CV Crisis Chronicle: May 17 Undertow's and Riptide's, knowing the difference can save your life and how it correlates to this Pandemic Period.
This is a series of articles from emails that we were sending out to clients and friends as the CV Crisis evolves. Hope it is helpful for others and also provides a historical context as we all reacted and learned about the seriousness of this virus.
I grew up in California and was on a swim team from the time I was 7. Trips to the coast were a delight and with them came lessons about the strength and power of the ocean. One element you felt almost instantly once you were past ankle depth was the undertow which was managed without much difficulty. However, the more dangerous element that still leads to ocean drownings every week is the rip current which is frequently call a riptide.
The key thing we learned was that you could use a burst of energy with an undertow to get yourself to be able to stand and recover, but you could never beat a rip head on.
Why the ocean swimming lesson 10 weeks into a pandemic and a correlating economic shut down?
We have noticed many people, including ourselves, trying to sprint to safety and our misdiagnosis of the situation could be costing us valuable energy in what appears is going to be a much longer swim back to shore.
The rip takes you out past the breaking waves, into the deep water. Once you know you are in a rip you orient yourself to the shore, swim sideways (they are typically no more that 100 yards wide) and then can start to re-orient yourself to swim diagonally or directly back to the wave line. You still have a ton of swimming to do, you will be very tired when you get back, but you actually can make progress and survive.
The one two punch of the pandemic and recession is a substantial rip. Each week we get more bad news from a wide range of industries. It can be confusing but it shows just how intertwined our supply chains are and how finely tuned they had become. It seems odd that pigs would be slaughtered, why not just let them get bigger? Why is a lettuce crop getting tilled up? But both of these are viewed as a crop and if you are going to lose money, then you stop losing money as quickly as you can.
Here are our findings after another active week working.
You Can't Punch the Pandemic in the Mouth
Don’t look for the heroic kick save that always works in the movies. Save your energy and reorient your position to live to fight another day and take the measures that will allow you to survive.
Plan from the bottom up.
A good first measure is to build out plans on how your family and your business survive a Pandemic Period. This war is like any conflict, it never shows up where or when you thought it would. Enemies attack where you are weak and adapting to that blow is the first step. Our training needs to be in adapting and then preparing for the next unforeseen action. Part of that preparation is doing what we call C-B-A planning.
C-B-A planning was something that came out of the financial crisis of 2009, it is where you understand how things will look in reverse order. You plan to survive first, then improve and then optimize. It is not normal for most of us as we plan for everything working and often times we succeed.
However, in a pandemic period work the numbers and the choices out in your mind so that if and when we get another broadside attack adapting will be about implementing not deciding.
Help others with the eye of a Lifeguard
Start looking for how you can help others within your interests and strengths but make sure you have the energy allocated to do it. Another swimming lesson from my youth was from life guard training. Reach – Throw – Row – Go was the mantra for helping a struggling swimmer.
Part of the reason for this was that the last thing you wanted to be was a life preserver for a drowning person.
Endurance, Endurance, Endurance
Continue to practice the habits we wrote about from Colonel John Boyd’s OODA Loop and Admiral James Stockdale’s Paradox as you hone your endurance skills.
We all came into this Pandemic Period at different points in our lives and with big plans for the next 90 days, 9 months and even 9 years. It has brought some closer together which doesn’t make the news, it has driven others further apart which always makes the news, and it will leave its mark on all of us.
Victim or Victor Checkpoint 5: How a tip that George Schultz picked up from Ronald Reagan could help you keep your team on track in 2021
The first 45 days of 2021 have started to show us that the vaccination roll out and reopening of our full economy will last the entire year.
The word Hybrid is being used a lot and that fits our narrative going back to last July when we started focusing leaders on January 1, 2022 as a good heading to work towards with their teams.
Our current focus is how to connect with the members of the team who are not doing well, the bottom half of the K recovery.
This leadership challenge is well documented by Simon Sinek's "Leaders Eat Last" book, or the notion that the captain is the last one off the ship.
We came across a great insight for connecting with those you lead by former Secretary of State George Schultz in his recent 13 page white paper "Life and Learning after 100 Years".
Schultz noticed how Ronald Reagan would approve the content of a speech and then in his final preparation would mark spots in the speech to insert a story.
Here are Schultz's words:
I remember the day when, as secretary of state, I brought a draft foreign policy speech to the Oval Office for President Reagan to review. Reagan read through the speech and said, “That’s fine.” Then he picked it up again and began marking it up in places. At one spot, he wrote “story” in the margin. I asked what he meant, and he said, “That’s the most important point. Your speech is good, but to engage your listeners, it always helps to tell a relevant story they can relate to. That way, you’ll appeal not only to their minds but to their emotions.” Reagan understood that you could make a point or you could tell a story. Always tell a story to make your point whenever you can. It penetrates in a way no abstract point can—and it therefore forges an emotional bond, and emotional bonds build trust.
We view this as both timeless and timely advice for any leader and hope that as you are communicating to your teams and audiences that you work to add stories of hope and caring around the facts and objectives. The stories "activate" the message and that activation is the force multiplier inside your human system for spreading the right message to the very fringes of an organization.
It is in the connecting through significant shared experiences that trust is built and with trust in the air, magic can happen across cultures.
The subtitle of the Schultz document is "Trust is the Coin of the Realm" and we need our leaders to be building trust with their constituents in this hybrid year. .
If you know of any leaders who could be empowered by this idea from Schultz and Reagan, please forward this to them, the people they lead need hope.
Thank you for your friendship and readership,
Drew & Sara
p.s. Wanted to thank the many of you who responded to our last email about "Lessons Learned from Dad" it has made for a multitude of great conversations and warm warm feelings.
This is the third email and second checkpoint in our 1/1/2022 Victim or Victor Series.
A quick disclosure on the title.
Early in the pandemic a friend mentioned the phrase "Victim or Victor" off hand in a conversation and it seemed appropriate, not in a dominance sort of way, but as a mental puzzle.
Kind of like we all get to choose our mindset in every situation and the hope is that you will see the good and work towards the victory.
That friend just lost his wine crop for the year in the recent fires and we are crushed for him.
2020 has been a year of so much loss and required so many people to work so hard to keep things going that it is humbling to even have the audacity to write and expect anyone to have the time to read our prose.
We write to share what we are learning to encourage others and as a form of self therapy to look for the good amidst the clouds and for us in Northern California the seemingly endless smoke.
Thank you for your friendship and readership.
Drew & Sara
Uncertainty reigns right now. (Don't forget to still Plan)
Meaningful Shared Experiences are being created every week in 2020 (this bodes well for the future)
Checking in with people in the next 45 days before the holiday rush might be a good idea.
In closing if you want to help out our friend who lost his crop you can sign up for their periodic offerings and wine sales here.
Click for the NEXT post in the Series or the PREVIOUS post.
Victim or Victor: Your choice as you Chart a course to January 1, 2022, three big buoys and nine check points
This is a series of articles from emails that we were sending out to clients and friends as the CV Crisis evolves. Hope it is helpful for others and also provides a historical context as we all reacted and learned about the seriousness of this virus.
June was another month of adapting and learning how to decipher the signal from the wall of noise that was building.
Now that we are past the midpoint of 2020 it seems natural to focus on where we should be by year's end, yet somehow it feels like we need to go further out.
My question for you to ponder is this:
Where do you want to be 1/1/2022?
In your planning consider thinking through what you can control and what you can not.
Do your best to not waste energy or time on things you can't control, like whether we will have college sports on TV.
You can't control if online school means you have children at home, but you shouldn't be surprised by it, allocate time to having a plan to help your kids thrive.
It is very easy to envision the Covid Crisis costing the world billions and 2 years of disruption.
What is also easy to envision is that the victors will say this period was where they honed their vision and adapted to become their best self and team.
You won't hear much about these people on the news, the media will focus on the victims.
As a leader of yourself and others, the choice is yours, Victim, or Victor.
Let me know if you need any help setting up a 18 month plan, the first checkpoint is August 15th.
p.s. Way back in March we wrote about "Endurance" and as we start our journey to 1/1/2022 it appears Admiral Jim Stockdale's words are more helpful than ever: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/cv-crisis-chronicle-march-29-implementing-principles-drew-sanders/
Click HERE for the next post in our new series.
Somewhere between Salt Lake City and Grand Junction this January while climbing a scary mountain pass in a four wheel drive it came to us that a way to look at the CEO’s job is as follows:
To determine how much stress the balance sheet of the company and the people that work for it can handle at this time in the company's life.
You may have a different view of it, or a different way to say it that works for you and we would love to hear from you about how you see it, but humor us for a minute.
It appears at times that even at some pretty large companies that the only person who is really thinking about the future of the entire enterprise is the CEO. Everyone else is in their department looking for more resources, and hopefully in the words of Peter Drucker, focused on the next most important task.
What does this mean for you?
It means you need to be relentless in your pursuit of what is true from your direct reports because they may have an inherent bias to keep you on a consistent drip of flattery and fluff. It also means that having a board of directors that can help you think about the company from the outside is vital.
Questions a good board can help you wrestle with are:
• How much debt should we be working with now to grow the business?
• Where are your next threats coming from?
• What innovations are going to allow you to increase your margins?
• Where is your current leadership team in their own personal life cycles?
The rub is that building and maintaining a productive board of directors is a challenge. Too often it is such a hassle that you don’t even have one. CEO’s can often feel like the coach of a professional sports team. The players on the field are your employees, the fans in the stands are the customers, and up in the owner’s box sits the board of directors. Where does the coach stand? Sometimes they stand alone.
Ask yourself the following question: What is the company telling itself right now that we want to be true, that may not actually be true? Many department heads will be talking about growth because they know that is what everyone wants to hear. The challenge is that if the company doesn’t manage its balance sheet and time the growth correctly outside forces can end up owning the business. You may have a growth mandate, but try as we might most of us can’t make water go uphill, so back up your mandate with facts and processes you can trust and measure. This rigor and dialogue can save your business.
We have often been asked to help with this question: How does a company build a winning culture? In pursuing the answer to this question, we have noticed the stark cultural differences between a group and a team. If culture eats strategy for breakfast than a team eats a group’s lunch. What is a group, and what is a team? For definition purposes here are some of the fully researched differences between a group and a team:
Companies hire people from different walks of life, with different strengths and different personalities. These differences can be obvious and group dynamics can take over if the leadership doesn’t take an active role in helping people understand how they are aligned and the things they have in common. A great way to do this is the admiration exercise which takes about 60 minutes for a group of 15.
Don't worry, we have not picked up a new bad habit, a recent trip to the library had me opening up a new book, and the combination of the adhesives and paper gave off a smell that made me smile. If you can imagine that smell right now, then you might really enjoy this edition.
When it comes to reading, word of mouth seems important. We just don’t want to make a book purchase and end up with a dud. With that in mind we suggested for the past summer 12 book ideas for the 12 weeks of summer. We hope you find one of our selections interesting and that you find the time to read (or like many of us listen to the book).
We have divided up the recommendations into five categories:
Most of these books are not new but they all were worth the investment of time, money and enrichment a good book can bring. CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR SELECTIONS
Working with companies, non-profits, and sports teams affords us a wonderful window into the world of effort and outcome. Goals are set, causes are cared for, and games are played. A haunting question lurks in many of the minds, what do I do if I try my hardest and fail?
Seldom do we hear it verbalized, but we notice that much effort is made to sabotage the effort piece of the equation to allow the players a margin to recover their pride when the outcome is below the standard. It's much safer to reserve some effort and hope for success, if it gives you a nice mental pillow to rest your ego on..."well I didn't go all out so next time...."
Our question for leaders is, what is this mindset and handicap doing to the productivity of your team? If you could minimize it and get your team to deal with success and failure with the same attitude, what would that look like? Under pressure we don't rise to the occasion, we fall to the level of our training.
Achieving this outcome is no easy feat. One of the steps in getting there is done by providing a safe area to communicate what trying your hardest looks like, and having a recovery element to reward the effort. If people will risk their best in front of others, then when their limit is met, consider celebrating and providing them sanctuary to recoup and reflect.
The power questions for leading a team to risk more, think more, and do more are: what did we learn, and what does it mean? As the leader facilitates the questions and honors the responses watch the trust on your team soar. We think other things will soon rise as well.
On this topic read our post What's Your Q Rating with more info on Mindset
Billy Graham died on February 21st, and we were struck by the breadth of personalities that weighed in on the impact of his teachings. One particular quote stood out and we decided to email it to a few people under the heading of “everyone needs some encouragement." It had to do with his response to a question he got at a conference later in his life. He was asked, “Who is the next Billy Graham?”
He replied. “You all are the next Billy Graham.”
We received a very high response rate in which people shared their own experiences and passed the encouragement back to us. We are hoping for a similar result in this newsletter.
Encouragement came up around another topic that is timely and has to do with inspiring women and girls to lead. It is speculated that confidence can sometimes be missing from the minds of women and especially pre-teen girls. Encouragement from others appears to be a key ingredient. Katy Kay and Claire Shipman’s recent book called “The Confidence Code” outlines it in detail. We highly recommend either the adult or children’s version. Of course as word geeks we like that in the midst of the EN and the MENT there is something we love…. A huge dollop of COURAGE.
Next read our post Trust Your Spider Sense!
Most will know the Beach Boys song from 1963 as “Be True to Your School,” yet research done by Adam Grant on Facebook has started to show that pride in your company can have a large impact on the amount of work the average employee will produce in a day. It can graphically be represented on an axis of belonging and autonomy.
People love to have choice, and they also love to belong. When they feel their company's purpose aligns with their own values they take more initiative. The new haunting question for leaders may become: are you proud of our team? What a powerful yet challenging question for many work environments. I can just see several of my earlier bosses falling out of their chairs in laughter. Does this mean we need plenty of circle time and not challenge each other? Is the chain of command completely broken and the inmates are running the asylum? Not necessarily. Optimism and pride in your company are part of the fascinating discussion in this article from the May edition of Fast Company.
Consider now reading Is Your Culture a Wow or a Whatever?
It may not be a welcome point of view, but a haunting reality started to appear to us about what happens when a leader laments or complains. It guts the commitment of almost everyone on your team. We identified three of these culture killers and share them in the hopes that you may check yourself in your efforts to improve. The first lament comes in the form of getting off focus. This occurs when you take different courses of action that are in your head and start to leak them to your task-oriented team. Your team wants to know what you need and what is the plan? If you are winging it or juggling multiple strategies and thinking it doesn’t matter because they don’t tell you about it, think again. They are not going to tell you, almost instinctively they will cut their commitment by 30% immediately.
The second lament comes in a moment of frustration when small items are brought back to you by the team. The questions are low level, off topic, and drive you nuts. Your response appears to be a clarifying statement, but it also stops your team in their tracks. “I Don’t Care” about this or that the leader says...
We started to notice that the right human system can build and develop character with a series of commonly held values, that allow all of the members to build daily momentum with good choices. This crystallized for us when visiting the Naval Academy in November with our 12 year old son, Ryan.
We were 90 minutes away from the Academy, and with a free afternoon couldn’t pass up the chance to check it out. The midshipmen have positioned the book store right next to the security gate, so our first step was to pick up a few souvenirs for Ryan's sister and mother. A favorite pastime of ours is to buy a magnet for the fridge to commemorate past travels. Within minutes a coffee cup, exercise shorts, a sweatshirt, and the magnet were easily secured. Navy had just beaten Notre Dame at the football stadium that day, so there was a bit of a line, and we passed the time looking out the windows at the ships bobbing up and down. Soon enough it was our turn and we chatted with our attendant, got our receipt, and were off.
How fast can you tell the mood of a room? How is it that in an instant we can pick up the buzz or the tone? Something in our make-up affords us this capacity, yet for decades managers have dismissed the productivity benefits of person-to-person energy transfer when it comes to getting things done. Often times the grumpiest person seems to be able to reign over all, and decide that smiling might hurt the bottom line. Culture-oriented advocates will run up against the dreaded “it is more about the return on investment” and seldom have any real proof behind their soft skills training.
Recently Wayne Baker of the Michigan School of Business wrote a short piece for the Harvard Business Review titled “The More you energize your coworkers, the better everyone performs.” It proves that attitudes matter and can increase worker productivity. Baker writes about concepts like a reciprocity ring and mapping relational energy, which have been effectively proven to increase the productivity of teams. We encourage everyone to click through the different studies they have completed as you look to develop your own teams.
Colin Powell himself has stated that “perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.” If you are trying to get the team across finish line it doesn’t hurt to re-read the Little Engine That Could. Attitudes ARE contagious.
Take your great attitude and read about mentoring in our Allowing Wisdom to Rise post.
One of the benefits of helping companies work on turning groups of people into teams is that you get to visit a wide variety of settings and environments. A recent trip to a professional college had us buzzing and prompted the above title. This team of 125 teachers, administrators, and service staff were on fire from the very beginning of the two-day long all-hands meeting all the way until the end. Every member of the team was making a sacrifice to be present, and the business itself was closed the entire time. Thinking of the total cost to the enterprise would make most owners blink twice, yet like clockwork for years these days are reserved to fill up the tanks of the people that make the company tick. If your current culture is more of a Whatever these days than a Wow, see if implementing a few of these tips we gleaned will help.
An initial idea to consider is having a common way to signal the end of a situation or event. Most companies will have gatherings, and even with the best clock management they can run long. With attention spans waning you increase the chances of having the end of your meeting being a dud, which sends your people scattering and potentially lacking vigor. Consider having something.....
Recent sociological research has started to notice that our ability to perform well in a role as an individual or as a member of a team can be traced back to three quotients. The first relates to your IQ and speaks to your ability to cognitively handle the tasks required. Knowing your strengths and then training to improve on them is vital. There are very few roles in today’s economy for people performing out of their strength. Be sure you can articulate your capabilities and the contribution you can make.
Your performance will be enhanced when you show the ability to understand how your contributions can blend with others for your joint benefit. Central to this concept is acquiring empathetic traits and building your emotional quotient, EQ. The force multiplier of working well with others sky rockets when the team sees the goal through everyone’s eyes and then seeks to achieve for their mutual benefit. Yet being smart and caring, doesn't appear to be enough these days. It turns out that your ability to be resilient and adaptable in the face of change, both as an individual and as a teammate are game changers.
Click on the links for Ted talks from Amanda Lee Duckworth at Penn and Carol Dweck at Stanford, who are both actively researching how to add some grit to your life to help you improve your resiliency quotient, RQ. The next time you hear the phrase “Mind your P’s and Q’s” we hope you will not only remember to say please and thank you, but you will also think about combining your wit, your heart, and your gut to be the most complete contributor possible.
Try our post The RE Exercise For Self-Improvement next!
Sanders, can’t you just give me the three quick steps to take to get my team on point?" This is something we hear quite often from managers who don’t have time for long drawn out explanations and philosophy. Your world is impacted for time and it has to be simple for it to transfer through a human system. With that in mind, here are the three steps you and your team might consider. We call it the “RE” exercise.
You start by REflecting, go back in your mind 18 months and take a look at what has transpired. The key action here is to “ponder.” Get to the side of your life river and look back up stream and ask yourself, “what did I learn, and what does it mean?”
The second step is to REcreate by putting yourself in a fresh environment. Recreation is often associated with long trips away and those trips are very impactful, but watch what happens to you when...
Do you have a team member that is killing your "Swing?"
The book “The Weekly Coaching Conversation” by Brian Souza touched on this very issue. Business schools such as Harvard have shown a real focus in the area of career development and the term “coach” is evolving within corporations. Souza recommends a regular check-in session with your direct report to asses not only their performance, but also review softer metrics as well. We would like to add to this article with some of our own findings and offer a few tools for you to use with your team.
Whether your check-in meeting is quarterly, monthly, or weekly, having a template to work with as you are getting started can be a big in facilitating dialog. It will also allow the direct report to be speaking more than the boss, which is of particular importance if the boss is an extrovert and the direct report is not.
Our experiences have shown that a regular check-in on areas such as your team members Soul, Fuel, Work, Fun, and Community Service will quickly identify the area that is distracting them. A simple listening exercise along with a specific question on what steps they will take to remedy the concern can go a long way. We have been amazed at how well these templates work when it comes to getting what is in a person’s head out in the open, proving once again that “your head is a horrible place for a discussion”. Here is one of our templates from our book The Next Gen Almanac. Let us know how it goes.
You might like next our post "Does Competition Fuel You or Drain You?"
Everywhere you look companies and teams are looking for speed: foot speed, communication speed, and speed of delivery of goods and services. We started to notice a correlation between teamwork challenges and the duration of the team itself. In youth sports the average season is 16 weeks long, an eternity for the player, but a blip on the screen for an adult. In work environments temporary workers are the standard for most Global 1000 companies and they even have different color badges for all to see. The need for speed has created an environment where leaders can fill the room with people, but one layer down all parties are looking around the room to gauge the commitment to the group, and the duration and type of contract.
Regardless of your position on one of these new “iTeams”, factoring in the length of the time the team is to be together should help you work well with all parties. If you are the leader, missing this key dynamic can be costly to your performance especially with the lowest power participants. Often times the lower power groups will never communicate their frustration, rather they will find a way to hit a personal “release” valve that subtly kills the team culture. It can show up in their engagement level. They are present, but not clicked into the team's goal. Often times they vote with their feet, by not showing up at all. Dr. Suess’s “Yertle the Turtle" comes to mind here.
As you build your teams, keep a special eye out for your different groups. Don’t overlook the short duration participants. They often have long duration commitments elsewhere (spouses and children), that if tended to correctly can make a big impact on how they perform on your team. If you don’t, one named “Mack" may burp and like Yertle your team may end up flat on its back.
Susan Fowler has a book, “Why Motivating People Doesn't Work…and What Does” in which she smartly addresses the challenges with using extrinsic motivational systems within groups. We shared a bit about this with our “Tree of Performance” (photo below) and believe all leaders should be well versed in the six levers they can pull to guide a team in this area. Publicly many leaders joke that they expect all members of their team to be “self-motivated”, but privately they understand how to create a culture where people's need for Autonomy, Relatedness, and Competency are being met.
A client assignment had us diving further into this topic and how the topics of “Productivity” and “Engagement” can come into play. Engagement is something that does not....
Erin Meyer released “The Culture Map” in 2014 and it sat in my stack of books for a few months or I would have written about it sooner, for anyone working with an international team this book has the keys to team-building heaven. It turns out that in the midst of the United States trying to make amends for past sins in the “you and I are different” category, the rest of the world has known all along that a French Chef beats a British one, and that Indian executives are much less worried about timeliness than the Germans.
Meyer has created a global relative scale for culture differences in eight different categories ranging from timeliness to persuasion to performance review evaluation styles. The results are
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