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Leading with Music presents: Rock

engaging The Fall…

engaging The Fall…

I rarely run across a song and a group that I have never heard. And not bragging… just when you make it your business to notice and know music, it is a shock. Recently people have given me the tagline “… and his encyclopedic knowledge of music” It is why I love listening to Sirius XM Deep tracks… and Wikipedia 😉 Between them, I can still occasionally reward my brain with something that it has to process for the first time… and, wonder is something that only gets better when you use it… often…

renewing and ReLaunching leadingWithMusic

renewing and ReLaunching leadingWithMusic

The days of summer are waning, and I hope you have had a chance to renew a bit. We have had the great fortune to gather with our extended family a number of times, which helped me reflect a bit on what the last few years have taught us. 

renewing Goals

renewing Goals

“Ok. Now you know all of the people I know that can help us achieve what we need to do. And it is now up to you:  to Keep them as your contacts, to grow them, renew them, and to understand how to leverage them appropriately.” It was a Simple statement that happened within the first 3 months of my professional career. Add Smiley and we have the KISS Goal that is now my brand… which renews me consistently…

executing Goals

executing Goals

As I was leaving, I turned to my wife and said, “Today is going to suck.” Not the most empowering stance I know, but something that I had gotten used to saying particularly of late. She inquired, “Do you have a lot of meetings?” “Actually no – I have NOTHING on my calendar – which means something is going to blow up.” 

Goal wonder

Goal wonder

“DAD!!! I am keeping the time – NOT you!!!” Ok then – so much for the Goal of playing music together 😉 It was during practice with the Church band we had both joined as we attempted to support “Contemporary Worship”. The chance to actually play with him was wonderful… and being 17, frustrating to us both. But his kickdrum was in fact better… and allowed me to relax, and simply wonder what was happening – both on stage… and with me…

observing Goals

observing Goals

“I write down Goals every day in this Planner. Each day I review them… move the ones I didn’t do to tomorrow… and do it again.” I was listening intently to a Darden MBA student who I had already observed was HYPER organized and focused on achieving success. By this point, my own Goal was to be better at observing the “rest signs” in the melody that is “playing out” so I waited. He slid it across the table to me and stated “….. I hate that Planner”.

partners Goals

partners Goals

Nature abhors a vacuum… which means many leaders believe they can set Goals by themselves, and simply state them to partners and peers as clear and unambiguous. That vacuum then becomes like the silence of deep space – as blank looks, and unengaged stares come back your way. The moniker of if you want to travel fast, travel alone also fits here, where many leaders believe that partners simply slow you down… Yes… and…

managing Goals

managing Goals

You are seeing a lot written about “engagement” – A LOT with the ‘Great Resignation’. So I am honored that they have chosen a piece of empower for all these “new” articles 😉 – that now you need to understand what motivates people. Simply, I would add: saying it is one thing: the important thing is managing to do it. And it starts with you – before you can start thinking “out there” in the cubes and offices. What is it that YOU Believe in, and manage towards?

Goals to engage

Goals to engage

… and we’re off on the New Year. And if you are following the normal course, you have made some resolutions … and some Goals for this fresh start after Cleaning Up. And normally those are in the trash heap by the time we reach MLK Day, and certainly by Presidents Day. So what are Goals really… and what could sustain us as we engage… practices that are Simple? And of course, the music needs to be a gentle reminder to slow down after the starting gun…

Cleaning Up renewal

Cleaning Up renewal

One problem I have with Cleaning Up is there is always more to do. This week is no exception – I planned to “finish” U2 off with this week, and realized by Tuesday that I was going to need many more weeks to really do the band justice. It was renewing this week to let the music do the talking and less Cleaning Up my own stories.  And it was very renewing to hear again these amazing songs and albums full of the barely hidden Gospel…

executing Clean Up

executing Clean Up

Happy New Year!!! …oh wait.. Maybe fewer exclamation points – I should execute this with a quieter voice.. if I had one:-) My wife reminds me often that there is one thing I am not, that is quiet. I hope that however, your night was, whenever you are now, and whenever you are reading this, you celebrated well. There is actually a tie-in to today’s song, believe it or not, so let’s quietly jump right in…

wonder… Cleaning Up

wonder… Cleaning Up

You have today. While always true, particularly today is the day to Clean Up anything you need to put a “2021” on. For me, it is ordering supplies and other expenses that I can accelerate into the rearview mirror, and then downloading fiscal records (stop laughing – I do actually keep them – mostly). It is one of those business practices that I used as a game each year that I continued to play in this new path. The wonder is I still do that mentally – stuck thinking eventually someone will figure out that I need to get a “real job”…

Cleaning Up observation

Cleaning Up observation

“So – he comes in here, throws papers in the air, plays some guitar, and then does it again?” Yes – yes, of course. My nephew was visiting, and his observation was spot on – my office’s normal state is a disaster. My Daughter on seeing my Cleaned Up version one time remarked more politely, “My, there are a LOT of things to observe!”. Up comes easy – Cleaning, not so much…

partners to Clean Up

partners to Clean Up

Music is the cornerstone of my work now. U2 was formed by people who were, like me, actually not great musicians. Larry played the drums “wrong” and The Edge was at best a rhythm guitar player when they started, to say nothing of Adam who only learned the Bass because they needed one. Even Bono wasn’t that sure of his own voice – both writing and singing. Can we learn something about partners and Cleaning Up – only from the music?

Cleaning Up management

Cleaning Up management

I didn’t even bring blank paper with me. Thinking about leaving behind the only reality I had known as a working manager for nearly 40 years, I knew I needed to get some clarity. Offsites were by now second nature, mostly done poorly, and frankly one of the things I found myself Cleaning Up for other teams. And here I was sitting in our recently purchased Mountain House, a little dizzy from the altitude, and more from what the heck was I thinking?

engage Cleaning Up

engage Cleaning Up

Happy Boxing Day! Sorta Christmas Lite for the poor and the working-class across the British Empire, it is now a holiday that has turned into something much more American – a huge post-Christmas Sale 😉 So In both contexts, it is bringing home “boxes” of goodies that you may not have gotten last week. One year this week between Christmas and New Year’s, our hot water heater went out, requiring us to Clean Up the whole back basement area … and sparked another way to think about Boxing…

renewing Courage

renewing Courage

A well-orchestrated job search, as 100’s of leaders I have worked with over many years say, ends with 2 outside offers, and one inside offer. It then takes Courage to choose between them, and also a lot of faith that you have done the best you can, and look forward with that same Courage. It all sounds very clean and tidy, which might lead you to wonder why I was in the building on a Saturday morning early, loading up most of my “stuff” with my wife … and slinking out of the garage…

executing Couragously…

executing Couragously…

I landed the role I am writing about this week late in 2002 with some luck during the opposite of what we are seeing now. An economic downturn after 2001 had frozen hiring, depressed salaries, and I felt fortunate to get anything, even this now meat-grinder role. The Courage to think about doing something else was tied up in one of the hardest issues to confront – money. Do we have enough, will we have enough, particularly with kids just heading into College. And yet, I knew that this was going to slowly kill me if I stayed…

wonderful Courage

wonderful Courage

“I know that we have the right team to pull this off!” said our VP from the front of the packed room. Giving us encouragement was one of the wonders of this particular leader’s talents, and what had got us all together. And, the wonder now was that this speech was exactly the same we had heard about a year before… and wasn’t working. Now it sounded more like pleading… and the feeling in the room was different – more desperation, and less belief we could actually do this…

observing Courage

observing Courage

It was 5 pm, and we were all lining up to go into the everyday “Evening Status Meeting” on the top floor of Pho IV, the newest building in our complex, and the heart of all of our work. I rarely left the building during the day, with breakfast, lunch, and dinner catered in so we didn’t take time away from the “work”. These meetings were twice a day – morning and evening – but the evenings are always brutal. As the “service” organization, the IT team was brought in nightly to be drawn and quartered by the SVP’s of the business, on “why haven’t you”…

The Courage to partner

The Courage to partner

If anyone tells you there is only one way to do something, they are lying or very misinformed. And it is particularly true in IT systems – both being told there is only one way, and that not being true. Our current predicament was caused by an IT person who was disgruntled with the way systems were being built, and left the org to build systems “in the business” – otherwise known as “without oversight”. And because he built them quicker and also knew more about the underlying business, the business used his group more and more. Now – those systems had to be replaced and completely re-implemented by “our” official IT group… and I had to be his partner…

Courage to manage

Courage to manage

The Bermuda Triangle of my corporate experiences are: Pain, Change, and Courage. You might wonder why I chose Lovin, Touchin, Squeezin as the soundtrack of this post, and to be very clear, unlike others managers in the corporate world, those were never done by me 😉 But leveraging the principles of understanding what people really need and want from their workplace helped me manage and navigate between all of these elements. So what best practices have I experienced?

engaging with Courage

engaging with Courage

“Don’t be a Fred”. By now we are used to the different Southern Virginia dialect, so when our minister was reading one of the most prominent phrases in the Bible, we knew what he meant. Sorta. “Fear NOT” is one of those phrases that is like everything I do now – Simple, but not Easy. In the face of Continuous Change, most of which may NOT be of our own making, how do we engage Courage over Fear? I can’t solve this, but I believe it is something worth engaging in…

renewing Continuously for a Change…

renewing Continuously for a Change…

“If your employees need their weekends to rest and renew, you might have a burnout culture.” I saw that headline … and the only edit I would suggest is to remove the word “might”. There are articles almost every day about it, and many leaders I work with are moving between roles to get away from it, believing that is caused by their situation. Sadly, it travels with them, and the dirty secret is the person who is most responsible for burnout is… you. I know – because it was (and is) me…

executing Change Continuously…

executing Change Continuously…

So what the heck is a Change Agent anyway? I didn’t see that career path in the College Catalog, but there are sure a lot of people out there with that title on their business cards. You’ve seen them, I am sure – in conference rooms, and in my generation, nice looking suits/pantsuits, expensive briefcases, and a stack of forms and “best practices” that they are bringing to your neighborhood to “help” you. And they always have an execution plan – timelines, milestones, and something called “deliverables” that they are going to “help” you develop. Yeah – like I actually have time to execute anything else… other than them 😉

Continuously wondering about Change?

Continuously wondering about Change?

If you study people, you quickly recognize that putting them together into groups and teams is… complex 😉 And if you wonder why I love studying musical groups, you can see how simply adding one new person completely changes things. In the research around Teams, the highest performing have been together for more than 2 years… but less than 5. Balancing Change and Continuous is something that is worth wondering about…

Continuously observing Change…

Continuously observing Change…

God is in fact a comedian. If you don’t believe me, then why would he put me into a “natural” career path where my most Continuously uttered phrase is “Slow Down”? Never a core competency of mine, it is the stance that I try to help others with … as they whiz past something important that they have said, or missed an implication of not observing what they actually know – versus what they want to be true. They are interested in Change – sure – but often miss the signposts on their Journey that make change both possible, and positive…

Continuously Changing partners?

Continuously Changing partners?

Today I am hosting one of the final workshops for a group of brave souls who are piloting the Designing Your Life material that I prototyped on myself for the last year. They have all discovered the magic needed to sustain Change, particularly Continuously: partners. I would love to claim it is the material, and even my excellent leadership – but you all know me 😉 There is something about realizing that you are not alone…