Better than Average

August 30, 2015 (San Diego) – Better Than Average

I have just complete readying: Prosser, Daniel F. ; (2015), Thirteeners, Greenleaf Book Grp Press, (Austin, TX) . The findings by the author are that only 13% of companies are better than average: the values of the 2nd sigma. My findings, though just above anecdotal in depth, show the same level of performance done above average. A quote I heard today, “Fear more than mistake keeps people from above average performance.”

Wow, I could be fully capable of beyond “good enough” performance, and because of some un-researched “fear” I tie the hands of my full potential. All by myself. Yikes.

I think that a good reflection for us, you all, is what is your fear that may be binding your abilities?

                                                              standard distribution

The “other 6%”

Dec 14, 2014 (San Diego)

I made reference to the “other 6%” in my Dec 06, 2014 entry. The other 6% are tasks that are being done at above goal level because extrinsic factors have helped the employee get to that level of performance.

There are 9% of the tasks being done above goal level performance by naturally high performers.

  1. They push themselves;
  2. they seemed to intuitively know what tasks to focus on;
  3. they are very good with guiding others to help getting the tasks done;
  4. and they do it all with little to no support from management.
  5. Sometimes it is done well in spite of management activities.             My experience as a manager and consultant is that almost anyone can get to be one of the 6%ers on their critical tasks if they want to. Their major obstacle is their will to progress and having a coach to help them move from average to way above average.
  6.             In my next blog I will write about the “will to progress.”

A story: In the good old days “pre-hip surgery” I was a snow skier. I was a good “blue box” level 3 average skier. One day a friend of mine said I looked good enough to ski a “black diamond” slope, a level 4 – above goal level slope. I believed him but asmt everest dangers it turned out he was wrong. After two turns I hooked a shovel on the skis, flew over the front of the skis, and bounced all the way down the slope slamming into one mogul after another. I was not in the 9% group with regard to black diamond slope skiing. After long hours of training over several years I did get to be comfortable skiing black diamond slopes. I was one of the 6%’ers.

Leader in Name Only = L.I.N.O. reloaded

  Nov 16, 2014

            I first wrote this article in 2011.   I am revisiting it because I continue to see way too much leader abandonment on the job or as and when the leader does intervene it is for correction or redirection. Encouragement, support, acknowledgement, praise just does not seem to be a regular part of the conversation. Leaders tell me they are way too busy with work that comes for them to do, to use precious time to have “non-essential” conversations with others.   

          I saw a employee only 2 weeks on the job and in the organization receive an email from the manager indicating that the employee had made an error by asking questions to support departments about a new initiative being taken in the department.  The employee’s manager interpreted the questions as non-support for the new project and non-support for the manager personally.

Besides being disconcerting for the employee only two weeks on the job there was no opportunity given by the manager to discuss what was truly and “interpretation” about questions asked and it caused the employee to be a lot more cautious about seeking out information from others needed to get the job done. One can easily see that this new caution will use time, naked resources, and some of the full strength of the employee. A chilling learning environment for sure

            I am sure many of readers know leaders who do not do real leading.  According to Ken Blanchard there are at least 4 activities a leader needs to be diligent about: goal setting, encouraging towards the goals, redirecting towards the goals, and recognizing progress towards the goals. Humm, seems reasonable enough, yet how many “leaders” do not do these 4 intuitively obvious tasks? In my story above the manager did not “redirect” the learner by first gaining clarity with the employee about what the employee was doing and then further exploring optimal behavior for the employee that would assist in getting the job done.

1.      I see too many leaders where the “goal” is the perpetuation of the status quo. There is not even an effort to do things a little bit better, let alone, substantially better. I suppose this seems OK or even “good” if the next level of management has been silent or rewarding it.

2.      Some leaders have set modest goals but there is little to no emphasis to accomplish the goal. They have gone beyond delegation and into abandonment or abdication of their legitimate responsibility as leader. Funny, enough some employees seize the opportunity of abandonment, so that the abdication leadership almost appears to work. Or, there is just enough prodding done to the leader from the rank and file that the “goal” gets done. Of course, a goal that can be achieved without much leader emphasis will be a goal of limited value to the organization. So sad. In the story above the employee was left alone to determine how to move forward with the goal. No specific directions were given to this brand new employee.

3.      Have you seen a leader who is good at the rah rah in the meeting but little to no support during the day to day action? If you go to the leader to seek support you get one of those scary stares that is wondering “how could you not know the answer to that question”. Of course you know the answer, you are there to seek encouragement that you are on exactly the right path that will solve the problem and also “please” the manager. Oh by the way, the leader does not help in the situation but leaves you to your best ideas without confirmation: “I am sure you can do it.”

           Make a resolution for yourself that you, when you are the lead influencer, will engage with the team to insure they knows

  • what is expected (the goal),
  • that the goal is worthy of the team,
  • that the team is encouraged along the path,
  • redirected when they stray,
  • and celebrated when they succeed.

Being present

Nov 8, 2014 (San Diego)

Lately I have been often reflecting on “being present.” By being present I mean having my spirit, soul, and social activity right where my soma (body) is.

In a previous blog I noted that parts of my leadership behavior was being driven by my past. I was “leading” in the present, my body was present, and some of my soul was there, but none of my spirit was there. Some of my soul and all my spirit was being guided by my past. I have noted that if I want to be genuine I must be totally present.

One activity I have taken up to help myself stay present is reflection, thinking  about why I reacted the way I reacted. Reflection has helped me often when I have had a bullish or nasty response to another. (Yes, I am quite capable of that sort of response, though there are less and less of them.)

Step 1 – I have had the bullish or nasty response

Step 2 – Apologize (this may or may not happen, not my strongest suit

Step 3 – Reflect as soon as possible after step 1 on “why did I react the way I did?”                     understanding 2

Step 4 – Pray to God to help me overpower that driver with a more appropriate driver

Why pray? Why only overpower?

Pray – when a past driver is still prevalent in my life then I realize that I am really “hooked” to that driver. It owns a lot of me. God is going to need to intervene in my life to make serious changes.

Overpower – the old driver will always be present. I need a new more powerful and appropriate driver. Of course this is a serious change issue and the old driver is not going to give up easily and the new driver is going to need to fight for dominance. I have had God make such shifts in my life on numerous occasions.





Indeterminate actions: steps towards slavery

Patrick Henry voiced the clarion call that we should heed today

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death. Full discourse

For me Patrick Henry was very clear: one cannot appease the brokers of tyranny. Not in the Ukraine, Syria, north Asia, middle Africa, or downtown Washington, D.C. Brokers of tyranny see appeasement as a constantly evolving contract. The most obvious today being Kim Jong-un in North Korean and Vladimir Putin’s dealings with the Ukraine. Each new appeasement is merely the next starting point. All understandings are off: “Let’s start all over again.”

It seems then that appeasement is merely a delaying tactic. One has either to confront the tactic or the tactic will ultimately consume you.


Are we learning not to live off of others?

On August 9, 2011 I wrote about whether the USA and particularly our government was learning about not living off of other’s backs. Apparently not.

In 2011 S&P downgraded the US credit worthiness.  Wow so much excitement, but then the financial world continued on. Watch the ads: once again offers are being made for 100% credit on the value of your home. Money for paying bills, trips,  whatever.

Now for the war with ISIS. The US does not mind doing the clean work: dropping bombs, but we want others to do the blood shedding. Whether it is our job or not to do the blood shedding it certainly is not our job to cajole others to do the blood shedding on our/ their own behalf.

Big government does not seemed to mine shedding others blood, throwing others under the bus, Ambassador Clifford in Benghazi. It does seem that when the truth of the matter comes a-courting, “the shedders” start finger pointing and bullying and lying about as fast as can be.

Do not know what I can do to help “right the ship”, but I will think of something.

Tip #4 – Practice with a supporting group

July 27, 2014 (San Diego)

Why do people often “freeze up”, lose verbal fluency, and become nervous when merely moving from their chair to the front of the room to make a presentation? When making a point to the same audience from freezingtheir chair there is no loss of fluency. However, when they move to the front of the room the world seems to have changed.


There seems to be 2 general reasons for the “freeze up”:

  • They feel exposed, naked, transparent       That alone would not cause the troubles, but couple it withnaked
  • They feel the audience will not like them or their message.



Where do people get the idea the audience will not like them or the message when delivered up front, but there is less worry when making the same point from the chair? I am sure part of it comes from their own asking questionslearning environment. When they were listening to others where they listening to learn or listening to critique? My guess is that they were listening to critique and that is what they think is then happening to their presentation, so they are worried. As they worry more and become more self absorbed by the worry their message starts to deteriorate. They become so absorbed with doing poorly that the message literally becomes worse.


Tip #4. To overpower this predisposition practice in safe environments where the audience is there to learn and appreciated your message, not to critique it. As one gives more messages in the safe childrenenvironments one becomes more confident of one’s message and his/her ability to deliver the message in all environments. Toastmaster Chapters are a wonderful places to find these safe environments:


While you are following this tip be sure to incorporate tip 1, tip 2, and tip 3.


Presentation tip #2 – Intentions – reloaded revised

My first tip was “be passionate about your topic or do not be passionate.” Ok, I am passionate about my topic, now TIP #2 my intention:…ip-1-re-loaded

Do I intend to share my passion, involve the others in the passion, persuade the others to become passionate also, or delegate the passion and have the audience move it forward? I suppose I am most interested in this question because for the longest time I gave presentations without having first determined the answer for my self. My presentations were good. They received good reviews, but nothing came of them since I had not thought in advance of the outcome I wanted to occur.

However as I became clearer on my intention from my perspective I could determine how to arrange the data of the message to gain the outcome. I became purposefully better at presentations.

If I am sharing data for information purposes only, then making the data attractive, keeping the audience’s attention, and making the data memorable will all be important.

On the other hand if my intention is to move the audience to action as a result of hearing the message, not only do I need to do all the above I also need to get the audience to own some action as a result of the message. I need to connect with intrinsic needs of the audience to allow them to see that resultant action is in their best interest.

The current political contests in the USA were a clear example that a speaker is greatly hindered if he/she attempts to get the audience to do something of great magnitude, but their personal history or integrity does not support the plea. In this case the speaker’s intentions were undermined by the speakers history. It was in fact the history that told the audience about the intention regardless of what was being said.

The more your speech tends towards a call to action the more the speaker had better best be “connected” to the audience. This of course is true for speeches as well as leadership.

Expand your effectiveness upfront: tip #1 re-loaded

June 21, 2014:

I have the privilege of working with hundreds of people who want to expand their effectiveness while in the front of an audience.

The 5 principles entered on 2 June 2014 are why people want to expand their effectiveness, now I will write one tip on several blogs of how to be effective.

TIP #1: Be passionate about your topic or do not be passionate:

Being passionate drives all other effectiveness aspects of your presentation. Think about the last time you were “passionate” about something: amorous towards another, angry at the kids, really happy about the outcome from an employee. You did not need to tell yourself to be energetic, to have vocal variety, to demonstrate your passion with body language. You were very passionate about the topic and your voice and body language backed you up. We all know how to be really pleased with something. We know instinctively how to communicate “really pleased.” Parents are great at this. Dad or Mom comes home and all they need to do is say your name and you know, you know how the conversation is going to go. All you need is the content. The disposition of the conversation was announced in one word: your name.

When we are upfront we tend to be neutral on a topic, but simultaneously we try to be animated. This is as being “Liked” and Facebook. There is no energy in it, just a check in the box.  This level of being “nothing” creates a problem when you want animation. The presenting mind is neutral and is sending out messages to the rest of the body to be neutral also. Your conscious mind is telling the body to be animated, do something. . The body is confused, it “knows” both signals. This will definitely generate a “mixed signal” to the listening audience.

                                                                                                                                                                                  The tip: be passionate and let the body follow the emotion. The opposite side: if you do not really care guy oneabout the topic, be careful if you are trying to “fake” the presentation skills. If you are having trouble being passionate about a topic:

1. Determine if it is a topic you want to be passionate about                      challenges

2. Check yourself: am I willing to take a public stand on something?

For more tips go to




The weak link in working the problem

April 14, 2014 (San Diego)

            Go back to my March 14 blog, extracted for ease of reading

1.       Review the required performance goal with the employee. It better have some performance metrics

2.       State the gap in performance.

3.       Now the painful part: explore why the gap exists. This will take the patience of “Job” but it works. You are going to hear all the whining and excuses. “Tell me more.” More whining and excuses. “Tell me more” ….. “Is there anything else I need to know.” Once you have exhausted their deep reservoir of reasons go to the next step.

4.       Restate the situation to insure you “understand” it from the employee’s perspective.

5.       Keep cycling on station with number 3 and 4 until you get: “that’s it” (understanding) understanding

6.       Now propose one right next step to move out of this slough of despair.

7.       Get agreement with the employee that they understand the step and that the step will start to move things forward. “Hope is not a good business strategy.”

8.       Have a next performance review soon to reinforce that the step is working or that it needs to be revisited.

The weak link in the 8 parts was 3-5. With a group of managers who are learning this skill. To a person at their first go at using the skills with an employee they went from step 2 to step 6. Step 7 was always not totally clear that it happened. Of course they will know when the first step 8 happens.

My coaching: as laborious and time consuming as steps 3-5 are, take the time to gain clarity on why the gap exists with words from the employee.

These are words you can build off of at step 8 for better or for worse. With explicit clarity articulated in step 7 of what the employee agrees to do based on the nature of the “why the problem exists” you as the supervisor / manager can circle right back to those words.

Take the time for your sake