goals

A Path To Real Clarity for Your Business

Chris Kisley, President and CEO of Life Long Leadership, recently came to my office and sat with me as we answered the Six Core Questions for Organizational Clarity from Patrick Lencioni’s The Advantage for my company.

  1. Why do we exist? (Core purpose)
  2. How do we behave? (What are our values?)
  3. What do we do? (Business definition)
  4. How will we succeed? (A collection of intentional, purposeful and unique decisions a company or team makes to give itself the best chance to maximize success)
  5.    What is most important right now? (Thematic Goal – every organization, if it wants to create a sense of alignment and focus, must have a single top priority within a given period of time.)
  6. Who must do what?

Mind you, we’ve been working on these for several weeks, but now it was time to nail the answers down.

I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate Chris and her incredible gifts for combining the core of who I am with corporate business wisdom in order to help me steer my company in the right direction.

Whether you are running a company or a department in a company, answering the six questions will bring a level of clarity that you and your team have not seen yet.

I’d like to share some of the general takeaways from my time with her that I think might be valuable for you.

  1. Really understand who you are, using insights from those who are discerning and can articulate their perceptions of you.

Turning the windows in my office into writing boards, the first thing she wrote was my Myers-Briggs type (ENFJ) and my top five strengths from StrengthsFinder (1. Communication 2. Strategy 3. Empathy 4. Achiever 5. Developer).

She then turned to me and said, “As I have experienced you, you are a strong J.”  I was floored.  I had not seen myself that way at all.  As she explained the ways in which I come across as a strong J, I gained invaluable insight and understanding as to how I am coming across to others.

More than that, I started realizing that I was “trying to be” a low J because I love some of the qualities of P’s.

Feedback can feel intimadating and exposing, but when it comes from a trusted source who knows you and is for you, it can be paramount to your success.

  1. Know how you work best and get rid of the last vestiges of who you think you “should” be.

The insight from that first point above, coupled with my answers to Lencioni’s first three questions, showed her that I try to super-specialize.  “You keep trying to box yourself in,” she said.  “You need to be broader so you can have multiple avenues to get to what you want to do most. It makes sense that you want to box yourself in because, as a J, you want to know what box you fit in.”  Man, those words rang so, so true.

My mom is a strong P.  I admire her so much.  The way things come together for her, with her ability to put out fires quickly, and seamlessly adjust to change is almost magical.  It’s part of what makes her a top surgeon.

Growing up, I wanted to be like that.  However, that’s not how I was wired.  Consequently, like many of you, several years ago I had to make concerted efforts to be who I am and stop trying to be someone I wasn’t.  I had to embrace the fact that unless I am discussing something I am very familiar with, things just don’t fall in place for me like they do for her.

I kept holding on to being a low J.  But a shift has occurred.  I may not be as strong of a J as Chris shared with me, but her words have helped me to just be, and enjoy my own wiring.

How can you start to operate out of your more authentic self?

  1. Lead with your desires.

I am really fortunate in that I absolutely love what I do.  I love coaching individuals, groups and teams, but even more, I love delivering trainings.

When we were coming up with a list of the conferences where I should do my trainings, Chris asked me what I am passionate about.  “I’ve always loved innovation and technology,” I replied. “I might not know how the latest gadgets work, but I do love using them so much that usually I am an early adopter.”

Consequently, it turns out that my passion for innovation and for the leadership development trainings that I do are a natural fit for technology conferences.  Our new intern, Megan Koh, is already at work applying on my behalf to different tech conferences where I can train leaders.

What are your desires and how can you see them come to fruition in your business? What topic or problem stirs you the most? Begin brainstorming ways you can lead from your desires.

  1. Understand how your industry and target audience works.

In the leadership development industry, who I hire will influence my target audience.  I’ve dreamed of increasing the amount of trainings (or facilitations) I do to about 50% of my practice, then spending the rest of the time with individuals, groups and teams, and growing and developing my own team.

I thought I should hire more coaches to cover for the time I want to spend facilitating or training, but I learned from Chris that if I do that, I will get more coaching work.  Instead, I should be hiring more people who can train or facilitate.  Then I will get more training and facilitation work.

Make your hiring intentional to the audience you want to reach and the goals you want to pursue within your company.

  1. Know what you will not do.

When we got to the question, “How will we succeed?” we started off by making a list of what we will not do.  Seeing that list confirmed that I need to stay in my strike zone, and not take on things for which I am not best-suited, just to please my clients.

I was already saying, “No” a lot, but I believe I have the clarity now to say “No” to more.

You can start by making a list of “things you do” and “things you do not do” within your company. Talk with your team as you determine what is most essential for your overall productivity.

  1. Know that you will adjust your answers to the six core questions as you get deeper into your work.

When we finished, I felt incredibly clear on who my company is and, more specifically, how I was going to pursue what I want to pursue.  It was so comforting and relieving.  My stress levels dropped.

I felt like one of my twins in a playpen.  When my twin boys were crawling but not yet walking, they would often cry if they were on the floor.  But if my wife or I would put them in the playpen, they would be immediately comforted and begin having fun.

I now have clear direction, focus, and know how to utilize my time and resources.

One last thing Chris mentioned was that I need to remember that the clarity I have now will become even sharper as I get farther into fulfilling the plan.  In other words, I will be further tweaking my responses to the six core questions as I go.

I am really good with that insight.  Even though I prefer routine, I love having options to plug into the routine, especially when the routine starts feeling a little old.

Chew On This:

  • How can you begin walking through Lencioni’s six core questions for organizational clarity with a trusted source?
  • What question feels most challenging to answer and why?

 

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of a company that catalyzes the transformation of leaders’ lives.

*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.

7 Steps To Increase Your Desire to Reach Goals

OK, here we go... 2017 is already in effect.

You’ve set some goals for the new year.  Some you really want, and probably there are one or two you should want, but do not.  There may be one in particular.  You know it is the right goal to have.  It is worth your time to pursue it, and fulfilling it will do a lot of good for you and your team as a whole.

But if you are honest, you will admit that your level of motivation to reach the goal is not high. You are just not that committed to it.  You can think of reasons why it would be a good goal to accomplish this year, but if you are not really committed, your chance of reaching the goal is low.

The good news is that you can increase your desire for it in 7 steps:

1. Get the plan together.

First, learn everything you can about how you can attain your goal.

Talk to those who have achieved it and ask them how they did it.

Once you’ve gathered the info, had the conversations, and digested it all, form a plan.

Make sure that you can clearly visualize how the plan will be fulfilled.

2. Get attached to the plan.

The next step is to really get attached to the plan.  You do this by filling your environment with reminders to go for the goal.  You can change your screensaver, put up post it notes, look at motivational videos around your goal, and more.

If you are really going to get attached to the goal, let positive, affirming people know about it. Forming a mini-support network would be huge here.

3. What good can come if you accomplish it?

If you have followed some of my previous blogs, you will know that this next step is a staple of mine that works.

Create a Google doc with the question, “What Good Can Come If I Accomplish ________?” (Fill in the goal). Every time you think of something good that can come, put it on that Google Doc.  You want to get as long of a list as possible here.  The more you can come up with, the better.

Don’t be afraid to ask friends what good they can see coming from it, and even researching about the benefits of _______ (insert your goal).

4. Burn the ships: What's keeping you back?

Since you took the time to see that this goal was worthy of your time and talent to pursue, take the time now to burn all the ships that can steer you away from its fulfillment.

What has held you back from fulfilling this goal in the past?  Whatever it is, the time has come to deliberately remove or offset it.  Say your goal is to be more appreciative of your team, to notice the good they have achieved, and not just be quick to point out the flaws or focus on the negative.  One thing that has motivated you to set this goal is your anxiety over what you believe the consequences will be if your team fails to do their job right.  It is still important that you point out what is off, but try offsetting that with three things they have done right.  That is a way to balance off the negative.

5. Burn the ships: Your negative beliefs.

In a previous post, we talked about core beliefs and their power to influence our behaviors.

If there are core beliefs that are holding you back from accomplishing this goal, it will help you to move forward if you can make progress towards replacing the negative ones you have identified.

6. Daily complete small steps towards the goal - what small step am I going to complete today?

Break down your goal to small doable steps, and ask yourself what small step will you accomplish today.  If you keep working towards your goal daily, and you keep experiencing wins because the steps are doable, then you will see your desire increase even further.  (Don’t be surprised if you desire to do more than just the small step you set out to accomplish.  But be careful.  Sometimes doing more than the small steps helps, but sometimes it can throw you off your rhythm.  Test and see what works for you.)

7. Keep finding reasons to fight for it.

Throughout the entire process, keep coming back to number 3.  This will help you to move even further in growing your desire.

Increasing desire is one of the top ways to see your goals accomplished. You don’t have to stay stuck in low desire and just will yourself into accomplishing your goals. Add desire to your will, and you will accomplish great things!

Chew On This:

  • What would change in your life if you learned to increase your desire for goals that you are only half-heartedly pursuing?

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.

10 Characteristics of High-Performing Teams: Part 2

High Performing Teams This is the third part of a three-part blog series on high-performing teams. The first article was about how to turn your team into the team that everyone wants to work for. The second article went into detail about five of the ten characteristics of high-performing teams.

High Performing Teams (HPT) are the teams everyone wants to work for.  They get so much done, and have a lot of fun doing so.

Many of us want to see our teams as already being HPT’s, but if we are honest, we can see where our teams fall short and then develop strategies to help them get there.

As previously mentioned, in the last post we discussed the first five characteristics:

  1. Open & Clear Communication
  2. Defined Roles & Responsibilities
  3. Mutual Trust
  4. Effective Decision-Making
  5. Coordinative Relationships

In this post, we will discuss the last five:

  1. Clear Goals
  2. Participative Leadership
  3. Managing Conflict
  4. Value Diversity
  5. Positive Atmosphere

Clear Goals

Is your team clear on what their goals are?  What percentage of their time is spent actually fulfilling those goals?  If that percentage is below 80%, what needs to be deleted, delegated, diminished, or delayed so that the team can stay focused?

Also, are the goals set up in a S.M.A.R.T. format?  If the goals are not tangible and clear, there will be debate as to whether or not they were achieved.

Finally, please be sure to activate each team member’s core values in order for them to fully commit to those goals.

Participative Leadership

When watching HPT’s in action, it is often hard to tell who the leader is. Members of HPT’s tend to push each other to bring out the best in each other and give ideas as to how the goals should be achieved. Often times teams vote on the course that should be taken and then all members of the team align to achieve it.

Managing Conflict

HPT’s resolve conflicts quickly and efficiently. They don't allow for resentment to build between team members. Other team members smell tension and they will encourage the tensions to be resolved.

Usually team members attack the ideas while affirming the team member who suggested the idea but sometimes egos can get frayed and conflict occurs.

Conflict is dealt with directly and honestly. They do everything they can to attack the problem and not each other.

Value Diversity

The best teams that I have seen have a good, balanced mix of Myers-Briggs types. As such, they cover each other's blind spots really well.

They also have people on the team of different backgrounds and levels of experience. This diversity assures that the best options are executed.

Diversity is a major reason why high-performing teams are very effective decision-makers.

Positive Atmosphere

High-performing team members contribute everything they can to maintaining a positive atmosphere.  Typically they become really good at energizing team members, communicating transparently, and staying flexible while generating options to lock on the solution. These teams know that they are going to succeed and that belief contributes to the positive atmosphere.

How does your team measure against these 10 characteristics?  Where do you want to start to advance these characteristics across your team?  Do you want to strengthen a strength or contain a weakness?

If you have the right team members, your team can become an HPT.

Chew On This: What does your team need most to become a high-performing team?

Ryan Bailey is a Leadership Coach who advances excellence across leaders and their teams.

10 Characteristics of High-Performing Teams: Part 1

High Performing Team In my previous post, I outlined five principles for turning your team into a team that everyone wants to work for.  In the next two posts, I will break down 10 characteristics of High Performing Teams (HPT).

I delivered a workshop on HPT’s in New York to the top sales group of a company.  On a white board were listed the 10 characteristics of high performing teams.  Those characteristics are:

  1. Open & Clear Communication
  2. Defined Roles & Responsibilities
  3. Mutual Trust
  4. Effective Decision-Making
  5. Coordinative Relationships
  6. Clear Goals
  7. Participative Leadership
  8. Managing Conflict
  9. Value Diversity
  10. Positive Atmosphere

The members of this 40+ team were asked to go up and put a check mark next to the top three characteristics that they believed the team already did really well.

This time there were four characteristics that did not get a single check from more than 40 people.

The leader of the team stopped me and asked her team, “What would it take for those four areas to reach the same level as the top 3?”

The conversation that followed was phenomenal as the team articulated real suggestions and gave the type of feedback that normally teams only divulge in a strictly confidential interview-style 360-degree-review.  All feedback was received really well and it served as a rallying cry that propelled the team closer.

Let’s break down the first five characteristics of high performing teams in this post and then we will cover the other five in the next week's post. .

These characteristics are not in order.

Open & Clear Communication

On high-performing teams, people say what they mean.  They express their opinions, preferences, and disagreements.  Those of us who are more feeler-types on Myers-Briggs may say it with more tact than thinker-types often do. But sometimes, because of our tact, we are not as clear right away as our thinker-counterparts are.

Being open and clear is a skill that can be developed.  Those of us who are extroverted often need to verbally process first, then we can get clear.  Those of us who are introverted usually think before we speak.

You know you are being open if there is no marketing to what you are saying.  That is you are authentic and can be pinned to your position.  There is sometimes a sense of risk that I feel when I am being open, but that risk quickly goes away as I sense others drawing closer to me.

The communication is only clear when everyone can repeat back what you said or better yet, paraphrase it in a way that gets to the heart of what you said.  Make sure on the major points that you ask your team if they understand what you said.

Defined Roles & Responsibilities

If you asked your team to write a job description for how they actually spend their time, would it match the one you would write as to how they should be spending their time?

As the book Essentialism stresses, everyone needs to know the most core part of their role.  They need to go all in there.  What percentage of your direct report’s time is on what is most essential?  Find ways to increase that time if it is not where it needs to be.

It is important that everyone knows each other’s role and what they are specifically responsible for.  If this is not clear, there is going to be some grief and heartache especially from the Judgers (see Myers-Briggs type) as they see people crossing boundaries.  Moreover, you probably won’t be producing superior results without this kind of clarity.

Mutual Trust

Trust comes from understanding how each person is wired, that includes knowing their core driver.  It also comes from repeated experiences where you can experience the other’s integrity.

I have seen team members, especially those who are being on-boarded on to the team, move to trust quickly with an understanding of each team members’ Myers-Briggs type and the one-pager that I mentioned in the previous post.  You want a tool that helps people really get one another quickly and you will see trust soar.

You will know that it is there because you will sense the team fighting for one another and you will sense that the environment is positive and comfortable even though team members push one another to get the best out of each other.

In the cases where someone has acted without integrity or where there are misgiving between team members.  Good effective conflict resolution that always includes ownership and forgiveness will also improve trust.

Effective Decision-Making

According to Bain & Company, the qualities of effective decision making are:

  • Quality - “How often do you choose the right course of action?”
  • Speed - “How quickly do you make decisions compared with your competitors?”
  • Yield - “How often do you execute decision as intended?”
  • Effort - “Do you put the right amount of effort into making and executing decisions?”

If you track the decisions you and your team have made a year or two ago, how would you say you and your team are doing?

What can you do to improve in any of those four areas?

Becoming a team that makes consistently effective decisions will increase productivity.

Coordinative Relationships

As result of the four characteristics listed above is that teams know how to communicate and coordinate tasks and responsibilities in a way that they outperform.  They know when they are coordinating tasks how to support one another throughout the process.  There is a sense of intrinsic accountability that will come through.  Sometimes it needs to be formalized but for the most part the team members’ tasks are not only in their wheelhouse but out of desire to accomplish their goal with excellence.

Chew On This: Out of the 5 characteristics listed above, which one would you most want to strengthen?

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.