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Archives ~ May 2013 Entries

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Sacrificing for something they will never see

Dr. Foster Mobley // History, Quotables, Wisdom Leading

Memorial Day is an important and somber time, a commemoration of the people who have died in the service of this country-a gift whose value cannot be overstated. One of the most poignant aspects of the holiday is this: the men and women who gave their lives overseas in war put themselves into harm's way knowing that there was a chance they would never live to benefit from their defense of liberty. The countless soldiers who fought in World War II did so while aware there was a decent chance they would not be able to enjoy a world without Hitler. Yet they fought for the freedom of others. Today's leaders can learn much from that selflessness. When making leadership decisions for their organizations, the job of the leader is to do what benefits the led-helps them perform and makes them better team members and people. In my experience, breakthrough results often come when a leader shows the wisdom to sacrifice his own views or needs in favor of the greater good. As a leader, what are you sacrificing to make your team better?

Memorial Day is an important and somber time, a commemoration of the people who have died in the service of this country-a gift whose value cannot be overstated.

One of the most poignant aspects of the holiday is this: the men and women who gave their lives overseas in war put themselves into harm's way knowing that there was a chance they would never live to benefit from their defense of liberty. The countless soldiers who fought in World War II did so while aware there was a decent chance they would not be able to enjoy a world without Hitler. Yet they fought for the freedom of others.

Today's leaders can learn much from that selflessness. When making leadership decisions for their organizations, the job of the leader is to do what benefits the led-helps them perform and makes them better team members and people. In my experience, breakthrough results often come when a leader shows the wisdom to sacrifice his own views or needs in favor of the greater good.

As a leader, what are you sacrificing to make your team better?

5.27.13 0
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Charles Ramsey and The Will to Get Involved

Dr. Foster Mobley // Business, Quotables, Wisdom Leading

Less than two weeks ago America got a new hero: Charles Ramsey, a man from Cleveland, Ohio, who interrupted his enjoyment of a Big Mac to respond to the panicked pleas of a young woman in a neighboring house. As a result, three women who had been abducted and presumed dead for a decade were rescued. Millions of Americans were charmed by Ramsey's self-effacing speech, but I was more taken with the fact he did something that so many of us are reluctant to do anymore: step across the barrier of our own self-containment and reach into someone else's life. We tend to deceive ourselves that our technology-Facebook, Twitter, texting-means that we're connected to other people. It's an illusion, because it allows us to be connected at our convenience. Real relationships mean getting involved when things are messy, chaotic, uncertain-and real. In our organizations, we sometimes pursue a sanitized version of involvement with our people. We send memos and communicate via calendars. Leading is a full-contact sport - that means being hands-on, asking questions and caring about the answers, and reaching out to learn who the people we're working with truly are and what they truly need. Are you sending communications or involved with your people?

Less than two weeks ago America got a new hero: Charles Ramsey, a man from Cleveland, Ohio, who interrupted his enjoyment of a Big Mac to respond to the panicked pleas of a young woman in a neighboring house. As a result, three women who had been abducted and presumed dead for a decade were rescued.

Millions of Americans were charmed by Ramsey's self-effacing speech, but I was more taken with the fact he did something that so many of us are reluctant to do anymore: step across the barrier of our own self-containment and reach into someone else's life. We tend to deceive ourselves that our technology-Facebook, Twitter, texting-means that we're connected to other people. It's an illusion, because it allows us to be connected at our convenience. Real relationships mean getting involved when things are messy, chaotic, uncertain-and real.

In our organizations, we sometimes pursue a sanitized version of involvement with our people. We send memos and communicate via calendars. Leading is a full-contact sport - that means being hands-on, asking questions and caring about the answers, and reaching out to learn who the people we're working with truly are and what they truly need.

Are you sending communications or involved with your people?

5.20.13 0
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Are there times to rethink our definition of "winning"?

Dr. Foster Mobley // Business, Quotables, Wisdom Leading

That's a question I ask in my upcoming new book, "The Wave." Most corporate cultures define a winning team not only as one that achieves its objective every time but as one that constantly clears an ever-rising bar of expectations. No resting on laurels or congratulating ourselves for a well-fought campaign, folks; if we're not already finding new ways to exceed our performance from last quarter, we're losing. Not only is that approach not sustainable, it doesn't reflect how people live, perform, and recover. The creative director who's a dynamo of ideas in Q1 might be running a bit dry in Q2. That doesn't mean she's incapable. It means she needs to recharge. People aren't machines. To increase the wisdom of our organizations, it's important to appreciate that winning teams are those that combine consistent goal attainment with a culture that respects the natural ebb and flow of individual performance. I believe it is not the point to have one stellar quarter, but rather, to grow steadily over ten or twenty years. That long-term growth and performance only happens when we recognize that winning encompasses not just making the sale but making our people better, flaws and all. How might you redefine "winning" in your organization?

That's a question I ask in my upcoming new book, "The Wave." Most corporate cultures define a winning team not only as one that achieves its objective every time but as one that constantly clears an ever-rising bar of expectations. No resting on laurels or congratulating ourselves for a well-fought campaign, folks; if we're not already finding new ways to exceed our performance from last quarter, we're losing.

Not only is that approach not sustainable, it doesn't reflect how people live, perform, and recover. The creative director who's a dynamo of ideas in Q1 might be running a bit dry in Q2. That doesn't mean she's incapable. It means she needs to recharge. People aren't machines.

To increase the wisdom of our organizations, it's important to appreciate that winning teams are those that combine consistent goal attainment with a culture that respects the natural ebb and flow of individual performance. I believe it is not the point to have one stellar quarter, but rather, to grow steadily over ten or twenty years. That long-term growth and performance only happens when we recognize that winning encompasses not just making the sale but making our people better, flaws and all.

How might you redefine "winning" in your organization?

5.13.13 0
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Snow or Insulation? It's a matter of perspective

Dr. Foster Mobley // Quotables, Wisdom Leading

A friend and colleague who lives in the Midwest told me this story about the long, snowy winter that region endured this year: A group of students living near the local university were freezing in their poorly insulated rental house. Not only were they half-buried beneath several feet of snow, but the howling winter winds turned the house into an icebox. Everyone was miserable...until one enterprising soul had an idea. This young man made a huge pot of coffee and then hustled everyone outside. There, using shovels and plastic storage tubs, they started making bricks of packed snow. Over a period of about six hours, they made and stacked their bricks until they had a snow wall about six feet high around the entire front of their little cottage. They left a small space on one side for a door, packed up their tools, and then went inside and fell asleep. The next morning, the students woke and noticed that their house was much warmer than it had been. The snow wall not only blocked the wind, but it effectively insulated the house, reflecting back the heat that escaped through the thin walls and single-paned windows. It was brilliant. Local newspapers came out to photograph the icy feat of engineering. Where one person might see a problem, a wise person sees a solution. As we build and manage teams of diverse people in widely varying circumstances, it's important as leaders to remember that there are many perspectives on the same situations. Nothing is cut and dried. One person's trouble might become another's building material. How do you encourage your people to look at things from multiple perspectives?

A friend and colleague who lives in the Midwest told me this story about the long, snowy winter that region endured this year: A group of students living near the local university were freezing in their poorly insulated rental house. Not only were they half-buried beneath several feet of snow, but the howling winter winds turned the house into an icebox. Everyone was miserable...until one enterprising soul had an idea.

This young man made a huge pot of coffee and then hustled everyone outside. There, using shovels and plastic storage tubs, they started making bricks of packed snow. Over a period of about six hours, they made and stacked their bricks until they had a snow wall about six feet high around the entire front of their little cottage. They left a small space on one side for a door, packed up their tools, and then went inside and fell asleep.

The next morning, the students woke and noticed that their house was much warmer than it had been. The snow wall not only blocked the wind, but it effectively insulated the house, reflecting back the heat that escaped through the thin walls and single-paned windows. It was brilliant. Local newspapers came out to photograph the icy feat of engineering.

Where one person might see a problem, a wise person sees a solution. As we build and manage teams of diverse people in widely varying circumstances, it's important as leaders to remember that there are many perspectives on the same situations. Nothing is cut and dried. One person's trouble might become another's building material.

How do you encourage your people to look at things from multiple perspectives?

5.6.13 0
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Dr. Foster Mobley

Trusted advisor and coach to admired executives globally for 3 decades, Thought leader on wisdom-based approaches to breakthrough leading, "Lead Coach" for Deloitte's experienced and high potential leader development, Team performance advisor to two NCAA championship teams