Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Dream Killer

Like you, I wake up from dreams, face the dawning reality of the day and sigh, "That'll never work." Sometimes that sequence occurs fully awake. Sometimes it happens after an inspiring leadership summit. At one this year, the last speaker warned us of this 'reality effect'. The real killer, Gary Haugen of the International Justice Mission says, is fear.

Fear is the silent killer of dreams and vision. The vision you may have had for your organization most likely died because of one or several fears: rejection, incompetence, ignorance, etc. Fear is also the enemy of the love that built your original dream.

So what can you do when you wake to the reality?

  • Relentlessly inventory your fears
  • Switch from defense to offense; focus on what might go right
  • Forge a community of courage
As you're building your vision, you'll get halfway...some distance from your comfort zone and not yet in sight of seeing the dream fulfilled...and that's when the whispers of defeat will kick in. Better make sure you're following the antidotes above. If you do, you'll get through the fear and instead of a dark tunnel, it'll be illuminated by the light of love, courage and perseverance. According to Angela Duckworth's Grit: the Power of Passion and Perseverance passion and deliberative practice will push you into world-class achievements. Deliberative practice comes from having stretch goals, 100% focus, getting feedback and reflection on your efforts and refinement of them into new stretch goals. Grit is sustained passion and perseverance towards long-term goals. So when you find yourself half-way and in "no man's land' and you're afraid, stay focused, get feedback and refine your efforts aiming towards your vision.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Should CEO's Hire Their Own Staff?

A while ago, I sat in on a meeting with a pastor and a person who was starting a new church. The pastor pointed to the person's photo within his brochure. "This is the most important thing. You're going to attract people just like you," the pastor said. At the time, I found it profound and sad. In his own church, the pastor had identified young, married men as his target audience. However, the pastor was no longer a young, married man. Each week on stage, he would be the 'poster' for the type of people he would be attracting, and it wasn't his target audience; he would be attracting much older, "empty-nester" men. The other person in the meeting was more likely to attract young, married men.

At a leadership summit, this point was brought home by a very successful leader. "You don't attract the people you want to your organization; you attract the people you are," said Sam Adeyemi (Success is Who You Are).  I've seen risk-adverse leaders attract and retain less bold/daring followers. Or you might attract the opposite. I've seen paternalistic, driving leaders attract and retain compliant followers. Driven followers could be too much like the leader and be viewed as competition. The leaders might attract them but they don't stay long.

I think the speaker at the leadership summit was right in one perspective: you attract the people you really want, which often are the people you are. Just like we aspire to certain set of values in our business (honesty/integrity e.g.) but walk a different set of values (whatever gets us the most profit e.g.), we aspire to attract people we need, and say we want, but we really attract the people we think we really need in order to:

  • maintain our sense of importance, power, control, etc.
  • maintain status quo in terms of organizational behaviors
We put our lives on auto-pilot. A good chunk of our decision-making as well as our actions are driven by habit. If we wnat something different, we have to be different. If we want different types of people in our organziation then we have to hire differently, relate to them differently. We have to change as leaders before we will see our staffs change. Otherwise, we'll continue to encourage the same levels of boldness, compliance, empowerment, engagement that we've always encouraged...and we'll continue to hire the same kinds of people that we've always hired. (As an aside, unless we learn our lessons and change in our relationships, we tend to marry people like the people we divorced.)