Is your leadership too impressed with size?

It looks like there is a new silent killer out there when it comes to organizational and team success.  Size.  Which is somewhat of a paradox considering growth is viewed as success.  If something is great of course more people are going to want whatever it is you offer.  As leaders, do we deny an obvious demand?  The modern issue with growth is it slows our ability to change and adapt. Growth causes more structure.  Growth causes more policy.  Growth causes more procedures.  Growth causes a team to increase the amount of people involved.  And people...well people have a hard time with changing structure, changing policy, and changing procedures.  The larger an organization or team grows it becomes like a large ship that struggles to turn.  When technology has provided us so many means of accelerated work and communication can our organizations move slowly without sinking?

I think it depends on what kind of resources your organization or team is investing in innovation.  It wasn't uncommon for big ships to have spotters.  Individuals who kept their eyes on the horizon to make sure the direction of the ship wasn't aiming at disaster. Who's doing that for your team?  Who has their eyes on the horizon for disaster but even more has their eyes looking for opportunity.  This modern world is offering opportunity all the time.  It may not be an opportunity for revenue it might be an opportunity for more efficiency or a clearer way to communicate.  The bigger the organization the more eyes need to be on the horizon looking for both pitfalls and opportunities.  The organization or team most threatened by growth is led by the leader who can hear the spotter's advice but believes the ship is unsinkable or insists the direction of the ship is greater than the threat. Don't be that guy or gal. You might think you're proving the strength of the ship to everyone but we know how that story ends.

How are you encouraging innovation on your team?  What have you learned by having eyes on the horizon?  Would love to hear about your experience in the comment section below!


Leadership lessons from a golf course beating

Every so often I get the privilege of playing at Colonial Golf Club in Fort Worth, Texas.  For some that might not mean anything but to golfers it immediately is recognized.  Colonial is a private course that has hosted a slew of PGA events and is known as the golf home of the legendary, Ben Hogan. [youtube=DEjYC8ecULw]

Click here to watch the video in reader.

Well guess what?  I'm not Ben Hogan.  I am a average (maybe a little to much credit) golfer at best.  Colonial kicks my butt so bad every time I play I wonder why I agreed to play it again.  But I always come back.  I mean, it's a chance to play at THE Colonial.

When I play golf there I think about people and leadership.  People want an amazing experience.  It's the same reason why I agree to play at Colonial when I know it's going to be brutal on the scorecard.  BUT!  I can say I've been lucky enough to play at Colonial.  People want to be able to say, "Yep, I was there."  Or, "Yep, I was on that team when we accomplished (that)."  People should get that opportunity from us as leaders.  That's what we should work for; not just our dreams but a collective dream of a team.

So with that in mind, here are some leadership lessons I learn at Colonial:

1.  Put down the telescope - The main reason Colonial kicks my butt is because I can only play the shot I'm currently hitting.  To beat that course, the player has to always be thinking about the next shot and then put the ball in the best place for the next shot.  My golf game is like tunnel vision.  And this is how most new leaders coach...through a telescope.  We focus on one or two things instead of seeing the whole picture, which doesn't include the next shot either.  Great leaders are always looking to what's the next challenge for individuals or their team and coaches them towards those things.

2.  Bring the right sticks - Colonial has fairway bunkers that look like spring break destinations.  The beach is open kids.  The pros carry the right clubs in their bags to play out of those bunkers.  I think there are some essential "sticks" every modern leader needs to carry in their bag today: Generosity.  Affirmation.  Vision.

3.  Bring a pro - My first time at Colonial the relative who had the membership couldn't play with us.  The course rule is a golf pro employed at the course has to play with you when the member is not in attendance.  The pro would talk about how to play into the next shot.  Hazards to be aware of.  What this other pro did in this exact same spot.  Too many leaders are scared to ask for help in new situations.  I'm telling you, bring a pro.

Here's good news: You're capable of playing at the highest level.  Remember to not get locked into the immediate.  Have the right sticks in your bag that are appropriate for the modern era of leadership.  And don't be afraid to seek help from a pro who's been there before!


What Albert Pujols, Tim Tebow, and Harry Potter have in common

Absolutely nothing. At least not to me.  I'm sure someone out there could find some phenomenal commonalities and write a fascinating blog post that could change your week but this one isn't it.

I wanted you to see the title of this blog entry and click on it because it proves a point.  All of us in leadership are now bidding for the attention of people.  The internet allows people to make an instant decision about information they want to receive and information they don't want to receive.  For a leader this leads to THE question, "So how do I get people's attention so that they will BE A PART of this ____________ (team, organization, company, etc...)?"

Each of the figures have a tribe, BIG tribes, and the tribe is already interested.  The reason you clicked on this is that you knowingly or unknowingly are a part of one of those three tribes.  An experience is the difference, that's how a person becomes even more engaged!  All three have a strategy to feed their tribes information and allow connection around an experience or their tribes would fall apart (Pujols will continue to hit bombs, Tebow will continue to win games, Harry will continue with movies, books, and I guarantee Broadway is coming soon).  I guess what the three have in common is that none of them are hurting in the financial column, what do you think?

We are leading in a new time, leading and connecting the tribe has to be priority one for all leaders.  An experience creates belonging to a tribe, but leadership and communication towards future experiences keeps people in the tribe.

Question: How are you being connected to your favorite tribe?


The organization is cold and heartless

As a matter of fact it's lifeless.  That's because the organization is an idea.  It's a set of disciplines or principles that a group of people have rallied around, it ORGANIZes them towards a direction.

In the beginning, the organization is about people.  Organizations start to help people, to serve people, or to reach people. Success leads to growth.  Growth, however, will lead an organization to turn inwards and begin to protect itself even though it is only a set of principles or disciplines.  Without people, nothing ever would have happened in the first place.  People know when they have been working for an organization that is consumed with protecting the organization instead of it's people.  The most obvious indicator that organizational self protection has begun if policy is created because of one person's mistake.

How does an organization get past self protection?

1.  It goes upside down.  Organization that self protect are always top/down structures.  When organizations decide to be about people first it allows input from those closest to doing the work.

2.  It strives for engagement.  At every level it says, "I see you working" to those doing the work instead of saying, "Could you do more?"  Most organizations are missing the most obvious opportunity through social networks to say, "Way to go," and actually get back a, "Thanks for noticing!".

3.  It says thank you.  This is probably the biggest loss in an organization when it becomes focused on self protection.  The organization takes on a "You're lucky to work here," instead of a, "Thank you for serving."  In the chain of command the comment should always be made from top/down, "Thank you for doing what you do."

Don't allow your organization to become consumed with self.  Make sure it's quick to listen, works to engage the workers, and it is so quick to say thank you.