Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Coach K and Chevy's got Leadership all Wrong

March Madness fans, no doubt, know the commercial I'm referring to - one of the ones where Duke's coach, Mike Krzyzewski, is shilling for Chevy trucks. "In leadership," he says, "no word is more important than 'trust'." To that, I say, hooey.

My view is this: Trust makes bosses lazy.

Think about it. If you're trusted by your employees, you don't have to explain yourself as thoroughly as you might ... because they trust you. You don't need to to communicate as clearly as you might ... because they trust you. Your reasoning doesn't have to be quite so crisp ... because they trust you. So while you may enjoy this freedom from accountability, none of it is good leadership. It's just lazy leadership.

If Coach K (and the writers) knew as much about leadership as they think they know about selling cars, they might have used the word 'consistency' instead. Good leaders are consistent. Their communications are so consistent that their messages are clearly understood - even when they're not there to explain them in a particular instance. Their approach to problem-solving is so consistent that employees know what methodology will yield the most thorough and creative solutions. And their focus on the right priorities is so consistent - both in establishing accountabilities and in having meaningful performance discussions related to them - that employees actually know how to succeed in their jobs.

Imagine.

That you may engender trust along the way is, in my view, an unfortunate byproduct of direct authority. Better your staff continues to challenge you to be that much more intelligent, articulate, respectful, caring, and engaged on a daily basis - on a moment-by-moment basis. It's what you want from them.

So don't force your staff to rely on their trust in you to make sense of your actions and attitudes. Show them you can lead them professionally - and consistently - 24x7, instead.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

"juggling" priorities

Ya just gotta check out this guy's video - Chris Bliss. It's an incredible demonstration of him keeping his priorities in line, demonstrating grace under pressure, and doing so to an excellent Beatles song. Be sure to turn on your speakers and enjoy the entire performance. You will be nothing short of amazed ... and thoroughly delighted.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Choosing "Not" and Enabling So

Here's an excerpt from an interesting little book titled, What's it Like Being You? Living Life as your True Self, by John-Roger with Paul Kaye:
"There's a simple but powerful exercise you can use in any situation to move out of the false self and into the true self. Say you are driving and someone cuts in front of you, or you are stuck in traffic when you have an important appointment to get to, or your boss is really on your case, or you're calling your health insurer and get stuck in an automated-phone-system nightmare, whatever the situation, just say three words: I love this. Repeat this phrase in a neutral way, whether you mean it or not. This can be said silently or aloud."
What derails you? What takes you out of your game? Away from your Best Self? If you're like most, it's not what actually happens - or what doesn't happen - it's your interpretation of what's happening. (See: More on Success (and Failure); Good News (and Bad) - a blog post of mine from September, 2003.)

Combining the above, I'm doing an experiment this week where my interpretation-of-choice for whatever is - or is not - happening is, "I love this!" and you know what? A lot of cool things are happening for me. Coincidence? Maybe. But given a choice between getting aggravated about things, or not ... well, I'm choosing "not."

I like how this experiment is going. Check that, I love this!

And you? What are you experimenting with this week? There's still plenty of time to test something, you know.

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Placebo vs. Placebo

Fun article (title above) in the April 2006 issue of Discover magazine, citing research into whether doctors can manipulate the placebo effect.

For the testing, medical researcher Ted Kaptchuk used sugar pills and pretend acupuncture - both fake medicines - to see which one worked better to relieve chronic arm pain. Half of his subjects received "acupuncture" with needles that retracted before they pierced the skin. The other half received little blue pills made of cornstarch.

Results:

  • after 10 weeks, the pill-takers said their pain decreased about 15%.
  • after 8 weeks, the "acupunctured" reported more than a 26% a drop in their pain levels.

Conclusion:

  • Not receiving acupuncture reduces pain more than not taking drugs!

Interesting side-bar:

  • 25% of the acupuncture group experienced side effects, including 19 people who felt pain and 4 people whose skin became red/swollen.
  • 31% of the fake pill group experienced side effects, including dizziness, dry mouth, fatigue restlessness, rashes, headaches, nausea, and nightmares.
  • 3 subjects were forced to withdraw from the study because the side effects failed to subside even after "doses" were reduced.
  • the side effects experienced exactly matched those described as possible by the doctors at the beginning of the study.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

Career Strategist: How to Network Effectively

Martha White authored a very nice article in the most recent issue of Motivation Strategies featuring yours truly. Here it is in its entirety:

Career Strategist: How to Network Effectively

Meeting planners are often responsible for organizing networking events, yet when it comes to their own industry associations or local chamber of commerce events, many aren't as effective as they could be when it comes to networking. “I suggest people establish some goals for the effort,” says Barry Zweibel, executive coach and president of GottaGettaCoach. “[Pledge to] meet five or six new people, for example. Another goal might be to reconnect with people you’ve already met,” he suggests.

Many would-be networkers get stuck because they can’t think of what to say. Zweibel points out, “In your job, there’s always a to-do list, [and] anything on that list becomes grist for the networking mill.” Just accomplish something major? Interested in learning about something with which you’re unfamiliar? Bring it up, Zweibel says. Maybe the person you’re talking to could use your insight, or maybe they’re an expert in the topic you’re looking to learn more about. Another mistake many professionals make is not thinking about networking until they need something. Good networkers know that connections go both ways, Zweibel says, so be on the lookout for people you can help out now.

Now, what about staying in touch? This can be tricky; planners’ often-hectic travel schedules can make it tough to stay on top of the deluge of work-related e-mail. Deciding how much of a priority networking contacts should be is a delicate balance. “It’s an unrealistic expectation that you’ll be able to stay in touch with everyone,” Zweibel says. “To work properly, networking needs to be in balance.” Try to arrange an initial follow-up phone chat, coffee or even lunch to find out how much you have in common with each contact, personally and professionally. Have a lot in common? Drop them an e-mail on a monthly basis. For a more tenuous connection, quarterly is fine, Zweibel says.

“It’s always helpful if you can find more things you have in common. Once you know a little bit about the person, you can start looking for ways to help them,” he advises, which will make them more likely to lend you a hand if the need arises. For instance, if they’re just setting up a home-based business and you run across an article in a business magazine about how to do just that, send it to them with a quick note. For more information about networking, go to www.gottagettacoach.com.

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Peter Principle Antidote

I was recently asked by fellow coach, Christine Pepper-Wong, who my ideal clients are. Here's how I responded:

For me, there's nothing like a good life coaching client, or some occasional coach mentoring, but my sweet spot is really working with executives, managers aspiring to be executives, and other business professionals – especially those who recognize they need some help in improving their leadership, communications, and managerial skills. Often, it's the very successful individual who's been recently promoted into a job where his/her technical/functional skills (the ones that enabled the promotion) are not the same skills that are needed to be successful at this higher level. You've heard of the Peter Principle? I like to think that GottaGettaCoach!, Inc. is its antidote.

Barry Zweibel, CEC, PCC
Certified Executive Coach, Professional Certified Life Coach
GottaGettaCoach!, Incorporated
Executive/Personal Life Coaching
Helping Good People Do Better.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Half as Much is Twice as Good

"Maybe optimistic men have good reason to feel cheerful. A new study suggests that they may be less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than men who are less hopeful." So reports the New York Times in a March 7, 2006 articles by Eric Nagourney titled, "Patterns: Happy-Go-Lucky Guy? Your Heart May Thank You."

"The most optimistic men had a 50 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease over the 15 years than the least optimistic men."
No, that's not a typo.

According to researchers, it seems that "optimists are better able to cope with problems, to reach out for help from other people when they need it, and to follow their medical treatments." And a 50% lower risk results.

Hmm. I'm thinking today's gonna be the best day ever. How about you?!!!

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Friday, March 10, 2006

Meeting and Exceeding Expectations

Before becoming a coach, I used to work with a number of pretty large telecommunications vendors. And one of the things that almost every new salesperson would tell me is this: "I want to exceed your expectations, Barry." But whenever I'd hear that, I couldn't help but laugh.
"You may want to re-think that," I'd reply. "You can only lose playing that game."

"Whadeya mean?" they'd ask.

"Well, it's like this. Let's say you develop a well-deserved reputation for excellence so that that's what becomes my expectation - excellence. Now how to you exceed that? Do you become super-excellent? And what if that becomes the norm. To exceed that expectation, you'll need to do better still. And if that becomes the norm, you'll have to do even better than that. And on and on it goes until I start relying on you to be able to make miracles happen - at which point you'll probably fail miserably, right when I need you the most.

"So I'd rather you not even try to exceed my expectations. I'd rather you simply find out what I need to have happen by when ... and just do that by then, time and time again. In fact, if all you ever do is 'just that by then, time and time again,' I'll be your biggest fan."
How about you? Do you tell people you want to exceed their expectations? If so, try finding out what needs to happen by when ... and just do that by then, time and time again. You can even go a bit above-and-beyond if you'd like, just don't turn it into a game you can only lose.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

2-Bits

I was looking through some old emails, specifically ones with Thomas J. Leonard, (1955-2003) the guy who is considered to be the Father of Modern-Day Coaching. One of them, from 2001, was for an ultimately abandoned project he called "2-Bits". The idea was to come up with a series of two-word groupings (hence the name, 2-Bits) that somehow captured some of life's more important lessons.

Anyway, here are a few dozen bits that I came up with - try coming up with a few of your own:

    1. trust yourself
    2. want not
    3. spread joy
    4. stretch yourself
    5. challenge convention
    6. challenge yourself
    7. question habits
    8. limit disbelief
    9. laugh heartily
    10. imagine success
    11. hug someone
    12. seek balance
    13. go ahead
    14. inspire someone
    15. be compelling
    16. pet puppies
    17. you're ready
    18. it's time
    19. feel proud
    20. drink water
    21. seasons change
    22. unlock potential
    23. play hard
    24. celebrate something

(Thanks to Pat Gundry, Andrea J. Lee, and all things t for inspiring this trip down Memory Lane.)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Are you Asking or Requesting?

Ever notice how some people phrase requests in the form of a question?
  • "Would you help me out?" really means, "Help me ... now."
  • "Can you have that back to me by first thing tomorrow?" really means, "I actually want this back before the end of the day today."
  • "You don't need anything else from me right now, do you?" really means, "I'm outta here, so just let me leave."

Requests-in-the-form-of-a-question may seem more polite to the people asking the question, but they actually are often more confusing to the person being asked. The problem is that questions deserve answers, but requests deserve acknowledgements. And these are two very different things. If you've ever tried to answer one of these cloaked requests you know what I mean:

Boss: Would you help me out?
You: Well actually, boss, I'm kinda busy.
Boss: Don't be a smart-alec; help me out ... now.
You, to yourself: Oh great! Why didn't he just say so in the first place?
Boss, to him/herself: Hmm, I wonder if that an under-the-breath comment was a question or a request?

So how do you make requests? (That's my question.) Try making them more directly. (That's my request!) See the difference?

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Help Them Say Yes: Provide a 90-Day Plan

My latest article, Help Them Say Yes: Provide a 90-Day Plan, has just been published by TheLadders.com:

It's one thing to be able to answer interview questions well. It's something else entirely to be able to get an offer. One way to 'sweeten the pot' is by offering something that most applicants do not -- a written summary of the steps you'd take during the first ninety days of employment.
In doing so, you show that you're:

  • seriously considering what it would mean to work there
  • completely understanding what the job entails
  • taking the initiative to further differentiate yourself from the other applicants
  • able to communicate through the written word
  • willing to share your insights and observations, without cost or obligation

Focus on the Foci

While creating a 90-Day Plan may seem onerous, it doesn't have to be. It doesn't even have to provide a calendar of events. All it needs to do is provide some additional insights into how you'd approach the job if it was yours. Think of it as providing a few missing pieces to the puzzle they're trying to solve about which applicant would be best-suited for the position.

The key is to focus their attention on your understanding of -- and ability to address -- four major aspects of the work at hand: problems, processes, projects, and people.

Remember, you don't have to completely address each of these foci to maximize the impact of your 90-Day Plan. You just need show that you (a) understand the issues involved, and (b) have a plan for working them. Let's take a closer look at doing exactly that:

continue reading Help Them Say Yes: Provide a 90-Day Plan.

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