Manage Yourself


Multitudes of career climbing Managers are absolutely obsessed with the mentation of securing the Credit for an Idea.  These grasping self-image constructors maneuver situations, twist conversations, compose politics, and employ devious tactics, to insure they receive the credit “they deserve”; all in the name of their own fair play.  They are convinced and believe their ideas are uniquely exceptional to the pool of creative

Taking Credit for Ideas

thought and without their brilliant sentiments the organization would be immovable in its own mire.   At best they are braggarts; at worst self-centered egotist set on marginalizing everyone around them.  Focused on “scoring points” as their primary “get ahead” strategy they calculate moves like a Chess master purposefully moving pieces into play.  Their intent of gaining the advantage and capture of “credit for the idea” sets up a win-lose game in which they must prevail.

These lustful credit abductors often become boisterous and obnoxious as they brag about the origin of their thought.  They insist the whole world fathom and concede the origination and proprietorship of their idea, so there will be no doubt who should receive the credit for it.

If the idea is fruitfully implemented, they crave the need to thrust themselves out front of the Team in an attempt to claim a personal victory.  When their boss gets credit for an idea’s successful execution, the credit monger feels slighted, undermined, and even pilfered.  Without their due credit rancor builds manifesting a bitter victim, bent getting even.  This “Go or No Go” Strategy based on credit redemption results in a half accomplished agenda at best.

These credit monger Managers promote their ideas at every turn for one primary reason.  If the idea works out, they expect recognition and praise showered upon them as an individual.  They expect their future value to increase over those around them as they take one more step up the ladder of success.  After all, without their idea, wouldn’t everyone else have lingered lost and hopeless?  Of course, should the idea fail they

Taking the Credit

quickly fade into the background orphaning the failure as unequivocally and neatly as possible.

So what is the debauchery with a little “blowing your own horn” and taking credit for a legitimate idea.  After all, there is undoubtedly nothing wrong with producing breakthrough ideas.  It is an imperative portion of every Leader’s trade to do precisely this – create great ideas.  Much of a Manager’s success will be determined not only by his ability to generate great ideas, but his capacity to effectively implement them with his Team and meet the organization’s goals.  However, when an idea’s path and strategy is manipulated and cajoled in an effort to attain the net gain of getting credit for it, a Manager has stopped thinking about what is best for the company and has selfishly focused on his own pride.

Leaders advance their position, improve their stature, and fortify their power base through the operative implementation of ideas.  It is the idea’s results that ultimately matters.  Strong and effective Leaders realize the price paid for focusing on “getting the credit” is too high to pay.  Taking credit is the #1 obstacle to getting things done.

Once rewards are secured to idea creation two things begin to happen.  First, people begin to pick and choose the ideas they put forth based on their calculated assessment of their own self-interest moving forward.  This premeditation stunts creativity, shuts down brainstorming, and undermines collaborative efforts.  Secondly, they arise to shoot down and kill the ideas of others.  Why should they work hard on another’s idea if the glory only goes to the originator?

As a Leader you must focus yourself and your Team on the execution of ideas and the accomplishment of goals if you want true enduring recognition and success.  You must be willing to forgo the boasting and the “pats on the back” for your great ideas and shift the focus continually to the efforts of the Team’s accomplishments

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit”.

President Harry S. Truman

 President Harry Truman

The speediest and most assured method to advance momentum for an idea is to “give the credit away”! Allowing people to think something was their idea, is one of the most effective tactics for the efficacious flight of a plan.  When you permit people to share in the creation of an idea, they become personally invested in its success; their desire and personal need to see the idea prosper increases exponentially. As a Leader, if you can help 10 different people believe they each contributed to the development (even a small part) of a great idea; you will have generated an exceptionally motivated and driven Team set on triumphing over their objective.  If you are capable of duplicating this scenario over and over again, your Team will catapult itself to the top of the organization.  At that point there will be enough credit and recognition for all.

One of the common grievances, I mentioned above, is from Managers who mind their bosses taking credit for their ideas.  Exasperation over this occurrence is a fool’s folly.  Even the most reckless instances of abuse, such as a boss putting his name on a paper you have created, are losing battles.  Some so called manager advice columnist tend to prescribe two possible paths of action to console the affronted, the first being confrontation and the second a withdrawal of future ideas.  They are wrong.  Both pieces of advice are guaranteed to stop your career dead in its tracks.  The confrontation will certainly result in your boss acknowledging the idea was yours.  But the credit will be accompanied with the justification that he either verbally passed on your contribution or the explanation that as part of his Team, “it is your job to provide ideas for him” (a stance I wouldn’t disagree with).  Either way, you have built resentment with your boss.  Having been called a thief and a cheat, he will surely move you to the back of the pack.  Withholding ideas fodders the deluded dream that your boss will fall flat on his face without your great ideas.  Although this may feel virtuous to your ego temporarily, in the long run it is a self-destructive unfulfilling choice.  By withholding your ideas, you will disengage yourself, flounder and certainly move yourself to the back of the pack.

Common Complaint - Boss Steals Ideas

As to others who steal your ideas, never let someone’s bad behavior compromise your values.  You should give your company 100% effort and commitment (for your own sake).  The cream usually rises to the top, if not you should leave, knowing you gave it your all, and find another opportunity.  Turning in a less than “Your Personal Best” to satisfy a grievance just devalues you as an individual. Good Leaders can always spot the stars in their organization.  Don’t take the shine off of your own star by sacrificing your Commitment to Personal Quality for anyone.  You have only one person who is going to look back at you in the mirror at the end of the day. How did he do?

Great Leaders know that ideas are communal property.  Mutual creation produces an atmosphere and expectation from each member of the Team to bring their full experience, creativity, and intellect, to every challenge and openly contribute to the exchange of progressive ideas.  All ideas should be given value and freedom, but not significance in their premature state.  The terribly bad ones help us choose the right course to follow through elimination.  And the brilliant ones are only scratches on the whiteboard until someone executes them into a reality.  Leaders must use their best wisdom in sorting out the bad and good ideas as they determining which ones to act upon.  From there, they must focus the Team’s commitment and efforts on the accomplishment of the idea regardless of its origin.

Once an idea is implemented and becomes a reality, it is time to recognize and thank its creators.  Without the original thoughts of the creative and unique idea nothing would have changed.  But at the same time, a respected and effective Leader will also cheer and praise the Team that brought the idea home.

Giving the credit away is not about modesty and humility.  It is the effectual tactic of a Leader who wants to Get Things Done!  Ideas without implementation are frivolous leaps of fantasy.  The more credit a Leader attempts to ingest for ideas, the more he disenfranchises his entire Team.  Gaining participation from the Team in the creation and rewards of a great idea not only procures their commitment, it elevates their passion.  A Street Smart Leader understands the ultimate supremacy of a passionate, driven, and rewarded A-Team will get things done and accelerate his career far more than taking credit for ideas ever could.

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I find it persistently perplexing to observe people who wastefully scourge their own futures capitulating to out-of-control emotionally charged reactive positions.  There is no doubt

Good Attitude: a C.O.E.

regarding the power of an emotionally driven passion, and its ability to create a fixated and compelled response.  When passions run positive they heighten goals, purpose efforts, achieve the extraordinary and enrich lives.  But when these emotions are thwarted towards negative passions, the results of anger, guilt, resentment, despair, and fear can have a devastating effect on one’s performance.  Their corrosive capability to dislodge critical thinking and embed negativity, as a locked-in position within one’s psyche, supplants achievement and activates a self-destructive downward spiral which inevitably destroys the success of any mission.  These destructive passions are firmly beached in what someone “feels” is their personal justified response to a perceived “wrong”.  Whether anger, resentment or one of the other passion thugs they all typically manifest themselves beneath the shroud of a Bad Attitude.

Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.
Albert Einstein

In my early executive career, I gained responsibility for the US Operations of our company-owned dealerships.  Although operational proficiency was an established forte of mine, many of the organizational managers had only discerned the context of my Sales Management responsibilities.  The new Leadership transition was un-momentous with the exception of several hold-outs from the “old guard” Operations Managers who comprised my new team.  I rigorously embarked on numerous field trips to every location to constitute a common vision, firm up strategies, focus tactile plans and build relationships.  As our team solidified around our aggressive goals, results vaulted forward and our program began to take off, with one exception.  My Operations Manager in Pittsburgh just wasn’t coming around.  His organization was healthy enough to yield tolerable numbers, but he was sluggish to adopt new concepts and promote new directions.

I decided the time had come for what my esteemed mentor at the time, Terry McGushin, used to call a “come-to Jesus meeting”.  A “put it on the line” and let the chips fall where they will, type of meeting.  I flew into Pittsburgh with a four-hour window for my return flight.  I conveyed no purpose to review branch activity or performance.  There was no agenda except to have one honest conversation with one individual.

Upon arriving and exchanging pleasantries with our team there, I sat down for a tough one-on-one with our Operations Manager.  With nothing in front of me except the determination on my face, I definitively explained I was unhappy with his unresponsiveness, undermining, and impedance of our mission and direction. As our discussion progressed he expounded his pent-up frustration culminating from events over the last 15 years of his career.  I sat back and conceded the floor as he spoke of injustices, oversights and disagreements which had led to his amassed feeling of disenchantment.  As he decelerated from the weight of his swelling baggage, I moved unwaveringly into his soliloquy.  Granting his insurmountable past perceptions, I leaned forward to encroach upon his space and ensure he was “in the present” with me.

I asked him to listen carefully to what I had to say, and then made it clear that I was unable to rewrite his history, but if he desired a future on our team he must embrace a Positive Attitude.  He retorted how he was feeling better about the current direction of the company (an instantaneous new revelation) and he felt “in time” he could improve how he felt.  At this point, I briskly halted his explication, met eye to eye, and quietly mandated my fervent resolve; “I do not consider Attitude to be a Time-Sensitive issue.  You can change it anytime you want to!  If you wish to continue working here, you have until next Monday to change yours.”  After encouraging his positive and immediate deliberation our exchange ended and I promptly headed to the airport.  Unfortunately, rather than embrace the opportunity for a New Outlook, he sulked and piled our conversation on his heap of grievances and was terminated within 30 days.  I promptly hired an exceedingly bright new Operations Manager with no baggage and an inspiring uplifting can-do Attitude who quickly turned the location into our performance flagship and became a rising star in the organization.

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.

Thomas Jefferson

Leaders must eradicate Bad Attitudes from their team without sympathy or conciliation.  Bad Attitudes are a contamination which embitter and attempt to exterminate all life around them.  Sometimes it is convenient to forget that Leaders are people too.  They accumulate their setbacks, disappointments, struggles and resentments just like everyone else.  So your first step as a Leader in slaying Bad Attitudes is a self-awareness check.  Leaders must bring Passion to the arena in order to mobilize their team to extraordinary achievement.  But those Passions must be grounded in the positive inspiring experiences of your past and the unconquerable hope of your future.  Acknowledge your baggage and leave it at the door so you are able to arrive for work in the present.  Stop feeling sorry for yourself.  Be serious, be truthful, and be genuine.  If your own Attitude needs an adjustment, do it Right Now!

Destruction of Bad Attitudes

Good attitude is contagious bad attitude is infectious.  We are not talking about someone who is having a bad day or going through a difficult time.  A Bad Attitude is one which is engrained in someone’s daily behavior.  It appears as sarcasm, complaining, apathy, negativity, pessimism, undermining, defiance, insubordination, bad moods, and unscrupulous behavior.  A Bad Attitude affects your entire team and distracts them from their focus.

Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.

Lou Holtz

Additionally, a Bad Attitude perpetuates a decline in the quality of someone’s work.  It sabotages the ability to deliver one’s best effort.  Whether birthed from self-pity or the Blame Game, it becomes impossible for these negative passions to be set aside in the best interests of the company’s pursuits.  A Bad Attitude is costly to positive energy, momentum, achievement, and results in a loss of real dollars and cents.  Once someone abandons their Personal Commitment to Quality with the justification that it is not their fault they become a liability to you as a Leader.

You cannot tolerate a Bad Attitude regardless of your understanding of their position.  Doing so will only enable their behavior.  It is a Condition of Employment (C.O.E.) for someone to enter work with a Positive Attitude.  A-Teams are built on Positive Attitude and as a Leader you must set this expectation in stone.  Remember, it is not your job to fix people.  It is your job to find A-Players and build a successful team with them.

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

Charles R. Swindoll

Leaders must be capable of dealing with a full range of human passions and emotions to be effective at gaining maximum performance.  They must deeply care about the concerns and difficulties of their team in order to support them in a thriving atmosphere.  But when emotions turn negative and begin to burrow into someone’s psyche, your team becomes threatened by a Bad Attitude.  A Street Smart Leader doesn’t blink.  He looks Bad Attitude eye to eye and asks it to leave right now … one way or the other.

(This is Part III of a three part series on the Performance Plus Planning System which focuses on the Four P’s – Plan, Platform, Process, People, to create synergistic accountable organizations.)

 

Each of the architectural elements plotted below warrant their own detailed explanations, however, in this article I am attempting to provide only the “framework” to build a prosperous integrated business operation capable of achieving Next Level Accountability.  

THE PROCESS

A Leader must insure his team distinguishes how to operate with competence and consistency in order to harvest a level of “competitive:” quality which outstrips the anticipations of

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clients.  The Team must appreciate “who does what when” and possess the competency to produce impregnable outcomes.  The formation of a rock-solid Plan and investment of a superior Platform is squandered without a proficient, smooth, trustworthy, Process to carry it out.

Process improvement is one of the most conversed necessities for any business attempting to advance performance.  A pure and present Plan and an organizationally supportive Platform momentously intensifies the likelihood that Process improvement will have an evocative and enduring impact.

Reengineering and Continuous Process Improvement programs employed by a fixated Leader require a company-wide effort to scrutinize all tasks and their relevancy in achieving Strategic Goals.  Team based approaches which gather information, seek out solutions and accumulate buy-in should be used as an imperative portion of Process Development.

Since most organizations lack resources to apply a complete re-engineering approach, Leaders must look at set systems and develop Processes generating more resourceful and operative results.

As a part of the planning process, measurements should be developed to determine progress to the plan.  A Leader must also fix metrics that can be effortlessly and habitually monitored for results of the Process Improvement Program.

The Process

Re-engineering

A Leaders commitment to the continuous advancement of Quality is indispensable to long-term Customer Value Proposition.  Involvement and solutions for these advancements should be pursued throughout all expanses of the company.  Process Leaders should acquire proficiency and usage in Kaizen based events to ascertain and implement these improvements.

A Street Smart Leader preserves an “external focus” on improvements which are driven by customer needs to pilot the organization to a leading industry position. The conveyance of a performance based organization must be cultured continuously to insure costs are driven down and the competitive position is enhanced.

Quality improvement programs should be examined to determine if customer satisfaction is the driving force behind any new processes and ideals.  An introverted quality program that focuses only on reducing costs without regard to customer impact will produce a company which profitably goes out of business. The effectual organization is able to conceive methods of accomplishing more with less.

The Re-Engineering

Systems

Deliberations of Systems tend to be framed in terms of information processed on computers and through the Platform Structure.  But often much of the information vital to the realization of an organization’s project or strategic plan is processed through a multiplicity of people and offline systems.  These offline systems can vary to a wide degree depending on the individual in control, possibly creating serious fissures in productivity and quality.

Often these online and offline systems are treated as separate entities resulting in a “disconnect” throughout the entire process.  Leaders must work with their teams to map both process types into one all-inclusive exploration.  Once this is completed all team members involved will now understand the entire picture.

Understanding where online systems and offline systems intertwine with each other is a Leaders first step setting the groundwork for process improvement.  Once understood, he can then begin to construct connections safeguarding check and balances are built-in to the systems to prevent the “ball from dropping” thus creating true widespread organizational productivity.

The Systems

Metrics

The establishment of a resilient Metrics program conveys accountability upon an organization.  Performance gains are based on knowing where one is starting from and where they desire to go.  Comprehensive Measurement is the best methodology to track and communicate headway.  A Leaders challenge is in determining what to measure, how to measure it, and what the results really conclude.

Developing a “root cause” mentality from the onset of Strategic Planning sets the stage for determining what to measure.  Your team will focus attention and effort in the areas the company measures.  Therefore, it is imperative to insure Measurements support goals directly without creating conflict within the organizational factions.

Leaders should concentrate Measurements in the areas of Quality (external measurements), Productivity (internal measurements), and Growth (financial measurements).

The Metrics

THE PEOPLE

A Leader’s greatest Plans, Platforms, and Processes will spiral into a tailspin without an A-Team in place.  And probabilities are, his customers will notice it before he does.  Becoming a performance based organization is reliant on people strength at every position within the organization.

Team members must unmistakably apprehend the big picture strategy and their roles within it to realize triumph.  The quality of their character, drive and skills must consistently meet the highest standards.  And the Leader must generate and sustain a workplace in which team members surpassing these criteria excel to heightened levels of personal and professional culmination.

A-Players are the “competitive advantage” of the future.  The ability of a Leader to attract the “best” and provide them with ongoing inspiration is reliant on a Vision and Plan which is stimulating, a Platform that does not get in the way and a Process which allow the A-Team to deliver superior results of which they can be proud.

People focused Leaders must evaluate the capability, drive and character of their team.  Leaders also need to assess the future probability of success each team member is likely to attain in the organizations “next level’ and determine if they are adept to “step up and grow”.  The cultural elements that positively and negatively affect performance must also be evaluated and acted upon by the Leader.

The People

Roles

The performance based organization desires to recognize the needs of customers more piercingly than customers themselves. They not only strive to comprehend what is imperative today but also what will be compulsory tomorrow, and the day after.  Leaders must work with their teams to see they become ultra-sensitive to the essentials of the customer.  As management, sales, and marketing uncover customer desires a system must be in place to disseminate this information throughout the team so that all team members accept responsibility for satiating these requirements.

Every team member must become personally engaged in customer fulfillment.  Each team and function must apprehend the customer’s needs and be devoted to delivering only the best they have to offer; not only understanding their role but also the role of others who they are responsible for functioning with and supporting.

Leaders must instill in their team that performance based service must be recognized as an imperative consequence everyone partakes in.  It is not just the job of some other department. Politics, the Blame Game, shifting and other disastrous behaviors must be sought out and eradicated.  The “common goal” of delivering Customer Value Proposition must be the focus and stand as the pinnacle for company integration.

The Roles

People Quality

A performance based organization must be strenuously unyielding in communicating the Customer Value Proposition to each team member.  Education and training must be carefully planned to insure all team members are capable of conveying customer value.  This training and education must go beyond job function and include elements that teach team members about the needs and requirements of the customer from their perspective.  Teams should then be given an understanding on the company as a whole and how each area’s goals contribute to the Customer Value Proposition.

There are many ways in which to communicate, train, and educate employees, from formal classes and seminars to on the job activities.  The strongest bond in developing team involvement is to have a strongly oriented performance based culture that creates a tidal wave of positive attitude towards the company’s Mission and wins.  A Leader must lay the foundation for this cultural strength.

World Class Organizations demand the best from each team member.  For this phenomenon to perpetually renew Leaders must be committed to the personal and professional development of each team member.  A learning environment must be created in which team members feel free to grow their careers without risk.  At the same time it must be understood that performance problems will not be tolerated and will be dealt with swiftly and professionally.

People Quality

Morale

The most effective plan will not flourish without stout Team Morale.  Perhaps nothing is more telling of the climate of the company’s culture than to perform an employee audit.  Leaders should look for outside assistance to perform a credible audit as a part of the internal analysis.  Leadership should address problems creating low morale before long-term performance improvements are affected.  In areas where Leadership cannot enact changes due to external forces (such as challenging economic times), strong internal communications and support should be provided to fortify the understanding and acceptance of the team.  No organization can move towards “being the best” without a exceedingly motivated work force.

The culture should be one that strives to deliver the Customer Value Proposition.  It should strive for internal effectiveness and constantly search for areas of improvement.  Since quality of work becomes a reflection of the quality of working conditions, a Leadership must commit himself to providing top working conditions for his A-Team.  Everywhere quality becomes the top priority for delivering value.  Team members should have a fundamental understanding of the importance of the customer and the direct correlation of the customer’s fulfillment on their personal career and future prosperity.

The Morale

Developing proficient Processes and building a fantastic A-Team of People allows a Leader to catapult off of the prodigious Plan and Platform they have developed and achieve previously undiscovered summits as a Performance Organization.  Leaders capable of building an organizational architecture on the principles of the 4Ps will establish an enduring, prosperous, and mounting organizational model.  The Performance Plus process is a comprehensive hands-on approach into your organization’s depths to gather information, solve problems, create new ideas, and discover breakthrough possibilities while directly leading your people “into the fold”.  A Street Smart Leader knows the Performance Plus Process is about realizing results.  In striving to create Next Level Accountability, he moves past the conference room “feel-good” banter and materializes real Deliverables to propel his Performance’s progress and Teams success.

4P Deliverables

THE PERFORMANCE PLUS SYSTEM

NEXT LEVEL ACCOUNTABILITY

The Performance Plus System

(This is Part II of a three part series on the Performance Plus Planning System which focuses on the Four P’s – Plan, Platform, Process, People, to create synergistic accountable organizations.)

 

Each of the architectural elements plotted below warrant their own detailed explanations, however, in this article I am attempting to provide only the “framework” to build a prosperous integrated business operation capable of achieving Next Level Accountability.     


THE PLAN

Building an impenetrable organizational architecture originates with the development of the Plan.  The construction of a cohesive interconnected Plan establishes the underpinning of a framework which all future decisions

Planning

can be grounded upon.  With a robust and resilient Plan an organization can productively move forward toward the attainment of innovative and sophisticated goals.  With the exception of the “lucky few”, every successful business I have ever known has inaugurated its growth cycles and built future opulence through an unswerving devoutly managed Planning Process.

Leaders must collaborate with their A-Teams to cultivate a comprehensive Plan so the organization comprehends why it is in business in the first place.  Establishing a Vision pinpoints what the business “will be” and what it should be endeavoring to deliver to the marketplace.  Next, a sturdy Strategy should be created to provide a business track that is clear and provides significance to the effort of performance based activities.  The efficacy of the Strategy should be centered on driving internal Tactics toward external Benefits to the customer.

In mounting an operative Plan, an assessment of customer value should be amassed to focus and prioritize the organization’s deliverables necessary to attract and retain customers.  Strategy formulation must be persistently reevaluated to insure it is aligned with the emerging needs of customers and is incessantly placing the organization in a position of competitive advantage.

The Performance Plus key to success is in the implementation of your plan.  Objectives and initiatives must be set with accountabilities and timelines.  Integration of Tactical plans is the crucial element to the Plan’s overall success.

Let’s take a look at the three structural elements of the Plan: Vision, Strategy, and Tactics.

The Plan

Vision

The facades of Vision and Mission have become central thespians in the false piety we are accustomed to these days.  But courageous principled Leaders sustain the practice of these tools to powerfully direct and stimulate their organizations.  A vibrant Vision of the company clearly and precisely affords an understanding of what your business is all about. Establishing the elementary principles of how you are going to accomplish your Vision defines the Values of the organization.  Without Values in place, the company is unable to induce clear and directional decisions based on the long-term prosperity.  For the Plan to flourish, Leaders must be prepared to become walking, talking exemplifications of the company’s Vision and Values.

Building on the Values of the organization, a Leader should proceed to composing a Mission Statement. The Mission Statement’s resolve is to provide a directional beacon that shapes and guides business Strategies. Through an efficient definition of the Mission, Leadership is enabled to determine the Unifying Goals which inevitably bring strategic factions together in a comprehensive progressive resolution.

The development of Visions, Values, and Missions, provides the organization with a Strategy compendium from which to create a performance based organization that creates Value for the company, its employees and customers.

The Vision

Strategy

A Street Smart Leader understands the prominence of “Culture” in satiating the customer and he is resolved in shaping the values, beliefs, philosophies and understandings of his team. Therefore, he must create a performance based program which surpasses slogans and converts his values to a “way of life”.  The goal is to lead people to not only “talk the talk” but “walk the walk”.  Without the proper determinations devoted to Culture, Leadership is fighting an arduous battle in creating change. The proper Culture for a performance based organization concentrates on the human element of the business.  Factors such as inspiration, enthusiasm and morale are major opportunities.

The Strategy articulates to the organization what is compulsory to accomplishing the company’s Mission.  All employees in the company must fluently appreciate each Strategic Element.  The Strategy should provide an interrelated concept that allows different teams and functions to accomplish collective goals together. And each Strategy should be centered in the significance of conveying incomparable Value to customers through action oriented deliverables.

A Leaders goal is to generate balance within the Strategy between short term goals and long term requirements.  The Balanced Scorecard, developed by Robert Kaplan and David Norton provides a focus on establishing objectives that meet the customer, financial, internal and growth perspectives.  When each of these perspectives is kept in balance with the others, an organization avoids the trappings of short term gains at the risk of long term exposure

The Strategy

Tactics

Tactical Plans create the linkage between Strategy and Action.  Leaders should base each strategy/tactic link or initiative on a “cause and effect” relationship to gain root level sustainability.  With this structure mindset Leaders are able to methodically disaggregate each strategy with a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and create the building blocks for successful strategy implementation.

The execution of Tactical Plans should next be plotted and reviewed to insure cross-functional alignment exist between organizational factions.  Most importantly, Accountability must be driven into the plan through assigned responsibility and timeline stipulation.

“What gets measured gets done”.  A key to the development of a thriving Plan is in deciding what to measure and how to measure it.  Once the proper metrics are determined, they must be communicated to everyone in the organization and a meaningful review process should be established as a tool for Leadership to monitor the Plan’s progress.

 

The Tactics

 

THE PLATFORM

The most ingenious Plans are doomed to catastrophe if they are not bed-rocked on a solid Platform which supports the fluid implementation and sustainability of Strategic Initiatives.   Without a solid Platform day-to-day operations become sluggish, ineffectual, and impotent leaving a diluted and discombobulated workforce struggling to perform.  Any attempt to build a high performing organization must be predicated on a fundamentally stable and flexible network of interconnected systems which provide sustenance to the strategic drivers.

Leaders committed to building superior performance based organizations dedicate energies to systemize their customer offerings.  This is best accomplished in preparing an integrated methodology that drives a prolific deliverable Platform.  All the Mission, Values, Strategies, and Process elements will not achieve a dynamic organization without each of these components functioning in tandem with each other.  The implementation of a Strategic Platform is the most impregnable method to establishing a framework for an integrated solution.

The relationship between the cross functions of your organization must be analyzed and investigated in developing an integrated framework.  Department Silos must be torn down and barriers to the synergistic workflow and common interest eliminated through a restructuring of the organization to meet strategic goals.

Beyond mere organizational charts, the Platform also includes technologies and policies that affect the daily interaction of employees and the manner in which they accomplish assignments.  A Street Smart Leader reviews the organizational structure, technologies, and policies to ensure alignment and provide an infrastructure capable of supporting the Strategic Implementation.

A reliable, productive, and enduring Platform is based on the elements of Structure, Technology, and Policy.

The Platform

Structure

Structure is made up of the networks of people, physical facilities and resources that support the delivery of customer value.  This is where most expenditure in performing organizations takes place. The development of the structure must be carefully planned along with other strategies.  A structure built with solid principles set in the Values and Missions from the Leadership is a main ingredient in establishing the performance based Culture.

Leaders must generate an integrated approach to performance by building the Structure as an important entity within the organization.  A powerfully concentric Structure provides an organization with a resilient competitive advantage.  An enlightened Structure is built around essential customer fulfillment and is capable of quickly reacts to changing marketplace demands.  It also increases the company’s growth and profit prospects by capitalizing on existing potential and creating new business revenue sources.

A Leader committed to maintaining margins while providing customer value must take careful steps to insure the Structure is an efficient and effective organism.  He must implement a program that is suitable to the needs of customers and at the same time create a highly flexible Structure capable of dealing with any economic shift or new customer demand. A poorly managed infrastructure that is haphazardly providing costly service can drain company profits and threaten the competition position.

The Structure

Technology

Technology is no longer the differentiator we once depended on.  Available to everyone at a relative cost it has become a commodity in the business world.  In most fragmented industries, major systems development for the delivery of services does not exist and few independent solutions have developed, leaving these industries highly dependent on people skills to get the job done.

This, however, does not mean that technology does not play an important role in the accomplishment of improved productivity and customer value.  Rather the alignment of business systems with people systems becomes a key integration opportunity.

An effective Platform drives coordination from your back end systems, PC applications, processes, and people skills into a productive and value drive solution by taking the pieces apart and putting them back together in an innovative order.  Leaders deficient of substantial gains in this area are forced into having their employees working “for the technology” instead of towards the attainment of company goals.

The Technology

Policy

An effective Leader apprehends the importance of setting pure unswerving policies and compulsory standards which can be easily understood and communicated to his teams.  The establishment of policies and standards provides the organization with touchstones reinforcing the organizations Mission and Goals.

The performance based organization must stretch beyond internal processes when striving to improve productivity and quality.  Improvement on the service front is only truly defined and measured by the customer.  Policies and standards should be based on customer fulfillment criteria.

Your teams must understand the correct path to be taken in ambiguous situations where the rules are not exact.  Policies are the “glue” which keeps a Leader connected to the needs of his customers, employees, and shareholders.  They require serious thought and deployed properly, set the stage for Next Level Accountability.

The Policy

The creation of an unconquerable Plan and an unshakeable Platform are the foundations for a Performance Organization.  Leaders who possess the insight to develop and implement these key architectural elements provide their organizations with unsurpassed competitive advantages.  Not only do they strengthen their product and service offerings but they build an environment where A-Players excel in their pursuits. Our recent challenging economic times have resulted in the “shelving” of Strategic Plans and has left many Platforms tired, ragged and in need of an overhaul.  Leaders are confronted with rebuilding these foundations through unstable and unpredictable times ahead.  A Street Smart Leader will devise methods to beat the competition off the line by not waiting for the economic turn.  He will innovatively exploit the scarce resources available and initiate the rebuilding process now!

(This is the Introduction of a three part series on the Performance Plus Planning System which focuses on the Four P’s – Plan, Platform, Process, People, to create synergistic accountable organizations.)

As a young manager, I engulfed every business book I could amass with a voracious appetite. I was determined to master my craft and ascertain knowledge at a rate outpacing

my years.  The gurus of the time fascinated my interest and fostered my ambition.  I envisaged the day when I would be able to mark major initiatives, beyond my localized teams, with the concepts of strategy, marketing, customer service, and organizational structures which enthralled me.  As my roles expanded and my responsibilities grew into executive management realms, I eventually realized my place at the table where guiding and driving decisions about the company were formulated.  As a Leader, it was now my duty to construct the essential decisions which would shape our future.

Consultants often brought with them abundant theories to be deployed for the improvement of our business issues. But over time, I came to rely more on my direct experience as a “business operator” to increase performance through specific and actionable plans followed up with impactful execution.  In developing overall strategies it became vital to set foundations, implement strategies and systems and then train management teams to become effective directors of these programs ensuring short term challenges were met while setting the building blocks for the long term vision.

Through the years, I developed my own methods of organizational architecture for building stronger, more robust, more results driven companies.  With each success these systems evolved into a comprehensive architectural planning program for the development of a synergistic business unit.  The result is a Planning Tool I have dubbed Performance Plus which strives to drive Next Level Accountability through the development of the “Four P’s” –Plan, Platform, Process, and People.

Integrated Organizational Architecture

PERFORMANCE PLUS – Performance Based Service Organization

 The Performance Plus Model strives to build a Performance Based Organization as the preeminent defense against competition.  Nothing else can realize long-term growth and profits in the way a steadfast relationship with customers can.  Inventions and technological advancements are quickly tracked by the competition.  Lower costs are a never-ending duel constantly being pursued in the marketplace.  Superior marketing efforts will not compensate for inferior products that are not supported at every turn.  Even new product development becomes yesterday’s news and fails alone to “attract” a customer following over the long term.

As a Leader you must mold your organization to deliver the highest quality products bundled with incomparable customer quality if you are to position your company for permanency and prosperity.  Performance based service can become the “make or break” component for any industry.  For the company that excels at fulfilling the requirements of its customers, customer satisfaction becomes an offensive weapon allowing the organization to define the industry standards and their place in it. The Leader that decides to sit back and wait for the game to be defined by the competition and then follow minimum expectations is assuming a dangerous and vulnerable position.

Ron Zemke, co-author of Service America, states “extensive research leads to the obvious conclusion that those organizations willing to commit to superior customer service, profit on the bottom line. Those unwilling or unable to meet that standard do not and will not thrive – and possibly may not even survive.” Therefore the question becomes not one of whether a Company should strive for service excellence but how to properly go about it.

Planning and prioritizing – setting strategic and tactical plans – understanding the characteristics and elements of performance based service – implementing strategy with employee support – timing and available resources – These and many more are the decisions that need to be carefully planned and implemented by Leaders. It is an ongoing tough challenge in which a company’s culture must be able to undergo necessary transformations.      

Many Leaders understand the powerful impact of performance based service to the overall quality effort of providing the customer with a Total Value Proposition.  Tomorrow’s successful organizations must tear down the distinction between product quality and service support. Strong Leaders will integrate these concepts into a homogeneous organization focused on the customer while meeting corporate objectives.

 

TODAY’S ORGANIZATIONAL CHALLENGE

 Leaders are facing a turning point in organizational development.  As industries emerges from the severe recessionary impact of the last few years pressure will be placed on organization to deliver higher volumes of sales at lower margins on the product.  It is necessary for the models that have existed for years to change if they are to survive.

 Over the last several years customer knowledge of the supplier process has improved, placing further pressures on the supplier for higher levels of performance while at the same time expecting the best pricing the market will bear.  Clients are becoming less attached to product standards and shifting towards decisions that provide perceived value at the moment of purchase.

Leaders must compete in a future environment of driving volume, reducing margins and providing excellent customer service.  The following organizational capabilities must become core competencies in developing the model of the service driven company of the future.

  •   Ability to power Growth and Profit.
  •   Creation of a plan clearly identifying to all employees where the company is going and how it will get there.
  •   Balance in the planning process to ensure short and long term goals are accounted for.
  •   Cause and effect methodology that will take the strategy past the “talk” and into action mode.
  •   Defined tactics and accountability to deliver real results.
  •   Structural alignment to provide a platform for success.
  •   Teamwork to create meaningful and lasting change.
  •   Improved process flow for better service and efficiency.
  •   People strength to gain a competitive advantage.
  •   An integrated Management Team with shared responsibility, working together to reach all organization goals in unison
  •   Reach the “next level” Accountability and gain a competitive advantage driving market share and customer loyalty

INTEGRATED ORGANIZATIONAL ARCHITECTURE

 Leaders must build a program which founds a synergistic connection integrating an organization’s Plan, Platform, Process, and People.  Programs focused on creating vision and accountability through significant cross-functional results will determine today’s competitive advantage.

 The lack of success in the implementation of performance based service architecture is often in moving forward without a plan for the introduction and integration of each step.  Leaders often get excited and rush forward in a ready, fire, aim manner.  The strategy must been seen as a complete effort.  If viewed as a set of individual tasks, gaps appear in the system through which customer’s needs, productivity and employee satisfaction fall.  If goals are disjointed in the organization, internal workings become confused and departments fail to understand the entire picture.  The focus must persist on the overall goals and refrain from the mentality of task specialization for efficiency.

 Many improvement programs have yielded disappointing results due to fragmentation or focus on achieving specific economic outcomes without a linkage to the organization’s overall strategy.  Breakthroughs in performance require major change in the measurement and management systems used by an organization.  Being more competitive and capability driven cannot be accomplished by merely monitoring measures of past performance.

 Leader’s ability to move employees towards working together in harmony ensures customer quality is delivered, shareholder return is maximized and employee satisfaction continually rises all at the same time.  The achievement of this balance propels organizations towards lasting performance and the ability to reach the “next level” of success.

Performance Plus System


It is Time for Leaders to unshackle the survival mode of the last few years and begin to aggressively embark on developing the Strategic Strategies that will propel their growth and profitability forward in the next economy.  When building an organization for competitive effectiveness a Leader must focus on Plan, Platform, Process, and People.  Each of these structural cornerstones must be properly planned, integrated and implemented if a company is to be successful in both the short and long run.  Today’s Leader must be capable of dealing with the immediate needs of his business’ survivability while constantly working towards the “big picture” strategies of tomorrow that will insure stable, replicable performance.  A Street Smart Leader knows when the Four P’s emanate to generate a holistic, result driven accountable business model, many other P’s spring forth such as Profitability, Prosperity, Popularity and Perseverance!

An enormous amount of concentration has been spotlighted on the ethics, values, and beliefs of today’s Leaders.  The world is clamoring for Leaders to set the standard of what is

Lack of Individual Character

virtuous and authentic.  Companies have been forced into developing obligatory governance and ethics policies in an attempt to verify their collective contrived morality.  These guiding principles are designed to control the actions and profit motives of the organization.  Unfortunately, this righteous battering of our institutions has only served to dissuade the accountability of personal actions from individuals to the un-accountability of monolithic non-human entities.  The masses easily point to the corruption of the Corporation, the Government, or the Society as the “root of all evil” and painlessly exculpate themselves from the personal responsibility of accountability.  A societal top-down expectation of morality has developed allowing individuals to “sit back and wait” for ethics and values to come to them.

Much has been espoused regarding the significance of Character as a requisite for a Good Leader.  Yes, if you do not comport and demonstrate a Strength of Character, you will never truly Build and Lead an A-Team.  And with People as the key differentiator in today’s competitive business universe, you must compile an A-Team of Players for you and your business to succeed and prosper. But Character at the Top of an organization does not propagate Values throughout the ranks.  Character is not transferable.  The distinctive Character of an Individual is the building block to the Values of any organization or institution.

In today’s politically charged culture we are admonished for judging others.  We are to be understanding of the failures of virtue of those around us and give deference to the possibility of circumstances they may have encountered.  But if you aspire to excel as the Leader of an A-Team, you must embrace the obligation of judging the Character of others.  As I have said before, it is not your job to fix people.  A Street Smart Leader is not a builder of character; he is a Collector of Character!

A man’s character is his fate
Heraclitus

Character represents those attributes we expect our employees to stride through the door with. They include integrity, work ethic, quality, caring, accountability responsibility, cooperation, etc.  Character goes beyond just knowing what is right and perseveres in “doing what is right”.  Character is a habit which defies adversity and prevails with fortitude.  Leaders can count on people of Character to make the right decisions in the tough “moments of truth” even if it does not personally benefit them at the time.  People with Character allow you to focus on productive solutions instead of emotional motives.

The accomplishment of a great many things is possible with Intelligence, Skills, and Attitude alone.  So why is Character so vital?  First, Character assures that you and your team will embark on endeavors that are the “right things”.  Secondly, it is the presence of Character that makes sure those “right things” are actually successfully implemented through accountability and work ethic.  Character transcends one’s best intentions and is finally defined by one’s actions.   It is the fundamental difference in why we do, what we do.

Character is an A-Team Requirement

A Leader’s time can be “sucked dry” with people-issues emanating from Character related non-performance and drama.  Employees who simply fail to do what they are “supposed to do” create a ripple effect around them which proliferates and disrupts the entire team.  Eventually these diverters of productivity necessitate management’s time.  A Leader can teach someone a new skill and act to rectify an attitude lapse, but once a violation of Character takes place, trust is permanently lost.  Without trust, a Leader has no choice but to micro-manage an employee in an atmosphere of growing resentment and frustration.  His focus moves from enhancing performance to “fixing up” situations fraught with emotions.  Take notice of the amount of failures that are Character related.  Start accounting for the squandered time you spend on these worthless and wasted lost causes.

The force of character is cumulative.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is tempting for Leaders to become trapped into trading off Character for short term performance achievement.  Extraordinary performance is possible by extremely talented employees who lack Character and are focused on selfishly motivated objectives, but their cost is extremely high.  These crippling trade-offs can extend for years with a remarkably gifted employee.

We have all witnessed them.  The classic “ends justifies the means” people.  Those who disrupt, unravel, and generally blow up the work environment around them.  They take no prisoners and pursue personal agendas at the risk of accomplishing overall company goals.  They are people users, often burning out their team over and over again.  They are stress machines who develop turmoil and generate confrontation at every turn.  Others feign from the prospect of working with them.  Eventually teamwork is eliminated as the Cycle of Fear increases.  If we were talking about non-performers or average performers, the answer to this dilemma would be a simple termination, but sometimes these passion-killers are the highest performers of your organization.  They possess special, unique, and not easily replaceable skills and performance which create a make-or-break situation in your company’s success.

High Performers Without Character

What they lack is Character.  Regardless of the coaching, micro-managing, and manipulating you are willing to put into modifying their behavior, they will eventually “burn” you as a result of their lacking Character.  Success masquerades their flaws, but again and again they will make the wrong ethical choices presenting you with substantial liabilities internally and externally.  Ultimately you will be faced with losing them, losing your Team, or losing Yourself.  Decide early not to empower these individuals.  Be smart, be skillful, keep a great attitude and then present the Force of your Character at every challenge.

“Evil flourishes when good men do nothing.”
Edmund Burke

Your first priority is to make Character based hiring decisions by asking and listening to specific examples of “how” someone has dealt with the adversities in their career and in their life.    Next you must be courageous, make Character judgments about the people on your team, and diligently “weed out” those who are deficient.   As a Leader you are expected by your team and your company to exemplify a strong and moral Character.  But do not be fooled into believing this will create Character throughout your organization.  Setting the standard, cannot improve upon another’s Character.  Character is an individual accountability.  A Street Smart Leader knows the value of Character and requires it as a “condition of employment”.  He relinquishes the false ego gratification as a potential Builder of Men and focuses on the genuine results to be gained as a Builder of Character Based Teams.

Tomorrow’s Leaders are being subjected to a regimen of reprogramming which is assailing and threatening the core essence of efficacious Leadership.  Fostered by intellectuals, this contemporary leadership fashion is concentrating on creating a softer, gentler, leadership style focused on a submissive approach to Leadership.  These new-fangled theories expound a fabricated Leadership value system based on conceptions such as, servitude to employees, gaining employee’s permission, self-deprecating humility, a duty to care for employees, adding value to employees, etc.  They preach a more emotionally available, compassionate, and sensitive style of Leadership.  Often at the foundation of their duplicity lies the concealed belief to convene a sophisticated “social justice” within the workplace.  These “new world” namby-pamby Leadership tactics are destined to fail and send converted disciples bolting, scared of their shadow, and demoralized with confusion and impotence.

This effete Leadership movement reminds one of the ‘90s crusade to change “real men” into ineffectual cross-beings known as a Metro-sexuals.   This scheme was initiated with the precept that in order to make room for compassion and sensitivity, strength and fortitude must be sacrificed.  We were told that for men to connect with women they

Who would you follow into battle?

had to devoid themselves of manhood and morph into a spineless slithering dribble of sentimentality.  Nowhere was this message reinforced more than on the Hollywood big screen. Over the last 20 years we have seen our leading actors change from Gable, Brando, Burton, Heston, and Peck to Alda, Afleck, Depp, Bloom, and Firth.  Even our women role models have been reduced in stature from O’Hara, Hepburn, Bacall, and Taylor to Roberts, Winslet, Paltrow, and Portman.   Really now, which group would you follow into a battle for your life?  Your company is constantly in a battle for its life and you are expected to lead it to victory.

Regardless of one’s personal dogmas of these metro-influences on our society, the “wimpifcation” of Leadership is a short road leading nowhere.  Do not buy into the falsehood that you need to become a “Metro-leader” to connect with your team.  The need will continue for both Men and Women to be Tough Leaders if they want to achieve the highest levels of success.  Your responsibility as a Leader is to assemble an A-Team of highly motivated people and compete with them to win out over the competition.  It is not your job to construct a Utopian World where everyone feels warm and fuzzy.  Is there a place for the “soft qualities”, often defined as EQ or EI?  Yes, but only to the extent that performance is amplified as a direct consequence of the method engaged.  Quite simply, being kind, or compassionate, or sensitive must have an ROI.  Sound Harsh?  This is what it takes to be a Street Smart Leader!

The most momentous menace presented in this new “Metro-leader” model is in its intrinsic proclivity for establishing an Entitlement Culture among your employees.  An Entitlement Culture is one where employees feel you owe them something that has “not been earned” because of who they are.  You need look no further than labor unions, government employees, or socialist countries to see the lack luster non-competitive performance that results from Entitlement.  Entitled people believe they have “Rights” which are constituted within their own minds.  They expect compensation and treatment as a result of these rights without having to deliver value.

If we go back to your Hiring Agreement with an employee, you will remember they agreed to perform a function with competency in exchange for a compensation package.  As an employee they do have certain “Rights” established by law, such as the right not to be discriminated against or to have a safe place to work.  But that is it; this is what you “owe” them.  Beyond this, as a Leader, you must determine the best way to maximize their performance and achieve company goals.  They have the responsibility to perform as well as they can, be motivated, achieve goals, be a good citizen, etc.  It is not your responsibility to provide these things for them.  Once you begin to try and manage their motivation or work ethic, you have allowed their responsibilities to be shifted to your shoulders and you have created an Entitlement.  Their performance is now your responsibility.  As a Metro-leader their inability to do their job means you have failed.  Guess who gets fired when the entire team fails because you have not “made them” successful.

Great Leaders understand the time and money tradeoffs between “good employee care” in order to gain results and “being nice” because it feels the right thing to do.  The “right thing” is a subjective and biased luxury which you should be able to back up with a good business reason before acting on.  Your customers are not willing to pay you anything additional because you are a nice boss who has established a great social program within the confines of your business unit.  So, unless your employee program directly increases productivity and cuts costs, you have just eroded your profits to fulfill your own “do good” ego.  This is a dereliction of the duty for which you were hired and only weakens your company’s future prosperity.  Eventually the “feel good” program collapses under the dead weight of its own incompetence.

The Cost of Entitlement

Here is a quick management discipline for you to adopt to ensure you are fighting off the Entitlement Culture.  As a Leader you are constantly asked for favors from employees.  For now on, never agree to a request unless you get something in return.  Keep a list of those items which you wish each person would be doing a better job at.  Then when they ask, “Can I leave 15 minutes early today to pick up my children?” You can reply, “Sure, as long as I can get that weekly report from you before you go.”  It may seem a small inconsequential tradeoff, but it will help you build an internal personal discipline to ensure you are receiving value for your consideration.  And it will really matter when faced with larger questions regarding how you determine employee related issues with a permanent cost such as an extra holiday or a ping pong table.

If you are a reader of my articles, you already know of my determination to build great teams of extraordinary people.  This begins with assembling great people who want to accomplish something of value with their efforts.  A-Players aren’t looking for soft, feel good Leaders or Entitlement Programs.  They are proud to earn their way.  They are willing to give 100% and expect 100% of your efforts towards them in return.  If you are receiving anything less than this bargain, you have work to do.  But don’t be fooled into believing that if you treat employees better, they will be motivated and then you will see improvements.  Your bargain begins with the setting of your expectations of them, to be followed by rewards for their accomplishments.

As a Leader you must measure the anticipated results on resources expended including those spent on employees.  It is your responsibility to bring home an ROI on these investments of time and money.  Leadership carries a colossal obligation to those who choose to employ you and those who choose to follow you.  It is not a game for social experimentation, it is about dollars and cents and winning and losing.  It may seem callous, but Leadership involves trade-offs and bargaining.  Your job is to make sure your company gets the better part of the deal.  Anything less is an Entitlement granted to someone which you cannot afford if you want to see your career prosper.  A Street Smart Leader is a deeply concerned and compassionate person who is driven by his passions – he just does it “Retro-Leader” style.

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