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Business Reality

Current Business Reality: Do You Have the Courage to Confront It?

Courage to Confront the Current Business Reality

Martin Luther King eloquently shared his “I have a Dream” speech and inspired all of us to not just focus on what is possible but also the current harsh reality of racism in the 1960s in the United States.

Peter Senge, the noted management and leadership scholar coined the phrase, creative tension, to inspire all of us to focus simultaneously on both our vision and our current business reality. He said that if we only focus on vision, others could consider us to be too optimistic and naïve. Dr. Senge said if we, however, only focus on our current reality, we could become discouraged and doubtful of ever achieving our vision and goals. How does this affect our current business reality?

Dr. Senge encourages us to focus on both; our vision for what is possible for our teams and our organizations as well as simultaneously focusing on the current business reality so we are not in denial or delusional.

Jim Collins, in his book, Good to Great, writes about a conversation he had with US Navy Vice Admiral and aviator, James Bond “Jim” Stockdale who shot down over Vietnam in 1965 and was a prisoner of war for the next 7.5 years. In this discussion, Collins asked Stockdale about his coping strategy during this period of captivity. Stockdale reported, “I never lost faith in the end of this story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”

When Collins asked Stockdale who did not make it out of Vietnam, Stockdale replied, “Oh, that’s easy, the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, “We’re going to be out by Christmas.” And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. They they’d say, “We’re going to be out by Easter.” And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.” Stockdale then added, “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end-which can never afford to lose-with the discipline to confront the brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

Witnessing this philosophy of duality, Jim Collins went on to describe it as the Stockdale Paradox.

I’ve seen leaders who lack the courage to confront the current business reality. Sometimes they don’t want to deal with the harsh facts or they remain naively optimistic about other people’s capacity to drive positive results regardless of the situation.

I worked for a leader early in my career that was absolutely delusional about the professionalism of his key leaders. He trusted but did he not verify. He let some of them bully him. He did refuse to acknowledge the high cost to the organization. The new leaders at all levels did not feel safe to share their concerns or even observations but he could not connect the dots to his key leaders and their styles. He hired change agents but then he allowed their peers to withhold information and resources so their success was limited or painfully prolonged. He never found his voice with his key colleagues, or at least he never demonstrated this when I worked for him.

When we remain in denial or even delusional, we tend to create a lot of chaos and confusion within our teams. When we have the courage to confront the brutal facts and take action based on those facts, we are able to create alignment at all levels. Then we find our business reality.

The key to having the courage is to focus on the facts and the data. Without the facts, it’s human nature to make up stories and put our own spin on these stories. “I know next quarter will be more robust”. “I know Bob and I know Bob didn’t mean to blow up that way in front of the team.” “I know everyone is committed to the same things.”

In order to build alignment, grow organizations and exponentially increase shareholder value, we must:

  • Get the facts backed up by data
  • Articulate to ourselves our values, our vision and our commitment to this organization
  • Find our voice so we can articulate all of this to others clearly, concisely and consistently
  • Demonstrate the courage to install consequences for bad behavior.

If you are interested in an executive dashboard in a cloud-based platform that supports everyone in staying focused on the facts in a positive, productive way let me know. We’ve analyzed them all and can give you a balanced perspective on the best ones.

Katharine Halpin has been facilitating transitions and M&A transactions since 1995. Long before that, however, she was able to identify leadership and management gaps and became a change agent leading efforts to close all those gaps.
The clients of The Halpin Companies consistently report they make more money and work fewer hours as a result of using our proprietary, proven methods to build alignment at all levels and grow shareholder value by a factor of 2-3 consistently and quickly.

Harness the Power!

The CFO is often the first to recognize the high cost of chaos. It does not appear as a line item in the financial statements. But, a CFO recognizes the warning signs. Performance, productivity, and profit fall below expectations. Rick McPartlin, co-founder and CEO of The Revenue Game, believes the cost of chaos runs as high as 30 percent of gross revenue in many organizations.  That means that if you are a $50 million company, you are wasting $15 million year after year.

Chaos means confusion: both individual confusion about what we are trying to accomplish, and team-wide disasters when people are confused about how we will accomplish it.

A CFO brought me into an organization where chaos reigned. The shareholders were happy with the return on their investments because revenue grew year over year. The company enjoyed a steady supply of new customers. By all appearances this was a very successful company.

However, the CFO was able to detect those early indicators that are always present but rarely captured. He saw that their method of driving new customer growth was unsustainable. He saw that the leadership was aging-out without new leaders being developed from within. He saw that, while they were successful, the chaos, the pace and intensity for this level of success was also not sustainable. He worried that key leaders would burnout or die before building a more sustainable business model. Their success was coming at a very high cost and he knew this model was unsustainable.

The Halpin Companies team started working with this leadership team to gather information and identify alternative approaches.

Fairly quickly, using our methods, we identified a potential future CEO from within the ranks. At first, the current leadership team was disdainful of our recommendation but this candidate did emerge over time as the key player with the greatest leadership capacity. He currently serves successfully in that CEO role.

More importantly, we were able to work with the two top layers of leaders and, based on our recommendations, build a more inclusive and transparent approach to driving new customer relationships.

Through mentoring by the senior leaders and using this more inclusive approach the former #1 sales person was able to build a dozen sales executives with his same level of success.

Using our processes he was first able to articulate his values – he cared deeply about their customers. He then started to articulate his sales approach – he was an extraordinary listener. We then helped him document and communicate his organic sales approach in meaningful and easy to understand ways. Over time, in one-on-one mentoring sessions, he trained each of his key people to replicate his success.

Not everyone had the same capacity but 14 or his 22 colleagues were able to step up. As a result the company grew by 300% in a few short years because of this velocity.

The CFO was thrilled, the shareholders were thrilled and more importantly, this construction-related company was able to sustain the economic downturn and continues to thrive today.

Six of the other colleagues self-selected out of this company with their dignity intact. Why did the go away? They saw that they could not be successful in the new business model. Two other leaders came to the leadership team and asked to take a step sideways or even backwards. They knew intuitively that they could not be successful in the new business model, given their own strengths.

When you harness the power you already have within your organization, the results will be extraordinary. Often our clients experience growth in shareholder value in amounts that were never imagined or forecasted. Building alignment, inclusiveness, and transparency drive success.

 

The Halpin Companies has been facilitating transitions in organizations of all sizes and levels of complexity since 1995. Our proven methods create work environments and corporate cultures where shareholder value grows consistently. Learn more about our methods at www.HalpinCompany.com

For a complimentary consultation, contact Katharine Halpin at 602-266-1961 or [email protected]

 

 

 

 

Alignment for Success – a 5-Part Book Review

I wrote my book, Alignment for Success; Bringing Out the Best in Yourself, Your Teams and Your Company in an effort to spread the word about my unique methodology for being a Strategic Leader.

 

I am thrilled with the response and feedback to this important book.  Jerre Stead, Chair and CEO of IHS, Inc. (who has served as CEO of 7 publicly held companies over his career) gives the book as a gift and tells people “this is what I believe”.

 

Jason Pistillo, President of the University of Advancing Technology, asked me to bring my book into their advanced curriculum because, as he stated, “we want to use the most contemporary thinking about leadership.”

 

And just recently Abbie S. Fink launched a 5-part Book Review.  Abbie is a leader in the business community in Phoenix and frequently reviews books for their blog at HMA Public Relations.

 

I’m so pleased to share Part 1 of her Book Review with each of you here:

http://hmapr.com/bookclub-alignment-success-bringing-best-teams-company-part-1-alignment/

 

Here’s Part 2 from @AbbieSFink:

 

http://hmapr.com/bookclub-alignment-success-bringing-best-teams-company-part-2-driving-force/

 

Here’s Part 3 from @AbbieSFink:

 

http://hmapr.com/bookclub-alignment-success-bringing-best-teams-company-part-3-make-meeting-time/

 

 

Here’s Part 4 from @AbbieSFink:

 

http://hmapr.com/bookclub-alignment-success-bringing-best-teams-company-part-4-attitude-gratitude/

 

Here’s Part 5 from @AbbieSFink:

 

http://hmapr.com/bookclub-alignment-success-bringing-best-teams-company-part-5-creating-culture-high-performance/

 

 

Thanks so much Abbie for this extraordinary contribution to making work work for everyone!

Why Some Executive Demonstrate Bad Behavior

Brian Evje had a recent piece in Inc. Magazine titled, “Why Executives Are So Bad At The Behavioral Side of Management”.

After a 40-year career, I certainly do not believe that all execs are bad at the ‘soft’ skill issues (which we all know are really the hard issues to address).

Mr. Evje states that “In reality, there is nothing ‘soft’ about the skills need to relate to people well enough to lead them.  True leadership involves both hard skills and harder skills”.  I love this quote.

He summarizes that there are ultimately 3 things leaders have to do to be more effective:

1) Admit that inter-personal skills are important.  He even posits that we must be able to lead ourselves.  I call this self-management.  Being able to bring the required perspective to every situation and to do this ‘in the moment’ requires presence, discipline, thoughtfulness and a feeling of being grounded.  Humans don’t gain this ability without getting exercise, getting out in nature, taking think time, and having a variety of reserves of time in place every day..

2) Rethink your definitions of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills.  He’s got great questions to ask yourself.  See the full article here:  http://www.businessinsider.com/successful-leadership-skills-2012-11

3) Get some help.  As a Leadership Strategist for almost 18 years, I, of course, love this idea.  Just like in sports, we don’t know what we don’t know about our levels of effectiveness. An outsider can help you raise your awareness and ultimately, make different choices.

When I re-tweeted this article yesterday, one of my Facebook friends added a comment that most execs put their self-interest over the interest of their employees, companies, communities.  Again, I don’t agree with the broad generalization.  I have seen more execs do this than I’d like to admit. However, the key here is to only hire values-based people and people who share your values.  If you value transparency, figure out what questions to ask in the interview to assess the applicant’s perspective on transparency.  If you value integrity, ask them to share an experience when they’ve been asked to compromise their integrity.  The interview might  be very short based on their response to this question.

If you enjoy these posts, you probably would enjoy our free report, 7 Secrets to Making More While Working Less at www.teamalignmentstrategies.com

 

 

 

Execution is Not Easy! If it was, everyone would be doing it…even the US Air Force

How can really bright people screw up to the tune of $1 billion?

Our colleagues in the US Air Force were successful in just that.

They selected a software vendor in 2006 to “configure, deploy and conduct training and change management activities” related to a $628 million contract for an off-the-shelf enterprise-wide software system.  Randall Stross, a Silicon Valley author and professor at San Jose State University, captures the details in Sunday’s New York Times.  He quotes an Air Force executive,  laying the groundwork for this debacle by 2010, “We’ve never tried to change all the processes, tools and languages of all 250,000 people in our business at once, and that’s essentially what we are about to do.”

Mr. Stross attributes the failure to endless meetings, complex bureaucratic requirements and the constant need to fight wars.  My assessment of the situation is much simpler.

My experience working with leadership teams for over 30 years tells me that the team’s Vision and planning process was flawed.

This is what happens when the collective attitudes and beliefs are not addressed as part of the vision process.  This is what happens when the vision cannot be articulated or is not embraced by every member of the team.  These are the obstacles to almost every planning process.  When the planning process is flawed, no amount of expertise in execution can bring an initiative to a productive close.

If you would like to align your team around a vision for a $1 billion initiative or something smaller in scope for 2013, get our free report at www.teamalignmentstrategies.com

Here’s the full article in the Sunday business section of the  New York Times: http://nyti.ms/YOI6CF  It’s worth a read.

Get the Right People in the Right Roles Can be Messy!

How do we get the right people in the right roles?

In addition to gaining a full understanding of people’s strengths, we need to have clarity about each other’s vulnerabilities.  I believe our vulnerabilities, or growth opportunities, fall into several categories:

* Risks when we simply get the volume turned up too high on our strengths

* Unmet needs that can unconsciously drive us to make poor choices and decisions that have negative consequences, and of course,

* our egos.

How do we then get the right people in the right roles doing the right work using the right strengths and managing their growth opportunities or vulnerabilities?

First, you need to know the strengths of your people.  We use a proprietary tool developed by Lynn Taylor of Taylor Protocols to identify strengths and vulnerabilities of individuals.  This affirming profile helps people see themselves in a new light.  More importantly, it helps the rest of the team and their manager have a much more realistic perspective on the individual.

Thomas Leonard, founder of Coach U and one of the founders of the profession of coaching, articulated that we all have needs.  When these needs are left to fester they can become significant obstacles to effectiveness.  For almost 20-years I had a need to ‘get credit’.  That need drove me to be irrational at times. I would volunteer for every difficult assignment.  I would raise my hand to serve on every task force or committee.  When I started my training at Coach U and saw this need, my life and career transformed.  With awareness  and self-management, I was no longer ‘driven’ to get that need met.

What’s your unmet need?  Do you have a need to be the smartest person in the room? Do you have the need to be liked? Do you have the need to be validated? Do you have the need for external recognition?  Do you have the need to be heard? Do you have the need to be part of ‘the team’?

Every human being has these needs.  The question is are they driving us in an invisible and unproductive way?

Can we gain this awareness about ourselves or will we remain driven by these underlying growth opportunities?  Can we then self-manage in a way that gets these needs met or at least keeps them in check?

Once you know who you are dealing with you on your team and the various aspects of each team member, it’s easy to ensure their roles play to their strengths.

The next step is to ensure that everyone demonstrates both the personal and professional maturity to develop themselves, self-manage and embrace these growth opportunities.

For our free report, Make More Money While Working Less click here: teamalignmentstrategies.com

 

Gratitude Week – Are we controlling our own destiny?

Sometimes life is hard.  Our loved ones become ill or even transition on.  We have health challenges ourselves.  People we care about lose their jobs and their homes, often for no fault of their own.

Sometimes, we just can’t sleep or relax.

Whatever we are faced with we still retain the opportunity to look for the silver lining.  While hokey, this is really our only productive approach.

When we adopt the victim mindset, we give control of our destiny over to someone else.  When we maintain a productive mindset and look for the growth opportunities and even the blessings, we remain effective and we move forward.

This week I’ll be writing about other aspects of gratitude that are important and useful for us all.

If you are enjoying these posts, I’m confident you would enjoy one of our free webinars on Total Team Alignment.  These webinars are filled with useful, practical and easy to implement solutions that produce record results right away.  I hope you’ll join us for one.  Here’s the link to register:

www.HalpinCompany.com/webinars

Please have a wonderful holiday season filled with lots of love, laughter and real rejuvenation!

Gratitude Week – Be Grateful for the Little Things!

My older sister and I received a text on Sunday from our baby sister who was attending a bi-annual Women’s Retreat.  She acknowledged us for the ways we had contributed to her life when she was a child and now as an adult.

The text meant a  tremendous amount to me.  I believe we all have a basic human need to feel valued and appreciated.

Further, I believe that need is so great that it is just above food, shelter and safety.

Who in your world could benefit from an expression of gratitude and acknowledgment?

How might you provide that acknowledgment?  For me, the key is to first put pen to paper and to make a list of all the aspects that I can be grateful for.

From this, I typically find a theme. With or without this level of ‘think time’ and preparation, I am confident that your connection with this person will be strengthened.

More importantly, you will be helping this person get this basic human need met in a powerful and effective manner.

This is a powerful way to experience the full power of gratitude.

This week I’ll be writing about other aspects of gratitude that are important and useful for us all.

If you are enjoying these posts, I’m confident you would enjoy one of our free webinars on Total Team Alignment.  These webinars are filled with useful, practical and easy to implement solutions that produce record results right away.  I hope you’ll join us for one.  Here’s the link to register:

www.HalpinCompany.com/webinars

Please have a wonderful holiday season filled with lots of love, laughter and real rejuvenation!

Gratitude Week – Try Post-it Note Coaching this week!

In an effort to not offend my friends and colleagues who chose not to celebrate Thanksgiving, but focus on celebrating with their loved ones a Fall Harvest Celebration, I hesitate to say, “Happy Thanksgiving”!

However, regardless of our beliefs and traditions, we can all benefit from more gratitude in our lives .  Gratitude is the single most powerful tool according to experts like Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman in the new field of Positive Psychology.

I know that when I have been feeling anger and intensity and literally feeling the adrenaline pumping through my veins, gratitude washes away those feelings in an instant.

I call it my Post-it Note Coaching Program.  If you know me, you know that I say my job is to work myself out of a job.  I believe that because I want my clients and their teams to coach themselves and each other.  This Post-it Note Coaching moves people in that direction with velocity.

Think of a situation where you are NOT getting the results you need or want.  Think about the people who have become obstacles to those results.  Think about the circumstances that have allowed this situation to fester.

Now, take a Post-it Note and write down 3 learnings for yourself from this experience. Think of mistakes you’ve made that you will absolutely not make again.  Think of things you’ve learned about yourself, your colleagues, and the situation.

This exercise only takes about 10 nano-seconds.  Once you’ve written down the learnings or gifts, the frustration will melt away nano-seconds later.  This is a powerful way to experience the full power of gratitude.

This week I’ll be writing about other aspects of gratitude that are important and useful for us all.

If you are enjoying these posts, I’m confident you would enjoy one of our free webinars on Total Team Alignment.  These webinars are filled with useful, practical and easy to implement solutions that produce record results right away.  I hope you’ll join us for one.  Here’s the link to register:

www.HalpinCompany.com/webinars

Please have a wonderful holiday season filled with lots of love, laughter and real rejuvenation!

Hilton Worldwide’s President & CEO of Simple Philosophy

If you know me, you know I love the NY Times’ Corner Office in the Sunday Business section. Since my definition of R&D is to ‘rob and duplicate’, I always love to steal the best ideas from successful leaders.  This weekly column by Adam Bryant is always full of great ideas.

On Sunday, October 14, the CEO of Hilton Worldwide, Christoper J. Nassetta, shared some real gems.  He articulated the appropriate role of a CEO succinctly and eloquently.  He said he has one simple philosophy…keep steady hands on the wheel.  I so love this.

To read the full interview click here:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/business/christopher-nassetta-of-hilton-on-focusing-its-values.html

Think about your organization for a moment.  Are you driving results with such velocity that your colleagues feel intimidated or overwhelmed? Are you so innovative that they don’t know how to strategically capture all the potential opportunities for your company?  Or, if you’re like me, they all may have a warm fuzzy feeling about you and your company but they may not be clear about their Top 3 Strategic Initiatives for this quarter.

Whatever the opportunity, give yourself the give of ‘think time’ and see how you might, today, keep the steady hands on the wheel.  This way, you’ll be the strategic leader who is developing other strategic leaders.

Total Team Alignment Daily Question

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be offering a Daily Question.  In my opinion, the person asking the questions is the person being the Strategic Leader.  I hope you enjoy these questions.

If “Bob” is not meeting our expectations, what structures are missing?

Interim Check-points?

If you find this question and your  subsequent ponderings valuable, you might want to participate in one of our complimentary public Webinars on Total Team Alignment.

Here’s the link to find the schedule.

http://halpincompany.com/webinars/

This link provides the opportunity to register and the opportunity to be interviewed during one of these Webinars.  Please feel free to share these links with your colleagues, team members, and leadership team.

Total Team Alignment Daily Question

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be offering a Daily Question.  In my opinion, the person asking the questions is the person being the Strategic Leader.  I hope you enjoy these questions.

If “Bob” is not meeting our expectations, what structures are missing?

Perhaps a better opportunity to gain full understanding of our expectations?

Additional Resources or Guidance?

If you find this question and your  subsequent ponderings valuable, you might want to participate in one of our complimentary public Webinars on Total Team Alignment.

Here’s the link to find the schedule.

http://halpincompany.com/webinars/

This link provides the opportunity to register and the opportunity to be interviewed during one of these Webinars.  Please feel free to share these links with your colleagues, team members, and leadership team.

Total Team Alignment Daily Question

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be offering a Daily Question.  In my opinion, the person asking the questions is the person being the Strategic Leader.  I hope you enjoy these questions.

If “Bob” is not meeting our expectations, what is missing?

Skills?

Commitment?

Structures?

If you find this question and your  subsequent ponderings valuable, you might want to participate in one of our complimentary public Webinars on Total Team Alignment.

Here’s the link to find the schedule.

http://halpincompany.com/webinars/

This link provides the opportunity to register and the opportunity to be interviewed during one of these Webinars.  Please feel free to share these links with your colleagues, team members, and leadership team.

What Does Total Team Alignment Take on a Daily Basis?

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be offering a daily Question.  In my opinion, the person asking the questions is the person being the Strategic Leader.  I hope you enjoy these questions.

Who are we being that is giving “Bob” permission to not meet our expectations?

If you find this question and your  subsequent ponderings valuable, you might want to participate in one of our complimentary public Webinars on Total Team Alignment.  Here’s the link to find the schedule.

http://halpincompany.com/webinars/

This link provides the opportunity to register and the opportunity to be interviewed during one of these Webinars.

Please feel free to share these links with your colleagues, team members, and leadership team.