It was a horrifying and despicable scene, the violent mob egged on by a sitting President, ransacking our Capitol to disrupt the final act of confirming the 2020 election results.

I used to live 6 blocks from the Capitol and briefed members of both Houses. To see those halls damaged was shocking. The loss of life deeply saddens me. I’m troubled by the state of affairs that led to this incident. 

A democracy is only as strong as the willingness of its people to protect it. Americans will need to rise to the occasion. 

The same divisive and intolerant practices that have characterized both sides of the partisan divide will not yield different results. 

Things can get much worse if we let them.

______________________________________________________________________

What are some practical leadership takeaways? 

1. A leader serves everyone on the team.

There’s a difference between a demagogue and a leader. 

A demagogue is one who gains popularity by whipping-up animosities. 

A leader inspires each person to contribute their best to the team’s success.

You’ve met this standard when your most vulnerable employees feel the safety and confidence to contribute their best and most authentic selves.

2. Character counts. 

You don’t have to be perfect. The only people who’ve never erred are the ones who’ve attempted nothing. 

You build character in the arena of life, making mistakes and learning from them.

The person who repeats and doubles-down on awful behavior is one to get off of your team. 

I’ve seen leaders rationalize toxic behavior. “The jerk gets results.”

The chickens always come home to roost – sometimes with the toxic leader present, other times you realize it after the fact. 

Toxic leaders damage people, teams, and institutions.

3. Values matter. 

Don’t handwave your values with feel-good statements. 

Be clear on your standards and expectations. 

Set the right example. Every employee should know what right looks like, and your actions should be the model.

Let people know that violence, bullying, and name-calling are unacceptable, too. 

No matter how self-righteous a person thinks they are, the physical, mental, or emotional abuse of another human being is wrong and damaging. 

Politically-correct bigotry is still bigotry, and it’s not OK.

4. Build bridges, rather than walls.

Right now, your employees—like many Americans—may be bitterly divided along political lines. 

A diverse team with buy-in to a common purpose, shared objectives, and respectful dialogue has resilience.

Belittling or lecturing people who disagree with you is the fast-track to resentment and paralysis.

If you want to get things done, you need to go to the other person’s bus-stop and see the issue from their point of view.

When you can describe their view back to them and get, “that’s exactly right,” you are ready to find solutions to challenging problems.

Empathy is fundamental to gaining buy-in and getting things done.

5. Keep calm and don’t recycle outrage.

In social and broadcast media, outrageous is contagious. 

Peddling outrage undermines civil discourse. 

Competing animosities escalate and eventually explode. 

What is your #1 leadership lesson?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal quoted a tech expert who predicted that technology would soon replace mid-level leaders. 

After all, he suggested, if technology can monitor employee productivity, what’s the point of middle management?

There are two matters to consider before you jump on the bandwagon.

First, your apps will have a hard time addressing one of the biggest productivity drains that companies face: presenteeism.

Presenteeism is the practice of being at work and doing things to look busy but are not boosting your mission and impact.

More importantly, productivity apps do not inspire people to contribute their best to your team’s success.

CEOs make a big mistake in believing that the role of mid-level leaders is to make sure people are doing their jobs. 

If that’s the case, then you’ve either hired the wrong people or failed to gain their buy-in.

The first line team leaders and mid-level managers make or break your culture, productivity, and performance.

This level is where people gain buy-in or not. 

This level is where people decide whether they will do only the minimum or contribute their best and most authentic selves to your mission.

Gallup reports that 67% of Americans report being unengaged at work — that’s 67% presenteeism.

Your top-quality first line and mid-level leaders turn that number around so that people are spending two-thirds of their time or more contributing their best selves.

You will inspire people to contribute their best, willingly, to your team’s success by practicing these six habits.

First, be authentic so that you lead as your best self, prune away average habits that hold you back, and build the right team around you. 

Second, follow the three core principles of trustworthinessrespect, and stewardship so that people believe in you, bring out the best in each other, and your team gets better each day.

Next, practice empathy so that you can see yourself and your team through the eyes of others and stay ahead of the competition, avoid blindsides, and bring out the best in each teammate.

Fourth, take responsibility so that you can promote innovation and sensible risk-taking and hold people accountable for results and values … without feeling like a jerk.

Fifth, connect the why so that everyone knows exactly how their work contributes to success. Once this happens, your team will do what’s right, the right way, without you having to watch.

Finally, multiply your experiences. Personal experience is the best teacher of leadership. It is also the school of hard knocks, and the tuition can be costly. Learning from others lets you gain many lifetimes of experience very quickly to make sound decisions and avoid expensive mistakes. 

Dear Chris,

“What steps can I take to get the best from each day?” Karen G. wrote. 

I love getting these requests from you :0)

1. Organize your day by blocking off 1 hour + chunks of time you dedicate to your priorities. Let every other requirement flow around those chunks.

2. Set three objectives that you will accomplish each day (work on these during your priority times). Keep them achievable. Don’t boil the ocean. Write four paragraphs instead of four chapters.

3. Reward yourself when you meet your three objectives. Make some Oolong tea; grab a cappuccino, take an extra walk with your dog. This practice helps you build the habit of keeping commitments to yourself.

4. Schedule time for your personal, social, familial, and other priorities each week. Sundays are a great day to set your weekly agenda so that you maintain balance and dedicate time to what’s most important in life.

5. Set boundaries and stick to them. If you don’t have the time or something is outside your expertise, say so. The people who matter will respect your boundaries and will appreciate that you are not destroying yourself trying to please everyone.

1- 5 help you put first things first, so you are focused on what matters most.

6. Give thanks. A handwritten note is powerful. A quick video, email, or text is super, too. Recognize someone for awesomeness at the store, restaurant, hospital, or other places you visit during the day. 

Catch people doing something well and let them know you appreciate what they do.

7. Laugh

8. Offer to help. There’s so much opportunity to do the little things that make a big difference. Perform random acts of kindness.  

9. Exercise. Take a walk; ride your bike; go for a run; go to the (home) gym.

6 – 9 release endorphins that reduce stress, improve your mood, and boost your self-esteem

10. Read a national paper and a local paper. Know what’s happening in the country and world as well as in your community.

11. Give people your undivided attention when you are speaking with them. Be fully present—no multitasking or smartphones. 

12. Take time for personal growth. Read a book or article, watch a video, listen to a podcast. 

These last three enrich your life and boost your impact.

What is your top action step to get the most from each day? 

Fight, flight, or freeze.

Those responses to fear are hardwired into your amygdala.

Freeze is the most common for leaders, and it can be a silent killer for your business.

A simple framework to understand the fear and overcome it will help you seize opportunities in the 2021-renewal while others are standing still.

You’ve seen it happen. You don’t start the business; you don’t invest in success because of past experiences or self-limiting beliefs about the future. 

Uncertainty heightens the fear of making the wrong decision. 

You cover the paralysis by delaying or asking for more information and new options. 

I’ve done it. I’ve seen it affect an American President, general officers, CEOs, and nonprofit boards and executive directors.

I learned the hard way that you have to get to the root cause of fear to address it.

Imagine a quad chart. 

On the east-west axis, you have past and future.

The north-south axis is success and failure.

1. Fear of past failure occurs when you tried something before, and it did not work out. A business initiative failed, an innovation tanked, you got fired or chewed out. “I can’t do this because I failed last time.”

2. Fear of past success happens when you succeeded at something – perhaps against the odds, and you worry that you cannot pull it off again. “There’s no way I can get those results again, and falling short will diminish me.”

3. Fear of future failure is widespread. You worry that your business or initiative will fail, and you will suffer the consequences. “I want to take this step, but what happens if it doesn’t work?

4. Fear of future success is more subtle. You believe that you will not be up to the challenge of managing growth, “I’m ok leading 10 people, but I cannot handle 50.”

5. Fear of the present uncertainty. Imagine a box in the center of the quad chart. You fear that you might make the wrong decision. “I don’t know if a recovery is coming in 2021, so I will wait and see before making a decision.”

These “freeze” responses keep you standing still. 

When you are standing still, and others are moving forward, you are losing ground.

It’s like stuffing your money into a mattress. 

You don’t lose the money, but inflation lowers its value, and you are missing opportunities for growth. 

Once you understand the nature of the fear, you can take steps to address it.

1. Fear of past failure. Identify the problems that led to the failure and put measures in place to prevent them from recurring.

2. Fear of past success. Reframe your measures of success. Focus more on developing others or creating different business lines, for instance, than meeting past targets.

3. Fear of future failure. Put together two or three viable options for reaching your goals and compare them. Create an action plan for the best option. Once you see how to achieve your goal, getting there becomes much easier!

4. Fear of future success. Determine what capacities you need to excel at the next level and develop them. Find the right support to help you succeed and avoid expensive mistakes along the way.

5. Fear of the present uncertainty. Review your options (to include doing nothing) and assess the risks and opportunities. Pick the best option and go with it. Your decision will probably work out. At worst, it is unlikely to be fatal, and you can make adjustments along the way.

What is your top takeaway from this article? Leave a comment below or email me directly: [email protected]

P.S.  If you’d like to discuss your 2021 goals, use this link to schedule the time that works best for you.

We will discuss your goals and obstacles during the call, and then I’ll offer you two or three action steps that get you moving forward. No sales, no B.S.

Accountability is challenging, as you know.

You want to hold people accountable for meeting performance and behavioral standards but don’t want to come across as a jerk.

Here are five action steps to help you do that.

1. Clarify your expectations.

I found that the fault was usually mine whenever one of my subordinates did not meet my expectations.

I did not set clear expectations. My subordinates did what they thought I wanted, but their mind-reading abilities were limited.

I learned to look in the mirror first when my expectations weren’t met.

Clarify your performance expectations using What + So That + When.

What: the task or requirement.

So That: the outcomes or results you expect.

When: the due date.

Let your subordinates figure out how they are going to get the intended results on time.

Adding “so that” forces you to communicate the intended result precisely.

Use this approach with every task, and you will find that people get the outcomes you want on time.

Clarify your behavioral expectations using What + So That + Examples.

Nearly every organization has it’s core values listed, defined, and posted on the walls.

They fail to specify what right looks like, though, so you have a tough time holding people accountable for values.

This problem creates cynicism as people perceive a say-do disconnect. 

When you have made your behavioral expectations obvious, contrary behavior stands out more sharply and is much easier to address.

There is a direct correlation between expectations and results.

2. Get a back-brief.

After you provide the “What + So That + When,” have your subordinates relay that back to you in their own words so that both parties know that you have a mutual understanding. [see the so that at work :0)]

Next, have them provide a brief sketch of how they will go about doing the task to get the desired results on time so that you know their game-plan is heading in the right direction.

This step gives you both the opportunity to check for Task – Result mismatches and provide any additional guidance and coaching.

Having your subordinates develop the how-tos gives them greater ownership and buy-in so that you are more likely to get high levels of engagement and great outcomes.

3. Set the right example.

Accountability works when you apply the expectations equally to everyone.

Accountability starts with you.

When you hold yourself accountable to meet performance and behavioral expectations, everyone will accept being held to the same standards.

4. Don’t play favorites.

Rules are arbitrary if they apply to some people and not others.

Going back to point #1, when the expectations are clear, you reduce the fogginess.

You can have objective conversations about accountability rather than emotional ones.

5. Follow-thru consistently.

With such clear expectations, you can more easily get to the root of problems.

Did someone fail to perform the task? Determine what circumstances led to that shortfall.

Did the task not achieve the intended results? You can determine if the shortcoming was poor performance or if you have a task – outcome mismatch.

Was the task not done on time? You can find out if your priorities are confusing, resources inadequate, or if your subordinate is overloaded.

That’s it!

1. Clarify your expectations.

2. Get a back-brief.

3. Set the right example.

4. Don’t play favorites.

5. Follow-through consistently.

What is your top takeaway from this article? Write a comment, DM, or email me at [email protected]

Managing your time was the #1 response to our top challenges survey.

It was #1 for solopreneurs and microbusiness leaders and #3 for small businesses of 11-50 people.

These results are not surprising.

You probably don’t have a full-time employee to manage your calendar.

You have to run AND grow your business at the same time. You probably don’t have middle management that runs your operations while you focus on growth.

The four horses of the 2020-pocalypse: COVID, economic shutdown, social unrest, and a divisive election have created a series of urgent, existential crises.

You give and give and give to help your clients, customers, employees, family members, and causes that are important to you.

Your time is the first casualty amidst these urgent demands.

To regain control, you need to follow the first principle of time management.

Pay yourself first.

That’s right, it’s just like any sound investment strategy. Pay yourself first.

Follow these steps to get back in control of your time.

1. Block off one- to three-hour chunks of time two or three days per week. Solid chunks of time are what you need to get growth-related things done.

2. Schedule these times on your calendar so that no one but you can override them.

3. Let your team know about your “growth time” [this time also gives them predictability – they know you are not going to parachute in on them].

4. Protect these chunks of time ruthlessly. You will find that you can address the vast majority of urgent demands outside of your growth-time.

5. Avoid the checkerboard calendar, where all you have are 10-15 minutes of white space at a time. It’s not enough to get anything substantial done. Putting four or five of these short blocks together, though, gives you a chunk of time to get sh!t done.

When you use this method, you will be amazed that the number of hours you work per week does not increase. It might even decrease.

By getting rid of your checkerboard calendar, you free up time during the day to do the heavy-lifting that you normally saved until after-hours.

You and your family and your team will be a lot happier and more productive when you pay yourself first.

 What is your top time management action step? Leave a comment here to let me know.

***

If you want more action steps to regain control of your time, let’s set-up a call. You will:

1. Clarify your priorities so that you know ways to make the best use of your time and energy.

2. Uncover the hidden time and energy bandits that are robbing your bandwidth and emotional well-being so that you can put yourself back in the driver’s seat.

3. Get clear action steps using the pay yourself first principle so that you regain control of your time, talent, and energy — and your balance.

Schedule your call here or by using this link: https://callSLA.as.me/Chris.

Outrage is bad for your emotional well-being.

It’s like snacking on anger all day long.

It’s bad for your business, too, because it sucks your time and depletes your energy.

Sadly, playing on outrage [if it’s outrageous, it’s contagious] is a television and social media business model.

You are the victim.

I’m a firm believer in a healthy sense of outrage.

You don’t cross certain lines with me – bigotry, disrespect, and predatory behavior are among them, as you know.

I’ll let someone know they’ve crossed the line, and I move on.

I’ve got people to serve and an impact to make.

Unfortunately, TV and social media want to absorb your time.

They hook you with that steady drip of addictive outrage. You lose track of time.

Some of my clients spent over ten hours per week on social media and cable news during the workday.

They didn’t realize it until they tallied the time during one of our mastery program sessions.

Imagine what you could do if you took even 50 percent of that time back and applied it to your priorities.

You’d start regaining control of your time and energy.

You would be more productive, less angry, and better able to grow your business.

Here are three action steps to regain control of your time:

1. Tally your social media and TV time for the past couple of weeks. Find out how much time you are investing in outrage.

2. Devote 3-to-5 minutes a couple of times per day to social media and TV. Get your fix and get out.

3. Pay yourself first. Set aside chunks of time each week to work on your priorities. Schedule everything else outside those time.

BOOM! Take these three steps, and you will be on your way to regaining control of your life.

If you want more action steps to regain control of your time, let’s set-up a call to talk. You will:

1. Clarify your priorities so that you know ways to make the best use of your time and energy.

2. Uncover the hidden time and energy bandits that are robbing your bandwidth and emotional well-being (yes, you lose emotional intelligence when you spend time raging) so that you can put yourself back in the driver’s seat.

3. Get clear action steps using the pay yourself first principle so that you regain control of your time, talent, and energy — and your balance.

The call is free for 7 people each month. I only ask that you make a small donation to your favorite cause.

You don’t need to tell me the cause or the amount, just that you donated.

You will feel great that you supported your cause :0)

Schedule your call here or by using this link: https://callSLA.as.me/Chris.

That debate was … troubling.

Trump v Biden is a match-up between a Pioneer and Reconciler.

We saw both archetypes on display Tuesday night.

Many of you have asked me about the U.S. presidential election using our PROM leader archetypes: Pioneer, Reconciler, Operator, and Maverick. (Get your PROM servant leader archetype here)

My business articles are never partisan, and this one won’t be either.

Here’s my general advice to the candidates: become the best and healthiest version of yourself and build a balanced, winning team for America.

Here’s my customized advice:

Donald Trump, The Pioneer

healthy Pioneer challenges the status quo and rallies people behind innovations and changes.

healthy Pioneer recognizes the disruptive nature of change and seeks to address the downside effects on the most vulnerable.

healthy Pioneer empowers a balanced leadership team. They seek Operators who can implement the changes to a high standard, Reconcilers who can build and maintain consensus, and Mavericks, who tether the innovations to the bigger picture of what American ought to be.

Average Pioneers are divisive and run-roughshod over the opposition. They pinball back and forth, lacking the discipline to set and maintain priorities.

Average Pioneers tend to surround themselves with people who think and act alike, so they do not benefit from cognitive diversity.

Frequent blindsides throw them off-track. They do not get things done to a high standard. Most of their innovations are half-baked, executed poorly, and often create resentment.

Unhealthy Pioneers turn into dangerous demagogues who surround themselves with a narrowing group of sycophants. When backed into a corner, they are likely to take considerable risks to reverse their fortunes.

How Pioneers empower winning teams:

To govern effectively, The Pioneer needs to build consensus across America’s many divisions, protect vulnerable populations, set clear priorities, and get things done to a high standard.

If The Pioneer can meet these challenges, he will make meaningful changes that take care of those left behind, heal divisions, and reset America’s place in the world to something more fair and sustainable.

If, however, The Pioneer emphasizes divisions, fails to build consensus, and lacks the discipline to get things done, America in the 2020s could make the 1960s look calm.

Joe Biden, The Reconciler

healthy Reconciler builds consensus toward a clear and compelling vision.

healthy Reconciler recognizes the dangers of watered-down consensus and thus sets clear goals and expectations to achieve them.

Healthy Reconcilers embrace cognitive diversity. They need Mavericks to help them create the vision, Pioneers to identify the practical innovations necessary, and Operators to set the game plan and hold people accountable.

Average Reconcilers tend to surround themselves with people who think and act alike, so they do not benefit from cognitive diversity.

They seek consensus as a goal. They water-down their vision to something unobjectionable to everyone. The aggressive people around them use the opportunity to pursue personal agendas.

Average Reconcilers can have a hard time making decisions because they don’t want to upset anyone. Everyone leaves a meeting thinking they have the Reconciler’s backing. In-fighting creates the perception of a power struggle.

Unhealthy Reconcilers exhaust themselves, trying to please everyone. They grow resentful that others are not as giving, while a feeding frenzy erupts around them as subordinates vie for control.

How Reconcilers empower winning teams

To govern effectively, The Reconciler needs to set forth a clear and compelling vision that can bridge America’s divisions, create a game-plan, and hold officials accountable.

If The Reconciler can meet these challenges, he will realize, perhaps for the first time in history, America’s e Pluribus Unum motto – out of many, one. An America that is of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Not some people. All people.

If The Reconciler fails to create a compelling vision that unites Americans and does not hold his team accountable, his ideological cabinet members will advance their private agendas.

The divisiveness and resentment they create could make the 1960s look calm.

For me, the hiring decision is this: which candidate is most likely to govern as the best and healthiest version of himself and to build a healthy winning team that makes the United States a better place for ALL Americans?

As you know, a simple, effective decision-making process enables you to solve problems, avoid expensive mistakes, and seize opportunities that grow your business.

Here are the four most critical steps in the process.

Think FD3: Frame, Define, Develop, Determine.

1. Frame your decision statement with an action verb, object, and so that.

Clarity on what you are deciding and the purpose of that decision will save you hours of frustration and prevent you from spinning in circles.

“To purchase [verb] a new car [object] so that I can get to work [purpose].”

“To invest in marketing so that my ideal clients know how I serve them.”

2. Define your MUSTS and Wants so that you have clear criteria.

A must is a mandatory requirement that you can measure. Use “so-thats” for clarity.

“A compact car so that it fits in the parking garage.”

“Clear materials so that my ideal clients know the outcomes to expect.”

A want is something you desire but can live without if necessary.

“I want a blue car.”

“I want to invest less than $15,000.”

Rank order your wants, with ten being the most important and one being the least important.

3. Develop your options so that you have alternatives to compare.

You should create at least three viable options so that you do not fixate on the first solution that comes to mind.

You might wind up selecting what your “gut instinct” identifies, but creating options helps you avoid errors that come from what’s known as availability bias – defaulting to a recent, high-profile example that has stuck in your mind.

Advertisers rely on availability bias to influence your choices.

People who cancel airline tickets after a plane crash and decide to drive instead are using a high-profile incident to make a less safe travel choice.

4. Determine your best option by ensuring you’ve met the Musts, and you’ve got the most critical Wants.

Use a simple chart to check off the Musts and tally up the Wants.

The best score wins.

Frame – Define – Develop – Determine (FD3) is a simple, effective process that you can use for any decision you need to make in life and business.

Once you make the decision, you will need to deploy it to your team. We’ll discuss that in another post :0)

How well is this process working for you? Leave a comment below or send me an email: [email protected]

“I want my subordinates to make decisions,” Jim told me, “but they keep asking for permission.”

Why is that so bad, I asked him, you know they won’t make a wrong decision.

“The problem is that the decisions keep piling up on my plate. It’s like the salad bar at Olive Garden. Before you know it, you’ve got a mound of everything, and you lose your appetite for the main course. I feel like I can never get to the main course.”

Greens can be good for you.

“The problem is that I need to make my decisions – that’s the main course. My decisions are getting cold and stale because I’m choking on the salad bar. We’re losing opportunities because I’m in the weeds.”

That makes sense. What have you done to encourage your subordinates to make decisions?

“I tell them that’s what I want them to do. They nod in agreement. An hour later, the emails come in asking me permission to do this, that, and the other thing.”

What happened the last time someone made a poor decision?

“I kinda lost my mind.”

Does this conversation sound familiar?

I’ve had a version of it three times in the past week, which is why I’m writing this article for you.

The COVID pandemic and economic uncertainty have made people even more risk-averse.

Decisions that your direct reports should be making are piling up on your plate and reducing your bandwidth to do your job.

Here are three action steps that will help you boost people’s confidence to make decisions.

1. Define the decision-space. Have your direct reports outline the scope of their decision-making authority and boundaries. Discuss and refine. You’ll be able to reinforce the shared commitment to your common purpose as you do so. 

2. Set the expectations. Every time you lose your mind when someone makes an honest mistake, you discourage initiative.

Let people know how you will respond if a decision they make does not work out well.

If it’s a mistake of commission – someone erred when trying to do the right thing – then you need to underwrite the error and coach.

Underwriting the mistake will sustain their confidence that you won’t throw them under the bus. Coaching will help your subordinates learn from the experience.

A mistake of omission – laziness, ethical short-cuts, etc. – deserves punishment.

Walk your talk.

3. Practice. Rehearse the decisions and your responses if things go well or go poorly. When someone tries to put the ball in your lap, give it back to them, and review steps 1 and 2.

What’s your top takeaway about encouraging people to make decisions?

Let me know with a comment or email at [email protected]