Archive for the ‘ Regression ’ Category

Stop Trying to Find Yourself—Start Being Yourself

Stop It!

Stop It!

Whether you’re in the early stages of your career or a tenured vet of the workforce, there is a constant tension between who you are at work and who “they” want you to be at work. This conflict has been an endless source of business and self-help books designed to help avert the anxiety of pleasing your managers and executives within your organization.

The tension and sleepless nights about the future of your career can be fatiguing and overwhelming at times. The best piece of advise ever given in the quest of trying to improve yourself, improve your workflow, improve your standing within the organization, is found in two very ordinary words.

“Stop it!”

Don’t be caught in the half-light of what your friends, your family, your boss, your organization thinks you should be—start aspiring to be who you already are deep down inside.

Excellence at work or in life is more than a thought or an idea, it is a purpose driven effort. Make your choices wiser and more productive this year through high intentions, sincere effort, and intelligent execution of those efforts. Live the life you intend to live!

 Jason Diamond Arnold is a leadership consultant at The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is Coauthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action a real time, real work, leaning experience that develops effective communication and collaboration skills for individuals in the workplace. He is Co Producer and Director of Stepping Up to Leadership with Scott Blanchard, a lynda.com and Ken Blanchard Companies production.

Leadership Failure

Not too long ago I was put in charge of a couple sections of soldiers who were working on some military intelligence products for an upcoming mission. Since the teams were working on separate products, I assigned myself to one team and had a Lieutenant take charge of another team. The LT had been in the army for a few years, so I had no qualms about giving the team to him. I spoke with him privately and told him that he had “full autonomy” over his team and gave him full discourse over what his team did and how they finished their products. The next morning I come into work at 7:30 fully expecting everyone to be there for unit physical training. They weren’t. When I asked the LT where his team was, he said that he told them that they could do physical training on their own and that they didn’t need to show up until 9:30am. “What? Why did you do that? We always show up at 7:30.”Leadership

So, of course, they decided to sleep in and didn’t do any physical training for the day.

And of course my team was upset that they didn’t get to sleep in and come to work at 9:30. The last thing I wanted to create was resentment across the two teams. I thought that maybe a “team building” exercise was in order, but I didn’t carry it out because I felt I would probably screw that up too.  I was upset about the whole situation, but mainly I was irritated at myself.

After looking back on the incident, here’s what I learned:

  • I never really gave him full autonomy

Here’s what I really said: You can have full autonomy unless you do something I don’t want you to do or something that I disagree with you on. What I told him he could do and what I wanted him to do were two separate things.

  • I shouldn’t have given him full autonomy

Giving full autonomy over everything is not really leadership at all. I thought I was doing the right thing by giving him autonomy, but what I should have done in that situation was to give him more direction as to what is expected and necessary. Autonomy has its place and limitations; using it correctly is when it’s the most impactful.

  • My communication was not aligned with my expectations

I was never clear on my expectations. What was standard and status quo for me was not necessarily the same for him. Talking through each other’s expectations would have been helpful for minimizing conflict and building trust.

For any further information or questions contact me at gus.jaramillo@kenblanchard.com

The End of Innovation

“Innovation is dangerous!” says Yawn Fearman, Gatekeeper of Ideas at Acme Corporation—an international consulting firm that provides executives and managers the tools and skill sets needed to maintain power and balance within organizations. “Innovation is an unruly attitude that ignites revolutions and unwillingly forces change upon the slow and steady hand of the status quo.”Death of Innovation

Fearman asserts that there several simple mindsets to avoid disruptive an inconvenient ideas within an organization:

Isolate Innovation

When a child acts up or misbehaves at home, the best discipline is to give them a Time Out and send them to their room. You don’t have to kick them out of the organization, but isolation will make them think about the real vision and values of the company in more detail. It will encourage them to align their hopes and dreams with the hierarchy of the organization who own the vision and values.

But if you do want to innovate within your organization, keep it limited to one or two departments that are led by individuals who have a degree from a prestigious school and who are in close collaboration with you as a key leader.

Just Say No

Hey, if it worked for Nancy Reagan in the mid-80s (and look how far we’ve come since then), it can work for leaders when individual contributors come up with creative and new ways to serve clients. When ideas come up from the front line, just say, “no.” You probably don’t have the resources or money to implement the ideas anyway, so no real harm can come from this approach. It’s clean and effective and eventually, people will stop coming up with their own ideas so that you can do your job—implementing your own.

Show Them Who’s Boss

When the first two strategies don’t work, flex your Position Power. You have the degree, the experience, the complex title, and the pay grade—so use them!

If employees discover that they have other avenues of power, such as personal experience, knowledge, relationships outside the organization, or a specialized ability to perform specific tasks that the executives may or may not, this could become very disruptive to an organization. Don’t shy away from the fact that you are getting paid the big bucks to drive the organization into the future—not them. You have the title and the authority to make the first and final decision.

Enjoy the Silence

Don’t allow the loud distractions of individual or collaborative innovation to drown out the brilliance of your leadership ability. You’ve earned the corner office, and you were born to lead. The future of the world depends on you—don’t leave it to chance by putting its fate hang on someone else’s wild ideas.

** The views and opinions expressed in this fictitious article do not necessarily reflect sound advice or the views and opinions of
 the author, or The Ken Blanchard Companies.

Jason Diamond Arnold is a Leadership Consultant at The Ken Blanchard Companies and Coauthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action, an asynchronous learning experience for Individual Contributors within Organizations.

Want to be productive? Stay home from work

Absenteeism (not showing up to work) is a well-documented and researched metric. However, the evil twin brother of absenteeism is presenteeism, and it’s now starting to get some more attention. Presenteeism is defined as showing up for work when one is ill, and it is literally a productivity killer. It is estimated that the costs associated with presenteeism due to poor employee health is at least 2 to 3 times greater than direct health care expenses. The total cost of presenteeism to US employers has been increasing, and estimates for current losses range from about $150 to $250 billion annually. Consequences to presenteeism can be loss of productivity, major health costs, inaccuracies on the job, and spreading of illness to name a few. We all have done it, but we should really think twice about coming into work when we are sick. However, it’s just not that simple, and there are many reasons why just can’t say no.

Presenteeism

There are many antecedents to presenteeism but here are some major reasons:

1) Our culture/manager fosters this behavior
I’m probably not the only one has been praised for being a team player and coming in when I was extremely ill. In a recent survey by the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO), researchers found that employees who indicated that their employer was not supportive in helping them become emotionally healthy were 320% more likely to have high presenteeism. A 2010 study by the Work Foundation found that more than 40% of employees were under pressure from managers and colleagues to come to work when ill.
2) Fear of losing your job
In research done in 2012, nearly a third of employers have reported a rise in the phenomenon of “presenteeism” in the past year. With the economy slowly turning the corner, employees are worried about losing their job or falling behind in the rat race. Dr Jill Miller, research adviser at CIPD, said, “Continuing economic uncertainty and fears over job security appears to be taking its toll on employees. We are seeing employees struggling into work to demonstrate their commitment, suggesting presenteeism can be a sign of anxiety.”
3) Pressure to perform
For some reason we equate our perception of the seriousness of the illness in direct proportion to justifying taking time off. “It’s probably just meningococcal so I should be fine; I doubt it’s contagious anyways.” Let’s leave the diagnoses to the professionals and see if we can’t rest for a little bit. In a recent conversation with an old friend he told me, “I have worked for my company for 20 years and I have never ever taken a sick day.” Well, why not? He said he had maintained the “old school” mentality of work, work, work. This never made sense to me; if you are sick, then why don’t you just stay home? Now I’m being a little hypocritical here because I have often got to work when I really was too sick to go. But the worst part about it was that he worked in a hospital!
4) Little or no sick days
Increasingly, employers have minimized the number of sick days and most of the time; we just can’t afford to miss work. Also, with the increasing amount of households turning into a dual income family, many parents are using their sick days to care for their children when they become ill instead of taking care of themselves.

There doesn’t seem to be any extreme changes on the horizon in the way employers handle presenteeism, however we owe it to ourselves to take care of our bodies and be present when we can afford to. Sometimes urgent can just wait until tomorrow.

For any further information or questions contact me at gus.jaramillo@kenblanchard.com

Know Yourself

 “We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” —William Shakespeare

When recently opening a package of Green Tea, the quote, “It’s not a privilege to know others. Know yourself. That’s a privilege,” was attached to the string. Perhaps the tea manufacture was having a caffeinated paraphrasing of a Lao Tzu philosophy to push the notion that you’ll some how be more enlightened when you drink this potion.

Self Reflection?

Self Reflection?

As random as it may have seemed at the moment, I gave fate it’s due because I’ve recently been discovering behaviors about myself and how I work under pressure that have been most curious. In full confession, I wasn’t immediately enthusiastic or inspired to act on the words of encouragement from the Teabag—knowing oneself can be a very frightening proposition, and may cause even more stress than we are ready for.

On one hand, the business of getting to Know Yourself  may at first seem as if it could turn into a narcissistic escapade into an investigation of your own perceived flaws or perfections. Today, where we can turn every smart phone application into our own personal news network, status updating everyone on our trip to the gym, the food & drink we are consuming at any given moment, or snapping off a half dozen “Selfies” at arms length or in the mirror. The business of Knowing Oneself has the potential to quickly turn into how we want others to see us—not who we truly are.

And as daunting as the Tea Leaf’s proposition was to me, the notion of Self Knowledge is as ancient as cave paintings. The great philosopher Aristotle proposed that everybody has a rational and irrational side of their Self, used for identifying our own needs then making decisions according to those needs.

One of the greatest failures in the today’s workplace, and even more destructive in a  knowledge based economy, is the inability for individuals to effectively determine our own needs, leading us to make less quality decisions while executing our daily tasks. The core reason we don’t know what our daily needs are is that we fail to read the tea leaves—we rarely stop to take account of what our strengths and weaknesses are, what perceptions we have about our own needs and abilities, and when we need to reach out to others for the proper direction or support of the goals or tasks we’re working on.

Taking a moment to look at yourself and your own needs is not some vain exploration into how you can serve yourself better, but rather a reflection on how you could more effectively serve others when you Know Yourself better.

Jason Diamond Arnold is a Leadership Consultant at The Ken Blanchard Companies and Coauthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action.

What’s wrong at work? You may need an Alberti

As a kid, I watched the movie Renaissance Man with Danny DeVito. Some of you may remember the film. Danny DeVito is this Advertising Executive with an Ivy League background who is fired from his job. He gets a temporary teaching position and is given six weeks to teach low-achieving soldiers the basics of comprehension and use of English language. He uses Shakespeare, the Renaissance, and other avenues to teach his students. Yet, only one of the historical figures covered in the film has mesmerized me ever since: His name is Leon Battista Alberti.alberti
When I was in Spain a few years ago I had the opportunity to see some of his work at the Prado in Madrid. That’s when I knew, Leon Battista Alberti was the quintessential Renaissance Man. He was the Renaissance Man even before we knew what it was. In fact, Alberti is largely credited with actually defining the term Renaissance man as “men can do all things if they will.” He grew up pre-Renaissance in Bologna because his family was ousted out of Florence by the republican government, run by the Albizzis. His mother died as a result of the Bubonic Plague and he and his brother were raised by his father. He studied architecture and painting, he was a self-taught composer and musician, and he was a heck of an athlete, particularly known in the area for his fine horsemanship. A legend of Alberti states that he could stand flat-footed, look into a man’s eyes and leap right over his head. This legend is exactly why I still remember Leon Battista Alberti today.

“No crime is so great as daring to excel.” Winston Churchill

Often times in our work we become overrun with responding to emails, balancing projects, and stressing over the unknown that we hardly have time to develop certain skills that will set us apart from our peers. Or even leap us beyond our peers. Here are some questions to ask yourself for self-evaluation and reflection to help you find your “Alberti”:

What am I good at? Be honest here. Don’t overvalue your stock on this because others won’t see the same value and you might end up trying to sell a stock that’s overpriced.
What does this organization need/lack that I could champion? Your Alberti needs to be aligned with the organization. In order for it to be value added it must correspond with the vision of your organization.
Do I have the resources? If not, how can I get them? Look at your own career. What is the next step? A degree? A certification? If you can’t access any resources where can you go to get them? Getting stagnate on your skills is one way to have a mediocre career.
Does this matter to me? In a recent interview, former President Clinton was asked if he was selfless for committing so much time to his non-for-profit organizations. He said, “It’s because I’m selfish. I do it because it makes me feel good about myself.” If it doesn’t matter to you, your motivation to prioritize it and work on it won’t be sustained.

So, what’s your Alberti? Are you known in the office for doing something that adds value? If not, then find your Alberti and pursue it.

For any further information or questions contact me at gus.jaramillo@kenblanchard.com

Narcissism and How We Perfected It

I’m taking a rather ambitious stab at clearing the name of an entire generation with a single blog post. I have not been chosen by my generation to represent us, but by definition I’m entitled so I deserve a shot. Many have called Gen Yers as Generation “Me”, but I see it more as “Generation Y Not Me?” We’ve been called rude, entitled, lazy, narcissistic, and smart – ok, I snuck the last one in there, but you get the point.

Ok, so we like to watch a little TV and play video games, so what’s the big deal? We live life on the edge (of reality) and love to surf (the web) and socialize (on Facebook) all day. We are the doers. We seek not war, but peace. We love reality television and hang on every word they say (even the illiterate ones). We are not better than any of you, but we are special. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are just extensions of our inner self. We love rap music, iPhones, and Dancing with the Stars (my wife made me put that in here). We are not all about ourselves; everyone is just all about us.

This is our motto.

normandy soldiers landingTom Brokaw accurately named the World War II generation as the Greatest Generation. After reading the book, watching the Band of Brothers series, and hearing the stories from WWII vets themselves, I can’t deny this. These men and women were some of the purist of Americans—hard-working, dedicated, and loyal to their values. I remember visiting Normandy about 10 years ago and seeing the crosses of the buried soldiers neatly displayed—such a beautiful display of sadness and pain. In my own experience as a captain in the Army and a combat veteran serving in Afghanistan, I hardly saw any sense of entitlement among the troops. There were men and women who were generally unhappy to be there (I admit even sometimes I wondered why we were there),  and hated everything about the war, but they still wanted to fight. There was a sense of pride about them and they fought long and hard. While in Afghanistan, I had a West Point Captain tell me about his 18-month deployment. He said the length of the deployment really hit him hard at the first Thanksgiving dinner. They were just about to start eating when one of his soldiers said, “Hey sir, don’t worry about saying grace. I’ll do it this year and you can say grace next year.”

20090513TalibanUnderwearI don’t claim we are the Greatest Generation but I do think Gen Y has contributed significantly more than just TV and video games. We are a young generation, but like many others we adapt, overcome, and move on. I never liked the label, “entitlement generation” because frankly I don’t think we deserve it. I hope this generation can rid ourselves of this brand and demonstrate the core American qualities that have been delivered to us from previous generations.

For any further information or questions contact me at gus.jaramillo@kenblanchard.com

Work Less

If you want to be great at work—work less!

hair_on_fire_photomanipulation_by_dusanjov-d470qu5

Hair on Fire!

Organizations around the world are struggling to keep up with the complex demands of their clients and constituents while restrained by reduced budgets and limited resources. Individuals and teams are frantically trying to come up with the next big idea that will drive revenues or reduce costs but are overwhelmed by the process. Hysteria abounds, projects flop, and market share flickers like a candle in a cold dark room with cracks in the mortar.

In a world where people are struggling to do more with less, the answer is not to fuel up on Starbucks, set your hair on fire, and simply work harder with fewer resources. The answer is to manage the fire by working smarter with what resources you have—caffeine is optional.

Lean times call for lean ideas.

the lean startup book-1

The Lean Startup

In his book, The Lean Startup, Eric Reis discovers and explores a concept called a Minimal Viable Product (MVP), an idea generation process that requires minimum amount of effort within the least amount of development time. In the world of Startups, an MVP helps entrepreneurs and business leaders go through the product development learning curve as quickly and effectively as possible. A Minimal Viable Product doesn’t mean that it has to be a tiny project or product, it simple means that you accelerate your learning cycle on what will or won’t work in the market place by testing a piece of your idea with minimal time and resources.

A fundamental mistake leaders often make, at all levels of an organization, is that they attempt to solve a big problems and challenges all at once. Good leaders of self and others understand that for every major responsibility they have, there are sets of goals that can help guide them toward success. Further more, within those goals are a series of tasks that can be broken down into manageable, executable projects, while testing the solution theories for reliability and effectiveness. The smaller the task, the less energy expanded, and the more likely you will be able to make quick adjustments that drive you toward an effective resolution of the larger problem, one small step at a time.

Creating Minimal Viable Products or Tasks is not just a means to find answer to technical or finical questions; but also a means to test fundamental business or social ideas before wasting too much time and talent creating a solution that nobody will invest in. Today’s leader of self or others needs to put out minimal viable effort. In other words, today’s leader needs to think lean—to work less in order to achieve more.

Jason Diamond Arnold is a Leadership Consultant and Learning Media Specialist at The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is Coauthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action, a virtual learning experience that helps individuals collaborate with others more effectively.

Times Like These

I’m a little divided. Do I stay or run away and leave it all behind? —The Foo Fighters

There is something different to ponder, on a more intimate level, this holiday season. Slight of hand and a twist of fate have befallen our world, again, in ways we weren’t meant to imagine. With every moment of silence, (something we are not very good at, in our opinion driven, mainstream and social media networked world) I am left search for answers to questions I can’t even begin to understand. I have found very few this past week.

Times Like These

Times Like These

But somehow there, in those moments of silence, a thought, inside of a tune played by an American Rock band, The Foo Fighters, Times Like These, has hung on me like smoke from a camp fire that lingers on one’s clothes—reminding you of a place remembered.

I’m a wild light blinding bright burning off alone.

Some of the most destructive moments in life come from a bright light smoldering in isolation. A disillusioned soul that has some how forgotten or been allowed to retreat to an island and become cut off from others. There, in those places, are no political, theological, or philosophical commentaries—only the burning embers of what used to be or could be again.

Individuals are to be connected to others, collaborating on ideas that make the world a better place. And even though cultivating real and intimate personal and professional relationships is hard, it’s our calling as leaders and individuals to reach out and show compassion to those in isolation—even when we lack understanding.

One of the most vivid moments in Charles Dickens classic tale, A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge wakes up after a harrowing evening of being visited by three ghosts who show him what he was and what he has become. Ebenezer recommits himself to reaching out to others and being more compassionate. And in one of the most touching moments of the story, he shows up to his nephews house for Christmas dinner, after rejecting his invitation the day before. After a gasp of surprise by the estranged uncle’s presence, family and friends warmly welcome the recently reformed soul back into the loving arms of community and fellowship.

There in those moments of silence this past week I have been reminded that, “It’s times like these you learn to live again. It’s times like these you give and give again. It’s times like these you learn to love again. It’s times like these time and time again.”

Don’t wait for a holy day—a day set apart from the others—to reach out to others who’s wild light may be flickering. It just may be the one light the world needs right now.

Jason Diamond Arnold is a Leadership Consulting Associate with The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is the Co-Author of Situational Self Leadership in Action, a virtual learning experience that helps individuals effectively collaborate with others at a higher level.

Leadership is Luck

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times… —A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

The opening lines to Charles Dickens classic, A Tale of Two Cities could not have expressed any better, my eleven year old son’s feelings about his favorite football team, the Indianapolis Colts, one year ago at this time. The Colts had gone from perennial Super Bowl contenders each year for the past decade, led by a future Hall of Fame quarterback, Peyton Manning. It was the best of times for Colts fans.

Luck

But that all went away when Manning had to go through a series of operations on his neck that left him sidelined for the entire 2011 season, and his professional football career in doubt. The Colts could only muster two wins out of sixteen games under the leadership of a variety of quarterbacks that couldn’t elevate the team to even a respectable showing. The Colts missed the playoff for the first time in a decade, the head coach was fired, and the end of an era for Manning in Indianapolis was coming to an end. It was the worst of times for Colts fans.

However, the worst of times was short lived. In one of the most ironic twists of fate in modern sports history, the Colts became the luckiest team in the league. As a result of the worst record 2011, they were aligned to have the number one overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. And in a controversial move, they dropped their Hall of Fame quarterback, uncertain if he would be able to play again, and choose the All American quarterback out of Stanford, Andrew Luck, to replace the legend at the helm of the Colts offense.

Since then, the rookie quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts has resurrected an organization from the ashes of the National Football League, not only by his decision making abilities and skill sets on the field, but his attitude and inspiration off the field of play. Nine games into the season, the young quarterback has led his team to a 6-3 record mid-way through the season, tripling their win total over last year and positioning them for an improbable shot at the playoffs.

A great quarterback is like a great leader in the workplace. It doesn’t take long to be in the workforce before you realize that there are good leaders (managers, bosses, supervisors) and there are bad leaders. We’ve all probably had at least one awful leader that we’ve had to work for. And of course, there are the disengaged managers who are neither good nor bad—they are just there to make sure that the organizational chart is up to date and protocol is followed.

There is an obvious difference between a great leader and a terrible leader. But there is also a significant difference between a great leader and an average leader. The difference between a great leader and an average leader isn’t about how much smarter they are or even the quality of the decisions they make day in and day out. The difference between a great leader and an average leader is what they do to make the people they work with better!

Andrew Luck is often only credited for the way he runs the Colts complicated offense, and his knowledge of the game that are far beyond the years he has been in the league. But there is so much more Luck does for his team that goes beyond the offense. The longer he sustains a drive, coming up with key third down conversions, and eating up time on the clock, the more the Colts defense gets to rest on the sideline.

Andrew Luck’s character goes beyond his skill sets. When the Colts head coach, Chuck Pagano, was diagnosed with leukemia only a few games into the season, Luck took the lead in support for his coach by shaving his head—a show of solidarity for the coach who would loose his hair due to the chemotherapy treatments. Most of the team followed the young quarterbacks lead and the team has rallied around their ailing coach to rattle off four wins in a row—one of the most inspirational stories in recent years.

For whatever reason, many individuals are content with the status quo. They come to work; they put in their time at work, pull their paycheck, and are satisfied with a job that’s good enough. They may have run into roadblocks or constraints in their career that keep them from taking risks or thinking of ways they could do their job better—the multitude of individual contributors who have settled for average. This doesn’t mean that they are bad people, they’ve just settled into a lifestyle of mediocrity and aren’t really pushed to be better.

Great leaders inspire those individual contributors on the front line of organizations to rise above the temptation to settle for average. They inspire the people they are leading to find, cultivate, and develop the personal desire for excellence within. Great leaders take average contributors and make them good contributors, and they take good contributors and make them great. The entire organization benefits from this type of leadership.

That is exactly what Andrew Luck does. He has taken made his teammates better as a young leader of a proud franchise that has a rich history of success. He has diverted a long winter of discontent for that organization and has inspired Colt’s players and fans alike to hope for the best of times again. Leadership isn’t just about knowledge and skills, sometimes it is Luck.

Jason Diamond Arnold is a Leadership Consulting Associate at The Ken Blanchard Companies and is Co-Author of Situational Self Leadership in Action, a virtual learning program designed to develop personal and professional excellence.

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