Friday, October 5, 2007

If your work was GOLF how good a Golfer would you be?

By Doug Bain

Think about it! Are you a Tiger or are you just another recreational duffer at your work. To be an avid golfer you would have to have a passion to put in the work that would let you enjoy good performance on the golf course. Your level of success depends on your interest in the game, the development you need to use your tools for golf success, and the right practice and performance critical to guide you toward your high goals for success in the game. What level of success would you be having in your golf game, if you were as talented and passionate toward golf as you are toward your job success?

How well do you meet the challenges you are confronted with?

How well do you drive from the tee each day at your work?

How well do you initiate action toward a goal and lead positive results?

How well do you finish the job?

Do you strive to hit targets and to put the ball in the hole?

How is your fine art of putting gently closing the deal on one hole to be ready in a positive way to move forward to the next challenging hole?

Golf is a great game with clear objectives, expectations, and great rules of play. Nowhere are you told HOW to get the game done. The how is left up to your creative ability and desire to figure it out. Your talent in golf grows from this challenge. Are you challenged in the right way to excel at your work? It is always said in golf that one great shot brings you back to play again. The more success you have the more fun it is and the more you want to come back. How excited are you to come back to your work?

In golf you recover and cope with the mistakes that get you in trouble. You learn to recover from bad places by developing the tools and skills to get out of trouble and get to the hole with the least number of shots. How strong are your recovery skills at your work?

The average golfer could not break 100 if they play the game as the rules determine. What are the rules of play in your work? Do you understand how the rules make it possible to enjoy the game more or do the rules of play seem to get in the way of your fun? If the later is truer for you, then you either are playing a different game or you just do not want to play the game.

Greatness in golf is totally outside the possibilities except for the very talented, motivated and strong in their ability to play. No one is born with talent to be excellent in anything and some endeavors have longer learning curves than others. Are you on the right learning curve and where are you on that curve? Where do you fall on the continuum in your work? Are you on the right curve there? Do you like to play the game or are you one who is not that involved and wants to be left alone to do the same thing in the same way each day? Are you engaged like a Tiger or are you disinterested?

What are your talents that bring you your greatest chance for success? Your talents are your ability to use your clubs in golf that get the ball going down the fairway from the tee. Then what skills connect you toward the desired goal? How good are your long irons and short irons? How excited are you to complete with the desired result you set out to achieve?

Initiation, connection, completion, follow-through, over and over... What a yet undiscovered metaphor this sports world, especially a game like golf, is for us. Is it any wonder we love our sports? Wouldn’t it be great if it was as clear as it is in golf or basketball or football. The expectations are clear in sports, the results are easily measured and sports success is guided by motivated and talented athletes and motivated and talented coaches. How different this is from the average workplace?

Great athletes, great teams, great organizations, great results are no coincidence. There are no coincidences. Great golfers are not born great golfers and great performers grow step by step often from minimal beginnings.

Now think about what it might have been like for a Tiger Woods growing up to be arguably the best athletic performer the world has ever known. His sport happens to be golf that he is the best in the world at. Tiger was literally encouraged from birth in all ways including golf, mentally gifted, emotionally guided, spiritually directed, and physically aware in a safe and trusting environment by a caring mom, dad, and other family members.

Golf was something Tiger learned very early he could love, enjoy, and have success with, as referenced by the attention of many, but always including his loving parents. His parents were two of his coaches on his team, but there were many great coaches selected carefully for the talents they brought to the table by Tiger and his parents. All these coaches watched out for his back all the time and they did everything in support of an obvious talent Tiger was wanting to grow with through a means they were familiar with in the golf. Tigers talent grows through experience, learning and adjusting, and with great coaching leading to the path producing excellent results in golf with every step and on every level.

Tiger grew with little fear of failure, because he did not experience much failure other than the loving trial and error process he was going through with his loving and trusted parents and coaches. The patterns of behavior encouraged by parents gave Tiger an outlet to demonstrate his talent in golf and other areas. What was Tiger’s real talent?

Tiger was fortunate that his parents had the talents to watch his back in both the intellectual realm and in the sports realm with golf. You see Tiger’s dad was a great teacher and coach of people from his army training in the Green Beret’s. This intense training must have prepared him to understand the development needs of his son very well. He was also a great golfer and loved the game of golf and Tiger soon picked up on that energy too for his growing outlet and success and through the loving relationship with his dad. When Tiger’s dad Earl Woods died last year we all felt the loss along with Tiger.

Tiger Woods is a unique individual who with his upbringing grew to be who he is. He is a great person in his own right and he has become the most successful athlete of all time. It is way too complex to understand it all very accurately. In every walk of life there are those who become highly focused, happy at what they do, and very successful in a given area. There is a very few of these highly gifted people. We can probably listen to Tiger and understand that his world was presented to him differently form what was presented to us. Tiger has become a great professional at the top of his profession. Why did he grow his talent and what does that have to do with us and our relationships and environments?

How motivated are you to be a success in your work? What kind of nurturing have you received that helped you identify your talent and then apply your talent in an environment and experience that you love? How motivated are you to see the other people on your team to have great success? People on great teams are self-less. Do you know what a more self-less environment might look like in your workplace?

How close to self-less is your workplace? Do you feel safe and do you trust the if you make a mistake you will still be loved and valued? Are you compelled to give others the benefit of the doubt?

How often do you sense others really caring for you at work with no concern for their agenda? Think about what that might look like and feel like to you. What will it take for you to care that much as if you really wanted to be a revered professional or as if you were actually a great golfer on a great team like the PGA Team?

Yes the PGA is a team organization with rules beyond the rules of how to play golf. Tiger Woods not only is a great individual golfer, but within the organization of professional golf he is the strongest attraction bringing people to watch golf, the most recognized spokesperson for golf the world over and a leader in the world organization of golf.

Doug Bain is a business consultant and professional business and personal coach for people looking for answers that will allow them to create more happiness, satisfaction and excellent bottom-line desired results. Doug coached many sports on all levels including golf at the college before moving into his own business and executive coaching business 15 years ago. He spent time as a college teacher and he worked as a teaching professional in golf. Doug has been there with people and calls it like he has seen it. When it comes to dealing with people, business cultures and being successful on teams and in organizations most are just not well prepared.

The mission is to connect people to the right resources and a path of least resistance for their greatest benefit and to achieve desired results. Whatever your unachieved goal is in your life it is critical to prepare for your success with people who understand your situation and can help you manage the complexity you are confronted with. My mission is to do my best to share people and information from people who can help you get to your goals and to the goals beyond.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

What's missing from many failed mergers?

What's missing from many failed mergers?

It's no secret that most mergers and acquisitions fail to create value. The Wall Street Journal's "Manager's Journal" takes a look at a common problem with mergers:

But if the past is a guide, markets will focus on assets, portfolios and business synergies and overlook a key to whether the deal is successful: people.

People issues are often the root of failed deals, our research shows. That is because they are frequently an afterthought in the frenzy of a deal. Dealmakers gather reams of financial, commercial and operational data. But they often pay scant attention to what we call human due diligence -- understanding the culture of an organization, the roles that individuals play, and the capabilities and attitudes of its people.

This is certainly the strategy of Warren Buffett, whose conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A) has grown successfully by focusing on acquisitions with strong management that wants to stay on. Berkshire avoids integration/people problems by integrating new companies as little as possible.

Given the importance of relationships in the outcome of deals, you have to wonder if some of the more contentious buyouts are doomed to fail.

For instance, Finish Line's (NASDAQ: FINL) acquisition of Genesco (NYSE: GCO): When Genesco reported a bad quarter, Finish Line suggested that it might attempt to back out of the proposed merger agreement. Now lawsuits and rhetorics are flying and shares of Finish Line are scraping five-year lows. It raises the question: If the merger does end up being completed (possibly because Finish Line has no choice), will these people be able to work together?

For a list of other deals that could find themselves struggling because of people problems, check out Private Equity Deals that have Hit Snags. If consummation isn't smooth, then integration isn't likely to be either.

People First Lessons From The Road

* My Sensei says (and I strongly agree) "People do not rise to the occasion; rather they fall to the level of their practice. The harder they practice, the less the fall when called to action"

* A Thought - Leader’s manage different processes, actions, results, and metrics, than managers. If I am still managing the same metrics, am I really leading?

* I seem to be asked a lot recently on my experience with personality, communication, behavioral, EQ, etc. assessments used in interviewing processes. In my experience, these tools are being used incorrectly and I have yet to see any long term proof that this exercise is effective.

In my experience I have yet to find a tool that will give me clear insight into a candidates core values. I believe understanding an individuals core values allows us to find a fit with corporate core values and thus place an individual into a purpose that they will want to engage and succeed in. Assessments seem to use labels that block the opportunity for the discovery of the individual’s unique definition of their sore value. What trust means to me can be different than what trust may mean to you. I have much success exploring core values using a conversation process that we have developed and have yet to find the tool that can replace this.

Also, the process used for these tools seems to be to develop a preferred results model for your position and than match candidates to this model. Again, my experience shows that this results in a group of like thinking and behaving team members. In this, this team lacks the conflict, debate, and argument that build continuous trust. As stated, I have yet to see long term success from this process.

To sum up, my experience proves that an unlabeled core value discovery will allow you to find the best cultural fit between the purpose for the candidate and the purpose of the organization. With this fit, employees want to work hard and be successful. Isn’t this the most important thing to know?

* Marcus DISCOVER not Label…award-winning author Jim Kouzes, about the publication of the fourth edition of his and co-author Barry Posner's classic book, The Leadership Challenge. Five practices of exemplary leadership have emerged from our research. When getting extraordinary things done, leaders:

• Model the Way

• Inspire a Shared Vision

• Challenge the Process

• Enable Others to Act, and

• Encourage the Heart

* Read “Leadership and Self Deception”, Arbinger Institute

* My answers to Johan’s’ questions on LinkedIn…

You are welcome. You are a wise questioner which is a quality that I respect in great leaders. As a point of reference, my great leaders are my mother for her unbreakable spirit of support (a tested theory), my college's football coach for his commitment to a lofty goal, and my Sensei for his ability to give up control in order to become more powerful. I say this, so that you can understand what I hold valuable in a leader in order to choose an answer to your great questions.

1) Do you think leaders are born or made?
2) Can you learn to be a leader?
3) You talk about installing a Leadership system consistent with a management system – what do you mean by this?

1. I have pondered this one much and do not have a strong opinion. In other words, I do not know. I am now of the belief that an individual is given many opportunities in life to lead, some choose to others do not. Knowing when to choose and not to choose is a practiced art of a great leader. Leadership is an art that requires much practice. My Sensei (and I strongly agree) "People do not rise to the occasion; they fall to the level of their practice. The harder they practice, the less the fall when called to action" Leaders choose to be called into action when a core value of theirs is compromised. I therefore believe and have experienced, that the practice of the art of leadership is that of a discovery of core values. Core values are the motivators that get people to do the things that they would not normally do.

2. I believe so, and again through the practice of understanding and honoring the human spirit in EVERY person through the discovery of core values. It has to start with discovering your own core values. Leader, first lead yourself.

3. In my experience, the most successful leadership systems are based on the collective core values of the group. A leader needs to establish the groups purpose ( core values, mission, vision if you will ), behavioral rules, and communication tenets based on each individuals chooses, and this is what they need to continually manage ( as opposed to profits, metrics, etc.). In other words in is built from the ground up not the top down. The challenge in this, and I personally experience this in my organization, is that it takes a strong manager/entrepreneur to get a organization started and eventually a strong leader/CEO to take it to the next level. I have found very few individuals who can accomplish both. The evangelical dreamer entrepreneur gets an idea started and then has to turn it over and remain consistently supportive of the strong leader to complete the task. When we engage an organization, we seek out the leaders in it, and coach a system where they consistently, throughout the life of the organization, re-discover the core values, mission, vision etc. of the different groups and enhance the strengths towards success.

Again, just one man's opinion based on my core values. Thank you again for the thought provoking questions. These allow me the invaluable opportunity to place thoughts to paper.