The Walton Group, Inc.

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We are seasoned executives who have successfully served CEO’s and corporate leadership teams in designing breakthrough strategies, dynamic organizations, and effective operating processes that accelerate profitable business growth.

Filtering by Category: Change

What you really mean...

I don't have time. I don't have enough money.

I don't know how.

All good excuses not to do something.

But rather than just accept those statements let's understand what we really mean. What we really mean is...

I have other things I prefer to do with my time, my money, my energy. Usually those are important and legitimate things. We must care for family. Meet work obligations. Focus on our basic needs.

But not always!

We fall into the trap of believing the excuse rather than acknowledging the truth. Everyone has the same amount of time, some just spend it better.

Q: Where do you need to spend your time, energy, money, or effort differently?

Doing vs. Being

You have a bias for action. That doesn't make you flawed, it makes you human. But, it is for this reason that you will naturally value accomplishment over character, result over method, and reward over sacrifice. It's not you, it's the world you live in.

No one consciously makes that choice. In fact, if asked most people would state that they value character over any result.

We just don't see it demonstrated very much...

It's not a lack of desire, it's a lack of focus. Learning to BE involves a conscious choice to focus on the nature of our character and let that lead to results.

When you focus on BEING first, doing happens naturally. When you focus on DOING you end up BEING something by accident and not intent.

As you think about the new year starting, who do you want to pursue BEING this year?

Life by Checklist

We live in a checklist world.

Three Easy Steps to Lose Weight.
The 5 Things You Must Do to Improve Your Marriage!
The Steps to Dealing with a Difficult Boss

 

On the surface this makes sense. After all, we are busy people and providing us with concise and clear direction we can practice and experience effective behavior and wise thinking to get better results.

There is only one small problem. Where am I supposed to keep all of those checklists?

It's great when I come across something at a time where I really need it. I can take action and see a result. Ideally, as a consequence it will lead to a permanent shift in my behavior. Except when it doesn't...

There are other times when interesting information comes our way and doesn't intersect with a pressing need. We read it, value it, and promptly forget it.

Permanent and sustainable change happens when we have reason to rethink what we fundamentally believe about something in our lives. When that happens, the natural result is a shift in behavior that doesn't NEED a checklist. It becomes an innate response.

So...

What is one significant change in your beliefs that has had a powerful impact on your behavior?

What areas of your life are you attempting to live by checklist, and getting frustrated by the effort?

Cattle Drive Management

Have you ever watched footage of a good old fashioned cattle drive? It's a pretty simple process on the surface.

Step 1 - Get a horse.
Step 2 - Get some cattle.
Step 3 - Run around the cattle with the horse until they start going in the direction you wish.
Step 4 - When some of the cattle start moving in the wrong direction ride out and chase them back in.

 

I know a lot of businesses that run like a cattle drive. It doesn't work so well. In the business context it looks something like this:

Step 1 - Become a leader.
Step 2 - Attract some followers.
Step 3 - Run around and make noise until people start moving.
Step 4 - Yell at the people who aren't going in the right direction.

 

Let's make it simple:

  • Just because you have the horse (read: leadership role) doesn't make you the leader. The cattle don't have to listen and neither do your followers.
  • Just because you have cattle doesn't mean they are going to follow. Cattle are not that smart. People are. People will seek the option that best preserves their own interests.
  • Getting people moving can happen without ever establishing a clear destination. The cattle don't need one. People do. The hardest and most important thing you do as a leader is cast, clarify, and steward the future vision of the organization.
  • If people are not following your direction and getting off the wagon trail it is ALWAYS one of two things. They either don't know the vision OR they don't agree with the vision. ALWAYS.

I have worked with an incredible number of organizations that were either dysfunctional or exceptional. When they work, the vision is clear and embraced. When they don't work, the vision is muddy or has been rejected.

You can always try lassoing the uncooperative and force compliance. It's works well with cattle. Not so well with leaders.

Managing motives instead of behavior.

It's an incredibly common scenario for me. I am talking with a senior leader in an organization about a conflict, problem employee, or frustration with someone and they say something like, "You know why they did [this or that], they were trying to [fill in the blank]." The only reply that I can offer to that statement is, "You don't know WHY they did anything. You only know why YOU would have done the same thing."

That's the problem. We are subject to the filters for our own behaviors when evaluating the behavior of others.

You wouldn't challenge the idea that you shared in a meeting because YOU LOVE THE IDEA. Therefore, if someone else challenges it they must be trying to satisfy an ego need, play a political game, score points with the boss, or position for something they want.

Now, I am not saying those aren't possibilities.

However, what if they were like you?

What if they really cared about the best interests of the company, the ministry, or the team? What if they were more committed to the success of the outcome than protecting themselves personally. AND, what if your idea was a stinker?

What if they were trying to save you from yourself? What if they believed in you and just wanted to contribute to improving your efforts? What if they really had a better way? Isn't that something you want as well?

When we manage from the position of evaluating motives, we almost always lose. When we manage from the position of evaluating behavior, we are free to see the best possibilities in others.

Q: Have you ever been guilty of assuming poor intended motives on the part of another person and been wrong? What happened?

Q: Have you ever been the victim of someone else making a bad assumption about your motives?

Having a plan...

It's just about resolutioners time. You know what resolutioners are, right? People who establish their goals based on the awkward and painful failures from the prior year. After all, no one makes a resolution to help more orphans. The people who are helping orphans just keep helping them. No one makes a resolution to love their kids more. They just keep loving their kids.

We make resolutions as a last ditch effort to get serious about the problems we generally aren't willing to take seriously. Exercise, diet, and financial responsibility being chief among them. But, let's think about that for a moment... We need to make resolutions about the 3 things we most consistently are presented with each day. Really?

I like the idea of a resolution in that it's a short version of a plan. However, I would propose that for it to really have effect you must write it as a grocery list of future accomplishment rather than a review of past regrets. For example, don't vow to lose weight this year. Instead commit to weigh a specific amount. Failing to be specific is like going to the grocery store hungry and without a list. Everything is a good idea when that happens.

Don't spend your year picking up life's Oreo's. Anyone can do that. Spend your life becoming something with intention.

Seasons...

Solomon said it best In Ecclesiastes 3... 1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: 2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, 6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

I wish I could always choose my seasons. I love when the summer gives way to the fall, there is a crispness to the air, the leaves change, and the light has a magical quality...

In the rest of my life I am not always so excited about seasons. There are seasons of rest but there are also seasons of struggle, anguish, fear, and failure. When I am in the Spring of my efforts and all is energy and new growth it is an exciting time. During the summer when I am figuratively making hay I feel a peace. But in the Fall and Winter I stumble and struggle.

In nature I celebrate how the passing of Winter makes the Spring so much sweeter. I need to learn to embrace the Winters of my career, relationships, and life with that same joyful anticipation. To embrace the season and realize it is appointed by God for my benefit and His glory. To value the intimacy of slowing down, drawing close to others, a quiet night by the fire. To let things be simple for a while.

After all, Spring is coming!

The 3 Reasons Business People Lie

I have been blessed to work with hundreds of senior executives over the last 10 years. Each one, in their own way, has surprised and challenged me. Yet there are some things that I have found to be universal. For example, not once has an executive ever confessed to me that they are really, inherently dishonest. In fact, without exception, they have all spoken of a desire to be high integrity, high character leaders. Men of their word. Truth tellers.

And most of them have lied. About something. Something important. Myself included.

Which makes me wonder, why would these otherwise capable and competent people lie. Not about little things, but about important commitments, failures, mistakes. Stuff that counts.

Fortunately I work in a full time laboratory of leadership and have plenty of candidates for research. Those efforts have yielded the following conclusions regarding business lies.

Reason #1 - Unrealistic Optimism

Earlier this year I ran across an interesting statistic regarding depression. The study noted that people suffering from clinical depression consistently rated their own abilities with a high level of accuracy. Fair enough. What follows that thinking is of greater interest to me. The secondary consequence of this statistic is that emotionally healthy people consistently over-rate their own abilities. This includes over-rating expected outcomes from business efforts as well.

With that as a starting premise it's no surprise that business commitments are quite often made with lofty expectations. Expectations that are rarely fully realized. And it is these expectations that set up the second part of the problem.

Reason #2 - Linear Thinking

Most people think in a linear way. Statistics vary, but in general over 90% of business leaders process information in a linear fashion. This is a practical, realistic, and systematic way of thinking. But, it has it's traps. As an example, linear thinking most often means that current conclusions are drawn directly from preceding events. That being true, it's very difficult for linear thinkers to naturally reset their assessment of decisions and causality to a larger and more holistic set of elements.

This only becomes an issue when you marry that information processing approach with the previously referenced over-optimism. Imagine a critical business commitment made based on unrealistic optimism. When that optimism fails to bear itself out in real results it is almost endemic that leaders re-think (and rationalize) their prior decisions. In practice, this looks like waffling or outright dishonesty to an outside observer.

Reason #3 - Short Memories

The last part of the problem is actually the simplest but the most insidious. Leaders suffer from information overload. And it's not getting any better. With so many facts, demands, and stresses on business people it is impractical to expect anyone to fully remember every commitment and decision. Bundle that problem with the prior two reasons and you have a perfect storm of missed expectations, revisionist history, and forgotten promises.

No, these aren't the outright lies we ascribe to the stereotypical "sleazy" Enron type of business personality. These are a worse kind of lie. They are the rationalized, justified, failed commitments that happen everyday.

So, how do you keep yourself honest?

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