[BECAUSE] Kindness is about who you are, not what you do.

kindnessandmischief

Throughout my career - I've been accused of kindness. Oddly enough - never by the people, I was leading. Too often kindness, in business, is seen as a weakness instead of a strength.

As this great blog post by one of my favorite Leadership Guru's (Dan Rockwell) points out. In business - NOT being kind is the easy way out. The crisis nature of a good many work environments gives rise to excuses for people to manage in an adversarial way vs leading in a (much harder) servant leadership manner. It's a quick read - and a good reminder that being kind takes/examples the kind of strength that builds effective teams.

Fron Dan Rockwell (@Leadershipfreak)

"I’d be kind if I had the time. Thankfully, you don’t have to be kind when the house is on fire. And it seems like there's always a crisis. It’s not that you're intentionally unkind. It's that crisis mode frees us from obligations to show kindness. Sadly, some of us are in constant crisis mode...

The trouble with kindness:

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[BECAUSE] you need to get busy optimizing or get busy dying

[BECAUSE] you need to get busy optimizing or get busy dying
cost of revenue charts

Note: Spending some time recently with a client, helping them sort through their data aggregation and clean-up, gave me the opportunity to catch up with Randa Minkarah, Co-Founder & COO from Transform  Randa and I talked about the challenges that companies are still having regarding not only being “data-driven” but also turning their data into insights to get what they (actually) want – more revenue.  Randa details below a few simple steps (and simple home truths) about this process. Enjoy! Pat

Generating Sustainable Revenues from Your Data

by Randa Mikarah - Transform Digital - @Randam2

There is no question that year after year, the cost of revenue (COR) generation continues to climb.  Look at publicly traded companies in nearly any sector and read the reported costs associated with sales and marketing.  In almost every case, the costs of acquiring revenues continue to outpace the gross revenues generated.  It costs more to make the same money. 

In today’s world of shifting digital and economic landscapes, tapping into data in real time and extruding insights gives executives a critical tool to stay ahead of the curve.  Near real-time decision making is a necessity - not a luxury.

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[BECAUSE] I Love You, But I'm Not Fond of Your Behavior.

[BECAUSE] I Love You, But I'm Not Fond of Your Behavior.

Reward Behavior Not Actions

When my children were small; I got an excellent piece of advice as to how to discipline them without crushing their spirit. When (not if) they did something that wasn't moving them in the direction that was going to make for a great outcome - it was suggested to me that I should affirm my belief in them first and then condemn the behavior.

"I love you...but I'm not fond of (insert action here)." By phrasing it this way they understand that THEY weren't "bad," it was THE BEHAVIOR that needed to be corrected. In essence saying, "THIS is how we do things around here."

I'm not suggesting that, as a corporate leader, you begin with a statement that is inherently fraught with possibly adverse HR implications and a reaction to a negative event/statement (as above).  However, when I saw this Leadership Nudge from David Marquet today I thought of the above as the corporate side of the same coin.  Turn a negative into a positive.

In corporate leadership, we will always have adverse outcomes / statements / reactions that we have to deal with, (either our own or with the people we work with), but the premise of promoting behaviors vs actions is key to long-term success.  A company full of people who have clarity around the goals and values of the organization, who also behave in ways that promote those goals and values, is much different from a company full of people who perform (or don't) a series of actions (tasks).  

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[BECAUSE] you can’t bake a cake without cracking a few eggs.

[BECAUSE] you can’t bake a cake without cracking a few eggs.

7 things to look at - when things START to crack.

#LeadershipMinit - As the old saying goes, “You can’t bake a cake without cracking a few eggs.” Mistakes or failures (cracks) can teach you where you need to concentrate your attention or training.

Leading teams is not set & forget.  It requires your attention.  The first thing to do is observe.  How is the team progressing?  Note: This is where you need to discount the wins you have been getting in financial metrics, safety, morale etc. and instead watch for any pressures that are building as these will reveal where the cracks will appear.  They are where you can help the most.

In a traditional work culture, people will usually avoid revealing something that may either embarrass them or cause them to have to present some mistake or miscommunication. As a leader, you need to cultivate an environment that promotes the opposite. If you don't know what's going wrong (or is about to go wrong) your teams will never achieve greatness. 

Wins have helped keep your team ticking along and rallying around their set goals.  (If you are in a turnaround - the momentum gained by starting over will only get you so far.)  If your team is hitting their stride in the metrics... then the pressure of performing will start to cause some "cracks in the egg."  
 
If you're being observant.  They need not be bad ones. They are indicators of entering a new phase of team dynamics.  They tell you where you can improve in order for your team to achieve greatness.
 
As leadership expert and author of Intent-Based Leadership, David Marquet, says about teams: "Your job is to achieve greatness.  Not to avoid mistakes." 

The next time an error, failure or your team is stressed: 

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[BECAUSE] being the dumbest person is important

[BECAUSE] being the dumbest person is important

#LeadershipMinit - It's an adage - but a good one. One of the best team productivity hacks I've learned is to hire people who are better/smarter than you are.   Actively work to ensure you're the “dumbest” person in the room.

It allows you to ask questions.  

Asking questions allows you to both learn and to provide your team with the knowledge that you value their expertise, input, and opinions. A well-formed question is the best flashlight.  Questions provide insights that statements will never recognize.

Over time being the "dumbest person on the team" has trickle-down benefits - a team that knows you value them, knows you're open to listening to them (about both the good and bad), and learns by example that they too can ask questions means they feel more empowered and emancipated to take on projects as owners, not just employees.  Over time you become less needed on a day-to-day basis to complete projects. Your team's talent accomplishes more than you ever could in a control centered environment.  A leader who insists on having their hands on every aspect of a project will only ever grasp as far as their arms can reach. 

As the team accomplishes more and becomes increasingly independent, you will be able to focus on the big-picture tasks. The things that only you are responsible for, only you'll be able to “see,” only you can fix from your leadership perch.  Additionally, you will get better at identifying and removing obstacles for them - before they become roadblocks to success.  Allowing the project & company to continue to grow and evolve.

Bold Enough to Ask. Humble Enough to Kneel

Bold Enough to Ask.  Humble Enough to Kneel

[Lessons learned by spending a day with an icon of the 20th Century and the man sent to create a portrait of him.]

Many years ago (1980's) I was fortunate enough to be the assistant for one of the great photographers of the last half of the last century - 
Brian Lanker. I got a call from him saying that we had to go and shoot Muhammad Ali for Sports Illustrated at his home in a exclusive section of LA.

We were allowed a quick look around to see where we might want to take the portrait and we initially picked a location in the dining room. A very ornate table and chairs. It was a difficult place to light - low ceilings... not much natural light... so everything that we tried... looked contrived and "lit". Eventually we settled upon a setup that we could live with and went to see when we could get Mr. Ali to sit for us.

Upon arrival we were ushered into a small office just off the side portico entrance. Sitting there on the other side of the desk was "The Great One" himself. He was on a call but motioned for us to sit in the two seats opposite him. We sat down. After watching and listening to an often erratic and disjointed conversation... punctuated with much hyperbole and flare - 2 hours later he finished that call.

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"Develop, don't fix"


Great post by Dan Rockwell (@leadeshipfreak) His blogs are some of my favorites on leadership.  I especially like to read the comments under some of his posts.  That is where I found this gem: "Develop, don't fix." by a commenter (bhall03).

Check out Dan's origianl post here: 

12 WAYS SERVANT LEADERS SERVE OTHERS SO OTHERS ARE FREE TO SERVE OTHERS

 

[BECAUSE] the last thing you need are “List Junkies”

[BECAUSE] the last thing you need are “List Junkies”

"A leader who must control every aspect of the work being done will only ever grasp as far as their own arms can reach." - PJS

Legacy organizations and corporate institutions are filled with inertia; cultures that promote a “Tell me what to do” environment.

I once inherited a department where my predecessor had purposely silo'd the department to develop a mystique about their work. Promoting that her team’s work was “black magic, smoke, and mirrors” was how she felt she could best retain her position.

The effect of this type of leadership (really managing not leadership) was that she also compartmentalized all decision making within her role.  Making it very clear (via words and actions) that decisions were made by her - and her alone. The only way her employees, (because there was no "team"), knew what they were to be working on was to go to her and get a list.  When the list was complete - they went back for more. 

Her employees didn't make any decisions about their own work.  Consequently, they didn't think.  They didn't think about the work itself, the impact it had on their workmates, the company, and (heaven forbid!) on how it impacted customers.  In fact - they were afraid to think because it had consequences.

This kind of imposed inertia promotes a work environment where team members become "List Junkies." At best, personal ownership is something that individuals achieve only by circumventing specific aspects/tasks of their work away from the eyes of their boss. At worst, it transforms team members into...

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[BECAUSE] a case study is what is needed

[BECAUSE] a case study is what is needed
USA TODAY High School Sports Contest - mascots vote
2012 Rivalries
Screen Shot 2016 12 27 at 5.27.28 PM
wyvern
b2ap3 large stmarysturkeys

 #LeadershipMinit

"This is one of the most brilliant examples of being America’s national hometown newspaper I’ve seen in digital action. It’s a campaign that offers next to nothing in terms of prizes or rewards — or, to be fair, journalism — but gets right to the heart of mid-sized town school pride. It showers attention on high school sports — something utterly neglected as local news has withered..." - PandoDaily

Executive Summary:

Shortly after taking the reins at a division of USA TODY Sports it became clear that the technology challenges that the division had been having had lead to a shortfall in ad banner deliveries for clients and the division (100% digital) needed to invent an engaging mechanism to increase pageview/ad banner views (4M additional needed in a 6 week timeframe).  Utilizing innovative content/technology and user interface approaches Pat Scanlon, his HSS Managing Editor (Derek Sampson) created and then led teams of in-house content creators and outsourced technology developers to develop a repeatable contest recipe and infrastructure that went viral in 153 communities appealing to small town high schools (and their supporters).  Reaching some 90M pageviews, hours of earned TV (non-Gannett) & radio, a mention in the Iowa State Governors weekly address in just 20 days after launch.  Eventually leading to a Missouri State Legislature commendation as well.

Challenges:

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