Leadership Caffeine™—Can One Person (You) Make a Difference?

mindset2I hear the same doubt expressed over and over again by good people upset over conditions in their workplace. It sounds something like: “Can I really make a difference? I’m just one person.”

The often unspoken trailer is: “…and I am not the CEO or a senior executive, and they are the ones who have to change to make this place better.”

To the core question, my answer is a resounding “Yes, YOU can make a difference. YES, one person can make a difference.”

Here’s Why and How:

  • In the stormiest of corporate cultures, you can create an oasis of civility, respect and support with your team. 100 percent of these behaviors are within your control.
  • You can choose to pay attention to people around you and offer meaningful coaching and feedback. There is no person or policy or cultural norm that can keep you from doing this in the course of your daily interactions.
  • You can lead the charge on addressing orphan problems. Many lingering organizational problems exist in a gray zone where ownership is uncertain. You can claim these unglamorous issues and bring others together to take care of them.
  • Communication is always an issue, but you can be the solution. No one is barring you from sharing updates, inviting people outside your department to your meetings or going the extra mile to keep everyone around you informed of changes.
  • Tunnel vision emerges on almost every team and in every organization, but no one has forced blinders on your eyes. There is not a single barrier keeping you from teaching and pushing people to look beyond the window in the conference room overlooking the parking lot to customers, the industry at large and the changes and happenings in other industries and technologies.
  • We like to complain about the decisions of others, yet there is nothing stopping you from cultivating, teaching and applying good decision-making processes and practices.
  • Most of the work of an organization takes place well below the ranks of senior leaders. You can foment a positive revolution of respect, continuous improvement and customer focus by serving as the example.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

Your positive example in dealing with every person and every issue will stand out to others as a sign of inspiration and hope, even in the worst of cultures. While many around you like to complain and point fingers, the few who choose to stand up and lead are the difference makers. Be one of those. It is completely within your control.

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Practical Lessons in Leadership

book cover: shows title Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development by Art Petty. Includes image of a coffee cup.

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Art Petty is a speaker and workshop presenter focusing on helping professionals and organizations learn to survive and thrive in an era of change. When he is not speaking, Art serves senior executives, business owners and high potential professionals as a coach and strategy advisor. Additionally, Art’s books are widely used in leadership development programs. To learn more or discuss a challenge, contact Art.

The Top 10 Outcomes from an Art Petty Live Event

13 High ResDuring the past few years, my speaking work has expanded tremendously as an outgrowth of my management and leadership writing. The opportunity to share ideas with great teams, firms and leaders is exhilarating and the honor of sharing ideas on thriving in our firms and careers a bit humbling. I take my responsibility to deliver a program that promotes positive actions and outcomes for you very seriously.

The outcomes below are extracted from actual client feedback in post-session surveys, with some value-added context from myself. And, I may have interjected just a bit of fun into the outcomes!

Whether it is your company meeting, a midyear kickoff or your management or project team meeting, I want to join you in catalyzing a revolution of positive change and sustained professional growth!

The Top 10 Outcomes from an Art Petty Live Event:

  1. No one will have to go to the emergency room because I convinced them to walk over hot coals. (Gimmicks don’t teach or inspire change.)
  2. Your boss will say, “Wow, I thought he was just the writer of all of the those blog posts you keep forwarding to us.” (I write a great deal, but working with live groups is the best way I know to help promote change for the better.)
  3. Some percentage of the audience will wonder how much caffeine I actually consume. (My speaking coach struggles to keep me locked in one place and my gesturing under control. I am passionate about helping individuals, teams, and organizations transform and succeed!)
  4. Everyone in the room will have at least one Ah-Ha moment about something they can do to strengthen their own performance in their jobs. (It takes “Just One Thing” to make a profound difference in the performance and careers of an individual. I aspire to deliver at least one for every person in the room.)
  5. A percentage of your audience will squirm in their seats just a bit over the recognition that they are leaving performance and their professional development on the table. (Recognizing that you have to work harder is always uncomfortable.)
  6. No one will accuse you of hiring a speaker that hasn’t walked the walk. (I learned by doing—by striving, occasionally failing and always ultimately succeeding in building great teams and great business in software and technology.)
  7. Everyone will feel engaged, involved, and respected during our highly interactive session. (I am not a talking head! Our session will draw you and your team members in to the critical thinking and idea development.)
  8. Your team members will leave this session energized and armed with practical ideas to apply immediately in the workplace. (Everything I write and speak about is intended for immediate application in improving a personal, team or organizational situation. Theory collides with pragmatism and practical guidance wins the day!)
  9. People will remark to you later: “He didn’t preach at us, he helped us think about our challenges, opportunities and approaches in new ways.” (As a wise person once offered, I cannot teach you something, I can only teach you to think. The difference is profoundly important. )
  10. Every single person will think just a little bit differently about their ability to influence the success of the team and firm when they walk out of the room. (It’s your job to give them room to run. I will stimulate the thinking and ideas. Be prepared for a lot of people running to turn ideas into actions.)

All that and more, when we work together to help you rock your next team, company or industry event!

Key Topics (relevant for keynote or extended workshop formats):

  • Level-Up—Helping Our Firm Move from Survive to Thrive in Our Era of Change
  • Level-Up—Surviving and Thriving in Our Careers During Our Era of Change
  • Building High Performance Teams One Encounter at a Time (Project Leadership)
  • Leading in an Era of Uncertainty and Ambiguity
  • Leading in Dangerous Situations
  • Great Decision-Making—Building the the Future One Decision at a Time

I always tailor the material for your particular situation. Let’s connect to talk about your challenges and how to set the stage for a fantastic outcome with your next event!

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Related:

Visit Art’s YouTube Channel

Download the free e-book: A Bold Cup of Leadership Caffeine!

Practical Lessons in Leadership

book cover: shows title Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development by Art Petty. Includes image of a coffee cup.

artspeakingadv2

 

 

 

 

Art Petty is a speaker and workshop presenter focusing on helping professionals and organizations learn to survive and thrive in an era of change. When he is not speaking, Art serves senior executives, business owners and high potential professionals as a coach and strategy advisor. Additionally, Art’s books are widely used in leadership development programs. To learn more or discuss a challenge, contact Art.

Leadership Caffeine™—The Cost of a Shortcut

Career MazeShortcuts are tempting. When they revolve around issues of right and wrong they are dangerous and sometimes life or business threatening.

Just ask Volkswagen. The firm recently announced a $15 billion dollar settlement for the 500,000 customers in the U.S. impacted by the emissions cheating devices and software they installed on many of their diesel models. The settlement costs for the additional 9 million or so customers around the globe impacted by this blatant attempt to deceive have not yet been established.

The sick joke for the firm’s shareholders, employees and customers is that this scandal occurred just at the zenith of the firm’s success in a battle for market supremacy with rival Toyota.

Was the shortcut worth the brand and potentially the survival of the firm? Hardly, yet it occurred.

The seeds for ethical lapses are sown by a firm’s leaders. Whether by omission or commission, leadership failed at Volkswagen just as it has at so many other firms found complicit in wrong-doing that adversely impacted customers, the environment and ultimately, all stakeholders.

Most often in my experience, the pressure for results invites the idea of taking short-cuts to the corporate party. The environment becomes one of “results at any cost” and minor transgressions—what we call white lies in our daily lives—become the quietly accepted norm.

Once you start down the road where it becomes acceptable to compromise on values the definition of acceptable behaviors expands to include ethical lapses. After all, results count and shortcuts are deemed acceptable in pursuit of our broader goals.

It is implausible to consider leaders in a global firm such as Volkswagen actively planning and advocating for this particular shortcut. Nonetheless, something in the environment suggested that this approach was acceptable, even if it was a blatant attempt to deceive. And it was allowed to happen.

It was a total breakdown in leadership that allowed this toxic behavior to emerge.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

Compromise your ethics just once and it becomes easier to rationalize minor transgressions over and over until they become major. It takes moral courage to stand up to the call for behaviors that cross the line. When it’s your turn, there is only one right choice.

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Practical Lessons in Leadership

book cover: shows title Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development by Art Petty. Includes image of a coffee cup.

Art Petty is a popular speaker and workshop presenter focusing on helping professionals and organizations learn to survive and thrive in an era of change. When he is not speaking, Art serves senior executives, business owners and high potential professionals as a coach and strategy advisor. Additionally, Art’s books are widely used in leadership development programs. To learn more or discuss a challenge, contact Art.

Read More of Art’s Motivational Writing on Leadership and Management at About.com

Leadership Caffeine™—The Book and Coming Attractions!

stackofbooksrenderfileAs I mention in the video below, an off-hand comment from my brilliant webmaster, Bob, at DigiSage, gave life to the collection of essays in Leadership Caffeine—Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development. While Bob’s idea turned out to be a lot of work in culling down from 1,000 essays into the final 84, and then editing, annotating, and organizing them for publication, I am grateful for his brainstorm.

The best testament to any leadership and professional development book is that readers find it useful for advancing their cause.

The primary audience for this book has been groups, including: corporations, teams, departments, and industry associations, and the feedback I regularly receive assures me that readers find help for their most vexing challenges somewhere between the covers of this collection. I hope you do as well.

In celebration of the upcoming publication anniversary, I am pleased to offer an updated video overview of the book. For anyone interested in ordering 10 or more copies for their team, drop me a note for pricing information.

The Leadership Caffeine Family is Expanding: 

Last winter, I introduced the free e-book: A Bold Cup of Leadership Caffeine: A Short Guide to Stimulate High Performance  featuring all-new content beyond the book. This free resource blasted off on day one and continues to be downloaded at an impressive clip every day. Please share it far and wide with your team members and with my appreciation for your readership.

Incoming-Focusing on Project Leadership: 

In a few weeks, I will launch: Leadership Caffeine for Project Managers: Ideas and Inspiration to Help You Survive, Sustain and Succeed!

Many of you know that I have spent much of my professional time in the world of high tech and software project management and that I serve as a graduate management instructor in the topic. This collection is a direct outgrowth of my experience and work as an educator and team developer in this arena and as a testament to my regard and belief in the professionals in this great and critical role. I cannot wait to make it available to you!

Look for details on pre-launch pricing in the upcoming weeks as well as information on the  webinars and the keynote and workshop offerings that correspond with the book.

Yours in professional development and success,

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Art Petty serves senior executives and management teams as a performance coach and strategy facilitator. Art is a popular speaker and workshop presenter focusing on helping professionals and organizations learn to survive and thrive in an era of change. Additionally, Art’s books are widely used in leadership development programs. To learn more or discuss a challenge, contact Art.

 

Leadership Caffeine™–Decisions and the Least Bad Option

image of a foam coffee cup with brown outer sleeveA good number of decisions in business (and life) include choices that beg selecting the least bad option.

  • Do we pull in that big deal with a discount incentive to dress up this quarter’s poor numbers and in the process, create a hole for the next quarter?
  • Do we go public with our findings, or hope that the situation that triggers the problem never occurs?
  • Do we continue investing in this initiative regardless of the fact that our competitor just released something that trumps our yet-to-be-born idea?
  • Do I look the other way on that transgression, or fire the person who has proven so valuable to our firm?
  • Do I cover for my boss or go over her head?
  • Do we bet everything on the new strategy, or stick with the old one hoping we can be the one firm that grows in a dying market?

When facing these decisions we strive to rationalize the choice that exposes us personally to the least amount of risk. It is our survival instinct. We do this as individuals, and we most definitely do this as management teams. Usually, this is the wrong choice.

In a course on decision-making I teach every year, the students (all professionals) describe regret over the choices they made where their self-interests overrode their thinking about right and wrong.

Alternatively, the students look back with pride at the hard calls they made that were morally (to them) the right calls. Interestingly, even in situations that did not work out favorably, those who made the harder personal calls for least bad option scenarios describe those decisions as pivot points in their lives and careers. They frequently point to a string of subsequent tough decisions where the right choice propelled their careers and firms forward.

When you face a choice between two unattractive options, there’s usually one that is the better choice for the bigger picture. In the examples above, the right choices exposed the decision-maker(s) to greater risk.

Perhaps the right approach when facing a choice between two seemingly unattractive options is to break the mirror in front of you and look beyond your own self interests.

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Art Petty serves senior executives and management teams as a performance coach and strategy facilitator. Art is a popular speaker and workshop presenter focusing on helping professionals and organizations learn to survive and thrive in an era of change. Additionally, Art’s books are widely used in leadership development programs. To learn more or discuss a challenge, contact Art.

Get the latest e-book (free) from Art: “A Bold Cup of Leadership Caffeine: Ideas to Stimulate High Performance.” 

See posts in the Leadership Caffeine™ series.

Read More of Art’s Motivational Writing on Leadership and Management at About.com!

book cover: shows title Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development by Art Petty. Includes image of a coffee cup.