Sunday, September 23, 2007

"People First" Lessons from the Road

Lessons form the road of “PEOPLE FIRST” Leadership Coaching

I seem to run into a lot of very powerful and impressive entrepreneurial executives. My observations are that these extremely talented people are fantastic managers who run into a common situation. About the time that their organizations reach 80 – 100 people (this can vary), they seem to run into a brick wall. In this, their management expertise and systems rely on their own personal touch of some type on all organizational endeavors. In reaching the 80 – 100 person mark, this becomes simply too many people to manage. This shows up as working way too many hours, incessant phone calls, and consistent scheduling conflicts. The opportunity here is for these managers to install a Leadership system on top of and consistent with their management systems that allow others to take on the accountability of the management systems. It seems consistent that these entrepreneurial managers must either evolve into a CEO leader, back away, or die trying to continue to manage. I have seen many success stories of the serial entrepreneur who knows when to turn over the organization to a CEO leader knowing that “I have seen that job, and I don’t want that job”.

I asked one of my Sensei’s – “What do you do when coaching a class where 60% of the people are engaged and 40% are not. As usual, his answer comes in a number of learned experiences:

* Concentrate on the 60% more – not fully – and let the 40% choose to want to join or remain uncomfortable.

* We owe it to those that want to move forward to move them forward and not be dragged down by a minority that does not. Simply put, build the group up not down.

* Continue to coach the disengaged on what they are doing right (even if it is just showing up), and on who they are and how who they are is important to the group.

* Never critique someone who is down.

Retired Gen. and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell sums this up the best: "Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than the science of management says is possible."

I saw Styx in concert last week -

“Someday soon we'll stop to ponder what on Earth's this spell we're under
We made the grade and still we wonder who the hell we are.”