Saturday, November 29, 2008

Does Your Behavior Foster Or Limit Trust?

Trust is at the core of all relationships. It can take years to build trust and only a fraction of a second to destroy it. Maintaining trust in the face of tough business or personal circumstances can be extremely difficult. Too often, as leaders we succumb to behaviors that destroy what we seek to preserve.

The Slow Leadership blog has one of the best articles I have read recently. I won't repeat it here, but I have copied their list of 30 leadership behaviors that create mistrust. Make sure you read their article!

1. As leader, you fail to keep your promises, violate agreements and ignore commitments.
2. You look after yourself first and others only when it is convenient.
3. You micromanage and resist delegating.
4. You demonstrate inconsistency between what you say and how you behave.
5. You fail to share critical information with your team and your colleagues.
6. You choose to not tell the truth.
7. You resort to blaming and scapegoating others rather than own up to your mistakes.
8. You judge and criticize rather than offer constructive feedback.
9. You betray confidences, gossip and talk about others behind their backs.
10. You choose to not allow others to contribute or make decisions.
11. You downplay others’ talents, knowledge and skills.
12. You refuse to support others with their professional development.
13. You resist creating shared values, expectations and intentions in favor of your pursuing own agenda.
14. You refuse to compromise and foster win-lose arguments.
15. You constantly remind everyone of your status and make it clear that you will not be questioned or criticized without inflicting punishment in return.
16. You refuse to be held accountable by your colleagues or subordinates.
17. You resist accepting your vulnerability, hide your weaknesses and won’t admit you find anything a challenge.
18. You practice sarcasm and put-down humor and rationalize off-putting remarks as “good for the group”.
19. You fail to admit you need support and prefer to mess up rather than ask anyone for help.
20. You take others’ suggestions and critiques as personal attacks.
21. You fail to encourage openness in team meetings and allow others to avoid contributing constructively.
22. You refuse to consider the idea of constructive conflict. In fact, you usually avoid conflict at all costs.
23. You consistently hijack team meetings and move them to your personal agenda.
24. You either ignore or fail to follow through on decisions agreed at team meetings.
25. You secretly engage in back-door negotiations with favored team members to create cliques and political alliances.
26. You refuse to give others the benefit of the doubt.
27. You judge people without allowing them to explain their position or actions and won’t reverse incorrect decisions.
28. You refuse to apologize for mistakes or misunderstandings.
29. You use your position to indulge in inappropriate behavior.
30. When things go wrong, your first response always to defend yourself and protect your reputation.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

My father was (and continues to be) a fantastic role model. I've always looked up to him and sought to live by the example he set. As a kid, every once in a while, I would catch him in some sort of contradiction. His glib response was "Do As I Say, Not As I Do!" Both of us realized the humor and irony in the statement. Both of us realized the real intent. The lessons I learned and the values I have were largely set by the example of my parents.

Today, we seem to see so many executives essentially saying "Do As I Say...." Their personal behaviors and actions within the organization go contrary to what they are saying. Is there any wonder, why their organizations are confused and maybe do the wrong things? Leaders must set the example for their people in their own behavior. If the leaders can't demonstrate the behaviors, attitudes, or values expected, then how can they expect the organization to do so?

In "Leading By Example", John Baldoni addresses these issues head on. The book is mandatory reading for any executive, but a good summary can be found in the
Leading Blog.

Our first responsibility as leaders is to demonstrate what we want through the personal examples we set for everyone around us.

Resistance To Change

Thanks to Art Petty for calling attention to the excellent column in Quality Digest by James Harrington, Managing Resistance To Change. The article is very good. Some of the barriers he cites include:

• An unclear vision that causes confusion

• A history of poor implementation

• No consequence-management system developed to accompany the change

• Too little time to implement the change

• Lack of synergy

There are a number of other reasons that people resist change, but it is important to recognize this resistance as natural. The moment leaders start thinking "What's wrong with them?" the change efforts will fail.

Underestimating people's natural resistance to change is precisely what derails a lot of business strategies and initiatives. Ignoring this, failing to recognize the legitimacy of people's resistance to change, or using a "sledgehammer" to impose change will create the opposite of the intended results.

One of the key jobs of leaders is managing change. This means effective leaders must manage people's resistance to change---they must prepare the organization for change, communicate and reinforce the goals, reasons, and people's roles and responsibilities in contributing to the change efforts. Without this, it will take longer, cost more, produce less.

The Arrogance Of Success

Success masks all sorts of problems and challenges. In the past couple of months, we have been deluged with reports of dramatic failures of all sorts of businesses and organizations --- many of which were the benchmarks of success just a year ago.

While the housing, finance, and automotive industries seem to be the most visible,there are very visible examples in every sector.

We all strive for success, frankly it brings on such a rush. The rush keeps us pushing for more success. At some point, however, too many of us are seduced by success. We forget the hard work, focus, discipline and other things that caused us to be successful.

Many times, we stop listening, we stop learning, we start to think we can do no wrong. In many growing, successful organizations, I also see the newcomers or hangers on -- those who have had no hand in the original success, but now because they are part of a very successful organization, think they are successful and can do no wrong.

The blindness and arrogance the success creates can be devastating to individuals and organizations. It's important that all successful people not be seduced by this. It's great to be proud of success, but at the same time we can't become complacent or overconfident.

It seems to me that all successful people and organizations need to maintain some level of paranoia (Andy Grove was right!) and humility. We have to remain dissatisfied and hungry. We have to continue to listen and learn. We have to look around at others, we have to examine ourselves and continues to change and grow.

I am a great admirer of Jim Estill. Recently, he wrote a blog on this topic -- the
Paradox of Success. Jim provides great insight and clarity on this topic.

Getting Back In The Game

I've been terribly remiss in keeping this blog updated --- there are always excuses that one can use to avoid writing. Over the past weeks, I've been collecting all sorts of ideas, but not committing the time to write and post.

I've made up my mind to catch up and recommit. To those who read this blog and have been wondering where I am, I'm back and starting to post. Thanks for hanging in there, I look forward to your continued comments and feedback

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A Picture Is Worth 10,000 Words

It's been far too long since I have posted. Combinations of excuses---travel, business, and other conspire to make me feel guilty. At this moment, I am in Cairo on a series of business meetings. Last night, however, we had dinner by the light of the pyramids. They are beyond words, so I thought I would post a picture.

Imagine --- they were built 3000 years ago and still inspire such wonder and awe.

More posts later this week.