by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc

“We are not good to each other. Our tribalism is an extremely narrow group of people: our children, our spouse, maybe our parents. Our society is alienating, technical, cold and mystifying. Our fundamental desire, as human beings, is to be close to others, and our society does not allow for that.” Quote by Sebastian Junger in his book ‘Tribe’, where he shares this view by anthropologist Sharon Abramowitz.

 

Junger led us to this quote, while pointing out the current difficulties US war veterans have experienced in reintegrating back into civilian life. He compared US war veteran difficulties with the apparent ease with which Israeli soldiers have been reintegrated; which have been considerably less for many reasons. Also, the rates of reported PTSD are far higher in the US; albeit that he documents – a fair amount of ‘fakery’ in order to qualify for benefit claims, compared with warriors from other nations. A lot of such behavior he suggests is brought about by significant challenges in reintegrating back into their civilian world.

 

In particular, he argues, in a convincing way, how returning soldiers miss the teamwork they experienced in Afghanistan or Iraq, which they don’t find back home – see our opening

quote. It’s also apparently true for returning Peace Corps participants, who have also endured challenging overseas assignments. In both instances, these warriors-operatives were drawn together overseas by adverse circumstances in their demanding assignments. Back home it wasn’t the same.

 

This author has also been part of past similar overseas military and operative assignments and, one thing that doesn’t help, is that close relatives and friends treat them in exactly the same fashion as they did before they left. They don’t take into account the rapid maturation and capability upgrade that has occurred in Vets.-Peace Corps volunteers, due to the dire circumstances they often found themselves in.(NOTE: Is there a strong case for families and friends to be thoroughly educated as to what to expect  and how to behave when their loved ones return home?)

 

Potential employers often treat them like neophytes, even though the level of commitment, professionalism and teamwork they would bring to many civilian roles would be superior to many of the people they already employ. Only employers who have gone through similar experiences would be more open to draw upon their hidden service talents.

 

Conclusions like this remind this writer of one of his most enlightening people leadership experiences. This happened many years back when he was visiting a V-belt and gearbox manufacturer in Hull, England. Our group of master’s level students were briefed and dispatched to tour both operational units. When we returned to the canteen (dining facility), we were asked, “Where do you feel we have the greatest employee relations difficulties in the V-Belt or gear-box facility?”

 

Pretty much everyone felt the company’s greatest people difficulties would be in the V-belt section; with its dirty, grimy, dust-ridden, hot, smelly and hectic environment. It was like peering into a black hole. The gear-box-facility, on the other hand, was relatively clean, airy and quiet – other than lathes milling metal. Machinists were mainly content to stand around in their white coats letting their lathes do the work.

 

It turned out that our group’s conclusions were dead wrong. There was virtually no trouble from the black-hole. People volunteered to go there because morale was invariably high. On the other hand, in the gear-box facility, there were plenty of people complaints, militancy and overall morale issues. One reason being: the lathe operators had plenty of time to stand or sit around thinking about their lot and how life could be better.

 

Could this ironically mean that, the better we make our work environment, the more our people are likely to pursue wishful thinking? Could it be that returning Vets. and Peace Corps members find our advanced society conditions relatively sterile, non-welcoming and lacking in empathy (not sympathy)? Junger’s book again and again provides examples on how so many different tribes pull together in adverse circumstances. Also, he declares the paradox: where people become more selfish during peacetime and more drawn together in times of adversity.

 

What can we learn from this paradox when it comes to teamwork? Nobody’s suggesting that we should throw people into a black-hole every day, or put them into battle-lines, or into harm’s way. Maybe we have to find a substitute that is more civilized than war conditions, although at the same time inspires cohesiveness and produces worthy results. Let’s take a look at what may help:

» Opening gambit – The opposite of threat is opportunity. The bigger the threat the more it pulls people together. That holds for opportunity, too. This writer has been involved in so many scenarios where it has proven to be true. Jim Collins and Jerry Porras’s book, “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies”, call it a Big Hairy Audacious Goal – a “BHAG” as they called it. While the idea has great merit, the book didn’t go far enough, in this writer’s opinion, in clarifying an important ingredient to complement it.

       That ingredient being the share of benefit that a particular organization’s workplace people will also gain out of accomplishing the BHAG objective: be that including greater personal opportunity, rewards and recognition, as well as being part of a highly successful enterprise. In the past, executives or owners have generally reaped all the praise and rewards and used a big management stick with minimal rewards for the producers…no more.

     Among the most fruitful and passionate discussions this writer has ever witnessed with groups of executives, have been when they were charged with the question: “What headline would you like to see about your organization, in a prominent business journal (name it), inside 1, 2 or 3 years from now?”

Once defined: “What things would you reinforce in your organization to accomplish that headline; and what key issues would you address or blockers would you remove to facilitate the same?” Thinking and conversation around such questions draws people together no end.

Work these questions through until your team is ready to pinpoint key priorities and link arms over them because, not only will the organization benefit from the outcome, these principal team members and their people should also reap considerable benefits of accomplishing the designated BHAG…definitely not only money.

» Second gambit – “Pair-up” your key participants to pursue these key priorities. Those pairs will preferably be comprised of people with complementary dispositions and skill sets rather than be strongly similar in outlook. The latter are unlikely to be especially creative, while the former will likely enrich their outcomes. There are ways you can figure this out: including use of the Mercury Communication Preference Survey.*

»Third gambit – Encourage those pairs to enlist – if they so wish – from 2-4 more people from across the enterprise; to collaborate with them on initiatives comprised of WHAT? HOW? WHO? WHEN? WHERE (to go for allies or help)? They should also give themselves a creative team name to encourage team action.

»Fourth gambit – Your follow-through. So many leading executives don’t do this. They throw teams an interesting bone and then trundle off to take care of business-as-usual. After your BHAG session, you need to stay involved weekly initially and then extend that into two-weekly and monthly sessions as momentum builds. Without this follow-through, the least inspired teams forget about their intentions and then other teams get tempted to do the same. If you just stay focused, their initiatives will be accomplished…you don’t have to shout, push or shove.

»Final gambit – Don’t forget the celebration when each team completes. An inexpensive group lunch, a long weekend, a letter of commendation, a pizza party, or combination thereof, goes a long way to reinforce tasks well done and encourages other volunteers to step forward next time around.

 

Assuming these suggestions all fall into place, team members will share how much they had a great team experience. They may even inform you that they would be happy to do it again; just for the camaraderie or tribe exposure. So, coming back to Junger’s book, it’s worthwhile quoting him once more:

“Soldiers experience this tribal way of thinking at war, but when they come home they realize the tribe they were actually fighting for wasn’t for their country, it was for their unit. It makes absolutely no sense to make sacrifices for a group that, itself, isn’t willing to make sacrifices for you.”

Can you find a way to draw upon these tribal instincts within your organization?

________________________________________________________________________

Footnote: This writer is concluding this article on July 4th at Groton Long Point, Connecticut. The GLP community celebrated the occasion with a 5km run and an all-hands parade. Hundreds of tribal runners took part in the run and hundreds more tribalists were out to participate and cheer along a pretty sizeable parade; consisting of kids, cyclists, antique vehicles, snazzy vehicles and fire trucks of all ages and sizes. And so, tribalism still exists somewhere!

______________________________________________________________________

 

To learn more about enlightened leadership, please contact:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
© 1994-2017 Leadership Solutions, Inc (MALRC) All rights reserved

by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.®

“I had an hour scheduled for each of them, and by the end I was really clear about the company’s DNA, and the values that were really important to everyone who works here.” Chip Bergh, CEO of Levi Strauss & Company, NY Times, Sunday Business, June 2017, Corner Office by Adam Bryant.

 

   

   Chip Bergh was sharing the approach he took when he first joined Levi Strauss. In fact, he interviewed the top 60 people for one hour each – that’s 60 hours of work that he considered was so important for gaining a good feel of the company’s culture. For a company that started in San Francisco in 1853 and is still privately owned by the family, he had a lot to find out.

 

He sent out a listing of four questions in advance for those 60 people to answer.  These questions were:

» What are the three things you think we need to change?

» What are the three we have to keep?

» What do you want me to do?

» What are you most afraid I might do?

 

Four great questions that open up to many possibilities. Similar to ones this writer has used during advisory assign-ments over the years, as a means of coming close to understanding the pulse of an organization. Bergh used them as his orientation to Levi Strauss; although, when you think about it, they are questions for CEOs or Presidents to ask at least every couple of years. Such questions, asked of the right groups of people, can definitely help put key executives in greater touch with their people’s mindset.

 

Without a doubt, there’s a strong case for asking such questions at two levels: 1) from a good sample across the entire leadership levels – that is, including first and mid-level leaders, where they exist. 2) From an appropriate sized, random group of frontline people. The second group provides a way of tapping into an organization’s thoughts beyond the leader levels. For small leader clusters, at least 50 % of them being interviewed should do the trick: likely by an out-of- the-hat’ drawing. When it comes to frontline staff, at least 30% random drawing would be a good start for a smaller entity. With a larger entity, maybe a 10% drawing of frontline people from across the board should be sufficient.

 

Quite apart from what the CEO or President would learn; just think of the likely accolades resonating from all organization levels: “Our leadership really cares to listen!”

 

To make such an exercise welcome on future occasions – bearing in mind the recommendation of doing it at least every two years, rather than just as a one-off – two things need to occur:

  • Provide prompt, fair and balanced feedback to your organization after the initial question-interview phase, to confirm your understanding as President/CEO/ leader about what was heard.
  • Establish initiative teams to act upon the information received, so as to reinforce ‘what’s going right’ and upgrade ‘what’s not going so well,’ especially with regard to people engagement.

 

Despite the potential number of issues being raised that need attention; don’t make the mistake of trying to address them all at the outset. Instead, pull your top echelons of leaders together, split them into groupings of no more than six in each group, and ask them to rank their top three: in terms of ‘what’s going right’ and ‘what’s not going so well,’ especially in terms of people engagement. Then reconcile from the total numbers of participant-groupings, the overall top three listings for both factors. An exercise like this will help induce buy-in.

 

Pair-up either six of your most trusted leaders or six pairs of people with the most future leadership potential. Then charge each pair to pick 2-6 members from across the organization to work with them on one of the top three ‘what’s going right’ and ‘what’s not going so well.’ Each team can come-up with two initiatives to cover both factors by indicating: WHAT? HOW? WHO? WHEN? WHERE (to go for advice or help)? Wherever relevant, these initiatives should be linked to people engagement. It helps, as the initiative teams are working through their strategies, for them to give themselves an interesting team name for the duration… it adds some spice to the team effort, particularly if the names are somewhat unusual.

 

By pairing-up certain people to move these initiatives forward; not only does it avoid everyone waiting for the CEO to act, but it also encourages others to get involved and help lead the way. It also enlists them to contemplate issues affecting the entire organization, rather than thinking only about their own smokestack. Furthermore, by drawing-in people from across the enterprise, it expands buy-in, enriches thinking, and exposes potential people talent to making important contributions.

 

Done well, everyone will be looking forward to the next round within the next 6 -18 months. This will be especially true, assuming the CEO goes out of his/her way to sincerely acknowledge all initiatives that have concluded on a positive note. You know: we tend to be rather quick to criticize or complain about our organizations, although are much slower to acknowledge a good job done. Why is that?

 

Whatever acknowledgements are made: they don’t have to be elaborate, expensive or time-consuming – as long as they appropriately relate to the merits of what has been accomplished. Be that from a token gift, a book voucher, a day-off, a personal thank-you note, an inexpensive lunch, etc…or a combination of these ideas. With such acknowledgements, not only will participants feel good about their participation, they will send the right positive signals for future teams to do the same. Hopefully, volunteers will be queuing up to participate in the future.

 

 And so: in terms of getting your people more engaged; you learning more about the pulse of your organization; and in knowing more about its DNA: when do you propose to get started? It could be the most valuable organization investment you’ve ever made. Of course, it requires a degree of commitment and work on your behalf, but what could be more valuable than knowing that your organization will ‘watch your back’ and give its-all?

 

To learn more about workplace people engagement, talk with:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
© 1994-2017 Leadership Solutions, Inc (MALRC) All rights reserved

by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.®

“Bolstered by Durant, Captivating Warriors win second title in Three Years,” sub-title of article by Scott Cacciola, NY Times sports section, June 2017.

 

 

 June 2017 brought about the Golden State Warriors’ vision to win another NBA Championship.  It was finally grasped with a 4-1 series win over arch rivals the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors first two wins on home court in Oakland were quite decisive. Their third game in Cleveland was a close call in the Warriors favor, whereas the fourth was a decisive victory for Cleveland when it hit back hard. The two teams’ fifth and final game back in Oakland see-sawed at times, although the Warriors hung on for a nine point victory.

 

What a contrast from a year ago, when the championship series went for the whole seven games and Cleveland ended up winning the last two. Warriors’ fans were stunned. Their team had just completed a record breaking season of 73 wins and was on a run during their 2016 post-season

games. Many reporters gave them high marks for team leadership, strategy and their quality team members. Stephen Curry was their star player with a strong supporting cast of players. Their coach, Steve Kerr, was also given strong endorsements by commentators. It would be unforgiveable for them to lose out on the 2016/17 season, again.

 

LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love came together, as Cleveland’s most talented players, during those final 2016 games to cause the tremendous upset. Warriors’ fans will point out how they lost Draymond Green in the crucial fifth game, due to a suspension, and Curry wasn’t playing at his best because he was recovering from an ankle injury. So with such an upset, the question was: ‘What were the Warriors going to do differently going forward into the 2016/17 season, if they were going to return as champions once more?’ Clearly they had some soul-searching to do by way of our pathfinding – Simple Success Strategy – model depicted above – Vision-Strategy, People-team, and Leadership. The Warriors’ thinking in each area dribbled out into view over time.

 

Their Vision-Strategy: to be the best basketball team for years to come, was still very much in place: as confirmed in the same New York Times article quoted above. Its author also wrote: ‘The Golden State Warriors will forever be known as one of the most talented teams in the history of the NBA…’ However, in June 2016, it was quickly announced, after their record breaking 73 wins during the regular season, that their strategy wouldn’t be to top that number in their 2016/17 run. As a team, it realized that by aiming for that 73 number again, it would just exhaust players before the playoffs.

 

When it came to their People-Team: they had a stroke of luck. Although the Warriors were comfortable with Curry’s talent and that of many of its other players, it realized that it wasn’t practical for him to take Cleveland’s full defensive as a lone star player. He had to miss games in the 2016 playoffs due to an ankle injury, but those playoffs also showed his weariness after their tremendous regular season record run.

 

To the Warriors extreme good fortune, Kevin Durant, a star player of the Oklahoma Thunder, was becoming a free agent at the end of the 2016 season. Durant was approached by Golden State which had a great team culture and the potential to win another title. He had never been part of a champion team or the holder of a highly-prized championship ring, even though he was in the finals against Miami a few years previously.

 

Although there were concerns about having two gifted stars on one team – he and Curry – its selfless team approach appealed to him. So he jumped ship and neither he nor the Warriors have regretted it one bit. Durant has now earned his first championship ring with his winners cap. He’ll also get a trip to meet the US President, as all winning teams do. All the things he had been denied during his days at Oklahoma, despite his considerable talent.

 

Durant put up some outstanding, consistent point numbers during the playoffs, especially during the final series. His cool demeanor and clever talent has been a boon for Curry, who has been able play under less overall pressure; even though the Cavaliers did double team him during game four in Cleveland.

When it comes to leadership: it would appear that the ownership board and Warriors coach, Steve Kerr, have all remained in place to provide leadership stability. Game followers were made aware that Kerr has had a tough time since late 2015 when he underwent back surgery. That surgery apparently didn’t go well, to the point where he had to be absent from court sidelines in recent weeks. To cover an associate head coach, Mike Brown, was brought in to bolster coaching efforts and lead courtside efforts when Kerr was unable to be there.

 

Ironically, Brown was the former coach at Cleveland Cavaliers for two stints in recent years. He was the primary courtside coach for the Warriors during Game 1 of the final series, while Kerr sat it out in the players’ locker-room. There must have been undoubted irony in Brown’s mind with coaching against his former team. Who knows whether LeBron James helped spike Brown’s departure at Cleveland, since it’s more than likely James plays a prominent part in off-court player calls; which, Winston Lue, the relative rookie Cavalier coach, probably goes along with? That wouldn’t have happened with Brown, who seemed to perform well in his cameo finals appearance for the Warriors. His team won that game by a large margin.

 

Having won its second championship inside three years, Golden State now has to start preparing for the 2017/18 season and the possibility of another championship run. In fact, it will likely only have a matter of days to enjoy its current 2017 victory before starting to seriously think about next season. It will have to go through re-examining and integrating its whole cycle again: Vision-Strategy, People-Team, and Leadership.

 

Successful teams like the Warriors have to operate in the same way as successful businesses and institutions. If they seek ongoing success, they must regularly review their pathway. Too often they don’t because they become too immersed in the here and now. They take care of today’s games and let tomorrow’s games take care of themselves. One of the chief reasons that teams like Golden State can win two championships inside three years, with the promise of more to come, is because they devote sufficient time to thinking about “tomorrow,” too.

 

To find out more about building a strategic pathway, talk with:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
© 1994-2017 Leadership Solutions, Inc (MALRC) All rights reserved

  by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.®

“The leaders of history’s championship (sports) dynasties relied on a range of surprising traits; from dissent and rule-breaking to emotional self-control and low-key communication style.” Taken from WSJournal article by Sam Walker titled, ’The Seven Secrets of Great Team Captains,’ May 2017. 

 

 

    Walker listed what he felt were the 16 greatest teams in international sports history covering 10 different countries, including the US. These teams he wrote, ‘…all had just one shared characteristic; Their long streaks of dominance began or ended…with the tenure of one player. And in every case, this player was, or eventually became the captain.’

 

He then went on to chronicle the seven qualities that he felt made them into the leaders they became, such as:

» Taking care of unglamorous tasks.

» Breaking the rules for a purpose.

» Practical communicator rather than giving lofty speeches.

» Using deeds to motivate people.

» Were independent thinkers; not afraid to ‘rebel.’

» Were restless individuals.

» Showed remarkable self-control.

Take a close look at this listing and compare it with the generally held view of leadership characteristics: like – charismatic, smooth-talker, toeing the party line, knows-everything, life-and-soul-of-the-party, brilliant speech maker, winner-in-every-way, power builder. Do you observe many differences?

 

Perhaps this is why we so often pick the wrong leaders and most certainly the wrong political ones, to the detriment of so many countries. It scares this writer, when he is considers how many bad political leaders there are in our world and thinking about how they possibly got there? Companies often pick the wrong leaders, sports franchises do the same, and so do school systems, universities, and so on. But those responsible for selecting these erroneous leaders still believe they know how to pick the right ones. This is not intentional, but due to a clear misunderstanding of what effective leadership is about. They know one, when they see one; is their refrain!

 

Now let’s draw upon an article from the New York Sunday Times, Business Section, May 2017 edition, entitled, “When Power Doesn’t Corrupt” by Matthew Hutson. It makes the point, ‘When you see power as a source of freedom, you are likely to use it yourself, selfishly. When you see it as a responsibility, you tend to be self-less.’ This emphasizes the point that, when executives are forced to consider issues important to their people, they are less power-hungry or selfish.

 

Unfortunately, too often, power-hungry executives accumulate sycophants around them – people who will say anything to make their lead-executives feel or look good. Such sycophants do their lead-executives and their organizations a disservice. They also expect the same from their own people or team leaders, hence such behavior cascades throughout their organization. Such organizations eventually become full of “yes-people” and then they begin to falter. Look at what happened to the great Roman dynasty; or other great dynasties come to that (Ottoman, Chinese or British Empires?).

 

Then there are the distinct differences between managers and leaders, even though we need both, as defined by a well known Fortune Magazine edition some years ago – you can see these nearby. Such definitions underscore manage-

 

ment as being more of a day-to-day control function and certainly is distinctly different from leadership. Leadership is more focused on tomorrow. There are very few executives who are strongly talented in both areas, so they have to either complement themselves or ensure they don’t take positions which won’t allow them to draw upon their management or leadership strengths… something hard to do for ambitious executives. It comes back to the selfishness again.

 

Leaders tend to be more objective about themselves and what they are and are not capable of. Managers tend to believe: the more they’re in-charge; the more they can control events…to our loss.

 

Beyond that, many executives have the know-how and capability to run a Savvy Enterprise, where they orchestrate:

» Vision-Strategy; » Communication; » Marketing, » Finance; and Technology.

However, this listing is only one side of running an effective enterprise. These competences alone cannot be duly optimized without organizations having a Resilient Backbone – by being capable in such areas as:

» Strong coherence; » Positive politics; » Robust morale; » Heightened productivity; » Healthy retention.

(NOTE: Authentic leaders are inherently better at these latter factors due to their natural bias toward people and progress; whereas managers are more inclined toward systems and process. Again, we need all four italicized dimensions in proper balance.) Let’s take a closer look at some of the differences in these five latter dimensions:

» Strong coherence – Managers primarily focus on numbers, which are only part of coherence. Leaders also take into account such things as – compelling purpose, across-the-team input, achievable objectives, inducing camaraderie, empowering people, and ensuring know-how availability. Accomplishing the latter five areas means work; whereas numbers can be happenstance and offer limited thinking required.

» Positive politics – Because they have been indoctrinated that way, managers too often focus on ‘what’s wrong’ and invoke negative politics – by getting people to compete against each other and constantly recording who’s up and who’s down. Leaders try to avoid these habits and encourage positive thinking and attitudes instead.

» Robust morale – Managers believe that by reaching their numbers and using financial incentives, they will induce a robust morale. As the father of modern motivational thinking, Fred Herzberg, or his modern counterpart Dan Pink in his book ‘Drive,’ will convince you: Money is a short-lived motivator. Herzberg relates: ‘Incentives are as short-lived as his mother needing to re-dust their house every day.’ Money doesn’t compare to treating people with respect, allowing them to succeed, being part of a warm-spirited team, endowing a feeling of trust, imbuing them with valuable knowledge, and offering a constant purpose.

» Heightened productivity – Managers apply all sorts of tricks to increase productivity: including automation, incentives, accountability, measurement, and so forth. In the right circumstances, extrinsic motivators like these can produce decent short-term results. Even so, as with all extrinsic motivators, the moment they are removed, productivity lags and so metaphorical whips have to be applied again and again, with an increasing price tag, until people grow tired of them or leave.

        Leaders instead turn to human ingenuity, treating people with dignity, enabling them to monitor their progress, enthusing them through team camaraderie, allowing true empowerment, and instilling the right skill-set – all to inspire longer-term success that is self-sustaining.

 » Healthy retentionManagers are inclined to use various gimmicks to minimize turnover. Their programs often unwittingly make workplaces more toxic rather than less; whereas leaders are realistic enough to accept that a certain amount of people-turnover is inevitable in a growing organization. Organizations can and should outgrow people. The lower leaves on trees and plants fall-off as they become bigger and stronger. It’s natural and acceptable within reason; as long as executives can look themselves in the mirror and feel they did everything reasonable to retain people.

 

    So, from three different perspectives: Sport team leadership, Manager-leader differences, and Manager-leader options for building a ‘resilient backbone’: we understand more clearly ‘what leadership is and isn’t.’ With this extra clarity, you will be in a better position to make key decisions vital to leading your enterprise forward. Drop the myths and embrace the realities and you will succeed more than others in a leadership role.
To learn more about being a leader, talk with:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
© 1994-2017 Leadership Solutions, Inc (MALRC) All rights reserved

by Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.®

“Conversation among employees increases productivity.” From NY Times Sunday Review article using a similar headline by Sherry Turkle, MIT Professor, September 2015.

 

 

    This writer has hung onto this article waiting for the right moment to draw upon its profound message. Professor Turkle also made the point: ‘…that when two people are talking, the mere presence of a phone on a table between them or in the periphery of their vision changes both what they talk about and the degree of connection they feel.’

 

Assuming this is true, and it’s more than likely you know it’s true, we need to rethink our behaviors around cell-phones if we’re also determined to increase organization momentum and productivity. In the same way that the sight of phones detracts from our talk intentions, so they also impact our desire to engage in a serious conversation to move things forward. We become tentative about engaging in a serious topic because we’re nervous that the overt presence of a cell-phone will interrupt the flow of any profound, focused conversation. Hence cell-phones can become potential blockers to natural progress.

 

If you’re like this writer, you may be quietly irritated when someone is constantly peeking at their cell-phone while you’re trying to make an important point… a point that might benefit them and their team members to a significant degree. Their greater interest in their next text message speaks volumes: ‘I’m really not interested in this conversation.’ Suppose we said, “You’re obviously not interested in this conversation; I’m leaving.” They would paradoxically think you were rude. What does that signal when executives focus on text messages in front of their team members?

 

Cell-phones have also enticed people to the mythical habit of multi-tasking. Whether we like it or not, multi-tasking is a big myth. Human nature and physiology is designed such that it can only perform effectively and completely when we are unitasking. As the Professor also asked: “What if the communications industry began to measure the success of their devices not by how much consumers spend on them, but whether it is time well spent?” Think of unitasking as the next big thing – in your organization, at any rate.

 

To gain the most from our cell-phones and the potential acceleration of productivity, through meaningful in-person conversation, we ought to have some genuine dialog and debate within our organizations…see later. This is especially important for younger generations who have entered our workforce, since they are addicted to their phones and know no better than being glued to them.

 

However, there are some glimmers of hope, as in the case of the same Times writer who shared an anecdote about a 15 year old boy: ‘…some day he wanted to raise a family, not the way his parents are raising him (with phones out during meals and in the park, and during his sports events), but the way his parents think they are raising him – with no phones at meals and plentiful family conversation.’

 

   So, with this glimmer of hope, reinforced by stories about young people attending remote camps, where they have to manage without their precious phones for a few days or weeks: it allows them to experience epiphanies about wonderful, meaningful conversations and the related benefits. They began to appreciate the advantages and feelings associated with empathy. Drawing therefore on this notion, maybe every organization needs to debate and draw-up some fresh guidelines, which could perhaps go like this:

» Create a shelf space in every work area for cell-phones to be parked on one side and left in the “Do not disturb mode” for certain hours of the work day.

» Except in the case of emergency situations or customer call centers; have phones in a quiet mode for 2-3 hours at a time.

» At team sessions, phones should be put away in the space provided – preferably out of reach of its owner.

» Customers or key contacts should be advised of quiet periods or team meetings in advance, so they do not expect contact at those times. Done within reason, they will more often than not respect that.

» Executives should be especially conscious of the example they set: what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

» If it’s necessary to take an emergency call, then step out of the room so that it doesn’t interfere with anyone else.

» Certain times of the week should be set aside for team dialog – members’ phones should again be placed out of their reach.

» Wherever possible, a face-to-face meeting should take precedence over texting or phone calls within the same office environment.

» And more?

 

Producing a set of working principles along these lines will go a long way toward creating a more people connected and productive environment within your organization; particularly with the younger members of your workforce. They will now be challenged to utilize and apply their innate talents, rather than staring at their phones looking for inspiration. We owe it to them to nudge them into the art of conversation, which was denied them during their formative years. That way they will feel more fulfilled, productive and part of a real team rather than an imaginary one.

 

 Take a hard look at what’s going on at all levels within your organization. Consider the momentum and productivity gains that can be made by the mantra; “Stop Googling: Instead, Let’s Talk.”

 

To learn more about “the art of business conversation”, talk with:



Arnie Friedland -Long Island – (516) 446-6447 or arnie@ileadershipsolutions.com;
Chris Garratt –Europe- (+352) 2631 3384 or chris@lse.lu
Denise Lalonde – New York- (212) 974 1438 or denise@ileadershipsolutions.com
Esther Celosse – Europe – (+33) 658 867 350 or esther@lse.lu
Ed Frontera – Florida – (561) 715 0447 or ed@ileadershipsolutions.com
Jim Leonhard –California – (916) 550 7075 or jimhl@ileadershipsolutions.com
Olger Draijer –Europe-(+352) 45 88 35 or olger@lse.lu
Paul Schonenberg – Europe – (+352) 621 23 3131 or paul@lse.lu
Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- (212) 332-8907 or peter@ileadershipsolutions.com
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