6.5 Assessing Teams – Tools

In post 6.4, we introduced the components of great teams. In this post, we will share tools for assessing teams. The effectiveness of teams is most often the result of organizational reinforcing systems that support at-our-best behavior, and address out-of-bounds behavior; we will discuss these systems next, in Section 7. The assessment and evaluation process is the first step in creating aligning supportive reinforcing systems.

We find clients appreciate understanding their performances status versus a benchmark standard or a previous performance standard. One of the benefits of team performance assessment is the identification of areas of excellence. When a team’s area of excellence is identified, it helps us appreciate our strengths and capitalize on them even more, as we move forward. Likewise, when a weakness is identified, we can address it with the challenge to get better.

 

Two Cautionary Tales

Measuring how good we are as a team requires an understanding of human nature. Does what we measure and reward drive behavior? Is that the behavior that ensures long-term sustainability?  We sometimes see clients measuring success for the short-term success, only to hurt the organization in the long term. We need to understand that “What you measure is what you get.” How do the goals and rewards impact how the team works together, performs together, and ultimately succeeds together. Are the rewards purposeful for sustainability?

We have seen two sobering examples of unintended—and disastrous—consequences of poorly-considered metrics.

  • In 2015, news broke that in Volkswagen (VW) cars built for the U.S. market, the manufacturer had installed software that manipulated emission controls. Scandal, criminal charges, fines, and a breakdown of public trust following the revelations. Metrics for success at VW did not respect for customers, or the law.
  • Wells Fargo has had its string of scandals over the last year or so, starting with news that many of its employees were setting up fake customer accounts. What drove this clear and widespread breach of ethics? The pressure of unreasonable sales quotas set down by management has been cited as a major factor.

The Components of Great Teams

As we covered in post 6.4, here are the elements your team assessment should include:

  • A Compelling and Clear Purpose for Being
    • Fulfillment and Purpose
      • Stage III Fulfillment – Contributing for the Benefit of Others
      • Stage IV Fulfillment – Legacy Fulfillment
    • The Principles of Trust and Caring
    • A Positive Mindset
    • A Growth Mindset
    • A Responsibility for Results

Team Assessment Tools

Now that you have a sense of the components to assess your team on, it’s time to develop a tool to help understand where you are on your journey to greatness. Options include:

Custom Tool

Building a customized assessment tool, setting the criteria for each of the components listed above, can be enriched by sharing specific stories of what your team looks like when at its best for your organization. This exercise itself is a powerful team-building experience. It is through stories that we touch people’s emotions, and through emotions that we create natural change. It is the words that describe stories of performance at its best that will guide future decision-making. The questions for the assessment are important, but only as a guide to remind you of stories of what you look like when our best that is the standard for all to seek.

Standard Tool

Internet search engines make it is possible to easily find team assessment tools that fit your organization’s needs. In addition to the vital components listed above, many tools have add-ons that may be applicable to your team’s needs. Once again, this tool development exercise is a great opportunity for your team to take ownership of what they want to look like when at their best. The range of tools available is vast, and the exchange of ideas about what works best for your organization will be educational, meaningful and a team-building experience for those who build your assessment tool.

Real-Time Team Assessment Platform – www.GPS4Leaders.com

We find the work we do with clients sticks best when there are regular, reinforcing best-practice reminders; old ways die hard, despite best intentions. Leveraging current technology, we are creating GPS4Leaders as a tool to help organizations understand the components of great teams, and how they are performing from multiple stakeholder perspectives, against a standard of greatness. The assessment tool provides real-time 360-degree feedback with a dashboard to share how well the team is performing.

There will be suggested next steps for improvement for each component being assessed. The assessment experience will heighten each team member’s awareness that they can move the performance dial themselves. Team members will gain greater awareness of, and responsiveness to, what others are seeing and assessing in their performance on a regular basis.

We plan to launch GPS4Leaders for Teams in early 2018. You are invited to sign up for updates on the release.

Celebrating successes may be the best reinforcing system for at-our-best performances. Having a scoreboard that shares incremental improvement, and sharing the means that made those improvements possible, builds teams for sustainability, whether in sports or business. We want a scoreboard that shows how we are doing, we want to contribute, and we want to see progress and to know we make a difference.

Summary

The power in any organization is found in its ability to perform as one team, on the same page, working together to benefit something greater than any could create individually. This requires a team-based performance assessment scoreboard so we can understand how we are performing together. The increased awareness itself that comes from components being assessed can strengthen behaviors. When the team helps build the performance scoreboard for assessing their progress towards a shared goal, it intrinsically motivates individual team members to perform naturally at a higher level. Once again, it is more important to get started with an assessment tool and incrementally improve on your journey to greatness.

 

Leadership Challenge Questions

  1. Do you have an objective means of assessing how well your team is functioning:
    • as a team, on the same page?
    • for the long-term?
  1. Is your team being rewarded for working together? Could they interpret that they are being rewarded for operating independently?

For those new to this series . . .

This blog is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational greatness. We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Greatness (FOG), the template we have developed to help our clients achieve their personal and organizational potential.

I have been privileged to spend 42 years in the Team Building business, including 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics. For the first 11 years of my tenure at U-M Athletics, I worked with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders and team builders. My work has revealed there is much more to sustainable greatness than talent. Being a systems engineer, I was fascinated by the science behind what made sustainable greatness possible. There are many great leaders who possess the talents Bo embodied; because of my life experiences with Bo, he may be referenced more than others.

6.4 Assessing Teams – Part 1

There are many tools for assessing teams available. In this post, we will share the key components you should include to help you to assess your team on your journey to greatness. In our next post, we will discuss assessments.

It is striking how many people consider their greatest accomplishments to be those they achieved while a part of a team, rather than feats they attained on their own. We have survived as a species for just this reason. We care about each other, the community, and many of us give up personal needs to serve the greater good because it feels intrinsically right to do so. As a team, the greater the challenge, the greater the joy in achieving together. How do we know if our team is functioning at its best, even when under pressure?

Assessing Teams – the Components of Great Teams

As we look at what enables great teams to be exceptional and sustain their greatness over extended periods of time, it is why and how they work together as a team, not individual responsibilities, that matter. Here is a summary of the relevant components we have covered in detail in previous blog posts; they must be considered when assessing teams:

A Compelling and Clear Purpose for Being

For an individual, a purpose is:

* A deep fundamental reason for existence, beyond making money

* The intrinsically motivating force that brings energy to life

Research has shown that having a sense of purpose, being able to say, “My life has meaning”—having a “why” for existing—is the strongest motivation humans have. When we work with others, the team’s why supersedes our own. The significance of what can be accomplished together so far exceeds what we can do alone that effort becomes a compelling vision.

Fulfillment and Purpose

To help our clients better understand the team’s motivations and how they can become more purposeful, we developed descriptions of four stages of personal fulfillment that track with one’s level of maturity, and also applies to teams. The higher levels of fulfillment are more motivating, meaningful, and enduring.

 

Stage III Fulfillment – Contributing for the Benefit of Others

What are we doing today, for the strategic benefit of others? This stage begins to dominate our lives when we mature emotionally and spiritually as adults. Joy, happiness, and fulfillment last many years as we make something of significance possible for an individual or community we care about deeply.

Stage IV Fulfillment – Legacy Fulfillment

Stage IV takes caring for others to the next level and is built on faith we are doing the right thing for a better tomorrow, for an outcome we may not live to see.

Is your team purpose compelling? It must be clear and deeply meaningful to your team. Can you measure the success of your purpose objectively? Your progress toward your vision? Regularly assess the clarity of your purpose, your vision, your why you do what you do.

More information is available in blog posts 4.1 Your Purpose for Being, 2.3 Stage III Fulfillment: Contributing for the Benefit of Others, and 2.4 Stage IV Fulfillment: Legacy Fulfillment.

The Principles of Trust and Caring

A great team has a Core Identity built upon two essential Guiding Principles: Deep Caring and Mutual Trust, both in service of others. Organizations may select the words that best represent how they like to be treated and like to treat others, but they must relate to and include these two principles. We discussed these principles in blog post 6.1 A Shared Core Identity.

Positive Mindset

The energy that comes from a positive team attitude and atmosphere is generative; it enables clearer thinking, better responses under pressure, and results that could not be achieved otherwise. The enabling of all the individual and collective resources of a team becomes possible with an attitude of abundance. There is more for all of us, so give what you have for the cause. Blog post 1.1 The Power of Positive Visioning discusses this critical component.

Responsibility for Results

Most of us want to be needed and wanted. To be needed and wanted requires being responsible for being where we need to be, when we need to be there, delivering what we said we would, for others.

The greater the connection of an individual to their responsibility to the team, the greater the opportunity for the organization’s purpose will be achieved. Be sure to connect team members’ responsibilities—and those of leaders—to the greater purpose of the organization. Blog post 1.3 Seeing the Whole Picture includes a deeper discussion of responsibility.

Growth Mindset

Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck has done groundbreaking research on the plasticity of mindset and has shared her ideas about a growth mindset in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (2007).

While those with a fixed mindset are doomed to a self-fulfilling prophecy of a belief in their inability to change and develop, those with a growth mindset know their talents and abilities can be developed, a belief that fosters flourishing. The same concept applies to a team’s mindset.

In addition to having a mindset that sees the possibility of growth, it is important to be open to new ideas and other perspectives and to have a sense of curiosity. We touch on these ideas in more detail in blog post 1.2 It is Not About the Path.

Summary

When assessing teams, be sure to include the six components outlined above, which form the foundation for team greatness. While our work to unlock natural greatness was initially focused on athletic teams, it quickly became apparent that team greatness is not about the sport itself, it is about human nature, and our need to honor who we are when at our best.

The most consistent indicator all great teams is their shared passion and commitment to a vision for the difference they can make together—this supersedes all other criteria for team assessment.  That said, once we have our shared vision energizing us, the boundaries of acceptability for the other five components will determine the smoothness and efficiency of the journey to the ultimate destination.

Leadership Challenge Questions

  1. How clear and compelling is the purpose of your team?
  2. Do your team members feel a deep responsibility to each other for the success of the team?
  3. Is there an operating “at our best” norm that enables your team to be most effective?
  4. Is the how you work best discussed, and honored?
  5. Are there measurements of the team’s success that you share with the team?

For those new to this series . . .

This blog is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational greatness. We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the template we have developed to help our clients achieve their personal and organizational potential.

I have been privileged to spend 42 years in the Team Building business, including 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics. For the first 11 years of my tenure at U-M Athletics, I worked with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders and team builders. My work has revealed there is much more to sustainable greatness than talent. Being a systems engineer, I was fascinated by the science behind what made sustainable greatness possible. There are many great leaders who possess the talents Bo embodied; because of my life experiences with Bo, he may be referenced more than others.

6.3 Team Building – The Power of Relationships

Great teams are built on great relationships among the team members. Relationships enable great teams more powerfully than leaders, though leaders play an essential part. Leaders:

  • share a deeply compelling vision that intrinsically motivates each team member
  • reinforce how the team will work together

There is a natural flow to great teams of individuals when working together, supporting each other on their journey. It is like that of a river flowing down a mountainside. 

Great teams are built on relationships that flow.


Great teams self-organize around a shared vision for the difference they can make together. They support each other on their shared journey in a way that enhances one another’s contributions.

The Power of an Intrinsically-Motivating Shared Vision

Research has shown that a shared vision for the difference the team can make together is the only common factor among successful teams. The Guiding Principles that team members follow, and their acceptable boundaries, vary from team to team. Trust and respect are requirements, but they can look very different in each team.

The team’s Purpose and Vision must be in service of others, and align with our Stage III Fulfillment (Contributing to the Benefit of Others, now) or Stage IV Fulfillment (Legacy – Acting for the Benefit of Others, Although We May Not Live to See the Result).

The leader is responsible for ensuring the team is performing at peak performance, unleashing the intrinsic energy found in their shared vision. Enhancing individual contributions is vital, but that support must be in service of bettering the whole. It is never about any individual alone. Leadership reminders of the shared responsibility in service of something bigger keeps the flow moving in the right direction.

An Unusual Shared Vision – Rocky Flats

In their book Making the Impossible Possible: Leading Extraordinary Performance: The Rocky Flats Story, Kim Cameron and Marc Lavine share a remarkable story of a hostile unionized workforce that put itself out of work, voluntarily, and far exceeded the goals of the project.

The Challenge

Cleaning up Rocky Flats, America’s most dangerous nuclear weapons production facility, was estimated to cost $36 billion and take over 70 years. For many years, the unionized workers would not cooperate, as they would be putting themselves out of a job. The culture was toxic, and a solution seemed impossible. Kaiser-Hill was hired to tackle this monumental job.

The Response

Kaiser-Hill taught leaders at Rocky Flats how to engage union members in a positive fashion during assessment phase:

  • What is your vision for the future of the site?
  • What role can you play in making that possible?
  • How do we get started? What should we do?

The Result

The workers did put themselves out of work, while saving $30 billion and finishing the project 60 years sooner than estimated. Why? The team responsible for getting the work done shared a vision that was deeply meaningful to them. They felt individual and collective responsibility to serve that vision. Leadership gave the team the chance to own the outcome. In addition, leadership provided respectful outplacement transition support. They did what humankind does when we have a shared vision that benefits something meaningful that is much bigger than ourselves, they were there for each other.

A Team United, Always – Big 10 Champs

In 1969 and then again in 1971, University of Michigan Football teams I was a part won Big Ten Championships. The Big Ten Championship had been achieved only once at Michigan in the previous 19 years. How did that happen in two out of three years?

Clarity of Shared Vision. Coach Bo Schembechler conveyed that we were working for something much bigger than ourselves—we were playing for each other, in service of all who cared about the University of Michigan, as a team, not as individuals.

Regular Reinforcement. The shared vision was reinforced daily, that we were there for something much bigger than anything we could do alone. The lessons and results were life changing for those on the team.

Fostering of Deep, Caring Relationships. The deep, caring relationships we had for each other, built on trust and respect, are still powerful to this day, as both teams reunite every five years, because we still care so deeply about each other.

A Team United, On the Court – The Bad Boys

The Detroit Pistons of 1986-1992, known as the Bad Boys, demonstrated how to win as a team, without deep ties and connections with one another off court. The commitment of each team member to the shared vision and purpose of the organization was the essential criterion. They won the NBA Championship twice in a way that captured the attention of the nation. Each player committed to helping the team first, as each had a different role to play in the success, and individually they stayed in their roles; the team success followed.

The Power of Community

 

When we ask athletes, leaders, or exceptionally talented individuals to share their greatest joys, their greatest accomplishment, most respond with team achievements. Seldom does a reflective person share an individual success over a team success. We are wired for long-term survival as a community.

 

Leadership Challenge Questions

  1. What role are you playing as a leader to enhance deep connection to a meaningful shared purpose?
  2. Is a clear purpose to contribute to the benefit of others now (Stage III Fulfillment) or to contribute to the benefit of others long-term (legacy; Stage IV Fulfillment) the driving force for your decision making?
  3. What are you doing to build trust in your organization?
  4. Do all members of your team know they are valued as individual contributors to something greater?

 

For those new to this series . . .

This blog is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational greatness. We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the template we have developed to help our clients achieve their personal and organizational potential.

I have been privileged to spend 42 years in the Team Building business, including 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics. For the first 11 years of my tenure at U-M Athletics, I worked with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders and team builders. My work has revealed there is much more to sustainable greatness than talent. Being a systems engineer, I was fascinated by the science behind what made sustainable greatness possible. There are many great leaders who possess the talents Bo embodied; because of my life experiences with Bo, he may be referenced more than others.

6.2 Great Team Leaders: Counterintuitive Traits & Practices

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, airlines in the US saw a steep drop in business as many individuals and organizations avoided flying. Like their competitors, management at Southwest Airlines, led by Herb Kelleher, faced tough questions: “How do we reduce our costs by 40% so we can stay in business? People are not flying; what are our options?” Southwest’s management included employees as part of the team crafting an answer; they made the required expense cuts with the team’s input without laying off any employees. Not only did they survive, they thrived when people began to fly again. Southwest came out of the doldrums faster and better than any other airline. In fact, research by Kim Cameron, David Whetten, Jody Hoffer Gittell, and others shows that there is a direct correlation to team input, or ownership in cost reductions, and the downturn recovery. Southwest remains in business today, although several of their competitors from 2001 went out of business or were absorbed by other airlines. Kelleher understood that caring about, and caring for, your people is part of the recipe for sustainable profitability.

The prototype we have come to accept of the leader as someone who must be hard-driving and charismatic is incorrect. The Foundation of Winning components for sustainable success are the same for the team leaders as they are for each of the employees of the organization: Guiding Principles of Deep Caring and Mutual Trust, with a Purpose to serve others are not optional.

Great leaders who succeed over time build trusting and caring relationships, with team members who will go the extra mile for the team. While great leaders can come from a vast spectrum of personality types, there is a triad of traits the best possess and a set of practices they engage in.

The Best Leaders Share These Traits

Humility – Listen, Be Vulnerable

01-Humility

Being humble and showing our vulnerability is an effective way to build trust. The best leaders share that they are responsible for leading the team, but openly acknowledge that they cannot do it alone.

Do I let my team see my vulnerability?

Positivity – Celebrate, Energize, Invigorate

Research has shown that when the ratio of positive to negative comments is greater than 3:1, productivity and revenues go up. Using a 5:1 ratio of positivity to negativity is a good practice as you work with your team, your family, your community, and yourself. Be good to yourself so you can be good to others.

Is my ratio of my positive comments/compliments to criticisms/questions higher than 3:1?

02-AuthenticityAuthenticity – Be Real, the Team Knows!

Leaders reveal who they are most strikingly in how they react under pressure. Be true to who you are, and apologize if you ever violate one of the team’s Guiding Principles. The admission of being out of bounds will reap trust and respect, given you demonstrate that you are learning.

Am I authentic in sharing who I am?

Positive Practices of Great Leaders

Seek to Learn from those Closest to the Frontline

Those closest to the customer/client/patient/product deal with the challenges that will determine the sustainability of your organization. Listening to the input of your frontline team members builds their commitment, responsibility, and ownership, and the team will grow more powerful, responsive, and proactive.

How well do I value and respect the input of frontline team members?

03-CaringModel Deep Personal Caring – People First 

The heart of any organization is its people. Assets like products, buildings, equipment, or intellectual property will change because of the team members’ actions. It is the investment in people that provides sustainable returns.

How does my team know I love them for what they do for our each other and our team?

Delegate for Growth

Leaders are responsible for moving the organization toward the Shared Vision, and often that means looking at the organization from a larger perspective. Many of our clients use the term “I am caught in the weeds.” As a result, they are not able to see where they are taking the organization because of the little daily problems they are addressing.

Are there responsibilities that I can delegate, freeing time for me to check our organizational compass?

05-ListenBe Open to Purposeful Contributions from Anywhere

Successful teams are built when individuals make meaningful contributions to the Purpose of the organization, when they feel like owners. Asking each team member for their input on improving the organization creates several building blocks for a sustainable future, including employees who can think for themselves and drive initiatives to conclusion.

How open am I to critical input from others, including from those further down the ranks?

Be Open to the Heretics

The larger an organization, the more reinforcing systems are installed to keep it stable, but we grow by trying things in new ways, not by doing things the same way all the time. It is the heretics who provide growth opportunities for organizations, who lead transformational change, rather than those who never question why. Heretics may surface a more effective, efficient, and fun path for the journey to your shared Vision.

Am I open to those who may look like heretics at first?

Close the Performance Gap

04-GapThe “Closing the Performance Gap” diagram in Blog post 5.4 demonstrates the gap between current performance and 100% peak performance; it is the responsibility of leadership to close it.

What are the performance gaps of my direct reports, and do we have a plan for strategic growth initiatives to close them?

 

For those new to this series . . .

This blog is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational greatness. We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the template we have developed to help our clients achieve their personal and organizational potential.  

I have been privileged to spend 42 years in the Team Building business, including 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics. For the first 11 years of my tenure at U-M Athletics, I worked with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders and team builders. My work has revealed there is much more to sustainable greatness than talent. Being a systems engineer, I was fascinated by the science behind what made sustainable greatness possible. There are many great leaders who possess the talents Bo embodied; because of my life experiences with Bo, he may be referenced more than others.

6.1 GREAT TEAMS: CORE IDENTITY ESSENTIALS

 

Sculptor Jane DeDecker captured the essence of the message University of Michigan’s Cardiovascular Center has for all visitors. This larger-than-life-size statue captures a caregiver and patient caring for and trusting each other on the journey they are about to pursue together.

A Shared Core Identity

What is it that enables highly competent individuals to integrate into great teams and thrive naturally? It is only with the support of others that our competency can be utilized as a part of something bigger than ourselves. A set of individuals create a team that shares a Core Identity. We will share a few of the fundamental requirements for great teams to thrive.

In the simplest of terms, a great team has a Core Identity built upon two essential Guiding Principles: Deep Caring and Mutual Trust in service of others. Organizations may select the words that best represent how they like to be treated and like to treat others, but they must relate to and include these two principles. We have experienced working with organizations that failed to have one or both, and despite our efforts, they are no longer in existence.


 

“In organizations, real power and energy is generated through relationships. The patterns of relationships and the capacities to form them are more important than tasks, functions, roles, and positions.” – Margaret Wheatley


Guiding Principle Requirements: Caring and Trust

Deep Caring

Diversity People Huddle Teamwork Union ConceptLove may be the basis of this Guiding Principle, but may not be politically correct in your business world. Deep Caring surfaces our need to be cared about, to be respected, to give and receive compassion and empathy. The “deep caring” concept lives around a feeling of loving and being loved in context of what provides a secure and safe environment.

Stories of Deep Caring from our Clients

These are examples from clients of what their organization has looked like at its best when deep caring was exemplified. They touch our hearts, and we do not forget when we have witnessed the Guiding Principle of Deep Caring in action under pressure.

  • One of our team members was diagnosed with cancer last year. She chose to follow a non-traditional method. We have held fundraisers to help her pay for everything insurance didn’t cover.
  • (From a third-generation employee) My grandmother had a baby, and when Grandpa went to pay the bill, he found that the president of our company had already paid the bill.
  • Our owner took time for a customer who could barely come up with the deposit for a $10K purchase, while a much larger customer waited for him. All customers are important and that is how we treat everyone.
  • We sponsor Christmas for an underprivileged school. T-shirts, breakfast and lunch, gifts, and for some, family gifts; 40 team members participated. We end up feeling like the beneficiaries.
  • I was young and stupid and got into trouble, and the company helped me get through the tough times. I would be in real trouble if it were not for the company.

Mutual Trust 

TRUST process business concept diagram presentation backgroundOrganizations can select other words that defines their journey that promote flow in organizations and relationships. Once again, we are seeking the sense of safety and security that words like Integrity, Honesty, and Responsibility also describe.

In our work, we like the word ‘trust” because it is both the name for the concept and the action that results from building it. Trust must be continually earned, and can be lost anytime. This Guiding Principle, once compromised, questioned, or violated can become irreparable (e.g., scandals and disasters at Enron, AIG, BP, Exxon), or take generations to forget or forgive. As leaders, we need to understand the responsibility of continually earning trust through our actions.

Stories of Deep Trust from our Clients

These stories of Trust instill a feeling you are in a safe place where your back is covered, even when you do make a mistake.

  • Our customers trust us, they want us to succeed, they give us competitor pricing. They do not do this with our competitors.
  • The president’s open communication on what happened, and how we were going to overcome the challenges. It meant a great deal to many of us.
  • A service company delivered a truck with wallet left in the cab. We immediately returned the wallet to the rental company, who then returned it to the owner.
  • Our team started a trust-building meeting to communicate openly on the good, the bad, and the ugly among us. It is making us a stronger team.
  • We sold a customer a flawed design that failed. We stepped up and fixed it, and continue to support each other today. They could have left us with a massive bill for the failure, but did not, because we made it right.

 


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead


A Deeply Meaningful Purpose in Service of Others

These two Guiding Principles, when in service of a deeply meaningful Purpose that contributes to the benefit of others, attract the right team members, and produce sustainable success. As shared in Blog 4.1, the Purpose is not to be self-serving, rather focused on gaining the joy of being a part of a team that has made a difference. As Margaret Meade points out, it is a community’s shared commitment to a deeply meaningful purpose that makes significant accomplishments possible.

When you build your Foundation of Winning on that simple platform of a Deeply Meaningful Purpose for benefit others—with Guiding Principles of Deep Caring and Mutual Trust—you will be on your way to building a sustainably profitable organization.

Like all Guiding Principles, these two—Deep Caring and Mutual Trust—are how we like to be treated and how we like to treat others. They are not constituency-dependent: they must apply to all we connect with, all the time, especially when under pressure. It will be the stories of exemplification and violation that will more accurately define what is meant by the words. When under stress, team members will remember the stories of what we look like when at our best, not the words on the wall. In time, the words remind us of stories, and the stories become feelings that will guide actions for future decision making.

The Biological Impact of these Two Guiding Principles

Feelings we experience from being in an environment that is caring and where trust is felt have a biological base. The chemical serotonin is activated when we feel valued and proud, and when we look out for others. This trusting and caring environment inspires us to feel a responsibility to look out for each other, with no expectation of something in return. When we do this, others in turn look out for us, and it becomes a circular and reinforcing system that promotes a safe place to live and work.

Another hormone, oxytocin, is activated when we experience friendship, trust, and physical touch, and it reinforces positive relationships and trust. It can be activated through acts of kindness, including simple gestures that demonstrate deeper caring, with deep meaning.

An abundant mentality touches both Caring and Trust. A key component of the Foundation of Winning is a positive and abundant mentality. Oxytocin fosters the generosity found in those with abundant mindsets, and it can even be activated by witnessing acts of kindness. Think about your responsibility as a leader understanding the impact you have as others witness your actions. What acts are being witnessed by your team? Are they serotonin and/or oxytocin creating?

Studies have shown that serotonin can contribute to extending life. We live longer when we live and work in environments that feel safe, secure, and protected. As leaders, we need to own the responsibility for enhancing the lives of our team members, while creating an environment that attracts team members who desire to attain greatness for sustainably-profitable organizations.

 Leadership Questions

  1. What does it mean to you as a leader to have an impact on the life of your team members?
  2. How clearly is trust found and exemplified in your organization?
  3. How clearly is caring lived and exemplified in your organization?
  4. Do you share stories that exemplify trust and/or caring in your organization?

For those new to this series . . .

This blog is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational greatness. We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the template we have developed to help our clients achieve their personal and organizational potential.  

I have been privileged to spend 42 years in the Team Building business, including 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics. For the first 11 years of my tenure at U-M Athletics, I worked with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders and team builders. My work has revealed there is much more to sustainable greatness than talent. Being a systems engineer, I was fascinated by the science behind what made sustainable greatness possible. There are many great leaders who possess the talents Bo embodied; because of my life experiences with Bo, he may be referenced more than others.

6.0 EXCEPTIONAL TEAMS – AN INTRODUCTION

For those new to this series . . .

This blog is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational peak performance.  We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the template we have developed to help our clients achieve their personal and organizational potential.  The FOW elements include Three Principles of Mankind and Four Disciplines of Leadershipthey are the pillars that enable natural alignment and meaningful success.

I have been privileged to spend 20 years in the consulting business and 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics, including 11 years with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders. My work has revealed there is much more to long-term peak performance than talent. Being a systems engineer, I was fascinated by the science behind what made enduring peak performance possible.  There are many great leaders who possess what Bo embodied, but he may be referenced more than others due to my life experiences.

blog6-0-1-teambuilding

My wife is convinced that the teams I played football with for University of Michigan have reunions every year. Not true. The 1969 and 1971 Big Ten Championship teams under Coach Bo Schembechler have met every five years since the ten-year reunion, for a total of sixteen reunions so far; another is coming up soon. We brought national recognition to the university and earned trips to play in the Rose Bowl. Although we did not win the bowl games, the bond we forged on these teams has transcended details about who started, who was the star, who was walk-on, who was fast, and who was slow. Was it our success that brought us together, or was it our closeness that made us successful?

An Overview of the Building Blocks

In the Section 6 blog posts, we will explore the elements required to build exceptional teams. For many people, success while on a team has deep meaning, whether from being part of a band, orchestra, or department that excelled.

Core Identity Requirements

There is a biological basis for the depth of meaning that comes from participating in a group effort that possesses a caring and trusting environment: serotonin and oxytocin are activated, and in turn, deepen and reinforce the positive experience. We will describe this phenomenon further in our next blog post, which focuses on the Core Identity Requirements for great teams.

A Team is Only as Good as Its Leader

In blog post 6.2, we will describe the traits of great team leaders, who create and foster the culture that determines the success of the team. Over the years, we have learned that there is no single personality type of successful leader. In my early days as an athletics administrator, if there was a coaching position to fill, I thought we should pursue dynamic and inspirational individuals. I came to realize, there is no correlation between a loud and charismatic leader and team success. This is as true in business as it is in athletics. Today, the focus of our practice is building leaders who intrinsically energize their teams to realize a shared vision, regardless of their natural behavior. That ability can come from the quiet, calm thinker as easily as from the more dynamic and expressive individual, if their heart is for the organization’s vision.

Techniques and Tools

In blog post 6.3, we will look at techniques for relationship building, and in 6.4, we will introduce the Team Survey we use to assess how strong a team you may possess.

An Iconic Description of The Team

For now, I’d like to share Bo Schembechler’s iconic and inspiring message on “The Team” — it is his only publicly recorded talk to his University of Michigan Football teams.

“We want the Big Ten championship and we’re gonna win it as a Team. They can throw out all those great backs, and great quarterbacks, and great defensive players, throughout the country and in this conference, but there’s gonna be one Team that’s gonna play solely as a Team.

No man is more important than The Team. No coach is more important than The Team. The Team, The Team, The Team, and if we think that way, all of us, everything that you do, you take into consideration what effect does it have on my Team? Because you can go into professional football, you can go anywhere you want to play after you leave here. You will never play for a Team again. You’ll play for a contract. You’ll play for this. You’ll play for that. You’ll play for everything except the team, and think what a great thing it is to be a part of something that is, The Team. We’re gonna win it. We’re gonna win the championship again because we’re gonna play as team, better than anybody else in this conference, we’re gonna play together as a team.

We’re gonna believe in each other, we’re not gonna criticize each other, we’re not gonna talk about each other, we’re gonna encourage each other! And when we play as a team, when the old season is over, you and I know, it’s gonna be Michigan again, Michigan.”

It has been enlightening, exciting, and enriching for me to learn that the principles we refined for the most successful athletic teams applied as well to teams in all organizations.  The Foundation of Winning Principles and Disciplines are how humankind was designed to work together; and as leaders, we need to understand them and how they support each other. Whether for survival or for winning, how we want to work together as a team for sustainable success is the same. We will share them with you in the Team Blogs in the next few weeks.

Leadership Questions

  1. When have you had the experience of being part of a successful team? What did that feel like?   What do you think made that possible?
  2. What is more important in your organization: team success or Individual success? Where does the most attention go toward in your organization?
  3. What are the characteristics of some of the best team leaders you have known?

5.4 Closing the Performance Gap

For those new to this series . . .

This blog is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational peak performance.  We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the template we have developed to help our clients achieve their personal and organizational potential.  The FOW elements include Three Principles of Mankind and Four Disciplines of Leadershipthey are the pillars that enable natural alignment and meaningful success.

I have been privileged to spend 20 years in the consulting business and 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics, including 11 years with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders. My work has revealed there is much more to long-term peak performance than talent. Being a systems engineer, I was fascinated by the science behind what made enduring peak performance possible.  There are many great leaders who possess what Bo embodied, but he may be referenced more than others due to my life experiences.

blog-5-4-1-footballCoaches of sports teams have the Performance Gap in mind at all times: the most obvious metric is the difference between wins and losses! There is a Performance Gap for each team member, too — it is the difference between the level they are performing at, and what the team needs to achieve peak performance. Orchestra conductors and film directors have similar metrics for tracking success, including tickets sales, critical response, and awards won. In any of these fields, the leader must foster and elicit the best performance possible, and seek the greatest improvement possible from each group or team member; this is what builds their reputations as great leaders, not what they themselves achieve.

Like their counterparts in sports and the performing arts, business leaders must mentor their direct reports towards the goal of reaching Peak Performance. Fostering and facilitating closing the Performance Gap between Peak Performance for the job versus the individual’s current performance is a critical leadership responsibility. 

The Performance Gap in Business

blog-5-4-2-singersThe peak productivity capacity of each organization — what we call 100% Performance Capacity — is, of course, subject to market variables an organization’s leader cannot control. Leaders can, however, continually improve team member performance to achieve 100% Production Capacity for a given market environment.  Leaders can close the Performance Gap between what team members are currently producing and the best they could produce on a sustainable basis.

The fast pace of change in today’s business environment makes this particularly difficult. It highlights the need for organizations to recruit and retain individuals who are flexible enough to adapt and change, and to have leaders who can invest in each team member on their personal journey to peak performance.

Assessing the Performance Gap

blog-5-4-3-chart

How much attention do you pay to the Performance Gap for your team members?

 

blog-5-4-4-scorecardOrganizational Peak Performance is possible only when each team member achieves Job Peak Performance. Each team member is measured on a Peak Performance Scorecard, which compares the Peak Performance Standard for the job to the member’s Current Performance to yield the Performance Gap; regular and accurate assessments of this differential are essential.

 The Importance of Buy-In from the Team Member

Closing the Performance Gap is a contract between the team member and the leader; it identifies the components that are most important to the team member to address.  These identified Performance Gap Components are selected from the three areas of the Peak Performance Scorecard.  We will discuss techniques for closing gaps in these areas in the upcoming Foundations of Winning book.  For now, we can provide links to blog posts about each area:

blog-5-4-5-bikeWhy focus on what the team member, rather than the leader, feels needs addressing most?  We find that some Performance Gaps, once understood by the team member, touch them personally. This resonance energizes them to address the issues more naturally, with less stress. Building on this initial success, the team member can more easily move on to closing the remaining Performance Gaps. A caveat: if the team member does not recognize the obvious, non-negotiable performance gaps, they may be a poor fit for the job, or for the organization.

blog-5-4-b-humancap

Leadership Challenge Questions

  1. Do you currently measure and review performance for each of your reports?
  2. Is this a continual and on-going disciplined process?
  3. Have you asked your direct report what would mean most to them to improve?
  4. Do you participate in the growth journey of your direct report?
  5. Do you regularly review the performance improvement initiatives your direct report is working on?
  6. What is the importance of growing each team member to peak performance?

5.3 Job Behavioral Fit

For those new to this series . . .

This blog is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational peak performance.  We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the template we have developed to help our clients achieve their personal and organizational potential.  The FOW elements include Three Principles of Mankind and Four Disciplines of Leadershipthey are the pillars that enable natural alignment and meaningful success.

I was privileged to spend 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics, including 11 years with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders. Working with Bo revealed there is much more to long-term peak performance than talent. Being a systems engineer, I was fascinated by the science behind what made enduring peak performance possible.  There are many great leaders who possess what Bo embodied, but he may be referenced more than others due to the life experiences. 


What behaviors do the peak performers at your organization have in common?

We have shared the importance of Organizational Cultural Fit and Job Competency Fit and how they contribute to Peak Performance. The last component of the Performance Evaluation Equation is Behavioral Fit.

Job Behavioral Requirements

A unique inventory of behavioral requirements for the job is required before interviewing for a new hire.  While it’s imperative that a surgeon and a police officer each function well under pressure, the nature of the pressure each faces is different and so is the optimum response for each.
For employees already in the fold, they need to understand what appropriate behavior for the job looks like. Once known, and compliance has been assessed, we need strategies for coaching them to adjust their behaviors to match better with the requirements for Peak Performance. Reviewing the behavioral profiles of highly-successful past incumbents is an excellent beginning when creating or modifying the behavioral requirements for a particular job. And each of us must honestly appraise our own behavioral bias in performing our jobs for peak performance, as we move along our career path.

blog5-3-2-equation The Sweet Spot: Job Comfort

Last Puzzle PieceJob comfort describes the level of compatibility between an individual’s behavioral profile and behavioral requirements for the job. A high level of job comfort correlates with less effort, because we are doing what comes naturally. A low level of job comfort requires much more energy to sustain high performance, as we fight our natural tendencies. People tend to underperform and leave jobs where a low behavioral match results in low job comfort.  In addition, there is a greater chance of mistakes being made when under pressure when we have poor job behavior fit. 

Fundamental Requirements – Positive Energy and Passion

Positive Energy

Do you have people in your organization whclimbing team silhouetteo you look forward to working with because of their positive energy? R
esearch by Rob Cross, Wayne Baker, and Andrew Parker shows that, “Not only are energizers better performers themselves, but people who are strongly connected to an energizer are also better performers.” There is a direct correlation to return in assets with positive energy.

Passion for Your Job

blog5-3-4-hardhatsThere may be no greater contributor to success in life and in our jobs than that of passion. It is our drive, our commitment, our love of the work we do and its greater impact that intrinsically brings us energy. Early in FS&A’s development of the Peak Performance Equation, this component was not explicitly present; we thought it was covered in Cultural Fit as part of the individual’s alignment with the organization’s purpose. When I shared the Peak Performance Equation with real estate developer Steve Ross, for whom the Michigan Ross School of Business is named, he liked it, but added, “You are missing the most important ingredient in success: Passion!”  There is no substitute for an unwavering commitment to something you believe deeply in. It is now a part of the Behavioral component of the Peak Performance Equation, and has been helpful when deciding on whom to hire, and to promote, for our clients.

Four Additional Behaviors to Assess

It is vital that we understand how an individual acts and reacts in a variety of scenarios.  No two of us are the same, and understanding your own natural behavior will aid you, as a leader, to act and react responsibly.  In addition, you will gain a deeper respect and understanding for the natural behavior of others, which will in turn enhance your relationships.

For job candidates (and yourself!), consider the four behaviors, shown in the table below, on a continuum.

blog5-3-5-table

Summary

There are no right or wrong behaviors, profiles, or reports for greatness, as each has its own strengths and benefits. We like to say that each of us is weird in our unique way, and that is a good thing! Every person is unique, as is every job. As an individual has natural behaviors, especially under pressure, each job has a behavioral requirement for peak performance. The better the behavioral fit, the less stress a person will be under when doing the job day after day, especially when under pressure. Who we are is expressed most clearly when we are under pressure, when the rational thinking brain is least engaged. This is when the wrong people in the wrong seats make mistakes at a cost of millions of dollars, or even the lives of people they are responsible for.

 

Leadership Challenge Questions

 As a leader, ask yourself:

  • What are your own natural behavioral tendencies?
  • How can you better understand the natural behavioral tendencies of each of your team members?
  • How can you attract candidates who have the proper Behavioral Fit for a given job in your organization?
  • Are you looking at why individuals conduct themselves the way they do, more than how they conduct themselves?

 

5.2 Job Competency Fit

For those new to this series . . .

This blog is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational peak performance.  We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the template we have developed to help us and our clients achieve their personal and organizational potential.  The FOW elements include Three Principles of Mankind and Four Disciplines of Leadershipthey are the pillars that enable natural alignment and meaningful success.

I was privileged to spend 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics, including 11 years with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders. Working with Bo revealed there is much more to long-term peak performance than talent. Being a systems engineer, I was fascinated by the science behind what made enduring peak performance possible.  There are many great leaders who possess what Bo embodied, but he may be referenced more than others due to his mentorship.

blog5-2-jobs “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

 – Steve Jobs

 

The competency that Steve Jobs displayed was exceptional by all standards.  When it came to natural talent competency he had the knack to dream of products and features that customers would realize they needed only after Steve Jobs demonstrated them at one of the legendary Apple Special Events. His knowledge competency was fired by the booming tech industry that was creating capacity to do big things in small devices, that enhanced Jobs’ passion to provide the unthought-of for public benefit.  The skill competency for Jobs was his ability to push people to quality standards unseen previously.  He made mistakes, but that is a part of the growth requirement for exceptional competency.

In our last post, we explored the most important component in the Performance Evaluation Equation, Organizational Cultural Fit.  Now, we turn to the concept that has traditionally been given the most attention and weight: Job Competency Fit. To achieve Job Competency Fit for peak performance an individual must possess:

  • blog5-2-passionPassion for the Job

Commitment, dedication, and perseverance, focused on building Job Skills and Knowledge Competencies, transforms a job into a labor of love.

  • A Growth Mindsetblog5-2-thoughts

A hunger for the challenge of learning, growing, and experimenting provides the energy to serve a deeply meaningful purpose, in service of something greater than oneself.

 

In the Performance Evaluation Equation, the three components of Competency Fit—Talent, Skills, and Knowledge—are critical for effective execution of the job.

blog5-2-equation

The T-S-K’s of Competency

Competency Fit for the job has three elements:

  1. “T” – Talent – That ability we are born with and execute effortlessly, especially compared to others; for example, the ability to visualize objects and dimensions in space that is required of an architect, or the exceptional depth perception of airplane pilots as they land their plane.
  2. “S” – Skill – The technical ability to perform at a high level that is learned along the way; for example, becoming a master at using Excel spreadsheets for financial data analysis, or deftly sewing small blood vessels, as a surgeon must do. Depending on natural talent, some may learn faster and achieve higher levels of skill than others, but all get better with time at purposeful skill development.
  3. “K” – Knowledge – The information we gain in our area of expertise that sets us apart from others; for example, understanding the complexities of international patent law, or mastering the myriad features in the latest cell phones.

It is important understand that Talent has little capacity for growth, whereas Skill and Knowledge can improve with purposeful commitment of time on task.

Malcolm Gladwell explores competency in Outliers as does Geoff Colvin in Talent is Overrated. Both authors share what greatness is and postulate that talent is correlated to success, but only to a point. Beyond that point, it is about deliberate hard work and dedicated practice. Successful individuals who capitalized upon their talent by enhancing their skill and knowledge in exceptional ways that are featured in the books include Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, the Beatles, Tiger Woods, Winston Churchill, Warren Buffett, and Michael Jordon.

As my mentor coach Bo Schembechler said almost daily,

“You are getting better or you are getting worse, you are not staying the same.  If you stay the same, someone is gaining on you and they are going to beat you!”

Leadership Challenge Questions

 As a leader, ask yourself:

  • Assess your best team members – when they were hired, what was their Job Competency Fit vs. Organizational Cultural Fit?
    • What does this tell you about the importance of Job Competency Fit?
  • Do you think Competency Fit or Cultural Fit is easier to teach, and to be learned?
  • How do you put Competency Fit in its proper place in assessing the “right people” to hire?

5.1 The Paramount Importance of Cultural Fit

For those new to this series . . .

This blog is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational peak performance.  We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the template we have developed to help us and our clients achieve their personal and organizational potential.  The FOW elements include Three Principles of Mankind and Four Disciplines of Leadershipthey are the pillars that enable natural alignment and meaningful success.

I was privileged to spend 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics, including 11 years with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders. Working with Bo revealed there is much more to long-term peak performance than talent. Being a systems engineer, I was fascinated by the science behind what made enduring peak performance possible.  There are many great leaders who possess what Bo embodied, but he may be referenced more than others due to his mentorship.


I bet you have a great “elevator pitch” to describe your job, or your organization.  But what about the culture of your organization? How would you encapsulate that? And when you are making a hiring decision, are you taking into consideration how well the applicant will fit with your organization’s culture? In the upcoming Foundation of Winning book, we will take a much deeper dive into Cultural Fit, but for now, l would like to get you thinking about what Cultural Fit looks like in your organization.

In the last post, we introduced the Performance Evaluation Equation:

Blog-5-1-Image-PeakPerfCulturalFit 

Long-term success starts with Cultural Fit built on these concepts, which we have shared in previous blog posts:

  • a shared Purpose that is intrinsically motivating to us,
  • a Vision for the difference in the world we hope to make over time, and
  • a set of Guiding Principles that honor who we are at our collective best as we serve our Purpose and Vision.

What does this look like in a real organization? Here is a great example of a leader who understood the importance of Cultural Fit.

Setting the Stage for Cultural Fit

Bo Schembechler and the 1969 University of Michigan Football Team

In the spring of 1969, when I was a freshman, the U-M Football Team had about 75 returnees from the 1968 team and another 75 walk-ons, including me, trying out.  As was tradition at Michigan, any male U-M student could try out for the team in the spring, but first they had to go through Football Team Winter Conditioning to earn a spot.

Bo told us his plan to reduce this unprecedented turnout to a manageable number:

Blog-5-1-Image-Bo&Quote

It was the first time he exhorted the team with this rallying cry, and “Those who stay will be champions!” is still a legendary part of the U-M Football Team ethos. Bo was also defining the culture of the U-M Football for us:

  • focus on team (rather than star players);
  • highly competitive;
  • intensely demanding, both mentally and physically; and
  • incredibly rewarding.

Bo’s concept of “the team – the team – the team” (he describes it in this one-minute 1983 video) was formed that spring.  It was the players against the world: we were going to show the coaches we would not be broken, that we had each other’s backs. To some degree, it was the players against the clock, the weights, the weather, and, at times, the coaches.  We were convinced there was no group of men in the world in better shape, willingly making more mental and physical sacrifice than us.  The seeds of the 1969 Big Ten Championship were sown that spring as the team’s ranks thinned from 150 to fewer than 80; we even lost some starters from the 1968 team along the way. During his 21 years as head coach, Bo stayed true to his promise, and any team member who was at U-M for four years and played under Bo left U-M with at least one Big Ten championship ring.Blog-5-1-TheTeamTheTeamTheTeam

“The Team Comes First” remains a mainstay component of many of the most successful organizations.  For example, to identify the organizations on its “100 Best Companies to Work For” list, Fortune conducts a survey that includes a Trust Index and a Culture Audit. Focusing on Cultural Fit provides the most important filter for proper selection of the people who will enable peak performance on your organization’s team.

 

Leadership Challenge Question

As a leader, ask yourself:

  • What does flourishing look like in your organization’s culture?
  • Who are the exemplary Organizational Culture Fit team members? Which of their attributes could you seek and nurture in others to make the organization better?
  • Do we understand the difference between Cultural Fit and Job Competency?
  • Do we understand the difference between Cultural Fit and appropriate Job Behavior?

 

Upcoming Blog Posts:

5.2 Performance Component #2 – Job Competency Fit

5.3 Performance Component #3 – Job Behavioral Fit

5.4 Summary – Right People/Organization Fit

5.0 Fit for Peak Performance

For those new to this series . . .

This blog is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational peak performance.  We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the template we have developed to help us and our clients achieve their personal and organizational potential.  The FOW elements include Three Principles of Mankind and Four Disciplines of Leadershipthey are the pillars that enable natural alignment and meaningful success.

I was privileged to spend 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics, including 11 years with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders. Working with Bo revealed there is much more to to long-term peak performance than talent. Being a systems engineer, I was fascinated by the science behind what made enduring peak performance possible.  There are many great leaders who possess what Bo possessed, but Bo may be referenced more than others as he was the one I witnessed executing the disciplines most.


 

Phenomenally beautiful and picturesque garden for walks and supervision over flowers and treesCreating a flourishing garden requires matching a set of complementary plants to optimal soil, light, water, and climate conditions. Organizations are the same: in order to thrive and flourish, the organization’s culture must nourish each team member, supporting them in service of something bigger than themselves.

 

 

The Peak Performance Evaluation Equation

In the next few blog posts, we will share the three components of fit for an individual in an organization and their job; Cultural Fit in the organization has the heaviest weight based upon our findings.  Don McMillan and several other veteran executive coaches we collaborate with at FSA developed this Peak Performance Evaluation Equation:

Blog-5-0-Equation

Warren Buffett’s philosophy on hiring the right people illustrates this same concept:

Blog-5-0-Buffet“In looking for someone to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity (culture fit), intelligence (competency fit) and energy (behavioral fit),” said Buffet. “But the most important is integrity, because if they don’t have that, the other two qualities, intelligence and energy, are going to kill you.”

 

Why Cultural Fit?

Organizations thrive when each individual has the opportunity for peak performance.  Like plants, they need the right environment and nurturing to thrive.  The study of athletic teams made it clear that teams with the most five-star players do not necessarily win.  There is a shared purpose, a respect and trBlog-5-0-CompValuesust in each other, that is more important than the innate talent of the individual players.  Michigan State University’s current head football coach, Mark Dantonio, exemplifies this concept well: he recruits many good—but not five-star—players who form a cohesive team and win at unprecedented levels. Clearly, they are seeking something more subjective than talent in those they desire to be a part of their team. He is the first football coach in Big Ten Conference history to win at least 11 games in a season 5 out of 6 years. Blog 5.1 will take the discussion of Cultural fit further.

The Importance of Competency Fit

While we have emphasized the importance of Cultural Fit a great deal, we do so because most leaders value Competency Fit as the most important—and often the only—criterion in hiring.  That said, Competency does matter, and it has three components:Blog-5-0-potters

  1. Talent: Natural and innate; a raw material we can develop
  2. Skill: Abilities gained or learned on our growth journey
  3. Knowledge: The continually growing base that informs our decision making

Where and how an individual developed their talent, skills, and knowledge will also affect their level of competency: excelling at a challenging school, earning the interest of an exceptional mentor, and seeing through a difficult project are examples of experiences that augment competency, and past performance in other jobs will also shed light on their competency.  We will dig deeper into Competency Fit Assessment in Blog 5.2.

The Role of Behavioral Fit

Have you ever dreaded working with someone, even though they were talented and highly competent? Whatever the quality of their work, dealing with their inappropriate behavior was too high a price to pay.  There are many behavior assessment tools that can aid in gaging how an individual’s behavior patterns fit with the behavior required for the job. Individual behaviors are generally assessed for peak performance in these categories:

  • PrimBlog-5-0-HandUpary categories: risk taking, sociability, calmness, and detail orientation.
  • Additional categories: positivity, energy, and a passion for the organization’s purpose

Hiring “right people” – the ones who fit with their jobs in terms of competency and behavior and with
the culture of the organization, enables individuals to achieve peak performance.  And individual peak performance in service of the organization brings the organization closer to its peak performance, our ultimate goal. We will share more on this in Blog 5.3. 

Leadership Challenge Questions

As a leader, ask yourself:

  • In our organization, are we giving too much weight to Competency Fit and too little to Organizational Culture Fit? What consideration do we give to Behavioral Fit?
  • What metrics do we use to assess Cultural Fit?
  • What steps can we take to create a standard for peak performance for each of the three Performance Components, so as to benefit team members in their growing?

Upcoming Blog Posts:

  • 5.1 Performance Component #1 – Culture Fit
  • 5.2 Performance Component #2 – Job Competency Fit
  • 5.3 Performance Component #3 – Job Behavioral Fit
  • 5.4 Summary – Right People/Organization Fit

4.4 Core Identity: Pulling It All Together

For those new to this series . . .

This blog journey is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational potential.  We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the program clients have found aids them in achieving peak performance.  The FOW is composed of three Principles of Humankind and four Disciplines of Leadership.  Together, they are the pillars that support enduring meaningful and purposeful success. 

I was privileged to spend 25 years at University of Michigan Athletics, including 4 years on the Michigan Football Team, and 11 years working with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders. Working with Bo every day revealed there is much more to long-term success than competency. Many of the concepts that comprise the Foundation of Winning were developed from experiences with Bo, who was one of our nation’s natural leaders.

“I want to thank you for reintroducing me to the man I thought I married.”
                                                                                                                     – The spouse of one of our clients

Blog4-4-First&BestThis recognition is a powerful testimony to the effectiveness of the work we do in helping each client clarify their personal Core Identity. The process enables leaders to be more effective not only at work, but at home as well. This is possible due to the stabilizing effect of knowing oneself, acknowledging both strengths and imperfections.

Our security in who we are and the confidence with which we move through life comes from a deep understanding of our Core Identity — Who we are when we are at our best.

Blog4-4-TimeToBeBestEach of us can be undermined by our own individual sense of insecurity, and it can be further exacerbated by the feeling that others are far more confident and secure.  It is ironic that in any given group of individuals, all of them may feel this same way! Every leader we have worked with has shared or demonstrated self-doubt; a lofty title and position does not grant a sense of security. It is through a deeper understanding of the personal Core Identity that one becomes a better leader. Natural greatness is in each of us if we stop trying to be someone else, and instead be the best self we can be, with purpose.

The Components of Core Identity

In the previous blog posts in Section Four, we examined the components of your Core Identity, starting in post 4.0 with an Overview, and then moving on to the components:

Now, we can consider Core Identity holistically, and put these parts to work together. As we get better at honoring who we are meant to be, we like and respect ourselves more and more. The journey to a deeper understanding of who we are uniquely meant to be frees us from the insecurity of comparing our own achievements and acquisitions with those of others.  As we mature and move on from the quest for Comparative Accomplishment that is the hallmark of Stage II Fulfillment, we appreciate Contributing for the Benefit of Others found in Stage III Fulfillment.

Journaling: A Powerful, Essential Practice

Blog4-4-JournalingThis is also a great time to re-visit the power of journaling, a practice recommended in blog post 1.4, The Picture that Precedes Luck. Many of the people I admire and respect journal regularly, and most are remarkably successful.  Their lives seem to possess a deeper integrity, and a sense that they are wholly who they are meant to be. They have stable minds that can make smart decisions with less stress than others.  I know I feel that way on the days I journal: life just seems to be more focused and strategically purposeful. The day feels so meaningful.

Consider this question in your own journal:

Of the people I most admire and respect, what part of their Core Identity means most to me—their Purpose, their Vision, or one of their Guiding Principles? 

Your answers will touch on who you are meant to be: that which you respect in them is also most naturally in you. This kind of reflection is an important step in taking responsibility for your own life, and to see the path that will bring energy into your life to be your best self.

Leadership Challenge Questions

As a leader, ask yourself:

  • Do I take the time to seek a deeper understanding of those who I admire and respect? What components of their Core Identity may also be mine?
  • Do I take responsibility for my life and my destination, and for who I am when at my best?
  • Do I challenge my team members to take responsibility for their lives, and provide them support on their journey of discovery?
  • Have I given journaling a chance to aid me in my “at my best” development?

4.3 Principles that Guide Our Actions

For those new to this series . . .

This blog is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational peak performance.  We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the template we have developed to help us and our clients achieve their personal and organizational potential.  The FOW elements include Three Principles of Mankind and Four Disciplinesthey are the pillars that enable natural alignment and meaningful success.

I was privileged to spend 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics, including 11 years with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders. Working with Bo revealed there is much more to long-term peak performance than talent. Being a systems engineer, I was fascinated by the science behind what made enduring peak performance possible.  There are many great leaders who possess what Bo possessed, but Bo may be referenced more than others as he was the one I studied most.

 

Think of an individual you admire and respect, who had a significant impact on who you have become.  How did that person earn your respect?

 

At FS&A, when we ask this question of the leaders we are helping to develop a Foundation of Winning, respondents often name parents in their answers, with comments like the following:

“My mother – her love, caring, and compassion as she listened to me as I wrestled with my biggest life problems (so far!).  She was non-judgmental, and understanding.  I knew she really cared.”

 “My dad – his honesty, integrity, and trust as he challenged me on where I got the money to buy something, how much did it cost, and what lawns did I mow to earn the money?”

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Why do wBlog4-3-Dad&Sone admire and respect those who have had the greatest impact on us? Is it because we share common guidelines for actions and decision-making? How they make decisions resonates with us; it feels right. These important influences helped us at critical times in our lives to be more, and we love it when others are there to help us on our journey.  How these individuals behave is a result of the principles that guide them, such as caring, trust, creativity, teamwork, and perseverance. And the exact boundaries each individual applies makes their set of principles unique.

Guiding Principles Complete Your Core Identity

In exploring the principles and disciplines of the Foundation of Winning in this blog, we recently covered Purpose and Vision, two of the components of your Core Identity.  A unique set of Guiding Principles—the third element of your Core Identity—provides an essential framework for sBlog4-3-Securityerving your Purpose and your Vision.

In blog post 3.0 Mankind’s Need for Boundaries, we touched on the genesis of the concept of Guiding Principles and Boundaries, and we will explore it more thoroughly in our upcoming book. In brief, humans have a lifelong psychological need for clear boundaries. And for each of us to achieve our respective peak performance, to serve our unique Purpose, we each need our own set of Guiding Principles.

Defining Guiding Principles – and Identifying Yours

Guiding Principles are synonymous with Core Values, Operating Principles, and Values. Guiding Principles are your essential and enduring tenets; it is best to stick with a small set of four or five.

This exercise will help you honor who you are when at your best more naturally. Review the words listed under Guiding Principles below, and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Which of these principles have deep meaning for me, and touch my heart?
  2. If I think of some of the times when I have been at my best, which of these principles guided my actions and decisions?
  3. Of the principles I identified in questions #1 and #2, which four or five are the most important to me?
  4. Tell a story of each Guiding Principle guiding me when under pressure, that made me feel I responded in the proper manner.

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Now that you have identified your set of Guiding Principles, reflect each day on how they inform your actions and decisions.

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Leadership Challenge Questions

As a leader, ask yourself:

  • What common Guiding Principles do the people I admire and respect most possess?
  • What is my set of four-to-five Guiding Principles I can use to guide my actions and decisions in service of my Purpose and Vision?
    NOTE: It is important to review this list several times a year, and tweak the definitions of each as you achieve greater understanding of how you uniquely define them.
  • How do I inform others of my Guiding Principles? Am I consistent?

4.1 Your Purpose for Being

For those new to this series…

This blog is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational potential.  We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the template we have developed to help clients achieve their personal and organizational potential.  The FOW elements include Three Principles of Mankind and Four Disciplinesthey are the pillars that enable natural alignment and meaningful success.

I was privileged to spend 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics, including 11 years with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders. Working with Bo revealed there is much more to long-term success than talent. Being a systems engineer, I was fascinated by the science behind what made enduring success possible.  There are many great leaders who possess what Bo possessed, but Bo may be referenced more than others as he was the one I studied most.

4.1 Your Purpose for Being

Overview

AfteBusiness People Corporate Walking Commuting City Conceptr finishing my presentation at a corporate seminar, a gentleman in his forties approached me and said, “You know, I have never given a thought to my life having a purpose.  I have been so busy earning a living, taking care of my family, and trying to stay active in the community, that I never gave a thought that my life may have a purpose.” The next week I met with a highly respected doctor nearing retirement, and I shared this story with him.  He responded, “I am not sure I knew my purpose in life at 45. I was so busy operating, seeing patients, and caring for my growing family; I was too busy running from one place to another to think my life had a purpose.”

As we discussed in previous posts, our need to seek Fulfillment has four progressive Stages. As we mature, we move through the Stages and our Purpose in life becomes more clear, more meaningful. It is at Stage III – Fulfillment from Contributing to the Benefit of Others that one’s sense of a meaningful Purpose really begins to gel.

Defining Your Purpose

Your Purpose is:

  • Your deep fundamental reason for existence, beyond making money
  • The intrinsically motivating force that brings energy into your life

Your Purpose should:

  • Illustrate your idealistic motivations for doing what is meaningful to you
  • Provide alignment with what you do and who you were meant to be
  • Get you out of bed in the morning
  • Guide and inspire you for years
  • Serve Stage III – Fulfillment from Contributing to the Benefit of Others
  • Answer the question: What would the world be missing if you did not exist?

 

Purpose Statements of Individuals – Examples

OprahWinfrey“To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.” – Oprah Winfrey, founder of the Oprah Winfrey Network


“To serve as a leader, live a balanced life, and apply ethical principles to make a significant difference.”
– Denise Morrison, CEO, Campbell Soup Company

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An Organization Must Have Purpose

As you personally have a purpose, so do organizations.  Each member of the team should be able to express verbally why they care about the work they do. The Purpose Statement need not be unique, and can it be modified over time.

 

Purpose Statements of Organizations – Examples

Merck  – To discover, develop and provide innovative products and services that save and improve lives around the world.

Mary Kay – We believe in a larger purpose: helping others to achieve their dreams.

Southwest Airlines – To connect People to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.

 

Your Why Resides Within Your Purpose 

Deep inside your actions is the Why you do what you do; it is your Why that makes you attractive. Simon Sinek captured this so well in his book Start with Why (2011).  Sinek notes that it is in the limbic brain where decision-making has no capacity for language, numbers, facts, figures, or processes: the limbic brain feels what is right.  Are you in business or living a life consistent with Stage II – Comparative Fulfillment, or are you in service of Stage III – Fulfillment from Contribution for the Benefit of Others?

Connecting with Others Through Your Purpose

Patagonia, a maker of outdoor sportswear, exemplifies a company that has a lot of Why in it.  They are well-known for their commitment to fair labor practices and environmental responsibility. There is a Why to their business that goes beyond great clothing.  I shop at Patagonia because their purpose is in alignment with mine.  They make great gear, and they stand for something bigger than profits: they want to make a difference in the future of our world, which resonates with me.  Shopping at Patagonia makes me feel in alignment with who I am meant to be.  People support organizations and buy for themselves for what it does for them.  If you are an individual or an organization at a Stage III – Fulfillment from Contributing for the Benefit of Others, consumers will buy from you. They can see you have a Purpose that is in service of them.

What you do and How you do it are the proof of why you are in business. You attract others who are like-minded.  Partners, employees, and customers whose Purposes reflect a Stage III – Fulfillment from Contributing for the Benefit of Others will be loyal, committed, and dedicated, and they will help you to move toward your Vision.

Leadership Questions/Challenges

  • What is it that is intrinsically energizing to you, that touches your heart in service of improving other’s lives?
  • At the end of each day, make a note of what energized you that day, and what drained you.  After several weeks, review your notes.  What patterns emerge?
  • At work, when you organize a meeting, in addition to creating an agenda, clarify the purpose of the meeting so that all of your team is on the same page and moving in the same direction.
  • As you move through your day, think about the reasons for each of your actions.  Are they consistent with your Purpose?

 

FS&A Events Coming  Up in April & May

If you would like to learn more about building flourishing teams, please join us for FOW 101: Introduction to the Foundation of Winning on April 8, 2016, in Ann Arbor.

If you are practicing many of these principles, please join us for FOW 302: Foundation of Winning in Action May 5-7, 2016, in Ann Arbor.  We will visit Zingerman’s to see what makes them flourish, and then we will build a plan for you to flourish. Zingerman’s co-founder Ari Weinzweig will be keynote speaker.

4.0 Your Core Identity – Overview

For those new to this series . . .

This blog journey is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational potential.  We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the system we have developed to help clients achieve flourishing success.  The FOW is composed of three Principles of Mankind and four Disciplines of Leadership.  Together, they are the pillars that support the development of talent, skills, and knowledge, and enable meaningful, enduring success. 

I was privileged to spend 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics, including 11 years with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders. Working with Bo every day revealed there is much more to long-term success than talent. Many of the concepts that comprise the Foundation of Winning developed from my experiences with Bo, who was a natural leader.

4.0 Your Core Identity – Overview

The individuals and organizations most often mentioned as having clear and admirable identities in our Foundation of Winning (FOW) seminars include our parents, grandparents, Apple, the New England Patriots, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Abraham Lincoln. What individuals or organizations do you admire for what they stand for?  Are they consistent in the message they present? Does their consistent image instill trust, even when others may challenge them? What or who are the individuals or organizations you align yourself with because they reflect your own identity and values? What if you could be that consistent foundation—a rock solid, reliable force in service of something deeply meaningful?  Would people come into your life to help make your journey easier and even more meaningful?

In the next few blog posts, we will consider each of the three aspects of the Core Identity outlined below.  Consider this post a jump start for those discussions…

KEY IDEA: Understand Your Core Identity to Find Your Life’s Natural Path

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.  – Steve Jobs

A primary goal on our journey through life is to understand and know our Core Identity, and then to honor it in our thoughts, behaviors, actions, and words.  Each of us is born with a unique set of natural talents.  It is through traveling life’s path that we gain insights into who we are when at our best, what we are naturally meant to do. We also learn what others can do better than us. We study and learn from our path as it reveals who we are, and has helped shape who we have become.

The Essential Components of Your Core Identity

These components build on the three Principles of Mankind discussed in our recent blog posts, and when honored they help us be our natural, flourishing best:

  1. Purpose – That which brings energy into your life, and serves others such they are willing to reward you for your efforts.  You look forward to getting out of bed to make a difference.  Purpose honors these FOW Principles:
    • Positive Vision: The more clearly we envision our role for the day, the more likely it is to happen.
    • Stage III Fulfillment: Contributing to the Benefit of Others: This stage is generative, whereas Stage II Fulfillment: Comparative Fulfillment in Service of Self is satisfying in the short term, but does not last.
    • Boundaries: They are necessary to clarify which actions best serve your purpose; they eliminate those actions that hinder you.
  2. Vision – The meaningful picture of a better tomorrow you; have faith it will be created as a result of a long term commitment to your Purpose. Vision honors these FOW Principles:
    • Positive Vision: The more vivid and deeply meaningful the legacy we desire to leave, the path to that vision shortens.
    • Stage IV Fulfillment: Legacy: This stage focuses on future benefits of your efforts today.
    • Boundaries: They clarify and define your Vision so that it is achievable.
  3. Guiding Principles – The beliefs and values that guide your actions and decisions in service of your Purpose, in route to your Vision. Guiding Principles honor this FOW Principle:
    • Boundaries: They help with focus as you move toward your vision, so that you are in alignment with your deeper inner self, and it feels right.

Discovering Your Natural Path

Your life journey has built or revealed who you are when at your best.  Moving forward in search of realizing personal potential requires reflection on past decision-making, and the resulting ramifications on your path through the jungle of life. 

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What went well, and why?
  • What did not go well, and why?
  • What was it you were we both passionate and successful?

Now, at this stage in your development . . . what Purpose are you prepared for, that you can address better than anyone else in the world?

Drawing A BridgeWhat is the purpose you feel a passion to serve, or to make the most meaningful difference?  It is through this study of our journey through the jungle of life that we can reveal our Core Identity.  This clarity permits a natural flow of life and honors who we are meant to be.  This clarity also permits us to say “no” when a proposed action feels wrong.

This applies to organizations as well.  As individuals who comprise an organization approach their individual potential, then, and only then, can the organization realize its potential.

Leadership Questions to Guide You to Greatness

  • Do you maintain a journal to capture your thoughts, and to discover where your energy is coming from?
  • What has your journey through the jungle of life shown you? What are you good at?  What should you let others do?
  • Who are the people you admire, respect, and relate to most?  What Principles, Purpose, or Vision is in them that may also be in you?
  • What can you do to help others see more clearly the path you are on so they may help you on your journey?

1.4 The Picture that Precedes “Luck”

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Overview

You may have recognized there seems to be a strong correlation between our luck and what we think about.  How does this happen in the random and chaotic world we maneuver daily?  We are blessed with a Reticular Activating System (our radar) that filters data and connects the dots that help our desired picture become a reality.  The more vivid and meaningful the picture, the greater sensitivity of our filter.  To help us even more, writing down the desired future picture does something magical.   Writing makes this picture more vivid, which sensitizes our radar filter to aid us on our journey.  This practice of clarifying an picture and writing it down is not easy.  Once again, the benefits of a few strategic disciplines can produce exceptional results, and they are available to all of us.

Our radar

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” – Seneca

sieveThe science behind The Law of Attraction utilizes our Reticular Activating System of our brain.  Our Reticular Activating System (RAS) is like radar that filters information to connect the dots to create a clearer picture of success.  If we have no pictures in our mind, then our radar filter has no data to seek.

There is chaos all around us, whether in our head or in our life.  What permits us to find a path through the jungle when there seems to be so much chaos?  Visualizing a meaningful and desired picture or destination prepares our radar to sort through the chaos.  Our radar identifies paths that aid us in finding the best route to where we want to go.

The power of writing it down

writingThe practice of writing down what is important to us sensitizes our RAS to be better prepared to filter the routes to help us on our journey.  Julia Cameron shares the power of writing in her book, The Artist’s Way. She shares the power of starting every day writing three pages long hand, unloading what ever is on your mind.  The clarity that comes from such an exercise is remarkable!  Perhaps it is the unloading of our minds (with our daily planner next to us) that permits us to focus the rest of the day. We are not distracted, wondering if we are doing the most important thing at that time, we know we are because we strategically planned the day.  This writing has provided me days with amazing focus.  I am able to focus on what I am doing at that moment, not wondering if I am doing the most important thing, I am confident I am.

This exercise gave me a wake up call on the power of putting pen to paper.   Visualizing what I desire is a practice learned from Bo as a freshman football player.  It was after writing my Top-Ten Life To Do List that I began to realize the real power of writing big goals. This process has been powerful, as the words get deeper in meaning, the To Do’s make amazing progress.  Some on the list can come off, as they are short-term goals while others will not come off as they are life-journey goals.  The practice of writing your priorities may seem to be simple, but it works.  Discipline is clearly our greatest obstacle to realizing our dreams, whether it is taking the time to think, to write, or to act on strategic initiatives that support our journey.  It has worked for me as others have said it would, and it can work for you.

Leading with your heart

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.-  Carl Jung

Personal experience showed me the power of positive thinking and strategic visioning. I needed to cut back on the amount of food I had become used to eating as a college and professional football player.  How could I challenge myself in the same way I challenge clients to align their actions to move toward their vision more naturally.

I created an intrinsically motivating vision for my personal health –

To be of fit mind, body, and spirit such that I am not only energized and able to teach my grandchildren how to snow ski, but am able to teach my great-grandchildren how to snow ski.

In this statement I was able to creatively connect what was meaningful to me to aid in living a healthier life: it combined my love of teaching, desire to be with my children and grandchildren, and my love of the outdoors and snow skiing. I am now motivated to give up that second hot fudge sundae I so desire.  And it goes beyond the hot fudge sundaes.  That vision of teaching the great-grandchildren to ski motivates me to do the little things in life needed to realize that vision.

family skiingDuring the last few years we have taken our grandchildren skiing. The joy I get from seeing the glow in their faces is priceless.  To see their bravery overcome their fear and the sense of accomplishment they exude as they try and succeed is about as good as it gets. The laughter we share together and joy in their eyes is so fulfilling.  One day our two-year-old grandson flew straight down the hill, practically sitting on his skis with his pacifier in his mouth.  The pure happiness I felt chasing him down the hill with the laughter of those watching was better than anything I could ever get from a hot fudge sundae.

So far so good, and with the 11th grandchild born recently the challenge is on!

Can you think of a vision that is so deeply motivating to you that it may aid you on your journey to living the life you deeply desire?

Our Radar System at Work

A Much Needed Home Renovation that Seemed Out of Reach

home constructionHere is a surprising personal experience that made me a believer in writing down deeply meaningful goals. I start the day updating my prioritized to-do list and take great pride in checking off the accomplishments as they come (my dopamine feel-good).  This seemed to be working okay, but I began to get frustrated with the lack of progress on larger goals.

I decided to make another list to address larger life goals.  I created my Top-Ten Life To-Do’s. It was a list of goals that would be most meaningful to me. An item near the top of the list was a home renovation.  I wrote:

Home Renovation – To have a home that is so warm and welcoming that our children and grandchildren love being here and cannot wait to come back to spend more time with us.

The setting of our home is spectacular; it sits on a bluff overlooking the Huron River in Ann Arbor with a horse farm to one side in a secluded setting.  Just starting on our Leadership Coaching Practice we did not have the finances to do the needed renovations, which makes this story all the more remarkable.

After writing the goals down and setting a budget to fund the renovation, my banker mentioned that we could refinance our mortgage at a lower rate. We increased our mortgage a little while still reducing our payments, and we had part of our funding. We had an architect draw some concepts, and we regularly tore pictures from magazines that depicted the feel we were seeking.  The picture of our finished project was becoming more and more clear.  Somehow business took off at the same time (why at this time I have no idea), and now we had the finances to pay for the renovation.  Eighteen months after making the Top-Ten Life To Do list we had the home of our dreams.   And no more debt than before!  Since that time, the pictures we envisioned of a new kitchen and new basement have become reality.  A new deck and patio is now in the picture!

How many times did I miss hints that would have helped with the renovation before writing the goal down?  And how did our business take off at this time?  What role did the clarity of the picture of the new home play in the success?  I am still taken back by the power of writing down deeply meaningful goals and how our “radar” goes to work to help.  If I had not written down this goal, would the renovation have happened?  The result was we celebrated my 60th birthday with all our children, grandchildren, family, and great friends on a beautiful Saturday afternoon at our renovated home. The joy of the people in the warm family setting was what we had pictured a few years before.

 Leadership Challenge Questions

As a leader, ask yourself:

  • What are my 10 Life Goals that would leave me fulfilled in the end?
  • What is behind the emotion of these pictures? Why is that picture so meaningful?
  • How often do I write down my goals? Is the picture getting more clear with each writing?
  • How clear are our organization’s goals? Are we capitalizing on our individual and collective radar filters to aid us on our journey?
  • How often does our organization share a meaningful picture of our desired future? And where we are on our journey so far?

vNext week: Great Examples of Positive Visioning

1.3 Seeing the whole picture

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Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.

Marcus Aurelius

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Overview

Great leaders paint “easy to see” pictures that help the team make better decisions in addressing an issue that is moving toward the organization’s Vision.  These leaders find input from others’ perceptions helps paint a more complete and compelling picture, better than anything they could have created themselves.  Pressure, or perceived pressure can lead us to making decisions by ourselves, which is the last thing we should do.  The curious mindset that is open to growing recognizes our experiences are limited, which enables curious leaders to see a more complete picture.  Not only is it a better picture, the act of asking others to contribute to the desired outcome builds team unity.  The act of asking shares “You are of value and I respect your input”.  This contribution further ensures buy-in and engagement, making them part of the “winning” solution. The synergy and energy created by these curious leaders is contagious and can be generative for how future leaders lead and aid the organization in becoming all it can be.

Fritz Seyferth - world viewI received a call from a doctor who had heard of our team building work and needed help.  There were 19 doctors supported by a large staff that was not on the same page, it was getting out of control.  We agreed to a full-day retreat and I asked when we could meet so all understood the commitment. One week prior to the retreat I suggested we meet at 6:30 a.m. for breakfast the morning of the retreat to share their role and commitment to getting on the same page.  The response from the doctor was “This is for the support team; that day is the doctor’s day off.”  We did not do the retreat, as it would only frustrate the staff even more, as the change needed to start at the top to endure.  Have you experienced this situation in your organization?

The Challenge of a Leader’s Perception

The more I see, the less I know for sure. ― John Lennon

As a leader, have you ever asked yourself these questions:

  • Why can’t others see what I see, when it is so clear to me?
  • Why are we not on the same page?
  • How can employees do something that so clearly hurts our progress?
  • Does anyone else care about our future?

We have the perception that we are like most other “normal” people who see what we see and we see the same thing.  However, each of us are born into the world with blinders on, selectively seeing what is in front of us.  Then we blaze our unique trail through the jungle of life which is a small slice of life’s experiences.  And at some point on our journey we feel we have seen enough to have all the answers!  Is it a wonder so many leaders with good intentions make bad decisions?

What do you see in the picture below?

lady

There is a young woman, and an old woman, but we see one more easily than the other.  Which did you see?  Do you think others see the same picture?

 

Our perceptions are a result of our experiences and how we interpret them at the time, whether accurate. . . or not. Leaders who understand that each of us have limited perspectives seek input like Bo did at the start of this chapter.  Those leaders are admired and respected for their ability to generate best-decision making for the greater good.

 

Under pressure many leaders need to make a decision.  It is in these times under pressure that most bad decisions are made.  Under pressure is the time to ask “What do you see?  What does it look like from your perspective?”  Leaders who have learned to seek others perspectives under pressure capitalize on the collective intelligence for better decision-making.

Stanford research revealed the following on our perspectives:

  • 93% of Americans believe they have above average driving skills
  • 87% of MBA students at Stanford rated their academic performance as above the median…at Stanford
  • 96% of leaders believe they have above average people skills (this is a book in itself!)

Others’ Perspectives and Synergy

Synergy is better than my way or your way. It’s our way. – Stephen Covey

2 brains 1The clarity of the vision we see in our minds is through a lens that has been individually sculpted by our lifetime of experiences.  While we connect dots in a logical manner based upon our experiences, we may be missing some data points.  In moving toward a desired vision it is advantageous to engage others who see the world from different perspectives.  In this way we can fill in the data points that were missing, and see a more valid picture of what really can be.

2015-11-16_13-18-08Consider the example of two people standing on either side of the moon, one arguing that the moon is bright and the other arguing it is completely dark.  Considered from their individual perspectives, they both seem to be right.  However, is either attempting to understand the other’s position.  Each thinks they see all sides of the moon (challenge/issue) and may not be open to what they do not see.  Sound familiar?

Pressure impacts us such that we do not see even 180 degrees of the issue under pressure―we may only see 90 degrees.  So when under pressure, leaders need to fight the desire to provide the answer; their curiosity can lead them to see four different perspectives of the issue for true clarity. In The Wisdom of Crowds, James Surowiecki shares that many individual views of a problem will see a solution more accurately than the few who may be “experts”.

Great leaders who are under pressure have learned to take the time to seek others who have different perspectives to help see 360 degrees of the issue.  No great leader owns the challenge by them self as they understand that no leader sees 360 degrees of an issue.  For an organization to be its best it must capture the collective intelligence of the organization for “best possible” decision-making.  It is impractical to poll every member of the team on every issue, thus organizational structures are utilized to gain representative views in open communities.

Great leaders retain the ultimate responsibility for how the decision turns out, and that best decision-making is more about managing the decision-making process than having the answer themselves.

Shared Contribution Leads to Shared Ownership

When you are surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible ―Howard Schultz, Starbucks

When seeking a most powerful, meaningful, and accurate vision, enlisting the contribution of others not only provides a clearer picture of the desired outcome, but engenders commitment and responsibility from the team to make this picture real.  The responsibility to aid the realization of a shared goal obligates and empowers us to act in a meaningful way we may not have, if for ourselves.

Teams of people committed to a shared vision are visible every day.  We see this in the more successful athletic teams, as well as so many start-up companies where the team members work tirelessly, rising early and working late to complete a prototype product, or to open the new store.  This energy is built on a shared responsibility that is available to all organizations. It is available if we tap into the contributions that team members can, and want to make to live a life of meaning.

There is something deeply significant about the responsibility and accountability to others when we create a shared picture together.  This responsibility motivates us to do things we may not do otherwise.  Knowing others are by our side, deeply invested and wanting us to succeed, affects us and we feel a responsibility to them.  While this feeling of responsibility for others exists in many organizations, there may be no greater example than that where life is truly on the line.  Time and time again, we hear of injured military personnel back home for rehabilitation who say they feel they are letting their unit down by not being with them in their time of need: they feel a deep responsibility to return to support their fellow soldiers as soon as possible.  “They had my back and now I need to have their backs,” is heard time and time again, as they speak of the ultimate commitment: being ready to lay one’s life down to protect and defend another.

We all want to live a life of meaning, to have an impact on what is possible.  Great leaders capitalize upon that by asking their team members what do they see from their perspective?  The more clearly we see a common goal from different perspectives, the richer the picture, and more accurate.  Leaders who engage those responsible for overcoming a challenge and enlist them as responsible owners of the solution find the results continually surprise them.  Understanding the power of a shared vision can provide the chance for the organization to achieve and become even more successful with more owners in the game.  It starts with respecting the input for a powerful and meaningful shared vision the team collectively builds and wants to support.

Leadership Challenge Questions

As a leader, ask yourself:

  • How curious am I about other’s perspectives?
  • Am I relying on my intelligence for best decision-making, or am I capitalizing upon the collective intelligence of the team?
  • How open am I to someone who sees the opposite of what I see?
  • Is my team collaborating openly for best decision-making?
  • Do my team members feel invested in the outcome and care as an owner?

Next week: The Picture that Precedes “Luck”

Fritz Seyferth & Associates (FS&A) was created to guide leaders in building thriving organizations and teams for exceptional long-term success. Fritz Seyferth, Founder and CEO, has 27 years in leadership with some of the nation’s most successful organizations, and 11 formative years with legendary Bo Schembechler at University of Michigan Athletics. An Executive Coach with the U Michigan’s Ross School of Business, Fritz is passionate about understanding the foundation of organizations that achieve extraordinary, deeply meaningful and long-lasting success. Further information on how to work with FS&A and past blogs can be found at www.fritzfsa.com/blog/

 

1.2 It is not about the Path

The Foundation of WinningTM

 What happens in life is not as random as we may believe.  Visions become reality because we consciously (and subconsciously) are open to connecting the dots for a desired future. Could it be that being strategically purposeful in managing what we envision can provide the opportunity for our desired futures to become reality?

Positive Visioning is the first Principle of the Foundation of Winning. I will be sharing the components of this first principle in five blogs.  This writing is the second blog on Visioning.

Positive Visioning Blogs  (to read previous blogs, please go to http://fritzfsa.com/blog/)

1.1     The Power of Positive Visioning – posted October 30, 2015

1.2     It is not about the Path

1.3     360-degree Clarity

1.4     Your Heart and “Luck”

1.5     Great Examples of Positive Visioning

 

Fritz Seyferth helping guide you to the right destinationOne’s vision is not a road map, but a compass

 – Peter Block

I know a gentleman who lives less than 12 blocks from his office in the city of Chicago, and has walked a new and different path every day…for the last ten years! Each day, he discovers something new, whether it be famous architecture, a new restaurant, or something that prompts an idea for his business to continue to flourish.

Fritz Seyferth helping at crossroadsThe pathway for ultimate success is based upon the route’s effectiveness in helping us reach a desired and ultimate destination. When the focus of our destination is crystal clear, it is easier to take new and different routes to the destination which can yield very rewarding results.  The route we take is not about how we got there in the past.  What is the most effective route available to us today? The business world is over-run these days with “processes” that are set in motion to accomplish specific objectives/goals. Yet, if we let “process” totally guide us and we are not focused on our destination….optimum results are seldom achieved.

Fritz Seyferth can help you with direction

Have you ever had your everyday “tried and true” route to the office detoured, only to find a different and better route?  We still get to our destination by the new route, and we are often surprised by the previously unknown benefits.  Would you say you “changed” your route or would you say you found the most effective route to your destination?  Are we open to the possibility there can be a better path to our destination?  Do we have our head up looking where we want to go, or head down and “working hard”?  Our openness to trying new routes to our destination is what enables transformational change to take place…..providing incredible competitive advantages.

Fritz Seyferth helps see your desitinationWhen we have clarity in our vision, the path we take is open to radical change, not just incremental improvement.  An open mindset enables us to accept input from outsiders who may not understand our current route, process or procedure, but who do see our desired destination.  Such beneficial input may come from the most unlikely sources.  Often paradigms of “this is the way we do it” prevents us from seeing better opportunities: have we may have accepted the current processes as the “best practice”, which over time take on a sacred life of their own?  Too often, when we seek to make a change in a process, the response is, “but this is the way I was taught, the way we always do it.”  Again, great leaders are open to those who are not caught up in maintaining the current process, but who see the desired destination.

There are many wonderful examples throughout modern history where the “process” overtook the vision. The newspaper industry is a prime example where they effectively knew how to print paper in a very efficient and distributed manner. The miss was how impactful the internet would become in creating a better future for their customers.

Here are a couple of other examples where “process” inhibited the vision from becoming reality.

Blockbuster could still be thriving

NetflixFor a number of years, it seemed like there was a Blockbuster Video store every few blocks providing VHS or DVDs of movies for rent.  The company a powerhouse when in 2000, Reed Hastings from Netflix proposed a partnership: Blockbuster would promote his new online company in their stores, and Netflix would promote Blockbuster stores.  The leaders at Blockbuster were not interested.  Why would anyone wait for a DVD to arrive in the mail when they can have it right away at a brick-and-mortar store? But the subscription service Netflix employed addressed the aspect of their competitor’s business model that was most annoying to customers, and most profitable to Blockbuster: late fees.  Word-of-mouth helped Netflix grow, and it increasingly cut into Blockbuster’s business. Blockbuster went bankrupt a few years later, and Netflix was worth around $100 billion 15 years later.

Xerox did not have to become a competitor to Kodak

Xerox In the early 1930’s, Chester Carlson took his electrostatic photography concept to Kodak in Rochester, NY.  He wanted to see if they may be interested in his new way of reproducing pictures.  Kodak was using a chemical process, and dismissed Mr. Carlson’s electronic process, which they did not completely understand.  Mr. Carlson then set up his own shop, which went on to become Xerox and competes with Kodak today in the manufacture and sale of electronic copiers.

“Swiss Movement” vs Quarts Crystal

Quartz Crystal WatchSwiss watchmakers had dominated watch manufacturing and sales for more than 100 years; in 1968, they had 65% of market share and 80% of the profits.  That same year, Swiss researchers invented the quartz-crystal watch which was battery-operated and used fewer moving parts.  But Swiss watchmakers rejected the new technology because they could not envision future watches that did not feature their superior mechanical complexity.  Instead, Japanese company Seiko bought the technology.  By 1980, the Swiss had laid off 50,000 of their 65,000 workers because of the demand for quartz-crystal watches had cut into demand for their own product. The Swiss watchmakers had gotten caught up in the process, not the vision of what their business could provide, and what the customer desired, even when the new technology was presented to them. (If you would like to read the Swatch version here is the link http://www.swatch.com/en/explore/history)

 

Fritz Seyferth & Associates (FS&A) was created to guide leaders in building thriving organizations and teams for exceptional long-term success. Fritz Seyferth, Founder and CEO, has 27 years in leadership with some of the nation’s most successful organizations, and 11 formative years with legendary Bo Schembechler at University of Michigan Athletics. An Executive Coach with the U Michigan’s Ross School of Business, Fritz is passionate about understanding the foundation of organizations that achieve extraordinary, deeply meaningful and long-lasting success. Further information on how to work with FS&A  and past blogs can be found at www.fritzfsa.com.

1.1 The Power of Positive Visioning

positivity

Our life is what our thoughts make it. ―Marcus Aurelius

What happens in life is not as random as we may believe. Visions become reality because we consciously (and subconsciously) are open to connecting the dots for a desired future. Could it be that being strategically purposeful in managing what we think about can provide the opportunity for our visions to become reality? What are natural assets we possess to enable us to be more effective in realizing the positive vision we see?

panel3With my 21 years dedicated to the success of athletic teams, I use athletic analogies, understanding what applies to athletics applies to the dynamics of all organizations.

Positive Visioning is the first Principle of the Foundation of WinningTM. I will be sharing the components of this first principle in five blogs. This is the first and our intent is to share one blog a week.

Positive Visioning Components

I. The Power of Positive Visioning
II. It is not about the Path
III. See 360 degrees for Greater Clarity
IV. Your Heart, and “Luck”
V. Great Examples of Positive Visioning

The Power of Positivity and Personal Clarity

You must expect great things of yourself before you can do them. – Michael Jordan

download (1)In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell shares the prerequisites of world-class greatness and uses Chicago Bulls legend, Michael Jordan, as one of his examples. Jordan was cut from his high school’s varsity basketball team in the 10th grade. Clearly, natural talent was not the key to his success. How did Michael Jordan become a world-class basketball player? What did he possess that permitted him to play at a high level for so many games over so many years? Michael Jordan never had what most would consider a bad game because of his positive attitude and mental preparation. Before every game, Jordan spent 20 minutes visualizing performing flawlessly. He had a positive vision of what the crowd, coach, fellow players, and his opponents were going to look like, act like, sound like, and feel like. His performance on court was the realization of a vision that was supported by consistent visions of positive actions taking place in his mind before he ever hit the court.

We know that what we focus on we will achieve, and what we look at we will hit.
We demonstrate this as we teach our children to ride a bike, and one of the first things we teach them is to focus their sights on the space between the rocks as they ride. Personal experience has taught us when we focus on the rock, we hit the rock. We go where our focus goes.

download (2)The same held true for the University of Michigan women’s swim team. While I was working with Coach Jim Richardson he asked a psychologist to work with his team to visualize success. Each swimmer was asked to visualize their perfect swim with stopwatch in hand. They envisioned every stroke and motion perfectly executed, feeling the water, the power of their rhythmic kick, the flow of each turn, and then the finishing touch. Following these vividly imagined perfect swims, many of the swimmers recorded their career best times in subsequent meets, showing that the picture, once in the mind, more easily becomes reality.

What if we all visualized our role in creating positive results before each workday? What if we visualized a difficult conversation we needed to have, and imagined what a successful outcome would look like, and feel like? What if we were to prepare ourselves for potentially tough news? As leaders, might we act and react in a more strategically and purposefully manner? Michael Jordan took the time to visualize his success and he entertained the nation with his exceptional results. What can we learn from his experience to become our best self, whether it’s to visualize the day before us at the office, or the weekend at home with our family?

Research shows organizations with practices of “positivity” are more effective on a number of dimensions – including profitability. As organizations are collections of individuals, positivity impacts our ability to capitalize upon our abilities and capabilities.

Karma: The fruits of our thoughts and actions, whether good or bad.
The Law of Attraction says we attract to us that which we think about, whether good or bad. The Law of Positivity focuses on the “enhancement” side of the Law of Attraction, where we are making the good things that we think about possible. There is an energy that comes to us when we envision a desired future that has significance to us. If we can train our minds to see the possible, the positive, good energy comes to us to enable that picture to come about. We manifest our positive visioning in our “feelings” others sense. Ever change your feeling toward someone from disdain to appreciation, only to find they were so much nicer than you remembered them to be? Barbara Fredrickson’s research from the University of Michigan shares that organizations where positive comments exceed negative comments 3:1 or more (but less than 13:1), out perform the competition. What if we focus on 5:1 for our personal and professional lives? How might our lives flow in a more energized, powerful and meaningful manner?

slide2Think about it in your organization. How many uplifting positive team members does it take to compensate for one negative team member where the “glass is always half-empty”? Could it be 2, 3, or 4 positive team members needed to compensate for the energy suck of one energy draining team member? Physiologically our brains and our muscles are able to perform near their capacity when positive emotions are present, where unfortunately we do not perform or think as well when in fear.

Those with a positive and abundant outlook have greater:

  • mental alertness, longer lasting memory, and faster learning
  • energy efficiency
  • greater curiosity and creativity
  • improved productivity and quality of performance
  • recovery from disease

We can learn to be more positive, to be more energized, and to be more mindful., A “Gratitude Journal” is a powerful tool to open our lives to a mindset of appreciation, gratitude and positivity. What brought joy into your life today, and what was the source of that energy? Write three things down. If you are like me, you will be surprised to uncover the source of your life’s energy. Little things you take for granted surface as keys to our life’s energy and are appreciated more as we move through the jungle of life.

download (3)Research at Stanford showed an even more powerful journaling exercise which connects your personal values with your greatest challenges or accomplishment each day. This connection demonstrates our living meaningful lives in alignment with who we are when honoring who we are meant to be when at our best. I use this journaling approach and find it a deeper, more resonating exercise and I look forward to journaling more. It is an energizing and aligning challenge to connect the dots of not just “why” I did what I did, but “how” my values guided me in doing the “right” thing in honoring my who I am meant to be.

Closing
I hope you find this amazing growth journey we are all on invigorating and energizing. I am always open to your suggestions and input. Each of us are on our personal growth journeys, and a little light on the path can help. Please send on your thoughts, they are appreciated.

1.0 Key Messages for Leaders who want to be their best…why FS&A exist as Executive Coaches

Key Messages for Leaders who want to be their best…why FS&A exist as Executive Coaches

SeyferthPortFritz Seyferth is an athlete, engineer and coach. How did this University of Michigan walk-on football player become one of the top scorers in the Big Ten? Commitment, dedication and determination, said his coach Bo Schembechler. During his 21-year career with the University of Michigan’s Athletic Department, Fritz studied teams that consistently won, year after year. His systems engineering mind revealed a formula that any team, whether athletic or business, can apply to achieve success most naturally and, therefore, more enjoyably. That former fullback is now a sought-after executive/life coach by top business leaders across the nation. Through his Foundation of WinningTM principles and disciplines, Fritz and his team at FS&A are improving both the professional and personal lives of leaders who are finding a more natural and successful flow to their lives.

 

University of MichiganDuring his time working with university athletics, it became clear it wasn’t the teams with the most talented and skilled players that won more games, it was the teams who possessed a passionate commitment to a shared identity that was bigger than them individually. FS&A helps leaders understand their organization’s unique identity, as well as their own personal unique identity. This clarity of responsibility drives them to be the leader they are meant to be. With a clear understanding of where the organization naturally wants to go, team members either jump on board and use their unique skills to see that shared vision through, or they decide they do not fit. Organizational alignment drives organizational success – it is the natural alignment of individual identity with an organization’s identity. Like pieces of a jig saw puzzle, the right piece fits into the right puzzle, and the right place.

 

We are creating a series of blog posts that will take you step by step through the Pillars of Natural Success. We’ll dive deep into the Three Principles of Mankind – Visioning, Happiness, and Alignment, and follow-up with the Four Disciplines of Great Organizations – Core Identity, the Right People, Teamwork, and Rewards.

You may maneuver through the blog posts as quickly or as slowly as your time allows. You may read the posts individually as you’re interested or consecutively and all at once to immerse yourself into FS&A’s approach and begin your natural journey to becoming the leader you are meant to be when at your best.

 

Welcome to a growth journey that enables your life to just get better…naturally.