Thought of the Week – If you’re not getting better you are getting worse
Business is fierce and rapidly changing. It is not enough to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your previous work or even maintain your current pace or capabilities. You and your team must evolve and grow. While harsh it is absolutely reality that if you are not getting better you are getting worse.
You must strive daily to improve and be in constant pursuit of positive growth. This focus will separate you from the pack in the end. Improving does not happen naturally however. It must be worked for. It must be planned and never left for chance.
Develop an improvement plan and review for progress at least bi-weekly. Dream big and big things will happen if you commit and follow through. So, follow through you must. Think. Execute. Adapt. Then Repeat. Get specific and go win!
*Originally published on LinkedIn
This morning while enjoying my early Sunday morning coffee and looking out at the countryside I was thinking how blessed we are to live in such a country. I turned on the news and my peace was instantly interrupted when the news anchor announced that the family of a Gold Star military member was booed while on a plane. Yes, you read that right. The family was actually booed. To make matters worst, the family was on route to pick up the dead body of their son. Killed in Afghanistan by a suicide bombing while saving hundreds. How can this happen?
We have to get back to civility. How could this be seen as normal or acceptable behavior? Regardless if you are for or against war we should never demean the brave that serve. I thank this family for the bravery and the biggest sacrifice anyone can make. This young man gave his life. The least me can do is acknowledge his unbelievable courage and show some class.
It is up to us moving forward to not allow this abuse to occur. This is not a matter of freedom of speech being exercised. This was nothing more that a show of extreme disrespect. There is not acceptable. We should not sit silent and watch this happen.
We need to lead the way and bring civility back as a burning principle of our country. Please pass this on and let’s show respect to our fallen. We all have the opportunity to set the example for others. Let’s act, watching from the sidelines is no acceptable.
The third installment of what helped in slay my own personal dragons and to push through adversity and succeed; Gain perspective. The passage of time really helps here but the quicker you put your situation in to context the better. I found when I experienced my challenging time recently that I became depressed. This was a first for me. It shook me at my core and really scared me. However, with the passage of time and real perspective you see how fortunate you are to be alive. Look at the misery around you and I strongly recommend that you read In Mans Search For Meaning by Victor Frankel. It is a quick read but will provide life long lessons for you. Good luck. Onwards!
Inspiring others, stoking a fire of passion in others, is an art that cannot be understated. To inspire others to follow you, embrace your dream as their own, and work towards making that dream come true, is a phenomenal though poorly understood concept that paradoxically remains of the utmost significance in the professional world, yet fails to be taught. How does an entrepreneur teach others to be the best of themselves? How does a leader cultivate ambition while retaining top talent? How does a CEO gain the loyalty of his/her workers and not encourage stagnancy?
Such are but a few of the many questions that Max Depree’s Leadership is an Art explores with versatile accuracy. Acknowledging the multitude of prevailing beliefs that currently characterize the ‘right way’ to lead, Depree concisely but comprehensively answers many of the questions that plague modern leadership. He teaches many lessons, and so I have chosen to list a few of my favorite just below:
“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say ‘Thank you.’ In between the two, the leader must become a servant and a debtor.”
In developing any capitalistic enterprise, the leader must understand expectation and articulate what is considered success and what is failure. In achieving such, the leader must do whatever they can to produce what he or she said would be produced, be that a product or service. Yet, even when acting as a “servant,” the leader must understand they are always doing so for a price, thus acting as a “debtor.”
“Leaders don’t inflict pain; they bear pain.”
The harsh reality of running a business is that there is sacrifice. There is burden. There is pain. However, even in the face of difficulty, a leader cannot bend to the stress. To bend to the stress, to take your stress and displace it onto others, namely other employees, is to discourage those you’re supposed to encourage. In order to secure the best possible productivity from your workers, you must set a stellar example they can model. While it is hard to not internalize stress, leaders must strive to remain relaxed. Otherwise, said internalized stress will manifest in other ways, hurtful ways.
“Participative management is not democratic. Having a say differs from having a vote.”
An important though subjective distinction, it is significant to let your employees know they have a voice in the organization and where it’s going. However, an effective leader must also realize that, ultimately, the final decision is up to him or her. Moreover, employees themselves must realize this. They must understand that while their input is appreciated, it is not necessarily, or by any means really, the end all be all. Depree delves into detail on this vague idea and provides insightful advice on how to approach and implement this philosophy.
The truth is that leadership is a dynamic skill, changing with the tides and altering with the current state of the company. What leadership requires a year ago may be different today. What leadership requires at one company may differ considerably from what leadership requires at a different company. Leadership is malleable, flexible, but strong. It is an art top business executives must learn and must always continue to learn; and Depree helps do just that.
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t delves into several fascinating facets of business that all-too-often go neglected. While Collins’ former book focused on establishing greatness in a company at its conception, Good to Great emphasizes the transformation. Can a company turn over a new leaf? Can a company transform a legacy of mediocrity into a legend of greatness?
Collins chose to answer this timeless question through a meticulous structure that is inherent in his novel. Using rigid benchmarks, Collins and his team organized companies by good and great, and then looked at their inner workings, examining what exactly separated the average from the spectacular.
Collins split his findings into several sections including but not limited to:
–Level Five Leaders: The leadership required to achieve a level of greatness was stunning. Meticulous, inspirational, and empathetic, these leaders provide a stellar example in all that they do.
–The Hedgehog Concept: Companies must exceed expectations and mere competence. They must strive for perfection. As they say, “Shoot for the moon and you may land among the stars.” One must raise the bar in order to transcend average limitations. What was average before is less than average now. As human beings, we continually improve upon ourselves in an effort to not just better ourselves, but to better the world around as well. Yet, it all starts with expectation and the mental limits we set for ourselves. We should set high expectations and not just set those expectations, but strive to exceed them. It is only by force of will that a company can become better than good, and that company must believe it will be better than good in order for that dream to come to fruition.
-A Culture of Discipline: Discipline is absolutely required for any company to transcend the mere boundaries of competence. Yet, capitalistic ventures must be sure to not fall victim to the boredom inherent in routine also. While discipline is certainly a pillar of success, so is innovation and entrepreneurship. A schedule should be maintained, but said schedule should also allot time for creativity and encourage innovation. By balancing these two integral facets of business, leaders will foster a culture of capitalistic excellence that never becomes entrenched in stagnation.
–The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: If something is at fault with the system, CEO’s must be careful to not impulsively enact a massive restructuring program within the company. In fact, those enterprises that do so are almost guaranteed to never make the leap from good to great. Rather, company leaders should identify the issue and instead formulate a more appropriate, less extreme solution. Through compromise, a company can rectify issues and proceed to greatness despite any initial setbacks.
All in all, I’d recommend thumbing through Good to Great. Although not entirely comprehensive, it is certainly worth the read.