With our federal government leading us dangerously close to the fiscal cliff, you may think I am crazy to be optimistic about government. But I am, and there is good reason.
While the posturing and brinksmanship currently going on in Washington, D.C. causes us to feel that our federal government is broken, the reason I am optimistic is because there is a very different story going on today in state government.
In the past three years, Mass Ingenuity has done extensive work with state government, specifically Oregon and more recently with our neighbor to the north, Washington. I have also had some great conversations in recent weeks with other passionate change agents who work at the state level in Tennessee and California.
In our work with state government, I have found many competent and passionate people who are committed to transforming government. These are people at every level – from top elected officials to agency leaders and middle managers to the frontline staff that do the hard and often unappreciated work of government.
State government is unique because it owns a big chunk of the practical delivery of many critical government services, from education to public safety to health to ensuring a sustainable environment. Even as budgets have tightened, the people in state government can’t live with letting those they serve be abandoned, so their incentive is high to improve government and the stakes are personal.
The way we manage complex organizations today, which I explain in my book Business at the Speed of Now, must change because the world we live in has changed. Like business, government must adapt more quickly and as our societal needs expand, government must be ever more effective in meeting critical citizen needs.
My optimism comes from my belief that government transformation in this country is being led from the state government level. I also believe that transformation will then expand to the federal and local governments. This is not because state government employees are different from federal and local – I have learned first hand there are plenty of committed people inside all levels of government. Rather, the opportunity that state government has to drive transformation first is due to the unique role it plays between federal programs and local delivery.
One of the great freedoms of this nation is to be able to publicly criticize our government. While we do that, it’s also critical to be thankful for all those who are trying to make it better. So, while I am disappointed in Washington, D.C. and our federal leadership, I am optimistic about and thankful for all the great people who make our state governments work and the tremendous efforts they are making to become more effective.
For my part, I just want to say thanks – and keep up the good and vital working of making government great!
Video Blog – Performance Management with Great Leadership – John Bernard
When things go wrong
Any leader worth their salt understands that when things go wrong you have to take responsibility. How you take responsibility reveals a lot about your character as a leader.
This week I received an email from a CEO whose company had violated some LinkedIn policies by doing outbound marketing to individuals utilizing several group lists.
With “great regret” the CEO sent an email titled “Public Apology.” In it he took personal responsibility for the misstep and ardently apologized for the break of social media protocol.
That was all good and, even though I was not affected, I thought the gentleman was doing what he should be doing.
But then, I kept reading.
He said that he told his entire internal marketing team “not to come in on Monday.” Then, he announced after some thought he was firing the entire marketing team, as well as the research team. He claimed that all of this was necessary to develop a different culture in his company.
I about fell out of my chair. The CEO created the culture. The violation of protocol resulted from the very aggressive culture he had created – and he had failed to put appropriate boundaries around his team.
They didn’t screw up, he did. His team shouldn’t be punished. If anyone should be it is the CEO.
While initially the apology email caught my interest because it seemed like such a bold and appropriate action, in the end my opinion of the CEO and his organization tanked seriously because of how he handled the situation.
If he felt someone needed to be punished he should have done something like donate a month of his pay to a charity or something that impacted him, not his employees.
We all want our employees to engage. But it can’t and shouldn’t be a free-for-all. As leaders we set the context for that engagement. When a whole department or team gets off track, the failure is ours as leaders, not our people.
Goodness to Greatness Leadership-Seven Steps
GUEST POST by IRENE BECKER
Are YOU ready to lead from goodness to greatness? Are you ready to build the architecture of business, personal and inter-personal leadership? Or, will you lead or will you follow the Pied Piper of discouragement and fear that leads the breaking news we ingest on a daily basis?
It is a challenge, but it’s a challenge that is worth our greatest effort. And, amazingly when we have the courage to lead with our strengths, the courage to learn how to transform the changes and even crises we face into a positive catalyst for our true power and potential we become not only change agents, but change leaders. In so doing we inspire others to lead rather than follow, to move past fear and step into their greatest courage and power.
A challenge that requires seven steps, seven commitments. Business leadership, personal leadership and inter-personal leadership are all built upon an architecture that is simple but powerful.Here are the seven steps, the seven pillars, that create the architecture of leadership in a world, workplace and marketplace of intense volatility, change and crisis.
1. The commitment to lead and not follow. Creating the architecture of what I call Q3™ power. Developing enhanced IQ, EQ, SQ. Great leaders have always recognized and developed their intellectual capital, emotional capital and spiritual capital, because they recognized that being smart was not enough, being heart centered was not enough, and being values driven was not enough. Leadership evolves; leadership grows by developing and engaging all three Q’s. Part of developing Q3™ power is learning, but the most critical part is working with someone to actively use one’s strengths and transform changes and crises to increase one’s intellectual capital, emotional capital and spiritual capital.
2. The commitment to the empowerment of self and others: Creating a social or human architecture that will gather the commitment of others who want to lead collaboratively, because leadership and success today are achieved through servant or collaborative leadership. The era of command and control leadership is dying its last death. We need leaders who can stand at the head of the class not simply to articulate the vision, but to inspire and guide others who will in turn also lead. Getting empowered starts when we decide to build a fence around our integrity, hope, faith, potential and ability to make a difference and inspire others to do the same. It cannot and will not come from looking at what is wrong, but rather from starting to recognize our individual strengths, our power and celebrating them from a place that is not ego driven, but rather driven by our desire to do our best work, build our best relationships, enable our best leadership, live better and happier lives.
3. The commitment to purpose and vision: Creating a moral architecture, common purpose, a goal that speaks to something meaningful, purposeful that will engage others and is the common ground, the common goal that will be shared and cherished. The moral architecture, the vision keeps organizations competitive because it is only through creating and sustaining value for others that success is built and sustained. It is only by creating value for employees, shareholders, clients, stakeholders and communities that success continues. And, on a personal and inter-personal level, it is the moral architecture, or ability to stay in alignment with the core values we cherish, the goals that matter most to us that create success in our lives and relationships.
4. The commitment to communicating the vision: Creating architecture of meaning that is conveyed not only by words but by actions — by the determination and the passion the leader has for the vision and by his/her ability to communicate this vision. Developing the high emotional intelligence that drives masterful communication is critical. Articulating and living the values creating the words, using symbols that paint a brilliant picture that engages others and helps them work collaboratively to the accomplishment of shared goals, i.e. the vision is what communicating the vision is all about.
5. The commitment to courage: Creating architecture of hope. Developing an outlook that drives and sustains courage at the front lines, courage in the face of challenges and ignites the hope and the faith that drives our greatest thoughts and actions — the hope and faith that inspires our self and others. Commitment to courage that cannot be achieved without building our spiritual quotient, without creating an alignment of our heads, hearts and souls that allows us to tap into the power within at the very worst of times.
6. The commitment to integrity. Creating architecture of trust. Nothing is built and sustained without trust. Leadership of self and leadership of others starts with the inspiration to lead rather than follow the Q3™ strength (intellectual, emotional and spiritual capital to sustain leadership) and the spiritual capital to live and lead with the integrity that drives and sustains trust. Trust is something we learn to build in ourselves, and we also can learn to build it in others. Trust is the anchor for our spiritual quotient and it is also the catalyst which allows us to build and sustain the relationships that are critical to leadership, success and happiness.
7. The commitment to action-ability. Creating architecture of action-ability. The greatest thoughts, best laid plans, or strategies are useless until they are made action-able. Developing action-ability at the front lines of a business, economic, personal or inter-personal battle demands Q3™ power, and leadership is not leadership without action-ability. The greatest ideas, the best strategies, the most inspiring words are lovely but impotent without action. Leadership demands an architecture of action-ability. When a leader learns to optimize strengths while using changes even crises to build IQ-EQ-SQ and develop tools, strategies that drive action-ability of self and others, power is engaged, leadership evolves and grows.
Nothing worthwhile is ever accomplished without determination, or without courage. Today, the determination and courage to build business, personal and inter-personal leadership is not important — it is critical. Engaging and actualizing this determination requires a bit of pixie dust. Pixie dust born of hope, of that intangible but critical desire to contribute by not losing touch with our true power to effective positive change, to collaborate together to build and sustain a better human, personal and business bottom line. The determination to aspire to our greatest good in our relationships, the greatest good in our work, the greatest strength in moving away from fear and discouragement by finding that pixie dust, tapping into the hope that we can make a difference and will. That spark that is the soul of leadership, and one that we can chose to re-ignite if we are ready to take the road less travelled. With great leadership comes great responsibility to stand at the front lines of battle with the conviction to win the war, and the greatest war we fight is from inside out. The greatest battle we face is to inspire, engage and lead the best in ourselves by building our Q3™ strengths so that we can in turn inspire, engage and lead others who in turn lead vertically and horizontally in their lives and organizations.
Leadership is a choice, and it is one of the most difficult choices one can make because it clearly means taking the road less traveled, and it means developing courage when others have lost theirs, determination when few have it because it is far easier to manage than to lead. It is far easier to become complacent or discouraged by the multiplicity of challenges and crises we face on an individual and collective basis. But, easier is not necessarily better, and the easy path is not the one that can help us fill our pocketbooks and our souls.
About Irene Becker, Executive Coach, Consultant, Speaker, Writer
Chief Success Officer, Just Coach It -The 3Q Edge™
First woman CEO of a steel company in Canada, Irene has a track record of trailblazing accomplishments in business and in the community at large. An insightful and inspiring executive coach, mentor, speaker and writer, Irene helps clients achieve breakthrough results in their communication, leadership and lives.Passionate about the integrity of her work and its ability to help change-makers LEAD change, Irene helps smart people and organizations develop 3Q Leadership™ and effective verbal, written and social communication that builds reach, resonance and results. Irene welcomes your emails email@example.com tweets at @justcoachit
Being a NOW Leader
Leadership is not for the faint of heart. It demands that we part from the pack in order to define a new future by redefining the present.
We are in the midst of the most fundamental economic shift in a century. For 100 years our economy was driven by the realities of Mass Production. The Mass Production way of thinking created more wealth for more people than any system in the history of man. And it permeated EVERY part of our society from the office to the factory to the classroom.
We have certainly been blessed, however our challenges are far greater now and as leaders we face new macro trends.
Just as the Agricultural Age ended around the turn of the previous century and was replaced by Mass Production, we now see that Mass Customization drives our economy enabled by instant access to everything courtesy of the Internet.
Mass Production was THEN; Mass Customization is NOW.
THEN leaders are those who live in the past believing that hierarchy, command and control, functionalization and centralized decision making are still relevant concepts and viable models. NOW leaders understand that the economic shift is so huge that is has flipped pretty much every traditional rule of good management.
Today decisions are made and customer problems can be solved at the speed of light. Leaders that understand this see that their role has shifted from making decisions and solving problems, to enabling others to do this work. They also understand that for their people to make decisions in real-time that are aligned with business goals, employees have to truly understand where the business is going and what part they play in its success.
NOW leaders are a new breed of cat – or perhaps it is better if I say they are the best of the old breed. This is because they are leaders who are smart enough to see and embrace the shift from THEN to NOW, and recognize that the shift redefines the very role they must play.
In our Mass Customization world engaging employees is not merely a good idea, it is a survival requirement. Research shows that high-engagement companies enjoy a 19% increase in operating income, a 13% increase in net income, and 27% increase in earnings per share versus low-engagement companies (Peter Crush, “Employee Engagement ROI: Rules of Engagement”).
As a nation our futile attempt to engage employees, the people who determine our success in a NOW economy, is nothing short of sad. The Gallup Organization shows a slow but steady decline in employee engagement over the past 30 years. In the typical organization, leaders have managed to engage only 25% of employees.
Last year at this time I was finishing up Business at the Speed of Now (which was published in December). I believed The Great Recession was not going to go away easily because it is not what it appears to be. It is not about bad loan practices, it is about a global economic shift of seismic proportions driven by customer’s desire for Mass Customization. And my hope remains that my book will help leaders find the courage to part from the Mass Production pack and cross the chasm into the new world of Mass Customization.
On one hand I see THEN leaders spinning trying to find a way out of their own private recession; we still see business failures and layoffs in the headlines every day. On the other hand, I work with NOW leaders who see their organizations prosper even in this rugged economy. This prosperity is in no small part because they see the shift and have embraced it as opportunity.
Are you a THEN leader or a NOW leader?
The Amazing New Generation
BY JOHN BERNARD
As I sit on a plane flying to my daughter Ashley’s graduation in Indiana, I cannot help but reflect back on my daughter’s life that brought her to this point. Yet, in the same thought I look forward with a great deal of optimism.
I am optimistic because Ashley, like her much-maligned generation, has a soul. They are passionate about making the world a better place and refuse to simply look the other way at injustice and irresponsibility.
Ashley, I know, is the best of the generation (fatherly pride showing through here), but her recognition that all is not right in our world is the difference any given generation has between those who lead and those who follow. Ashley will lead her generation to solve the problems my generation has created.
It’s not fun to talk about this nation’s declining stature sparked by a deficit in excess of $15 trillion – some $138,000 per tax paying citizen. It’s not fun to talk about our horrific relative global stature in math scores – falling below Estonia, Slovenia, Slovak Republic, and Czech Republic – not to mention another 15 countries everyone of us can find on the map. No one likes to talk about our dependence on oil from countries who despise us.
This next generation of leaders, like Ashley, definitely has their work cut out for them.
Ashley is graduating from Notre Dame with an MBA in Marketing and Corporate Social Responsibility. Ashley believes in business and she believes that business leaders have to be responsible to the greater good.
Ashley’s sense of social responsibility started when our family began recycling years before it was a common practice. In fact, I built a little recycling center in our garage. In those days we had to separate all the different items and then load them up and haul them to a recycling center. My older daughters still remember the regular and repeated lessons in the garage on what went into which bin — because they as young children weren’t much into the details.
Yes, we laugh at those old stories and I know we will as we all gather in Indiana to celebrate Ashley’s accomplishments and commitments.
Because this generation has a soul and cares deeply about improving the world, we need to encourage and support them. They have a lot of work ahead of them and we need strong committed leaders like Ashley to get this nation back on the right path.
Management is Harder Work than Leadership
Everybody wants to be a leader. Nobody wants to be a manager. Why?
Leadership is cool. It’s inspirational. We cherish and honor great leaders. We devour books about Steve Jobs, Jack Welch, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, John Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, and Margaret Thatcher.
But who wants to read a book about a great manager. Boring. Dull. Uninteresting.
While leaders do dramatic and exciting things, managers work the infinite details. While leaders create visions and rally people to bring the vision to life, managers detail out plans, manage costs and meet deadlines.
While management is harder work than leadership, that’s not to say anyone can be a great leader. It takes a very special set of talents and skills to lead. But one thing is true about leadership–it is an emotionally appealing role. We love the feeling we get from being around someone who inspires us, and we all wish we could emulate what he or she does.
We don’t feel the same emotional appeal about the role of manager. The problem with management is that it demands hard work, discipline and a willingness to sort through the morass of execution details. It requires long attention spans and the willingness to sort through the complexity needed to get things organized. It also demands lots of judgment calls, lots of candid conversations, and the willingness to talk about what isn’t working.
Steve Jobs, Jack Welch, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, John Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, and Margaret Thatcher are not only great leaders, they are great managers as well. These leaders all understand the details of their business. Apple did not become one of the most successful businesses in history without both great leadership and great management. The iPad would be a worthless innovation if Apple could not bring it to market in vast quantities at a competitive price with a high level of reliability – that demands great management.
The reason I say management is harder work than leadership is brought to life in the fact that people who write management books (me included with my book Business at the Speed of Now) want their books to sound like they are leadership books. We do that because we know people prefer to buy leadership books.
The reality is that not everyone can be a great leader. And while we never have enough great leaders, most of us need to put our heads down and do the hard work that makes us a great manager. If you desire to be a great manager, study what it takes to plan effectively and learn to manage the work to deliver on the plan.
We need great managers. Be one.
The 7 Deadly Sins of Management
In 1987 when Japan’s hot breath was being felt on the back of the neck of U.S. automakers, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Its intent was to inspire U.S. organizations to do what Japanese companies had been doing since the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers founded the Deming Prize in 1950. The Deming Prize had inspired Japanese companies to test themselves against a rigorous set of best-practice management standards.
I’ll skip the detailed history lesson and cut to the chase.
“We have a problem Houston!” The problem is that most U.S. organizations suffer from the 7 Deadly Sins of Management, which I elaborate on in detail in Business at the Speed of Now (pages 28-38). The 7 Deadly Sins of Management are:
Lack of clear direction
No line of sight
Poor issue transparency
Leadership is about vision, setting tone, inspiring people and working from a deeply held set of values. If you want to read the best blogger I know on leadership read Dan Rockwell’s Leadership Freak.
But the work of management is to prioritize and organize work, set up measures, connect people, eliminate fear, communicate progress, and make sure the right resources are in the right place at the right time. I am sorry to say the work of management is tedious and detailed work. And because of that a lot of us are guilty of not wanting to do that work. Heh, life is short and who wants to spend it working in the weeds.
However, by avoiding the detailed work of management, the 7 Deadly Sins of Management propagate in our organizations. But the 7 Deadly Sins of Management come at a heavy price because it causes our people to disengage.
There are several reasons our people can’t engage. They can’t engage because they don’t understand where the business is going. They can’t engage because they don’t see their part. They can’t engage because they don’t know what they are accountable for and they don’t understand the language of the business. To top it off our employees suffer from the fear of making problems visible, inadequate resources and tools, and weak training.
It’s a wonder our people even show up to work at all!
Of course I am being dramatic. But what I am saying here is more commonly true than not. Our people don’t engage and can’t engage because management is not doing its complete job.
Management’s job in this Mass Customization world is to enable people to act on every opportunity every time in order to meet customer needs. For that to be possible, we have to eliminate the sins that prevent our people from being engaged.
Let’s sin no more.
The Failings of Performance Management
BY JOHN M. BERNARD
PART TWO OF A FOUR-PART SERIES ON APPROACHES TO EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT
In the world of management, employee engagement is the Holy Grail. Extensive research shows a compelling positive correlation between the level of engagement and customer satisfaction, product quality and profitability. In fact, organizations in the top quartile of employee engagement out earn their competitive peers by 22-28 percent.
In my last blog I wrote about attempts at workforce engagement through exhortation (words, talks, campaigns, encouragement, and rewards). The fatal flaw in that approach is that enthusiasm doesn’t solve underlying problems, and believing that if we just “pump” people up we’ll get sustainable improvement is naive.
A very popular and common approach to engagement is performance management, often the modern-day equivalent of management by objective. It’s underlying assumption is that if management organizes the work, and everyone is accountable for his or her part, the organization will achieve extraordinary results. Underneath this approach is a belief that it is all about individual accountability – and if we write it down and hold people to their piece of the puzzle, the business is bound to succeed. And sometimes they do succeed although it is usually only with small incremental improvements that do not move the needle forward enough.
Performance management isn’t a bad notion, but it has some fundamental flaws. First of all it holds people accountable for things they usually only have some control over. Also, in the absence of relevant concrete measures it often has many “measures” that are based on opinion rather than fact. Second, a performance management goal measured only by a task due date, and does not include a measure for the quality of the completed task because it is viewed as too subjective, is a very weak goal.
Third, if employees are not solving problems using data-driven root cause analysis, no amount of performance management mechanics will improve the customer experience or achieve financial goals.
And the reality is if performance management is used as a hammer, then everyone ends up scrambling to meet their targets even if doing so has an unintended negative consequence to the team or the organization. In the real world things change and sometimes walking away from certain objectives becomes clearly the right thing to do. But changing plans can have a consequence during that dreaded annual performance review.
Performance management can easily lead to an every-man/woman for himself/herself environment. That annual review must go well.
There are exceptions to every rule, but most performance management systems have the hollow ring of an empty metal barrel.
Dr. W. Edwards Deming, one of the most influential management thinkers of the past century, called performance reviews one of the “7 Deadly Sins” of western management. He said that the system people work within and its impact on co-worker and customer interactions determines 90 to 95 percent of performance – not the individual.
Deming and others (me included) believe that performance management does far more to engender individualism, self-protection and fear than it does to serve the need every organization has for innovation.
American Competitiveness: Why we are losing the race
I rarely talk to anyone who doesn’t believe as I do that America is in decline. I don’t know about you but I not only dislike hearing this, I refuse to accept it.
The evidence is overwhelming. Our economy is very sluggish, and our gross national product gains are microscopic compared with China and India.
But I think it’s time we quit accepting our demise as fact. We need to wake up, look in the mirror, shave off the stubble, hit the treadmill and get back in the game.
While I am not in denial, I think much of our political leadership is in denial. Or, they dare not say a discouraging word for fear of repercussions. So I am not sure which is suffering the steeper decline, our economic leadership or our political leadership.
The cause of our economic slippage is far from obvious to most people. I don’t claim to be the Wizard of Oz, but as a “systems thinker” the curtain is not blocking my view of why we are failing. It seems abundantly obvious.
Over 100 years ago, our nation mastered the age of mass production, implementing the most sophisticated scientific management the world has ever known. We developed and perfected management, accounting, engineering, production, and marketing sciences. Our factories drove costs down while also driving quality up of the world’s leading goods. We tuned our system into the world’s most powerful delivery mechanism and created a global economic powerhouse that remains the envy of the world.
But along the way something got lost and one huge opportunity was missed. Seth Godin talks about how our mass-production centric way of doing business used people as mere extensions of machines. Workers were expected to be compliant and merely do the highly repetitive tasks, which no machine could do. So instead of leveraging our much touted Yankee ingenuity, we made matters worse by developing an education system that created a compliant, factory-ready workforce.
That is when the decline began.
We now have some 100 years of management momentum behind us with little-to-no understanding of the real creative power of humanity. The huge missed opportunity was that while we could have been perfecting how to leverage the ingenuity of every human being who is a part of our organizations, instead we perfected the science of mass production rooted in a man-as-machine mind set.
Does this strike you as odd from the land of the free and the home of the brave? It does me.
The truth is we have failed to tap into the vast majority of the creative talent and passion our organizations have to offer. Human beings want to be productive. They want to be creative. They want to make a difference. Yet, I believe, 90 percent of the available ingenuity goes untapped. And, for what its worth, that makes me sad.
Our founding fathers’ dream of liberty somewhere was totally lost – at least when it comes to our worklife.
To recover our leadership in the economic world, we have to redefine management. It begins there and it ends there. If we do this correctly, we can once again hold our heads high.
Next week: Management Redefined: The Path to Economic Leadership
The Great Recession: Chips and Change
66 days and counting until Business at the Speed of Now will be available in fine bookstores and on eBooks. It’s getting closer to the December 6th release date!
The evolution to a world where we do Business at the Speed of Now enjoyed strange bedfellows, about as incompatible as John Candy and Steve Martin in the goofball movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Henry Ford’s Model T brought into reality mass production management, which shaped and continues to shape how we think about organizations.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
The great age of the television gave a glimpse of the coming of social media. And the computer along with the Internet put into our hands instant access to the world and to each other.
Evidence grows that The Great Recession may be far more than a recession after all. Its’ double-dip nature may prove that our global economy is instead experiencing the grinding gears of a fundamental shift.
“This economic crisis doesn’t represent a cycle,” says Jeffrey Emmelt, CEO of General Electric. “It represents a reset. It’s an emotional, raw social, economic reset. People who understand that will prosper. Those who don’t will be left behind.”
A century ago we watched the end of the Agricultural Age as the percent of the U.S. population that worked on farms dropped dramatically in response to phenomenal increases in farm productivity. In the past 30 years the same reset has been happening as the Age of Mass Production draws to a close proven by the rapid decline of factory jobs.
If mass production is dying, what’s being birthed? Mass customization – an age when everyone wants what they want and they want it now! The shift is making YES the only viable value proposition (a service economy in the broad sense), and NOW the only acceptable timeframe.
An odd symbol of the changing world is a little object of much affection, the potato chip. While chips are mass produced, today you can find some 1,400 bizarre flavors around the globe as chipmakers adapt to the regional and individual tastes of its customers. While chips are not customized in the NOW, they serve as a greasy example that even mass produced products must increasingly be customized.
The shift has profound implications to how we think about organizations, and profound implications to the critical nature of individual employee autonomy to make the all essential, in-the-now decisions.
This is the final installment of Part One of our series leading to the December 6th release of Business at the Speed of Now. In Part Two, I’ll explore how the birth of a NOW world came to be as seen through the lenses of the heroes of our age: Superman, James T. Kirk, Spiderman, Austin Powers and t