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Arrogance, the Killer of Innovation and Improvement

Arrogance is major problem with some leaders. It is the toxic attitude that kills new ideas or improvements to old methods. This liability to leadership effectiveness has its roots in a fixation of thought. Plus, we find an additional attitude of selfishness in the “I know more than you, so don’t dare question my authority!”

The level of arrogance is controlled by the overall need to have position power rather than personal power. Thus, a lack of true effectiveness rules the day of the arrogant leader. It is as if they can not get out of their own way with others and situations.

Today’s economic crisis is in part due to the arrogant leaders of the financial industry. We find that several of the key leaders use only their position to lead others down a pathway. A pathway that is closer to the past than the future, thus a continued reliance upon tactics, strategies and methodologies that clearly do not work for change or improvement.

Another way of thinking about the effects of arrogance is the how much selfishness gets into the actions of these leaders. When someone thinks they are better, smarter or wiser than everyone else, they begin to do things that protect their status, rather than improve the overall good of the organization. Again, we find these attitude in all levels of an organization. When we find these people, we find the source of poor and selfish decision making.

Examples of these poor decisions include a lack of change of products for a competitive advantage (See IBM and the Power PC chip for printers and the personal computer); military advisors that thought poorly of a scientist-engineer who invented major improvements for tanks and was ignored (See the Russian army that incorporated his improvements into their battle tanks that beat the Germans in WWII.); the Financial bean counter who think that cutting cost is the only way to improve or sell a product (See entire industries become commodized or shipped overseas due to lack of understanding the total or big picture of economics); and finally look at our educational systems that continue to use the methods and classroom of the early 19th century to educate people for the 21st Century. Arrogance is alive and well in every part of professional, private and public sectors of business and the social  sectors of life.

You can overcome the arrogance factor. Read our post on Tuesday for the answers. Sign up for more Leadership Insights now

Adversity is a Good Thing – Believe it!

Adversity is a good thing for people. It provides an opportunity for the development of character and a solution orientated thinking. Now, this was not the way I felt about things early in my career. In fact, I, like most people felt that adversity was a bad thing and usually lead to higher levels of conflict with others.

However, as I experienced more events – including numerous periods of adversity – I learned that events come and go. How we deal with the adversity is the key element to our future growth. In fact, character growth has a direct relationship with great leadership.

Great leadership is tracked by how well a leader handles situations and events – negative or positive. This characteristic came to light as I experienced situations as a turnaround advisor during early 1980’s and found leaders facing total loss of their business. The ability to commit and focus upon getting the company back in good condition was a limiting factor with the leaders. Some leaders learned how to deal with the adversity, accept responsibility for their part of the situation and then focus on the correction process. Others were into the blame game – it was not their fault – it was their customers, their employees, the government, the stars and planets, etc.

One thing is certain, great leaders learn to deal with adversity and look for advantages and opportunities to improve and grow. As we deal with the current economic crisis, it is time to allow our character to strengthen. Keep integrity at the top of the priority list. Take responsibility for all your actions. Use positive self-talk to reinforce your mental edge to deal with difficult times. Encourage others to continue to focus upon performance levels and things will work out in the long term.

Finally, enjoy life to the fullest and live with purpose of thought and actions. Situations and events come to strengthen our resolve and help us to build our character to a higher level.

If you need a coach during this period of time, contact us at 901-757-4434. We can assist you in focusing on the future and how to get the results you want. It’s time to focus on your future. Sign up for more Leadership Insights now

Soft Skills are Hard

Soft skills are hard for the corporate world – really they are hard for most people. Why? Because the soft skills are less tangible regarding results. This factor allows for some managers and executives to devalue the worth of the soft skills.

Often we are told by managers in corporate environments that they do not want anything that is soft. They want hard, tangible skills for their people. Again, Why? Because they feel (actually they think rather than feel) that the so called “hard skill” training and development will ensure success and results.

How incorrect is this? Big time! Soft skills rule in the success and high performance avenues. The research that has been conducted on high performers – shows that the hard skills knowledge has no bearing on the results – yet, there is a direct relationship to the soft skills.

Let me use a sports analogy to show the difference. As some of you know I am a dedicated fan of college football. Therefore, I watch a large number of teams each weekend during the season. Three factors show up – 1. The best programs are at the top of the rankings every year. 2. Any team can win on any given weekend – no matter who is the competitor. and 3. The best coaches appear to really work the mental side of winning games – the soft skills side of the equation.

Now looking at the three factors a little closer, the winning programs do appear to get the best available talent every year. Yet, no one seems to dominate their league anymore. This is due to the limits placed upon all teams regarding number of players they can have on the team. Therefore some good players go to competitors.

The second factor shows that this balancing effect of player limits has improved the talent levels of every team. This shows up on game days where the favorites are defeated. How often has a team from the top five been defeated this year? No team is guaranteed a victory for just showing up. This is hard for a large number of fans to accept, yet it is a reality.

The third factor – the one dealing with the soft skills or mental edge – appears to be the difference maker. The top coaches are masters of using psychology to get their players ready for every game – not just the big ones. The best motivators get their players to win the games they are supposed to win and play the entire game against good competition. This is the source of the winning edge – the ability to deal with adversity and not panic, the ability to expect to win, to visualize the final score, to have the faith in your teammates that everyone will do their part to seal the victory. This is the world of soft skills.

Organizations should understand this important factor and get their staffs on the winning side of the mental game. Hard skills are important – yet, the soft skills ensure the proper use of the hard skills to win. If you believe that there is a need for more soft skill training in your organization – call us at 901-757-4434. We offer several processes for establishing the winning attitudes for your team. We also have assessments that can check the soft skill potential of the players.

Getting Smart with Performance Appraisals

The process of performance appraisals appears to be one of the most hated (strong term I know) processes used in corporate cicles today. Executives and Managers do not like the results or the time taken to actually do a performance evaluation. Employees feel that most of the time the system used is short changing their value to the organization. In some cases employees feel that the appraisal is just plain wrong!

So what happened to this process that made it such a negative discussion point? I believe there are three points that have created this negative influence.

First, the performance evaluation process was linked to the pay system and has become a tool for managers to justify raises or no raises. This element combined with the infamous “bell curve” that forces a certain percentage of “poor” performers – even if a manager or department has learned the fine art of hiring high performers. This combination of factors alone create the most significant negative influence for the process.

Personal Leadership Makes the Right Things Happen

While we believe that People make the difference in organizations more than anything else, we also know that there is something else in the mix. That something else is the factor that separates the high performer from the group. It provides the winning edge – particularly in the face of adversity such as economic downturns.

That key element is “Personal Leadership.” So what is so important about personal leadership? It is the one element that manages emotion, thoughts and integrity. It is the controlling factor in doing the right things during periods when doing the right thing is a hard or tough decision.

Personal leadership is based in the understanding of what makes people tick and doing the things that they tend to do. There is a process that puts the “personal” adjective on the power word of leadership. Without the personal part, leaders will lose support in the long run. Why? Because people are smart and they watch their leaders like a hawk watches its prey. If the leader makes a mistake – like a self interest decision, increasing a bonus or pay while keeping everyone else fixed, cutting costs just for a bonus check, making poor decisions, having selective ethics to favor themselves and/or promoting the wrong people based upon politics rather than performance – others get the bigger picture.

Do not Abandon Your Growth Plans

It is amazing to me how fast companies, leaders and sales people are abandoning their growth plans during this time of economic turmoil. Truth is, this is the best time to create a competitive advantage in the marketplace. How? By maintaining a mindset of abundance over scarcity. The chicken little’s of the world are having a grand time explaining how the world is coming to an end as we have known it for the past century.

While it is true that some things have changed and will change in the future – the key is to not panic and join the chicken little club. It is time to stand up for what is right and prepare for a new future. The sky is still above us and we can win. Adversity is a character building opportunity rather than a panic zone trigger.

Personally, I believe that this time can be utilizied to create new opportunities for an organization and clients. The method we are using is to invest in our infrastructure.  New technology and the means of serving our clients faster, easier and with more value has become a priority. It is also a time to create new products and services for our clients to use in the future. Most importantly, it is a time to build and rebuild relationships with clients, old clients and potential clients.

Leaders are Readers

Getting ready to go to my daughters second graduation and this thought kept coming into my mind. She has been offered a great new job. At a high level within the company – reporting to the CEO. What an honor and how proud I am. So why the thought! Because this week she called me and told me how lucky she was to have me as a role model. One of the more important things she gives me credit for influencing – is her desire to read books. Not fiction, books with meaning that are business related. She took this lesson to heart and has used it to become a true leader.

She now has other people asking her about books she is reading. Why? Because she is knowledgable about business, marketing, economics and leadership due to the books she reads.  Then she applies this knowledge in her environment – gaining a competitive edge on others who are waiting to be told or shown the pathway to success.

Enough bragging about my wonderful daughter. Let me share some my real world experience back when I was doing turnaround work back in the early 80’s. I was asked by two different companies to assist them in getting back on track. Both companies, while independent of each other, were in the same industry, different markets with basically the same problem.

DUH, It’s all about the People in Organizations

This appears to be a very simplistic expression and should be well known within the corporate cultures today. To my continued surprise People are not considered by all to be the most important asset a company has rights to. Notice I did not say “owned” since employees are free to leave an organization anytime they want.

So what is so important about People?

First, they are the creators and doers for a company’s current and future success – or failure. Individuals create ideas for creating products, services, processes, and customers. Seldom have customers rushed the walls of a company to purchase their products or services just because they built it. It is the people within the company that have created a winning product, created a winning marketing campaign and a winning solution for the customer.

Second, they are the primary creators of balancing efficiency and effectiveness for an organization. Once this balance is achieved, the organization benefits from improvement in Productivity. For the most part, the source of this balance comes from experience, wisdom and knowledge used by the individuals. I believe that there must be balance within these three factors of experience, wisdom and knowledge to become truly effective. I’ve seen people with years of experience that have not learned anything new after their first year! Likewise, I have seen very educated people show little practicality or application of their knowledge leading to conflict or lack of results. Wisdom is the ability to apply both knowledge and experience for greater returns in performance.

Third, sales people create the majority of sales – which grow the top and hopefully bottom lines. The ability of sales people to develop trusting relationships with other people – customers – lead to success in selling. The internet will create opportunities for sales particularily in the arena of commodities. Yet, the major, key and large account buyers will relate to the sales person to make the commitment to buy.

So why am I talking about these subjects? Because people create the future and add wealth to organizations. The research shows that great people product greater results than land, building and machinery. If this is true, it would seem that every organization would be investing heavily in developing their people to become more valuable and increase their wealth in the marketplace.

We have been very fortunate during our 20 years of working with organizations to develop their people to these new levels of performance. That is our mission and purpose – to get people -you- to the next level. It continues to be our purpose and we look forward to another 20 years of growing people and organizations. Please check us out. We have been solving issues for our clients and we can probably help you.