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?”

Blog4-3-GuidingPrinciplesTextImage

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.

Blog4-3-list

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

Blog4-3-NextStep

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?

2.4 Stage IV Fulfillment – Legacy Fulfillment

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 into The Foundation of Winning, and the science behind enduring success that will soon be a book.

 Section 2: Mankind’s Need for Fulfillment. The five blog posts in Section 2 will help you better understand why we do what we do, and perhaps understand why others do what they do.

  1. The importance of the Why behind our How, and What we do
  2. Stage I – Personal Physical Fulfillment
  3. Stage II – Comparative Accomplishment
  4. Stage III – Contributing for the Benefit of Others
  5. Stage IV – Legacy Fulfillment – below

I was privileged to have Bo Schembechler (U Michigan’s Head Football Coach 1969-1989), one of our nations greatest exemplary leaders, as my mentor at a critical stage in my professional development.  Being coached by him was special, but it was my 11 years working with him every day that revealed there is much more to long-term success than talent. While Bo was a natural leader, like so many other greats, and we can learn from them through awareness and discipline.  This installment looks at our actions that live beyond us – Stage IV of Mankind’s Desire to Leave a Legacy. 

2.4 Stage IV Fulfillment – Legacy Fulfillment

2.4 pine legacy quoteIn late August 2006, Bo and those close to him knew he was in overtime.  Each of the recent speeches he had given was delivered with the heartfelt urgency it could be his last opportunity to convey a message he was meant to leave.  He was motivated to provide a foundation for success for those who would listen.  We went to the National College Football Hall of Fame Dinner in South Bend for two days of catching up with the Who’s Who of college football, former players, and elite coaches.  But Bo stayed focused on his true life purpose to be in service of creating a better tomorrow, of making the world a better place. That long weekend was filled with Bo touching the lives of as many as he could, both from the podium and one-on-one. After his speech, as we were leaving the darkened ballroom, he stopped and conversed with the young man clearing tables, asking about his high school experience and college plans. Before leaving, Bo looked the young man in the eye, shook his hand and said “Young man, you keep that attitude and you are going to do great things!” Bo died less than three months later, having left an indelible message of support and encouragement for countless individuals.

Key Idea: Understanding our legacy will be the result of our acting for benefit of others that we may not witness.

 Stage IV is about living a life built on faith, believing that our actions today will2.4 plant-a-tree create a better tomorrow, something we may not experience ourselves. Living more consistently at Stage IV – Legacy Fulfillment requires a level of maturity that, for many of us, comes only with age. And whereas Stage III Fulfillment – Contributing to the Benefit of Others is rooted in the present, Stage IV is focused on the future. The actions of enduringly successful individuals and organizations can be separated to be in service of these two Stages of Fulfillment.

We are continually fulfilled when we reach Stage IV.  In Bo’s last years he would ask, “How do people say they are having a bad day?  How can you have a bad day when you are alive, you can hear the birds singing, and you are there to help, you can make a difference in another’s life?” His statements reflect the deep fulfillment his life gave him, right to the end.

Examples: Actions of Faith in Service of a Better Tomorrow

Long term gain often requires tough choices in the short term – it is seldom the easy way.

discipliningHow often, as parents, must we discipline our children for actions that, if continued unaltered, would take them on a destructive path? Stage I Fulfillment, with its emphasis on our physical comfort asks us to “Ignore it – they’ll learn on their own.” But in Stage IV, our faith that enforcing a firm and fair boundaries will benefit them as they grow up. This strengthens our resolve – we know they must understand through experience that actions have consequences. I can attest to this from my own life: one particular time my wife and I grounded one of our children, two days of very high stress, strain, and tension ensued.  But we eventually grew so close during that time together that it became a transformative experience. That experience started a relationship journey that continues to grow deeper to this day.

Laying the groundwork for a culture that recognizes the trade off of short term pain for long term gain

One of our clients, while in the first year of aligning the organization to a shared culture in service of each other, needed to cut one of three shifts in order for the company to survive.  This was a real test of leadership as a new culture of trust was just evolving. The CEO shared with the team members that it was a tough decision, because global forces, rather than worker performance, necessitated the reduction.  What happened in the next few days was revealing about the potential future of the organization.  On the employees’ Facebook page, the dialogue showed discontent by a few, but overall, employees spoke of the future and of the short term sacrifice necessary for their community to benefit in the long run!  When the grass roots of the organization see the benefit of short term sacrifice for the benefit of the long term health of the organization, you are on the path to enduring success.

Can sharing any of your own struggles can be part of your legacy?

Bo Schembechler’s legacy goes beyond the impact he had as a football coach: he2.4 hoc book cover also left the gift of sharing his own personal struggles with heart disease to help others facing similar challenges. Together with Dr. Kim Eagle, Bo and I spent the last year of his life writing The Heart of a Champion: My 37-Year War Against Heart Disease.  He shared his experiences to help others battling heart disease better understand what they are going through, and what they could do to help make their lives better. In addition, Bo, with his wife, Cathy, established the Bo Schembechler Heart of a Champion Research Fund at the University of Michigan, supporting break through research and treatment of cardiovascular disease.  As the Schembechler Fund’s website notes, Bo left “A true legacy of passion for cardiovascular health.”

Leadership Challenge Questions

  • What does your vision statement say about you? Does it demonstrate your commitment to building a better tomorrow for others?

Some Examples:
Nike: Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world (*If you have a body, you are an athlete.)

Prudential: To help our customers achieve financial prosperity and peace of
mind.

  • Can you think of at least three examples of when you have strategically sacrificed the short term fulfillment typical of Stage I and Stage II in order to realize a deeper, more meaningful success in the distant future, and possibly beyond your sight?
  • Is there an alignment issue at your organization you are not addressing, because it is not that big, it is awkward or it is uncomfortable to do so?
  • How has it felt when you have addressed an underlying issue that is finally resolved?

For greater depth and clarity on bringing these stages to life in your organization, email your contact information to Fritz@fritzfsa.com. We will send timely updates on the book release date, FOW Seminars and resources that can benefit you on your leadership journey.

Next:  3.0 Mankind’s Need for Boundaries