Tag archive for "leaders"

by Bill, by Richard, Leadership, Management

Be Willing to Tolerate a Little ‘White Space’

No Comments 17 July 2014

 

*Please see special note below before leaving this page.

Many years ago I had the opportunity to do some contract training for Steve Stowell and Matt Starcevich, co-founders of CMOE, the folks who gave birth to the highly effective 8-Step Coaching Model. I remain grateful to them to this day for the work, and for helping me launch a productive and enjoyable career as an executive coach.

One of the activities used in their management coaching seminar involved doing a ten minute, pre-learning role play coaching discussion between two people, both class participants. The conversation was audio-recorded and then the audio was replayed and critiqued. Nothing unique there. What was unique is that, during the replay, we calculated how much of the conversation was consumed by each participant, AND how much dead air (silence) existed.

Almost without exception, the amount of time consumed by the person playing the ‘manager’ in the role play exceeded that of the ‘employee’ by a ratio of anywhere from 2:1 to 5:1. Some conversation.

As to the latter point, in a typical ten minute managerial-type coaching session, how much silence do you think occurred, on average? A minute? Two minutes? More? Think again. I’m fairly certain that I led at least a hundred of these workshops, with 5 or more groups doing this exercise in each one, and can’t remember a single session where there was more than 15 seconds of dead air out of the 10 minute total! Most were in the 6 to 8 second range, if that. We’re talking about only 1% of the total time of the “conversation.” In most cases, we had a good bit of the opposite of dead air. .. both people talking at once! That was more than twenty years ago. I hesitate to think what the ratio would be today.

I was reminded of this while watching evening television over the last week, and seeing two well known, otherwise quite professional news anchors stuttering and stammering because due to the fear of incurring a few seconds of dead air, their mouths were outrunning their minds. It happens to us all, particularly in the midst of a big presentation, sales call, or uncomfortable business meeting. We see it often with relatively new managers who are deathly afraid of what will happen if they shut up and yield the floor for a few seconds in a conversation with one or more of their team-members. A couple of thoughts:

1. In working recently with a C-level exec on reducing his snarkiness, I encouraged him to adopt a 3-second response delay, much like the ‘Iron Dome’ of cursing on American television, that would give him just a little more time to reflect on the message that was about to leave his mouth. Aside from reducing unintended verbal messes, that brief delay also allows the last thing that was said to him (and to you, if you adopt the idea)  to ferment and register a bit more. In other words, it aids listening. Indeed, it has been said that the opposite of listening is waiting to talk. To wit, if your mouth flies open at the very nanosecond the other person goes silent, it’s a good bet that you haven’t been listening. Rather, you’ve been waiting to talk. Don’t be afraid of a little dead air, or white space  in your conversations. Indeed, you’ll probably hear more, and your conversation partners (including spouses) will appreciate the difference, and the feeling that they’re actually being listened to for a change.

2. Note to Leaders – Put some of that same white space in your calendar. Smart leaders are not, repeat, not the ones who have the greatest calendar density. Rather, they deliberately build in some “me time” and thinking time to their daily schedules, and they take great pains to preserve it.

* Special Note: If you missed it, take a few minutes to view cancer patient and ESPN personality Stuart Scott’s acceptance speech at this year’s ESPY’s.  It’s probably his finest moment on television to date, and just might change your life.

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A pathfinder in the arena of leadership and employee engagement Bill Catlette is an Executive Coach, Advisor to Management, Conference Speaker, and Business & Workplace Author. He helps leaders connect the dots between People, Passion, Performance and Profit, hone their leadership skills, and achieve demonstrably better outcomes. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website, or follow them on Twitter.

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by Bill, by Richard, Leadership, Management

Metrics and Managing – Be Careful What and How You Measure

No Comments 08 July 2014

One of the time honored, oft repeated (sometimes mindlessly) management mantras is, “What gets measured gets done.” It seems harmless enough on the surface, right? After all, if you visibly go to the trouble of measuring or inspecting a particular method or outcome, the very act of doing so suggests to onlookers that it’s important to you. And, if those onlookers happen to be junior to you in the organization’s food chain, it provides a not so subtle signal that they probably ought to pay attention. And generally, that’s exactly how things play out. Fair enough.

The trouble with that principle is that, because it tends to be such a powerful inducer of behavior, you better be real careful what you are conspicuously measuring, monitoring, and thus encouraging people to do.

One of my early jobs out of college was with a large DP services company. After stints in two regional offices I was moved to headquarters as an HR staff professional. (I guess I had screwed up enough things for them to want to watch me more closely.) As happens with anyone starting a new assignment, in an effort to assimilate and better understand the organization and my new cohorts, I paid pretty careful attention early on to the prevailing norms and habits.

An observation that to this day remains firmly embedded in my mind is the visual memory of the then company C.O.O. making twice daily rounds through the corporate offices (once shortly after 8AM and the other around 4:30PM). He was a very bright, and nice enough guy, but not a very good actor. The purpose of these jaunts was unmistakable – he was taking attendance. Nothing more, nothing less. With his head swiveling left, right, left in order to scan every office, he didn’t stop to speak, socialize, inquire about status on a project, or see if anybody needed anything. No, he was merely calling the roll. In retrospect, I wonder why he didn’t just issue us all timecards.

The net result from that little exercise? People aren’t stupid, and we all made it a point to be physically present for check-in when we were in town. Physically present. I can assure you that no more work got done, and no work got done better because of it. In fact, some of us spent a good bit of time amusing ourselves by placing bets on the over/under of the precise time that he would pass a certain office door. Worse yet, his actions reinforced the premise that merely being present meant more than just about anything else. After all, if the number 2 guy in the company was spending the better part of an hour every day checking up on it, it must have been pretty important, right?

So what’s the point? In the age of ‘big data’, with nearly limitless amounts of cheap computing power available to us, we seem to be reaching the point where absolutely everything is measured, stored, and rendered into analytics. That’s fine until we’re crunching numbers just because we can, and, dazzled by the myriad implied points of emphasis, our people become utterly confused about where we’re going, why their work matters, and what they are supposed to do. In short, we run the risk of feeding people information through a fire hose, just as we have done with email. While you are chewing on that for a second, here are a couple thoughts:

1. Let’s not confuse measuring and processing data with leading. Measure all you want, and use metrics where it makes sense to do so, but leaders still need to lead. Let them. They need to build teams, set direction, focus effort, motivate, reward, make decisions, hold people accountable, and refine business processes by trial and error. Some of those activities depend more on hard data, while others require learned perspective, judgment, and experience. Analytics can tell us a lot about the what, where, when, who, and how. Not so much the why.

Despite achieving a team best winning record in 2013, NBA coach, Lionel Hollins was reportedly shown the door by Memphis Grizzlies management over this exact issue. Without his Heart + Head balanced approach, the team performed nowhere near as well without him this past year. And Hollins just signed with the Brooklyn Nets for a fat raise in pay. Note to Nets opponents – watch out.

2. Share the data with your team, but don’t let your players get lost in it. Test your teammates regularly for their knowledge of the organization’s highest priorities. If they can’t articulate the three highest priorities in their sleep, something has broken down, due quite possibly to an avalanche of you guessed it… data. Oh, and by the way, it’s not their fault, it’s yours.

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A pathfinder in the arena of leadership and employee engagement Bill Catlette is an Executive Coach, Advisor to Management, Conference Speaker, and Business & Workplace Author. He helps leaders connect the dots between People, Passion, Performance and Profit, hone their leadership skills, and achieve demonstrably better outcomes. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit theirwebsite, or follow them onTwitter.

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by Bill, by Richard, Leadership

What Are YOU Expecting?

2 Comments 09 June 2014

Before the World Cup soccer games even start, U.S. men’s head coach, Jurgen Klinsmann has apparently relegated his team to loser status, in what has been termed a “brutally honest and realistic assessment of their chances.” According to Coach Klinsmann, “We cannot win the World Cup because we are not at that level yet.”

Really? Really?! The 1980 U.S. Men’s Olympic ice hockey team wasn’t considered by many to be at that level either, but I’m fairly sure their coach, Herb Brooks didn’t point that out to them, and the “Miracle on Ice”  happened. That team was a long shot as well, but they won anyhow. Why? Because they prepared to win, they believed they could win (nobody in the same uniform was telling them otherwise), and because they let their play and the scoreboard, not the oddsmakers, determine the outcome.

Whether in sports, life, or, more relevant to this forum – business and the workspace, one of the essential characteristics of good leaders is that they are optimists, period. They don’t get up in the morning, consult the handicap sheets, and then determine whether they’re going to be optimistic that day. They know that they are going to give their best effort, they expect the same from those around them, and believe that as a result, good things will happen. You get what you expect to get. What are YOU expecting?

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A pathfinder in the arena of leadership and employee engagement Bill Catlette is an Executive Coach, Advisor to Management, Conference Speaker, and Business & Workplace Author. He helps leaders connect the dots between People, Passion, Performance and Profit, hone their leadership skills, and achieve demonstrably better outcomes. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website, or follow them on Twitter.

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Avoiding Burnout, by Bill, Leadership, Management

Go Ask Your People

2 Comments 12 January 2014

One of the traps that newly appointed managers at any level commonly fall into is in believing that, to be worthy of their job title and pay check, they must have at the ready the solution to every problem, and the answer to every question. I’m speaking from experience. I’ve been there. As a young, 20-something manager, I spent a couple of years choking on the self-imposed burden of instantly and unilaterally producing the correct response to every issue that arose. Fortunately for me, that was in an era when the pace of the game was about one-tenth what it is today.

 

 

Indeed, this trap often becomes the downfall of those who don’t realize quickly enough that appointment to a position of leadership does not (repeat, does NOT) mean that they have the market cornered on brains and ability, or that they are responsible for doing all the thinking. Anything but.

 

 

To be sure, we are paid to anticipate problems, to solve them, and to fill information voids, but the burden of leadership seldom (if ever) mandates that we be the sole source provider of knowledge or solutions. Some suggestions:

 

 

1.     Go ask your people. If you’ve done even a moderately good job of staffing, there are people on your team, and others within your network who are smarter than you, and who probably have a much better view of the situation. Ask for their ideas, and then have the good sense to listen, both to what they are saying and what they aren’t saying. Bill Marriott, whose name is over the door of a lot of our favorite hotels is fond of saying that the four most important words in any manager’s vocabulary are, “What do you think?”

 

2.     You get paid to think. As reflected in chapter 6 of our book, Rebooting Leadership, good leaders make it a point to carve out thinking time (you read that correctly) in the course of their day. There is simply too much stuff coming over the transom on a daily basis for managers to do otherwise. As writer William S. Burroughs was known to have said, “Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.”  Our advice is that you carve out a half-hour (more if you can) of dedicated thinking time in the most focused part of your day. Try it for a couple of weeks. We don’t think you will regret it.

 

3.     Some fires need to burn themselves out. As a former baseball player, youth-league coach, and student of the game, I learned fairly early on that enthusiastically swinging at every pitch is a quick path to exactly one place – a seat back on the bench after an unproductive turn at bat. The same holds true for managers.  Above all else, we must be vicious masters of our time, priorities, and resources, and we can’t do that if we’re swinging at everything that comes into view. Some of the opportunities and indeed some (perhaps many) of the problems that come our way are best dealt with by leaving them alone. Let them burn themselves out or find another rightful owner. To be sure, once in awhile you’ll guess wrong on these and find it necessary to go back and put out what has become a bigger fire, but it is still the better option.

 

 

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A pathfinder in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the Contented Cows leadership book series, and Rebooting Leadership. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

 

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by Bill, Leadership, Management, Think About It...

Business as Sport: Chris Paul Could be Coming to Your Team

No Comments 08 July 2013

Oscar Wilde told us that “life imitates art.” In a similar vein, I would suggest that business imitates sport, especially professional and major college level athletics. Think about it… Our vernacular is chock-full of sports-related terms and analogies. Sports stars are frequent keynoters at business conferences. My partner and I have shared the dais with plenty of them. A lot of business incentive programs and contests are oriented around sports themes. Professional sports invented player free-agentry. Business is perfecting it.

A recent event in the NBA foreshadows a developing theme in the business world. Los Angeles Clippers star point guard, Chris Paul, an unrestricted free agent in NBA parlance, is widely credited with putting his thumb on the scale that caused the firing of Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro, and the subsequent hiring of Boston Celtics coach, Doc Rivers, who was still under contract to the Celtics. Mr. Paul made it pretty well known that he would be inclined to stay with the Clippers if the team somehow managed to recruit Rivers away from the Celtics. They did, and he did.

Buckle up, sports fans, because we’re about to see this playing out on a much larger, though less public scale in our own corner of the world. With the release of the June jobs report, evidence is accumulating that the U.S. job market is beginning to gather steam (okay, hot water). As interest in making career moves begins to stir in earnest, one of the biggest influencers on the stay vs. go decisions will be the reputation of individual leaders and the relationship people have, or want to have with them, much more so than the quality of the institution and its employment brand.

Subprime leaders will be the first to experience exodus, and in some cases star employees will, like Chris Paul, demand better leadership as a condition of staying put. Conversely, leaders of choice will become even bigger talent magnets if they stay, and higher priced players should they declare themselves free agents.

What should you be doing about it?

  1. Keep your finger on the pulse of the organization, at all levels. Stay current with employee survey data and use it, together with ‘stay interviews’ as a means of identifying at-risk leaders, and issues that might drive your talent to a competitor.
  2. Get serious about de-selecting those leaders who have lost the benefit of the doubt with their team, and coaching those who remain.
  3. Actively involve some of your stronger leaders in the recruitment process.
  4. Tighten up your recruitment and selection processes to make them more effective, efficient AND candidate-friendly.

Get moving with the four above-mentioned steps now. The Clippers can call a time out. You can’t.

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A pathfinder in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the Contented Cows leadership book series, and Rebooting Leadership. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

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by Bill, Leadership, Management, Think About It...

Three Things Leaders Can Do to Earn the Benefit of the Doubt

No Comments 18 June 2013


When I begin a new executive coaching engagement, my due diligence process usually involves conducting focused interviews with a representative sample of my client’s peers, direct and indirect reports, other close associates, and of course, their reporting senior. One of the questions I ask is, “Does this person enjoy the benefit of the doubt with you?” The implications associated with the answers to this question are material. If a significant portion of the people within my client’s sphere of influence are unable or unwilling to give them credit for trying and adopting new behavior, our task becomes more difficult.This same principle applies for each of us as leaders, and on a broader basis within our businesses and other organizations as well.

As leaders, our ability to get people to embrace change, overlook our imperfections and errors, endure hardship, accept unpopular decisions, and occasionally leap before looking is tied directly to whether or not we’re getting the benefit of the doubt. And, lest there be any question, getting the benefit of the doubt is usually contingent upon having earned it.

It wasn’t always this way. There was a time when one’s appointment to a leadership position (at any level) carried with it positive expectations based on the belief that you probably knew what you were doing, and could be trusted to have your teammates’ best interests at heart. No more. As described in our book, Rebooting Leadership, many people entering the ranks of management today encounter a stiff headwind in the form of a “respect deficit” engendered not by their actions, but by their job title. Let’s just call it “guilt by paygrade.”

At this moment, many US residents (and others around the world) are pondering the combined effects of incidents involving Benghazi, the IRS, and more recently, leaked information about the NSA’s data gathering practices. Here again, the ability to deal with such issues without them becoming huge, protracted distractions is in large part based on the benefit of the doubt that Americans (and others around the world) either do or do not extend to our elected leaders.

If willing to do the work, we can nearly always gain the benefit of the doubt by taking the following steps:

1. Opening the Kimono – By behaving in a transparent and authentic manner on an every day basis, leaders engender the trust that serves us so well when the wheels are coming off. This includes sharing (really sharing) both the big picture that describes our intended path, as well as our priorities. Unfortunately, if we save the information sharing until after the storm hits, our motives will become suspect, as well they should. That has a lot to do with the difficulty the American government is having in the aforementioned affairs.

2. Passengers or Crew – Most of us tend to confer more benefit of the doubt when we are personally engaged with someone or with a particular idea. Rather than assuming that people will engage, we need to ask for the order – ask them to get involved, tell them what we need, and confirm that they have really accepted. There is a huge difference between being along for the ride (a passenger) and being a fully invested crew member. This has played out on the national stage over the last dozen years as we have fought not one but two wars and the civilian American population hasn’t been asked to do a single thing. Hence, we tend to be rather uninvested. Similarly, it plays out for us at work every day when we issue plans and directions that we assume will be followed.

3. Own Up to Problems - People don’t expect their leaders to be perfect. They know we’re human (okay, most of us are), and that once in awhile we’re going to really step in it, and when we do, the whole world is watching. How we behave in those moments of truth either builds our benefit of the doubt, or depletes it. (Yes, we can actually earn trust and respect when we screw up.) People are watching for three simple things to happen: For us to readily and voluntarily own up to the situation, to apologize meaningfully, and to remedy the matter as best we can. That’s it. It’s painful, but it beats the alternatives.

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A pathfinder in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the Contented Cows leadership book series, and Rebooting Leadership. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

 

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by Bill, Leadership

Sure

No Comments 19 December 2012

Have you noticed lately the regularity with which business and other leaders tend to begin a sentence with the word, “sure”, even if it’s not remotely related to what’s being asked or discussed? I don’t know if it’s a tic, the latest buzzword, or an unconscious effort to reassure themselves or perhaps others. At the very same time, we continue to hear a chorus from those same individuals that sounds a little like this… “We will resume investing and hiring to grow our businesses when there is greater certainty about the future.”

Really. Think about that for a second. Certainty about what? Since when have we enjoyed certainty about much of anything, beyond the fact that the sun will come up tomorrow?

For better than 2 years, we worried about a banking crisis and vicious recession, then, when it was clear that those things were on the mend, we averted our national nervousness to implementation of the healthcare reform legislation, followed by federal elections. More recently, we’ve been consumed by the prospect of plunging over a man-made “Fiscal Cliff”. To be sure, each of these items was/is very real.

But let’s at least accept the fact that we survived the banking crisis, and overcame a potential melt down of the global financial system. We’re recovering from the recession – really. The elections are over, and where there are to be new officeholders (none of whom give the impression of being complete chuckleheads), they will soon be peaceably sworn into office. Now that we have at least begun the process, we will be reforming our healthcare system for many years to come. It’s about time.

Look, I’m not making light of any of these. They are serious events in our nation’s history, and they indeed carry consequences for us. While it’s appropriate to give them thought, and influence the direction of events when and where we can, it is every bit as important not to become paralyzed by the fear of what might happen. As Mark Twain once said, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”

As for visibility, I will submit that Christopher Columbus, the Wright brothers, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, FedEx’s Fred Smith, Bill Marriott, and a long list of other high achievers didn’t have very good visibility when they set forth on their respective ventures. Indeed, some of the aforementioned businesses were launched in some pretty difficult times.

In an event this week at 92Y in New York, Bill Mack, Chairman of AREA Property Partners and Mack-Cali Realty Corp., after reminding his audience that the U.S. remains a great and good country, indicated that, in his view, the U.S. is still, by far, the best place on earth to do business. When asked about risk, he and Steve Ross, Chairman of Related Companies, Equinox Holdings, and owner of the Miami Dophins suggested that a willingness to do one’s homework and then take the long view mitigates a lot of risk.

One of the lessons to be taken from the recent unspeakable tragedy in Newtown, CT is that we ought not live in fear, but we should hug our kids a little tighter every day. The same holds true for our businesses. Let’s continue to nourish them, hold them dear and then, taking the long view as Mr. Mack suggested, take steps and make the necessary investments to grow and develop them.

These are my thoughts. You are invited to join the discussion.

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A pathfinder in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the Contented Cows leadership book series, and Rebooting Leadership. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

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by Bill, Leadership, Management

How You Treat Dinged Up Workers is a Big, Dot Deal

No Comments 28 November 2012

Once again, the sports world is abuzz over the treatment of an injured player who, at least so far, has been kept on the bench despite being cleared to play. The player in this case is Alex Smith, quarterback of the San Francisco 49’ers. Since being cleared to return to play following a concussion injury, Smith has been kept on the bench by 49’ers coach, Jim Harbaugh, in favor of Colin Kaepernick, a rising star who has performed well in game situations. Nevertheless, tensions are rising.

Over the years, the default position of most coaches has been that injured players ought not lose their position due to injury. When medically cleared to return to play, they are returned to the lineup, and then it is up to their level of play to keep them on the field. If a better player emerges, all bets are off.

Good managers, like good coaches take this view also, because they know that one of the chief reasons their team-members suffer corporate “injuries” (i.e., failed projects, missed deadlines, etc.) is because they have extended themselves a bit too far for the team. They get going a little too fast, take on a bit too much (or both), and hit the proverbial wall.

Good leaders realize that the absolute last thing they want to do is to suggest that those who go all out for the team are taking that risk all on their own. They also know that it’s not just a personal decision, because as with the Alex Smith case, everybody else is watching. If people see a teammate treated in an inconsiderate manner after giving it up for the team or the coach, they will think long and hard before putting themselves in that position. They throttle back because they are afraid of what might happen to them.

Not unlike the job of a parent whose kid falls off their bike, our job as leaders is to help our teammates get up, keep them from getting run over, dust them off, and get them back in the game. Hut, hut.

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A pathfinder in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the Contented Cows leadership book series, and Rebooting Leadership. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

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by Bill, Leadership, Management

Health Care – It’s Time to Move On

No Comments 30 June 2012

In the days since the U.S. Supreme Court’s legal affirmation of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), we have witnessed a cacophany of celebratory victory laps and ongoing bloviating about impending doom, loss of freedom, and death panels. Whether you are an employer, an individual citizen, legislator, or health care worker we would offer two words of advice that can usually be found this time of year on signs carried by course marshals at the FedEx St. Jude Golf Tournament – Hush Y’all! It is time to stop our national food fight on this issue.

Simply put, we have neither the time nor economic margin for grandstanding or political theater. We’ve got important work to do. Health care spending amounts to 17% of the nation’s GDP, and is growing at an unaffordable rate. Health outcomes are increasingly second rate, and certainly don’t match the expenditure, or our stature on the world stage. Too many of our fellow citizens are being marginalized because they lack access to quality care, take too little responsibility for their own wellness, or both. Our businesses are being rendered less competitive in world markets because of the cost overhang of a job-based funding model. It is only a matter of time before the relative health of our workforce becomes yet another competitive headwind.

As proposed in our new book, Contented Cows STILL Give Better Milk, those of us who are leaders and employers have important considerations to make right now, and “right now” means just that.

  1. We must decide thoughtfully whether to begin (or continue) participating in an employer-provided health insurance plan.  Some might posit that this decision comes down to simply choosing between employer and employee interests, or the least costly option. We would submit that it’s not that simple.
  2. Each of us should be taking steps to become informed (really informed) about the finer points of health care services and economics. It’s time to turn off the TV and do your own homework.
  3. Let’s use our influence wisely, rather than getting into yet one more “Tastes Great vs. Less Filling” debate. One good place to start would be in encouraging tort reform as pertains to health care. For so long as health care professionals are required to practice defensive medicine to prevent unnecessary lawsuits, our system will never be as efficient or effective as it needs to be. Second, we must proceed apace with implementation of a robust, integrated electronic health record (EHR). We’re told that the Veteran’s Administration already has such a system in place. It’s paid for. Why don’t we use it?
  4. It is past time to initiate an ongoing grown-up conversation with our employees about health care – its costs, complexities, options, and responsibilities. And that’s not an easy conversation to have because, for openers, our workforce is anything but monolithic. And, let’s face it, most of us couldn’t care less about health insurance until there is a serious diagnosis pending, or we’re staring down the barrel of a big fat hospital bill.

Our hope is that we can use this challenge as a vehicle to move the nation forward in a positive direction, and perhaps regain some of the credibility and trust that we, as business leaders, have lost over the last decade.

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A pathfinder in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the Contented Cows leadership book series, the newest edition of which is now on sale. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

 

 

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by Bill, Leadership, Think About It...

Leaders and the “Little People”

1 Comment 10 March 2012

As election season rolls around and campaigning for public office ramps up (does it ever leave?) most of us dust off the decision matrix by which we choose the candidates we’ll vote for. For some, it’s simply a matter of whether there is a donkey or an elephant next to the candidate’s name. Some might resort to using a dart board. Others are only interested in finding someone they believe to be capable of beating the other guy. Those who want to think a little harder might use an issues or trait-based filter. My own process rests on an analysis of a candidate’s positions on a short list of key issues, coupled with an assessment of vital personal characteristics.

One of those vital personal characteristics, whether I’m helping choose the next president or a mid-level manager in the corporate world, is the person’s level of consideration and affinity for those who are south of them in the socio-economic order or org chart. I want some insight into how much or how little they care, really care about those whose interests they will be representing, or who they will be providing leadership and direction to.

Observing their interaction with a food server, retail clerk, or flight attendant provides a window into their world, but it’s just a start. I want to know, is the person naturally at ease with subordinates, and vice versa? At one company I worked for, a finance SVP had a habit of parking at the rear of his office building every morning and sneaking through a back door that no one else used, simply so he wouldn’t have to interact with the people who worked for him. The sad thing is he actually thought that no one noticed or cared.

Are they at ease interacting with those who may not dress as well as they do, or whose speech is not as polished? How quick are they to smile (really smile, not that plastic version) and greet a subordinate or service worker? Do they mumble “how are ya?” and keep right on moving, or do they stop and actually wait for an answer?

Some might argue that this is nothing but a touchy-feely academic exercise since once you are declared the leader, at any level, and have position power, people pretty well have to do your bidding and learn to live with it. Au contraire! As pointed out in our first book, upon entering a leadership role, you are immediately faced with a simple, ongoing high school physics problem – There are more of  “them” than there are of you. Failure to respect this iron law can have a drastic affect on one’s career. Remember that finance SVP who parked around back? It turned out that his people didn’t work very hard for him, because they had long since figured out that he really didn’t like them very much, or care about them. Ultimately, it cost him his job.

Conversely, we’ve seen any number of leaders with modest intelligence and skills race up the career ladder, propelled by the “little people” who were putting it all on the line for them every day.

*****

A pathfinder in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the Contented Cows leadership book series, the next edition of which will be released in June 2012 by John Wiley & Sons. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

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Considered thought leaders in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden speak to, train, and coach managers on leadership practices for better business outcomes.

OUR PREMISE: Having a focused, engaged, and capably led workforce is one of the best things any organization can do for its bottom line.

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