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.

The unending permeation of the term “Value’ continues to ingrain itself throughout our business purposes, campaigns, and slogans.  The contemporary perspective for this traditional cost vs. benefit protagonist is called the Value Proposition.  Evolving beyond the preceding concepts of “getting a good deal” through the expectation of greater features for less cost, today’s Value Proposition has become an intricate industry fixated on the differentiating summation of a vendor’s promise to offer customers the inevitable clear choice favoring their product.

Conventionally, the Value Model brought an advantageous financial benefit to the customer.  As features increased and costs decreased the “value” of a product automatically improved.  The simplicity of the equation was guaranteed to attract customers to the logical conclusion of purchasing your product above all others.   Value equaled providing more and charging less.

Traditional Value Model

Value Propositions strive to extend beyond feature/benefit approaches and incorporate the customer’s experience, emotions, and psyche into the value equation.  These Value Propositions develop an ethereal benefit which adds a “soft” factor into the customary value equation and often results in a value decision based on the perception of a better product for a higher price.

Today's Value Proposition Model

Regardless of the “Value” level of a product, it is important for Leaders to understand that Value is a constantly declining position.  Once established, Value becomes reactive to the forces of competition, improvements, innovations, and passions.  Whether a traditional “cost vs. benefit” model has been established or a “soft benefit” component has been added to the strategy, value is diminishing with time.

THE FOUR LEVELS OF VALUE

The Value of a product or service can be perceived by a customer in one of four strata:

Prospective Value – Here a company is proposing the promise and aspirations of products and services of the future.  Customers are engrossed to this value package because they hunger to be “first”, on the leading edge.  Companies successful with this value offering typically have a demonstrated track-record of delivering on their predictive visions.  They are offering the “next best thing” and the prospect for their customers to “be there” when it happens.  The Prospective Level produces Partnerships between companies and customers with long reaching potential.  These customers are obtaining the “Promise of Tomorrow”.

Enhanced Value – Products and services which are provided with additional features beyond the customer’s expectations deliver Enhanced Value.  Products and services at this level exceed what has come to be customary in the traditional product offering.  Instead they offer an “extraordinary” result.  We have become familiar with the term Value Added for this value category.  Here customers are “Wow’d by Extras” they did not expect.

Anticipated Value – In this level, products and services presented have become “expected” by the customer.  The customer knows what they are buying and presumes the minimum requirements to be met.  A company delivering a product at this level must focus on Quality as its differentiation.  Customers purchasing Anticipated Value are looking for “Reliability and Consistency” of a known product.

Accustomed Value – In this bracket, a customer sees no difference of value in the product or service they need.  It is considered a commodity offering.  Attempting to imply value at an additional cost in this scenario turns your value equation upside-down resulting in a “no sale”.  Customers who are accustomed to this generic product are concerned only with the “Low Cost Provider”.

It makes no difference where your product value is targeted as long as you are focused on the appropriate customer drivers for attraction and purchasing.  Companies can be very successful at any Value Level as long as they offer the matching deliverable.

Prospective Value – Partnership

Enhanced Value – Valued Added

Anticipated Value – Quality

Accustomed Value – Low Cost

THE DIMINISHING VALUE REALITY

It is vital that you understand Value is constantly slipping in the eyes of customers.  Prospective Value is becoming Enhanced which in turn is falling to Anticipated.  Unique offerings are quickly followed by competitors focusing on Quality and Lower Cost Structures in an attempt to “knock off” the innovative successes of others.

The Diminishing Value Effect

As a child, I recollect the seductions of the “Car of the Future”.  Auto Companies flooded our sensations with the new features we would experience driving their automobiles (a tactic still in use today).  They built partnerships around my father’s generation with the GM and Ford.  As seat belts, power windows, and eight track stereos made their entrance on the scene, we were truly “Wow’d” and could not wait to be capable of affording these advanced options.  Soon we anticipated them focusing on which contraption was superior.  Then they became something we demanded the dealer “throw in”.  Remarkable how no one today would ever expect to see the price of power windows called out as a benefit.  Power windows went from a dream to a commodity. Sirius radio, MP3 compatibility, fuel efficiency and the like are on the same path, spiraling down the value chain.  You may not be able to see it, but it is happening right in front of your eyes.

As a Leader, you must understand the level at which your Value is being delivered. From there you must determine whether your goals should focus on innovation, adding value, improving quality, or driving out costs.  Producing any of these deliverables with a “best in class” result will establish you as a serious competitor in your field.

In an effort to lift the value of a product we have witnessed “bundling strategies”.  Here a company offers a product with diminished value attached to another one for a reduced price.  The resulting “two for one bundle” constitutes a renewed value which often extends the life of a product’s value.  Bundling is a “loss leader” strategy which can usually only be successfully implemented through excellent market research and a commanding industry position.  It is not a favorable solution for most.

The key to dominating your competitors is in ones ability to provide multiple levels of value for a product or service at the same time.  If you can innovate with quality or provide a high quality product at the lowest cost, you will gain leaps and bounds on your competition.  Leaders capable of mounting a multi-front attack on diminishing value will be the victors!

THE POWER OF “CORE VALUES”

You are facing a highly competitive environment where the most innovative advances are quickly followed by others.  In my article, The People Age, I point out:

“Over the last two decades, more people than ever have gained access to the once differentiating resources of Knowledge and Technology. … Everyone has it! This decrease in differentiation has flattened the competitive arena between businesses, markets, and global influences. Every company has access to Knowledge and Technology at ever increasing speeds. And with Knowledge and Technology outpacing development, the result becomes a temporary market advantage at best. Today, a “competitive void” exists for most businesses.”

To counteract the “flattening” effect many companies are adding Core Values to their Value Proposition.  They are infusing the “economic value” of their products and services with the “ethical Core Values” of who they are and why they do what they do.  Ethical Values and Beliefs have been around business for decades as part of Strategic Plans (and usually posted in the corner of the CEO’s office).  But now companies are taking their Core Values off the wall and offering them to their customers as a value-add component.  Core Values which successfully connect to customers result in the building of a “Brand”.  Unlike a diminishing value, a Brand built on Core Values can stand the test of time.

For example, ask yourself the following question.  “Do you value relationships, or are Relationships a Value?”  The difference between the twist on words is significant.  The first phrase implies something more transitional which could be replaced tomorrow, by let’s say profits.  But the later, constitutes a foundation of permanency, which a customer will invest in for the long haul.  Examine your company’s Core Values and determine to build your Brand around them.  A strong identifiable Brand built on values allows a company to constantly re-invent itself in a world of diminishing value.  Core Values are the new Secret Weapon in building a Value Proposition.

The New Value Proposition Model

In today’s battle to attract and keep customers through the delivery of incomparable value, you must realize you are affecting a constantly changing field.  Your product’s perceived value is continually slipping in the minds of your customers, and if you are not adding to it, improving the quality of it, or driving the cost out of it, your customers will soon be procuring from someone else.  Understand that a great Value Proposition is built on strong features/benefits and buying experiences.  But if you want to be a Street Smart Leader, incorporate “who you are” into your Value Proposition and build a customer base that will stay with your Brand throughout the cycles of diminishing value.

And one additional quick thought for Street Smart’s sake. The Value you bring to the table is influenced in the same way.  Does your boss see your personal value as a partnership necessary to stay on the cutting edge or as a low cost commodity based provider?  If you want to succeed, you need to stay innovative and add value beyond his expectations!

After a lengthy day of giving it all, I drive home engaged in those closing phone calls to my colleagues who remain on the field of battle endeavoring to finish their days.  Once home, I am adoringly assailed by my faithful dogs, and receive a kiss from my wife as she embarks on telling me of our dinner plans.  I work my way over to my bar to initiate my next imminent mission.  From the freezer, I remove the spring water ice block I prepared the previous night and place it on a cutting board. Taking out my sharpened ice pick, I chop several hefty pieces of ice off the block and place them into a crystal glass.  I begrudge small contaminated ice cubes melting and watering down my cocktail.  I next seize a lemon, smell its freshness, slash it and with a slight squeeze, drop a slice into the tumbler.  I reach for my caramel tinged Kentucky Bourbon and pour three-fingers high adding a dash of Peychaud’s Bitters and a dart of Angostura’s Bitters crowned by a modest dollop of pure Agave Syrup.  As these aromas and textures are settling, I delicately introduce a splash of fine herbal Absinthe, the Green Fairy (recently allowed back into the United States after almost a century of banishment).  All that’s left to do is top this apéritif  off with a squirt of my personal homemade purified seltzer and stir until the glass frosts.  Then I walk out to the patio start-up the barbecue, sit down, close my eyes, take a deep breath and let my olfactory senses take in the moment of my first sip.  Marvelous!  A Perfect Sazerac Cocktail!

I perform this ritual, when I can, to remind myself that Quality matters.  Strong Leaders inherently know that Quality is not a part-time thing.  Leaders incorporate quality into every morsel of their daily lives. Aristotle, the teacher to great Leaders such as Alexander the Great, Ptolemy and Cassander said, “Quality is not an act, it is a habit.”  A commitment to quality on a personal level is compulsory for a Leader desiring to extract the greatest work from his team.  It is the example he lives, even in regards to the smallest details, which set the baseline for the standards of acceptable behaviors and attitudes.  Even a momentary slip into mediocrity opens the flood gates for substandard performance from the team.

Quality is the most important force in successful achievement of our goals.  It is a “Prime” Value which must be at the core of any endeavor.  Good Leaders know they cannot do everything, but everything they do, should be done with excellence.  If Aristotle takes it too far back for you, just type some common business terms into Google and see how many listing there are.  Nothing comes close to “Quality” at over five billion.  Quality matters in every aspect of our lives!

Number of Google Search Listings

To be a great leader you must realize that Quality is finite.  There is no such thing as 50% quality.  It is either there or it is not.  You strive for it, you demand it, you fight for it, or you go home.  Quality delineates winners and losers.  You must believe quality is a very personal responsibility.  A responsibility to yourself and to those you hope to lead.  It necessitates constituting expectations of excellence in every goal you resolve to accomplish.  You must be constantly and consistently on top of quality in all of your team interactions.  If they know you expect their best, it is amazing how you will get it.

One of my favorite stories highlighting quality is told by retired ambassador Winston Lord from when he was working on a project for Henry Kissinger.  He recounts:

Henry Kissinger at the 2009 premiere of the Me...

Image via Wikipedia

“I went in with a draft, and it was actually of a presidential foreign policy report. … I would go in with a draft of the speech. He called me in the next day and said, “Is this the best you can do?” I said, “Henry, I thought so, but I’ll try again.” So I go back in a few days, another draft. He called me in the next day and he said, “Are you sure this is the best you can do?” I said, “Well, I really thought so. I’ll try one more time.” Anyway, this went on eight times, eight drafts; each time he said, “Is this the best you can do?” So I went in there with a ninth draft, and when he called me in the next day and asked me that same question, I really got exasperated and I said, “Henry, I’ve beaten my brains out – this is the ninth draft. I know it’s the best I can do: I can’t possibly improve one more word.” He then looked at me and said, “In that case, now I’ll read it.”

We are all familiar with the term “Quality of Life”.  Quality of Life refers to the principal that as living breathing human beings, our time is irreplaceable and predictably limited.  Once your time is spent, it is under no circumstances recovered.  Life’s moments spent without excellence are simply squandered.  They are less than they could have been and there are not any second chances.  Quality of Life is one of the foremost reasons people will follow great leaders.  When people are striving for excellence, they feel their life has purpose and value.  They are inspired and fulfilled.  Yes, they are unconquerable!

As a Street Smart Leader you must be “ungenerous” with your time.  Refuse to be involved with pursuits of ordinary mediocrity.  Mark your personal brand with excellence.  Determine the activities of your work and life that are deserving of your best efforts and perform them with unquestionable levels of worth.  Be the exemplar of quality for your team, especially when tasks are seemingly insignificant and especially when they are challenging.  If you have built your A-Team properly, they will rise to your example and propel your business forward.  Most importantly, regardless of the toil, your efforts will be rewarded because you have added to the Quality of “Your” Life.  Let’s toast to that!


		
		
	

I entered management believing that as long as I was able to develop my department’s performance and meet company goals, I was doing my job and the rest would take care of itself.  So I did my job and waited for my career to move forward.  And of course it did, but not always as quickly as some of my contemporaries who didn’t appear to have my list of accomplishments.  It took me a few exasperating years to study their advancements and realize they were doing more than taking care of their jobs.  They were taking care of their careers.    

If you are to develop a successful career plan you must constantly concentrate your efforts in a three pronged attack.  Just doing your job well will only result in being able to do it for a very long time.  Eventually the mundane will take root and either you or your boss will tire of it and execution will diminish.  Inevitably your goal must be to advance stronger and faster than those surrounding you. You are in a race against time for success and the longer it takes to move up the chain of command the more unmanageable and improbable it becomes.  Launching a comprehensive campaign that showcases your talents and accomplishments will set you on the road to advancement. 

You must learn to manage three different entities every day with efficacy.  They are: 1) The Others you work with, 2) Yourself and 3) Your Boss.  Your ability to concurrently contend with the challenges of these three competing interests is essential. 

MANAGING OTHERS

We naturally imagine our subordinates when thinking of managing Others.  But just as importantly are our peers, staff members, and those in the company who are postured to observe our performance.  It is crucial to have this group’s Respect!

The easiest way to gain the respect of Others is to Win.  People love winners and thrive on the opportunity to be connected with triumph.  Focus your efforts on being a Tough Leader who accomplishes problematic strategic issues.  Do not be concerned with “being liked”.  Victory is more important.  Others will notice who is winning and who is losing.  Your success builds influence and influence in turn creates cooperation.  With the cooperation of Others, you are armed to take on your next challenge with momentum.

Gaining cohesive long-term cooperation depends on being an advocate of Others’ needs.  Support your team and your peers with passion.  Too many managers make the mistake here of keeping score and waiting until they owe someone a favor before throwing in.  This egocentric approach only diminishes your short term effectiveness and slows your own progress.  Gain the respect and cooperation of Others around you by “paying it forward” when it comes to support.  Acquire a deep understanding of what they need to win and contribute everything you can to their success.  They will not overlook it and you will have increased your own power-base.

If you win and are supportive, you will gain Others’ admiration, but you really need their respect.  This requires bonding with them.  You cannot expect someone to run through walls for you if you do not have any bond with them.  Get to know the people around you.  Know their interests and passions.  Understand what makes them tick.  Care about them!  Running into them a few times a week in meetings is a disingenuous attempt at a relationship.  Relationships are of consequence and they matter.  Build them with the people around you.  Enrich your team’s and coworkers’ daily experience with a giving and caring atmosphere.

MANAGING YOURSELF

I have seen managers who are utterly out of control when it comes to managing themselves.  It is a spectacle they are even making it through the day.  They storm through what should be normal daily activities as if they were drowning.  If you are habitually disorientated, people will mistrust your capacity.

Managing yourself is a principal of Quality.  You must grasp the concept that Quality is not a part time thing and it must permeate all you do.  You cannot ask for or demonstrate quality in some things and ignore others.  Quality is a Value.  Episodic deviation from the value of Quality only creates hypocrisy when you try and enforce standards on others.  A commitment to quality elevates the game and demonstrates to others the expectations you command in all things – all of the time.  

Start with your personal organization.  Are you together?   Are you prepared?  Have you thought issues through?  You must become impeccable with your time management.  Know where you are supposed to be and know what needs to be done and when.   Meeting deadlines should be a “no sweat” routine with which you never falter.  Look at your personal presentation, your office, your briefcase, and your organizational system.  Do they tell people you are devoted to Quality?  Clean-up any chaos.  Think about how you are perceived in meetings, how you order lunch.  Make sure you are a self-reliant, prepared, and poised Leader.  No one will want to follow you if you can’t even find your keys.  Simply put… be professional!

Although a large part of your responsibilities revolve around the work of others, inevitably, you have work of your own to produce.  The production of your work should be skilled and precise.  The quality of anything leaving your desk must be first rate, accurate and presentable.   Believe everything you create will be posted on the bulletin board in the lunchroom or your boss’s door.  Set a goal to produce the preeminent work within the company.   Anything less lowers the bar for everyone and questions your credibility.  This is a tangible opportunity to create career distance between you and your peers.

As a professional producing striking work product, your next self-management focus is to demonstrate the attributes and values you require in others.  If you expect a strong work ethic, demand one of yourself.  If you desire positive attitudes, mandate yourself to be upbeat in the worst of times.  As your career expands, you leave behind the ability to “do everything you ask your employees to do”.  But you always retain the obligation to exhibit how to comport oneself in difficult situations and to ensure your organization’s Values are alive and well every day.   

MANAGING YOUR BOSS

This essential concept is often a surprise to many.  After all, isn’t my boss beholden to manage me?  Isn’t he answerable for me in the same way I am responsible for my subordinates?  The answer is, “No”. We just discussed how you were responsible to manage yourself.  If you want your career to thrive, you need to own it and not be complacent with anyone else having accountability for your success.  Managing your boss safeguards your accomplishments and profiles them before the organization’s executives.  Here is where your career takes flight.

You need to become your boss’s Star; his “Go To” person.  This originates with understanding and being proactive to his needs.  Yes, you heard me correctly.  It is not his job to make your duties easier for you. It is your job to make his life easier for him.  Think about that for a second.  What does he need?  What is important to him?  What are the organizational goals he is focused on?  You want to be the first one to the table with real deliverable solutions to make him successful.  Forget the idea that he is there to care for you.  Your goal is to ultimately assume his position.  Start to think of yourself already in his job.  Who is going to take care of you then?  If you understnd my point, you realize relying on your boss for your needs is a self–limiting proposition.  Get out in front of helplessness and stay there.  Also, it isn’t your priority to change your boss.  All bosses have their quirks and difficulties.  Accept them, for if you don’t already, you will have your own challenges for others coming soon.  It is your duty to lead your team to success despite any shortcoming of your boss.  Waiting for a change in his habits is only placing your career on suspension.  Learn to make your system work around his imperfections.      

To become his “Go To” person, you must have ideas; well thought out ideas that can be put into action with winning results.  You need to be able to discover the methods and means for improving your organization.  Your team must produce “standout” performance.  When an initiative of your boss is meeting resistance in other parts of the company, show how your team can break through the barriers and make it happen.  As you create innovative ideas and your team outperforms the norm, your accomplishments will be noticed.  But don’t be surprised when your boss gets a certain amount of credit for this.  After all, you are on his team.  Don’t get stuck here; just keep moving forward and your star will continue to rise and shine.

Too many managers never learn how to “Get to Yes” with their boss.  They think of an idea and throw it up.  They run into their boss’s office on Monday morning and excitedly spew out, “I have an idea. I need people.  I need money.  And then I can do so and so.”  Usually their boss impatiently listens for about 15 minutes and then says something like, “We’ll see.”  Doesn’t this sound familiarly like our Parent’s response when we were ten years old?  It should, because these managers are acting like ten year olds.  If you have a well thought out winning idea, then you need to guarantee it will get approval.  It is your responsibility to get the “Yes”.  Managers who sit around complaining that “nothing ever changes around here” have failed.  They are incapable of putting forth a compelling and unquestionable argument to get a “Yes”.  Commit to yourself that you will never receive a “No” from your boss again.  “Yes” isn’t just about being right.  It is about timing, presentation, and competing interests for resources.  It is about ROI, Values, and your Boss’s agenda.  If you’re not ready to win on all of the fronts, don’t pitch your idea.  Once an idea is pitched and denied, it usually dies.  Be patient, properly prep your idea, wait for alignment, and wait for your boss to be ready to say “Yes”.  Only then should you go for it and present.  If you can acquire this skill you will be among the few who can say, “My boss never says “No” to me.”  And your boss will learn to trust in the strength of your ideas and your abilities.  He will be able to count on you as a solid thinker and contributor.

 Managing Others, Yourself and Your Boss may seem like too many balls to keep up in the air.  It requires careful forethought, diligent planning, and unswerving implementation.  It entails an awareness of the priorities going on around you which you may not necessarily be involved in.  But most of all, it requires a commitment to being the best manager you can be in all areas of your working life.  If you’re not up for the challenge, you might continue to succeed at your job.  But if you want to be a Street Smart Leader, you will keep an active focus on these three priorities and vault past your contemporaries for that next promotion.