Friday, February 27, 2009

24 Lessons in High Performance Leadership

Lesson Nineteen
Know the Signs of Low Morale & How to Raise Spirits

Detecting the warning signs of low morale is only the beginning. To fully address the morale issue, an effective leader must understand what causes morale to fall. Without knowing the causes of low morale, a leader might try in vain to correct the situation and never get to the real issue. Here are some of the most common causes of low morale:

1. People’s failure to understand their jobs.
2. Unrealistic or ever-changing goals.
3. Poor communication that can take the form of:
• Constant criticism or (Big Brotherism).
• Inaccessible or absentee management.
• Erratic and inconsistent discipline.
• Being thought of as a number.
• A manager’s lack of growth as a leader.
4. Over-inflated organizational structure.
5. Over-staffing.
6. Misemployment.
7. Poor psychological work environment.
8. Management that is not people-oriented.
9. Lack of performance appraisal and feedback.
10. Continuing education that is dull or nonexistent.

These 10 elements of a high-morale environment are like primary colors and can be mixed and blended in a variety of shades:

1. Keep jobs interesting.
2. Welcome new ideas.
3. Foster a sense of accomplishment.
4. Recognize special efforts.
5. Treat people fairly.
6. Be responsible as a leader.
7. Offer fair and appropriate compensation.
8. Support personal growth.
9. Promote a sense of belonging.
10. Provide opportunity.

Here are three guiding principles for keeping morale high in your organization:

Study the causes of low morale.

Take immediate action to counteract them.

Make strategic plans to keep morale from falling.

"Team members' morale will never be higher than the leader's morale…for long."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

24 Lessons in High Performance Leadership

Lesson Eighteen
Communicate Upward

"What my boss doesn't know can't hurt me."
- The Filter Builder's Motto

Everyone has a comfort zone. There is a point at which individuals become nervous and uncertain about the security of their positions. This is only natural. Losing a job or a reduction in job status impacts a lot more than pride and ego. Throughout a professional career, a person builds a lifestyle that closely reflects his or her professional success: house, car, neighborhood, golf or tennis partners, place of worship, and so on. As a leader you need to understand how much a person's life and lifestyle are tied to his or her position in your organization.

A person tends to become a filter builder over a long period of time with an organization, although it can also happen quickly under the right circumstances. The filter builders know that they can avoid rocking the organizational boat by making sure that the top decision makers don't get upset hearing bad news or by problems they might find disturbing.

If you are a top decision maker, be careful this doesn't happen to you. Make sure that the information you should be receiving from the lower levels of your organization is not being filtered.

Everyone has a bigger fish just one link up the food chain. In management situations, everyone has a smaller fish one link in the other direction. If true, accurate, and factual information is being filtered or, worse, misrepresented, as it makes its way through the ranks, the top leaders are likely to be left in the dark about what's truly going on with their internal and external customers.

How dangerous is this problem? There are some companies we used to hear a lot about that are now gone. They were filtered to death.

To be an effective leader, you need real information, whether the news is good or bad. You have the power to fix problems and to help your people grow and develop. You can't do either of those things if you're operating with limited and/or inaccurate information.

Filter Builders are everywhere, protecting their backsides. Don't think your organization is immune. You must identify them and deal with them. If not, you are putting yourself, your organization, your customers, and all of your stakeholders at risk.

Here are some things you can do to reduce filtered information:

Develop a mobile management style: Tom Peters calls it, "management by walking around."

Deal directly with the people around you: Ask questions of your team members and managers at all levels, act on their ideas, and let them know what you've done.

Eliminate filtering: Let everyone on all levels of management know in no uncertain terms that filtering information will not be tolerated.

"Weed out filter builders."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


I Posted this on my BLOG in October and in view of what's happening now in our economy thought it a good time to re-Post. Each time there has been a downturn in economic conditions the requests for my “Leadership When the Heat’s On” program and book have gone up. The structure is built around the maxims in my “Leader’s Dozen” which are listed below.

Please keep in mind my track record where 145 salespeople increased production 800% in a five and one-half year period and that included two recession years.

1. The ultimate reward for the leader of people is to be able to say at the end of the day, “I saw someone grow today and I helped.”

2. Charisma = Intensity (goal, focus and action) plus Enthusiasm (expectancy of better things to come).

3. High performance is often the result of a sudden change of direction.

4. To achieve great things, know more than the average manager considers necessary.

5. An organization quits improving right after the manager does.

6. Help a team member grow and you receive respect in return.

7. On a scale of 1 – 10, team morale and customer service receive the same score.

8. Take a mentor to lunch before somebody else eats yours. (It’s not necessary the mentor be in your industry since great leadership principles are non-industry specific.)

9. Be aware of a team member’s weaknesses but talk to his or her strengths.

10. An organization will never rise above the quality of its leadership.

11. Fear has no strength of its own, only that which you choose to give it. Ironically, that’s the very strength you need to overcome it.

12. Your team members are just as good as you are at planning their time.

13. If you don’t have enthusiasm that’s contagious what ever you do have is also contagious.

Copyright 2008

Friday, February 13, 2009

24 Lessons in High Performance Leadership

Lesson Seventeen
Plan Your Time Effectively

Most people waste time the same way every day. Robert Benchley was bullish on human determination when he said, “Anyone can do any amount of work...provided it isn’t what he’s supposed to be doing at the time.” The following thought was found in the pages of Boardroom Reports: "All you can do with time is spend it or waste it. Find the best ways to spend available time and the appropriate amount of time for each task. Concentrate on the best ways to spend time, instead of worrying about saving it."
In a recent survey, business managers blamed their own lack of time management for 92% of the failures among those under their supervision. This raises the ominous question, “How do managers waste so much time?” Several reasons top the list:

The most common contributor to wasted management time is doing an employee’s job for him or her.

Another cause of lost productivity in management is doing tasks that can be handled by someone with less responsibility.

It’s common to find a manager spending a disproportionate amount of time on a favorite or pet project at the expense of items that are more valuable to the organization as a whole.

Repeating instructions is another time killer. This misguided practice teaches employees that they don’t have to take action until the boss instructs them for the third time.

Minor corrections can mean major improvements. For example, if a manager figures out a way to save only 10 minutes every work day, that savings will total 42 extra hours gained by the end of a year. That would be like having a 53-week year, and would result in one heck of an increase in productivity––all from just 10 minutes per day.

Here are some ways to save time:

Get organized: The average person spends 150 hours per year looking for things. That's almost a full week.

Follow these three suggestions from Peter F. Drucker: Record your time. Don’t count on your memory for an accurate assessment of how you spend your time. Manage your time. Drucker said, “Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.” Plan your time, but also time your plan. Consolidate your time. Group chores together to increase efficiency.

Don’t fall for these most common excuses for not planning time:

"It takes too long,” really means “I would rather focus on a day-by-day or short-term basis and just see what happens.”

"I don’t have enough information to plan well,” really means “I don’t have enough faith in the information I’ve gathered so far so I’d better wait.”

“It’s impossible to predict the future,” really means “I would have to give up acting on impulse and develop new disciplines.”

"Your team members are no better at planning time than you are."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

24 Lessons in High Performance Leadership

Lesson Sixteen
Overcome Roadblocks to Goal Achievement

I once had a salesperson that was the most frustrating person that ever worked for me. I saw potential in him that he himself, refused to see because of a self-imposed barrier. He made $4,000 on straight commission, almost to the penny, every month. One month, I did everything but move in with him. I big-brothered him to death. He couldn't go to the men's room without me standing guard at the door. I'm proud to say that, in that one month, he nearly doubled his productivity. He made almost $8,000! The following month he made zero dollars. The month after that he made $4,000.

I had forgotten that his breakthrough had to be on his terms, not mine. When we dug deeper, he confessed that he had never had any more money in the bank than his father did when he was growing up. His self-imposed barrier stopped him just short of ever earning more than his father. Once he realized that he was setting the same standard for his children, he broke through his roadblock––and he was still pushing his envelope at last report.

The following roadblocks might be impeding your progress and you may not be fully aware of them:

Team members fear success: Many people are much more familiar with mediocrity than they are with success and therefore lack the drive to pursue goals. Fear of success is natural if you have little experience with it.

• Team members don’t understand the goals or they seem unattainable: If so, examine how you’ve presented the goals. Did you take the time to think through, from their point of view, their possible reactions to these new goals? Did you break the goals down into doable segments for each person? How clearly did you communicate?

• The effort doesn’t appear to have adequate rewards: When rewards don’t seem forthcoming or consistent with the level of effort required, it’s time for the leader to start selling to the team. Actually, the time for selling is when the goals are being established.

• The procedures for achieving the goals are too rigid: Flexibility is one sign of a confident and creative leader. Too many people impose rigid structure on their organizations because they lack basic confidence in their own abilities and the abilities of their team members. Focusing on results instead of methods will open the door for your people to contribute more of their own originality.

Try these techniques to get your people on the road to achieving goals:

Include the whole team in the goal attainment picture: Make everybody part of your success story from the beginning.

Break down goals into manageable, doable increments: Goals that intimidate can become obstacles. Map out the long journeys as a series of small steps.

Frame the goals so that the rewards are clear: If you can’t sell them on the benefits for then, you’ll probably have to push them all the way.

"Goals are all found upstream."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

24 Lessons in High Performance Leadership

Lesson Fifteen
Make a New Reality

I did a program once with former heavyweight champion George Foreman. Even though he is the former champion, I still called him Champ. As we had lunch together that day, I studied his nose from across the table. A heavyweight boxer’s nose is a work of art. George Foreman’s nose is a monument to goal orientation. It has been sculpted by some of the strongest, meanest punchers ever to step into a ring. I wondered how any man could endure the incredible pain that George Foreman must have endured with so many heavyweight boxers hammering on his nose over the years, so I asked him.

"If I see what I want real good," he answered. "I don't notice any pain in getting it."

A new reality is an achieved goal. We are headed into the future every second, whether we like it or not. We can’t hold back time. So, how are we endeavoring to shape the future? What are we doing now that will leave our mark on our future?

Here are my steps to shaping a new reality:

Visualize your goal vividly.
Generalizations about your intended goals do you no good. The greater the clarity of your
vision, the more focused and efficient your efforts toward it will be. I don’t know of
anyone who gains value through wasted effort.

Break your goal down into doable daily tasks.
When goals loom enormous on the horizon, it’s natural to feel intimidated and even
overwhelmed. Be realistic about what a human being can accomplish in a day and don’t
expect any more of yourself or others. Realizing goals is far less dramatic that way, but you
will eventually get there.

Act on your goals every day.
I'm not suggesting that you work seven days a week. But, don’t let a workday go by without taking even a small step toward a specific goal. Progress is progress, no matter how small,
and the feeling of accomplishment is just as sweet in many small doses as it is in one large
one. However, breaking the task down into smaller disappointments will not minimize the
feeling of disappointment at never achieving the big goal.

Here are three of my guidelines for goal achievement:

Make sure your goals are measurable, realistic, and challenging: In other words, they should be within reach but only if you stretch and you should be able to know when you’ve achieved them.

Categorize your goals: Decide which are short-term, which are midterm, and which are long-term.

Set a timetable for achievement––and keep to it: Begin! Don't stop! Concentrate on results! Then celebrate when a goal is achieved––immediately replace it with a new goal.

"If you don't know what to do on a daily basis to achieve your goal,
then it is not a goal--it's a fantasy."

Monday, February 2, 2009

Important Notice:

Uncommon leadership for these tough times is a requirement for the organization that will survive and be stronger because of the challenges overcome. Good leadership always tops market conditions whether they’re good OR bad. These leaders do not enjoy being “part of the pack, like everyone else.” The following article reveals the secrets of these triumphant leaders.

(Please feel free to pass this along to other managers)

High Performance Leadership in a Tough, Tough Market

The longer a slow market is in place the more likely bad habits have been developed in both team members and managers. This can cause a slower than necessary re-entry into an improving economic climate, when that happens. These habits, which can take many forms, need to be identified and rooted out quickly by the manager personally and in the team.

To accelerate this re-entry the leader must be sure that the four elements of a high performance organization are in place. Those are inter-active trust between the coach and the team, a sense of purpose, focused action and clear communications.

The first, inter-active trust is initiated by the leader’s commitment to personal growth, thereby setting a good example for the team. The leader doesn’t set this example so all can be copies of him or her but only to prove that the leader is on a growth curve and improving in the role.

When the leader then coaches the individual’s strengths into better job performance the reward is trust from the team member. The individual, the coach, other team members, the customers and, most importantly, the person’s family, see this growth.

As this trust and respect spreads it makes an inter-active statement that “You have my best interest at heart.” A by-product is high morale and a camaraderie that each knows there is something very special going on.

The second element, a sense of purpose, is bigger than just a goal or even a vision. Purpose makes a long-term statement that through the years a number of visions will be achieved. A single vision is made up of numerous goals well aimed at the eventual achievement of the vision.

The leader knows that true enthusiasm is built by the accomplishment of smaller goals that are part of a larger plan. These periodic achievements build team energy in the march toward the vision.

The high performance leader also knows that as soon as a vision is attained it should be celebrated and immediately replaced with another vision lest there be a let down in morale.

Focused action is the third element. The leader is aware of where the team is and the course to be maintained for goal and vision accomplishment. The leader is precise and up to date on progress and keeps the team aware of it. This keeps energy and motivation high in each individual.

The fourth element is effective communications. A high performance leader has inventoried each person’s weaknesses and strengths. He or she knows that to be effective in coaching, you must be aware of the weaknesses but talk to the person’s strengths.

Another important phase of communications is to adapt a policy of “never quit selling your company to your company.” Often, the last time a team member has heard anything good about the company was during the recruiting phase. Keep selling them!

A final reminder: When a team has made it through a storm because of good leadership the cohesion, camaraderie and synergy that takes place is hard to break.

Excerpted from Danny’s book, Leadership When the Heat’s On Second Edition, 2003

© Copyright 2009