Sunday, July 31, 2011

Why Do People Lie?

A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.  ~Mark Twain

I love old television shows from the 60s’.  Last weekend I was watching one of my favorite TV shows of all time, “The Rifleman” staring Chuck Connors.   In many of the episodes they often end with some sort of lesson or moral of the story.

In the episode I watched last week the story dealt with lying and some of the reasons why people lie.  
The title character Lucas McCain uncovered four reasons why people lie:
  • To protect someone’s feelings
  • To avoid punishment
  • For financial gain
  • To protect status

Over the past several weeks we have heard from politicians on both sides of the aisle give their version of who and what is holding up the extension of the debt ceiling or what would happen if it is not raised.

During the debates I have heard the word “lie” on numerous occasions.  As a result, the American people are left to determine who is lying.   My question is why do the people who represent us feel so comfortable lying to us?  Remember when a lie was a lie?  Now when a person is caught in a lie all they have to say is that they “misspoke” and voila! They’re off the hook. 

Why are they lying? 
I know the answer is not because we “ can’t handle the Truth”. I believe there are two main reasons why they lie:

Financial gain.
  Many of our senators and congressman know that during and especially after their careers are over they can command big dollars on the speaking circuit and from writing books.  Some even go on to careers with big corporations with whom they have developed relationships during their political career.  In most cases it is to divert big dollars to their respective districts for various projects like the “bridge to nowhere.”

Protect their status.
  If they want to maintain their position in Washington, some feel they have to lie in order to protect their status as a Senator or Congressman.  This status also involves holding onto their power.  Telling the truth can potentially place their position at risk, as many times they are challenged by the “Status Quo.”

No matter what the reasons are for lying, they often have a significant impact on the lives of the people being lied to.  The hurt, pain, bitterness, anger and frustration that lies can generate can turn a country on its head. 
Our leaders must be held accountable for the lies they tell and the breach of trust.

The truth is absolute and it can be known. 
It is not relative, the truth is the truth and we must demand it from our leaders, regardless of whether they have an R or D after their name.

Question everything!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Murdochs' Fallout and Falldown

As the storm created by the hacking of cell phones by individuals working for News of the World starts to wane, there are many lessons to be learned.   Rupert Murdoch and his son spent all last week engaged in damage control, issuing an apology to the family of a murder victim, the news community and the world.

The decision of some of the management staff working for Murdoch’s news organization not only forced the resignation of several of his deputies, but it cost his News Corp Empire billions in lost value.  My question to those involved, was it worth it?  In their quest to jockey for position to grab the next big headline and story, they were willing to engage in the most unethical and immoral behavior by conducting illegal eavesdropping.

Why did the deputies and others in Murdoch’s organization believe it was, first of all, right, and second, that they would get away with hacking murdered victim’s cell phones and those of celebrities and even 911 victims. 
Was it the state of our modern culture or was it the pressure to drive revenue?

Since the story broke, we find out that there were many others who may have been involved. 
The resignation of Britain's most senior police officer reveals another casualty of the scandal.

The culture of many companies is one of doing whatever is necessary to make money. 
Although walking the tightrope between unethical and ethical behavior has gone on for some time, tough economic times reveal the underlying character of a person and even a company.

What is more concerning than anything to me is the fact that when the news broke, and the leadership was questioned, they downplayed the situation. 
It was only when more scrutiny and pressure was applied that they finally started to cooperate.

As the fallout continues and the Murdochs’ fall from grace works itself out through hearings and the courts, be aware that the next big scandal is right around the corner.  How do I know? 
The hunger for power and money has an insatiable appetite and men and women will do most anything to feed it.

Why is doing the right thing so difficult?  Being fair and honest in business dealings seems to be old fashioned. 
When things get tough do you struggle to do what’s right?

Do you compromise your values and beliefs?  If you do, be sure your sins will find you out. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Working In Silos

I cannot believe how many organizations are misaligned in their direction and focus.  Over the past several weeks I have been meeting with employees and owners of companies where they are suffering from continued underperformance.

As I ask certain questions, I quickly find out that there is no alignment between the top, middle and bottom of the organization.  The vision and mission of the company have been lost even though they are displayed prominently on the office wall and proudly on the company’s website.

This lack of alignment and collaboration has lead to many of their employees working in proverbial silos.   As you can see in the photo, silos are individual compartments--although in close proximity to one another, they are separate.  Now, in farming, silos perform a specific function, but in business, silos can be detrimental to maintaining a team environment.

Departments, along with their employees, who work in silos, are not connected to the whole.  They do their work and only their work.  They’re not concerned so much with what the other departments are doing, only about their department and how it performs. Individuals can also work in silos; they too can find themselves only concerned about their own job and couldn’t care less how anyone else is doing.  The danger here is that even if one department meets the goals of its department and the others fail, then the entire company fails.  Departments, as to function, must be kept separate, but the focus and reason for the company’s existence must ever be in full view.

It is the job of the leader to make sure silos are not constructed, either departmentally or individually, and where they exist it’s the leader’s job to tear them down.  How?  By making sure everyone in the organization understands that if the company is going to meet its goals and deliver for its customers, they are all interdependent upon each other.

Tear down those silos and build a team focused on collaborative efforts and you will see a dramatic turnaround in your organization.  Simply put, it’s called working together.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Wisdom of Investing in Your People

At a leadership conference I attended years ago, the keynote speaker was a very successful sales and marketing expert.  He told us the story of how he lost some really good sales people, because he spent the majority of his time coaching underperformers.

He shared with us that he spent 80% of his time and attention managing underperforming sales people.  After spending considerable resources on coaching, training, and workshops, the ROI was the same poor results.  Meanwhile his high performing sales people felt underappreciated and over burdened with having to take up the slack.

The truth of the matter was he knew he could count on his high performing sales team to keep performing at a high level, so he did not spend much time with them.   The result was several of his top sales people left the organization.   The reason?  Feeling underappreciated and letting underperforming team members get by with lackluster results.

As the dynamics of his team changed, he had to change how he led his team.  He realized that he needed to nurture, acknowledge, coach and listen to his top performers.
The underperformers were given a certain timeframe to improve their performance, and if they did not, they would be separated from the company.

After a time of realigning his team, the overall results took a dramatic upswing.  The entire team was focused and energized.
While reflecting on the actions he took to turn the team around he distilled them down to the following key actions:

  • Hire good people.  No short cuts, hire smart and slow.
  • Set the right expectations, they need to know what to do each day they come to work.
  • Challenge and coach every team members to be better.
  • Separate from the company individuals who do not accept coaching and continue to underperform.

The wise and effective leader invests consistently in their people to help them to grow, develop and achieve their goals.  While the underperformers will either “get it” or self-select out of the company.

Making wise decisions regarding your staff is essential not only to employee engagement, but to the profitability of the company.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I Don't Care If You Can Play Golf

Recently, President Obama and Speaker Boehner played golf to show everyone they could get along.  They probably had a beer after their round.  

My question is this:  I know they can play golf, but can they move the country forward? As a result of their golf event is the world is a better place? Can they now agree on either raising or lowering the debt ceiling?  How about developing and implementing a comprehensive Medicare, immigration and energy policy?
The answer is a big fat NO!  Recently, the Republicans asked for a meeting with the President and their request was declined.  Why?  There is no real good reason for denying the meeting.  The American people want their elected officials to stop playing politics with their lives.

With all of the turmoil in the Middle East and a horrible economic climate here at home, every effort should be taken to come to a meeting of the minds to extricate us out of this mess.

A true leader must be willing to look at an issue and move to bring it to resolution.  It is not about political power or personalities or who is right.  It’s about doing what is best for all Americans, the rich, the middle class and the poor.  There is a balance.  I do not believe there has to be an either/or situation.
We must find a solution to our ever-growing debt.  Continuing to play the blame game and calling each other names like little children will not enhance the lives of the American people or move us to reducing our debt, nor will it get us out of the various costly skirmishes we are involved in around the world.

Our elected leaders may be able to play golf together, and repeatedly kick the can down the road, but are not so good at moving the country forward and out of the mess we are in.