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Why Leaders and Organizations Need To Stop Burying Their High Capacity Talent

talentMost organizations and leaders would love to have “High Capacity” leaders to fill the slots within their organizations. The sometimes overlooked challenge is the fact that with “High Capacity” leaders, comes the need for those leaders to lead at uhh… a “High Capacity” in addition to releasing their creativity.

This will sometimes leave organizations scratching their head and asking the question what do I do with so and so?  They are knocking it out of the park, they have an entrepreneurial spirit, their potential is off the charts and they actually have the leadership margin to spread their wings.

Spreading their wings means different things for different leaders, but it boils down to how can I steward their talent/potential and continue to allow them to make a positive impact within the organization. Many times organizations make the decision to do one of two things: 1. Bury that talent and therefore putting a lid on the height of that “High Capacity Leader.” 2. Get rid of that team member because of insecurity or simply not wanting to deal with the challenges these types of leaders bring to the table.

It’s like the Parable of the talents: The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more.  The one with the two talents gained two more.  But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ 
“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?Matthew 25:25-26

If your organization, team, staff or business has been blessed with some great talent, Don’t Bury It!  There is a new type of harvest to be sown with this “High Capacity” seed.

If you figure out a way to maximize the potential of the “High Capacity” talent that you have been blessed with, you will be rewarded.  This may require you getting creative, dreaming BIG, thinking BIGGER and setting some clear expectations; however the potential of the harvest is immeasurable.

Take a look at Google, not only are they ranked the #1 Website, they have also been ranked as fortune magazine’s best place to work.  Not only is their work environment ridiculously amazing, they do a great job of not burying their talent.  They not only do they recruit and hire “High Capacity” talent, they seek ways to release and empower the creativity.

An example of releasing “High Capacity” talent and creativity, is Google allows employees to spend twenty percent of their time to work on their own project, independent of their workgroup. Google believes that no one should leave in order to pursue their personal passions. Letting employees do this results in over twenty percent of Google’s new product launches has stemmed from these personal projects.  There can and should be a marriage between “High Capacity” talent and great organizations; they are not mutually exclusive.

If organizations manage their talent wisely, they may get this response: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’Matthew 25:25

Don’t Bury Your “High Capacity” Talent!

5 Ways Leaders Can Minimize Stress In The Workplace

stress1As a leader it’s important to set the tone for your team or organization, especially as it relates to handling stressful or crisis situations. If the leader wigs out, stresses out, worries or has a heart attack during high stress or crisis situations; there will always be undertones of that stress transferred to the rest of the team. Leaders must learn to keep calm in these types of situations.

I learned the importance of keeping calm during crisis situations during my tenure as a young 25 year old Prison Warden. As you can imagine running a prison presents the daily opportunity for high stress, crisis and potentially life & death situations. I had the personal choice of whether or not I allowed particular circumstances or people to stress me out. I would watch the previous Warden get stressed out by the most trivial things and felt the stressful impact her response to those situations had on the staff. Realizing that it was up to me, I developed an effective philosophy and mindset to handle these potentially high stress or crisis situations.

The philosophy was simply this, “There is nothing that we can’t begin to fix in “5 Minutes and 5 Phone Calls.” I trained my Chief of Security and my Officers to not sweat the small stuff and embrace the fact that crisis situations will happen. Remembering, it’s not about the situation, it’s about how you handle the situation.  This type of mindset allows leaders to set the tone of stress minimization in the workplace.

In my role as a prison Warden, imagine a high stress situation of a full-blown prison riot.  The process that my team would undergo within the first 5 Minutes would be to make the following 5 Phone Calls:

  • Call Local Law Enforcement
  • Call Me “The Warden”
  • Call The Department of Corrections Liaison
  • Call Vice President of Operations
  • Call Media/PR Representative

This mindset puts all situations, including crisis situation into perspective. It’s inevitable that we will face problems and potentially stressful situations on a regular basis. It doesn’t matter if the problem that we face is work related or personal, what matters is there is the beginning to a solution around the corner. Stop Wiggin’ Out, Tell Your Boss To Stop Wiggin’ Out and embrace the fact that every situation, including Life & Death one’s can begin the “fixing process” in 5 Minutes and 5 Phone Calls.

Once a leader comes to the realization that simplicity matters and the situation they are facing really isn’t that big of a deal, they can begin to embody Albert Einstein’s version of 5 Minutes and 5 Phone Calls. Einstein says it this way, “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

It’s not that serious, STOP STRESSING!

There Is A Difference Between Leadership and Dictatorship

jongThere is definitely a difference between leadership and dictatorship; unfortunately many so called “leaders” confuse the two. According to webster, we can easily see the distinguishing differences between the two:

Leadership – the position or function of a leader, a person who guides or directs a group.

Dictatorship – absolute, imperious, or overbearing power or control.

Aha, one guides, directs, coaches and leads a group and the other tells the group to do this thing, this way, because I said so and more importantly because I have the power… I am the dictator.

Can a dictator get things done? Absolutely! Is what they accomplish generally effective? Absolutely not! When results are produced out of fear, power and control, it’s never a good thing for anyone other than the dictator themselves.

If you ever find yourself in a group or on a team where the only opinion (singular) is the one of the person running the show, there is a good chance you are part of a dictatorship. The sad thing is it’s probably not a very good one, because no one individual is as smart, witty, creative, discerning, charismatic, strategic… as a group of individuals coming together as a true team.

 

Turnover Is Always A Small Symptom Of A Bigger Problem

turnover1Organizational leaders love to look at numbers and performance to evaluate success. Unfortunately, those same leaders don’t like to look at numbers to evaluate failure. A number that is a key indicator of failure is turnover. Turnover Is Always A Small Symptom Of A Bigger Problem. 

Organizational leaders can’t continue to write turnover off as a bi-product of “They just couldn’t handle it here, they didn’t have the capacity, they couldn’t keep the pace, they were a problem…” There is always an underlying issue for every person leaving a high turnover organization. If you have high turnover, you must fix the bigger organizational problem or the turnover will continue to exist.

If you want to get to he bigger problem, you must ask the tough questions and more importantly be prepared for the tough answers. Many organizations rely on the Exit Interview to begin this process, by that time it’s too late. Most employees don’t shoot the organization straight during the exit interview as they are done, on the way to the next thing and know that the organizations is going to discount what they are saying; otherwise they wouldn’t be exiting the organization.

It’s been said that people don’t leave organizations, they leave leaders. I would take it a step further and say that people don’t leave organizations, they leave cultures. Culture is what drives how leaders can and cannot operate. Employees will often times work for a poor leader if they are in a great culture, as they assume the culture will outlast or correct the poor leadership.

A turnover problem is a small symptom of a much bigger leadership and culture problem. Many organizations try to put a bandaid on their leadership and culture problem by simply hiring more people. Simply hiring more and more people never gets to the root of a turnover problem.

If organizational leaders want their organization to look different and have less turnover they must start by looking in the mirror, begin asking the right people the right questions, take the tough answers on the chin, make the necessary changes, understand that changing a culture takes time and ultimately just be accountable for their turnover problem.

Are You Choosing Excellence?

excellence1Excellence – (noun) [ek-suh-luhns] The fact or state of excelling.

Often times Excellence is viewed as this moving, high-level target that only a select group of fortuitous individuals can achieve. Excellence is simply a choice, it’s choice to: study more, practice longer, take that extra step in customer service, spend the necessary time with your children, making sure the restroom in your place of business is spic and span, to say “My Pleasure” instead of saying “Pull around to the second window…”

Excellence is a choice to care more than most think you should, risk more than most are willing to risk, dream bigger than most will ever dream and think more than others are willing to think. Excellence is not about being perfect, it’s about putting the best foot forward every step of the way.

Are You Choosing Excellence?

Why Apple Has The Best Business Strategy On The Planet – iPhone 6

Apple Introduces iPhone 5Let me start off by confessing that I’m an Apple fan, I’m part of the Apple tribe, I love what Apple does and how they do it. With that being said I always have some interesting debates with my Android and “Other Device” friends. It always ends with them talking about their improvements, their advancements, their sexy product commercials and how Apple is behind the times. My response is generally something like, “So what, your product really doesn’t matter and no one really cares.”

Don’t get me wrong as an Apple fan, at times I find myself intrigued by the other products. In my home I’ve even had my 11 and 15 year old sons see a Samsung commercial and say that they would like to have one. My response is always simple, “We do Apple in the Williams home… just wait, Apple will have something great.” Fortunately, dad has always been right.

That leads me to the point of this post and Why Apple Has The Best Business Strategy On The Planet. Apple does a great job of creating fans, a tribe, a group of loyalist that trusts their brand. When you trust a brand you don’t get caught up in what other brands are doing. You may look out of the corner of your eye and pay attention; however you never get caught up.

Case in point, I remember people being intrigued, excited and in awe of the LeBron James commercial and the Samsung watch and Big Screen Phone and yada yada yada. Since the launch those folks have been as quiet as a church mouse. Honestly, there has been way more talk about LeBron James taking his talents to Cleveland while everyone has forgotten about Samsung’s watch or big screen phone, because although they were first and new… they just didn’t matter.

Apple’s business strategy is about creating a tribe, a group that feels like they have something in common because they have the same device, the same iPad, the same computer and the same iPhone. More importantly they deliver time and time and time again.

Apple has done it again, they have delivered and both of my sons and millions upon millions of others are happy. As a matter of fact, more than 4 million pre-orders for the new iPhones were placed when they went on sale for pre-order this past Friday. Have you ever heard of anyone pre-ordering an Android device? let me answer that question for you… No you have not. The “Other” products business strategies are being 1st and not best. Tribes wait on the best, just ask the long lines at the best restaurants around the world. The discussion sounds something like, “We had to wait in line for a bit, but oh was it worth it.”

Another thing that was worth waiting for, was waiting for Tim Cook to step out of the shadows of Steve Jobs and take his place as Apple’s leader. Every leader has that moment where they seem to find their voice and their place, Tim Cook seems to have finally found that.

As a consumer, a loyalist, a member of the Apple tribe, and someone who is a strategist by trade, I look at Apple’s business strategy as the best on the planet. Their products, brand, look, feel and delivery methods simply work. Not only will Apple be delivering happiness to their fans with the iPhone 6’s this and Apple Pay this week, they created months of intrigue for the iWatch to be released in 2015.

These strategies work by simply keeping the tribe happy and they work at putting money in the bank. You can’t argue with any of Apple’s decisions and results. The minor inconveniences of waiting has customers ending with the same response of the awesome restaurant connoisseurs, “We had to wait in line for a bit, but oh was it worth it.”

Apple is seriously brilliant at waiting things out, letting competition exhaust money on incremental changes, creating desire, creating intrigue, learning from others, hiring the best people, creating questions and then delivering a stellar product that changes the game. Honestly I think Apple sums it up best in the video intro to their Keynote address from last week. This video didn’t have any audio; however the visuals and words on the screen spoke 1000 words. It read as follows:


“Here’s to those who have always seen things differently the ones who follow a vision and not a path

Where others perceive first as valuable, you value the first thing that actually matters. While others are distracted by the new, you focus on the significance as a whole new take.

Even before you could see how, you never doubted that we would change things and them we did together… Again and again and again and again.

Relentless optimism is what moves the world forward, so keep seeing things differently. Keep trusting there is always another way, a better way, a bigger way. One that breaks down barriers and heals the landscape.

You are the difference between the world as it was and the better place it will become and different is the one thing about us that will always be the same.”

Why You Should Be A Nurturing Leader

nurture1When people hear the word “nurturing” they tend to think of “mothering.” Their minds go to positive places, delightful places and encouraging places. When people hear the words “Nurturing Leader” their minds may go to a totally different place and think of a leader who is: soft, too nice, a mother figure and a push over.

Lets start by defining nurturing and jump into what being a nurturing leader is all about:

nur·ture [nur-cher] verb, nur·tured, nur·tur·ing.

  • 1. to feed and protect: to support and encourage, as during the period of training or development; to bring up; train; educate.

Nurturing Leaders are some of the best kinds of leaders as they are focused on feeding, protecting, encouraging and developing those they lead. They are focused on developing individuals personally, professionally and holistically. They care more about the individual than they do what the individual brings to their organization.

Nurturing Leaders don’t see people as an ends to a means, they see people as a gift to steward, a life to shape, a person to encourage and a leader to release. Just like a mother loves to see her offspring grow, develop and reach amazing heights; the nurturing leader loves to see those they lead grow, develop and reaching amazing heights.

Plain and simple, “Nurturing Leaders” nurture, enhance and develop more leaders.

This Is How You Become Good At Anything

goodThe way that you become good at anything is to do it over and over on a consistent basis. In other words you make it a habit. Great writers form a daily habit of writing, they write something on a consistent basis. It becomes a habit and over time they become good at it. The same thing is true for thinkers, networkers, speakers, leaders, gardeners, chefs, parents, married couples etc. If you want to become good at something, get in the habit of working on that thing on a daily basis.

If you want to become great at something, work on it daily until you love it.

“Greatness always comes from the overflow of a genuine love.”

 

Seth Godin On The Fallacy Of More Is Better

Does more = better? Seth Godin says “Not so much.”

Simple and great insights.

5 Distinctions Of A Next-Level Leader

next level leaderThere are many different thoughts or definitions of what a Next-Level Leader is or what pairing those two words together actually means. In this post I will provide my personal definition of what a Next-Level Leader is, in addition to identifying 5 Distinctions of A Next-Level Leader.

The definition of a Next-Level Leader is this- A leader that not only elevates their personal leadership to the Next-Level, but elevates the leadership of their team members, peers, their organization and competition to the Next-Level. They challenge the status quo and elevate elevate the level of performance of those around them; both friends and foes.

Below are the 5 Distinctions of A Next-Level Leader, Next-Level Leaders always do these things:

1.) Challenge Things- Next-Level Leaders challenge things because they are supposed to be challenged. They not only challenge the thoughts/methods of their leaders, but they challenge their own methodology. They realize that their boss puts their pants on just like they do and embrace the fact that just because a person a supervisor doesn’t mean they are necessarily smarter or better leaders, or that they can’t add value to the conversation. Challenging things is not about being combative, but rather raising everyone’s leadership game to the Next-Level. It’s okay to respectfully disagree. Don’t get the willingness to challenge things confused with being obstinate.

2.) Ask The Right Questions- Next-Level Leaders always ask the right questions… They begin sentences with “What If?, Have You Ever Thought About?, This Might Sound Crazy, but do you think we can…” Anytime they have the opportunity to sit down with another Next-Level Leader that they desire to learn from, they come with a list of questions and not a list of answers. They take their leadership game to the Next-Level by asking the right questions.

3.) dream BIG- Next-Level Leaders are always dreaming and imagining. Some of these dreams may seem to be a fairy-tale to some, but not to a Next-Level Leader.  A Next-Level Leader will schedule an appointment to dream, they go to Starbucks and dream, they close their office door and dream, they take a vacation alone to do nothing but dream. They take their leadership game to the Next-Level by dreaming BIG, encouraging those around them to dream BIG, writing their dreams down and making those dreams a reality. They dream BIG. think BIGGER.

4.) Learners- Next-lLevel leaders are always learning from: books, blogs, their industry, history, other industries, culture, failures, television, their followers, various industries and other Next-Level Leaders. They have a mantra something like Will Rogers’ Mantra “I never met a man I didn’t like.” The Next-Level Leaders mantra sounds a little something like this: “I Never Met a Man, Woman or Situation that I didn’t learn from.” They elevate their leadership game to the next-level by realizing that learning is fundamental.

5.) Produce Next-Level Leaders- Next-Level Leaders produce Next-Level Leaders, period the end. Next-Level Leaders contribute to the world of leadership by truly caring about those that they lead and always developing Next-Level Leaders. They never confuse Management with Leadership. They understand that managers manage people and things, while Next-Level Leaders produce other Next-Level Leaders. Simply put: “If You Are Not Developing and Producing Next-Level Leaders, You Are Not A Next Level Leader.” Next-Level leadership is not about how tall your tree can grow, but rather the type of fruit your tree can produce.

I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.“~Ralph Nader

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