Give Yourself Permission

whatifA good number of my professional coaching discussions are much about helping individuals recognize they have the power and the permission to put their ideas to work.

Many people have a solid sense of what needs to be done but lack the self-confidence to turn their ideas into actions. They stall, waiting for the perfect answer to emerge and for all of the obstacles to dissolve and be replaced by perfect certainty. And they remain waiting while the world spins by offering little added evidence to support their decision.

Where We Hesitate:

  • Top leaders struggle with strategy paralysis induced by rapid external change. The old ways no longer work like they used to and the new ways are foreign and filled with risk. Of course, doing nothing is the riskiest of choices.
  • Individuals hesitate to share their ideas for fear of being viewed negatively or found to be wrong at some point.
  • Managers struggle to do what they know is right and purge the toxic members from their teams. The system is set up to avoid these moments and protect against liabilities and they fear reprisal.
  • Others strive to do too many things for fear of having to make a decision that excludes something that might be right.
  • Senior leaders fail to stop their own failed initiatives and continue to pour good money after bad rather than letting the world know they were wrong.

Starting Today, Give Yourself Permission To:

  • Take an action knowing that the outcome is uncertain.
  • Make a decision to focus in spite of the temptation and pressure to do the opposite.
  • Admit you made a mistake.
  • Initiate a course of action on a principled issue in spite of the forces standing in your way.
  • Learn by doing.
  • Avoid being drawn into the black hole of negativity that swirls around so many of us.
  • Learn from others.
  • Stop fearing.
  • Laugh at yourself.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

Life is a series of actions and experiments in pursuit of wisdom. But first, you’ve got to give yourself permission to experience it.

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Related Post: 

Great Leadership Remains in the Moment

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 coachspeaker 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.

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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.

Dangerous Words in Business and Six Year-Old Refrigerators

 TrippingThe most dangerous words in the business lexicon are: “With a bit more time and money… .”

The most annoying words in my house are, “The ice-maker is out again and I called the repair service.”

When you hear those words, run. And don’t forget to pick up your checkbook.

The people who study how humans think describe the more time and money scenario as either “escalation of commitment” or the “sunk cost effect.” The fancy labels obfuscate the reality that this is how we screw up big time in our firms and in our lives. 

It’s throwing good money after bad. It’s wasting more time on a failed venture.

We’ve all seen the more time and money trap in action and most of us have lived it. It’s the mega project with no end in sight that continues to suck the scarce resources away from other critical activities. It is the failed strategy that executives pursue with vigor even as the results suggest things are getting worse.

The more time and money problem shows up at home with that older car you continue to repair in lieu of buying something newer. It shows up in my case with the six-year old refrigerator that seems to defy permanent repair. I own this appliance twice due to my stubborn belief that these appliances should last longer than six years and to my confidence that the extended warranty was nothing more than a source of profit for the appliance maker.

We are wired to invest more time and money in our initiatives, relationships, or ventures. Giving up is a sign of defeat…an acknowledgement that we were wrong. We are not good at admitting our mistakes. In professional settings with executives I coach, they fear that admitting they were wrong will jeopardize their standing or their job.

We also struggle with a chronic case of over-confidence in our abilities to fix, salvage, rescue, or repair. One bias feeds the other.

The best prevention for this potentially fatal trap in the workplace is an environment where people are encouraged to hit the “stop” button. The firm’s leaders own the obligation to create this environment and to model the behavior themselves for everyone to see.

Look around at the activities that are draining you, your team, and your time and energy. Are one or more of these initiatives similar to your kid’s old car or your six year old refrigerator? If yes, it’s time to act. It is time to model good leadership behavior.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

Face a failure head-on, publicly, and without shame. Announce that you are hitting the stop button. Work with others to assess where reality diverged from the plan. Strive to understand where the assumptions crumbled. Look for execution failures but be careful to avoid pointing fingers and spreading blame. Spread learning. Assess how this failure can be used to prevent a repeat and then keep moving.

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Related posts:

Mind the Decision Traps

The Five Decisions that Make or Break You as a Leader

The Do Must Match the Tell

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™–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.

 

Management and Quality Lessons in the Airbag Recall

qualityWith clear acknowledgement that I am just one of millions of consumers impacted by the Takata Airbag disaster (recall), I feel compelled to vent. I of course vent not by screaming, but by looking for the management lessons in the mess. There are more than a few marketing and management lessons embedded in the industry’s handling of this potentially life-threatening problem.

When Your Safety System Can Hurt You:

I received a note from BMW yesterday indicating that my automobile includes the problematic airbag inflator on the driver’s side. This comes six months after I asked my dealer whether my car was involved. Their response: the manufacturer has not yet indicated whether your car is affected. I understand that the dealer was simply sharing their view of the facts at that point in time. Nonetheless, their response: “the manufacturer has not yet informed us,” was incomplete and unsatisfying. The implication for me as the consumer was either: “Whew, I dodged that one,” to “Hmmm, I wonder if this is a problem.”

I opted to focus on the potential problem, and at that point, I started sizing up my car before driving it with the care of someone scanning the occupants of a Chicago Elevated Train late at night. This change in relationship with my car is particularly troubling given our long love affair. You see, I only enter into long-term relationships with my automobiles, and until now, this has been a great one. At ten years and 50,000 miles, we are just getting started. Unless of course, the car turns on me, which is now a distinct possibility.

System Responsibility—An Anachronism?

Graphic with the words of Art of Managing and other management termsBefore describing BMW’s response to my particular situation, a bit of background is in order. I grew up in my career working in and leading systems businesses. We wrote software and in some cases developed and manufactured hardware, and we married the pieces together plus many third party technologies to deliver a complete system to our customers. Our systems were material to the minute-to-minute operation of the businesses of our customers.

We also took complete responsibility for the integrity and quality of our systems. That’s code for it did not matter whether there was a problem with something we had created or something we had integrated, it was OUR problem and we owned the fix. This was called in our vernacular: system responsibility.

Part of the process of ensuring system responsibility was working with approved third-party suppliers to establish quality standards and to plan and prepare together for the worst. We did not just hope everything would work out; we evaluated options and issues and made plans for catastrophes known and unknown.

When the worst happened, as it occasionally did, we always opted for the solution that reduced adverse consequences for our customers. In some cases, there was a short-term and long-term fix, but there was never a “We’ll get back to you at some point in time, but please suffer for now.”

These businesses moved heaven and hell to support their customers.

In today’s world, perhaps Apple comes the closest for ensuring system integrity with its very rigid approval process for the App store and for other related third-party products. However, having experienced some quality challenges with offering in the Apple ecosystem, it appears their response stops far short of our historic moving heaven and earth approach.

Contrast the system responsibility approach with BMW’s, which to my ears mostly has the odor of dodge, deflect and prepare for our future legal defense about it.

Here’s what they offered:

  • They sent a letter outlining the problem and indicating that they would fix it. Good.
  • At this time, there are no parts available. Bad.
  • They are not certain when parts will become available. Very bad.
  • Once parts were available, I would be notified via mail that I could call my dealer and schedule the update. Huh? Mail? Very bad. I might expect a text notice complete with timing options at my servicing dealer and the promise of a loaner car.
  • There were no countermeasures in the short-term. They could not recommend disconnecting the potential killing machine known as an airbag and they are not offering a repair, just a replacement at some unknown date. Miserable.
  • In calling the BMW Airbag Recall Hotline, they did their duty and acknowledged the facts and offered no solutions. No short-term countermeasures. No workarounds. And while they did not state it, the gentleman on the line did not disagree with my statement: “It sounds like the safest strategy is to park the car.” Abysmal.
  • The hotline offered: “At this point, there are no known injuries caused by this airbag issue for your model.” Is that really supposed to put me at ease? Poor form.

The implication of all of this is obviously that I drive the car at my own risk—something we all do every single day of course. The difference now is that I have to drive my car with the knowledge that my safety system is capable of hurting me. Yes, I get that cars are dangerous objects, but none of us signed up for this particular risk. In fact, I purchased this car because of its alleged remarkable safety ratings and features.

Just a Very Little Bit of Empathy with the Manufacturer:

Having been on the other side of quality issues at the manufacturer’s level, I can only imagine the nightmare this has created for every car company. And while the root cause of the quality issues is focused on Takata, the firms integrating their parts owe their customers something more than what they are providing. They failed to prepare for the worst. This is a failure of risk management and it seems a complete abrogation of their responsibility to their customers.

The Bottom-line for Now:

There is no sign of systems responsibility in this process. Heck, it feels like backpedaling mixed with a dodge and deflect strategy. The customers who are so important to giving life to the brand are suddenly made to feel ill at ease and even slightly adversarial. Instead of reinforcing their remarkable brand value and integrity, this firm has opted to risk it because they could not control or prepare for problems with a critical parts supplier.

I have enjoyed this car more than any I have ever owned, and at the purchase of one auto every two decades or so, I suspect I am lousy customer for BMW. Nonetheless, as Deming offered in his admonishment to focus on quality: What is the cost of a dissatisfied customer?

Now, I have to go plug in my trickle charger and spend some time detailing my car. It is in for a long sleep.

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!

Art Petty serves senior executives and management teams as a performance coach and strategy facilitator. Art is a popular keynote speaker 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.

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