Tag archive for "speaker"

by Bill, Exemplars, Extra Milers, Leadership

Leaders Don’t Duck or Whine

No Comments 16 December 2010

Encapsulated in two short minutes of video, many of us this week saw contemporary examples of the very best and worst of leadership behavior. In Washington, DC, we saw two pompous United States senators hiding behind Christmas of all things, in a lame effort to avoid debating and voting on important legislative matters, including a vital strategic arms reduction treaty. At approximately the same time, 900 miles away in Panama City, FL, two Bay District School Board members held off a deranged gunmen who was seemingly intent on killing them.

One can’t help but be struck by the example of School Board Superintendent, Bill Husfelt, who, despite having a 9mm pistol pointed at him, calmly but decisively told the gunman to let the other school board members leave, since he (not they) was responsible for any beef the man had with the board. Then, having been excused from the room, board member, Ginger Littleton sneaked back in and attempted to disarm the gunman, armed only with, get this… her purse. I can only imagine what the two beltway bozos would have said and done were the roles reversed.

The leadership lesson for the rest of us: Leaders don’t whine, and they certainly don’t hide behind other people or things when faced with the more difficult aspects of their responsibility. They stand and deliver, not because they are unafraid, but because they know it is the right thing to do. Those of us who have similarly accepted the mantle of leadership encounter our own moments of truth when we:

  • Are expected to announce and implement an unpopular policy
  • Are faced with telling someone the truth about their job performance
  • Must tell an old friend that they either need to change or leave
  • Need to stick up for someone who is being abused or mistreated, and, to be sure,
  • Own up to our own mistakes

When faced with such moments, we could do worse than follow the example set by the folks from the school board. That’s my $.02 worth. As always, your comments are welcome.

*****
A thought leader 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. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

by Bill, Management

Effective Business Integration is More Than Just a Paint Job

No Comments 17 May 2009

Upon returning from a trip to the Florida Keys Saturday, I saw a bright, shiny, freshly painted Delta Air Lines 747-400 jet parked at the adjacent gate as we pulled into Terminal E at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. In all likelihood, the plane recently bore the markings of Northwest Airlines, now in the process of integrating with Delta.

To their credit, the folks at Delta and the 25 or so “integration teams” responsible for planning and managing the execution of the merger (‘er acquisition) are moving with purpose and pace, and for the most part seem to be getting it right. Our flights this week were all unremarkable, on-time, and checked luggage showed up as expected.

Airlines are big, complex organizations with lots of critical moving parts and though many have tried, you  can’t simply slap a new coat of paint on a few airplanes, hang up some fresh signs, and call it quits. Just ask a few folks who regularly fly US Airways. Though Delta and Northwest are still operating as separate carriers, it is clear that there will be a day sometime in the next year or so when there is only one entity.

One aspect of the Delta-Northwest integration, and for that matter most business mergers that lags, however, is the integration of different (vastly different in this case) organizational cultures. While Atlanta-based Delta is known for hospitality and manners, Northwest excelled at other things, to put it charitably.

Though they may be wearing new uniforms, too many of the new Delta folks are still wearing Northwest attitudes. Just as there continues to be a struggle within the combined group about whether or not various employees will be represented by a labor union (I hope not), employees are figuring out what the new standards are for performance and behavior. It all pretty much reverts to the old “barrel of apples” axiom, and management must take pains to quickly assert its will before the wrong group of apples reaches critical mass. I don’t know where it is on the transition checklist, but this is one of the things that can’t wait. If management convincingly establishes smiling faces and polite, professional exchanges with customers (and others) as the norm for the new organization and models that behavior, it will come to pass. If they don’t, well, you know what they say about the barrel of apples.

A thought leader 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. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com

by Bill, Think About It...

One More Time – Appearances Can Be Deceiving: Thank You Susan Boyle

1 Comment 17 April 2009

People who have had the pleasure of meeting Wal-Mart founder, Sam Walton, or blind mountain climber, Erik Weihenmayer have quickly come to grips with the fact that appearances can be deceiving – very deceiving. In neither case do initial appearances suggest their respective incredible talents and accomplishments.

Though you’d think that sooner or later we’d get it, many of us seem destined to learn the same lesson over and over again. It is as though we’re “stuck on stupid” to use an expression borrowed from Lt. Gen. Russel Honore (US Army, ret.). We’re constantly “amazed” when someone who has had every conceivable advantage (name your favorite Hollywood pop-tart) steps on their crank, and, when someone who has not enjoyed the genetic blessings, plastic surgery, private lessons, or 1st rate education hits it out of the park. Go figure.

Susan Boyle, the Scottish singer with a rather plain-Jane appearance seems to have taught the most recent lesson. Her wonderfully performed rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Misérables in the first round of the third series of Britain’s Got Talent on April 11 left Simon Cowell and lots of others speechless. Good for her. And, whereas Mr. Cowell may play a bully on TV, he’s smart enough to recognize talent when he sees it, and will likely attempt to sign her to a recording contract.

As for the rest of us, let’s try to get beyond our learning disabilities on this one. That is particularly the case for those of us who are talent scouts for the organizations we work for. An 8.5% unemployment rate notwithstanding, the war for talent isn’t over! You will find talent in both likely and unlikely places, in traditional and non-standard packages, in people who look the part and those who don’t. You’ve simply got to be looking for it, all the time, with eyes, ears, and mind wide open. Got it?

A thought leader 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. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com

by Bill, Think About It...

Renewing Our Faith and Our Hope

3 Comments 24 March 2009

Sometimes when putting together a new presentation, I visit the archives of great speeches done by others in search of useful perspective and maybe a quote or two. Such is the case today, as I work on a presentation for a group of health care professionals.

Tipped off by an email from Brett Stevens, founder and President of The SearchLogix Group, I wound up reading President Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural address, given a little over 28 years ago. As usual, the Gipper didn’t disappoint, and I came away with some helpful hints for my speech that will be given in Louisville, in about a month.

But I got something else, too. In his email piece, titled “Going for It”, Brett highlighted a quote from the aforementioned speech that is as relevant and useful to today’s America as it was the day the speech was given. I thought I would share it…

“I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing. So, with all the creative energy at our command, let us begin an era of national renewal. Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our strength. And let us renew our faith and our hope. We have every right to dream heroic dreams. Those who say that we’re in a time when there are no heroes, they just don’t know where to look.” –Ronald Reagan

Make today an excellent day.

A thought leader 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. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com

by Bill, Think About It...

Save Money with Used Books

No Comments 14 March 2009

A voracious reader, I’m only too happy to put in the extra book work that a career as an author and public speaker require. It’s one of the best ways I’ve  found of quickly gathering source material or perspective on a topic. Though our town has a beautiful new library, the selection of business and related reference titles is weak, to put it charitably. Hence, I wind up buying a lot of books that might otherwise be borrowed from the library.

In reading Yvonne Perry’s blog earlier this evening, I was reminded of some very good money saving advice. In her post, Ms. Perry advocates buying used titles on Amazon.com and then reselling the books (also via Amazon) when you’re through with them. As both an Amazon merchant and customer, I can vouch for the fact that they run a tight ship, and there is practically no risk in selecting used titles from their partners. Try it, I think you’ll like it.

by Bill, Think About It...

Yes They Did… Yes We Can!

No Comments 18 January 2009

pax on aircraft wingTuesday, on the back of three little words, Barack Obama will take the helm of a country that is not flying much better than the A320 jet that a US Airways crew miraculously landed in New York’s frigid Hudson River last week. With a nation engaged in two shooting wars, an economy and financial system that are losing both airspeed and altitude, hooked on foreign fossil fuels, a health care system that is approaching third-world status, and worst of all, a populace that largely no longer believes in or trusts its government, President Obama’s task will be as daunting as that of Captain Chelsey Sullenberger, who piloted the US Airways plane. But let’s remember one thing… against some very long odds, the crew DID land that plane, evacuate it, and everyone, everyone lived to tell about it.

To pull it off, President Obama will need to continually remind Americans of those three little words that many jubilantly chanted at his election campaign rallies… Yes We Can! Moreover, he’ll need to get not just his early supporters, but all Americans enrolled (capital “C” Committed) to the notion that our best days are indeed ahead of us IF we get shoulder to shoulder in a common purpose, with no daylight between us, just like the passengers who stood on the wings of that downed jet in the middle of the Hudson River. Trust me, they weren’t standing out there arguing over gay rights, stem cell research, gun control, or tax breaks for the rich (or anyone else).

To be sure we won’t (nor should we) stop debating important issues, but the vacuous, mean spirited “tastes great vs less filling” stuff needs to come to a screeching halt. We haven’t the time or the energy for it. Together with our elected representatives, each of us must quickly come to grips with the fact that that the enemy isn’t in our own locker room. If you’re a Michigan Democrat, the enemy isn’t some Florida Republican. And if you’re a single mother on welfare, it’s not some fat cat Wall Street banker. Rather, it’s ignorance caused by a broken educational system, it’s hand-written medical records, it’s our porous southern border, it is our pathetic over-reliance on fossil fuels, and yes, it is Muslim extremists who would do us all harm. Those are examples of the issues and persons who are taking food out of the mouths of our babies, and for that matter, our elderly. In a sense, it is all of us standing out on the wing of the plane.

Can we make a difference? Can we somehow re-ignite hope and faith in America? Can we get our mojo back? Yes, we can. Absolutely, but time is not our friend. In the now famous words of Todd Beamer, let’s roll!

A thought leader 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. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com

by Bill, Think About It...

Let's Do More Than Say Thanks

No Comments 27 November 2008

USO soldiersLet’s keep it short, sweet, and simple today. Amidst all the hoopla about our limping economy, new (?) tide of politicians, and terrorist attacks in India, let’s get beyond ourselves and say a special thank you to the brave men and women of the U.S. military who have forgone stock options, comfort, time with loved ones, and personal safety to put themselves in harm’s way for us.

We’ve never asked readers of this column or our free monthly leadership e-zine, Fresh Milk for a dime, and don’t plan to start now, but I am asking that, before launching into holiday madness mode, you go to the Army and Air Force Exchange Service or the USO , crack open your wallet, and show some support for the folks who are looking out for us. One of my favorite ways is to buy a bunch of the 550 minute Global Phone Cards and, in my travels, simply hand them to DCU clad troops in the airport, together with a simple Thank You. Do it… today. They’ll feel better, and so will you.

A thought leader 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. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com

by Bill, Leadership, Management

Think Sustainable Employment Practices, Too

No Comments 23 November 2008

HandshakeMuch is being written and said these days about sustainability as it pertains to environmental, economic, and social activities. Because of an increasingly global arena, and factors such as overpopulation, the need to maintain commerce at a high level, lack of education and the like, achieving sustainability in any meaningful way is a real struggle. Nowhere is the issue of sustainability more important (and difficult) than in the workplace.

In the early (pre-email) days of FedEx, or Federal Express as it was then known, company founder, Fred Smith used memos printed on bright red paper (red memos) as a way of communicating important thoughts or instructions (okay, orders) to the management team. We probably didn’t get more than one or two such missives a year, and, as memory serves, they frequently pertained to the announcement of a company-wide hiring freeze. Freeze meant just that – freeze. By the time the red memo landed on your desk, the bean counters had already applied a giant tourniquet to the payroll, and, barring special dispensation from Smith himself, no new names would be added, period.

Those of us who were actively involved in recruiting dreaded the arrival of each red memo, as it often meant that a lot of our recent efforts were about to go to waste, as offers could not be extended to candidates in the pipeline. As big a pain in the a** as this was, we silently appreciated what was going on.

You see, Smith was quick to hit the brakes in a slowing economy because one promise he had made to every one of us was that we would never be sent home due to a lack of work, unless the very survival of the enterprise was at stake. It wasn’t a formal policy as much as a personal promise. Still, the net result was that, whenever the economy slowed (and it did), and whenever we found ourselves temporarily overstaffed because a big project (e.g., Zapmail) crashed and burned, we were able to keep both eyes on our work, and worry about customers, rather than whether or not we would have a job.

For the same reason that FedEx stopped just shy of having a no layoff “policy”, wise managements studiously avoid making Big 3 (automaker) type commitments for benefits that employees haven’t earned, and the company simply can’t afford. Doing so is nether smart, nor sustainable, and in the end, it does no one any good.

Much has changed in the intervening years, most particularly the social and economic construct – the ‘deal” if you will, in the workplace. Terms like job security and loyalty have all but vanished from the workday vernacular. One thing that has not changed, however, is the fact that people who are proud of their work, and who feel that they are treated with respect and consideration are a lot more prone to part with copious amounts of their discretionary effort, or what we call, Oomph.  For this reason, organizations desiring to exit the current rough patch with their better players still on the “home” side of the field would do well to think about both the effect AND the sustainability of their employment practices.

A thought leader 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. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com

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