Tag Archives: leadership fatigue

Plain Sight

Smart, talented, and ethical – each of the 11 members in this company’s value creation group® (VCG) possesses a strong track record. So why is this business currently underperforming? In addition to the whipsaw changes occurring within their industry, there are other systemic causes.

In response to my last blog post, John, a geologist, commented, “Every drive I take in the mountains or in Eastern Washington turns into a Geology lecture. My family may see a pretty barn on a hill and I see that the hill is bedrock high that became a suitably drained building site.” Like John, we each see things through our history until someone or something helps us see through a new lens.

While we all enjoy the company of an optimist, over a pessimist, this disposition of looking at the favorable side of events and expecting the best outcome is a costly business posture. I knew that deep down this group was prepared to face facts, but it wasn’t going to be easy.

The problem with reality is that it often causes optimism to flee. I’ve seen groups who aren’t comfortable spending time with each other in reality and they unknowingly use optimism to avoid the truth. Even when the facts are discouraging, hope, anchored in faith, is strong enough to remain present. That’s exactly what we were establishing in this group, the capacity to do good work while facing reality, and slowly developing a trust that could recover from interpersonal setbacks.

As this VCG settled down and relaxed with each other, I noticed a fresh capacity in their ability to listen. The edginess of tight deadlines and unfulfilled expectations was replaced by curiosity and patience. In under an hour, they transformed their space from a hectic, “I don’t want to be here”, time suck meeting, into a mutually constructed personal learning laboratory.

Suddenly, a comment surfaced about the lack of shared priorities and a tendency to look for quick fixes without doing enough research, and this elevated their attention. When everyone paused and nodded in agreement, I knew we needed to make hay while the sun was shining. For the next two hours, their level of collaboration was palpable.

During our wrap-up, I asked them why they were experiencing this and the newest group members said, “This is first space I’ve ever known where we could relax and focus without performance pressure.”

Attention is a condition of readiness that includes focus and receptivity. When each one of us is attentive and present in the group we can birth collaboration – and value creation always follows. Conversely, the pressure of hurriedness, tight deadlines and individual deliverables can kill collaboration. But when a magnetic topic materializes, everything can change!

It is a facilitator’s job to notice this shift and sponsor the group’s movement into deeper exploration. That member’s comment was the magnet and a hidden truth was now in plain sight.

This group longed for a noble set of priorities to collaborate around, something powerful enough to draw them together. The source of all teamwork is a common future and these talented people were ready. Are you? I’d love to know your thoughts. Jim@peer-place.com


Leadership Fatigue

After pouring years into building his company, Mike yearned for some time to invest in non-work interests, but doing that while growing his company seemed impossible.  At his core, the fatigue of being the CEO was building and he desired a fresh infusion of energy.  He knew becoming more effective was the key, but didn’t know how he could balance it all.

If I asked you to define the “best practices” that a good CEO demonstrates what would your list include?  Like most CEOs, you were never given a list and even if you earned an MBA, a list was never provided.  So where do you turn for help?

Very few leaders attend a class called, “How to be a CEO”.  To my knowledge, there isn’t one.  Most of us start in sales, engineering, finance, marketing, operations or administration and we climb to a place where we start our own company, or someone asks us to run theirs.  That’s the time when our learning accelerates.

Let’s face it, we learn as we practice and if we are lucky along the way, we find a mentor or two to help us.  Sometimes we get to a point when our current mentors can’t take us further and that is where Mike had been for some time.

There is a psychological truth regarding CEO development that says, “The quantity and quality of actionable feedback received, deteriorates in direct proportion to how high up you are in the organization.”

Few, if any subordinates, are able to tell you how they would like you to improve; they don’t have a list of “best practices” either.  However, they do perceive where you can be more effective (have more results with less work) and they just need help translating that perception into quality feedback, which is precisely why Mike asked me to help.

Before I shared what I had collected from his managers I said, “Please don’t ask me how you compare to other CEO’s because that isn’t relevant.  Their companies are very different from yours.  This information is a baseline from which you can increase your capacity, with my help.”

For two years, I’ve been dealing with a chronic case of Plantar Fasciitis and while I can function okay, I want to function at a higher level.  Recently, my Doc and I sat down and I said to him, “You’ve tried everything you know to fix this foot and yet we are stuck, so I’d like to get another set of eyeballs on this problem.  Who do you send your most challenging patients too?”  In business terms I was saying, “Who coaches you when you’re stuck?”

All of us are stuck from time to time and when we don’t know where to turn for help, we eventually grow weary.  Being stuck and growing your business through managers gets old real fast.

The day after our 360 review, Mike sent me an email saying, “I really enjoyed our time together yesterday.  I appreciate the way you gently push me to improve.  It means a lot to me.  Thank you!”

Are you ready for a gentle push?  I’d love to know your thoughts.  Jim@peer-place.com