Accountability Scares the CRAP Out of Us!

Accountability Scares the CRAP Out of Us!

I’ve recently started meeting with an accountability partner, and it’s got me thinking: Setting goals we can be held accountable to is a surprisingly difficult task. In fact, one of my newest clients made an interesting comment on the topic: “If I keep my goals ‘squishy’ and undefined, no one can hold me accountable.” It’s true, isn’t it? The more specific you get, the more obvious it is to those around you if you miss the mark. I can relate to that. That’s why I need an accountability partner! I need to be called out on my “squishiness” and held to a more effective and empowering standard. This is what gets in the way: in order for accountability to work and have value, it requires us to be seen, which is an intensely difficult and vulnerable feeling for most people. Isn’t that why public speaking is our greatest fear in America? You are wholly, vulnerably seen. If you stutter, stammer, misspeak, or mess up in any way, everyone can see it. Because you’re visible. How does that old saying go? “Better to remain silent, and let people think you a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” Without precise goals, expectations, and objectives, people can’t prove we’re foolish. But the moment we get specific and let other people in on the details, we’re vulnerable. What if we fall short? What if we mess up? What if we can’t do it? We open ourselves up to that judgement running rampant in our culture. It’s truly one of biggest obstacles keeping a lot of people from getting serious...
Making A Well-Rounded Team

Making A Well-Rounded Team

My editor is heading to New York City for a vacation, and I couldn’t help but reminisce about the time my in-laws took us and my girls there for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. My youngest, Leah, absolutely loved it; that was years ago and she talks about NYC to this day. She just seemed connected to the chaos and the bustle. My oldest, on the other hand — well, she enjoyed the trip, but not in the same way — and she doesn’t find herself longing for the city in the same way. She’s ready for the next adventure. These two sisters have very different values. One of the most difficult challenges you’ll ever face, if you hope to start an organization or business, is how to connect to your members individually. It’s easy to resonate with the people who agree with you; but how do you meet the others where they’re at, giving them what they need to connect? The challenge is not to find an experience that serves everyone, but to find a way to connect individually with the things they value. Remember — individuals are not well rounded. Teams are well-rounded. So as leaders, we want the diversity of opinion and value on our team; the question is how do you harness its power? I use an assessment called the Core Values Index, and all of my clients use it to see how their teams are balanced. Most teams really aren’t — they’re skewed in one way or another. But one of my teams is made up of an almost exactly equal balance of values,...
Under Construction

Under Construction

My house desperately needs a new roof and a new paint job. And a new furnace. And a new dishwasher… 🙂 So we’re in the process of refinancing in order to pull out some of its equity for the repairs. I live in Portland, so since there are only about twelve sunny days a year, there’s a limited window of time in which you can actually book a roofer or a painter — after all, that impending Oregon liquid sunshine is always looming. But here’s the catch I discovered: no refinance will ever be approved if your house is in any way, shape, or form under construction. So I can’t start the construction — or even book a team — until the refinance has gone through. As the summer rapidly dwindles away, the timing is getting more challenging by the day. It’s an ironic and frustrating cycle. I’m missing out on opportunities for roofers as my window of time starts to shrink. And it got me thinking: how many opportunities do we miss as leaders because we ignore the people who are ‘under construction’? Who are more of a risk? Who are being remodeled because their industry dissolved and they are in the process of rebuilding themselves for a new trade, figuring out how to adapt their skills and gifts to a market that can’t yet see their value? They always say it’s easier to get a job when you already have a job, but how many excellent candidates are lost in that shuffle, simply because they appear on the outside to be outdated or incomplete? In so many...
What’s Your Independence?

What’s Your Independence?

How was your fourth of July? The day we celebrate our Independence. So here’s a powerful question: What are you declaring independence from? What are you breaking away from this Fourth of July? Fear of risk? The naysayers in your life? The status quo of mediocrity and repetition? What are you declaring independence from? The wonderful irony of Independence is that by stating such a declaration, you step wholly into interdependence. And that’s a good thing. Think about it: The founding fathers could not have built this nation alone. They separated from tyranny to build possibility! But the thirteen colonies needed each other to survive; in order to build a more perfect union, they had to work together. The Continental Congress couldn’t do it by themselves. It took community, people of all types, and a collective commitment to work together for a common goal. It’s taking us a long time, and we still haven’t mastered it, of course, but it is interconnected, interdependence that supports our independence. We tend to celebrate independence in this rugged, bootstraps, I-don’t-need-anyone American mindset. But NO ONE does it alone. No one! We use collective resources, services and roads; we eat food others have grown, and drive cars others have built. In all aspects of our independence we are working with a team, a community, a neighborhood, a family…it is this very interdependence that is powerful. If we’re celebrating independence as some kind of isolated lone wolf, then we’re missing the point. So, by all (safe) means, celebrate Independence. And, while you’re at it, honor also the truth and value of interdependence: Great leaders...
Leaders Embrace Difficult Conversations

Leaders Embrace Difficult Conversations

… Not because they’re fun, but because those conversations are the incubator of change and growth.   Lately, I’ve noticed a theme among my coaching clients. I’m not sure if there’s something in the water or it’s just a strange coincidence (or perhaps it has something to do with our political climate), but everyone I’m talking to these days is learning how to embrace and engage in difficult conversations. You know the ones: When you have to confront your boss because they’re sending you contradictory messages. When you have an employee you have to let go. When you have a teammate who’s spreading negativity behind your back.  A loved one with a diametrically opposed view than yours. You know you want to engage, but how does one engage in those conversations productively? Remember this lesson: Everything we see hides something else. When we see sadness, anger, frustration, confusion, learn to ask — what’s that hiding? What’s underneath it? What is their anger covering up? Seek that sense of understanding, to know what’s really going on under the surface. As is wisely pointed out in one of my favorite books, Getting to Yes, the key to being able to engage productively in difficult conversations is the ability to state your opponent’s position better than your opponent. That doesn’t mean you’ll change them overnight; nothing happens overnight except sleep. But when you can state their position, and its underlying catalyst, your ‘opponent’ will feel understood by you — and that’s the real tipping point, isn’t it? That’s where there’s room for change, that’s where they begin to really feel heard and seen, and no longer can they say “you...

Where Were The Leaders?

Leadership is easy as an academic study; it’s when our opportunity to lead shows up in real life that it all gets difficult. We saw just how difficult on Sunday, aboard a United Express flight. The revelation of United Express flight 3411 isn’t: Surprise! airlines have the right to bump you from their flights any time they chose! You knew that already. It says so in the fine print of your ticket — which, I don’t know about you, but I read thoroughly every time I schedule a flight, just to make sure the terms haven’t changed in any way that would harm the airlines should my business gets in the way of theirs (can you sense my sarcasm?). I would go so far as to say that the revelation of United Express flight 3411 isn’t even that officials boarded the plane and used aggressive and excessive force. Sadly, we’ve seen that before. The revelation of United Express flight 3411 isn’t even the newest fact — that the flight wasn’t actually overbooked, it was just full, and airline employees come first. Silly you; you didn’t believe the old mantra “the customer is always right,” did you? That is merely a platitude, certainly not a belief of the airline industry. No. The revelation that keeps SCREAMING at me is that the plane lacked a single leader. No one, NO ONE, stood up and said this was wrong. Not the pilot, not a flight attendant, not a single passenger. We watched, we recorded on our iPhones, we gasped in horror, all the while letting it happen. And I say “we” intentionally, because I wonder how many...