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Leading with Music presents: Blues

Time to renew your perfecT Team?

Time to renew your perfecT Team?

Screaming from the back of our Team was the most passionate member of the team. The bad news is that he was from Peru, spoke very little English, so we rarely understood what he was saying. HOW he was saying it was CRYSTAL clear. His energy was contagious as he lectured us on the sideline at halftime, which I delegated that Time to him, and simply observed how he renewed the Team, words not really being needed…

Count on executing perfeCT…

Count on executing perfeCT…

“Johnny try harder!!” One of the shorter members of our team was not able to keep up with the boys as they were becoming young men. His parents were hoping their voices would “help” him to be a more PERFECT player… and I could Count on it making him execute worse. He knew that there was no way to catch these bigger kids, and eventually, he left the team. Having been short my whole life, I understood, but that didn’t make it easy for me…

wonder how to make perfEct Easy?

wonder how to make perfEct Easy?

“Play the Simple Ball”. Standing on a field that cold March morning, it was my admonishment to the young men preparing to play the game they love and qualify for the Finals – if we could win this match. We had jelled well this season, but this last hurdle was to beat our archrival – the wonder of which were mostly our close friends, including the Coach of the other team…

Focus and observe Radical Collaboration with PERFECT

Focus and observe Radical Collaboration with PERFECT

“Could you possibly finish a thought?”. If you know mathematics, you would observe my sentences involve a lot of “open parentheses” – the start of something, and then something else, and then something else. Closing parentheses, which allow thoughts to be processed and considered – those are not easy for me to do. What I look for in teams are people who observe that, and “help me” Focus … and be more PERFECT…

Reframing PERFECT partners

Reframing PERFECT partners

Walking into our Executive’s office that afternoon, we were in big trouble, summoned by our boss to join him – NOW. As we came in, we were scolded that the Safety Engineer had turned us in with a memo. A large computer Terminal was on top of our bookcase – 6 feet in the air – and weighing nearly 60 lbs, had a coax cable wrapped around it that was about to be caught in the door, which could have killed us…

Examine the management of PERFECT

Examine the management of PERFECT

I had reached the point in the day’s interviews to meet with the Senior VP who would potentially be my manager. It was a large company, growing fast, and more than likely, you are reading this from a server that is hosted in their cloud. I asked:  “How do you handle mistakes?” His confident reply – “The people we hire do not make mistakes”. I did not take the job…

Pausing to engage PERFECT

Pausing to engage PERFECT

“What you are reading is PERFECT!” You know that is Looney Tunes – and if I could get you to read that in my favorite character, Foghorn Leghorn, “It’s a joke son! You missed it!” it would be perfect. Early in life, I ran across many characters like this, and eventually came to be a student of them, adopting some of their best (and worst) mannerisms, including what people say about me all the time: “Often wrong, never in doubt”.

renewing Rhythm

renewing Rhythm

The one remaining element of Rhythm critical to Management Hygiene is summarized with a single word: When?  All of the work on priorities, partners, directs, strategic planning, even email fail… unless they make it onto your calendar.  As I tell each leader: your calendar does not lie – it shows who, what, and why you do what you do, and the paradox is that managing the calendar is the easiest and hardest exercise we do.  In one engagement a leader wanted to move from 12 hours a day to 8.  As we examined each day, by Thursday, after eliminating no meetings, I moaned, “…so you don’t really want to work less..:” 

Rhythm that executes…

Rhythm that executes…

I grew up with email.  My class was the last class to learn slide-rule in high school, and the first to move from punched cards to a terminal. And it was just as inside IBM and outside networks were starting to connect remote people together in ways that are still taking over our lives.  I took typing in high school, not to be an admin (like my first bosses thought), but because being able to do it well was the connection to the rest of the world. Interestingly, studies have shown that people hate email – it takes up way too much of their daily Rhythm and produces very little ROI – and yet, they can’t let go.  So who is executing whom? 

wonderful Rhythm

wonderful Rhythm

In the early weeks of the year, the Rhythm of many organizations is “Strategic Planning Meetings” – otherwise known as “…wonder what the heck do we do now?”  It is the place where the realities of last year, the current market assessments, and the dreams of the future come together to set out goals for this year.  Similar to “Feeding the Bear”, well-run organizations have what they projected for “this” year from last year’s “5-year plan”, and can simply reorient that to what is now happening.  But particularly last year has probably thrown that up in the air… or has it? Who sees over the horizon that you need to find?

Rhythmic observation

Rhythmic observation

A basic element of any effective management system is “No Surprises”.  “Simple but not easy” does not even start to describe this critical part of your Hygiene.  In fact, I have used a fairly graphic way of describing it to leaders, probably driven by where I now live.  Our street in Virginia has a Rhythm of what are politely called “Bear Interactions”, the largest in our area… and our area has the most in the whole state.  So we fairly regularly have a bear walk past our house. In fact recently, we observed not 1… or 2… we had 3… on our deck.  They were small, but like surprised leaders, they can pack a wallop…. 

partners with Rhythm

partners with Rhythm

In the same spirit as 1-1 meetings, nothing is more important than Rhythmic conversations with peers and partners. It is complicated, as for most of your career you are “competing” with them, imagining that only one of you will get the step up.  There is truth in that, but also that without good relationships, you will become more and more insulated.  To stay with the musical metaphor, without the band, the lead guitarist is flashy… but rarely would be recognized.  So who are your “bandmates”, and how do you sort out how to partner with them?

Rhythmic management

Rhythmic management

One of the first questions I used to ask leaders in our initial Coaching conversation was “How often do you meet with your direct reports?” More often than not, it was met with a few moments of puzzled silence, and then typically “Oh we talk every day!” The HARDEST thing about coaching is not letting your judgment enter into the conversation. But to be honest, I normally sigh, and, as I’m a terrible poker player, that usually takes the conversation into a different place.  I have at least learned to back up and ask a better question: “What is your approach to management?”… which helps me deduce the same thing… do they use the Rhythm method? 

engaging Rhythm…

engaging Rhythm…

Balance is hard to achieve in any endeavor until you notice you are getting slightly off-center.  When I conceived of this blog, it was to be a little music, a little leadership, and a story to make it memorable.  These last few weeks there were less practical leadership insights other than “be like me”, which I find… not that helpful.  Engaging with leaders (and myself) to establish a good Rhythm of what I call “Management Hygiene”, add in that it is Black History Month, I wanted to dig into an African American artist, and I needed to make these shorter… there is really only one person to do that this week…