Many of the leaders I see in my emotional intelligence-based executive coaching practice of over twenty-five years are working long hours and are stressed-out. Some of my clients complain of low energy and exhaustion. They frequently are sleep deprived. ...

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  1. Mindful Leadership and Executive Coaching–The Power of Habit
  2. Emotionally Intelligent Leaders Are Givers
  3. The Paradox of Leadership Give and Take
  4. The Failure of “Good-Enough” Cultures
  5. The Problem of Mediocre Cultures
  6. More Recent Articles

Mindful Leadership and Executive Coaching–The Power of Habit

Mindful leaders know that serving others is the key to better business results, greater team involvement, happier followers and a sustainable future.

 

Act Mindfully

Many of the leaders I see in my emotional intelligence-based executive coaching practice of over twenty-five years are working long hours and are stressed-out. Some of my clients complain of low energy and exhaustion. They frequently are sleep deprived. Getting adequate sleep is an enormous help in restoring mental clarity and the drive to succeed.

Act mindfully and savor your relationships at work and at home. Create the powerful habit of “pacing” yourself to restore energy, build resiliency and create well-being.

"Respect yourself and others will respect you."–Confucius

The Power of Habit

Watch this hilarious video:

Bob Newhart-Stop It https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow0lr63y4Mw

In his thought provoking book “The Power of Habit”, Charles Duhigg, an investigative reporter for The New York Times, tackles an important reality head on. That is, people succeed when they identify patterns that shape their lives--and learn how to change them. This idea--that you can indeed change your habits--draws on recent research in experimental psychology, neurology, and applied psychology.

Duhigg looks at the habits of individuals, how habits operate in the brain, how companies use them, and how retailers use habits to manipulate buying habits. The author's main contention is that "you have the freedom and responsibility" to remake your habits. He says "the most addicted alcoholics can become sober. The most dysfunctional companies can transform themselves. A high school dropout can become a successful manager."

"The Habit Loop" explains exactly what a habit is. According to the author, habits make up 40% of our daily routine. The process within our brains is a three-step loop. First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which behavior to use. Second, there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is the reward.

Your daily habits create the foundation of your life–your health, wealth, happiness, productivity, quality of relationships, and energy level. You can become more mindful creating the intention to interrupt patterns that don’t serve you. Establish positive habits that lead to a happy and prosperous life.

You create habits as an efficiency mechanism. Neuroscience research tells us that the brain quickly transforms as many tasks and behaviors as possible into habits so that we can do them without thinking. This frees up the brain to deal with new challenges. But first, we have to integrate the new habit and that can feel challenging.

Think about when you start a new activity. Your brain works hard to integrate it into your life, processing huge amounts of new information as you progress through the activity. As soon as you understand how it works, your behavior starts becoming automatic and the amount of mental effort required to perform the activity decreases.

The best way to approach creating positive new habits that will last is to take baby steps bringing them into your life one at a time. This gives you the opportunity to repeat the habit over and over until it is a part of your automatic behavior, and also allows you to focus the extra brainpower required for the habit on one or few activities so you aren’t overwhelmed. Then when your habit is automatic, you can add another one.

It might seem counter-intuitive, and that this approach will bring slow results. But, when you consider that studies show most people only make changes for a short amount of time before giving up, this approach actually brings results fast. Plus, you can say goodbye to that discouraging yo-yo cycle of starting and then breaking habits! Dieting is a good example of an intention that often goes awry, and demotivates people.

Keystone Habits

Watch this video! https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4H0fTwtPLfo

It wasn’t the trip to Cairo that had caused the shift, scientists were convinced, or the divorce or desert trek. It was that Lisa had focused on changing just one habit—smoking—at first. Everyone in the study had gone through a similar process. By focusing on one pattern—what is known as a “keystone habit”—Lisa had taught herself how to reprogram the other routines in her life, as well.”
~ Charles Duhigg in “The Power of Habit”

This is my favorite Big Idea in the book. The basic idea: There’s a habit that when we change it will have the greatest positive impact on our lives. It’s a KEYSTONE habit. Keystones are good.

As the Apple dictionary tells us, a keystone is “a central stone at the summit of an arch, locking the whole together.”

So...what’s your keystone habit? What’s the #1 thing you could change that would have the most positive impact on your life? Is it quitting smoking? No longer drinking? Drastically reducing your internet time? Getting your inbox to zero? Meditating every day? Think about it. And pick one.

This is a keystone habit for me that I commit to changing: Frequency of checking e-mail

So, let’s look at my Cue + Routine + Reward.

Old pattern: Cue = Checking my e-mail first thing in the morning. Routine = Tell myself there might be something important that needs my immediate attention. Reward = Convinced myself that there are no problems lurking out there for me.

New pattern: Cue = Getting out of bed bright and early ready to get a fast start to my day. Routine = Tell myself how much more productive I will be getting some “real work” (writing a blog post or article etc.) before checking my e-mail. Reward = Honored my commitment to be more focused, strategic and productive. Stopped fooling myself that checking e-mail incessantly is helping me reach my goals for the day!

Back to you: What’s your keystone habit? And your Cue + Routine + Reward?

The book goes into more detail that will be very helpful for you as you look to re-shape your habits, but let’s take a quick inventory:

My keystone habit:___________________________________

My current Cue:_______________________________________

My current Routine:____________________________________

My current Reward:__________________________________

My new Cue: ________________________________________

My new Routine:______________________________________

My new Reward:____

 

 

      

Emotionally Intelligent Leaders Are Givers

The Paradox of Leadership Give and Take

Western leaders have been conditioned for generations to believe that the way to advance is to claim as much as possible, to take more than you give. Many leaders make personal gain the objective of business life, and almost any means to achieve it is fair game.

Hard work, perseverance, passion and talent are valuable, of course. However, in the human dynamics of business, taking what you can, even if it’s from others, is often the method used to attain rewards.

But what if there was a paradoxical truth that showed the opposite to be the case… that by giving away what you have, you’ll get even more? There is substance to this truth, and it warrants examination.

The majority of employees see their bosses fitting the mold of the “taker.” Viewed as powerful, competent, productive, and self-serving, such leaders use people to get what they want, and effectively work their way up the corporate ladder.

Conversely, leaders who put their needs last and give more than they take are seen as weak, interdependent, and insecure. These “givers” are not viewed as likely to advance. Looking deeper, however, reveals another reality.

Adam Grant, in his book, Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success (Penguin 2013), describes the contrast between these two basic styles of leadership social interaction: the taker and the giver.

Initially, takers have the perceived edge in leadership success, but over time success depends heavily on how leaders approach their interactions with other people.

The Deception About Taking

The premise regarding value-driven takers is that they get what they want. They have an intentionality that achieves goals and maximizes opportunity. Takers make things happen for themselves, and for the most part, those around them.

The costs are secondary, and often discounted. The position that seems advantageous at face value is rarely advantageous at all — for anyone. This is the deception of the taker’s way.

In truth, what appears to be a successful leader is someone who suffers from a damaged success ladder, all because of a poor way of treating people. The leader doesn’t recognize the long-term effects of taking from others.

The Surprise About Giving

Givers don’t strike people as likely to attain “success.” They put the needs of others ahead of self, sometimes helping others with tasks instead of focusing on their own.

Giving leaders are more prone to add value to their people and help them become their best. They recognize that everyone needs others to reach the peak of effectiveness. For givers, success comes in teams, not so much to individuals. In the competitive business world this mentality is often considered strange, even crazy.

Givers trust and give the benefit of the doubt. They are willing to risk themselves by betting on those around them, and understand there is a difference between taking and receiving. According to Grant, receiving is a willingness to accept help with the desire to reciprocate. Givers credit others for their work.

Givers focus on the success of others, and draw people in. The giving becomes contagious, as does the benefits of following a giver: knowledge, skills, interdependence, beneficial contacts, efficiency, and productivity. Eventually, the giving leader is recognized as a major contributor.

The paradox of leadership giving and taking is seen below the surface and over time: give away what you have to end up with more―take what you want and end up with less.

Strengthening the Giver’s Image

Giving leaders can be very effective, despite career stifling bias. They can be firm, kind, and results-oriented. Employees want to be led well and held accountable under defined expectations. The giver is perfectly positioned to do this in a way people respect and admire.

Givers, if taken advantage of too often, eventually withdraw from giving. This truly renders the giver ineffective and grants the takers more control. This “doormat” state is avoidable. Givers can raise their level of observation with discerning trust:

  • Get to know people and watch their behavior.
  • Remember that agreeable people are not necessarily givers.
  • Look for motives and values, rather than outer appearances.
  • Wait for clues, such as shallowness or true genuineness.
  • Observe how they treat others.
  • Notice if they regard themselves highly or not.

Givers can also adjust their approach to suspected takers. If there is a lack of reciprocity, they can become what author Grant calls a “matcher,” someone who will give, but conditionally. Giving is done with the agreement that the other person gives back.

Giving leaders can learn to enforce boundaries and say no, yet still be polite. They can reduce exposure and find another resource to meet someone’s needs, and observe how that transpires. If there is cooperation and reciprocation, then giving can be resumed with ongoing assessment.

Givers are a vital key to organizational success, and are responsible for the success of many others. They understand that winning doesn’t require that someone else lose. Takers draw life out of an organization, and leaders are wise to avoid those behaviors. A coach or trusted colleague can help with this.

Giving doesn’t require major sacrifices or deeds. It just requires caring about others and sharing what you have inside. Try to emulate the spirit of the giver, and see what good things happen.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Am I a transformational leader who inspires individuals and organizations to achieve their highest potential, flourish at work, experience elevating energy and achieve levels of effectiveness difficult to attain otherwise?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching to help leaders create a culture where respect and trust flourish.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-i 2.0, Hogan Lead, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help leaders nurture strengths-based conversations in the workplace. You can become an inspiring leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

Working Resources is a San Francisco Bay Area executive coaching and leadership development firm helping innovative companies and law firms develop emotionally intelligent and mindful leaders. We help build coaching cultures of positive engagement.

...About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman
Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach|
Trusted Leadership Advisor
Emotional Intelligence & Mindful Leadership Workplace Expert

I coach leaders to cultivate clarity, creativity, focus, trust, and full engagement in a purpose-driven culture.

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and executive coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies develop emotionally intelligent and mindful leaders. 

Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica.

“Maynard Brusman is one of the foremost coaches in the United States. He utilizes a wide variety of assessments in his work with senior executives and upper level managers, and is adept at helping his clients both develop higher levels of emotional intelligence and achieve breakthrough business results. As a senior leader in the executive coaching field, Dr. Brusman brings an exceptional level of wisdom, energy, and creativity to his work.” — Jeffrey E. Auerbach, Ph.D., President, College of Executive Coaching

The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded rare "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development. Alan Weiss, Ph.D., President, Summit Consulting Group

Are you an executive leader who wants to be more effective at work and get better results?

Did you know that research has demonstrated, that the most effective leaders model high emotional intelligence, and that EQ can be learned? It takes self-awareness, empathy, and compassion to become a more emotionally intelligent leader. 

Emotionally intelligent and mindful leaders inspire people to become fully engaged with the vision and mission of their company. Mindful leadership starts from within.

I am a consulting psychologist and executive coach. I believe coaching is a collaborative process of providing people with the resources and opportunities they need to self manage, develop change resiliency and become more effective. Utilizing instrumented assessments - clients set clear goals, make optimal use of their strengths, and take action to create desired changes aligned with personal values.

I have been chosen as an expert to appear on radio and TV, MSNBC, CBS Health Watch and in the San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Time, Forbes and Fast Company.

Over the past thirty-five years, I have coached hundreds of leaders to improve their leadership effectiveness.

After only 6 months, one executive coaching client reported greater productivity, and more stress resiliency helping her company improve revenues by 20%. While this may depend on many factors most of my clients report similar satisfaction in their EQ leadership competence leading to better business results.

You can choose to work with a highly seasoned executive coach to help facilitate your leadership development and executive presence awakening what’s possible.

For more information, please go to http://www.workingresources.com, write to mbrusman@workingresources.com, or call 415-546-1252.

Subscribe to Working Resources Newsletter: http://www.workingresources.com

Visit Maynard's Blog: http://www.workingresourcesblog.com

Connect with me on these Social Media sites.

http://twitter.com/drbrusman
http://www.facebook.com/maynardbrusman

http://www.linkedin.com/in/maynardbrusman
https://www.youtube.com/user/drmaynardbrusman
http://google.com/+maynardbrusman

      

The Paradox of Leadership Give and Take

Western leaders have been conditioned for generations to believe that the way to advance is to claim as much as possible, to take more than you give. Many leaders make personal gain the objective of business life, and almost any means to achieve it is fair game.

Hard work, perseverance, passion, and talent are valuable, of course. However, in the human dynamics of business, taking what you can, even if it’s from others, is often the method used to attain rewards.

But what if there was a paradoxical truth that showed the opposite to be the case—that by giving away what you have, you’ll get even more? There is substance to this truth, and it warrants examination.

The majority of employees see their bosses fitting the mold of the “taker.” These leaders are viewed as prioritizing their personal needs above everyone else’s, in a competitive arena where there are definitive winners and losers.

This perception is so common we stereotype managers by their interpersonal behavior. An aggressive, self-serving leader who gets what they want by using people to get it is seen as powerful, competent, and productive. We assume this taker is a person who will work their way up the corporate ladder effectively.

Conversely, leaders who put their needs last, who serve their people by giving more than they take, are seen as weak, interdependent, and insecure. These “givers” are not viewed as likely to advance.

Again, cultural experience makes some of these things seem factual, but looking deeper reveals another reality.

Adam Grant, in his book, Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success (Penguin 2013), describes the contrast between these two basic styles of leadership social interaction: the taker and the giver.

Takers are more self-focused, motivated to succeed first, and give (if necessary) down the road. The ends justify the means, so they believe. Givers are focused on others, and sense the need to give of themselves first, and success will come later. The benefits to others are paramount.

Takers see themselves as superior and set apart from the rest. Givers recognize that they belong to a team with diverse skills and that they all depend on each other.

Takers are more independent, claim more credit, and are reluctant to share knowledge, privilege, or power. Givers are more willing to ask for help, and to share credit, knowledge, and rewards.

In the traditional mindset that claims the spoils go to the victor, the takers have the perceived edge in leadership success. And initially they may. But over time, as author Grant points out, success depends heavily on how leaders approach their interactions with other people.

The Deception About Taking

The premise regarding those who try to claim as much value as they can is that they get what they want. They have an intentionality that achieves goals and maximizes opportunity. Takers make things happen for themselves, and for the most part, those around them, as they take advantage. We’ve seen this happen all the time.

This is an attempt to gain, with a narrow focus on personal benefits. The costs are secondary, and often discounted. However, the position that seems advantageous at face value is rarely advantageous at all—for those reporting to the taker and even for the taker themselves. This is the deception of the taker’s way.

Leaders who are takers are self-promoting and self-protective. They take credit that may belong to others and spin things in ways that benefit their position. Employees have little difficulty spotting this. Eventually, the leader becomes known for this and the responses of those around them are not favorable.

Takers grow to earn the disrespect of those they work with because of the maneuvers they make. No one likes to be taken advantage of, or have their work claimed by their boss. Other leaders are often affected as well, and word spreads.

Takers may be envied by some, due to their apparent favor with higher leaders. Others may resent them. Both responses fashion enemies. People subject to a taker sense the detriment to their own careers, and that is about as negative a feeling as possible in the work setting.

Overall value in the group declines, due to the draining of motivations and ambitions from its members. The long-term career prospects for a taker are compromised because team performance suffers and turnover rises. Leaders who are responsible for this fallout eventually develop negative reputations that excuses cannot defend.

It’s deceiving. Amazing skills, training, and drive are often considered the recipe for stardom. What often appears to be a leader who has the world at their command is someone who suffers from a damaged success ladder. The damage is self-inflicted—all because of a poor way of treating people. The leader doesn’t recognize the long-term effects of taking from others.

The Surprise About Giving

Givers, on the other hand, generally don’t strike people as those who will attain what corporate life considers success. They put the needs of others ahead of self, sometimes helping them with their tasks instead of focusing on their own. Giving leaders are more prone to add value to their people than worry about what they receive personally.

By traditional standards, givers are viewed as inefficient or slow achievers. This unfavorable impression is a result of not spending enough time on their tasks. Thus their recognition for advancement is often negatively affected.

Giving leaders care about helping people become their best by teaching, helping, or mentoring. They recognize that in a group of diverse talents, everyone needs others to reach the peak of effectiveness. To them, success comes in teams, not so much to individuals. If this means a tarnished personal reputation, then so be it. In the competitive business world, this mentality is often considered strange, even crazy.

However, as with the taker, paradigms about givers can be inaccurate. With time, the workings within the giver’s world can reveal surprising benefits.

Givers trust people and give them the benefit of the doubt. They are willing to risk themselves by betting on those around them. Givers understand there is a difference between taking and receiving. As author Grant defines, receiving is a willingness to accept help, with the desire to reciprocate. Givers credit others for their work.

Unlike taking, giving is appreciated. Givers focus on the success of others, and grow to earn the respect and trust of those around them. They are noticed as someone good to work with. People welcome givers because they add overall value to everyone. This raises the success of the team as well.

Givers draw people to them, and the giving becomes contagious. There are numerous benefits for those following a giver. They have a huge learning advantage. Their abilities are strengthened. The desire to give to others is enhanced. Mutual giving breeds interdependence, which breeds stronger networks and beneficial contacts. The increase in skills expands exponentially.

Employee engagement expands as well, and people are more motivated about their jobs. This increases productivity and efficiency. Eventually, the giving leader is recognized as a major contributor, as people throughout the organization realize and talk about it.

The biggest surprise is that giving leaders can be the most successful leaders of all, despite their apparent shortcomings. As author Grant suggests: organizations need more givers and fewer takers. The paradox of leadership giving and taking is easier to grasp when we look below the surface, and see the effects of time: give away what you have to end up with more―take what you want and end up with less.

Strengthening the Giver’s Image

Giving leaders can be very effective overall because of how they enrich those around them. Yet there is still an impressionable bias against them. Some regard them as soft or weak. This can stifle or threaten a giver’s career. But there are ways they can combat this.

Many givers are aware of the impression others have. Giving is, after all, an unnatural conduct in the tough corporate environment. The giving leader can fear appearing soft, and this can deter them from giving, by acting more like people expect. This helps no one. But fortunately givers can raise their stock by busting the common myths about givers.

Giving leaders can be firm, yet still be kind. Helping can require expectations or accountability, and still enhance engagement. A giving demeanor can be serious, yet fair―tough yet appreciative. These are not mutually exclusive traits. They work very well together.

Givers can be results-oriented, without being critical, threatening, or inconsiderate, like takers tend to be. Employees want to be held accountable and led well with conviction under defined expectations. The giver is perfectly positioned to do this, and to do it in a way people respect and admire.

Don’t Be a Doormat

Givers, if taken advantage of too often, can become leery, and eventually withdraw giving to avoid being hurt. This truly renders the giver ineffective and grants the takers more control.

This “doormat” state is avoidable. Givers can learn to trust with greater discernment, spotting genuine givers from takers in sheeps’ clothing. To do this, they raise their level of observation.

Get to know people and watch their behavior. Remember that agreeable people are not necessarily givers. Look for motives and values as true indicators rather than outer appearances. Wait for clues, such as shallowness or true genuineness. Observe how they treat others. Notice if they regard themselves highly or not.

Givers can also adjust their approach to suspected takers. If there is a lack of reciprocity, they can become what author Grant calls a “matcher,” someone who will give, but conditionally. Giving is done with the agreement that the other person gives back. Assertiveness is appropriate to require fair and honorable exchanges.

Giving leaders can put up their guard, yet still be polite. Learn to say no, but do it considerately. Reduce your exposure and find another resource to meet someone’s needs, and observe how that transpires. If there is cooperation and reciprocation, then the giving faucet can be opened up again, while continuing to assess the indicators.

Givers are a vital key to organizational success, and are responsible for the success of many others. They understand that winning doesn’t require that someone else lose. There are enough credits and rewards for everyone. Takers draw life out of an organization, and leaders are wise to avoid those behaviors. A coach or trusted colleague can help with this.

Giving doesn’t require major sacrifices or deeds. It just requires caring about others and sharing what you have inside. Try to emulate the spirit of the giver, and see what good things happen.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Am I a transformational leader who inspires individuals and organizations to achieve their highest potential, flourish at work, experience elevating energy and achieve levels of effectiveness difficult to attain otherwise?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching to help leaders create a culture where respect and trust flourish.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-i 2.0, Hogan Lead, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help leaders nurture strengths-based conversations in the workplace. You can become an inspiring leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm

Working Resources is a San Francisco Bay Area executive coaching and leadership development firm helping innovative companies and law firms develop emotionally intelligent and mindful leaders. We help build coaching cultures of positive engagement.

...About Dr. Maynard Brusma 

Dr. Maynard Brusman
Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach|
Trusted Leadership Advisor
Emotional Intelligence & Mindful Leadership Workplace Expert

I coach leaders to cultivate clarity, creativity, focus, trust, and full engagement in a purpose-driven culture

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and executive coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies develop emotionally intelligent and mindful leaders. 

Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica.

“Maynard Brusman is one of the foremost coaches in the United States. He utilizes a wide variety of assessments in his work with senior executives and upper level managers, and is adept at helping his clients both develop higher levels of emotional intelligence and achieve breakthrough business results. As a senior leader in the executive coaching field, Dr. Brusman brings an exceptional level of wisdom, energy, and creativity to his work.” — Jeffrey E. Auerbach, Ph.D., President, College of Executive Coaching

The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded rare "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development. Alan Weiss, Ph.D., President, Summit Consulting Group

Are you an executive leader who wants to be more effective at work and get better results?

Did you know that research has demonstrated, that the most effective leaders model high emotional intelligence, and that EQ can be learned? It takes self-awareness, empathy, and compassion to become a more emotionally intelligent leader. 

Emotionally intelligent and mindful leaders inspire people to become fully engaged with the vision and mission of their company. Mindful leadership starts from within.

I am a consulting psychologist and executive coach. I believe coaching is a collaborative process of providing people with the resources and opportunities they need to self manage, develop change resiliency and become more effective. Utilizing instrumented assessments - clients set clear goals, make optimal use of their strengths, and take action to create desired changes aligned with personal values.

I have been chosen as an expert to appear on radio and TV, MSNBC, CBS Health Watch and in the San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Time, Forbes and Fast Company.

Over the past thirty-five years, I have coached hundreds of leaders to improve their leadership effectiveness.

After only 6 months, one executive coaching client reported greater productivity, and more stress resiliency helping her company improve revenues by 20%. While this may depend on many factors most of my clients report similar satisfaction in their EQ leadership competence leading to better business results.

You can choose to work with a highly seasoned executive coach to help facilitate your leadership development and executive presence awakening what’s possible.

For more information, please go to http://www.workingresources.com, write to mbrusman@workingresources.com, or call 415-546-1252.

Subscribe to Working Resources Newsletter: http://www.workingresources.com

Visit Maynard's Blog: http://www.workingresourcesblog.com

Connect with me on these Social Media sites.
http://twitter.com/drbrusman
http://www.facebook.com/maynardbrusman
http://www.linkedin.com/in/maynardbrusman
https://www.youtube.com/user/drmaynardbrusman
http://google.com/+maynardbrusman

      

The Failure of “Good-Enough” Cultures

The Failure of “Good-Enough” Cultures

Billions of dollars are wasted each year by companies who compromise on standards. Many leaders endanger themselves and their organizations by permitting a “good-enough culture.” Fortunately, this danger of mediocrity has a remedy.

“Only the mediocre are always at their best.” ~ Jean Giraudoux, French essayist

The good-enough culture plagues an organization in every aspect of its operation, all the way down to the most basic:

  • Lack of productivity
  • Staff turnover
  • Defective products
  • Warranty costs
  • Safety costs
  • Inefficiency and waste
  • Dissatisfied customers
  • Lost sales
  • Layoffs
  • Shrinking profits
  • Poor reputation

If not corrected, the issues feed on themselves.

Growing the Good-Enough Culture

The good-enough culture flows from the top down. It takes root when leaders believe that a good-enough approach is acceptable.

Typically, leaders who have the impression that life is rewarding enough don’t see the need to make things better for everyone else. Leaders with a self-focused mindset have one or more of the following issues:

  • Apathy: No real concern for others.
  • Laziness: No felt need to give more than an adequate effort.
  • Disengagement: Not enough involvement (or avoidance) with staff or specific operations to know that troubles exist.
  • Greed: Less monetary reward if more resources are spent on system shortcomings.
  • Fear of failure: Too much risk in change.
  • Pride: A need to preserve image by avoiding problems.
  • Ignorance: No desire to know how the operation works, or how it could be better.
  • Resentment: A dislike of bad news and the people who bring it.

Leaders who don’t understand the power of excellence don’t care enough about pursuing it. This lack of caring is what author Subir Chowdhury claims is the main cause of a good-enough culture, in his book, The Difference: When Good Enough Isn’t Enough (Penguin Random House, 2017).

When leaders don’t care enough about being the best they can be, why would staff? Leaders often cause slow failure simply by allowing mediocrity to set in. Complacent and falsely secure, organizations are unprepared to respond effectively when the bleeding begins and gradual decline ensues.

Symptoms of “Good-Enough”

Organizations and leaders who don’t care much about excellence will signal this throughout the system:

  • Leaders often ignore the elephant on the conference room table. Certain bad topics are not discussed. When staff leave a meeting knowing an underlying issue is unaddressed, this is a sign that the status quo is too important to disrupt. Good enough is good enough.
  • When red tape bogs down a process and is discussed with no effort to get to root causes, this is a trouble sign. Leaders simply want the bottleneck to go away, without concern for prevention. They permit an exception to the rules and everyone goes back about their business because good enough is good enough.
  • People start blaming one another during stressful situations rather than trying to reach understanding. Leaders don’t regard teamwork worth their time and effort, so they allow people to endure disunity because good enough is good enough.
  • Leaders are more upset at delivery numbers than product quality. The concessions are easier than diving into the causes and effective solutions, because good enough is good enough.
  • Employees are skeptical of feedback forms, company surveys, or information meetings because their voices are rarely valued, heard, or acted upon. Any improvements are minor, not requiring a significant investment. Leaders don’t emphasize positive change because good enough is good enough.
  • Leaders see staff turnover and exit interviews indicate a managerial problem. But they see it more difficult to replace a manager―with a higher salary requirement and a more complex recruitment process―than to continue finding new employees with fairly common skills. Leaders choose to make due, overlooking the manager’s weaknesses because good enough is good enough.

When leaders reveal these symptoms, it is a general indication that they don’t really care enough about excellence to truly implement it, and probably don’t understand how to.

Overcoming the Good-Enough Culture

Author Chowdhury suggests four basic principles leaders can apply to overcome the good-enough syndrome.

  1. Truthfulness / Directness: Instill a culture of transparency and honesty. Deal with trials directly and openly and reduce fear by welcoming feedback. This gives responsibility to staff to bring issues to the table. Leaders who can accept bad news, and respond with fairness and understanding, establish higher levels of emotional safety, accountability, and excellence. Good enough is no longer good enough.
  1. Consideration for Others: Care about people; be attentive. Engage others, listen deeply, and share understanding. Communicate an empathetic mindset on what people are going through, and how things can be improved for them. Leaders who care enough to be helpful and unselfish will build reciprocity and find that thoughtfulness inspires best efforts. Quality becomes a desired trait, because good enough is no longer acceptable.
  1. Taking Responsibility: Demonstrate responsibility and inspire the same in others. Accept critical feedback but not without viable proposals for solutions. Great leaders prompt everyone to add value and make positive changes. They analyze strategies and potential outcomes for everyone. With a sense of unity, staff go the extra mile because good enough is not an option.
  1. Determination: Lead by example. Make commitments and stay the course. Show that success requires resolve, decisions, and worthy goals. Quick fixes don’t favor long-term improvements. Leaders who don’t give up when things get tough make a lasting impression that drives a can-do culture, because good enough never provides that value.

When leaders care, excellence becomes contagious. People get energized to find ways to combat mediocrity. Leaders bring out the best in people and in themselves when they look beyond the good-enough mindset.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Am I a transformational leader who inspires individuals and organizations to achieve their highest potential, flourish at work, experience elevating energy and achieve levels of effectiveness difficult to attain otherwise?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching to help leaders create a culture where respect and trust flourish.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-i 2.0, Hogan Lead, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help leaders nurture strengths-based conversations in the workplace. You can become an inspiring leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

Working Resources is a San Francisco Bay Area executive coaching and leadership development firm helping innovative companies and law firms develop emotionally intelligent and mindful leaders. We help build coaching cultures of positive engagement.

...About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman
Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach|
Trusted Leadership Advisor
Emotional Intelligence & Mindful Leadership Workplace Expert
I coach leaders to cultivate clarity, creativity, focus, trust, and full engagement in a purpose-driven culture.
Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and executive coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies develop emotionally intelligent and mindful leaders. 

Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica.

“Maynard Brusman is one of the foremost coaches in the United States. He utilizes a wide variety of assessments in his work with senior executives and upper level managers, and is adept at helping his clients both develop higher levels of emotional intelligence and achieve breakthrough business results. As a senior leader in the executive coaching field, Dr. Brusman brings an exceptional level of wisdom, energy, and creativity to his work.” — Jeffrey E. Auerbach, Ph.D., President, College of Executive Coaching

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I am a consulting psychologist and executive coach. I believe coaching is a collaborative process of providing people with the resources and opportunities they need to self manage, develop change resiliency and become more effective. Utilizing instrumented assessments - clients set clear goals, make optimal use of their strengths, and take action to create desired changes aligned with personal values.

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The Problem of Mediocre Cultures

Billions of dollars are wasted each year by companies who compromise on standards. Many leaders endanger themselves and their organizations by permitting a “good-enough culture.” This danger of mediocrity fortunately has a remedy.

“Only the mediocre are always at their best.” ~ Jean Giraudoux, French essayist

The good-enough culture plagues an organization in every aspect of its operation, all the way down to the most basic. Some of the more prominent effects are:

  • Lack of productivity
  • Staff turnover
  • Defective products
  • Warranty costs
  • Safety costs
  • Inefficiency and waste
  • Dissatisfied customers
  • Lost sales
  • Layoffs
  • Shrinking profits
  • Poor reputation

Leaders experience many more unseen problems buried down under the details of every department. The issues feed on themselves if not corrected.

Growing the Good-Enough Culture

The good-enough culture flows down from the top of the organization. It takes root when leaders believe that a good-enough approach is acceptable.

Typically, leaders who have the impression that life for them is rewarding enough don’t see the need to work to make things better for everyone else. Leaders with a self-focused mindset have one or more of the following issues:

  • Apathy: There is no real concern for what the others in the organization endure.
  • Laziness: There is no felt need to give more than an adequate effort. Adequate often seems heroic to the lazy mind.
  • Disengagement: There is not enough involvement with staff or specific operations to know that troubles exist. Worse yet, the leader intentionally avoids knowledge of problems.
  • Greed: There is less monetary reward for the upper echelon if more resources are spent on addressing system shortcomings. This is the age-old deception of not believing a sacrifice today pays rewards tomorrow.
  • Fear of failure: There is too much risk seen in trying something that could make things worse. This fear emanates from a lack of wisdom or confidence.
  • Pride: There is a need to preserve image by avoiding the acknowledgment of a problem.
  • Ignorance: There is no pressing desire to know how the operation works, to grasp how it could be better.
  • Resentment: There is a dislike of bad news and the people who bring it. And of course, nothing can be improved if it’s not discussed.

Leaders who don’t understand the power of excellence don’t care enough about pursuing it. This lack of caring is what author Subir Chowdhury claims is the main cause of a good-enough culture, in his book, The Difference: When Good Enough Isn’t Enough (Penguin Random House, 2017).

When leaders don’t care enough about being the best they can be, why would staff? Each layer in the organization takes its cue from the one above, and all of them ultimately from the top. Uncaring leaders set a strong example that caring is not needed by anyone. The result is mediocrity at best, total failure at worst. Leaders who are excellence-minded see both of these as failure.

Organizations fail, but not always because they’ve crashed to the bottom. Leaders often cause slow failure simply by allowing mediocrity to set in. When things are “good enough,” people are lulled into complacency and a false security. They are unprepared to respond effectively when the bleeding begins, and gradual decline ensues.

Symptoms of “Good-Enough”

Organizations and leaders who don’t care much about excellence will signal this throughout the system. Some signals are subtle, some are clear. Here are some examples:

  • Leaders often ignore the elephant on the conference room table. Certain bad topics are not discussed. Waves aren’t made. Upsetting bosses with bad news or concerns is avoided at all costs. When staff leave a meeting knowing an underlying issue is deliberately left unaddressed, this is a sign that the status quo is too important to disrupt. Good enough is good enough.
  • When red tape bogs down a process and is discussed with no effort to get to root causes, this is a trouble sign. In these instances, leaders simply want the bottleneck to go away by any means necessary, and there’s no real concern for preventions or improvements. They permit an exception to the rules and everyone goes back about their business because good enough is good enough.
  • People start blaming one another during stressful situations rather than trying to reach understanding. Gaining clarity and collaboration takes work, sometimes a lot of it. Leaders don’t regard teamwork worth giving of their time and effort, so they allow their people to endure disunity because good enough is good enough.
  • Leaders are more upset at delivery numbers than product quality when production nonconformance arises. Standards are conceded to get the product out the door, or leaders approve a band-aid for the problem, hoping it’s just a limited issue. The concessions are easier than diving into the causes and effective solutions, because good enough is good enough.
  • Employees are skeptical of feedback forms, company surveys or information meetings because their voices are rarely valued, heard or acted upon. Suggestions go unanswered, survey results are not shared and organizational information has no real substance. Any improvements are minor, not requiring a significant investment. Leaders don’t emphasize positive change because good enough is good enough.
  • Leaders see staff turnover in a specific department, and exit interviews indicate a managerial problem. But they see it more difficult to replace a manager―with a higher salary requirement and a more complex recruitment process―than to continue finding new employees with fairly common skills. Leaders choose to make due, overlooking the manager’s weaknesses because good enough is good enough.

When leaders reveal these and other symptoms it is a general indication that they don’t really care enough about excellence to truly implement it, and probably don’t understand how to.

Overcoming the Good-Enough Culture

Author Chowdhury suggests four basic principles leaders can apply to overcome the good-enough syndrome.

  1. Truthfulness / Directness: Leaders who care about truth must instill a culture of transparency and honesty. They are advised to deal with trials directly and openly, and to reduce fear by welcoming feedback. This gives responsibility to staff to bring issues to the table and tackle them, with the incentive to solve them. Leaders who can accept bad news, and respond with fairness and understanding, establish higher levels of emotional safety, accountability, and excellence.

People learn to care about the day-to-day issues, and have a greater sense of empowerment to make things work better. Small successes lead to more, and succeeding becomes attractive. A leader who cares about making things right for everyone will create a following of people who want to do the same. Being truthful and direct builds trust. And trust breeds higher standards. Good enough is no longer good enough.

  1. Consideration for Others: Leaders who care about their people are attentive to them. They show them they’re valued by engaging them, listening to them, and understanding them. Their communications skills demonstrate an empathetic mindset, where the leader is concerned about what their people are going through, and how things can be improved for them. This requires humility and genuineness. Such leaders care enough to be helpful and unselfish.

People respond by returning a leader’s consideration with consideration of their own. They know they’re affirmed and appreciated, and this causes them to care about what the leader cares about, as well as each of their contributions. The staff becomes thankful and returns the leader’s thoughtfulness with their best efforts. Quality becomes a desired trait of their work, because good enough is no longer acceptable.

  1. Taking Responsibility: Leaders who care about excellence demonstrate responsibility and instill the same in their people. They accept critical feedback but not without viable proposals for solutions. They don’t accept a mentality of “it’s not my job.” Everyone participates and is expected to follow through on their assignments. Great leaders prompt everyone to add value and make positive changes.

This encourages engagement, positive outlooks, and a drive for the best ideas. These leaders forge the habit of analyzing strategies and their potential outcomes. An overall aim to enhance things for everyone is established.

The staff responds by getting involved, taking action, and being answerable for what they do. Everyone strives for improvement, and they raise their expectations. People find it exhilarating to be responsible for their portion of the overall success. They feel a sense of unity, and are encouraged to ask for help when needed. Staff go the extra mile because they care, and because good enough is not an option.

  1. Determination: Leaders who care lead by example. They show their people that success requires resolve, and nothing worth achieving comes easily. Leaders who persevere inspire the passion in their people to do the same. It shows the staff that the leader is serious about making commitments and staying the course. That demonstrates the importance of decisions and the worth of the goal. They support long-term improvements and reject quick fixes. Leaders who don’t give up when things get tough make a lasting impression on their people. That impression grows when they understand the struggles their people have, and help them with the needed resources.

Workers respond to this with a determination generated from within. They take ownership as they are empowered to act and resolve. People adopt a willingness to change and improve, individually and collectively. They reject short cuts. This drives a can-do culture. They care about contributing to lasting value because they learn that good enough never provides that value.

Caring about excellence is everything. A truthful leader molds a team that improves communication, timeliness and a thorough review of all difficult issues, large and small. A leader who’s considerate of others demonstrates the importance of relationships to success. Leaders who commit to such responsibility raise the level of accountability within their staff. Employees who are held to account by their manager also hold each other to account. Determined leaders foster a group spirit that overcomes challenges that once made people surrender.

Leaders can transform their organizations and reach potential never imagined if they put their immediate needs aside and care for their people and the outcomes of their endeavors. Their caring becomes contagious. Everyone’s felt needs will be met more effectively when a caring culture is in place.

      

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