Posts Tagged ‘box’

Hanging onto old recipes limits our success

Hanging onto old recipes limits our success.

We all have old recipes running around in our brains.  It’s human nature to find and follow a pattern. We creatures of habit feel more comfortable that way.

I became aware of an old, and dangerous, recipe in my own life not too long ago.

I’ve helped companies grow for over two decades now as a consultant.  In 2009, I decided it was time to step into the life of my dream as an author and speaker, sharing my consulting experience to help  people think differently about how to grow their business.

I’ve always been an independent person, rarely taking the tried and true approach to anything.  Must be my name.  When I began to write Defying Gravity, I wanted to self-publish, primarily to have control of my content and direction.

Everyone I spoke with strongly suggested that I stick with the a known recipe for success as a first time author.  That recipe declared I needed a NY publishing house to be taken seriously with my first book. After many discussions, including a big argument with my own intuition, I changed my plans and headed down that path. When a well-respected NY agent signed me, I was thrilled.

But as things progressed, it became apparent that the houses, and my agent, wanted to change my book pretty dramatically.  They didn’t ‘get’ what I wanted to write – they only knew their traditional formulas and focus areas.  I wasn’t about to sell out for the NY houses. I know my audience and I understand the value I offer.

I finally drew the line about what I wanted to write.  My agent fired me. OMG – how’s that for a wake up call?  I was a little lost for a bit, but then I remembered my original dream.  On the recommendation of my friend Scott McKain, I connected with Clint Greenleaf or Greenleaf Book Group.  Three weeks later I signed with them – and I’ve never looked back. Greenleaf is everything I dreamed of in a publisher – innovative, supportive professionals who are creating new recipes for authors to power unprecedented success.

That old recipe for author success? Forget it. It may work for a few, but not for most, and certainly not for me.  I’m working with Greenleaf on some pretty exciting things – beyond the book itself, which I am finishing as we speak.  Defying Gravity is my book, written my way – with superb and out-of-the box additions from the smart, innovative thinkers on the Greenleaf team.

The traditional publishing approach felt so wrong for me.  Greenleaf feels so right. I just know I’m on the right path – creating my own recipe for success as I go along.  I’m learning every day and adjusting with every conversation.  And I’m cookin’ up some pretty fun ideas along the way!

What about you?  Have you ditched an old recipe and found a new way to cook up your success?  I’d love to hear about it!

When it comes to leadership roles does gender play an influence

When it comes to leadership roles does gender play an influence? Is there a difference between women leaders and men who have been appointed leadership positions? If so, what are the unique qualities of female leadership that the most effective women leaders possess, and are they unique only to women? What role if any can gender play in a world that is predominately influenced by men?

In 2008, a two-year study conducted by a California based management consulting firm identified many characteristics that separate women leaders from men when it comes to qualities of leadership ability and influence in prominent roles.

Women leaders are more assertive and persuasive, have a stronger need to get things done and are more willing to take risks than male leaders. Women leaders were also found to be more empathetic, rational and flexible, as well as stronger communicators in interpersonal skills than their male counterparts, enabling them to read situations accurately and take information in from all sides without prejudice and outside influence.

These women leaders are able to bring others around to their point of view because they genuinely understand and care about where others are coming from so that the people they are leading feel more understood, supported, valued and ever so appreciated. They tend to be more sympathetic to ones needs and view all angles before concluding to ones opinion and personal gain.

The study findings are summarized into four statements about women’s leadership qualities:

Women leaders seem to be persuasive than their male counterparts. 

When feeling the pressure of rejection, women leaders learn from adversity and carry on with a “We will accomplish our task on hand attitude”.

Women leaders demonstrate an inclusive, team-building leadership style of problem solving, methodical approach and decision making. 

Women leaders are more likely to ignore rules and take risks. They are more likely to possess the out of the box thinking.

This evidence that the leadership style of women is not simply unique but possibly at odds with what men practice; it begs the question: Do these qualities have value in the marketplace? Is this type of leadership welcomed by society and by the public and private sector in today’s ever so competitive business world?

Dr. Sran CEO of the Engineered Income Group says attitudes toward leadership influence is changing, and what women offer is essential in today’s ever changing, pressure filled business world. Dr. Sran further states that the changing of the “Guard” is slowly but surely being accepted by society.

A one sided debate will not accomplish much states Dr. Sran; we live in a world filled with personal theories and opinions that many times comes without logical reasoning.

Domination and just pure charisma as a leadership style is becoming less and less popular. There is a new growing appreciation of those traits that women use to keep families together and to organize volunteers to unite and make change in the shared life of families and communities alike. These newly admired and appreciated leadership qualities of shared, equal leadership; nurturance and doing justice for others. We need to make a difference in the world states Dr. Sran. A feminine way of leading includes helping the world to understand and be principled about values that really matter in a world filled of quick decisions without proper thought and rationalization. 

Just as one’s opinion on the article above will differ, whether you’re a man or woman.

Recognizes issues, problems, or opportunities and determines whether action is needed

Recognizes issues, problems, or opportunities and determines whether action is needed.
What sparks the decision-making process? In some cases it’s a request, such as when your leader asks you to choose equipment to purchase, reduce costs, or delegate work. In other cases you might be aware of an issue that needs to be addressed. For example, you:

  • Receive repeated feedback from customers about a product problem.
  • Believe an improvement to a current process could bolster productivity.
  • See an opportunity to increase market share by improving a product feature.

Even when you’re not the person who makes the decision, you can improve the quality of the decision by identifying problems and opportunities. As a result, people develop confidence in your ability to spot opportunities and contribute to good organizational decisions.

1. Recognize issues, problems, or opportunities.
Effective decision makers are proactive. They stay aware of issues, unresolved problems, or opportunities they can take advantage of. Chances are there’s a decision to be made if you have ideas for:

  • Improving work processes.
  • Reducing costs while maintaining quality or efficiency.
  • Improving customer service.
  • Increasing enthusiasm of associates.
  • Bolstering sales or profits.

Example: John noticed that his team’s overtime hours had increased over the past year, yet output levels had remained the same. When he asked the team why, John learned that requests for custom packaging had gone up 25 percent, but due to the current equipment, custom packaging orders took longer to fill. He also found out that the organization charged the same price for custom and regular packaging. By correctly recognizing the problems–increased overtime, amount of time to fill custom orders, and potential lost revenue on custom orders–John and his team faced two decisions: how to decrease overtime and whether the demand for custom packaging justifies modernizing the equipment and raising the price for custom packaging.

To determine if you have a “decision in the making,” ask yourself:

  • Are coworkers frequently complaining about work?
  • Are deadlines being missed or jobs being done incorrectly?
  • Are there an unusual number of misunderstandings or conflicts between/among departments?
  • Is there a trend in customer feedback?
  • Do I have an opportunity to provide a product or service that the competition can’t?

To obtain specific information about your potential decision, check the following sources:Includes sales or performance records, ideas taken from suggestion boxes, and informal communication gathered via your network, team meetings, task forces, and quality committees. Includes competitor information, research reports, and customer surveys and feedback.

  • Internal data.
  • External data.

2. Define the desired outcomes, criteria, and decision.
After recognizing that a need or opportunity exists, write a clear description of your desired outcomes, the criteria your decision needs to meet, and what you hope to decide. Doing this helps you:

  • Determine whether a decision or action is needed.
  • Confirm that you’re addressing the “right” situation.
  • Ensure that your decision yields the results you want.

Desired outcomes refer to the results you want to achieve (for example, exceeding customer expectations or increasing productivity). Outcomes also might include how people should feel about the results. When defining desired outcomes, consider:

  • What you hope to accomplish.
  • How you want those affected by the decision to feel or act.

For example, if you want to buy a winter coat, your desired outcomes would be to stay warm and to receive comments such as, “That’s a stylish coat.” are the measurable and observable characteristics the decision must meet. Criteria are broadly categorized into quality, cost, and time. Your criteria for buying a new winter coat might include:


  • Warmth provided (quality).
  • Money you’re willing to spend (cost).
  • The need to purchase the coat before winter arrives (time).

A decision states the specific choice to be made. By knowing the results you want, you can clearly describe the decision to achieve those results.

Defining your decision accurately depends on identifying the desired outcomes you want to achieve and the criteria the decision must meet. Another key element of your accuracy is involving others. Seeking others’ input helps to ensure that the right decision is made and that people support and understand the decision. Otherwise, if you assume the desired outcomes and decision criteria, you risk defining the decision incorrectly and getting results much different than what you expected.

Example: A large beverage manufacturer spent millions of dollars and many years trying to outdo its competitors’ packaging based on an inaccurate decision definition: “What bottle shape can we develop that will be as memorable as theirs?” However, the manufacturer’s actual desired outcomes were for people to drink more of their beverage and ultimately increase market share–not to have recognizable packaging. After reassessing its desired outcomes and redefining the decision accurately as, “How can we get people to drink more of our beverage?” the manufacturer freed its thinking and invented the successful large plastic liter bottle. Market share soared (Russo and Schoemaker, 1989).

3. Determine whether action is needed.
Now that you’ve defined the situation in terms of desired outcomes and criteria, and checked the decision to be made, you’re in a better position to determine whether action is needed. Consider the time and energy it would take to work through the decision and determine whether your and others’ efforts are worth the investment. Think about:

  • Who needs to be involved in the decision. Are they available, and will they be supportive?
  • What actions might need to be taken, and who will initiate them.
  • Whether your leader(s) would support your decision-making process.
  • What time and money are needed to research the decision.
  • How confident you are that you know the cause of the situation.
  • Who else might be working on a similar decision.

Compare the time and energy it would take to work through the decision to the impact of not making the decision. Is it worth the investment? Based on the information you’ve compiled, you might determine that action isn’t needed. If one or more of the following situations exist, don’t take action:

  • The process will take too long and the opportunity will be missed.
  • The effort is greater than the reward.
  • There is little to no consequence for not taking action.

All companies compete to find the best people in the workplace to fill their key leadership positions

All companies compete to find the best people in the workplace to fill their key leadership positions. But once they hire them, are they able to keep them happy and productive?

Some of the most promising and highest potential leaders we have worked with have attained great success in their jobs and worked hard to earn that success, only to ultimately decide that the price to remain is too high. The problem isn’t that they aren’t suited for the work, but rather that the size of their workload is too much to handle in a normal work week.

As the new generation of workers becomes qualified for higher positions on the corporate ladder, they have a different set of expectations than their predecessors. By and large, these are people who work to live, and not the other way around. Ironically, those who are the most talented, ambitious, and have promising futures are the ones searching hardest for balance in their lives. They choose in greater numbers to avoid the jobs that require 60+ hours in a typical week.

This choice has been called “opting out,” and it has been described in numerous places, most recently in The Opt Out Revolt: Why People are Leaving Companies to Create Kaleidoscope Careers
by Lisa Mainiero and Sherry Sullivan.

Burning Out the Brightest

To me, the tragedy isn’t that people are losing jobs, because as the book title suggests, those who opt out are doing just fine, thank you. Rather, it’s that the most promising and productive people are the ones leaving, meaning the companies involved are losing some of their best and brightest emerging leaders. I hear these individuals say things like: “I value myself too much to pay such a high price for success at work.”

To be fair, we shouldn’t label companies in question as taskmasters. Surely, some organizations are better than others at demonstrating that they value a work/life balance for their employees. But in many cases, the nature of management jobs – the ones higher up on the corporate ladder — require a larger time commitment. People who stick to a 40-hour week don’t get let go, but they do get put into a new box that limits their potential ascent within the organization.

Gender plays one role in this phenomenon, but not the only role. Women seem to opt out in greater numbers, often because of choices to focus on raising children. Their employers seem to show a willingness to reduce the workload for new mothers or parents, but these employees also lose their status as high potential leaders in the organization. (To be fair, men are opting out, too.)

Organizations are rapidly realizing that their pipeline for emerging leaders is becoming sparse, and many senior leaders have publicly discussed the lack of qualified people in the workforce. That’s why opting out poses a greater problem for them than for individuals. There will always be bodies that are willing to fill leadership roles. But from our perspective, the ones leaving are the ones that demonstrate the highest levels of emotional intelligence, relational capacity, and maturity.

Tasks Before Relationships?

There’s another side to this discussion of heavy workloads. As an alternative to opting out, many try to adjust their jobs to make them more manageable. We work with leaders who work to prioritize tasks, and invest their time in more urgent matters. This adjustment leads to a different set of challenges.

At the Bailey Group, we often talk about relationship-based leadership as a core characteristic of an effective leader. The ability to be a coach, mentor, motivator, and people-focused leader is a valuable and powerful part of a leader’s job. Sadly, we observe that this relationship-based work, which takes a significant investment of time and energy, is the part of the job that gets set aside when leaders try to streamline their workloads.

Whether this adjustment represents an intentional decision or an unintended one, reducing the relational part of the job has numerous repercussions for organizations. As one-on-one meetings get postponed and team meetings become tactical instead of strategic, workers become less engaged. The leaders in question struggle: they know that they need to be more attentive to the needs of their staff. They are used to being successful at their jobs, and frustrated to be missing opportunities to help their team develop. Yet to readjust requires adding time to the workday, reinforcing this cycle of overactivity.

My colleagues and I observe that opting out is the right choice for some people. They find other ways to succeed, fill their time productively, and invest in new relationships, both professionally and personally. Since they’ve had professional success, they can afford to take breaks. In time, they build successful new careers and generally feel better about themselves.

Our clients tell us that key leadership positions are becoming harder to fill, with organizations investing considerable resources in recruiting and transitional training. Some companies communicate that they value employees with balanced lives, but then take actions that contradict the message. That’s a growing problem, especially as baby boomers retire and the next generation of leaders—those who place even greater value on balance—take their places.

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