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.

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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.

Great Leadership Remains in the Moment

TimetoOvercomeThere are no time machines.

Lamenting past mistakes keeps them alive and compounds the damage.

Preoccupying on old victories keeps you stuck pining for the past.

Last year’s or last quarter’s results are meaningless. Conditions are different and people are different—even if they are the same individuals. We all change in real time.

Worrying about the future is best left to economists and weather forecasters.

And preoccupying on this year’s big targets wastes precious time and energy. The summit is the goal, but we get there by navigating one step and one challenge at a time.

A Reminder:

  • We can only control what we are thinking and doing right now.
  • You are alive in the moment.
  • You can do good right now.
  • You can solve a problem or act on beginning to solve a problem in this instant.
  • You can listen carefully to the person in front of you and help them grow and learn by carefully choosing your response. Note: the best response is often a question, including, “How do you want to handle this?”
  • You can accept that in most instances, you are on the hook for adapting to the needs and approaches of others and not the other way around. Quit waiting for people to change to meet your needs. That’s wrong-headed thinking.
  • You can momentarily examine a failure and commit to learning from it. And then do it.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

There are no other paths to success beyond acting in the moment. There is no better way to create a brighter future than by acting positively in the moment. There are no better sources of joy than being present in the here and now with others.

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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.

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.

In Search of Good Operators in Business

transformationA good operator is often the solution for a struggling business.

Too often we are looking for visionaries to solve our problems, and overlooking the power and potential of good operators. Instead of focusing on the fundamentals of management and leadership, we are hoping for some form of business miracle.

Our society tends to elevate visionaries to mythological status. We view them as miracle workers with insights and ideas that are beyond the earthly limitations of the rest of us. We put them on the covers of magazines and their every utterances are parroted, analyzed and promoted on social media.

True visionaries show up once in awhile. You just can’t count on it. Run an ad seeking to hire one and see what you get. Fair warning: charlatans are to be found in ample supply.

Sadly, the supply of old-line firms and pieces and parts of yesterday’s conglomerates requiring reinvention or rejuvenation is plentiful. Many of us work for one.

Perhaps it is time to focus on good management and leadership via good operators. As a reminder, here’s what good operators do.

Ten Key Behaviors of Good Operators

Good operators…

  1. Run lean operations (Lean as in slim or the opposite of bloated.)
  2. Manage cash like it is precious. (It is.)
  3. Partner with customers to understand their businesses and challenges at a detailed level. (Go figure.)
  4. Build strategies around a blend of customer insights and a carefully cultivated view to the future. (They often don’t provide the answers, they enable and hold their teams accountable to finding the answers.)
  5. Invest in technologies and offerings that reduce customer burdens and help them move forward in their own businesses. (Go figure, part 2.)
  6. Fire unprofitable customers, shed irrelevant operations and put stakes in people’s pet projects with ferocity in order to free up critical resources. (If it is irrelevant it goes.)
  7. Engage in a constant dialog with the workforce. (Some telling, but mostly listening and then supporting/enabling.)
  8. Put the right people in the right roles to do the right things. (Job 1.)
  9. Invest in their people. (Job 2.)
  10. Focus on improving in every aspect of the business every single day. (Job 3.)

The Bottom-Line for Now:

You can label them as leaders or managers. In my mind, they are good operators using all of the tools of leadership and management at their disposal. And they are more critical than ever.

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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.

artspeakingadv2

 

 

 

 

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.

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