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.
Victim or Victor Checkpoint 3: What will you celebrate at the end of 2020 and how it may impact your 2021?
This is the 4th email and 3rd checkpoint in our 1/1/2022 Victim or Victor Series.
Staring at the final 45 days of 2020 and with a national election behind us we imagine you might have a few of your team members remarking how much they are looking forward to being done with 2020.
Sadly, as a leader you know all too well that Monday January 4th will present just as many challenges and opportunities as the previous Monday.
Setting your team’s sights further out appears to be prudent and we have compiled a few best practices for your ready reference.
Be wary of vaccine watching.
We hear lots of chatter about COVID vaccines and will rejoice when the right solution is presented at scale, but we don’t think you want your people to be the worldwide experts in that narrative as it can be tremendously distracting and demoralizing.
Admiral Stockdale whose 7 years as a POW in North Vietnam make him a good primary source on endurance commented that the people who suffered the most were those who set arbitrary dates on when they would be released.
When the interviewer asked who didn't make it out of Vietnam, Stockdale replied:
“Oh, that's easy, the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, 'We're going to be out by Christmas.' And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they'd say, 'We're going to be out by Easter.' And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”
Stockdale then added: “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
Keep the daily routines and the key actions in place
Amidst the consistent noise of rising COVID cases and the concern over pending government actions it may be wise to take a page from Earnest Shackleton’s book when he was stuck on the south pole in the middle of winter. Their multi-year struggle with the elements included strict daily routines and even time out for the men to kick a soccer ball around.
When you are asking your team to hang in there every week, it can get old, consider keeping the cadence of meetings at the appropriate level and focus on the key actions that matter. Thinking back to the soccer example, we find it amazing that after trying to use a hand saw to break ice away from a ship that they had the energy to do anything, but the men trusted Shackleton and he trusted the power of keeping a cadence of action.
Having the courage to celebrate.
This may seem crazy, but we think the curious leader will find a way to help the team have the courage to celebrate the year. Turning this scrooge of a virus on its head and leveraging that for the first time in a century we are all have a common foe reminds of the Who’s in Whoville singing around the beleaguered Christmas tree in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss.
Having the courage and curiosity to celebrate with your team could play a vital role in how the first quarter of 2021 goes for your team.
How you answer these questions could make the difference in having a team that resents everything it sees in the world or one that is buoyed by what they are overcoming and empowered by the resilient spirit that this period of their lives is helping them build. The Who’s gathered hand in hand and sang, and while we know we won’t be holding hands and probably not be singing, we sure hope you find a way to celebrate.
We celebrate the opportunity to share our insights with you and are thankful for your readership and friendship.
Drew and Sara
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View the previous post in the Series
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.
There are many noble pursuits for a coach at the beginning of the season and we hardly ever bump into one who is volunteering their time in the hopes of causing a kid to quit the sport. However, if we were to vote on one of the hardest goals to obtain, we would put achieving collective excellence above going undefeated and winning the all-city title.
Our definition of collective excellence has its roots in the work of John Wooden and those who also seek to build a personal relationship with each player in the joint pursuit of the team’s goals. The ability of the coach to build trust with the player, to such an extent that the player can agree to the role the coach has constructed for that season is crucial. It's part sales pitch and part plea for support and trust.
Each season is as an opportunity for the coach to have a scouting report done on themselves, a book as it were. It answers the question, how do we beat this coach? Scouting reports are common on players: what is the book on that guy?
A coach should also want to know what “the book” is on them at this point in their career, and then work the next season to improve. So what is the book on you right now?
The coach who trusts his or her team enough to be vulnerable with them should be well on their way to existing in a state of consensual interdependence with the rest of the coaching staff and the players. We wrote about this in one of our Thought Leadership Series pieces shown here.
The pursuit of collective excellence begins with the coaching staff and then continues through to the players. If you can think of a team you were on that achieved this, please share with us as we continue to build out stories on this topic.
You may be interested in our post on Turning a Group Into A Team.
We first heard this term small societies from UNC women's soccer coach Anson Dorrance in a talk he gave at the What Drives Winning Conference in 2015.
It was a scant reference at the beginning of the talk (minute 1:15), but for geeks like us, it was cause for research. Dorrance is a coach in pursuit of collective excellence. He is building a cumulative chest of wisdom on the topic of human collaboration in the pursuit of putting a ball in a net and caring about each other in the process. His research led him to discover Cesar Luis Menotti of Argentina who had the high pressure job of being that country's national soccer team coach.
It was Menotti who started talking about the teams within the teams, calling them small societies when describing the relationships between the goalie and the fullbacks, the right midfielder with the center forward. It is similar to Metcalf’s law of networks and how intertwined our relationships can get.
Our current learning is this:
Consider looking at your team the same way you would look at this square. You know you are going to be asked, how many squares can you see? If a square is a small society that could exist on your team, how many can you see? Make a list of small societies for your team and then if you feel like it, share it with us. As the coach, you can’t advise and mentor what you can’t observe.
Consultants can bring diversity of thought to a company, they also bring new terminology that at first glance may not make sense. We use a customer acquisition framework (CAF) to describe how a business wants a potential customer to learn about, and then accept its offer. It might be called sales and marketing and in other places it’s called marketing and sales. Regardless, the biggest change we have noticed in this area are the options available to your company relative to just five years ago. That is why it is one of our themes for 2019. It might make sense for you to revisit your strategy.
In 1995 the phone and the fax machine were the money makers, and having a toll free number was a big deal. You might have had a marketing department, but you didn’t know what worked and what didn’t and the magazine ad salespeople were really happy about that.
Today marketing executives can show up to a meeting with real data that tracks and predicts future behavior by your target customers.
What does this mean for you?
It means you have more leverage with your marketing dollars and your sales team. Just ten years ago you were still guessing with your marketing dollars and the sales reps could hold you hostage with the relationships they initiated.
In the House Tour image below think through how far you could have a potential customer get without the help of a sales person? As an owner you have an incentive to get them as far through the house as you can. Get this right and your cost of sales will plummet and your profitability will rise.
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.
Hopefully you kissed some of the joy of summer as it flew by, put the memories in a jar, and blessed them with gratitude. Being able to do this, regardless of how full your jar is can be vital as you shift your focus to the fall. Here are a few helpful nuggets in three areas of work:
IF YOU HAVE A BOSS: Put yourself in their shoes and think through how they are looking at the next 18 months of their life. Understanding begins with observation, and if you are looking for a primer to help you in this area consider using our mapping your boss template.
IF YOU ACQUIRE CUSTOMERS: If you acquire customers for your company and have an annual sales number this time of year can be fantastic or frightful. Careful pipeline and funnel management will help you decide where to allocate your most precious asset: your time. Here are a few questions for you to review:
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
Pitching in to support your children in their endeavors has a name. It’s called parenting. It’s a noble role and duty that changes with the decades. Currently from the ages of 4 to 14 there are many different roles a parent can fulfill in the area of youth sports. The roles have different levels of authority and requirements. Head Coach, assistant coach, team manager, culture keeper, league treasurer, league president, end of season of pizza party planner, are all roles parents fill.
Both Sara and I have enjoyed participating and working with the kids and others parents these past ten years. What caught our eye this year is that after moving towns, we went from a head coach, league president, large authority role to that of an assistant coach.
The opportunity to not have to coordinate and orate to 15 players on a team and to 200 players in the league and 30 to 400 parents left a void that allowed an observation framework to appear. This year we had room to see players individually be afraid of failure and to encourage them. Our interest in building framework for others to use also led us to come up....
Building off the great reaction we received from our post on productive solitude we started to notice that in our work conversations we were asking leaders how they were organizing their thinking and in what format. Were they using a computer, a phone, a note pad, or a bound notebook? When did they collect themselves and organize? Who did they share it with, and how did they share it?
The answers were all over the board, and many didn’t really have a system in place. They offered up that they are bouncing around trying whatever the newest form of technology has to offer. We also noticed that many leaders thought that the idea of sharing what their tasks was a big enabler for productivity. However, that wasn’t really playing out as they thought. It was leading to more emails and more confirmations on non-mission critical tasks. Does this sound familiar?
Enter in the concept of a template as a way to create boxes waiting to be filled with answers that challenge you to prioritize your thinking. An individual benefits by working with a task allocation template like the one above. The act of not just writing down your tasks, but prioritizing them, and then...
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.....
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...
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