Sunday, April 25, 2010

Building a 9+ Team

”Coming together is a beginning.
Keeping together is progress.
Working together is success.”
- Henry Ford

The 2010 NFL draft was held this week and there was a lot of tremendous football talent available. When selecting players, teams drafted players based on the organization’s need and what they wanted to accomplish.

As a leader it is essential that you build a team you can rely on to help your organization achieve its business goals. Establishing a profile of the kinds of team members you will need in order to execute your business strategy is critical to the team meeting its goals. For example, if you are running a fast-paced organization it will be important that you find members that have experience and a proven track record for operating in that type of environment. Do not compromise!

While working for a small construction company, I was able to develop a team of high-performing people that allowed us to double our business for 4 straight years. How? By assembling a 9+ Team with the following characteristics:

Adaptability is essential to growth and development as a leader. When I started my job at the construction company, I started as a project manager and worked my way up through the organization. Adaptability allowed me to respond to the demands at each level.

WIT (“Whatever It Takes” to get the job done)
Although a balanced life is the goal, sometimes it takes an investment of early mornings and late nights to achieve the objectives of the organization. It is not about working from 9-5.

Follow up communication in writing is important. This way all parties involved in the conversation have a clear idea what is expected. I once had a manager who took notes at each of our meetings. Before the end of the day I would receive an e-mail with a list of the things she had committed to and what I had committed to, including deadlines.

Always be prepared and you will never be scared. Success is not an accident, it comes through diligent preparation.

There are a lot of people who make excuses and look to place blame. All of us make mistakes. The true leader is the one who will accept the responsibility for their actions.

“Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.” Confucius
People who love what they do possess an inner drive to be the best!

Problem solving
The ability to come up with creative solutions to challenges of the business is essential.

Championship attitude
Champions are dependable, (They show up). Champions are committed to the team. Champions never give up in the face of the obstacles. Champions are disciplined.

What are the characteristics of your 9+ Team?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Great Expectations

One day while traveling on our rapid transit system, I overheard two women talking about their jobs. During the conversation one of them expressed her total dissatisfaction with her employer, to be specific, her boss. She stated that her supervisor was unrealistic in his expectations of her. He provided no clear direction, few resources and did not appreciate her efforts. Does this sound familiar?

It is said that people do not leave their jobs because of the company, but because of the managers. The problem is that in the current market, not many are leaving their companies voluntarily, so they are more likely to put up with poor leadership, at least until the market changes.

In order for companies to be positioned for the eventual economic turn-around, they will need a highly skilled and talented workforce. The successful company will place a high value on its people process. (How does the company attract, hire and retain high quality talent that fits with its Operations Plan?). One way is a Performance Management system that consistently measures the performance of the employee.

Seven Success Factors for effective Performance Management

~ Make sure the employees know what is expected of them each and every day. The expectation should be clearly articulated by the employees.
~ Give them the opportunity to do what they do best every day, to play to their strengths.
~ Give them the tools and resources they need to succeed.
~ Develop clear goals that support the company’s overall goals.
~ Develop metrics that support and track the employees’ performance against established goals.
~ Implement a rewards system that rewards the right behaviors. Remember it’s not just about money.
~ Take the time to meet with employees individually, at least monthly, to discuss their performance and to give the appropriate feedback.

I am convinced that the two women I overheard on BART would have had a different conversation if they were exposed to an effective Performance Management system.

Do you know what is expected of you?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

18000 vs 40000

On March 17, 2010, Bret Baier, commentator for Fox News, conducted an interview with President Obama. During the interview Bret Baier shared with the President that he had received over 18,000 emails from Americans with questions they had for the President. One of the first questions he read was one questioning the passage of the Healthcare bill. Without missing a beat the President retorted with the statement that he had received over 40,000 emails in support of the Healthcare bill. What a disappointing response from the leader of all Americans.

My disappointment was not the fact that the President expressed an opposing viewpoint, but the fact that he did not answer the question. He totally dismissed the person’s question as not being worthy of a response. As a leader it is not only important that we listen to those who agree with us, but to listen to the ideas and opinions of those who do not. It is about shaping consensus. The ability of a leader to gain consensus is vital, especially for the President. A leader will not always be able to gain consensus on every issue, however with so many critical issues facing our country we must be able to find common ground that transcends partisan politics.

“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

How does a leader mold consensus? The key is leaving your ego at the door, realizing that others might have better ideas than you do.

What are some of your ideas for molding consensus?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Different Kind of Leadership

With all of the cheating and lying done by Wall Street bankers, investment houses and the lack of integrity by our politicians, the world demands a different type of leader.

Many Americans are frustrated, angry and afraid because of the problems we are facing as a nation: joblessness, healthcare, the debate over global warming, Republicans vs. Democrats…the list can go on and on. Although I hear the word leadership a lot, I see very little evidence of it in the political arena. Special interest groups, lobbyists, and power grabbing politicians seem to rule the day. Many will say that is just the way things are done and it will not change. However, if we are to return to the great nation we once were it is going to take a new kind of leadership.

We need a leader who does not look back and place the blame on someone else, but accepts the challenge in front of him or her and is committed to representing the interests of all people, not just the ones who agree with them. We need a leader who is able to gain consensus by acknowledging different viewpoints and finding common ground to bring about a win-win.

As a national operations leader of an organization of over 1200 employees, it was important that I be open to all points of view. It was amazing how many times great ideas came out of conversations with team members who brought a different perspective to an initiative that I for which I thought I had considered all the angles. In order for this to work, my team had to feel safe to express their opinions without fear of retaliation. As a result we were able to achieve great business success.

We need a new kind of leadership to revive the entrepreneurial spirit that made our nation great. I am not talking about an individual, but leaders at every level of our society, leaders who are willing to stand up and be counted, leaders who are not just thinking about themselves and their place in history, but the good of all people.

Are you willing to stand up and be counted?