Catalyst

Moving from "I wish" to "I will" with SMART Goals with a Strong Heart!

It’s summertime here in Colorado, and it’s 14er season for Russell. This is one of my SMART goals: that I want to climb all fifty-four 14,000-foot mountains over a five-year period. This is personally enriching for me but also very satisfying to be able to go from the valley to be able to summit the peaks of so many of these 14ers that are throughout Colorado.

Mt Yale, Colorado 14,196’ August 17,  2019

Mt Yale, Colorado 14,196’ August 17, 2019

More than just making the summit, it’s also the enrichment and the experience of being able to do that with other people who want to join me on the journey. This is something that’s not just an event but an experience that’s really built out as a long-term goal over a lifetime. What are some of your goals that you’re working towards? 

Just last week, I was coaching with a leader in Mexico, and he had this great desire to grow his business to the next level. The more we listened, I heard just some general and vague and even confusing language around some of the goals that he has to grow his business to the next level. As we talked more, I asked him if he had ever heard of SMART goals. That was the first he had ever heard of that language.

SMART goals invites you to be able to take some of your general aspirations, to be able to see something accomplished in bringing a specific framework around some of those things. What are some of your goals? If you and I were sitting one-on-one and we were just to take a moment and write down some of those things, what would those goals be? Would they be general and vague, or would they be specific and measurable and relevant and something that’s time-bound that you hope to see accomplished? Maybe it’s in five years, or maybe it’s in the next quarter.

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Again, this is your opportunity to write down some of these things, and do they pass the test of being SMART? Well, just in the context of our 14ers, one of the realities of going to the next level, especially in Colorado, is the lack of oxygen. The idea of capacity is a very real thing. It’s one thing to be able to aspire towards the next level of achieving those goals. The second area is this idea of capacity. Often taught in the coaching context that I have with leaders is that opportunities plus challenges equal growth. As you step into the opportunity of your goal, suddenly you’re met with a challenge. And that challenge, at least for me this past weekend, was the lack of oxygen. 

What do you have to do to increase your capacity? So let’s get those goals defined in terms of what’s SMART, and then let’s really identify, really, what is the capacity and where you need to grow and develop. These are five specific areas that allow you to look at some of those capacities that, as you do, that will invite you to grow to the next level of your leadership.

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Finally, in terms of that engagement, just as you look at all the things that you’re involved with, the opportunities, the commitments, perhaps there’s some things that you need to just evaluate: “What do I need to stop so that I can start doing some of those right things?” As you make that list and it begins to narrow, when you see those lists of activities before you, it gives you some clarity in terms of what you need to start, what you need to stop, and some areas where just you need to grow as a leader.

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Ultimately, if you feel stuck today in terms of your goals, I wonder what might be holding you back. What could be distracting your focus or even robbing your energy? This is one of those areas we’re trying to get some clarity in terms of your desire to want to grow to the next level and advance as a leader. What are the things that are holding you back? 

As you get clarity and even being SMART in terms of just your focus and your goals and how you need to grow your capacity, it’s going to get you moving forward so you advance to the next level in your leadership.

Designing Your Leadership Team Retreat - 3 Planning Questions

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I'm just returning from a time in the mountains. 

Breathing in the Colorado mountain air this week, I sat with an executive at a four-day leadership retreat. He exhaled after a full week he shared, "I know this will make me a stronger leader. " Then in an emotional moment he reflected, " I believe this will change my life as a human. It's making a difference from the inside out and who I want to become a better husband, father, and at work."

Coaching alongside this man I learned that ultimately he felt guilty about taking time away. I asked him a question I believe was at the heart of the issue. Where do you find joy in life? Once again with tears in his eyes, he told me about his three and seven-year-old sons. He's missing some of the memorable moments in their life. His love for hunting and fishing was evident as he talked about stories of getting outdoors. "When's the last time you did some of those things?" I asked. It has been over a year for fishing and three years for hunting. I want to get my boys out with me. Every year in January the HR director asked me about my vacation plans and I laugh because I feel guilty for taking time away from the duties of work. 

It turns out that he's not alone 54% of millions of Americans have unused vacation time because they feel that by leaving that reduce their value to the company and could be replaced even though their bosses encourage them to go. This executive specifically had some issues with the long-term impacts of chronic stress and how it was affecting his attitude expressed in anger among his team members. After my meeting with him, I could he see he was a good-natured and kind-hearted man. However, his 360 reviews showed some of the internal challenges that were beginning to wear him thin. I asked him how can you possibly deal with conflict and manage your stress if you're not getting time away to enjoy life. Then I discovered he has trouble sleeping and deals explicitly with issues of sleep apnea. The issues were catching up to him. 

17 years on the job he indeed has shown his commitment to the company and the work before him now the effects of not having healthy rest and recreation room crippling his effectiveness. Even though team members are encouraged to take a break and do the things they love for one reason or another it just doesn't happen. Sometimes a team leadership retreat gives the space in the conversations to focus on what truly matters most. Often, personal vacations are working weeks away from that we feel like we need a vacation from our vacation by the time we're back at work.

As a facilitator of team retreats, I've consistently observed that when you create space to talk about the issues of business as well as your health as an individual, it begins to form a mindset for change.

When you're team needs a breakthrough maybe what they need is a break.

It's these breakthrough moments that often come by getting out of the office on the mountainside or lakeside that is a joy to witness.

Whether it's summertime or your fall season, this is a great time to begin designing a time that meets the needs of your team.

I would encourage you today to examine...

1. What does your team need to thrive? 
2. What are barriers holding them back? 
3. What would be the impact of a healthy, unified, trusted team?


For most leaders and executive teams, this is new territory. When they take time to work on their business it's offsite including an agenda it leaves little room for discovery and development.

After years and hundreds of team engagements, I've observed the principle that Investing in your WHO (team) will make an exponential impact on the effectiveness of WHAT they do. 

Your first step might be a fun activity to celebrate some of the wins of your business. It could be a lunch to say thank you after working through a difficult season. It may be a half-day planning session somewhere outside of the office. Still, you may sense there is untapped potential, and you're not sure how to unlock your team members. It may be a four-day leadership retreat that will be the catalyst for new growth and connection for your organization. 

Wherever you find yourself today entering this summer a few minutes of creativity, planning, and scheduling a date will be well worth the investment building your team.

If you need help designing or executing your leadership team retreat we're here to serve you. 
 

Making the Right Move for Wrong Team Member…and the Cost if You Don’t! Part 1

The number one issue I have seen among leaders and the issue that carries the greatest emotional weight that often clouds objectivity is letting go of a key leader on your team. As an executive coach, I’ve had a front row seat to seeing the most brilliant strategists and effective leaders who have lost themselves under the emotional weight of losing someone who is critical to their team, or at least their role is critical to the team and the organization's success.

Most leaders know the enormous weight of the responsibility and need for patience when allowing a key leader to settle into their role. Yet, after an undefined appropriate amount of time, the key indicators are not trending positive, or projects are under performing, it becomes evident this is the wrong person for the position. Most often we hire somebody who performed with excellence and delivered exceptional results in their discipline in one or more organizational settings. For a variety of reasons they have failed to gain traction in our environment.

The weight of this issue for most leaders, more often than not, comes from the loss of confidence in the individual in whom they had personally placed so much trust and hope. Leaders hire people in the confidence that they have all that is needed to be successful in the position. Having been so persuaded, we adopt them into our corporate family, nurture them into the culture, and give them the tools and resources needed for success. We have personally sponsored the new hire into the organization. The idea of cutting ties with a member of your team brings a sense of personal loss. Facing the daunting task of replacing any high profile leader carries with it a heightened sensitivity to utilize an improved vetting and decision making process. The thought of having to find the replacement and start the process all over again with the prospect that the next person hired may not work out can be overwhelming.

I have found, in hundreds of hours of coaching and working with teams in off-site settings, a leader instinctively knows when it is time for a transition to happen. Certainly, there are protocols that determine the appropriate amount of time to allow for the individual’s performance to improve or for adjustments to be made to his or her role and/or responsibilities.  Yet, in the end, I have seen again and again, that leaders have an instinct for when it's time for a transition. The question becomes what will that leader do when they know what the right decision is and when will they take action?

When a leader delays in doing the right thing, the weight of the issue grows with each day, week, and month, making it harder to step forward and act objectively. This leads to our emotional malaise as leaders and allows the dysfunction within the organization to spread. Delay could also cost the organization critical leadership talent at the lower levels as those people lose confidence that the matter will be addressed. We can be confident in the fact that if we're seeing nonperformance, it has already been the subject of water cooler conversation in the organization. At some point, this emotional weight and lack of decisive action creates a toxicity that is felt throughout the culture of the organization.

If you are that leader who is in that place and know you need to let one of your key team members go, then let's get grounded. First we need to evaluate the cost of this decision or your indecision. As a leader, ask yourselves these questions:

  • What is the cost of the emotional and mental energy that is likely preventing me from moving forward strategically in the department with the under performing leader?
  • What is the cost for the rest of my team who is having to tiptoe around the issue rather than being engaged as a highly performing team?
  • What is the cost within that specific department where that leader is not meeting their goals or objectives?

Take a Step in Right Direction

Take time to think! Spend a few minutes thinking through these things will bring clarity.  Writing down a note, even if it's on a napkin, gives you an opportunity to evaluate the time, money, and resources the delay in this decision is costing you. Find a person or peer group that is a safe place to verbally process and gain feedback .

After you've had to time to count the cost, seek clarity, and the perspective someone you trust you're ready for action. Part 2 of Making the Right Move will give 4 Steps towards a healthy transition. 

Stimulating Curiosity

Colorado is my home. It's the land of many colors.

Sunrises and big vistas inspire us with brilliant color. Color brings light, scope, and perspective to life. Color opens the eyes, the senses, even stirs the heart. Like the color in a breathtaking landscape so can it be with a colorful conversation in relationships...certainly among family and good friends but also in your work life as well.

If we're honest, many of our daily interactions have faded to grey. It's business as usual, predictable, and bottom line. Even in our meetings or worse team retreats they can feel almost black and white.

Curiosity stirs creativity, creativity stimulates interests, interests spark inspiration, inspiration ignites ideas, ideas fire conversation, and conversation spurs relationships. Then teams mature, culture grows, organizations move, customers join, products distribute, services deliver, profits yield, and curiosity impacts a market and society.

What's the cost of color? Maybe it's time to stimulate some curiosity. Bring some creative color to your work life. Let us know if we can help stimulate the conversation.

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