Why is the monkey on your back?

Recently we were in a client’s executive meeting where everything was going smoothly. People were engaged and contributing. After a while it was time to assign tasks and responsibilities for the various issues identified. That went pretty well, too, until one particularly challenging item was on the table. Rather than assign this, the leader volunteered to take the responsibility for it himself. You could feel the sense of relief everyone else in the room felt. They were off the hook on that one.

We call this taking the monkey. You’re familiar with the concept of having a monkey on your back? Well, this is the same thing.

Continue reading “Why is the monkey on your back?”

Leader, Manager, Disruptor – Where Do You Put Yourself?

A few years back we worked with two different companies with two very different management styles that were affecting the business.  Unfortunately, we were brought in when things were already bad.

The one style I will call the “Resident Terrorist.”

The other I will call “Many Hats.”

The Resident Terrorist (RT) demands significant change from the employees.  As change was implemented with employee input, RT would come in and demand the use of previously ineffective processes undoing what the team thought would work in favor of RT’s known approach.

Many Hats (MH) had a command and control style.  All the decisions had to go through MH even if MH was not available.

Fear existed at both organizations.

You can imagine the outcomes.

Entrepreneurs who create their business from the ground up know every aspect of daily operations and how to do it all.  Some have the relationship with every customer even though there are other employees involved.  Can you ever relax if you are the focal point?  Can you create lasting value if you are the only decision maker?

Recently I went to lunch with a friend nearing retirement.  He knows he must let go.  He said he has a plan in place to transfer customer control to his sales leader.  This was explained to me while he took customer calls and texts during the lunch.

  • Leaders figure out how to empower their team to excel.
  • Managers do just that – manage.
  • Disruptors are managers on steroids.

All of us want to believe we can be leaders.  That means trusting your team.  Part of that is knowing their skills and mindset.

Are they on the bus, with the right people and are they in the right seats?

We have been through this.  Maybe you have been, too.

Call us. We know how to help.


Getting Results Not Just the Answer

Chose your preferred action by an employee:

  1. I hit the ball over the net and I’m now waiting for them to hit it back.
  2. I hit the ball over the net and then followed after it to see if I could get it back.

Let’s word it this way to make my object lesson more clear:

  1. I emailed the client; but, they haven’t gotten back with me yet.
  2. I emailed the client and followed up with a call to see if I could answer any question they might have.

If you’re a successful leader, you are always training your people to be following answer 2. If you’re working for the government, your employer has the reputation of always following answer 1.

I call this “communication ping pong” and nothing drives me more crazy!

Another twist of this is an old story of the wise old farmer and his two sons:

An old farmer had become so old that he could no longer work his farm and determined he would have to hand it down to one of his sons. So, he brought his two sons together and announced that he would be willing the farm over to the youngest son.

The older son was obviously furious and demanded his father change his mind.

The father listened quietly to his older son’s protest and then quietly said, “Okay. You’ll need to prove yourself first. We need additional stock. So, go to the neighbor’s farm and see if they have any cows for sale.”

The older son left to do this and when he returned he reported, “Father the neighbor has 5 cows for sale.”

The father graciously thanked the older son for his report and then turned to the younger son and tasked him with the same job, “go to the neighbor and inquire if they have any cows for sale.”

The younger son returned a short time later and reported, “Father, the neighbor has 5 cows for sale and they want $500 for each. If we want more, though, he could be convinced to sell us more and for $50 less each. He can deliver them to us as early as tomorrow. But, if we can wait about a week, he will have a shipment of younger cows that we would surely get longer service from.”

The father, thanked the son and then turned to the older son and said, “That’s why your brother is getting the farm.”

What’s the lesson here? Initiative. Looking past the basics and doing more than what is asked. Getting results not just the answer. Following through and making something happen not waiting for someone to respond.

What about you? Are you surrounded by the folks that hit the ball over the net and wait? Or people who follow the ball over the net and get answers and results?

Tell us your stories. We’d love to hear what’s working for you.



Do You Need It “Fixed” or Do You Want It “Changed”?

Are you at that inflection point that you need to break out of your current business doldrums? Then our challenge to you is:

Are you ready to accomplish real change, or do you simply want to keep fixing things?

Let’s say you have a leak in your kitchen sink and you want it fixed quickly because it could be causing damage. What if, on the other hand, you wanted to improve its usability and functionality, you chose to completely remodel your kitchen?

Fixing the sink merely puts things back where they were so you can continue doing what you’ve always done.

Remodeling your kitchen improves the comfort of your house, its value, and your enjoyment of it.

That’s the big difference between fixing and changing.

The first issue requires a qualified individual, like a plumber. A plumber is going to come out with his trusty tools, spend a couple of hours fixing the problem using his “best trade practices” and then hand you a bill. Voila, you’ve got a fixed sink. Everything’s back to the way it was. Quick and relatively pain free.

Remodeling the kitchen, though, is a whole different ball game. It will not be done with one phone call. Again, you start with a specialist, like an architect or designer, to determine what you want to achieve. They help define the look, the work flow, the appliances, colors, textures, the lighting.  And, oh, what’s the new sink like? Then, after all that planning, your next call is to another specialist, like a general contractor, who brings in all of the trades (and all of their tools) and transforms your tired old kitchen into a completely new and exciting environment, ready to meet your dreams for the future. That transformation took a team.

So, when we ask you: do you want it fixed or changed – we are pushing you on this significant issue.

Do you want just the quick fix, then carry on as you always have? Or are you ready to change your company into what you’ve been dreaming about?

Do you want a business fixer? Or do you want a whole team that’s going to take your company blazing into the future with change?

It’s going to take some changes. You ready?