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You Need To Adapt With Sales Fail. Remember It's Not The End Of The World

You Need To Adapt When Sales Fail. Remember It’s Not The End Of The World

Living in Minnesota, we come to expect freezing weather in the winter. When February rolls around, we don’t question whether or not it will be cold outside. We grab our thermal base layers, sweaters, and heavy jackets, and prepare for the tundra warfare. No matter what nature throws at us, we Minnesotans know how to adapt to the climate. 

Today was just like any other February day. I prepared to exit my warm house and wade through the sub-zero winds to warm up my car, dreading the bite of winter with each layer I put on. What may today unlike any other February day, however, was what happened when I stepped outside.

I grabbed my keys and hustled to my car, whipped the door open, plopped down in the seat, and started the engine. I didn’t realize through that whole process that one thing was missing.

It wasn’t cold.

There was no bite of Jack Frost on any skin exposed to the elements. The wind was low, the sun was shining, and there was no shiver to be felt. 

I checked my phone’s weather app only to realize that, where we had a high of 7 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday, it was already 25 degrees at 7:30 this morning and it was expected to get to 40.

I had prepared myself for a -30 windchill and was presented with a thaw. What’s more, the weather was expected to stay this warm for at least two weeks! I guess expectations and historical data doesn’t always meet reality.

I ran inside and got into a more weather-appropriate outfit and headed for work. Listening to the radio, the host was talking with a tech expert about Virtual Reality (VR) and the abhorrent sales trends occurring throughout the product line. 

Products like PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Samsung Gear VR, have been an incredibly popular talking point this past year. Tech blogs, magazines, and company ads have been rampant touting the tech as expected to explode with popularity. The only problem is, reality didn’t meet expectations.

It was expected that the PlayStation VR would sell 2.6 million units in 2016. At the end of 2016, it was reported that this forecast was missed by nearly 2 million units. That’s right; only 750,000 units of PlayStation VR was sold in 2016.  

The other VR units didn’t fare any better, with sales flatlining for the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift in 2016, shown in this Steam survey.

In the end, the tech expert didn’t have any saving grace to give the VR industry. All that could be said was, “wow…that was unexpected.”

It brings up a good question, though. What should you do when expectation and reality differ to this extent? How does a company come back from a loss as big as what the VR industry is experiencing?

While there is no universal answer for every company, there are some perspectives you can maintain while recovering from the loss. Here are just a few things to keep in mind while you work to do damage control and put a positive spin on your situation.

1. It’s not necessary to make heads roll.

The first reaction most companies have when an issue this big happens is to find out who is to blame. I’m not going to say mistakes weren’t made in more scenarios, but sometimes it’s just bad luck. Statistics will always be just that: statistics. Yes, the numbers may show an 85% chance of growth in your industry, but that still leaves a 15% chance for anything else to happen. 

Think of it this way. If you were to have brain surgery and the doctor gave you a 15% chance of dying on that table. How much more seriously would you take that percentage? Don’t be overconfident when it comes to your statistical research. Your team can do absolutely everything right and still get it wrong.

It’s unhealthy for a workplace to have the management look for a way to attribute blame whenever issues arise. People won’t feel safe, and worse yet, when someone does make a mistake, they definitely won’t want to admit it. 

Instead, remind yourself that the damage is done, and now it’s time to repair that damage. Instead of thinking “who’s fault is this?” Think to yourself, “what needs to be done now?”

By changing this behavior, your employees will feel more comfortable being honest about each issue. They will see mistakes as growth opportunities and will not fear repercussions for coming clean about any gaffs that may have occurred. Seriously, keeping your anger in check is good for everyone.

2. Don’t force the issue

Yes, I know that this project was your baby. You’ve put a lot of time and energy into bringing your vision into reality. That doesn’t change the fact that it hasn’t worked out yet. 

You may find yourself saying a lot of ‘yeah, but…’ statements, trying to justify why it should have worked. I know, your research said it should have sold. It didn’t. This market just wasn’t ready for the product. Maybe your product will be a knock-out hit in the future, but right now you’re trying to put a square peg in a round hole. 

Take the lesson to heart and stop forcing the issue. 

Look at it this way, do you want to keep throwing money at your project until it hopefully catches on when you know it was too soon, or do you want to redirect your money toward more sound investments; at least for the time being? Nothing says you can’t return to the project at a later date. Which leads to the third and final point.

3. You can always come back to it

That’s right; I mean it. store that project away and work on something else. Now turned out not to be the right time, and you have too many other great ideas to work on for you to waste more time on this project. Just remind yourself that making it happen now can be a disservice to the future when the time is more ideal. 

You can always return to your baby. With fresh ideas for additional features and a new set of eyes for the project, you never know what could be accomplished if you give yourself the space necessary to return to the project objectively. 

So put it in your warehouse and get working on another vision. Keep your eye on the climate and strike again when the market is more favorable. It’s not about being seen as a rerun of a failed experiment. It’s about making the sale and gaining customer backing. I could go on the number of companies that went bankrupt on their ideas before they were successful, but that’s for a later day. 

Listen, just because I expected it to be -30 outside today, doesn’t mean I was going to keep every layer on in the event the climate suddenly changes its mind. No, I’m going to change my behavior to go with the current circumstances. My jacket will always be there when the temperature decides to drop. 

So, in the end, all I can is this:

Keep adjusting. Keep adapting. But above all, keep going.

 

If you have any questions, stories, or suggestions, then please comment below!

Praise or Encouragement: The Differences Between and Uses For Both

Whether you’re a parent wanting to instill positive habits in your child or a manager trying to improve your employee’s productivity, you are familiar with the seemingly futile attempts to maintain a positive mood and motivation of someone under your care. It may seem that no matter how positive you are and how much positive feedback you give, a slump in productivity follows all too soon after.

Is your workforce lazy? Do they only work hard when watched? Does anything I say make a lasting difference? Am I just bad at boosting morale? The answer might be more simple than you think; as simple as the definition of a word.

When talking about motivation, two words are often thrown around. However, when I hear the words used, I often think of the line from Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” These two words are praise and encouragement. Most often, these words are used interchangeably. However, there is a distinct difference between them that is essential to improving and maintaining morale in a family and in the workplace. The distinction between each is best represented in the relationship between a parent and their child.

Most often, these words are used interchangeably. However, there is a distinct difference between them that is essential to improving and maintaining morale in a family and in the workplace. The distinction between each is best represented in the relationship between a parent and their child.

Praise

Praise is a finite jolt of motivation that is dependent on your continued input. Like the carrot on the stick, as soon as that positive input ends, so does the motivation. Often praise acts like a drug. The first interaction is astounding. 

A manager experiences an observable change in their workforce that may last for weeks. However, after the initial experience, every subsequent occurrence of praise is less impactful and shorter lived. Often a time comes when that praise isn’t effective at all. This means that to maintain an effective level of productivity by only using praise, the manager needs to develop new ways to show praise.

After a while, “good job,” just doesn’t cut it. The carrot needs to change to something bigger and better. Worse still, praise only motivates similar behavior. If the manager is looking for innovation, praise will not produce as desired.

Encouragement

Encouragement, on the other hand, maintains motivation with minimal effort on the part of the manager. The word encourages literally means to instill courage. Being the moral strength to persevere, courage is something that is mustered from within to accomplish feats. 

Instead of the carrot on the stick, encouragement creates a power plant of motivation within the individual. A reminder of what fuel to use is all that is needed. However, in order to truly provide encouragement, you must have the knowledge of the individual’s unique strengths. 

Without speaking directly to their talents, the encouragement is just as short-lived as praise. As a manager, it is imperative that one takes the time to understand the strengths of each staff under their care. Individualizing each employee allows for greater connectedness between staff and supervisor and provides more opportunities to foster motivation and productivity from the employee. 

Encouragement requires the intimate understanding of your staff’s unique strengths, providing the added benefit of knowing where talent can be found. Encouragement requires this knowledge because it is out of this strength that the unending motivation emanates.

So, when does a manager use praise or encouragement?

Using Your Tools

Praise, as stated previously, provides short bursts of motivation and productivity. This productivity is often lacking innovation, but motivation and productivity can be found in short bursts. This means that the best use of praise is at the beginning of a working relationship.

While learning about your staff’s strengths and talents, praise will lay the groundwork for what is appreciated in the work environment. It is also helpful when teaching new tasks to staff. Essentially, praise is the kindling to start the fire. And, if praise is the fire, then encouragement is the wood.

After the skills have been taught and groundwork laid, use the insight you have about your staff’s strengths to shift to the substantial fuel to maintain motivation and fulfillment. Now that they understand how to do their work, encouragement connects your staff to why they do their work and what they bring to the table. Remind, challenge,

Remind, challenge, inspire, and empower your staff by adapting your words and behaviors to foster greatness out of your staff. Everyone resonates to a different input; don’t force your staff to become inspired by your managerial techniques. Instead, adapt your managerial techniques to nurture inspiration in your staff.

 

 

 

Ambition, Not a Promotion, is the Key to Success

I recently had a very insightful conversation with a friend of mine about ambition and executive promotions. While speaking about each of our own desires for our work lives, he made a very interesting statement. His statement was both simple and profound. What he said is something that many people think, but they may never have been able to express in words.

As the conversation turned to people with the desire for promotion, he said that he feels a disconnect with those who want to climb the executive ladder. Where others are focused on moving through positions in a business toward their final goal, his goal was to do the job for which he trained and not pursue those supervisory promotions. I feel like his statement brings to light an often neglected issue regarding occupation and success.

I believe that his statement brings to light an often neglected issue regarding occupation and success.

The Issue of Ambition

The corporate world has developed a culture where promotion is an indication of one’s level of success. “If you don’t want to be promoted, then you don’t have ambition,” of “If you don’t pursue upper management, then you’ve already failed.” Whether it is the pursuit of more money or more power, the corporate world has placed their definition of success as the only definition. 

Ambition is measured by the individual’s desire to grow in wealth and authority. The problem with this perspective is that not everyone can, or even wants to, find themselves in a managerial role. Also, for those not dreaming of the corner office, their strengths very easily become overshadowed and neglected in this kind of environment.

When a work culture defines ambition as the pursuit of promotion, the strengths of the workforce not fitting that mold goes to waste. The company focuses their resources on identifying and grooming prospective executives and leaves everyone else in the dark. After all, if they have no “ambition,” then why spend our time and resources on them? The biggest issue with this philosophy is this: not everyone can be a manager.

Yes, the practice of using the motivation of a promotion is age old and a common tool to increase someone’s productivity. However, after a while, the management will have to provide the promised reward or risk losing the staff. Not to mention, if the entire workforce is made up of individual striving for managerial positions, then turnover will skyrocket. 

Luckily, not everyone feels the push to upper management. Business culture needs to adapt and recognize that staff that remains in positions seen as “rotation jobs” deserve their chosen careers to be recognized as vital to the organization.

Revitalizing the Work Culture

How does this adaptation take place? However idealistic as this sound, it does have merit. The entire culture of the business, how success and ambition are defined, needs to be renovated. A business is made of individuals with unique strengths and passions.

If a business not only wants to survive but thrive, it must build a culture that empowers its workforce to work from out of their talents. In order to do so, positions in the company can’t just be used to groom future executives. If an individual’s strength and fulfillment come from making a career of that duty, then honor that. No one will be able to fit that position better than someone who feels fulfilled doing so.

 

Ambition takes many forms. The desire to focus on money and power may be easy to pursue. It’s only the great companies that desire to empower their workforce and make a lasting change. They recognize that position doesn’t matter. It is how you use that position that makes the difference.

 

How Gottman’s ‘4 Horseman Of The Apocalypse’ Can Destroy An Office

 

As I’ve said in the past, there’s a lot to be learned from relationship therapy theories when compared to office culture. This is why today I have brought an interesting read for any supervisor or leader in a business. John Gottman’sThe Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert

Gottman is one of the leading minds in the field of marriage and relationship research. He has run the Gottman Institute for past 40 years, completing in-depth research into what makes a healthy relationship so healthy, and what causes unhealthy relationships to ultimately fail. Really, for anyone in a committed relationship, I would recommend you give it a read. But here at Inciting Purpose, we focus on careers, so let’s get back to our wheelhouse.

But here at Inciting Purpose, we focus on careers, so let’s get back to our wheelhouse.

One of Gottman’s claims to fame is that he holds an astounding 91% accuracy rate for predicting if a marriage will end in divorce simply by listening to 3 minutes of an argument. This is because his research has shown that it is not whether or not the couple argues, it is the way in which they argue.

Basically, his whole process is separated into 4 signs of a destructive relationship, but we will only touch on the first two signs as they are the most pertinent to a healthy office culture. These two signs are the “Harsh Startup” and the “4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”

So, let’s jump right in!

 

Harsh startup

Gottman says that the first indicator that a relationship is unhealthy is what he calls a “harsh startup” to a discussion. A harsh startup is either a person approaching someone with an accusatory slant or someone responding to a sincere request for conversation with negativity.

So what does this look like?

Staci, the supervisor, approaches Jeremy, one of her staff.

Staci:”Hey Jeremy, can you complete a report from that last client? I don’t seem to have the sent invoice anywhere.”

Jeremy, rolling his eyes: “Sure, I’m so excited to get you this vital information.”

If someone begins to speak on a subject and is immediately met with sarcasm or negativity, it’s very difficult to redirect the path of the conversation toward anything productive. 

This is the basic precursor to Gottman’s Horseman of the Apocalypse. 

 

4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse

The Harsh Startup leads almost immediately into these 4 toxic interpersonal behaviors, which Gottman has effectively labeled as the 4 Horsemen: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling. He states that they often arrive in a particular order, starting with Criticism and going toward Stonewalling, but not unusual to bounce around during a discussion. 

Criticism

Gottman takes note to separate criticizing behavior from complaints. It’s normal to have complaints about someone’s behavior, and it’s healthy to voice those complaints.

Staci: “Jeremy, I see that the invoices are regularly late coming from your desk. This makes it really difficult for me to follow through on my tasks because I’m often waiting on those invoices.”

Complaints keep the focus on the behavior. 

Criticism, on the other hand, attacks the character of the person.

Staci: “Jeremy, you can’t keep your tasks straight. You’re so absent minded and you make such dumb mistakes. Honestly, it’s like you don’t care about your job. Did you grow up in a family where responsibilities didn’t matter?”

Sadly, it’s quite common to have leaders in an organization use criticism to get their staff “in line.” But all that really happens is the actual problem becomes overshadowed by the personal attacks. Relationships are bruised and no one is feeling motivated to work harder. After enough criticism, this leads pretty naturally into the next horseman: Contempt.

After enough criticism, this leads pretty naturally into the next horseman: Contempt.

Contempt

Criticism often leads right to contempt. The behavior shifts from attacking the character of the person to sarcasm and cynicism. Remember, these 4 horsemen most often show up in a particular order. But they can show up in different orders depending upon the relationship and the stage of the arguments. The example given above for a Harsh Startup would be an example of a relationship that skips over Criticism and jumps right into Contempt through the use of sarcasm.

Anyway, Contempt takes the main stage when the individual being attacked attempts to reconcile the relationship, but is continually shot down by the criticiser. 

Jeremy: “Maybe I can try a new way of organizing my desk and time. That might help me keep up on the invoices.”

Staci, scoffing: “Oh, yeah. That must be the secret to getting your life in order. Clean your desk and all will be fixed.”

Gottman does note, and for good reason, that contempt talk doesn’t start out that way. Often the origins of these issues are simple requests that went unanswered, or disagreement continued. Thus, the requests became disrespectful and contemptuous. 

Defensiveness

As easily as criticism slipped into contempt, the third horseman trots into the frame: Defensiveness.

As expected, when we are presented with contempt, we try to defend ourselves. The only problem is when someone is acting out of contempt, they are not likely to hear reason from a defensive position. Gottman stated that this is not only because contempt is not looking for a way to be reasoned with, it’s also because defensive behavior often comes off as redirecting the blame.

Staci, scoffing: “Oh, yeah. That must be the secret to getting your life in order. Clean your desk and all will be fixed.”

Jeremy: “Well, sometimes I don’t have time to organize my desk just how you would like it. I have a lot on my plate.”

Do you see how, while Jeremy was trying to defend against Staci’s contemptuous comment, he is actually stating that Staci was being unreasonable by expecting him to be organized to her standards when he has so many responsibilities? In reality, she most likely gave him the responsibilities as his supervisor. He is essentially blaming her for his failures.

Defensiveness is a slippery slope! No wonder it rarely works. 

In the end, the defensive behavior will only escalate the situation, making Staci either up the ante or become defensive herself. Either way, it’s not a good outcome.

Stonewalling

After the arguments increase in severity, becoming immersed in toxic conversation patterns, the last horseman to arrives.is the act of stonewalling. 

Either someone begins to ignore the other, or they simply half-heartedly agree with every statement. Whichever way they behave, it is clear that they have begun the process of stonewalling. When stonewalling occurs no meaningful conversation will be able to take place. This is because, while they can hear the other person, they have lost the motivation to connect. 

Staci: “Jeremy, I really need that invoice.”

Jeremy: “…”

Staci: “Jeremy?”

Jeremy: “…”

Staci: “Jeremy, I really need to know that you heard me.”

Jeremy: “…Yup.”

By this point, it is incredibly difficult to recover a working relationship. Yes, it is possible, but intervention from HR, Employee Assistance Programs, and management is often necessary to get the parties even close to being cooperative. 

 

Why Does This Matter?

Having these behaviors as routine in a relationship can cause more than toxic conversations. Gottman cites research showing that continuous contemptuous behavior can have the consequence of being more likely to suffer from colds and the flu. Why? Simply put,  our stress increases when in toxic relationships. With increased stress comes increased levels of the hormone Cortisol. 

Cortisol is the hormone released during the “Fight or Flight” times. Cortisol increases our focus, improves our reflexes, and even starts redirecting blood flow to the extremities, in case the fight response becomes flight. That being said, while Cortisol is literally a life-saving hormone at the right times, extended periods of increased cortisol can damage the immune system, leaving you more susceptible to illness. This is why stress and toxic relationships can not only make working with those people difficult, it can make you miss work due to illness and exhaustion.

Gottman’s Four Horseman of the Apocalypse can cost money in time, employee intervention, and possible employee turn-over. It’s especially costly for a business if the office culture shows a pattern of these toxic relationships. By that point, you’re not looking at one uncooperative working relationship, you’re looking at an entire team of contemptuous, defensive, critical employees.

Whether or not your office culture struggles with these toxic patterns of behavior, it can be helpful to be aware of how easily these horsemen can show up at the front door. I strongly recommend that anyone in a leadership position should read Gottman’s books. His insights have helped me personally understand how to empower coworkers and keep toxic patterns out of both personal and professional relationships.

 
Have you seen these kinds of communication patterns in your workplace? What was done to change the circumstances?

Leave your stories, questions, and suggestions in the comments below!

 

The Greatest and Most Surprising Secret About Contentment

The Greatest and Most Surprising Secret About Contentment

I strive for a lot of things.

Financial security, professional fulfillment, secure and loving relationships, an endless supply of crab legs… I could go on, but now I’m thinking about crab legs.

Most of all, I think I strive for a sense of contentment. You all know the feeling I’m talking about. It’s like a physical sensation; the sense of pure satisfaction with how your life is now. Peace manifest.

However, as confident as I am that you understand the feeling of contentedness, I am just as confident about something else:

That contentment is misunderstood.

The Misunderstanding of Contentment

You see, we live in a world which has made some decisions about life without our input: What a man or woman can and cannot be, what success looks like, what is realistic, what is idealistic, how we should all spend our time, and what contentment is and isn’t.

Think about the concept of contentment for a moment. Many of us probably picture a Terry Redlin painting of a cabin or a sunny day on the porch. We picture simplicity. But how many of us truly feel contented in such simplicity? Perhaps for a while, but as time rolls on we begin to stir. We begin to look for purpose beyond the front steps of the easygoing life.

We grew up hearing that this is what being content means; that we need to accept how things are. We are told that if we ask for more, then we aren’t content – we’re selfish. What once was a word that meant to be fully and completely happy in your life has now become synonymous with the relinquishing of our dreams.

Rarely do I hear someone say that they are content with their life without a passion being surrendered to the obligation of contentment.

“Yeah…I would love to quit my job and do what I really love, but I have to be content with where my life is now.”

Contentment is Not About Giving Up Our Dreams

When did we consign our futures to this concept of ‘just accept it; it’ll never happen’? How did we take the definition of contentment – the state of happiness and satisfaction – and conclude that it meant to stop striving for what truly matters to us?

Living a life that is contented is no less active than the pursuit of one’s purpose. In fact, only through zealously pursuing your purpose can you achieve any sense of contentment. How are we to achieve happiness and satisfaction without living out of our purpose? Is the act of living out of your purpose not the fulfillment of a contented life?

There may be times when you find yourself in a moment of peace; the hustle of the world seeming to hold pause. In these moments, you may find the only word that describes how you feel is ‘contented.’ Simplicity provides its own fulfillment. Honor those times, and provide yourself with these respites. Nevertheless, be assured that contentedness is found in equal abundance while experiencing the tension of pursuit.

Moments of peace are only possible by accompanying a life of action.

A Life of Action

Have you ever completed a high-stakes task or conversation, only to come out the other end exhilarated? As if you had just accomplished something so fulfilling, that few other experiences more effectively manifest who you truly are than this moment in time? Is an individual, actively connected to their purpose, less contented than those living a simple life?

Our world’s broken definition of contentment demands that we abandon our passions in the name of simplicity. Remember that true contentedness is not possible without the realization of purpose. We will never know what it is to be content without chasing the life we were born to live.

So chase your passions, fight for fulfillment, and live a life contented by achieving your purpose.

 

Inspiring Words: Frankl Will Make You Rethink Your Purpose

I am excited to share one of my favorite books for this week’s Inspiring Words post. I have listened to it on tape and read it several times. Each time through, I find wisdom missed and am reminded of the author’s deep understanding of the human spirit. The author is known psychologist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl. His book is titled Man’s Search for Meaning

Man’s Search for Meaning

Written in 1946, MSfM spends its first half chronicling Frankl’s horrific experiences being imprisoned in Auschwitz. He retells the struggles experienced, lives lost, and the lessons learned about purpose to the human soul. The stories are gripping and heartwrenching as you read about the horrors of dehumanization and the power of the human will.

“An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.”

Few would have been able to experience such an ordeal and respond with such love and compassion for humanity. Upon reaching the end of his story, Frankl commences entrusting the reader with the fundamental wisdom which he obtained from his experience: that a human being, without purpose for his or her life, will lose hope, motivation, and even the will to live.

“In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.”

Power of Purpose

Frankl’s words on the power of purpose are universal. No matter the circumstances of your challenges, Frankl’s wisdom will help you reconnect to your unique purpose. He calls for us to recognize that true purpose is only possible when we recognize and connect to something bigger than ourselves. When a greater purpose is found we find fulfillment and the will to continue.

“For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”

Man’s Search for Meaning is a short but impactful read. I recommend it to each and every one of you. If you are interested in getting the book, then you can find it here.

“But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.”

Inspiring Words: Sinek's Powerful Challenge To Start With Why

Inspiring Words: Sinek’s Powerful Challenge To Start With Why

This week I wanted to share with you all a name which I have mentioned in a few previous posts (this onethis one, and that one).

Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek is an author, speaker, consultant, and adjunct professor. He has been on a multitude of media outlets sharing his wisdom about personal and professional fulfillment. From NPR to The Blaze, Sinek has given commentary to the struggles of the average working person. He often says that 80% of people go home at the end of the day feeling unfulfilled and uninspired by the work that they do. His mission is to flip that statistic on its head. His TEDx talk is currently listed as the 3rd most view video on TED.com.

Much of my passion for what I do began when a friend of mine showed me Sinek’s video shown below. After watching his presentation I bought both of his books, Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last. Written just as he speaks, these books are very easy reads. You can feel his passion in the words on the page. I have returned to his books for reference repeatedly and I form my own opinions and pursue fulfillment.

 

 

If you would like to learn more about Simon Sinek, you can view his website here. and his books are listed below.

Inspiring Words: Lencioni on successful team growth

Inspiring Words: Lencioni on successful team growth

This week I wanted to bring you a fantastic resource for team development and improving work culture.

I just had the pleasure of reading Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Expertly written, Lencioni lays out the 5 fundamental behavior patterns of a thriving and successful team, and what those patterns look like when dysfunctional.

About FDT

Written as a novel, FDT tells the fictional story of an executive team fraught with dysfunction at a new company that had everything going for it. With a stunning amount of raised capital and some of the best staff in their respective fields, they were built to succeed. However, with everything going for them, they began to struggle. On the verge of failure, the company decides to hire a new CEO with a knack for producing remarkable results in underwhelming companies. 

The book is an incredibly easy and enjoyable read. It is a must-have with remarkable insights for aspiring and current leaders alike. Few books are able to educate so effectively as FDT. 

Throughout the book, Lencioni lays out his 5 dysfunctions of a team: absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results.

The back of the book provides a recap of the 5 dysfunctions and a breakdown of how to rectify them. Everything you find on the pages is fantastic and well-articulated. Although there is one aspect which I would challenge and redirect.

Lessons Learned

Lencioni states that financial incentive is necessary to get a team to improve their attention to results. While he does admit that this is a finite method of improving results, he fails to provide any alternative action that may provide lasting results-oriented behavior. For that, I want to add for your consideration a common theme of my articles: purpose.

If the leader is able to provide a direct connection between why the company exists and why the results matter to accomplishing that purpose, attention to results will occur. As Lencioni makes clear through FDT, the team must unify under one purpose. Those who do not believe in the single purpose are not meant for that company. Thus, they are better off seeking out alternative employment. Lencioni sets the scene to focus solely on purpose. However, he fails to connect articulation of purpose and a desire to fulfill that purpose.

Overall, this book is remarkable and a fantastic reference for all executives and aspiring leaders.

I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did!

You can find the book for sale here.

Never Allow Honesty To Be Stifled By Fear

Some time ago I was having a conversation with one of my supervisors that reminded me how important honesty is to our personal and professional lives.

 

Trying for Honesty

At the time, our agency was experiencing some drastic growth of clientele. It was to the point that even the supervisors were having to manage their own share of clients on top of their other responsibilities.

After a particularly busy month, I found myself quickly caught up with my work and able to lend a helping hand. On my way out of the office one day, I caught the eye of my supervisor on her way out as well.

After some small talk, I asked how the added load was weighing on her and the other supervisors. I offered to lend a hand, mentioning that I had quite a bit of time available.

She looked at me inquisitively, yet interested in the prospect of getting some tasks off of her shoulders. She asked, “You have quite a bit of time on your hands?”

My feet went cold and I quickly fumbled my response, “I, uh, well… a bit.”

Her face went slack and I realized I had the moment all wrong. “oh…only a bit.” she said, resigned.

You see, I let my fear get the better of me. The thought that I may have been seen as slacking at my job overcame my willingness to support my co-workers. I went into survival mode attempting to save face; as if having time to take on side tasks said that I wasn’t fulfilling the rest of my responsibilities.

 

The Outcome of Fear

The outcome of this fumbling attempt to protect my image ended in my supervisor’s disappointment rather than reassurance.

This is a telling trait of the power of fear. It provides us with enhanced attributes to increase the chances of survival. The fight or flight mechanism sets in and for a short period of time, the body is ready to protect itself from outside danger… At least that’s what it was meant for.

We’re not in the stone age anymore.

Survival isn’t something we need to worry about in the business world these days. If you feel that it is, then the job you’re in isn’t healthy. There are no mastodons at our doorstep and the average lifespan is a little better than the 25 years old of early humanity.

Essentially, I had nothing to fear from this situation. But, I went with my body’s response and tried to do damage control.

Think about the number of opportunities that are lost due to our fearful response. Whether we are trying to preserve our reputation or establish ourselves in a positive light, our fear of an immediate, negative outcome too often dictates our behavior toward our colleagues and in our careers. Imagine if we were simply honest, not giving in to our fear of losing face.

Ironically, if I had maintained honesty, my supervisor would have been relieved by shedding some responsibilities while solidifying the fact that I was willing to help however I could.

 

Podcast

Inspiring Words: Tom Henschel’s Podcast ‘Look and Sound of Leadership’

So far we have brought recommendations for speakers, Ted Talks, and a few great reads. I hope they have been insightful and have helped you improve your outlook and passion for what you do. This week I wanted to shift away from literature and bring in a podcast recommendation for all of you.

I listen to a good number of podcasts. Since my 9-5 requires a large amount of driving, it’s a great way to utilize time otherwise spent thinking about what I want for lunch. With some staples in my playlist including This American Life, NPR Ted Radio Hour, and the Fantasy Footballers (what? It’s important to know if I should bench Kirk Cousins against the Bills!), there is more content to enjoy than I will every be able to consume in a lifetime. Out of all of my subscriptions, one of my favorite leadership and executive development podcasts is Tom Henschel’s The Look and Sound of Leadership.

 

The Look and Sound of Leadership

Tom does a fantastic job with each podcast teaching communication techniques, curiosity, and genuine desire to see others improve. Using previous client experiences, Tom gives the listener direct examples of his techniques. Every story teaches you how to answer some tough questions as a leader.

Overall, I highly recommend this podcast and to take a look at Tom’s company, Essential Communications. To learn more about Tom, click here.

Do you have any favorite Podcasts? Leave a comment with your recommendations!