Archive for August, 2010

Family Business Peak Playbook™ – Genuinely appreciate each other for who they are

One of the most common sources of frustration I encounter with the family businesses I coach is the nagging feeling of not being appreciated. You would think this issue resides most commonly with the up-and-coming generation, although I often find it to be universal across all members of the family business.

As a Coach, my role is to help people step back and take an objective look at what’s going on. Like the Coaches of Olympic athletes, I help people constructively review their technique in their performance. In our coaching process, the Peak WorkoutTM, we call it reviewing the “game film”.

What I see so often is a lack of genuine appreciation and respect for the other person’s perspective. It’s actually the first step in developing and fostering mutual respect.

This doesn’t mean that we have to agree with all of our father’s values, strategies and techniques for getting through life. We need to remember that we were each born during a different time, in a different situation, and develop strategies based upon those unique circumstances.

Let’s take many of our fathers and grandfathers as an example. They were born or raised shortly after one of the greatest economic depressions of all times. That situation creates a powerful set of patterns and habits around being conservative and making the most with what we’ve got.

The younger generation on the other hand was brought into this world during a time of great prosperity and economic growth. They don’t have the same “historical perspective”. This usually creates a different set of values and orientations toward work.

The key is to not spend all of our energy trying to change each other to adopt each other’s perspectives and values. The best strategy is to spend time understanding each other’s perspectives through constructive and open-minded dialogue (a key skill we teach in coaching). Only then can we begin to truly understand each other’s perspectives and practice seeing them as legitimate.

One of the other key skills we teach in coaching is how to pay attention to what you’re paying attention to. We teach family business members who shift their “focal point” from what’s wrong with the situation to what’s right with the situation creates a whole new energy in the family business.

Younger generations should be appreciative of the unique and extraordinary opportunity a successful family business can offer. Conversely, older generations should be appreciative of having any younger generation members that are genuinely interested in the business and possess inherent skills needed to carry the business forward into the future.

Finally, we coach our clients to practice expressing genuine appreciation for each other. It’s like a new language for most families! When we can learn the new language, and authentically express our appreciation for each other, it opens up new, productive and powerful dialogue that can take the family and the family business to new levels of financial success and personal satisfaction.

As with everything we do, it’s all about PRACTICE. Good luck. Enjoy the journey!

Coaching Embraces Transparency and Access to Information

Look at the media, internet, etc.  We pretty much know all there is to know about everybody.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, it’s all right there to see.  Part of the story that a coaching leader conveys is that there are no secrets.  Coaching leaders say “Let’s get our performance out in the open so we can see it, be accountable, and find ways to improve.”  One of the cornerstones of a great coaching leader’s organization is that everyone is accountable for their piece of the puzzle and we can all see each other’s pieces.  Not that we want to make anyone wrong or find blame, on the contrary if we are going to be a great team it is critical that we all know what everyone is doing.

Coaching is an accelerator for learning and development.  If it is, in fact, a very competitive world, and we must continue to get better, then we must find the best tool to help us get better.  That is coaching.  Coaching is all about:

  • Accelerating development,
  • Holding people accountable for results, and
  • Winning in the marketplace.

Technology and systems are important, but the most important resources in an organization is human capital.  It is one of the resources that is the trickiest to impact and again why coaching is so critically important.

  • Posted by Pete Walsh
  • Tuesday, August 31st, 2010
  • Comments Off on Coaching Embraces Transparency and Access to Information

Leadership and Competition

Opportunity for a New Form of Leadership

By now we have a clearer picture about the world in which we lead.  In every crisis is an opportunity.  People are looking for teachers and a beacon of light in this tumultuous world.  Leaders who can understand this opportunity and adjust to the new form of leader will create the most competitively vibrant teams and financially successful organizations.  In my new book you will learn about the coaching leader.  This new form of leader knows how to inspire, engage and hold people accountable to higher levels of performance and business results.  But more importantly, in the coaching and development process, both leaders and team members experience a much higher level of personal satisfaction and reward for their work.  Coaching is deeply rooted in helping people understand their true talents, gifts and how to use those to reach their potential.  This new form of leadership will create higher business results and greater levels of personal satisfaction for you and your team’s needs. 

Competitive World

It is a competitive world. Just look around,  you see new organizations popping up all of the time and at the same time you see old stalwarts like General Motors, that we thought were unbeatable, falling to the wayside.  It is an extremely competitive world.  Survival of the fittest is really what it comes down to in our economic system. Believing that there is room for charity or keeping organizations around for sentimental value is unrealistic. Only the most effective, competitive and profitable organizations will succeed.  The sooner we understand that as leaders, and the sooner we can convey that message to our staff in a way that they can hear it; the better off we are all going to be. 

Average equals extinction is reality. Think about it, if you are only maintaining the status quo; you are probably not going to survive.  So the challenge from a leadership perspective is to continually have your organization staying ahead of the pack.

 How do you do that?  That is why coaching is so critically important.  Coaching focuses on performance, improvement and potential.  Getting better and higher levels of performance really isn’t an option anymore.  It is the only option!  I am not saying that the highly competitive world is the right world, but it is the world we live in as business leaders today.  To deny that reality would be poor business strategy. 

You would be better off to understand that this is the world we are in and the sooner you can create a highly effective and competitive team, the sooner you are going to enjoy success, profitability, loyalty and retention.

The End of Leadership!

The end of leadership is a pretty bold statement!  If you look around you will see some very dramatic changes in the world.  I believe that our traditional leadership structures are falling away and a new form of leadership is emerging.

In fact the genesis of this bold statement came from Warren Bennis, a pioneer of the field of contemporary Leadership Studies, in his article, “The End of Leadership: Exemplary Leadership is Impossible Without the Full Inclusion, Initiatives, and Cooperation of Followers”.  Bennis previously had been an advocate of TOPdown leadership.  After being asked to debate against his TOPdown position, Bennis came to a startling conclusion, he writes, “I came to the unmistakable revelation that TOPdown leadership was not only wrong, unrealistic and maladaptive but also given the report of history, dangerous.”

My experience as an executive coach brings me to the same conclusion.  Leaders are struggling to connect with their workforce in a way that brings engagement, personal accountability, loyalty and high levels of results.  This lack of accountability for results is a very frustrating situation for leaders. 

Our past beliefs, and subsequent strategies about leadership are no longer relevant.  There are a number of factors that have brought this about.

Failure of Leaders

Some of our most revered political leaders and corporate CEOs have been caught in outright lies that have undermined the credibility and trust we have traditionally bestowed upon them.  These leadership failures have created a backdrop of cynicism and doubt amongst the broader group of followers.

 “Pay Less, Get More” Mentality

The next factor is the extremely high expectations of consumers.  As consumers, we expect high levels of deliverables from everywhere we exchange our time and money.  With the advent of warehouse stores, major discounters selling everything, we expect to “pay less and get more.” In fact, that is one of the most successful and popular marketing slogans in retail.  This mindset spills over into the employee/employer relationship.  People want to give less and be paid more. Deep down I would like to think that people are fair and are willing to have a fair exchange for their time for money but they get caught in the cultural drift of “give less, get more” mentality.  

Get a Trophy for Just Showing Up

Let’s layer on another dynamic.  I do not know if you have raised children lately, but we started giving trophies just for participating on a team.  This new cultural norm has created an expectation of reward and recognition for just showing up.  There are bodies of research now revealing that this may not be the best approach in terms of teaching young people how to work hard and achieve something.  Parents are afraid to let their children feel anything other than “success” and they have no idea how to deal with adversity or disappointments that might come their way as adults.  They expect to be promoted to vice president within a couple of years after college. 

People Want More Satisfaction and Meaning

In a recent poll by the Conference Board, the 90 year old business research organization, it appears that job satisfaction is at an all time low.  This is another indication that our current forms of leadership are not creating work environments that have people satisfied and engaged.

As we look at the cultural context of leadership today we see a shift occurring in the employee-employer relationship. Cultural context is the background of experiences and beliefs that are shaping our collective thinking.  This is the cultural context in which business is done today.  We have four dynamics:

  • Cynicism due to major leadership failures
  • Give less be paid more mentality
  • Reward and recognition for just showing up
  • People want more satisfaction and meaning

 How easy it must have been in the days of leadership 50 years ago!  “Work hard, don’t complain and you’re lucky to have a job.”  Well, ladies and gentleman, we are not in Kansas anymore.

So, it is really not the end of leadership, but leadership as we know it is no longer effective.  So, what type of leadership is best suited for today’s business world?