April 1, 2021
Consultative Sales in the Next Normal

Nobody knows what exactly the next normal will entail, but we do know the following:

  • The Next Normal will not be the same as what we’ve known in the past in specific ways.
  • It’s difficult to predict what will happen in the next normal.
  • Individuals and companies resilient enough to endure the inevitable changes and agile enough to embrace the differences will be the ones who thrive.

Consultative or Solution-based selling differs from more traditional transactional sales opportunities and is more suited to ‘next normal’ circumstances for the following reasons.

Being Customer-Focused When Nothing’s Normal

  1. Consultative sales is more about understanding the problem statements of the customers than it is about the vendor’s product line, business model, or quota and commission. 
  2. Consultative sales is about asking open-ended questions about current and even anticipated challenges. 
  3. The consultative sales professional is fanatically curious about the perspective and challenges of the client or prospect, regardless of whether a current conversation leads to a direct sale in the short term. 

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

  1. Consultative sales generally involves research about the prospect/customer and their needs as well as around market trends. This research is generally conducted prior to the meeting.
  2. A consultative sales approach strategically qualifies leads prior to initial conversation, to save all parties time and money. 

Navigating Troubled Waters

  1. To best work with clients to navigate uncertain and even troubled circumstances, the consultative sales professional must at times be connected to and versed enough with megatrends in the business, the economy, and the industry trends to provide relevant information to guide exploration and decision-making. 
  2. With that said, the consultative sales professional would only provide relevant background information if it benefits the client or prospect, not just because it would increase the sales volume.  
  3. Listening deeply to what is said and what is not said, and asking clarifying questions may even help consultative sales professionals to collaborate with clients to brainstorm future scenarios based on risk factors, market trends, or technology development timelines for example.

Connecting for the Long Term

  1. The consultative sales professional will work with the team to ensure a successful delivery of products and services and a deep ongoing relationship.
  2. Because of all of the above, it’s clear that the consultative sales process generally leads to broader and deeper relationships and transactions built on trust. 

And therefore, it is clear that the consultative sales model will increase the likelihood of success for professionals providing products and services in the Next Normal. 

To better support sales professionals in our network, FountainBlue will be offering a four-module workshop series for sales professionals interested in developing and improving their Consultative Selling skills. We invite your initial questions about our workshop series and consulting services.

The Best Teams: 10 Principles of Exceptional Teams

March 1, 2021

I love it when great leaders point to their teams after being acknowledged for their achievements. Here are some key principles that make teams exceptional. 

  1. Each member focuses on ‘bettering the ball‘, making the overall play better for everyone involved. This is independent of the role of the player, the goal of the game, the state of the ball, or the pressure in the moment. If everyone is able to ‘better the ball’ just a little, the entire play made by the collective team will improve immensely.
  2. Each member of the team believes in every other member of the team. This doesn’t mean that they believe everyone can do everything well, but they do believe that each person can and will do the important things well, and/or speak up if she/he can’t.
  3. When a member of a team flubs, other members provide support and help them to learn from the experience so they can get up and try again. 
  4. Each member of the team is courageous and confident enough to own up to their errors, and get support from other team members to learn from these errors, strengthening the individual member and the overall team. 
  5. Members of the team respect each other for owning up to and learning from their errors.
  6. Each member of the team gives other members the benefit of the doubt that they are working hard to help the overall team. If proven otherwise, the members work with the individual to get back on track. 
  7. Great teams take pride in the accomplishments and potential each member represents. This is especially important if any one member is taking the heat for an error made by herself/himself, or by the overall team/product/organization. 
  8. Exceptional teams will gently call out individual members to help them rise up to the standards set for each team member – whether it’s communicating transparently, delivering results, or supporting other team members.
  9. An excellent team bands together to understand and analyze how to continually improve their track record. Some teams gamify the process to invite friendly competition with the intent of generating results, which provides opportunities for self-improvement and team bonding, and improved results.
  10. When exceptional teams have conflict, they resolve to communicate directly and transparently so they can focus on the learnings and the results.

I hope that we each have the opportunity to be part of an exceptional team at some point in our career. Even if your team doesn’t currently hit all the marks above, striving toward any one principle at a time might help shift your team in that direction.

Measuring Goals

January 25, 2021
JD Dillon, CMO, Tioga Energy: Measuring to Optimize Goals

JD Dillon prepared slides for FountainBlue’s January 8 Front Line Managers Online program, and shared some thoughts on how to optimize goals based on metrics. With his permission, we are sharing top ten best practices as well as his charts.

  1. When optimizing goals, be specific on what your metrics are, and get agreement on whether what’s being measured actually reflects the goals for the product, team and organization. In the example above, JD comes from a semiconductor manufacturing background and shared metrics around cycle times and defects and %EDI.
  2. Once you’ve decided what’s being measured, consider creating three separate goals:
    • The ‘Plan’ is the formal and official commitment, one that is signed and approved and widely understood by people throughout the organization, and by partners and even potentially across the industry.
    • The ‘Model’ is the best possible result, given current resource levels. Knowing this number may help facilitate discussions on how additional people, financial or equipment resources would impact established goals.
    • The ‘Entitlement’ is the best possible result, if everything goes well. If you commit to the ‘entitlement’ goal, the odds are high that your project will fail, for by definition, you would be committing to a ‘best possible’ result.!
  3. Commit to a Planned goal, and provide regular updates on how your actual work is mapping to these goals.
  4. Negotiate for additional specific resources so that you can deliver on planned goals in specific ways.
  5. Be clear how having specific additional resources would impact goal timelines and product/service quality.
  6. In general, aim high for an attainable goal. If you miss the target, you would have more information and can realign in specific ways.
  7. If you aim high and HIT the goal, there’s much to celebrate, and you would learn so much about how to do it right.
  8. If you aim low and miss the plan, then you would totally fail altogether. If you aim low and succeed, there’s not as much appreciation, it’s not as valuable. People may consider it a ‘sandbag’, like you’re aiming low to do something which may not be as impactful.
  9. To increase the likelihood of success, work as a team to be clear on what the goals are, what the timelines are, who has what roles, what could go wrong, etc.,
  10. The bottom line is plan well, aim high, communicate regularly and clearly, and collaborate with all parties to deliver on your committed goals. Learn from each success, each failure.

On Building Trust and Influence

January 7, 2021

On Building Trust and Influence

On Building Trust and Influence

Who do you trust so you can stay safe, have fun, stay connected?

How do you get more influence, so others help you get what you want now for yourself, for others, for the future?

How are trust and influence related?

What can I do to get more people to trust me, get more influence to support my agenda?

Whether you’re on the pre-school playground or in the most elite boardroom, these thoughts rattle through your head. I get asked these questions often. So the last time I was asked these questions, I came up with a top ten list with my thoughts on how to build both trust and influence. I hope that you find it useful as you build your relationships of trust, your programs and projects of influence.

  1. Trust is of paramount importance in building relationships. There’s a direct correlation between the amount of trust in a relationship, and the stability and resiliency of that relationship.
  2. Trust can be a difficult thing to earn, and an easy thing to violate. If trust is violated in a relationship, contemplate deeply why a trust has been violated and what, if anything, can be done to repair that trust, that relationship. The learnings from this reflection will serve you well.
  3. Trust must be respected, nurtured and tended in all relationships, and never taken for granted.
  4. The more trusted relationships you nurture and grow, the easier it is to create and sustain more deep and trusted relationships. 
  5. Influence helps people get more things done. Influence becomes increasingly important in a world where we are increasingly interconnected, and no person is an island.
  6. The more influence you have, the easier it is to gain more influence.
  7. Influence in one area does not necessarily mean influence in another area. To be strategic about your influence, be clear on what you want to influence and for which target audience.
  8. It is easier to influence people who trust you. But someone doesn’t necessarily have to trust you to be influenced by you. Those with much influence are role models for many people, and should keep this in mind.
  9. When those with influence make a mistake, it does impact how influential they are. Reflection on what happened and transparent communication to others about the learnings from a mis-step will help those of influence remain influential.
  10. It is optimal to build deep relationships with people you trust, with whom you can collaborate to influence others on a common cause. Collaboratively building more synergistic relationships of trust and more impact and influence will help all parties make measurable progress toward achieving common goals.

Your comments are welcome. E-mail us at info@whenshespeaks.com.