A client called to talk to me about creating a vision. He was struggling because he felt hand-cuffed by too many constraints. I responded by explaining the need to maintain a clear distinction between the vision and the journey. That evening, while watching Nelson Mandela’s Long Road to Freedom, I remembered our conversation. Right in the middle of the movie, Nelson Mandela, his fellow leaders of the ANC, and two wives embodied the problems that occur when that distinction is blurred. (more…)
“Is the Hard-Nosed Boss Obsolete?” (WSJ May 22) cries for clarity. In a nutshell, tough bosses are not terrible bosses; terrible bosses are terrible bosses.
Terrible bosses are disrespectful, demeaning, and don’t act in the best interests of the company. That’s about it. All the other adjectives and examples raised in association with tough bosses by this article do not make someone a bad boss:
- Being direct
- Killing underperforming initiatives
- Firing underperforming employees
- Not sugar-coating
- Being aggressive
- Making tough decisions
- Being demanding
Employees value bosses with high expectations for themselves and others who are also compassionate, kind, and fair. If you continually demonstrate your ability and determination to help the company and its employees excel, being direct, demanding, and plenty tough will never be obstacles.
Both sons-in-law were quite taken aback when I made a comment one day about not being judgmental. I have no memory of the context, but I certainly remember the incident! It was almost as jolting as the time my husband, a.k.a my mixed doubles partner, yelled “That’s the third time!” But that’s another story.
I asked these shocked young men to give me examples. They did and I was both in agreement and relieved with the evidence presented. Judgmental I was! But a clear distinction was in order! (more…)
When I was in my early twenties, the best paying part time job around was driving school buses. I studied up, got my special license, and ventured forth on field trips, athletic excursions, and several daily runs chock full of little, loud blonds (this was Minnesota, afterall). The average driver seemed about forty years older than I, but they were helpful and nice. The Office Manager was another story.
I remember one day when I was backing into the bus garage. She stood and watched, so I watched her in addition to all my mirrors. I assumed no reaction from her meant no problem. Wouldn’t you?
Afterwards, without a word to me, she walked into the office and reported to my boss that I’d backed over some washing equipment. I never felt it. Never saw it. Don’t even know if it was true. Assuming it was, I couldn’t believe she stood there and watched me do it without any warning of any kind. No shout. No raised arm. No help what so ever. (more…)
My clients strive to be fair to their employees. Where they struggle is in the distinction between fair and equal. The goal is to treat people fairly, not equally.
Equal means the same. Identical. But employees are like snowflakes; no two are quite alike. They don’t all need the same level or type of support to succeed. Nor do they want or deserve the same opportunities. They come from different backgrounds and never contribute in the exactly same way. Furthermore, employees don’t even like to be rewarded in the same way. Equal treatment does not necessarily make sense.
Fairness, however, is a worthy goal. When people believe they are being treated fairly, they can relax and focus on the prioirities and challenges they face. When they feel unfairly treated, their focus shifts completely and they devote more energy to protecting their own interests than tackling important priorities.
Equal may or may not be fair, but fair is always fair!
Want to know how to ensure employees are, and feel, fairly treated?
Having arrived early for a client meeting, I became privy to a conversation spurred by heavy resistance to changes they were trying to make. Those present proposed many ideas to reduce the resistance. Unfortunately, those ideas were of two distinct types:
- Changes to the goal
- Changes to the methods used to achieve the goal
If you are struggling with implementation, whether encountering resistance or hitting other obstacles, be sure to distinguish between the ends and the means. If your goal is sound, don’t sacrifice it just because you haven’t found a suitable method for achieving it. There are always multiple paths to any destination. If your desired end point is important, stay strong and find a new path.
My daughter is jumping out of an airplane tomorrow.
When I first heard, I asked her what kind of training she would get. “There is no need,” she said. ‘You jump with an expert. You are never on your own. They even pull the ripcord for you. They do this all the time.”
So there is no reason to worry. Right? The likelihood of a problem is tiny. They do this all the time and she is literally in the hands of experts.
I woke up suddenly from a dream (more…)
Strategic planning is an oxymoron. Throwing these two words around together constantly has done a lot of damage. When I help clients with “strategic planning,” I have to undo a lot of that harm. The distinction between strategy and planning is critical, especially if your goal is to create a compelling and successful future.
When you develop a strategy, you need to be looking at: (more…)
I’m frequently asked about the difference between objectives and goals. My response: Who cares! This is not a distinction worthy of discussion. Here is why:
- Do you know what you are trying to accomplish?
- Is your definition of success sufficiently clear and specific so it will be obvious when you have achieved it?
- Do you have a reasonable deadline from which to work backward in scheduling your work?
- Are you committed to success, including knowing what is of lesser importance and may need to be put aside in order to succeed?
If yes to all four, you are in good shape whether you think you have goals, objectives, both, or neither.
If not, you won’t get anywhere regardless of whether you think you have goals, objectives, both, or neither.
Debating the difference between goals and objectives is as useless as most goals and objectives because most goals and objectives don’t meet these four criteria.
I’ve been called stubborn a time or two, but I swear it is only by people who don’t know the difference between stubborn and persistent! I believe we should all avoid being stubborn and strive to be persistent. The world is not an easy place so persistence is essential. Persistence gets us over hurdles, through tough times, past confusion, and farther down the road to success. Stubbornness just gets us into trouble!
If you are persistent:
- You doggedly pursue results and are willing to consider different ways to get there
- You may repeat yourself in an effort to persuade
- You ask questions sincerely and listen eagerly for new information (more…)