THE KEY to Success in Healthcare Leadership

2015 will mark my 30th year in Healthcare Leadership.  I have been fortunate to work for great organizations in growing areas and have been a part of building and growing some great clinical programs.  In the process I have provided well for my family and am positioned to leave a personal and professional legacy for the next generation.  Along the way I have determined that there truly is ONE KEY to my success as a healthcare leader and that is creating and maintaining GREAT Physician Relationships.

I will share some guiding principles for great physician relationships shortly, but first we need to understand what I call:

The 1st Law of Healthcare Administration:  Only Physicians write orders. 

An important corollary to this law is Physician Orders must be carried out.  

The impact of these two principles as a healthcare administrator is this:

Whether one is working on a growth strategy or an efficiency strategy, she will not succeed unless physicians are aligned with the initiative.

Follow these guiding principles and you will succeed with physicians and thereby succeed in healthcare leadership:

First Things First:  It is all about the patient!

If you want to align with physicians this principle will get you there 80% of the time.  Most physicians have this at the core of their being.  If you want alignment, it needs to be at the core of yours.  If it is not, you really should find another line of work.  No one will follow or respect a healthcare leader who is all about the business mission or the academic mission except to the degree it aligns with what is right for the patient.  That is the sweet spot of success in healthcare.  Keep swinging there and you will knock it out of the park!

Find, Fix and Follow-up

This principle was taught to me by some consultants along the way, probably the Studer Group.  If you want to improve your healthcare operations, listen to the physicians.  They are in the middle of the fray.  They know what is broken.  Find the root cause of the problems and Fix them!  Do not let them linger forever.  Remove the barriers to great patient care and let the care givers function at the “top of their licenses.”  By the way, when you do that, Follow-up and let them know you have fixed it.  This is VERY important for your credibility.  I have had the experience of fixing something and 2 years later something similar occurred causing a physician leader to determine it had been broken for two years!  Get credit for the work you and your team do to fix things by circling back and communicating the actions you have taken and confirm the results with the physicians.

Create Win, Win, Wins!

Everyone knows that there is an engrained distrust between physicians and “Administration” in healthcare that has to be overcome.  Too often, I have seen Healthcare Administrators try to succeed by looking at the factions within Medical Staffs and trying to pit one faction versus another and thereby maintain enough of a power edge to stay “in control.”  This strategy can win in the short-term, and is exactly why we have what I call the “3 and out cycle” in healthcare leadership…  A new healthcare CEO comes in and surveys the landscape, determines a strategy, aligns with one side or another of the medical staff to execute on the strategy, succeeds and moves on before the backlash can catch up with her.  In the wake is a disgruntled, untrusting medical staff that is waiting on the next CEO to come in and see what they can do to get their agenda heard this time around.

This win/win leadership is not enough to sustain long-term success in healthcare.  Instead we need to create a win/win/win strategy, embracing all factions by engaging medical staff leadership around “first things first,” the patient.  Work with them to define sustainable strategic initiatives that deliver the best care to patients and support the mission and vision of the healthcare system.  This is not a quick hit strategy.  It takes time because it relies upon creating relationships and trust.  Will everyone embrace the vision?  Probably not, but the few who are not aligned when this is the approach usually marginalize themselves. All the other stakeholders will see them as outliers whose selfish interests outweighed the interests of patients, and their complaints will fall on deaf ears.

Finally, remember Physicians are People Too!  Get to know them.  Care about them as mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, wives and husbands.  They have lives outside of their roles in our healthcare institutions.  Help them have balance in their lives.



Four Resolutions for Impactful Leaders

I am guilty.  Guilty of showing favoritism.  In my conscious mind I know that every person has worth and value.  I even work for an organization that serves the disenfranchised, yet I was confronted by the fact that in my subconscious I have been guilty of  not serving well.  I am like those that James confronts in his letter found in the New Testament.  I have shown VIP treatment to some who have more everything; status, influence, power, yet have treated those with less like they ARE less, which they ARE NOT. I have worked hard to build relationships and influence with the haves, and have not taken the time to get to know the have-nots.  I have failed to fully recognize that wisdom does not know socioeconomic boundaries and the riches of life are often available in getting to know those who have persevered, though buffeted mercilessly by life’s blows.

I am determined to heed the words of wisdom learned today and take the following actions so that I “Live to Impact,” not “Live to Impress.”  I will slow down from my doing good long enough to serve better by resolving to heed these simple lessons for impacting the world around us:

Learn Names:

Dale Carnegie rightly stated that nothing sounds so sweet to a man than the sound of his own name.  I resolve to learn one person’s name per day that I previously would have passed by without giving them any thought.

Listen to Stories:  

Everybody has one.  They are what life is all about, and the only things that have impact from one generation to the next.  Our stories are our legacy, and if we are so busy trying to write our own story, without taking the time to intersect with the stories of others, our life will be pale, lifeless, and void of any lasting impact.  Think of the funerals you have attended.  Which ones do you leave feeling inspired and hopeful?  Those where the deceased has had an impact on the lives around him or her!  Those who left behind stories of love, compassion and serving others.  They are the lives that had an impact.  They are the kind of live we all should want to emulate.  I resolve to listen to at least one person’s story each day that I otherwise would have passed without hearing.

Share possessions:

The lesson of Christmas joy needs to remembered 24 x 7, 365 days per year.  The lesson is this.  ”It is better to give than to receive.”  ”Better for whom?” one might ask.  Better for the receiver and the giver.  Nothing brings as much joy than giving a gift to someone who appreciates it. Nothing we possess in this life is worth anything past the day we die unless it can affect the life of another.  One has two choices.  Let it impact others now so one can share in the joy of the effect it has on someone, or die and then let your assets be passed to your heirs and/or the government and hope it has some positive effect on the world.  Those are your only two choices at the end of the day!  I resolve to share something I possess each day with someone I otherwise would never have impacted.

Provide Opportunities:

The other resolutions are fairly simple commitments that can be accomplished daily and with relatively easy effort.  Not so with the last one.  This one requires commitment to know those you want to impact beyond a surface level.  One has to understand the other person’s skills, abilities, vulnerabilities and weaknesses.  It is risky.  You will likely leverage your relationships and resources to have some people deeply disappoint you.  It will likely get messy at times.  That being said, having a lasting impact from one person who responds positively is worth the pain caused by many who may not respond or who may let you down.  To live life this way is a reflection of the same effort one man-made for all of us 2000 years ago in Galilee.  I resolve to provide opportunities for at least 5 people in the next year who I would never have lifted a finger to help in the past.

The truth of the matter is life is short and the need around us is great.  If we want to have an impact, we need to open our eyes and ears to the people around us, hear their stories and be there to help them write happy endings to their tales.  In doing so our own stories will be enriched and inspire others for generations to come.  What Resolutions would you add?

Special thanks to my pastor, Kevin Queen, for his challenging and inspiring words of wisdom.




Stop Helping: It Hurts!









I am a missionary at heart and have been on several short-term international mission trips and also have been a part of community outreach efforts locally through community and church groups.  Therefore, the new body of writing that has come out challenging whether the majority of that type of work is having a positive impact has made me really take notice.  The two books above make the argument that there are often unintended consequences of such efforts that wreak havoc on the economies and even the psyche of the people who well-meaning individuals like me think they are helping!

This premise reminded me of a lesson I learned recently on Dan Miller’s, “48 Days to the Work You Love,” Leadership Podcast and how we often do too much for those we lead.  The lesson was this:

The first time you do something asked of you creates Appreciation.

The second time you do something asked of you creates Anticipation.

The third time you do something asked of you creates Expectation.

The fourth time you do something asked of you creates Entitlement.

The fifth time you do something asked of you creates Dependency.

As leaders, the last thing we want to do is leave in our wake a group of entitled, dependent people to pick up the mantle when we move on!  Instead we want to raise up a confident, capable workforce led by new leaders who were once followers that learned to stand on their own two feet and think for themselves.  So how do we do that?

Here are 5 steps to create self-sufficient leaders:

Present the opportunity:  Code for bring them the problem!  Trust the people you lead enough to be transparent about the things that are scary out there!

Put Them in your Shoes:  Whether this is limited to a brainstorming exercise, or an actual delegation of authority, let them feel the weight of leadership decision-making.

Positively Reinforce Critical Thinking:  Whether their ideas are brilliant or off the mark, positively reinforce them for engaging in the process and, if necessary, coach them to see a better path without wounding their spirit.

Partner Them with Teammates:  If they are a superstar, partner them with people they can pull up.  If they have potential, partner them with people who can pull them up.

Pass on the Accolades:  When you have involved the team and the efforts are successful, make sure that the team gets the accolades.  Do not let them think you are taking credit for their work and accomplishments.

Zig Ziglar often said, “You can have everything you want in life if you help enough other people have everything they want!”  The corollary I would add after reading the wisdom gleaned from people on the mission field is, “Help others get everything they want in life by showing them how to earn it for themselves!”

Four Keys to Managing Setbacks

It is a beautiful fall day. The air has that unmistakably crisp, clean quality  that remembers summer but anticipates fall.  The stadium is rocking with 100,000 plus, all dressed in the home team’s colors as they are set to receive the kick-off.  The drum roll and war cry reaches a crescendo as the kicker kicks-off to the home team’s receiver who takes possession of the ball one yard deep in his own end zone.  The receiver rockets to his right and a wall of blockers start taking on the opposition, but it appears the return will be routine and stopped at the 20-yard line when suddenly the receiver pitches the ball to a teammate headed left on a designed reverse that catches the defenders completely off-guard. Eight seconds later the ball carrier crosses into the end-zone, untouched, and the stadium starts to go crazy.

Then, the Jumbo-Tron screen switches camera views to focus on a 1 foot square of yellow fabric laying on the home team’s 15 yard-line and wails and groans echo throughout the hallowed bleachers.  Penalty, block in the back, no touchdown, no return.  First and 10 at the 10 yard line.  NInety yards to go until pay dirt…

As much as I hate that experience in a football game, and I have lived through many similar ones as a Redskins fan, when that experience occurs in the workplace it is much more gut wrenching and personally challenging.  I had one of those experiences this week.

I was brought into my current position, with my current employer mainly to launch one new service.  I have been working with an enormously dedicated and talented group of individuals for almost a full year to bring the program on-line.  This week we had our dedication ceremony, and our launch, and then the next day we made the strategic decision to “scrub the launch,”  The decision was the right one, and when we re-launch we will be even better, but it does feel as though we scored and now have been SETBACK.

As a leader I believe there are Four Keys to Managing Setbacks:

Stay Positive:  Imagine you are the quarterback who leads the team out to the 10 yard line after the kick-off return is called back.  What would you say and do?  Wouldn’t you look every one of your team members in the eye and remind them that you have a game plan to execute that did not include a kick-off return for a touchdown, then challenge them to execute on their part of every play this drive and every drive until the fourth quarter is over and your team is victorious?  Or would you go into the huddle and lament the call on the previous play?  The answer is pretty obvious, right?

Keep Perspective:  The service that I was hired to help lead into fruition is one that a key team member told me on the original launch day had been talked about for twenty years!  Our expected delay until full launch is expected to be 45 days.  Twenty Years, 45 days…  Really, WHO CARES!  I need to lay aside my wounded pride and realize how far we have come and get ready to celebrate even harder in 6 weeks!

Put It In The Past:  Let’s look at the teammate who was charged for the penalty on the kick-off.  The replay showed the block was thrown well away from the action.  It was an unnecessary penalty, leading to an unnecessary setback.  As a leader, what are you going to do and say to this teammate?  Are you going to give him the cold shoulder, or worse yet, rip into him for his stupid, unecessary act? That would be pretty foolish as he is a starting outside linebacker who is on the field half of the game and integral on every defensive snap to keep the opposing team from scoring.  Instead, you need to help him forget about that one mistake and focus on the task at hand.

Push Toward the Prize: In any setback situation the key is to focus everyone back on the goal.  One called back touchdown does not lose the game.  One lost game does not ruin a season.  One bad season does not ruin a career.  A career failure does not have to ruin a life.  Wherever you find yourself, there is a purpose from this point forward.  Find that purpose, focus on it and move on.

For my current teammates, thanks for all your hard work and dedication.  I am looking forward to the locker celebration in our not so distant future!

“It’s Best Practice!” the new “Cause I said so!”

Remember the good ol days?!

Do you remember as a kid when your Mom or Dad told you to do something that you did not want to do, or at least not right then.  The “discussion” went back and forth. You came up with every reason that you should not have to do it.  When that failed you gave all the reasons it could wait until later.  Finally you would make the costly fatal mistake.  You would ask something in exasperation like, “Why do I have to do it right this minute?!” to which the “discussion” ending answer would be stated authoritatively:  ”Cause I said so!”

I  have two sons, 20 and 17 years old.  Long gone are the days when that phrase works for me at home!  Furthermore, as an emotionally intelligent leader, I have avoided using such language in the work place unless it is completely unavoidable.  I can count on one hand the number of times I have used it in 28 years as a leader, and count on one finger the times I have felt good about it afterwards!

Thankfully, a couple of weeks ago, some colleagues educated me on another phrase that can be used in the workplace as effectively as my parents’ infamous “Cause I said so!”

We are implementing an expedited service, spanning a large part of the organization.  What normally takes hours we are going to do in minutes.  In order to achieve this,  I needed something from a support department that would allow us to perform mock run tests of the system under the new time constraints to identify potential failure points and make necessary adjustments.

Without getting into details let’s just say that what I thought was a simple request was not seen that way by my colleagues in this support area.  In fact, they thought that I should have come to them a lot sooner in the process and do it in a particular manner they preferred.  I thought my way was a lot easier, offered little risk, and asked them if they would make an exception to their normal process.

I don’t know if you have ever asked for an exception from a support service, but it can be a little like a kid trying to win an argument with his/her parents.  It’s an uphill battle at best, and useless at worst.  This time, however, I knew I had the high ground.  There were no new processes to speak of, and I just needed one little thing to be able to do our testing.  I am a persuasive guy, I knew I would convince them of my logical reasoning.

So… the discussion began.  I employed my best emotionally intelligent communication techniques.  I kept emotion out of it, listened more than talked and explained the logic behind my reasoning.  In the end, I failed!  They maintained it had to be done their way.  No exceptions could be made.  Then I did the unthinkable!  I asked that one question that brought about the end of all reasoning…  I asked, “Why not?”

Childhood memories and frustrations flooded back in when the Support Services representative gave me that look like I should know better and spoke these devastating words…”Because it’s best practice.”

Now, I know that there are evidenced based best practices in any industry, but I am in healthcare.  To acknowledge that you might do anything that goes against best practice is like saying you want to kill people!  That was it!  I was finished!

Since then, I have done an exhaustive literary search to find the study that supports the assertion that the way that they mandated was indeed best practice for my specific situation.  I have not found it yet.  We have burned through 120 man hours to create the test environment needed to follow their “best practice” and have at least 30 hours more to complete the task.  Conservatively, we are paying team members an average of $50 per hour for this project.  That’s $7,500.  Oh, and Mock Runs have been delayed for 3 weeks.

Don’t misunderstand, I am sure the end product will be great for the additional effort.  Not only that, I have a new tool in my belt to avoid the necessity to logically convince people about future initiatives I embark upon.  After all, I will only choose to pursue “Best Practice!”

Stressed At Work? Change Your Language!

Are you stressed at work. If not, you are one of the few!  Most Americans feel stressed at work, and most workplaces feel adverse effects from their employees stress.  Consider these facts published by the American Psychology Association:

Sixty-nine percent of employees report that work is a significant source of stress.

Fifty-two percent of employees report that they have considered or made a decision
about their career such as looking for a new job, declining a promotion or leaving a job
based on workplace stress

Job stress is estimated to cost U.S. industry more than $300 billion a year in
absenteeism, turnover, diminished productivity and medical, legal and insurance costs.

So to write a parody about this topic is a little risky, but I have decided to do so anyway!  I want to discuss some of the language we use in business, the images this language conjure, and then ask if there is not a better way to communicate the real objectives we have in corporate culture.  Do I expect this article to change anything…  Not really, but maybe we can laugh at ourselves along the way.

Deadlines:  Nothing to help one prioritize like knowing which thing not being done on time will result in your death!

Targeted Selection conducted through Panel Interviews:  A new way to hire!  These terms make me think of interviewing in front of Death Panels with your back against the wall, wearing a blindfold and smoking a cigarette..

Corporate Mogul:  Mogul, Mongol..  Genghis Kahn comes to mind…

Beat the Competition:  For this one I picture my poor competitor trapped in a dark basement, tied to a chair while my corporate thug… I mean security chief, turns the thumb screws to get those billion dollar corporate secrets!

Boardroom Battle:  Bruce Wayne and Batman comes to mind.  Remember in the Dark Knight Rises when they took Bruce’s company away?  What an opportunity Hollywood missed!  I imagine the Caped Crusader suiting up and taking those lame corporate lackeys to the proverbial Bat Woodshed!

Reduction in Force:  That is what happened to Washington’s Army one winter in Valley Forge, and to both the Union and Confederacy at Gettysburg, right?!?

Stealing Market share:  I am picturing a secret strike force who works for weeks tunnelling underground from a corner bakery to the New York Stock Exchange, cracking a huge vault and getting away with a tremendous haul of shares of stock from S&P 500 companies.

Alternative Language Please!!  I am a capitalist to the core, but I am sick of hearing quotes from the Art of War in strategic planning sessions!  Can we just stop acting like we have to cause others to fail in order to win in business?

I understand business, and the older I get the more convinced that the way to win is to forget about your competition and serve your customers well.  Quit aspiring to be a mogul and learn to serve.  There is no need to steal market share, just create new markets. Treat your teams well and they will target you and perform in ways that will cause you to grow and have to expand your workforce rather than reduce it!

I like Rabbi Daniel Lapin’s view of business he espouses in his book, Thou Shall Prosper.  He shares that in Jewish culture, going into business is seen as a calling and even a ministry!  Instead, our society wants to paint business as evil, and therefore anyone who succeeds in business must be corrupt, selfish, thieves and cheaters!  From my experience nothing could be farther from the truth.

If you agree with my point of view, tell us your favorite, stupid, business term that paints this negative, warlike picture of what is truly ministry work of serving and employing others?

Fathers: What You Do is not Who You Are!

Happy Fathers Day to all of us Dads! This year Father’s Day has fallen on the last day of my summer vacation.  Summer vacation is always a time of introspection and contemplation for me, and this one is no exception.  On this Father’s Day post I wanted to share a belief with Dads that might be either liberating, or devastating depending on where we are in life’s journey and what we have done with our life to date.  That belief is:

What you DO is not who you ARE!

Have you ever been in a new social setting like a block party, church function or cocktail party and been asked something like, “So tell me about yourself.”  When men are asked this open-ended question our response is almost always to launch into information about our careers.   In fact, when we are the ones asking the questions we usually cut right to the chase with “So, what do you do?”  It is as though the sum of our existence can be encompassed in a resume!

That, of course, is not true.  We are so much more than the litany of our professional accomplishments.  So why do we often reduce our existence to this when we describe ourselves?  It is because we mistake our work life for the rest of our being.  We put so much time and effort into our careers that it can become all-consuming, leaving us disconnected from what should really set our course and drive us.  We fail to recognize that what we DO should flow out of who we ARE, not vice-versa.

For me life is really about three things.  Faith, Family, and Fulfillment.  My career is EXTREMELY important to me and I make no apologies for that.  I work long hours and I work hard!  I have done so for 36 years now.  I have chosen a career in Healthcare Administration because it is fulfilling work where I can live out my faith, and provide for my family.  The success I have had in my career has allowed me to change my family tree, assure my children’s higher education, and given me the freedom to spend the rest of my life doing anything I want to do.  My career is only important to me because it allows me to connect with those greater purposes.

There have been points in my career where I have had to sacrifice time with family.  There have been seasons where there were not enough hours in the day or gas in my emotional tank to also serve my church and my community, but those were only short seasons.  If we fathers allow our careers to always dominate our calendars we will fail to connect to the reasons we work in the first place and we will be left with shallow, purposeless lives. We must guard against that, Dads.  Our families, communities, future generations, and even eternity need us to be what we are created to be.  We have to connect what we do with who we are, or better yet, who we want to be!

So, as you look at your life, how much of it can you connect to the greater purposes you have identified for you?  If it is not enough, change your calendar.  You still have time.  Take charge of YOUR time and use it to fulfill YOUR purpose.

For some of us, we may not be sure of our true purpose.  If that is the case we cannot waste another day grinding away trying to win at the game before us.  Instead, we need to connect with the One who made us and find our purpose!  What a sad thing it would be to find ourselves at the top of our game, only to find out we have been playing the wrong game all the while.

Even if that is the case, know that nothing surprises the maker of the universe.  He has a purpose for all of us from this day forward and He wants to reveal that plan to us.  Living out that plan requires us to BE first, then DO.  So, WHO ARE YOU?  Maybe more importantly, WHO WILL YOU BE?

The Dreamer, The Doer, or The Dud. Which Do YOU Choose?

I have a great respect for Dreamers.  The Bible tells us that “without a vision, the people perish.”  We need visionaries (dreamers) to inspire us to accomplish the tremendous things of which we are capable.

Then there are the Duds.  I call these people the Eeyore’s of the world.  You know; the donkey from  Winnie the Pooh stories?  They are the ones that can tell you, at length, every reason something will not work and every bad thing that happened to anyone who ever tried to accomplish anything!  They are the “naysayers,” the “wet blankets,” the “glass ALL empty because it has a hole in the bottom that can never be repaired,” crowd.  They will drain every ounce of positive energy from you if you hang around them too long. I would rather spend my life around a Dreamer that never accomplishes anything than a Dud who never even dares to dream.

Finally there is the group of people to which I aspire.  They are the Doers.  This group is composed of Dreamers that are accomplishing their dreams in a way that inspires others to dream and do as well!  They are leaders not only by virtue of what they have done, but who they are.  They realize that dreams are great, but no dream comes to pass without help from others.  They have learned “no man is an island.”  To that end, they engage others in the process of actualizing their dream by first helping others dream and accomplish their dreams.  They are the “Connectors” of this world, building networks of Dreamers and Doers, some of which they have converted from Duds!

There are three steps by which one can move from either Dud, or Dreamer and become a Doer.  They are:


One of the biggest reasons someone is a Dud is they remain in isolation.  Something is broken or dead inside them.  There are many reasons that might have caused this which are inconsequential, but what Duds have in common is a total lack of HOPE!  Their natural demeanor caused by this state of hopelessness drives people away from them, and drives them away from people!  They are the people “without a vision.”  The first step for them to move towards dreaming is to FORCE themselves to be around Dreamers and Doers who have enough HOPE to spare!  In fact, when one is around the latter groups they will catch HOPE like a virus.  It is contagious.  This is a fact that has been exploited by cult leaders and dictators for all of history, so it is important to follow people whose dreams and visions are grounded in TRUTH.

For Dreamers, following is hard!  They are the visionaries pulling others in their wake towards their dreams.  Doers, however, have learned to value others and recognize that others have knowledge, skills, connections and influence that can be leveraged for the sake of the dream.  In order to accomplish the dream they often have to first serve and submit to authority.  They must work their way through infrastructures and bureaucracies to find the resources, human and otherwise, to bring their vision to pass.


At this step we have lost all Duds.  They have either been converted or left behind.  Now it is all about what turns Dreamers into Doers.  Someone once said “A dream without a plan is just a wish.”  We all know dreamers that have never accomplished anything.  It is so prevalent in this generation that to be called a Dreamer is an insult!  There are two reasons many Dreamers fail to realize their dreams:

1.  Lack of a plan:  Usually caused by ignorance or laziness.

2.  Lack of a good plan:  Most likely caused by never FOLLOWING.  Dreamers create a plan based on their own thinking, failing to leverage the wisdom of others (even the pitfalls one could learn from the Duds), or the resources in the hands of others.


The last step to go from Dreamer to Doer is the hardest.  It is Executing the Plan.  Despite the best plans, and dreamers that have secured the hearts and minds of others by following first, DREAMS ARE HARD TO ACHIEVE!  They take time that requires patience, energy that requires endurance, and will be met with much resistance which will require perseverance.  These traits are rare in our “Microwave”, “Gotta Have It Now,” culture.  Many dreamers have abandoned their quest within steps of the summit because they allowed their hope to be stolen by the blinding storm that kept them from seeing they were so close to the top.  The last lesson here, as stated in a previous blog post is, NEVER GIVE UP!

What is Your Experience With Command and Control Leaders?

Have you ever been on a team where the leader was constantly pushing?  You make it to the end of the week and feel like you have been “rode hard and put up wet.”  You have nothing left to give to your family and friends?

Such is life under a “Command and Control” leader.  This type of leader can accomplish much for short periods of time.  They pride themselves in getting the most out of their team.  They can be very effective in turnaround situations.  However, in my experience, this type of leader’s success is short-lived.  People perform under their leadership because they are afraid NOT to!  Given an opportunity elsewhere, team members will jump ship faster than Jack…  You know… Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack’s now captaining the competitor’s ship!

High performing teams will not thrive under Command and Control.  They do not need to be pushed, so they resent someone who thinks they do.  Instead, they want to be led by someone who gets out in front of them, shielding them from the attacks of enemies, breaking down barriers of bureaucracy, and putting themselves at risk.  Give high performers a leader like that and they will follow her fearlessly, tirelessly, and passionately.  They need inspiration, not subjugation.

There is an old adage that says teams are like rope.  They are a lot easier to pull than push.  If you stand behind a rope and push it, it resists and twists and turns.  It is a futile activity.  On the other hand,  if you grab the leading end of the rope, and pull it, it will follow you anywhere you go.  Leaders should lead.  They need to do so from the front of the pack if they want the most from their teams in the long run.

The whip and spur approach of a command and control boss might drive mules to win short races, but over the long haul, thoroughbreds need to be fed, watered, groomed, and even loved by their trainers.  On the track, they will perform best when you trust them enough to let go of the pressure on the reins and give them the bit.  That is how the long races will be won.

Here are three ways to move from command and control to an inspirational leader.

1.  Focus on the five-year strategic plan, not the quarterly incentive plan.  Short term goals lead to short-term thinking which almost always detracts from long-term performance.

2.  Request twice as often as you Require.  Often the difference does not have anything to do with how much you are asking of people, but in how you ask (or demand) it of people.  Acknowledging that the ask is above reasonable expectations sprinkled in with a good measure of appreciation will go a long way toward being inspirational as opposed to unreasonable.

3.  Listen twice as often as you speak.  Once you have laid out what it is you need from your team, ask them how they think they best can get there.  If you have a high performing team, they likely are subject matter experts that have been there and done that before.  Use that knowledge and expertise by deferring to them as often as possible.  If it is their plan, they will execute at a higher level than if it is yours.  My mom used to say, “God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.”  Use those gifts in proportion to the way they have been given!

Now it is your turn!  Tell us about your experiences working for a Command and Control boss and lessons you would like them to learn!


What is Better Than Success?

Strange title to appear on a blog titled: 3RsofSuccess, right?

The truth is, the longer I write about leadership and success the more I realize that real success is not what most people envision.  If you did a word association test with 100 people and asked them to say the first thing that popped in their heads when you say, “Success!”  What kind of responses do you think wou would get?  I believe it would be things like: money, power, riches, mansion, Lamborghini, wealth, friends, influence.

Those things are all wonderful.  I would be happy to have them all, and in quantity!  The problem is a lot of people chase these things, maybe even attain them all, but never becoming successful.

I am a firm believer that real success may lead to the things on the list above, as well as love, peace, joy, happiness, strong family relationships and more.  Yet most people who chase after these things end up like King Solomon at the end of his life realizing that all the striving for material and or even the more noble vestiges of success, do not create success.  Chasing them is like chasing the wind.

So what is the secret of success?

I believe Albert Einstein summed it up nicely when he said, “Don’t try to be a man of success, rather try to be a man of value.”

When one focuses on being a man of success, the focus is all internal.  What can I do, be, get, that will result in me being happy, wealthy, revered, powerful, etc.  On the other hand, if one wants to be a man of value the focus shift 180 degrees to see what it is you can do that will help others.

In order to add the most value, I believe we have to first be connected to a greater purpose.  I believe we are all in this world for a reason, and have been gifted with talents and abilities to achieve great things.  That belief takes all my fears away because it is not all up to me to win or lose.  I am just part of a plan.  That belief also propels me to give my all to the purpose for which I was created and to be a person of character, because flaws in character, judgment, and integrity could cost me the opportunity to fullfill my purpose.

Once I am connected to my purpose and grounded in integrity, my focus to add value causes me to look at my family, my community and my world and ask, what can I do that will truly serve these people?  What gifts and talents have I been given, and how can those be used to help the most people?

I am a student of history.  When you think back to high school or college history classes, who are the people that you admired most?  Was it the conquerors and empire builders?  Was it the political or business leaders that dominated their day?  Or was it the people that added value like Eli Whitney, Thomas Edison, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, Ghandi, or Lincoln?  Who’s legacy will be seen more positively; Joseph Stalin or Mother Theresa?

So what is better than “success?”…  Serving!  

I guarantee if you are a Servant Leader, and serve enough others well, connecting to the purpose for which you were created, and using your unique talents and gifts, the other things on your success list will also start showing up.  You will not have to chase after them, they will be attracted to you like steel to a magnet!  I have seen it in many successful people’s lives, and have been blessed to experience it in mine.