One of the wonderful things for me as a sparring partner, consultant and executive coach is that in recent years, I have had the opportunity to look into well over a hundred companies in all kinds of industries. Many of them became clients.
One thing I always find fascinating: the different ways of thinking, behaving and working that the people in the companies - and above all the managers - use to achieve their successes (and failures).
What is an absolute must for some people may have never been thought of by others. For some, weekly briefings are routine; others even have trouble arranging such an appointment once a year.
Some show fun and humour; others make you feel like you have to go to the cellar to laugh. Some constantly encourage and challenge themselves with coaching and training, while others almost never do anything of the kind.
The problem: Most people never look...
When I interview a client's executives at the beginning of a collaboration, I almost always ask an intriguing question: "If you had a magic wand and could immediately change something here, what would it be?"
The interesting thing is that almost everyone finds it extremely difficult to answer this question. Not because they don't have enough things to complain about. I've always heard enough of that before.
The problem is different - and that can be very relevant for you and your team: Most of us have forgotten how to think in limitless possibilities. Instead, we are constantly focused on solving problems - also in leadership.
The result: lack of imagination in the design of a strong vision, in the development of strategic possibilities, in positioning in the market and so on.
What does it take to awaken this imagination? Three things above all:
It is difficult to turn an average company (or business area) into a sustainably outstanding one.
That's exactly why the best coaches are called upon in sport when it comes to advancing to the next league (or to the Champions League finals). Also, leadership is extremely important in business for the same reason.
If you study the topic (and especially the successes), it's always these three steps with which you can turn an average team into an outstanding winning team:
What do you think of this summer? Too hot? Or rather, wasn't it too cold until a few days ago?
My point is this: no matter what you think, there will be many people who see the whole thing differently than you do. Although that's actually a trivial insight, but it's always overlooked in everyday life.
Sometimes I jokingly say that as a leadership coach I am at times also an expensive reminder. So, with this point:
Your internal story about this summer has a massive influence on your behavior and your actions (for remembrance: Thinking Behavior Action Results).
If someone has a different story about it (i.e. thinks differently), he or she will behave differently. Thus, they will achieve different results. But it gets even harder: the other person will interpret your behavior from his or her viewpoint. They might also react "strangely" in your view.
Now, here comes the transition to business: we not only think differently only about the summer weather but about everything. It also...
I called this newsletter "Friday Noon Memo".
Thank you for being a reader and by this a supporter of the “success movement” for making the world a better place.
Here are four landmark posts over the last 500 weeks.
Issue #1, October 9th, 2009:
Let me invite you to our Friday noon memo where we discuss fresh ideas about better performance of people and organisations. Enjoy reading.
Always the same story
All organisations presume they are different from the competition. Perhaps they are, to a certain extent; however, three key challenges are almost the same for each organisation, no matter in which industry, of what size, if non-profit or commercial.
It is commonly said, “You will become what you think of most of the time.” This applies to any organization. The more people talk about “unsolvable” problems, the more unsolvable those problems become.
The more managers talk about tough competition from Asia or elsewhere, the more the staff will act as if the situation is hopeless. The more people think that the next meeting is a waste of time, the more likely it is that the meeting will be ineffective.
The root cause is the programming of our brain: we move in the direction we are facing. And we generate the reality we think of most.
This is why the assessment of any company’s difficulties is fairly easy for me as a consultant: most of the time, I just need to listen carefully to how people talk during the day. You as a leader can do the same: listen carefully to yourself and to your people. And then influence the thought patterns.
Here are five ideas:
How much do you look ahead and how much do you look into the rear mirror?
How much time do you spend on creating your future and how much time explaining to others (and yourself) why you do what you do?
These are crucial questions not only for your own life, but even more so for any professional organization.
They squander precious hours on project reviews, steering committee meetings, deep-dives, audits, and reports, forgetting that such time is much better spent moving forward than looking over their shoulders.
Looking backwards is caused by a culture of fear, mistrust, and control. People look into the rear-view mirror to check who is behind them, and organizations and their leaders do the same.
Maybe you know the comical question, "How do you eat an elephant?" The answer: "Bite by bite!"
The background is a very relevant one for changing behaviors and corporate cultures: Most changes never happen - even if you consider them important - because people never really start.
And by "start" I don't mean that you're attending a workshop or reading a book on the subject (although these can be important preparations), but that you're really changing something about yourself.
The order is always: awareness intent to change information execution perseverance.
Steps 1-3 can be seen quite often among individuals and in companies. Even step 4 sometimes still occurs. At step 5 we lost most of the people, despite our best intentions. The elephant mentioned at the beginning still stands tall.
I don't know about you, but I can't hear all the fuss anymore about the coming economic downturn in Europe. Well, I do not presume to predict if and when there will be anyone in the near future or not.
My point is different: the fitter you and your team and your company are, the less any external influences can affect you. On the contrary: the best-trained teams can even benefit from a deterioration of the situation.
I like to talk about going through any crisis in “full swing”. Three examples:
In my leadership development workshops, there is always a miraculous phenomenon: the workgroups develop innovative ideas - often outside the comfort zone - on how to lead people's ways of thinking and behaving towards more success.
This success takes place in "risk-free" exercises, where nothing direct happens to the ideas and results.
Almost everyone agrees that the ideas and measures presented make sense and have desirable positive effects, such as greater enthusiasm, increasing productivity, growing innovative power and so on.
But then something strange often happens: As soon as you give the same workgroups the task of creating concrete action packages for their divisions or departments from these ideas and measures, with milestones and success measures, they snap back into the old, conservative way of thinking. Examples:
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