There’s an old saying that the behavior you tolerate is the behavior you get. The same is true for the performance you get from your business. So, can a little dose of intolerance be good? In the video below, I describe what can happen when you and your team allow yourselves to be a little dissatisfied and decide to raise the bar.
One of my favorite books was a gift from a friend of mine called “The Boys In The Boat”. It’s the story of the 1936 US Men’s Olympic Rowing team that earned a berth in the Summer Olympics in Berlin and went on to win a gold medal. The key theme and learning for me were just how hard it is for individuals to truly come together and achieve something great. Here are a couple of nuggets of wisdom:
• In a team or group effort, individuals may possess all of the raw talent, skill, stamina, intellect, and emotional strength necessary to complete the task at hand. None of that will matter if not combined with the unique and most improbable trait: an ability to disregard individual ambitions, intentionally ignore and “throw his ego over the side and to pull, not just for himself, but the other boys in the boat”.
• Being dependent on the efforts of other people, trusting them is extremely difficult. This is especially true for many of our entrepreneurs- letting go of the fierce independence and individuality that got you where you are, must give way to complete and total trust in the group in order to make victory possible.
• Great leaders are like great Coxswains. They are capable of exerting both physical and psychological control over everything that happens in the boat. They know their oarsmen inside and out, their strengths and vulnerabilities. They have the force of character to inspire exhausted oarsmen to dig deeper and try harder even when all appears is lost.
• An eloquent description of the team effort- “the perfectly synchronized flow of muscle, oars, boat, and water; the single, whole, unified, and beautiful symphony that a crew in motion becomes- is all that matters. Not the individual, not the self.
What hinders your team’s oneness? Call us today to see how we’ve helped other teams experience breakthroughs.
In his 2020 book “The Motive”, leadership author and speaker Patrick Lencioni lays out the right and wrong reasons for being a leader. I saw Lencioni give his first talk on the book to a leadership conference in August 2019 where he quoted the tagline of the conference – “All leaders have influence” – and then said “and some of you shouldn’t !!”, a line that drew big laughs.
This is such an important and fundamental question that Lencioni has stated that this should have been the first book he wrote. In summary – if you want to help and serve others, that is a good motive for being a leader. If you want to be a leader for power, title, status, money, or to feed your ego, those are the wrong reasons to be a leader. I saw Lencioni give his first talk on the book to a leadership conference in August 2019 where he quoted the tagline of the conference – “All leaders have influence” – and then said “and some of you shouldn’t !!”, a line that drew big laughs.
In his typical style (e.g. “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”), Lencioni describes the opposite of good leadership. Here is the list of things that poor leaders hate to spend time on:
• Difficult Conversations – Poor leaders avoid difficult conversations, such as timely, direct feedback when expectations are not being met.
• Managing Direct Reports – Poor leaders either micro-manage their directs or say “I hire good people and leave them alone”.
• Running Great Meetings – Poor leaders dread meetings, avoid them, and complain about them.
• Team Building – Poor leaders regard team building as “soft” (not core) or “touchy-feely” and delegate it to subordinates or HR.
• Repetition/Reinforcement – Poor leaders underestimate the need to repeat their key messages (strategy, etc.) multiple times or get bored with reinforcing them.
• Difficult Conversations – Poor leaders avoid difficult conversations, such as timely, direct feedback when expectations are not being met. Great leaders understand that such conversations are not easy but are crucial.
Managing Direct Reports – Poor leaders either micro-manage their directs or say “I hire good people and leave them alone”. Great leaders strike the right balance and act as a “coach” for their directs.
• Running Great Meetings – Poor leaders dread meetings, avoid them, and complain about them. Great leaders want to run great meetings because they realize that is where they get great input, solve issues, and set an example for others.
• Team Building – Poor leaders regard team building as “soft” (not core) or “touchy-feely” and delegate it to subordinates or HR. Great leaders realize that team health is absolutely core and creates a real, sustainable competitive advantage, enabling the success of the “hard” strategies and technical pursuits.
• Repetition/Reinforcement – Poor leaders underestimate the need to repeat their key messages (strategy, etc.) multiple times or get bored with reinforcing them. Great leaders are the CRO (Chief Reminding Officer) and realize that people have to hear it at least seven times before it sinks in.
What are your motives for being a leader? Do you agree with the importance of the five things great leaders must get really good at? Please give me an example of when you tackled one of these important leadership actions and achieved results!
True story. I’m in a sixth-grade PE class and we’re running relays. Instead of around-the-oval relays where you pass the baton from behind, we’re running back and forth on a straight line. You run straight at the person you’ll pass the baton to; they take it and run right back the other way.
In a recent post, I told the story of a client whose head of engineering – a very strong player – quit suddenly, just as the corona virus shutdown was looming. Under pressure, they quickly promoted one of their staff engineers to take his place. To their great surprise, they quickly learned that he was every bit as strong as the person he replaced, and perhaps even stronger.
Buried deep in the reptilian part of our brain is a system that quickly constantly scans the environment looking for potential threats. When it spots one, it reacts with an instant impulse of “fight” or “flight”.
The more recently developed portions of our brain help us ultimately decide what to do. But the instant assessment cannot be turned off. It is an automatic, unconscious response to threat, developed over millions of years to help enhance the odds of survival.
Farmer’s Fridge is a startup with a BHAG of making healthy food as accessible as a candy bar. If you live in greater Chicago (and now Milwaukee, metro New York and elsewhere), you may have seen their vending machines in office buildings, airports, hospitals and more. The challenge they’ve taken on is enormous, and they’re well on their way.
When COVID-19 shut down baseball, other sports and tourism, their business revenue was severely impacted. As you can see in the video below, they quickly shifted their glove supply chain into the production of anti-bacterial face masks, donating a portion of the proceeds to food banks. Although it’s not shown in the video, they also re-purposed their national distribution center, turning it into a shipping point for PPE of all kinds.
When COVID-19 hit, property managers became reluctant to allow Platinum’s technicians into their buildings and residents became afraid to allow them into their units. That was bad for everyone. Residents started having more pest problems. Property managers started getting more complaints. And Platinum’s revenues took a big hit.
This is the story of employee engagement—what you have to do to create it and what you have to manage in order to keep from losing it.