One of my former coaching clients contacted me earlier this week looking for direction. Now I’ve had several clients over the years share with me during our coaching programs that they regularly find themselves wondering “W.W.J.D.?” When my first client shared that acronym for “What Would Jeremy Do?” with me, I laughed. Since then, I’ve simply come to appreciate that my role as an executive coach is to shift my clients’ thinking with new insights and ideas whether I’m there by their sides or not.
This one was different though. I haven’t coached this leader for several years, and he’s now CEO of a completely different organization. These are unprecedented times though, so I probably shouldn’t be surprised that even he’s looking for some outside perspective on how best to make decisions with all of the uncertainty around Coronavirus. He was in the process of drafting communications about their future plans for his key customers, and as he put it, “No one really knows what October is going to look like!”
The guidance he needed comes from the distinction between “Now” and “Not Now”. You might think you know what “now” means. Sure, it’s right now. If you’re open to it, now can mean so much more than that though. Now serves as a powerful way of classifying anything that exists and is already being managed, whether it’s in this very moment or something for which we’ve already planned. Now, I’m writing an article about decisive leadership. I’m also handling several other things now though.
These are uncertain times to say the least. For those who still have jobs, most are working from home. Those who are in essential positions may be working at their company’s worksites with heightened concern for their health and wellness. As long as this Coronavirus crisis continues and these “safer at home” guidelines are in place, we all are living with much more anxiety and stress than usual – without our usual outlets to rest and recharge.
Whose job is it then to keep your team members calm, composed, and focused? I’ve considered new titles like “Chief Engagement Officer” for all the CEOs out there, but the reality is that some CEOs aren’t comfortable or capable playing this vital role. So who is it in your organization? A Business Unit leader? Another senior executive? Maybe your head of HR? Someone needs to assume the position of “Chief Communication Officer” right now if your company is going to be productive and survive this crisis.
I’m not going to let CEOs off the hook just yet though for not being positive role models and engaging their employees directly. Business owners and Presidents/CEOs need to step up during this crisis. Your people need to hear from YOU right now. Not just their direct supervisors or middle-level managers. YOU! Nobody can generate the same positive energy and enthusiasm or settle a workforce like the owner/CEO of a business. More importantly, most of your next-level leaders are less than effective in cascading information from higher-level leadership in the best of times. It’s unreasonable – and quite frankly, unfair – to expect more from them now given everybody’s heightened emotions and anxiety. No matter how good they are, wouldn’t you agree that they aren’t Chief Communication Officer caliber?
The information we are receiving on a daily and in some cases hourly basis is staggering… Well over 180,000 infected by the novel Coronavirus worldwide at the time of writing. More than 7,000 deaths already. In the United States alone, we now have nearly 5,000 cases reported with nearly 100 deaths. And the virus is still spreading – fast! Those US numbers specifically will surely rise as testing ramps up throughout the country.
What do we do, then, to stay calm and maintain composure during what has been labeled by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a global “pandemic” and even here in the US a “National emergency” by President Trump and his administration? How do we stay positive and keep our families together as a government-mandated lockdown begins? The following might just save your relationship with your spouse/partner or keep your children from wanting to disown you over the next several weeks:
Exercise: During the lockdown, you won’t be able to use a public gym. You might not even be able to walk your dogs at the beach or go for a jog around the school track in some communities. If you have a treadmill or other workout equipment at home, great. Use it! If you don’t, you can still do push-ups and sit-ups and stretch
you ever find yourself only paying attention to information that interests you?
Do you ever interrupt someone who is speaking to you to make your own point?
Perhaps you simply tune out people you don’t like or multi-task at your
computer while only listening out of one ear when you have to communicate with
these folks you don’t like.
leaders, we can all do a better job of paying attention to those around us. If
we stop speaking so much ourselves and really listen to what they are trying to
say, we may not only produce better results together but also gain greater personal
satisfaction and fulfillment from our work! To that end, the following key
points will help you evaluate your own communications approaches and learn to
communicate more effectively moving forward.
about a social issue or cause that matters to you. I mean really matters to
you! Now, think about what organizations out there address that very issue or
provide services for those impacted by your concerns. Is it your local church,
a no-kill animal shelter, an agency that supports the homeless, an organization
fighting cancer or AIDS, or maybe just the professional or trade association
that supports your own industry?
if you were the Executive Director or other senior executive of this wonderful
Mission-driven organization. What would you do to recruit top talent to join
your organization? How would you keep them engaged and committed to your work
when they do? Leaders in the not-for-profit arena often struggle with talent
management and employee engagement more than others because they don’t have the
same financial means and abilities around compensation as for-profit
corporations. If we don’t help these leaders recruit and retain their
Superstars though, then how are we going to address those critical issues that
matter most to us?
I recently led a Leadership Team offsite to review last year’s strategic objectives for this growing organization and set new goals for the year ahead. One might think that the entire focus of this two-day event would be calibrating everyone’s efforts for continued growth. While that clearly was our context and guiding intention, how we got there was less of a direct path.
Fortunately for this organization and the many customers it serves, each of the business owners believes in team development and creating camaraderie to inspire greater performance from their leaders. As a result, our two-day schedule was not nearly as packed as it could have been. Instead, we took much of the first afternoon to go kart racing. And by kart racing, I mean experiencing one of the greatest racetracks ever built at Road America, one of the greatest race courses in the United States.
Family businesses are perhaps the most complex organizations combining two different and potentially conflicting value systems – the family and the business. Very few family business leaders successfully implement a “both/and” approach to managing this inherent overlap between their family and their business to effectively prioritize both at the same time. Neither is right nor wrong per se, and both very clearly serve a purpose. The question then for any family business owner is whether or not you prioritize the family or the business. Or do you do both?
As summer quickly comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on the many different leaders I have the privilege of coaching these days. One of whom actually took an extended 4-week vacation this summer, and another who worked her way through a shorter 1-week family trip to Hawaii.
Let’s be clear. I am not judging either of these otherwise very busy and successful results-oriented executives. One for leaving his team to their own devices for an entire month. One for not getting the quality get-away with her family that she had expected. I’m simply recognizing the value of getting away for some good old-fashioned R&R from time to time. The physical and emotional break from work not only gives our bodies the rest they need but also gives our minds the fresh perspective to contribute when we return to work.
Family-owned businesses are much more than just the oldest form of economic organization. They may actually be the most important to today’s economy! According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, about 90 percent of all businesses in America – roughly 5.5 million – are family-owned or controlled. More than that, these family businesses contribute over 50% of the U.S. gross domestic product, and they employ more than 60% of the workforce in our country.
That all sounds great, but the overwhelming majority of these family businesses will not succeed from one generation to the next unless we do something about it. Only about 30% of all family-owned businesses successfully continue from their first to their second generation. Third and fourth-generation family businesses are even more rare at only 12% and 3%, respectively. That’s quite frightening when nearly 90% of these same families’ wealth will literally disappear during that same timeframe when they don’t successfully maintain their businesses.
According to recent studies as well as our own direct client experience, more and more private companies are establishing Boards. Countless CEOs and business entrepreneurs are strong-willed, talented professionals in their areas of expertise and can’t imagine reporting to a higher-level governing body. These “experts”, however, may still be interested in assembling a group of dedicated Advisors who bring complementary talents to the table. Other executive leaders, especially those in family businesses, may take it a step further by assembling a group of Directors who accept greater responsibility for the governance of the companies they serve. These Directors actually assume fiduciary responsibility for the company’s performance and thus have more of a controlling influence on their CEOs and broader businesses.
My business coach used to ask me the best question ever – one that I always hated! Whenever we sat down for our one-to-one coaching sessions, the conversation would inevitably turn to how busy I was and how I never had enough time to get it all done – especially not the future-focused strategic work. While he was a compassionate person, he never went down the pity party path with me. Instead, he simply asked, “So whose job are you doing now?”
I think we all know that the CEO’s job is to define the future vision and strategic direction for the company. From there, the CEO then needs to make sure that vision and strategy is communicated to and carried out by everyone across the organization. Why? To make sure all their efforts are aligned and help move the organization forward towards achieving its strategic objectives. But is that it? Is that all the CEO has to do? Absolutely not! That’s just the tip of the iceberg for what a good CEO does in his/her organization.
What impact would being more productive have on the results you produce? On your leadership and personal development? On your business’ bottom line?
Imagine how much more you could contribute to your organization if you could increase your productivity. Even by just a little bit. Like other skills, productivity is something you can develop. You can cultivate it. It’s possible you could be more productive than ever before!
I support a lot of family businesses and regularly hear from my clients how they pride themselves on creating positive work environments for their employees where they treat everyone like family. That’s quite admirable, and I’m sure those employees very much appreciate it. The question though is what to do with all the employees who actually are family!
Family businesses by their very nature are complex organizations. It’s not just about managing and operating a sustainable business with a family business. It’s about the leadership and governance practices required to keep any family drama and unproductive relationships away from work. In multi-generation family businesses, we’re talking 20, 40, 60 and even 100 or more years of history running the company. On the personal side, that’s generations of family members living together and growing up together who need to work together to operate that same business. That can create a lot of added stress and anxiety – something that many family business leaders are poorly equipped to handle – on an otherwise viable business.
Eight years ago, I wrote a blog post entitled “The 4 P’s of Olympic Gold”. The article was inspired by Shaun White’s amazing Gold medal performance at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Anybody who watched the Men’s Halfpipe competition that year though knows that White didn’t just deliver one Gold-medal run…
The results were clear before White even started his second and final run. He was still standing on the platform overlooking the crowd when he learned he already won Olympic Gold. In that moment though, he didn’t stop and do the victory dance. He didn’t take the easy way down the pipe with his board in hand. After what seemed like a long debate with his coaches about what to do, he instead looked down to his fans and did what a true Gold medalist would do. He delivered an even better performance than his earlier run, stuck his final landing, and beat himself for the Gold medal – again!
Ever wonder how much time your employees are wasting at work? Try Googling “wasted time at work” when you aren’t otherwise being productive, and the statistics may amaze you! Between cell phones, Facebook, and simply surfing the internet, employees these days waste an inordinate amount of time not focused on work while at work being paid to work. Research over the last few years has shown that this wasted time is costing companies billions (yes, BILLIONS) of dollars every year.
Now, what if you too have fallen into this familiar time-sucker trap? And what if you are a senior executive or other functional leader at your company? The cost of your being distracted instead of focused goes well beyond your own work tasks. It likely impacts everybody on your team and around you!
Have you ever wanted to change something only to realize that others don’t want to change? Whether you’re trying to implement a simple process change with your direct team or transform your whole company, organizational change doesn’t just happen because you have what you think is a good idea or because you want it to happen. People resist change for a variety of reasons, so it is critical to communicate what that change is all about to those who will be most affected by it if you want them to embrace your changes like you do.
Have you ever tried to force yourself back into the swing of things after a setback? I’ve experienced plenty of setbacks – what I’ve come to call “woe is me moments” – in my life. Almost every leader does from time to time. What makes great leaders so great though is that they experience setbacks merely as part of the process – as in “two steps forward, one step back” – rather than total failures to be ashamed of. More than that, strong leaders know how to bounce back – fast!
Learning how to deal with setbacks is essential for any successful leader. So how do we get back on our feet after getting knocked down? There are 7 ways great leaders bounce back from failure and rise above their circumstances. Let’s look at each one of them together.
1. Start Something New The first step to break out of a “failure funk” is to start something new. For example, you can turn your attention to a different aspect of your business to refocus your attention. If you suffered a setback in sales, maybe you can redirect your attention to some new marketing activities you haven’t prioritized in a while. Or you might want to design a new program that opens your business up to a wider market segment than before. This innovation and creativity can light a fire in you that motivates you to get out of bed every day and get right back in the saddle.
2. Remember Past Victories Celebrating your victories is always a good idea, but it’s especially useful to celebrate what you’ve already accomplished when you are getting over a setback. I personally keep an “at a boy file” of positive feedback and accolades from my clients on my computer for times just like this since it goes a long way to picking up my spirits and getting me back on my feet whenever I experience a failure of some kind. More than that, it also reminds me of what I’m good at and helps me regain my composure before I get stuck in that “failure funk”. They say hindsight is 20/20, so why not remember your past victories to reconnect with your passions and get back into the flow again?
International Association for Refrigerated Warehouses
Best Practices for Recruiting and Retaining Your Warehouse Talent
Date: Tuesday, August 29, 2017
Time:2:00pm – 3:00pm EDT
Location: Online webinar
Registration: Click here to register and receive more information.
Recruiting and retaining a quality workforce is a challenge for warehouses across the world. In a specialized and often difficult environment, refrigerated warehousing jobs can be stressful and demanding for even the most dedicated employees. So how do we attract new employees to join our companies under these difficult conditions? Maybe more importantly, how do we retain them once they are on board? Join CHIEFEXECcoach CEO Dr. Jeremy Lurey on August 29th when he will help distribution and warehouse leaders better understand the employee life-cycle and what they can do to enhance this employee experience. He will also review several best practices for attracting new employees to join our companies and then developing and retaining them once they are on board. Click here to register and receive more information about this engaging and interactive webinar program.
I remember years ago when the cost of employee turnover was calculated to be 150% of an employee’s annual salary. That amount included any internal recruitment costs, external search fees, and hiring and on-boarding expenses as well as the simple loss in productivity associated with losing and then replacing a talented worker. While that may have been more accurate for higher-level leaders and professional staff, recent research still suggests that the average cost of replacing an employee who earns less than $50,000 per year, or more than 40% of Workforce America, amounts to 20% of the person’s annual salary.
So is it worth up to $10,000 per year for you to develop and retain your most talented workers? What about $300,000 – or more – for your most seasoned senior executives?
Succession Planning: Strategies for Leveraging a Multigenerational Workforce
Date: Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Time:2:00pm – 3:30pm EDT
Location: Online webinar
Registration: Click here to register and receive more information.
Your organization likely employs multiple generations of employees, from Boomers to Millennials. With such diversity, how can you identify and coach your next generation of leaders? Which of their widely varying skills and motivations should be developed to have the biggest bottom-line impact on your organization’s future? Plus, there’s your Board: how can you gain their buy-in for a proactive and dynamic approach to succession planning? Join CHIEFEXECcoach CEO Dr. Jeremy Lurey on August 30th when he will share a proven approach for adapting to these rapidly shifting workforce trends in the workplace with you and other executive leaders. In addition to learning the crucial elements of a “NextGen” succession plan, you will also review an actual case study that shares real-world implementation lessons learned from a recent business succession transition. Click here or contact us for more information about this engaging and interactive webinar program.