Risk It! Stand Ground. Give Ground.

Pick your battles.  There is a time to stand and a time to give ground.  Use wisdom.  Move purposefully.

Phil:1:27: But whatever happens, make sure that your everyday life is worthy of the gospel of Christ.  So that whether I do come and see you, or merely hear about you from a distance, I may know that you are standing fast in a united spirit, battling with a single mind for the faith of the gospel and not caring two straws for your enemies. (J.B. Phillips translation).

A winner….. knows when to fight and when to compromise.

A loser ….. fights over the wrong things and compromises at the wrong time.

Hebrews 12:14  Let it be your ambition to live at peace with all men and to achieve holiness “without which no man shall see the Lord”  (J.B. Phillips translation)

Winners know when to fight to win and when to give.  In the song, “The Gambler”, the advice was given, “You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.”  There is a fight worth fighting, and there are items in life not worth the effort.

Winston Churchill in the darkest hours of England’s battles with Germany had this sense.  When others wanted to lay down and give up he stood ground and challenged, “Never give up.  Never give up.  Never give up.”  The war was won over courage and tenacity and knowing the fight needed to be fought.

You have to know when to fight. After living in their new home for a year, the Newbies had a major problem.  Sewage came running over into the downstairs bath, living room, and entry foyer.  What a mess!  Massive cleanup, roto-rooter, and a few days of showering at the neighbors did not fix it.  The city claimed the problem was theirs, the plumber claimed the city needed to fix it.  Two great neighbors and a day of digging exposed a major city problem.  Out they came, and yes, they fixed it.  They dug 14 feet deep, repaired the sewer main, and replaced fences they had to tear down.  But, they didn’t take care of the carpet and house.  Forms, forms, and more forms, telephone calls, working with city attorneys, and a lot of prayer resulted in a surprise.  One night the local city councilman called to alert the Newbies that their reimbursement request was scheduled to get the hatchet the next day at the city council meeting.  P. Newbie showed up at the council meeting of this large metropolitan community.  Deep in the docket was a line item scratching the claim along with over 30 other homeowners.  What could he do?  Fight.  Fight for his wife to get carpet.  Fight for restoration.  Fight he did.  First in prayer, then in rhetoric.  “Mayor, my friends and I dug a 7 foot deep hole to show the city that the problem was theirs, I am willing to dig a 7 foot deep rhetorical hole to help the council see it needs to pay these costs.”  The council halted him right there and offered to pay a reasonable settlement.  No one else was awarded that day.  The clerk could not believe it when she issued the check.

You have to know when to give and compromise The budget battle was intense.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars in expansion monies were battled over by several departments.  Systems executives along with P. Newbie decided to withdraw and let the money go to retail remodels.  Eight months later accounting in an executive meeting moved $50,000.00 to systems and challenged them, “See what you can do with that.”  After 30 days of scramble and results, they gave them another $400,000.00 to spend moved from retail remodels

Take Inventory

Where do you need to fight?  Does someone need defending?

Where do you need to lay down your arms?  Is it better to give now and win a friend?

Make Application

Write what you are going to specifically do in the next 30 days about this.

Pray To Have Wisdom

Father, teach me.  Show me wisdom to count the costs of every battle and decide.  Help me to see when I need to simply serve by not fighting for my preferences.  Help me see when I need to rise and defend my family, pastor, employer, friends.  Enliven my heart to be a wise warrior with what is entrusted to me.

Presence Communicates Production Priority

Managers and leaders communicate priority by where they spend their time. Production teams make America happen. A walk through a production press room tells the workers they are important and what they do is important. Stopping by the front desk in the morning and looking the receptionist in the eye followed by a specific word of appreciation tells the company that guests are important. Openly discussing decisions and gaining feedback from the team along the way gives them a stake. Presence communicates production priority.

30 years of overseeing production teams 24/7 leaves me with a little insight on helping a shift through their day. Every shift is a day in itself. Each one needs right attention and priority.

Every meeting you attend, every walk down the hallway, every lunch in public communicates your deepest heart. You are being watched. An encouraging word, a kind action, opening a door for someone else, or a playful interchange all communicate compassion and priority.

An ancient proverb tells us to not muzzle the oxen as they tread grain. One visual picture we draw is of an ox pulling along in a field being harvested. He needs to munch a little every once in a while. He needs to gain benefit while working, not just at the end of the season. Your presence and encouragement is one of the daily benefits you can give with little cost and great results. Corporate parties, big meetings and bonuses help. They can never replace personal attention and involvement. Presence communicates production priority every day and communicates concern for the people.

Early In The Day Sets A Tone
A manager starts the day for work teams. A little whistle up the hallway in the morning tells the team it is a bright day. P lesant greetings communicate positive expectation and confidence. It is not just physical presence but emotional engagement that builds a productive team of individuals bound by mission.

Middle Of The Day Stimulates
By mid day in a production crew, sales team, customer service group, or any other set of individuals bound by mission, there have been problems. Opportunity to turn dour has come many times by noon. This is one perfect moment to inspire and prioritized. Where you spend the last minutes before lunch tells the team where to focus.

A purposeful and thoughtful communication to key team members on priority projects can keep problems from dominating. Customer service needs to keep moving while issues are resolved. Down equipment needs attended. Production schedules may need adjusted considering current availability. Sales teams may need a pep talk to overcome any weight of complaints.

End Of The Day Rules Over Tides
By the end of a good day, there have been powerful moments and struggling moments. Tides have pressed against the team attempting to bring them to defeat. They need presence. They need reinforcement that the customer is king and the team is in your heart. You need to let them know you are one their side. Before you go home, visit the oncoming team and give them the same whistling start you gave the first team.

Summary: Presence communicates production priority. Production is the ox of your company. Sales must happen. Production must run seamless. An ancient proverb tells us to not muzzle the ox as he treads the grain. Consider your time and attention and presence as unmuzzling the oxen. Invest in your people. They are the strength of the company.

Be Busy Building Better Business.  Have a Great Day!

Phil

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Are you a PMO or a PCO?

Entitlement breeds discontent.  There really is no productive way to look at entitlement.  Don’t read this if you like entitlement organizations.  Don’t read this if you enjoy getting something for existing.

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”  Margaret Thatcher

Business, NGO, and government must face the question.  Are a PMO or a PCO?

“You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.”  Abraham Lincoln

PMO – Poverty Maintenance Organization

PCO – Positive Change Organization

PMOs proliferate under social thrusts.  The easy part of being a charitable organization is asking people to give for compassionate repair and reparation and life needs.  Food, clothes, housing, and basics are all needed.  People will give to maintain a certain level of poverty in another’s life.  Poverty is the mentality that there is never enough resource and my efforts will never be rewarded adequately.  Poverty is a codependent focus instead of an interdependent cooperation.  Poverty is not an economic condition.  Lack of economic resource is a result of poverty mentality and living.  Societies and organizations that promote systemic adaptation to low rewards encourage economic, moral, and mental poverty.

PMOs proliferate under corporate mentality.  Oops, you thought this was about charities.  Any business that purses entitlement mentality of ‘get the minimum done to get paid and get benefits’ is as life force destructive as a charity giving out groceries to people who need growth.  Businesses that emphasize fun and frivolity and fairness and equality usually end up with a work force bent on work avoidance and entitlement expectation.  Those are all good things.  They need to be built alongside productivity and profitability.  After all business is about a fair return on investment.  Jobs happen when profits happen.

PMO is the way of life of the government.  Government consumes more and more of the community resource as laws get added and modified and bureaucracy grows and grows.  It is impossible for all the government entities to pay off the exorbitant early retirement programs that are inequitable and inconsistent with business productivity.  More and more cities, states, and nations have reached bankrupt points of no return.  PMO.

How do you become a PCO when you are a PMO?

Positive change organizations proliferate under reward and recognition.  Now, reward and recognition do not mean everyone gets the same dole or the longest tail gets the  biggest piece of the pie.  In a PCO, reward comes in relation to present contribution not position or power or political expertise.

In parenting theory we call that love and logic.  Raising children in a positive environment keys on establishing positive and negative consequences for behavior.  Reinforce that environment consistently and a productive citizen is formed.  Oh, that is also a great system for correction systems and addiction recovery.  Entitlement is an addiction.  I used to believe nicotine was the hardest addiction to break.  Entitlement is tougher.

So how do you change from PMO to PCO.  This little graphic maps the path.

entitlementtoconsequenceDocument the state of entitlement.  Confront the facts.  Identify where behavioral consequences are missing.  Quantify the cost to your organization of death by indecision. Decide which battles you are willing to fight.  Any reversal of entitlement will be met with violent resistance and revolt.  Better to build with encouragement and consequence systems, but PMO happens.  So be real and be honest.

Communicate change repetitively to those involved.  Give plenty of lead time to the change but not so much that griping and groaning have time to build barriers.  That is a fine balance.

Start rewarding productive behaviors before removing entitlement doles.  This won’t change anything, but it will establish a new thought pattern in those affected.  It might have been so long since they had positive reward for productivity that they have forgotten what dignity feels like.  Entitlement strips dignity and inner drive.  Dignity based on reality has to be instilled fresh.

Move to consequence and positive reward.  You might find this difficult.  Your management team may have no idea how to identify positive and productive behavior.  They are used to promoting entitlement and systemized to zombie workplace.  Dilbert might be their favorite cartoon for a reason.  Of course, as the executive leader admit your guilt in leadership.  You will have to change, too.  The greatest failures of organizations wanting to make this move is that top leadership credits the workforce for being more powerful than the executives and blames them instead of the mirror.  Truthfully, it takes combined efforts of management and work team to enter entitlement and to exit entitlement.

Measure Shock and Fear.  This will be large.  Get ready.  Get poised.  Backbiting, blaming, and bickering will explode.  But it will pass if you hold ground.  Keep focus on where you are going, encourage the afflicted, and do not let this stop you.  If you stop here, you will find it doubly difficult to work on this in the future.  Many companies sell out at this point and leave the issues for the new owner.  They may scuttle great managers and executives as sacrifices to the masses.  Don’t doubt in the dark what you know in the light.  Keep moving forward.  Plan to run.  Run the plan.

Productive Behavior and Growth.  Here is where you land.  Here is where you focus.  Here is where you want to be.  The Positive Change Organization promotes, inspires, and realizes productive behavior and growth.  Not everyone can exist in this environment.  Yes, you may lose some people you had believed to be key.  Not everyone wants to change.  Try to salvage them, but don’t sink productivity in the process.  New leaders will rise.  They’ve been poised for this new environment and potential was shadowed in the old system.  Now you can see them.

PMO or PCO?  You decide every day with every decision what environment you wish to build.

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The Rule of Synergy: Three Have to Have Accelerators

“The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” Phil

Engage others in creative and synergistic endeavors.  Purposefully find ways to force team member interplay for power results.  Be sensitive and firm.  This is not a day at the ropes course.  This is in the work place on real tasks that have real risk of failure and real potential for success and reward.

“Ineffective people live day after day with unused potential. They experience synergy only in small, peripheral ways in their lives. But creative experiences can be produced regularly, consistently, almost daily in people’s lives. It requires enormous personal security and openness and a spirit of adventure.” Steven Covey

It takes a LEADER: Good executive leaders understand this rule.  Leadership is required.  Manager thought tends to avoid this risky behavior. Lead.

Personal Security: The workplace should ooze with personal security and powerful self esteem and a sense of individual dignity.  Of course it might not be happening where you lead.  Then you need to work on it.  People need to understand accountability and responsibility and the safety of making mistakes from which we learn.

Accountability means I understand my actions and results impact all those around me and I account that into my decisions.  Others will hold me accountable for what I do.  They will rejoice in tandem, forgive forthright mistakes, and hold me responsible for results both individual and together.

Responsibility means my action will impact me directly.  I get it.  I understand it.  I welcome it.  Good or bad results, I am responsible for my actions.

Personal security can only be reinforced in such a dual environment.  Many lack personal security and are looking for everyone from mom and dad to the government to supervisors to take responsibility for their success or failures.  Those people cannot thrive in synergy at optimum levels.  But they can start where they are, grow, and experience more daily.

Openness: Every team has to find the place of what Jim Collins calls, “brutally confronting the facts.”  It is not negative.  It is a direct and non-personal approach to dealing with the blips, glitches, misstatements, wrong turns, customer complaints, and missed deadlines.  Dancing around the issues because a team member is overly sensitive inhibits synergy.  You have to want synergy.  You have to desire synergy.  You have to yearn for synergy to get past covered conversations into open, intelligent discussion.

Spirit of Adventure:  A community leader speaking at a business leaders’ lunch asked for a show of hands.  “Who loves to do things with uncertain results and a high risk?”  Only one hand among 450 went up.  “Well”,  he said, “that is the definition of adventure.”  Among all of these senior executives, bankers, lawyers, CEOs, and wizened warriors of the workplace, the sense of adventure had died.  For synergy to happen every day, the third ingredient is a spirit of adventure.  Individually and together the team needs to led into a continual spirit of adventure.

On a powerfully synergistic team, a client came with a bothersome technical improbability.  Theoretically, what they were doing should work.  But, it was failing at several levels of production and the supporting vendors had sent them to us for resolution.  After some frustrating attempts, one of the team just would not let it go.  He tested and tried and worked with the other members to come up with a solution.  At first, we discovered how to force it through our production engine, but only with effort.  Then synergy exploded.  A simple solution was implemented that allowed the originating production shop to perform without having to upgrade their equipment or outsource the job to us.  Our team invented themselves synergistically out of a job that was highly profitable.  Openness means honesty.  Sense of personal security means do the right thing for the client.  Spirit of adventure means taking on the improbable and finding a way to do it anyway.

You Stand for What You Tolerate: Two Intolerable Stances for Any Leader

Tolerance has a clear definition and requires clear standards.  When you live with weak tolerance, you live weak.  When you live with strong tolerance, others become strong.  Any leader must have standards to define the limits of tolerance.  Those standards assist in accomplishing vision and mission in both short and long term initiatives.

Who said it, “You stand for what you tolerate.”?  I found it well said in Marlo Thomas’, The Right Words At  The Right Time Vol 2. Many would say, “You get what you tolerate”.  But I like the prior phrase.

The ancient proverbial Solomon wrote, “Out of the fullness of your heart, your mouth speaks.”  That is pretty close.  He wrote more than a few other wisdoms on the need for discipline and vision.  You stand for what you tolerate.

There are two intolerable stances for any leader.

-Tolerance without standard.  How often do we act in fear in our organizations and in front of those we are called to lead by example?  Someone points an accusing finger at another’s actions and we react in fear of some unknown legality or loss of face in the masses.  No leader can lead long without standards.  An issue arises and we allow weakness to make decisions because we do not have dedicated enough time prior to establish our priorities and principles.

A computer installation for a large company hit a standstill.  Managers had been pleading for right electrical backup in an area plagued with storms, but the company standard of “tolerate failure until it costs a fortune or breaks a visible law” was in play.  Now it was getting ready to cost a fortune.  Every worker was doing something different and the manager responsible could not direct the mess effectively.  Yes, it did cost a fortune to get out of the mess, but standards based risk policy would have deemed the situation intolerable well before the failure and have avoided major expense and exhaustion of staff.  You stand for what you tolerate and you get what you tolerate

-Standard without tolerance.  This one will strangle the best of leadership and organizations.  “Well this is the decision of the board and we will implement with no questions.”  Of course, no decision has thought through every implication or situation that will transpire.  Thinking people were dispatched to manage through the muddle.  Have you ever made this mistake.

A successful company was hard at work following the directions of the consultant.  Why would  this group not just comply?  These manufacturing based principles must work in service sectors, too, right?  Wrong.  They would work with some revision, but not straight out of the guru box.  Smart managers needed to be allowed to apply the principles in a slightly different manner than the book.  The result was a struggle.  And with wisdom, in this instance, the team managers prevailed and were allowed to make right modifications.  The result was a 40% decrease in costs alongside a service turnaround deliverable that went from 10 days to 2 days on a regular basis.  A strict adherence to the standard would have brought everything to a standstill and crushed the teams involved.  Team members were energized and worked for years coming up with improvement after improvement because tolerance was built into the standard.

Summary:  You stand for what you tolerate.  You get what you tolerate.  These two intolerable stances can cost you major progress and undermine morale and loyalty.  They are quite common.  Take a few minutes this week to mull over your standards and ensure you haven’t violated these.  If you have, you are suffering now.  The evidence may not have surfaced.  It will.  And it will cost you in ways you would not tolerate if you realized it.

 

Let us help you.  This is what we do.

Start a conversation.  phil@shepherdok.com

Busting Barriers: Two Tips To Activate Leadership In Others

Phil Larson, Director Shepherd Consulting and Community Transformation Initiative

Every leader is challenged to develop leadership in key followers.  It is frustrating to look out and yearn for true leadership in our team. Yet, we find that people today don’t stay with any company for any length of time.  Leadership takes time.  You can get long term commitment.  It is possible.  You have to do things differently.

One of the greatest managers of all history, Solomon, put it this way in his comprehensive book on managing life, relationships, business, and government, Proverbs:

To know wisdom and instruction,
To perceive the words of understanding,

To receive the instruction of wisdom,
Justice, judgment, and equity;
To give prudence to the simple,
To the young man knowledge and discretion—

 

Good Goals: Seems like a good objective.  For centuries others have read Solomon’s snippets of wisdom.  Solomon transmitted what he knew to others that were managing his affairs.

Sun Tzu attempted the same objective from the Chinese war lord perspective and penned, The Art of War.  It really is much more about living than dying.  It is about managing and relationships in a turbulent society.  He was intent in training others.

Others have done the same.  My bookshelf is full of snippet books from great managers and leaders.  The lessons of great men and women can give us guidance in tough situations.

Time Counts: But, if no one stays the task to work out the wisdom and be developed in the fine nuances, you simply lose your investment.  They move on and build another business that may in fact take away from your business.  Astute business managers are not happy when they lose the value of an investment in either people or property.  People are not property.  They have wills and emotions and desires and must be treated differently.

Tip One:

Be Loyal: Handle Conflict Up Front and Fast  The common business practice of today is to demand loyalty from staff, yet make decisions without being loyal to them and their families and lives.  Making the legal decision is not always a loyal decision.  Listening to accusations and gossip concerning staff without direct clarification and consultation is not a position of loyalty but fear and low self-confidence and politicking of the negative kind.

“The first job of a leader—at work or at home—is to inspire trust. It’s to bring out the best in people by entrusting them with meaningful stewardships, and to create an environment in which high-trust interaction inspires creativity and possibility.” ― Stephen M.R. Covey, The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything

Greatness: A great leader for whom I worked early in my career came into my office with an anonymous letter. It accused me of some indiscretions.  The letter had gone to the president of the company.  We had been in a turnaround organization situation where hard decisions were being made daily.  Of course people were not in 100% agreement.  Of course people are people. The prior management of the company had been prone to politics and finger pointing.  Everyone knew that and knew how to trip the wires to get what they wanted.  This new management had better integrity; otherwise, I would not be working for them.

Openers: The leader’s opening comment set the stage.  “Phil, before you read the letter you need to know that both the CFO and I told the president that this does not sound like you.”  He started from a position of loyalty and honesty and open communication.  We discussed the contents, who might have sent it, why they might have sent it, was there anything I needed to adjust in managing, and moved on.  The company came out of a chapter 11 situation in record time and we all enjoyed our time together.  Loyalty and trust were the words of the day and the owners received great benefit.  I would go to work beside this man again in a minute if the opportunity arose that was mutually beneficial.

Dear Failure, I am writing today….  Failure on this point costs dearly.  Typical management style would have been to have secreted the letter into the unofficial personnel file, brooded over the contents, discussed it with others, and promoted politics.  That is how most organizations roll.  Yes, you do.  Admit it and quit it.  Little birds leak that style into the hallways and the entire organization suffers loss of key staff at the most inopportune moments.  Disloyal behavior in the board room promotes disloyal behavior at the point of customer contact.  It is not a secret.  Get real and get honest.

Tip Two:

Go Ahead And Share Insights:  All of us have insights gained in leadership.  Most of us hold them close to the chest and make upcoming leaders dig them out like some buried treasure.  Why are you leaving leadership undeveloped by forcing them to guess?  Are you afraid you are wrong about what you know is right?  Take a few minutes every day to intentionally leak leadership.

An Amazing Gift: Last year my team brought me an amazing gift.  It was thirty-one leadership wisdoms they had learned from me over the course of the prior three years.  They could repeat them and could apply them.  They made them into a flip calendar.  I was amazed and humbled.  It shocked me that they had discerned so willingly tips of leadership and management and relationship and had integrated them into their work and home habits.   Somehow, great leaders had taught me to be open with wisdom and it was building other leaders.  Pass it on.

Starting Right: My mind goes back to my first assistant supervisor position.  One day I went into the manager’s office somewhat nonchalantly for a meeting.  He looked me direct in the eye from across his desk.  “Phil, go get a pen and paper and come back.  Don’t ever go into a meeting with a leader without expectation of receiving instruction, noting it, and being responsible to follow up.”  Now, he probably said something different, but that is what he communicated.  Wow!  I listened and have repeated that wisdom hundreds of times to those for whom I’ve had responsibility to develop as leaders.  Leak leadership.  Do it intentionally.

To Work, Two Work: Do these two and you’ll increase your leadership impact.  These are core items.  They can guide you and prevent major mishaps.  Sure, I can tell you stories of when I’ve violated them or seen others violate them and the destruction it caused.  You know those stories.  None of us are perfect.  But perfect practice might just result in better performance as a leader, longer relationships with other leaders, and some real fun and satisfaction watching development of trusted leadership and sustained organizational progress.

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