Calling For Some Courage

Accountability Books Courage

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Key Point: We need more courage in personal leadership. I just finished a three day conversation with some of the leading thinkers on the subject. We talked about many attributes required by leaders that will take us to a more desired future state. Upon my reflection of the deep discussions we had, the one attribute I think we underwhelmed was “COURAGE.” As serendipity often goes,  I “happened” to read Peter Diamandis’ blog extolling a new book about extraordinary people. And some insight on COURAGE arrived just as I felt the need to emphasize it more.

Brendon Burchard’s new book, “High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way,” is based on the world’s largest study of high performers; people who reach long-term external success while still maintaining happiness, health and positive relationships.

He discovered six habits that move the needle most when creating success. The 6th Habit is: Demonstrate Courage. The following is an excerpt from the book on the subject:

“We did a tremendous amount of research on courage, and we found that in the face of risk, hardship, judgment, the unknown, or even fear, high performers tend to do a couple of things.

First, they speak up for themselves. They share their truth and ambitions more often than other people do. They also speak up for other people more often than others do. In short, high performers are willing to share the truth about themselves.

Just as important, they ‘honor the struggle.’ They know struggling is a natural part of the process. That makes them more courageous, because they enter into a pursuit knowing it will be hard. They can handle the struggle because they expect it.

Many people complain about the struggle. High performers don’t. They’re fine being in the weeds, getting muddy. They know that showing up, even when they’re tired, will help make them the best.

Knowing that the process will be hard — not just accepting that it will be hard but appreciating that working through the tough times is necessary for success — makes them less afraid.

High performers have also identified someone to fight for… Courage comes from wanting to serve one person or one unit: Wife, husband, family, a small group of people. The will to work through uncertainty or fear comes from wanting to serve someone.”

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Speak up for the truth, and do what’s right.
  2. Embrace the struggle.
  3. Identify who and what to fight for.

Courage in Personal Leadership

One Millennial View: Wow. Really think about “who” the fight is for. You hear new parents talk about not fully understanding this until they’ve had a child. In my opinion, there’s no greater heroes than the men and women who fight in the armed services, and I’ve studied plenty enough to know that their fight isn’t just about the purpose, it’s about the person to the left and right of them. That’s what they fight for.  And that’s a real definition of courage that can be applied to more than just the battlefield.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

The Unintended Stupidity of ‘Empowerment’

Management Organizational culture Respect

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Key Point: Well intended leaders may have unwittingly confused the heck out of many employees, and degraded customer experience with so called “empowerment.” Huh? Let’s dig a little deeper. Let’s say you want a certain standard of behavior in providing your customers a “WOW” experience. So, after eating all the leadership development “candy,” you decide to “EMPOWER” your team members to use their good judgment and just “WOW” the customer. Sounds good in theory. After all, you want to be a Level 5 service leader (or whatever). Ironically, what you will likely get is a “dog’s breakfast” of behavior from good intentions all around. Let me give you some mundane examples:

As the big boss, you want a “WOW” greeting for every customer that enters your retail stores. Your empowered guidance to store managers is; “use your head and give a great greeting.” At one store, every customer is met with eye contact and a warm welcome when they enter. Individuals make a personal connection. At another store, they do the same AND have a small, fun greeting gift for each customer. At the next store, staff interprets greeting differently because the empowered store manager believes customers should be left alone and not badgered. Etc etc. Empowerment results in mixed, varied experiences by well meaning, “engaged” employees, committed to the customer service ethos and a great customer experience. To make matters possibly worse, a customer complains about being ignored at the store where there is no greeting. So what does the top brass default to? The explanation is that the store manager doesn’t have the “DNA;” let’s replace the person with “someone who gets it.” It’s actually the top leadership that needs a shake.

Another example might be in a financial institution where expert credit adjudication scores allow for customers to receive loans or credit up to $x limit. Yet, when the data is reviewed, top leaders find out that time and again, well intended, highly engaged, “empowered” team members continuously turn down “approved” customer loans and/or underfund well below guidance. Why? Well one explanation is that empowered employees feel very protective of the institution and become very risk averse, even though experts and guidance tells them otherwise. Top leaders, while very well meaning and “evolved,” exhort loan officers and tell them they are fully empowered to make loan/credit decisions. But that “empowerment” results in consistently under performing loan portfolios and disappointed customers. Subsequently, with best intentions all around, everyone loses. The root cause is likely faulty thinking and guidance at the top.  

Leadership Moves:

  1. Leaders need to be absolutely clear and definitive on minimum acceptable experience/performance standards. There should be little if any discretion on the minimum. Inviting employees to be empowered is most effective when people are able to use judgment exceeding minimum thresholds. In that case variation can be (although not always) very constructive. In the situation above involving the financial institution, minimum loan limits ideally would be set by artificial intelligence, ever learning algorithms. NO discretion below the minimum would be allowed. It is more than ok to tell loan officers that they are NOT empowered to adjust down. Empowerment should be granted in other areas where judgment and human intervention upgrades rather than diminishes the customer experience.
  2. Be absolutely clear where you “empower” and provide meaningful autonomy. Do not burden your employees with “empowered” license when in reality you want something very specific. That’s when “empowerment” becomes an excuse for lazy leadership that has NOT done the hard work to be clear connecting purpose with very defined expectations. Do not hope empowered employees will deliver the experience you want when you primarily lead and give feedback on what you “don’t” want.

Right Empowerment in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: This reminds me of the popular fast food franchise, Chick-fil-A, and something I’ve noticed as a patron at their restaurants. All employees are empowered to have a minimum requirement for politeness. You’ll hear “please” and “thank you” from employees, but most notably: Instead of saying “you’re welcome,” you’ll always hear a Chick-fil-A employee say “my pleasure.” It’s very subtle, but this extra courtesy absolutely stands out. And this simple (and free) customer service upgrade is why Business Insider and other publications have written articles about how the average annual sales per restaurant reach $4 million, compared to the $1 million average their competitor KFC brings in.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

People Tell Me This Changed Their Lives 

Accountability Communication Empathy

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Key Point: The most effective behavior applications or models are elegantly simple to learn, yet deceptively difficult to execute on. The wonderful aspect of this “simple/difficult” paradox is that once the behavior framework is understood, continuous practice allows us to eventually become masters. But we never get to an end. A commitment to mastery provides a never-ending runway for betterment. Let me give you an example: 

I have the privilege of leading our company’s “Culture Day.” At this monthly session, all new hires attend (usually about 100 folks per month). During this important gathering, along with our CEO and other execs, we focus the entire cohort on who we are as a company. We deeply dive into our institutional purpose and values. At the end of each day, we do a wrap up and ask attendees to highlight the learning that most personally impacted them. (We also survey after). The leading learning, after more than 36 Culture Days, is the following communication framework:

CONNECT –> UNDERSTAND –> ACT

I personally developed this framework a couple of years ago as we were attempting to capture the principle of making a personal, emotional connection between individuals, especially at the customer interface. We just returned from visiting the apparel ecommerce superstar, Zappos, where we were amazed at how much they invest in the principle of starting every customer conversation with a personal connection. (Try calling their customer service to test this yourself, 1-800-927-7671). At the same time, our brilliant learning team led by creative genius Debbie Blakeman, began teaching every leader in the organization how to better advance relationships through intentional conversation. During this “Conversations“ course, we built on an idea first coined by communication guru, Susan Scott. Her daunting premise: 

“THE CONVERSATION IS THE RELATIONSHIP AND THE RELATIONSHIP IS THE CONVERSATION.”

When people embrace and really soak in the idea that the “conversation is the relationship,” I can literally see the lights in the back of their eyes turn on. And when I ask them to momentarily reflect on recent conversations with loved ones, I see them fold inside themselves in deep thought. Snap! I then invite them to join me in putting their emotional and intellectual energy around a very accessible communication model that when followed, I promise, will advance ALL conversations… Well, actually most folks literally lean forward. And that’s where CONNECT –> UNDERSTAND –> ACT arrives for them. Now, I’d like to give you, our wonderful readers, an abridged version. 

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Allow yourself to be continuously humbled and challenged by that piercing phrase: ”The conversation IS the relationship AND the relationship is the conversation.” In EVERY conversation, regardless how small or big, in person or by text, ALWAYS START with an authentic CONNECTION between you and the other. Face to face, it may be as simple as direct eye contact and a smile, or as deep as sharing moments of intense joy or sadness. Always build a BRIDGE. After all, you want to advance the conversation don’t you? Listen to master communicators and they always find the connection FIRST! 
  2. Next… And I do literally mean NEXT, FOCUS and INVEST in creating UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN you and the other. Ask as many understanding questions as possible. Be able to discern between what the other is saying and what they really want. Be deeply present and engage all of your observation senses, (obviously harder when just texting). Your only task in this part of the FLOW is to confirm understanding. You are self-accountable for that. Do not put that burden on the other (hopefully they are doing the same).
  3. NOW and only AFTER you confidently believe mutual understanding is clearly framed up, start exploring how to ACT. Start with describing what YOU might do FIRST. Do not tell OR suggest what the other could or should do (unless personal safety is involved). If you’ve been reasonably successful at flowing steps one through three above, you may have earned the right to use the action phrase: “Have you considered?…”

P.S., I told you this was easy AND friggin’ hard at the same time. I’m continuously working on this and may become a master one day?

CONNECT –> UNDERSTAND –> ACT in Personal Leadership,

Lorne Rubis

One Millennial View: Anyone else feel like they have a homework assignment? As you can tell, this takes effort, care and discipline. You can easily imagine how this method would be incredibly appreciated by those you’re communicating with on a both a professional and personal basis. Wouldn’t it be great if that person on the other end of the line always made that effort for you? Thankfully, we have the choice and control to start by doing it for them, and hopefully they’ll catch on.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Dinner of Truth

Authenticity Books Respect

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Key Point: Becoming more self-aware is just plain hard. I’m reading Tasha Eurich’s great book “Insight”, which is a comprehensive tour on the subject. It’s an important read.

The painful truth is that we all have blind spots and yet most people around us are reluctant to share insights or feedback that might be perceived as undesirable. In the book, the author refers to a term coined by her researchers as the MUM effect; keeping Mum about Undesirable Messages. Findings confirm that when we’re in possession of information that might make someone uncomfortable, we tend to chose the path of least resistance and decide to say nothing. In fact, people are willing to tell white lies rather than the cold, hard truth. Of course, that avoidance does little to help you and me become more self-aware and positively grow.

Perhaps equally unfortunate is that many of us actually prefer the MUM “rule” being in effect. Why? Feedback can be and often is painful. When someone asks if we want feedback, our brain actually sends out physical pain signals. But avoiding feedback does little for us. The way people see us still exists whether we become aware of it or not. So, why not choose to learn the “truth” on our own terms?

You and I need loving critics. These are people who will be honest with us while having our best interests at heart. People like this are not necessarily someone we are closest to. However, there is a high level of mutual trust when this individual is willing to go out of their way to help us. This loving critic also needs to have sufficient exposure to behavior we want feedback on, and a picture of the impact of that behavior. They must be willing, based on a foundation of trust, to be totally honest.

How brave are you? If you have identified a loving critic, how about participating in a “Dinner of Truth?” Over a meal, ask your guest to tell you one thing that annoys them most about you. The rules include telling them why you’re asking, that nothing is off the table, and that you are NOT ALLOWED to respond defensively. You can only listen with an open mind and heart. How about a few Dinners of Truth?

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. If you venture into the Dinner of Truth, it is helpful to mentally prepare for what might be said. Decide how deep you want to go, and remind yourself and loving the critic that this is about personal growth. Ask questions to clarify and better understand.
  2. Really really listen by applying Eurich’s “Three R Model:” Receive, Reflect and Respond” to the feedback. How you choose to respond and both learn and unlearn from feedback is an intentional practice. Read more about the “Three R Model” here. If you don’t do anything with the dinner feedback, you’ve wasted time with a very valuable ally.
  3. Recognize that being self-aware is understanding both who you are AND how others see you. That’s darn hard work, and we’re worth it.

Dinner of Truth in Personal Leadership

Lorne

P.S. Please click on and enjoy this video below of more Leadership Moves, and stay tuned for an upcoming embedded Lorne Rubis YouTube channel, and Instagram stories/Snapchat videos that will feature many more.

Watch: What If and How Might We

One Millennial View: It’s great to see “loving critics” can be embraced, and feedback be encouraged instead of censored. I’m so glad Eurich can define the MUM effect, develop the “Three R Model,” and how we can learn to incorporate a good meal with it. A “Dinner of Truth” might be tough to swallow, but it’ll only make us stronger and personally improve.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Disrupted Assumptions

Accountability Growth mindset Transformation

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Key Point: What if most assumptions that we currently make about the world were disrupted? Well, that was the most profound impact to me personally after ruminating over the Singularity Summit I attended in Toronto last week. Yes, the exponential technology introduced at the conference included much of what I’ve written about in previous blogs, and is truly mind blowing. However, the BIG “ah-ha” for me was to more completely understand that every assumption I currently believe will be turned upside down. Let’s explore just a few:

  1. Many of us assume that the best way to learn and develop is to go to kindergarten, grade school, secondary and then of course ideally post secondary. However, what if our education was all wrong? When our phone is smarter than we could ever be, what and how would we need to learn? What if most of our education emphasis was on character and values vital for advancing humankind? After all, the world’s entire content would be accessible through our phones exactly at the time and in the way we needed it. I’m not sure if our grandchildren will ever go to a university as their parents and grandparents did? Nor will they “train” for jobs as we did, because most jobs/careers as we know them will be obsolete. What I can assure you is that they will be “better educated and know much more.”   
  2. Many us assume that people will always be the source for making money and creating wealth. But what if machines made more money than we did? If a driverless car picks us up, and we pay the app a fee for the ride, does the car/machine get a wage? Tip? What will the machine do with that money? Invest it? Pay tax? What will the ethical parameters be?
  3. What if today (not sometime soon) I did NOT assume I would happily die, a life well lived, around 90 years of age? What if I became more intentional about my well being, and that I could live in a positively active way until I was 120? (Longer if I was under 60). Then I would have (in my case), about another 60 or so years to LIVE? Would people still be asking me when I was “going to retire?” What/how might I live the second half of my life?

This blog could go on and on… Every assumption challenged with a “what if?” And how might I/we? Even the slightest variations in our assumptions can have huge impact on the future.

And one new challenged assumption: That innovation and disruption are NOT the same thing. David Roberts of Singularity University duly notes: “Innovation is doing the same things better. Disruption is doing new things that make the old things obsolete.”

Leadership Moves:

  1. Now is the time to be an exponential leader and challenge all of our assumptions, in a purpose driven way, to abundantly advance humankind. The powerful premise for becoming that exponential leader is to not try and change the world. First and foremost, we need to change ourselves. How will you and I do that?

Please click on and enjoy this video below of the Leadership Moves, and stay tuned for an upcoming embedded Lorne Rubis YouTube channel, and Instagram stories/Snapchat videos that will feature many more.

 Video

Disrupted assumptions in the Triangle,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: If we knew exactly how to disrupt and replace a current industry, we’d be the next Steve Jobs. While we may or may not be the next Elon Musk, we can all be involved with teams and organizations that are exponentially changing the world. Assume you can be, seek it, and you’ll have a better chance at involving yourself instead of becoming a spectator.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis