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United or Divided?

On Sunday, April 9th, United Express flight 3411 was about to depart from Chicago O'Hare airport, however, the flight was oversold.  A passenger, Dr. David Dao, was told he had to give up his seat and refused.  Law enforcement was called and he was dragged from the plane.

After reviewing a lot of the available information, I've got a few opinions on United Airlines, United's CEO, the police, the passengers, Dr. Dao, and the media.  I will cover all of them.  However, what I have to say next might shock you: 

In general, United Airlines followed the proper course of action, and Dr. Dao was wrong.

Let's briefly review what happened:

  1. United Airlines personnel boarded passengers despite the fact that Flight 3411 was oversold, apparently without first confirming volunteers to give up their seats.
  2. It may not be the oversold situation that caused the problem.  It may be that to keep other flights on schedule United needed four seats for their employees.
  3. United asked for volunteers, offering $400 a seat.  No takers.
  4. United asked for volunteers, offering $800 a seat.  No takers.
  5. United then chose four people to give up their seats, most likely based on their United MileagePlus status.  Those four people were notified.
  6. Three passengers left the plane, disappointed but respectful of others, giving up their seats as requested by United.
  7. Dr. Dao refused to leave the plane even though he was asked repeatedly to give up his seat.
  8. When United's personnel could not convince Dr. Dao to leave, they followed policy and asked law enforcement for assistance.
  9. Dr. Dao refused, even when warned by police that he would be dragged from the plane.
  10. Law enforcement pulled Dr. Dao from his seat and dragged him from the plane because he refused to stand up.  In the process, Dr. Dao's head hit an armrest and he suffered a blow to his face, causing bleeding, a concussion, and broken teeth.
  11. Some of the other passengers were shocked.  Videos were taken and later posted online.
  12. A social media storm ensued in which many people raged at United for the incident, with some even cutting up their United mileage cards and posting pictures to Twitter.
  13. The mainstream media further inflated the reach of the story to increase their viewers / readers, and justify the cost of their advertising.
  14. United CEO Oscar Munoz responded at least four times about the situation.  First he said that United was trying to "resolve the situation;" then described Dr. Dao as "disruptive and belligerent;" then he apologized two days later and said "no one should ever be mistreated this way."
  15. United is now offering full refunds for every passenger on the flight.  Accepting a refund may be pursuant to some restrictions.
  16. Dr. Dao is considering a lawsuit against the airline and the city of Chicago.
  17. At least three airport police officers have been suspended over the incident.

Now, let's consider some important questions because GREAT leaders ask the right questions.

First, is United Airlines the only airline that overbooks flights?

No.  All or almost all airlines overbook their flights in anticipation of no-shows (passengers who do not show-up for their flights).

Second, why do airlines overbook flights?

Because people do not show up for their flights and airlines want to avoid flying with empty seats.  To keep costs low, airlines can (a) over-book flights in the expectation that some people will not show up;  (b) increase the penalty for no-shows;  or (c) raise airfares.  Which of the three would you prefer?  The first option is the only one that does not raise your costs to fly.

Third, did United Airlines personnel follow company policy and the law?

Yes, it appears they did except in two areas:

  1. They should have identified volunteers before boarding the plane.  This is a Dept. of Transportation rule.
  2. They could have offered the maximum reimbursement for volunteers ($1,350 per seat), which is also a DOT rule.  See the same link above about flyer rights for details.

Overbooking flights is completely legal and United is within their rights to ask (and force) passengers give up their seats if a flight is overbooked.

We need to recognize that no United personnel touched Dr. Dao.  Law enforcement removed him from the plane after asking him to leave and warning him of what they would do.

Based on the information above, I have a few conclusions and suggestions.

United Airlines

You may not like it, but solely blaming United Airlines for the incident is wrong.  For the most part, United personnel behaved properly, respectfully, wisely, and followed procedure.

Could United Airlines have done anything different to avoid this situation?  Absolutely!  We don't know everything United personnel did, but it seems like they could have been a little more creative in their approach and less "by the book."  

For instance, as mentioned above they could have offered the full amount for volunteer seats - $1,350.  However, that may still not have worked.

They could have asked someone else to leave after Dr. Dao refused (he refused multiple times), appealing to their desire to help the doctor.

They could have simply told the passengers, "We're not leaving until someone volunteers to stay."  Then they could have stood their ground until someone caved or someone called their bluff (they probably can't pull that trick for too long).

United personnel followed procedure for the most part.  None of their mistakes justify Dr. Dao's behavior. 

The primary mistake United personnel made was boarding people before confirming volunteers.  It is much less difficult to remove people from a flight who have already agreed to do so.  Demanding volunteers once people are in their plane seats can be much more challenging.  United should know better.

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz

We can learn a lot about how NOT to behave as a leader from the jumbled responses of United CEO Oscar Munoz.  Don't be surprised if he is replaced soon by their board of directors.

As a leader it can be difficult to understand what to do in a crisis.  Then wait, if you can.  Limit your response if you can't. 

Develop a habit of asking questions to make certain you have as many facts as possible before making a decision.  Reacting to a problem in which you only have one side of the story is foolish.  It only gets you and your business into more trouble.  Don't let the media, someone's emotional outburst, and/or your own feelings manipulate you into making a mistake.

Mr. Munoz fell prey to these common human failures.  I can only imagine how the crisis unfolded itself to him.  The pressure was probably intense and it was difficult to formulate a coherent response and steer his company through some rough seas.  

Maybe he saw it first on social media, but most likely he first heard about it from a text or call from one of his lieutenants.  Can you imagine being the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company and receiving an urgent message like this?

!!  We have a problem.  A flight was overbooked and United personnel had to ask police to pull a passenger off a plane.  It's all over social media.  It looks really bad.  We're gonna get crucified.  See for yourself

If you are a leader and a crisis erupts, then do not react.  Instead, consider a response process like this:

  • Stop
  • Ask questions
  • Confirm facts
  • Consider alternative responses
  • Delay a reasonable amount of time to formulate an empathetic decision and communication based on the facts
  • Consider how different recipients will respond to your explanation
  • Perhaps only respond to part of the situation, and promise a follow-up after more information is available

Mr. Munoz did not follow this system.  He reacted, again and again.  He ruined a perfectly good opportunity to stand up for his employees and make a clear change to United's policies.  Unfortunately, he is now cowering in the corner after a serious media pummeling of his company.

United employees, shareholders, and law enforcement needed a strong leader.  Mr. Munoz failed them.

It is a shame.  I would have preferred Mr. Munoz emphasize what his people and the law enforcement folks did right rather than abandon them.  I would have loved for him to fight for his people and the cops that supported them.  He should focus on solutions to avoid similar situations rather than trying to buy public favor by reimbursing everyone's ticket who was on that flight, and changing his response multiple times.

I wish he had stood firm, while at the same time confirming reasonable actions that were being taken to avoid similar situations.  His approach has encouraged and/or allowed the media to separate and manipulate his response into unattractive sound bites.

For instance, Mr. Munoz promised no United passenger will ever be forcibly removed from a plane again.  REALLY?  If you have a drunk who is trying to open a door of your plane, wouldn't you want him or her removed? 

If you have someone claiming to have a bomb, wouldn't you want them removed?

If you have someone who is so sick they are projectile vomiting while your plane is still on the runway, wouldn't you want them off your plane?

I am confident everyone can come up with at least one scenario where they want Mr. Munoz to get someone off their plane.  Unfortunately, he has painted his entire company into the proverbial corner of NOBODY gets kicked off.

It is interesting to note that I cannot find anywhere on where the CEO could post a message like:  "Here is what happened.  Here is our apology.  Here is why this happened.  Here is what we are doing to avoid similar situations in the future."

The Police

Based on the information I have, the police did most everything right.  Don't get me wrong, police brutality is a real issue in many cases around the country and the world.  However, the airport police were only somewhat rough with Dr. Dao because he would not come with them willingly, or even stand to walk off with them.

I was raised to respect law enforcement.  They are on our side, at least if you are a law-abiding citizen or foreign guest of America.  When an officer pulls me over, I give the utmost respect including addressing the officer as "Sir."  Even if I feel the cop is wrong, I am still respectful.

Police are human beings just like you and me, and their job can be very difficult and dangerous.  When they are called on to perform a task, there are no guarantees the person they approach will respond peacefully.  Remember:  Police officers do get killed in the line of duty.

Does this exempt the police from treating people with respect?  Absolutely not.  However, it does mean they deserve our respect first and foremost.  If we refuse to obey their lawful instructions, they are authorized to use necessary force to make us comply.

In this case the law enforcement personnel performed their job respectfully with Dr. Dao, clearly and repeatedly communicated the consequences of him not obeying them, and followed through as promised. 

Could they have done a better job?  Maybe, but Dr. Dao's injuries were his fault for not complying with the law.  Have you ever had to remove a screaming passenger from a plane?  It would be difficult, even if it was a relatively small, uncompliant adult.  Although it is an uncomfortable situation to watch in the videos, Dr. Dao was in the wrong.

Dr. David Dao

Dr. Dao should have left the plane when United told him to give up his seat, just like the three others did.  Why should he be treated differently than anyone else?  He refused.  He was given more opportunities to reconsider when law enforcement people boarded the plane.  They asked Dr. Dao to leave, and then warned him they would drag him from the plane if necessary.  He still refused.

What was he thinking?

Apparently he was stuck in a focus of only his wants. "I want..." over and over again.  He gave no thought to the well-being of other passengers, the flight crew that needed to get to their destination, or the people who were planning to meet other passengers at their destination.

For Dr. Dao, it was:  "It's all about me."

When asked why he refused to leave the plane, Dr. Dao responded along the lines of, "I have to work tomorrow."  Well, guess what Dr. Dao?  Everybody has to work tomorrow!  The police are here.  Get off the plane.

Would you feel comfortable with Dr. Dao as your physician after watching those videos?  Not me.  What type of advice would a physician give me if they believe they are above the law and are unwilling to consider the facts?

I am sincerely sorry Dr. Dao was hurt and that he had to give up his seat.  Nevertheless, neither of these results justify him breaking the law.

WARNING:  It would be unfortunate if any court of law rewarded Dr. Dao in a lawsuit because that decision elevates narcissism over what is best for the common good of all the people.

The Passengers

The reaction of some of the other passengers is very disturbing.  Some might say their response of shock and dismay is typical of the zombie, me-first culture we live in today.  Did you watch the videos?  Dr. Dao screaming.  A woman practically wailing, "This is wrong!"  Multiple camera angles from cell phone videos.  

REALLY? Lots of people sitting and watching the whole thing.

Why does this concern me?  Well, if the situation bothered them so much, why didn't they give up their seat?

What would you do?  If I was there, I hope I would have volunteered to give up my seat.  None of them moved.  None of them volunteered.  Narcissism is not just embedded in the most vocal or violent of our population, it is often deeply ingrained in the judgmental folks who sit on the sidelines.

The entire scandal could have been prevented by one humble, empathetic person.

The Media

There has been a lot of hype and outrage from this incident.  I hope at least we can agree on one conclusion:  

People on social media and the mainstream media cannot and should not be taken at face value.

We live in an outrage culture that is often misled, unreasonable, and motivated by less obvious (hidden?) agendas.  Many people who are outspoken and the media in general are too often looking for the "next big story."  They rush to shove it in our faces with cries of outrage rather than doing their due diligence to gather and consider more of the information.

WHY? Because we pay attention to them, and sadly, too often they only provide information they want us to hear and leave out important facts.

I suggest you wait for more information to come to light before becoming convinced by a one-minute video taken by a mobile phone.  Ask why something is happening.  Ask why that person or media outlet is sharing the story.  Ask if they have a bias.  Keep asking and wait.  Give a story a few days to materialize before getting all worked up about it.

There is a proverb in a 2,000 year old bestselling book that says:  A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a wise man overlooks an insult.

I encourage us to be wise.

Was the BIG issue that a passenger had to be dragged off a plane?  No, not really.  The big issue is how many fools allow themselves to be manipulated by emotions in a brief cell phone video (that does not provide the whole story) rather than facts.

The bottom line

Dr. Dao was selfish and unwilling to obey law enforcement.  Whether the police are right or wrong, our responsibility as individuals is to obey the law, and the police.  Dr. Dao was wrong, he should have left the plane.

A lesser blame goes to United Airlines for making the mistake of boarding an oversold flight without first confirming volunteers.  It's a lot easier to stop a person from getting on a plane than to get them off.

Hopefully everyone learns from this situation and similar issues are avoided in the future.

What can we learn from this mess that can help us make better decisions during a crisis?  I suggest you use this incident, and the lessons learned, as a training exercise for your leadership team, if not your entire company.

Choose wisdom.  Choose to be a role model.  Choose behaviors that unite us for the good of the many, rather than divide us in the selfishness of the solitary.  

NOTE #1:  I am an A-List Southwest Airlines flyer, and a lowly Premier flyer on United.  My impression is the burly, bearded, friendly guy who manages my United gate at Roberts Field in Redmond, Oregon for my 5:30 a.m. departure would never make this mistake.  He asks for volunteers before an oversold flight.  I know because I've volunteered.

Also, get this:  This United representative - I can't remember his name - booked me on a competitor's flight and even walked down to the gate of that airline to make certain I got on the other flight.  He was exceptional in his approach to serving United flyers.  

One bad incident should not convince us other every other person of that company, group, or person of some heritage should be condemned. 

NOTE #2:  An airline pilot's wife posted a similar view to mine here.  At the time of my viewing her post there were 1,437 comments, mostly rude, full of expletives, emotional "who cares about the facts" condemnations.  Apparently the abusive, threatening comments were so bad that comments on that post are closed.  

It is disappointing that in our narcissistic society people have lost the discipline of civility in debate.  Too many people feel they have the right to bash others cruelly while requiring people with different views to leave them alone.  

I hope you practice kindness, empathy, respect, and the Golden Rule in your interactions with others...  even when they disagree with you, and yes, even on the internet.

You are mistaken if you disagree with me and believe you can shout down a different opinion than your own.  Peaceful protest and perspective always wins in the end.  Study Ghandi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and others.

I do not expect this newsletter / blog post to be popular, however I was raised to hold everyone to the same standards and stand up to bullies.


The True Measure of a Leader

"The true measure of a leader is what it takes to stop him." This sounds inspiring, doesn't it?

BEWARE.  This statement is a half truth that appeals to the ego or foolish well-intentions of a person with a savior mentality.  This statement by itself is more of a lie than a truth.

For decades people could not stop Hitler, Stalin, or Chairman Mao even though their actions killed 20, 40, and 50 million people respectively.  Whether you can stop someone is not the issue.  Bullies can prevail.

Just ask anyone who has been held back in business because of their gender, appearance, or any other inherent characteristic.  There are plenty of other examples too.

What is the true measure of a leader?  Let me give you 3 true measures of a leader:

#1 - Integrity

As you promote people without management experience into leadership positions, are they prepared to make the tough decisions that demonstrate integrity, rather than merely follow the law and/or your company policy?

It is the "gray areas" that kill relationships, opportunities, and limit your future.  This "measure of a leader" applies equally to your more seasoned leaders.  Everyone on your leadership team needs to be a role model for your company values, relationships, and results.

I emphasize integrity heavily in our Certified LEADER program.  We are starting our next six-month Certified LEADER program next week.  I encourage you to signup leaders at all stages of their career to become certified as a leader.  You can register here.

#2 - Results

Every leader needs to have clear, measurable goals and achieve them on time and within budget.

People struggle to hold their leaders accountable.  If your leaders do not respond promptly, do not meet deadlines, do not communicate effectively, or have other dysfunctional behaviors, then how can you expect your other employees to be the best they can be?

In our Certified LEADER program I teach, re-teach and teach again my proven system for defining clear, measurable objectives and achieving results on time.  

If your managers and/or senior leaders need to achieve results more consistently, then let them work with me for six months in our Certified LEADER program.  Our program pays for itself quickly as they start achieving results consistently.  You can register here.

#3 - Relationships

The only common trait of the GREAT leaders in Jim Collins's book, Good to Great, was humility.  The true measure of a leader is their ability to consistently behave with integrity, achieve results, and work effectively with other people.

In a past Certified LEADER class there was a seasoned manager who was very intense and not personable.  Over the course of the six month program we worked together to transform him from a manager who plays "whack-a-mole," to one who or respectfully and professionally engages with this team.   The results were astounding.

If you have someone on your leadership team who would like to improve their relationships skills, then signed him up for our Certified LEADER program that starts next week.  I will work with him or her to develop new habits, build stronger relationships, and communicate more effectively with others.  You can sign-up here.

I could continue to list many more attributes that are the "true measure of a leader," however I suggest all the others extend from these three.  When you improve your skills in these three areas the positive results cascade into other habits of your professional and personal lives.

P.S. Where was this quote from?  Robert Jeffress' sermon to Donald Trump and his family before Trump's inauguration as President of the United States - Washington Post article.  NOTE:  This column is not intended to reflect positively or negatively on President Trump.


Surprise Book Recommendation

My wife wanted me to read Chip and Joanna Gaines' book, The Magnolia Story.  They got famous by their HGTV show, Fixer Upper.

I did not want to read it.

I have stacks of business books I'm trying to work through.  The Magnolia Story might be fun, but at the moment I need to learn, not just read for enjoyment. 

However, I made "her book" a priority because my wife Terry is important to me.  I just finished on Monday of this week.

To be candid, I finished the book at 11:13 p.m. and started crying.  I was in my hotel room, by myself, on a successful business trip.  My tears were for the mistakes I have made in life.  Too many mistakes, which for that moment, crowded out my many successes.

Chip and Jo have not lived flawless lives.  Their book is reasonably candid about mistakes they have made along the way.  Some of them are similar to mine, however they avoided some of my big mistakes.

How about you?  Made any mistakes in your life that still hurt?

Let me share four lessons from The Magnolia Story that hit me the most.  There was a lot of other material in the book that made me think, but these are the biggies.  These life lessons apply to everyone who wants to be an effective leader in their homes, careers, and community.

#1 - Stay Close

When the going gets tough Chip and Joanna work closer together, rather than hide the facts in hopes that things will improve or play the blame game.

(Joanna - page 84)  "Chip and I started working more closely together than ever...

(Joanna - page 86)  "... we seem to grow stronger the more time we spend together..."

(Chip - page 149)  "When things come against us we can either turn on each other, or we can come together and turn on it."

How is your relationship with your spouse affected when times get tough? 

I learned a long time ago that you find out just how good a youth sports coach is by watching them when their team is losing.  Any coach looks great when they are winning.  How well does the losing coach hold it together and remain an encourager and mentor? 

It is the tough times where you really find out what type of leader you are.  You also confirm your priorities, integrity, and depth of love for others.  It is not how your spouse reacts.  When a situation is headed downhill, it is how you respond.

How can you improve your relationship with your spouse when times get tough? What strengths do you have during the tough times that you can build on so your bond with your spouse gets stronger no matter what life throws at you?

These questions can also be asked in consideration of your work relationships. Replace "spouse" with "partner" or "co-worker" and ponder the answers.

#2 - Find Balance

As irritating as it may be at times, humans are designed to often choose spouses with opposite behaviors and motivators.  Joanna had the following revelation after one of Chip's mistakes that we all need to comprehend:

(Joanna - page 73)  "I have a naturally conservative nature, and Chip and I were supposed to balance each other out, not concede to each other's strengths and weaknesses."

Balance in a partnership requires respect, open communication, trust, and a confidence that you are safe explaining a mistake.  Although Chip makes a lot of business decisions on his own, my sense is their best decisions are made together.

If one or both partners play "whack a mole" when the other makes a mistake, then communication breaks down.  Chip and Joanna keep the conversations flowing.

Where can you improve communication with your spouse?

What strengths can you recognize and encourage?

Again, these questions can also be asked in consideration of your work relationships.

#3 - Good Stewardship

Joanna and Chip try to be careful money managers, although their approach is quite different.  Joanna is very risk adverse, whereas Chip is comfortable with what he believes is reasonable risk.  The bottom-line is they both are willing to work hard and smart to earn what they gain.

(Chip - page 98)  "My parents didn't teach me the value of a dollar - and of hard work too."

(Chip - page 99)  "One thing my dad would preach to us when it came to money was, 'I'll provide your needs, but you have to take care your wants.'"

Husband-and-wife need to be equally committed to achieve financial goals.  The standards for spending and saving need to be the same.  Financial boundaries, reporting, and budget discussions need to occur at least monthly, if not more often.  Money is the number one cause of divorce.  Therefore it requires more attention than it typically gets in a marriage.

What are 1-3 improvements you and your spouse can agree to improve the way you manage finances so that stress is lowered, and long-term financial security is attained and retained?

Where are your collective strengths in finances today, and how can you build upon them?

Consider two similar questions in regards to your work relationships.

#4 - No Regrets

There are two voices in our heads.  The one screaming at us is evil or a fool who encourages destructive behavior.  The one softly speaking to us is wisdom.  Couples who make important decisions together typically have better listening skills and consider the soft voice.  This leads to less regrets.

(Joanna - page 148)  "I didn't want to look back at this experience and regret how I handled it."

It is okay to make mistakes, even though some are foolish.  Repeating mistakes is what really hurts.  According to Dr. Henry Cloud's book, Never Go Back, the difference between successful and average people is that successful people do not repeat mistakes.

What mistakes are you and your spouse repeating, and what new habits can you put in place to stop this tragedy?

Where are you and your spouse strongest at avoiding mistakes?  How can you expand this capability to strengthen your marriage and protect your family?

I guess you figured out that I recommend you read Chip and Joanna Gaines's book, The Magnolia Story.

It was fun, but more than that, it was a learning experience. 

Thank you Chip and Joanna!  May you be blessed in all you do, and protected from the dangers success often creates.


Are You Staring at the Tent Again?

You need to get back into the center ring where you belong.

"There's nothing wrong with enjoying looking at the surface of the ocean itself, except that when you finally see what goes on underwater, you realize that you've been missing the whole point of the ocean. Staying on the surface all the time is like going to the circus and staring at the outside of the tent." - Dave Barry

Too many leaders think they are center ring in the circus when actually they are standing outside of where they should be, and staring at the outside of the tent.

Leaders were similarly delusional in the movie, The Matrix.  In that story computers had taken over the world.  People thought they lived here...

When in reality, they lived here...


  • Could you be a better leader?
  • Could your employees achieve more?
  • Is your employee turnover too high and engagement too low?
  • Do you struggle with delegation?
  • Do you struggle with follow-up?
  • ...?

If you were candid, are you struggling to stay focused on the ONE THING that could drive your organization 3X-100X farther than all the firefighting you are doing?

How about a tune-up?  You train your people.  Why not you?  Here are three options from MANAGEtoWIN:

Certified LEADER

You and/or others at your company may have leadership attributes, but what you really need are managers with leadership SKILLS.  To compete in today's crowded marketplace you must move beyond being an "okay" manager to becoming a powerfully effective leader.

  • 6 months of coaching & training to help you develop new leadership habits to overcome your less productive behaviors
  • 12 one-on-one coaching sessions with me
  • 12 Group online training sessions
  • A Certification test, which when passed, confirms you are a Certified Leader

Ideal for top performers promoted to management who need leadership training, plus owners and seasoned leaders in any area of your business.  We have had leaders participate who have 20 years' experience.

Our next Certified LEADER program kicks off the week of April 17.  Learn more and reserve your seat here.

LEADERSHIP Essentials Academy

We have not done an Academy since 2014.  Now you get new content.  Just for leaders and owners.  1.5 days packed with ways to "sharpen your axe" as President Lincoln said, so you can accelerate your career and company growth.

Where do you need help?

  • Setting and/or more consistently following-up on clear, measurable goals
  • Making difficult decisions faster, yet more wisely
  • Strengthening your company culture so more people take ownership
  • Better engaging every employee so they are their best, and enjoying work more
  • Improving your focus on what is truly move important - stop firefighting

Limited to just a few leaders to be 1:1 with me.  We are thinking of having this training in San Francisco, or just north in Marin County in September 2017.  

Which days work best for you?  Email us your preferred dates, and how many people you would like to attend.  (Should we catch an SF Giants game one night?)


Leaders got it, or they don't.  When you drive or fly, you use maps.  When you drive a business or fly a business opportunity like a rocket ship of rapid growth you need a plan.  Actually, you need three plans.

ReFOCUS | Life plan - How to FOCUS better on your priorities before your time runs out.

ReVOLUTION | Business Plan - What can you do better than anyone else?  How to systematically do that over and over again ("volution") to produce extraordinary results.

ReWARD | Exit Strategy - You will exit your business at some point.  How to better guard ("ward") your resources so your exit is not a fire-sale, but an abundance.

Do you have these plans?  Are you following them?  

If not, then prepare for 2018 with me in early October in San Francisco, or just north in Marin County.  Which days in October would work best for you?  Email us your preference and how many people you would like to attend.

Maybe we should do this workshop in Maui...

"As iron sharpens iron, one leader sharpens another."  (Adapted from Proverbs 26:16)


Pass Your Batons to Win

It was the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.  The American men's 400-meter relay team was in contention for the gold medal.  Superstar sprinter Tyson Gay reached back to grab the baton on the final handoff in their preliminary race, "and there was nothing."

The American women's 400-meter relay teams also misconnected on the final handoff in their preliminary race, mirroring the men's shocking defeat.  For the first time in Summer Games history, the U.S. left an Olympics 0-for-6 in the sprint races:  both men's and women's 100s, 200s and 400 relays.  (ESPN)

Have you ever "passed someone the baton" and your "race" was not the winner you expected?

Translation: Have you ever delegated responsibility to someone and the results were less than you expected?

Delegation.  The dreaded "D" word.

Stunning setbacks can be a motivator for GREAT Leaders to review and improve their process for delegating work. 

Delegation takes Systematic Power, the first strand of 3strands LEADERSHIP.  Delegating work is a system, not just a quick directive with assumptions from a superior.  Effective delegation is based on a process of transferring responsibilities between capable team members to achieve mutually agreed upon results by following your organization's best practices.

And... best practices take practice and systems, or your baton drops.

Take a moment to assess where there may be a baton drop in your delegating.  Are you delegating enough?  Are you delegating effectively?  Or are you avoiding delegating because it's just easier to do something yourself?  (Bad choice)

Here are the 7 steps of effective delegation I teach in our Certified LEADER course:

  1. The mutual objective
  2. The problem
  3. The team
  4. Authority & expectations
  5. Resources required
  6. Communication
  7. Deadlines

You are the delegator.  The person or people receiving the task are the delegatee.

Step #1 of 7:  The Mutual Objective

  • Is the objective clearly defined, measurable, and have due dates?
  • Have you helped the delegatee understand that receiving the task is not the end goal, but rather they are a steward of the responsibility, so a greater goal is achieved?
  • Have you engaged the "second brain" - the heart of the delegatee so the work is meaningful to them?
  • Are you reinforcing the mutual objective often?

Step #2 of 7:  The Problem

  • Is everyone clear about the problem that is trying to be solved before and during the work that has been delegated? 
  • Is the cost of not solving the problem clear?
  • Are the benefits of solving the problem defined?
  • Are the process and/or new habits to put in place to avoid the problem in the future defined, or mutually sought?

Step #3 of 7:  The Team

  • Does each delegatee realistically have the time to do it well?
  • Did you encourage the delegatee by explaining the reason why they were chosen?
  • Have you explained how the delegatee will benefit from completing the task with excellence?
  • What training do delegatees need to complete the task well?

Step #4 of 7:  Authority & Expectations

  • Does the delegatee have authority that matches their responsibilities?
  • Who is the team leader if there is more than one delegatee?
  • Are any approval processes clear, and in-writing?
  • Are behavioral expectations between you and the delegatee clear, and preferably in-writing?

Step #5 of 7:  Resources Required

  • What subject matter experts or other people are available to support the delegatee?
  • Where can the delegatee work and/or do they need help securing meeting locations?
  • Does the delegatee have all the equipment and materials necessary to complete the task?
  • Have the funding, outside services, other necessary activities been secured?

Step #6 of 7:  Communication

  • Is there a clearly defined follow-up schedule when the delegatee will communicate status to you?
  • Have you defined a schedule when you will touch base with the delegatee, especially if they miss their deadline to update you on the status?
  • What is the schedule to inform others?
  • Is the platform in place to track their progress, whether ConnectWise, SharePoint, Dropbox...?

Step #7 of 7:  Deadlines

  • Are there due dates / milestones with clear deliverables?
  • How are the dates being tracked?
  • Are the milestones in the best order of priority?
  • Have you defined what happens when a deadline is missed, and should that occur, are you prepared to ask questions, be respectful, and then act decisively?

This may seem like a lot, but once you get it in place it flows easily. Learn how to delegate effectively. Put the Systematic Power of process in place. Test, refine, improve your delegation systems. Teach them and grow.


Risking Your Comeback

One of my favorite movies is Hoosiers. The movie told a story that took place in 1951 in the rural southeast Indiana town of Hickory.  Norman Dale drove into town to replace a revered high school basketball coach who had died.   He was hired by Cletus Summers, the principal and a longtime friend, to coach the team and teach classes.

Earlier in life Dale had been a champion collegiate coach until he punched one of his players.  That got him barred from coaching college ball.  For many years he had hidden in the Navy.  Now he had been honorably discharged.

The coaching position in Hickory was a last chance for Norman Dale, who is played by Gene Hackman.

How about you?  Have you made some mistakes?

Have you made a BIG mistake?

It may surprise you, but my experience is most people have made at least one BIG mistake.

For those of us who recover and rebuild, by grace our legacy is typically not the mistake.  Instead, we are judged by how we apply what we've learned to more positively impact the lives of others.

The journey is long.  The battles can be ongoing.  At least for a time...

In Hoosiers, Coach Dale had to battle the disbelief of a teacher who was the guardian of the town's best high school basketball player, Jimmy Chitwood.  Jimmy had decided not to play due to grief over the death of the prior coach.  He refused to even speak a word to the new coach, even when Dale patiently tried to talk with him.

Coach Dale also had the burden of establishing boundaries and discipline for a basketball team of unruly high school boys.  The situation is further complicated by the fact it initially only has five players after two quit.  They didn't care to behave and show the coach respect.  A father brings one of them back, which brings the team to six players.

It was a small town.  The high school only had 161 students.  However, basketball was their passion.  A number of the men in the community felt firmly established as armchair coaches of the high school boys' basketball team. 

As Coach Dale tried to get his team in sync, they question his every thought, word, and action.

Even the student body chanted to have Jimmy Chitwood return to the team rather than cheer the players who were doing their best to represent the school.

It was Norman Dale's last chance.

If he failed, then he would never get another opportunity to coach the game he loved. 

He had the knowledge, experience, and skill to be a championship coach.  But his BIG mistake had detoured him into a tiny Indiana town that did not like him.

So what did he do?

He had the grit to stick to what he knew was right, admitted his mistake of the past when it came up, and kept pushing forward day by day.  He invested his life in the boys on that team.

If the story stopped there, it would be logical.  However it did not.

Hoosiers lets you see the humility of a tough warrior.  Without saying it specifically, Norman Dale was thankful for the grace his friend, Cletus, had shown him.  He extends grace to others.  You can see it by how he treats others.  He decided that someone needed to help a man who had fallen into the deep pit of alcohol.

The opportunity comes about when Cletus, acting as an assistant coach, had chest pains after an angry Coach Dale got ejected from another of their early season games. 

Dale needed a replacement assistant coach.  He decided to invite knowledgeable local former star basketball player Wilbur "Shooter" Flatch.  Shooter was the father of one of the players, Everett.  He was also the town drunk.  Even Everett was disgusted with him and would have nothing to do with his father.

Coach Dale put boundaries on Shooter, just like he did with the boys, although different.  Shooter had to be sober, on time, and dressed in a suit to coach with him.

Yet the team still struggled.

Coach Dale bet it all.  He was teaching the young men basketball.  More than that, he taught them integrity, reminded them of the value of hard work, and tried to give a hand up to a man who was in a deeper pit than himself.

Yet all appeared lost.  He started to lose his grip on the opportunity.

After just a few games the armchair coaches of the town called an emergency meeting to vote on whether Dale should be dismissed.  It looked bleak, but the coach held his ground.  He said he was proud of the boys on the team and he would not change anything he had done.

As the vote was being counted Jimmy walked in and announced he figures it's time for him to start playing ball.  The crowd erupted in cheers.  However, Jimmy had one boundary:  He would play only if Coach Dale stayed.  If the coach left, then he would not play.

Coach Dale won the vote.

Remember the importance of boundaries.

Did the team start winning?  Did Shooter stay sober?  Did Shooter and his son reconcile?  What happened to the other relationships in town?

You have to watch the movie.


First, a hero cannot do everything or save everyone. 

Are you trying to do too much today?

Second, our lives are blessed when we extend the grace we have received to others. 

Sometimes it is our turn to help.  A kind word.  A listening ear.  A smile.  Sometimes more.

Choose carefully. Once you choose help someone or a cause, then set boundaries.  Hold tight.  Stay true to the grace you are extending and the boundaries you establish.

The person you try to help may not make it all the way up on to their feet.  Your role may be just to get them out of the pit.

Consider the risk to your opportunity, your life, and the people depending on you.  Gamble only what you are willing to lose.

Norman Dale was willing to lose it all because he believed he was doing the right thing.

There is the story I heard years ago of a well-off couple who went on a mission trip.  They were so touched by the needs of the people that they gave, and gave, and gave... until they had no more.  But it wasn't enough.  The poor were still poor, but now the couple had joined them in poverty.

It is rare that is the best decision.

Good intentions cannot be the only criteria behind your decision to risk what you have to help others.  Balance your heart with sincere consideration of how a loss would affect people who depend on you, such as your family or employees.

Grace can be extended in small doses and still improve the lives of others. 

Practice grace with boundaries.

Third, last week I encouraged you to embrace 2017 as your comeback year.  This begs the question:  What's the one thing you will do this year that will make everything else easier?

You cannot be a hero to everyone or do everything.

However, there is one thing you can do, and do with excellence!

Identify that one thing and do something.  You will be glad you did.

Start with humility and grace.

If you have the time, watch the movie Hoosiers.

It's a fun story.  Unfortunately it is not true.  The real story of a small Indiana town's high school basketball team actually has some special gems of its own.  Click here to learn what really happened.


It's Your Comeback Year

Shortly after 2017 began, Tom Brady, a fossil by NFL quarterback standards, led the New England Patriots to victory in an overtime Super Bowl after trailing the Atlanta Falcons 28-3 midway through the third quarter. 

After the game Brady explained, "We all brought each other back.  We never felt out of it."

He is not just a great athlete, but demonstrates attributes of true leadership.

Last Friday night I watched a small town basketball game with a packed house in Central Oregon.  The Sisters High School boys' team faced rival Madras in the first round of the playoffs.  At 39-29 the Madras team was up by 10 points with about 6.5 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, and then their coach made a fatal mistake.

He had his team stall.  Apparently in Oregon high school basketball there is no shot clock, so the Madras team drained over a minute from the clock just passing the ball around.

To be candid, although none of our kids attend high school, I was angry at the lack of integrity displayed by the Madras coach to teach his players a stall tactic with so much time left in the game. 

It is also a dangerous strategy because it changes the whole momentum of how your team is playing the game.

By the way, is it a sin to boo a team that behaves that way?  Or their coach?  (I leave that up to you.)

What happened?  The Sisters team rallied and won 46-39 (without overtime).

Now, that was a fun evening...

It is a comeback year.

People everywhere, except on the losing side, love a comeback.


Everyone has an area of their life that is important, but they are failing at it.  They are not meeting their own standards and/or progressing towards their dream.  

You feel it is impossible to change.

You need a comeback.

What should you do?


No, this is not  Alcoholics Anonymous, although you could be addicted to denial at least in this one area.

What is your dream?  Or if not a dream, what is a goal that is very meaningful for you to achieve that you have not been able to make progress on?

Let me put it another way: 

What is the one thing you could do that would make everything else in your life better?  (This is the core challenge of the book, The ONE Thing.  A great book.)

Stop your denial.  (Other things are more important.  I can't do it.  It's too hard...)

Stop procrastinating.  (I don't have time.  My other stuff is more important.  I have to get this other stuff done first.)

Stop blaming others or circumstances.  (My boss, or spouse, wants me to do other stuff.  I have no money.  I don't know enough...)

Denial is a slow death.


Make a decision to be your best, not just good, or even great.  You want to be YOUR BEST.

We are our best when we overcome heavy odds against us.

We are our best when we kindle the warrior within us to do extraordinary things.

There is a Spirit within you or beside you, just waiting for your invitation to join your battle.

It is the suffering and the story is what makes the game of life engaging, enjoyable, and fulfilling.  Don't accept where you are in life.  You are destined for more.

What makes a great leader?

Someone who fearlessly overcomes a challenge.  

Did you catch that?

One challenge.  

Not two, five or a dozen.  

Consider the stories of great movies such as Gladiator and Braveheart.  In ancient times the battle lines were formed with hundreds or thousands of soldiers on each side, yet to survive each warrior had to focus on winning against one foe at a time. 

They could not get overwhelmed by the army facing them, or even the 2-6 opposing soldiers nearby.

There is one menacing thing holding you back.  What is it for 2017?

To be your best, you must identify the one thing that will transform your current reality into your dreams.  

Time is running out.


Define a simple plan to achieve your quest.  There are three components:

     #1 - A clear, measurable goal with a deadline

     #2 - Identify what time of day you do your best work.

     #3 - Set aside that time in your schedule to achieve your goal. 

Should you be persistent?


"WHAT?" you ask incredulously.  

A persistent person keeps trying.  That is not good enough.  

To be great, you must be tenacious.  

A tenacious person applies what they learn to avoid mistakes and accelerate their progress while never giving up.

     #1 - A clear, measurable goal with a deadline

Here is the core of my method for writing clear, measurable goals:

Goals should be written in a clear, measurable way by following the acronym "T.A.R.G.E.T.™" from the books,  The Company Culture Challenge and Success With People. 

Start with the preposition "To" and follow it with an "Action verb."  Next add a "Realistic Goal" area or focus.  Then add an "Effective measure of success" and close it with the "Time for the goal to be completed." 

      T          To (the preposition)

      A         Action verb

      RG       Realistic Goal to be achieved

      E          Effectively measure whether the goal has been achieved

      T          Time or date for the goal to be completed

The due dates are important.  One sales guru, T.C. Michalak, likes to say, "A goal without a timeline is not a goal - it's a wish."  Each goal must have a realistic completion date with your work finished on schedule.

Here is an example of a clear, measurable goal written in the T.A.R.G.E.T. format: 

To increase consultant utilization rates to 78 percent for the quarter. 

To begin:                          To

Action verb:                      increase*

Realistic Goal:                  consultant utilization rates

Effective measurement:   to 78 percent average

Time bound:                     for the quarter.

NOTE:  If you want to make the goal statement a bit more direct then drop the first preposition "To." Then this goal becomes: 

Increase consultant utilization rates to 78 percent for the quarter. 

     #2 - Identify what time of day you do your best work.

What time of day do you do your best work?

That is the time of day to work on your most important goal.

Another consideration is where you do this work.  You must be someplace where you will not be interrupted by people or electronics (TV, email, instant messaging, phones...).

Be realistic.  When do you do your best work?  How can you work without interruption?

     #3 - Set aside that time in your schedule to achieve your goal. 

Block out time in your schedule daily or weekly to achieve this goal. 

Make certain it is the time of day when your best work.

Communicate.  Explain what you are doing to other people who currently expect to be able to interact with you at that time.  Ask them to respect that time and only interrupt you if the world is ending.

They will interrupt you anyway.  Respectfully, calmly be firm about meeting with them later if the issue can wait.  Unplug if necessary to block them out.

NOTE:  Maybe the time you chose is the wrong time of day.  If the schedule you set aside is not working, then reassess your schedule and try a different one.

Do NOT give up.

Today is passing fast.  Yesterday is a memory, or worse, forgotten.  The longer you wait, the more you rely on a miracle.

It's YOUR comeback year.  

You do not have to become a billionaire, on the cover of magazines, or loved by everyone.  

You just have to overcome one thing.  

If you are candid, it might be the one thing in your life that will catapult you past silence into hearing the voice of God.  

Do it now.  It's your comeback year.  

It might be you have spread yourself too thin at work for years.  There is one thing above everything else that plays to your strengths and will launch you into a new stratosphere of opportunity.  

Do it now.  It's your comeback year.  

It might be your relationship with your spouse.  Would a weekly date night improve things? 

I have a new friend, Mark, who enjoys a cup of coffee with his wife, Sheila, each day about 3:00 p.m.  They just catch up.  What would that type of communication do for your relationship?

How about scheduling a weekly, biweekly, or at least monthly family business meeting with your spouse?  Finances are the #1 cause of divorce.  A cycle of financial discussions might replace the demons of doubt with the candid confidence of your future together.

Do it now.  It's your comeback year.  

You decide the goal.  Just do something!

If you need help getting started, or along the way, let me know.  I love working with people who want to be their best.  You can schedule a conversation with me here.

I hope our paths cross this year and I can encourage you in your journey.


The Coat Is Big On You

PONDER THIS OVER THE WEEKEND:  One way to be a great leader

My friend, Jerry, accepted a new job years ago leading an organization.  A woman walked up to him after he did his first talk in front of about 100 members of the team, and said,

"The coat is big on you, but you'll grow into it."

Jerry accepted her encouragement and continued to grow for years to come.  He is a strong, servant leader today.  That woman has returned to Jerry to say the coat fits him a lot better.

How big is your "coat?"  (Coat = your responsibilities, professional or personal)

How well does it fit?

Are you the young child wearing an older sibling's clothes thinking you are better than you are?

Are you worried you will never grow into the "coat" you are currently wearing?

Are you wearing the wrong "coat," but are afraid to change?

How can you be a better leader?

For most leaders there is only one way to reach the destinations you have defined in life: 

WHERE:  Choose your destination.

HOW:  Define how you will get there.

WHEN:  Daily or weekly check your map, and adjust your rudder. 

RISK:  Don't get tempted into following a fatal sunset, a half-truth rabbit trail, a shortcut.

On Thursday and Friday, January 12-13 of this year we moved from just north of San Francisco, California to Sisters, in Central Oregon, about 20 miles northwest of Bend.  We split the journey in two, first driving to Redding, California on Thursday.  We arrived after midnight, got some sleep, and finished the drive through snowy, icy roads the next day, Friday, the 13th.

That Friday was the end of the worst series of snowstorms Central Oregon has experienced since 1992.  The temperature was in the 20's as we arrived on schedule at 4:00 p.m.

Jerry got three of his faith brothers there at the same time - Mark, Spencer, and Chris.  They, along with our son Jeff, his friend Ted, and me, unloaded our 26' moving truck, 20' moving truck, plus our Chevy Suburban and Toyota Sienna that were stuffed to the gills. 

Jerry was outside the entire time in the cold.  He was in the trucks and at the cars.  Two others grabbed stuff from him and carried each item across about 20' of ice and snow to the front door.  Four others, including me, worked inside our new home carrying things to the different rooms.

Jerry helped us although his house was partially flooded due to snow damage.  Some of his walls were literally bulging out with water.  His wife, Lois, made a dinner for us to eat the next night and put it in our new home's refrigerator.  She even hung a Happy Birthday sign from the ceiling for our youngest child, whose birthday was that day.

Can you imagine how I felt as four men I did not know worked tirelessly to help us?  I had only met Jerry once.  We had never met the others. 

How do you think we felt in response to Lois' kindness?  She didn't just stand around, either.  She helped my wife, Terry, begin to unpack.  Her warm, beautiful smile and encouragement went a long way to boost our tired spirits.

I cannot describe the joy I felt.  It just hit me in my heart and overflowed warmth throughout my soul about an hour or two into the unloading process.  We were where we were supposed to be.

Why?  Because of the people (Mark, Spencer, Chris, Jeff, Ted, Lois, and Jerry).

After the last item was brought into our house Jerry told our son, Jeff, "You know, I touched everything your parents own."  He was not boasting.  He was hinting, and being encouraging.

Jerry is a leader.  Think of how you serve your people.  How do you communicate brotherly love in memorable ways to the men and women in your organization?

Are you a SYSTEMATIC, consistent role model for the behaviors you want them to have? Do you make certain each of your people are engaged in work they find MEANINGFUL? How often do you communicate the SINCERE GRATITUDE you have for each of your people, in ways they prefer?

Jerry worked a system to get our stuff unloaded and in the house.  He had each member of our team working towards a common goal that was meaningful to us.  He constantly complimented and encouraged us in sub-freezing weather.

We may not live in Sisters long, or maybe we will.  However, I will always remember the kindness of Mark, Spencer, Chris, Jeff, Ted, and Jerry.  As long as I'm in Sisters, I will welcome the opportunities I have to get to know Jerry better. 

Why? He is clearly trying to live what he believes.  He is a leader who is intentionally trying to bless others.  No one is perfect, as in flawless, but Jerry seems perfect as in "complete" in his approach to serve people.

P.S.  I met with Jerry three days ago for our weekly coffee.  He told me the story of telling Jeff that he had touched everything we own.  Then he shared the reason why touching all of our possessions was important to him:

Everything he touched he prayed over, asking God to bless us with prosperity, community, and peace. 

Again, Jerry did not share this with me to boast.  He did it to encourage me.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?  (And me.)

How are you going to encourage someone today? "How can I motivate my employees?" - I get asked this often.  One behavior that always helps is sincere encouragement.

Will they remember it? If not, why not?

I hope our paths cross this year and I can encourage you in your journey.

P.P.S.  Jerry Kaplan is the pastor of the Sisters campus of Westside Church.


3 Tips to Un-Suck Your Assessments

Talent Assessments are a process, not a single activity.

We had a situation recently where a help desk candidate took one of our Talent Assessments.  The results look good in the report, but the results were wrong.

We identified the contradiction and recommended the Client not hire the person.  They were very pleased that we saved them from hiring a great actor, instead of a true superstar.

If they had simply been buying the online assessment without our consulting service they would have made a costly mistake.

Do your DISC or other type of assessments "suck" but you put up with them?  Are they inaccurate, or do you wish they told you more?

How could the results be wrong?

Our online Dual Perspective Service assessments confirm a person's behaviors and driving forces / motivators, with a "Sales" version for sales professionals and another "General" version for other employees or job candidates. 

We also have a Triple Perspective Service that integrates confirmation of the person's work competencies to further increase the accuracy of the report from 80-85% to 90-95%. 

Probably 25-50 million people have taken these assessments that you can order on our website.  This is powerful validation of the different versions of our online assessments.

Yet in this case, the online assessment results were wrong.  To be candid, this is not the first time this has happened.  The good news is our proven process catches these errors and helps our Clients make better decisions on more realistic data.

The reason the online assessment by itself failed is that some people answer based on what they think they are, versus who they really are. 

Sometimes this is because the job candidate or employee is trying to manipulate the results of the report.  In the situation I mentioned above I believe it was simply the job candidate thought he behaved differently than he actually did.

Have you ever had an employee who thought he or she was better than they actually were on the job?

Yes, we have been there, done that too. 

Therefore we have a process to avoid repeating that mistake.  It hurt too much, and cost a lot of money and time when it happened earlier in our careers.

TIP #1

If you just order a DISC assessment to consider a person's behaviors, then you lack insights into the driving forces / motivators that make them behave that way.  You are actually missing the most important information.  You have to understand and appeal to what motivates a person for them to improve. 

Managing by reacting to their behaviors is significantly less effective than understanding and intentionally engaging them based on their driving forces / motivators / values.

It's like you are addressing the "symptoms" of a problem, rather than the "disease."

TIP #2

The power of assessing someone's work behaviors, motivations, and competencies is a combination of three activities:

1  -  Your online assessment is weak.  We are surprised at how many of our competitors' reports are incredibly generic and lack depth.  We are convinced the organization that provides us with our assessments is the best value in the world for a comprehensive, accurate report.

2  -  You have a weak or incomplete process for a job candidate or employee to complete the online assessment, and confirm its results.  Too many companies just have someone take their online assessment instead of follow a complete process to gain a full perspective on the person.

When you fail in this area it's like buying a new 3/8 inch drill bit because you need to drill 3/8 inch holes.  However, you only drill halfway through the wood each time you need a 3/8 inch hole.  The initial hole in the wood looks great, but because you do not complete the process it does not help you achieve your goals.  It is an incomplete hole that is not used.  It only provides momentary inspiration. 

3  -  You do not consistently apply what was learned in the assessment process after it is completed.  Too many people pay for an assessment and find the results interesting, but then do not ever look at them again, or apply the results to help individuals prosper.

TIP #3

The people who advise you on the results of the assessments are a key factor in whether the results you get are accurate. 

I encourage you to get real.  Most of you could be getting a lot more for the money you are spending for online assessments of job candidate and employee work behaviors, driving forces / motivators, and/or competencies.

If you are not are ready a Client of our Talent Assessments, then we are willing to give you one for free to experience the process.  Just email us at

If you prefer not to use our assessments, then please consider my advice above to strengthen your process and achieve a much higher ROI from your evaluation of job candidates and employees.

I hope your 2017 is off to a strong start.


3 Strands LEADERSHIP & Follow-up to W.I.N.

More than 100 studies confirm 80% or more of employees are NOT fully engaged (Tony Schwartz, Harvard Business Review, 9/19/2011).  They are not doing their best.

Think about that for a moment...  If only 20% of your team is trying their hardest to win in the sport you are playing - baseball, basketball, soccer, football, water polo... that is only 2 out of 10 of your players are giving it everything they've got...  then how well will your team perform against the competition?

Your team will do poorly.  The same goes for your business. 

Gallup studies confirm world class companies with full engaged employees have about a 5:1 advantage over average companies and grow 2.6X faster. 

I suggest the difference is 3strands LEADERSHIP.  The inspiration behind this “3strands” is from Ecclesiastes 4:12, which says:

“Though one may be overpowered and two can defend themselves, a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

The first strand of 3strands LEADERSHIP is Systematic Power.  How well you demonstrate Systematic Power separates people with leadership attributes vs. people with true leadership skills. 

The core leadership systems are how you hire, manage, develop, and retain top performing people on your team.  Defining and demonstrating Systematic Power enables you to be consistent role model who builds trust, and inspires greatness.

The second strand of 3strands LEADERSHIP is Meaningful Work.  Systems without meaning have no lasting value.  GREAT Leaders create self-motivating work environments for each individual of their team that link career tasks to their personal fulfillment.  This is the most important motivator of all - the unique personal satisfaction each employee gains from achieving results. 

The foundation of Meaningful Work for leaders is how you define and demonstrate your company culture cornerstones: 

  • Mission With A Purpose (mission statement - why you are in business)
  • Vision Motivating a Future (vision statement - where you are going as an organization)
  • Non-Negotiable Values (3-10 statements with behavioral examples - how you do business)
  • Accountability For Consistency (where most companies fail - living out their company culture cornerstones)

The third and final strand holds the other two together.  It is Sincere Gratitude.  This is how you confirm you value each team member's contribution in ways that they appreciate.  Tossing them a Starbucks card may just insult them.  You need to recognize them and reinforce they are important to your team based on their personal preferences. 

Reminder:  People do not remember what you say as much as they remember how you make them feel.

A key part of how you live out your 3strands LEADERSHIP is defining clear, measurable T.A.R.G.E.T. goals and then following-up to achieve superior results:

  • Be a role model of 3strands LEADERSHIP systems
  • Define and achieve T.A.R.G.E.T. goals
  • Stop and revive yourself, and renew your focus in Sanctuary
  • Consistently define and achieve a Weekly W.I.N.

Download my latest T.A.R.G.E.T. Goals Guide for Employees here. 

Weekly W.I.N.

"W.I.N." stands for What's Important Now?  I got it from Solid Networks of Modesto, California and use it with their permission. 

Each week take a Sanctuary break for self accountability.  Did you achieve what you set out to do this past week?  What are your very top priorities this upcoming week?  (There is more, but these steps are critical to achieving a Weekly WIN and annual TARGET goals.)

Sanctuary time is uninterrupted time.  Email and instant messaging is off.  No interruptions.  No phone calls.  Just focus your mind to work on your business, not in it.

Your Weekly WIN are the three most important milestones or tasks you must complete during the upcoming week to move closer to achieving your annual goals.  (Never define more than three strands so you stay focused on what is truly most important.)

Individually these activities may not seem very important, but collectively they are crucial small steps towards achieving meaningful work each year.  Over time the collection of these three weekly activities also protect us from failure or ongoing mistakes, systematically build a fortress of success, and strengthen our company's defense against competitors and anyone who might question our productivity

Some key thoughts:

  1. The discipline of weekly achieving a Weekly WIN is a strong climbing “rope” (3strands LEADERSHIP) to reach your vision of success (whatever you have defined success to be).
  2. Your Weekly WIN should be listed in order of priority.
  3. You should review your Weekly WIN daily.  For your direct reports, we suggest you review their status either daily or on Tuesday (day 2) and Thursday (day 4) of each week for accountability.

Here is an example of a Weekly WIN:

Week of May 10, 2015

  • Rehearse No Drama Charm School soft skill training presentation
  • Complete final two Strategic Plans for my team
  • Track work in our PSA (1) Enter all time;  (2)Confirm the Smith project process is entered correctly;  (3) Confirm contacts in our PSA are our primary Client contacts

Week of May 3, 2015

  • Enter time for all of my work in our PSA software - COMPLETE
  • Get Ralph to complete all of his Strategic Plans this week - COMPLETE
  • Complete final edits to all current support documents - COMPLETE

One approach to managing the Weekly WIN's of your team...

Require your people to email their draft Weekly WIN, or post it on a common site like Basecamp or a ticket in your PSA, at least one day before you meet for your weekly 1:1.  This gives you time to review their key objectives for the week and prepare valuable feedback.  If they are holding themselves accountable and no manager is involved, then encourage them to follow this same process on their own, of course without the email.

Require that you confirm their Weekly WIN.  You might suggest or even require changes such as rewording or shifting their order of priority, but that is okay.  Share your insights and confirm they are focused on what is most important.

Require them to reserve time in their calendar to achieve their Weekly WIN.  These event entries protect time in their schedule to do the work, and allow them to balance this work throughout the week rather than rushing to complete the work at the last minute, or allowing unexpected needs to be overwhelmoing.

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