Posted by: Randy Boek | March 13, 2012

It’s just business and it is personal

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“It just business; it’s not personal.” Oh really? You can’t have it both ways. Calling it “just business” does not negate ownership of a decision and its impact.

One of the most frequent things I hear from senior leaders is a desire for a stronger sense of accountability and greater ownership from subordinate leaders and other employees. Sounds to me like an expectation that people make it personal. You want people to feel that their work is an important part of who they are? Do you want people in your business, on your team to be proud of the company and proud of their contributions? That’s personal.

Your leadership actions impact people and that’s personal. I’m the Outsider and that’s what I think.

Posted by: Randy Boek | February 6, 2012

Busted! You can’t call a duck a cat and…

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Posted by: Randy Boek | January 23, 2012

WIIFM is always in the equation

No one works for you except you. That’s true whether you are the CEO or a shop-floor supervisor. It’s true whether you culture calls people employees, associates or team members.

Mother Theresa is not on your payroll. While great sacrifice and compassion were hallmarks of her work in the slums of Calcutta, she got something of value for herself as a result of the work.

WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) is always in the equation. The answers to that questions are as varied as there are people helping you achieve the vision.  WIIFM  is not selfishness, it is reality – the way humans are  wired.  People engage with a leader to  help achieve a vision because they get something out of it for themselves. That  something is a different mix of tangibles and intangibles as unique as there  are individuals on the team.

Increasing shareholder return is a non-starter in terms of motivating people who are not shareholders.

In these times of high unemployment some leaders deceive themselves into thinking, “my people are just happy to have a job.” That mentality has a shelf life that is just about over and the people in the business who sit on that shelf are not likely the best performers. Understand, the unemployment rate for educated professionals and  skilled trades people hovers around 4.5 – 5% even in what we are still calling a bad economy.

The golden rule in the employment relationship was long thought to be the one with the gold makes the rules. That remains true yet the best leaders understand that the agreement  between employer and employed must be mutually beneficial, and the battle for talent rewrites the rules. Effective leaders, top floor to shop floor are committed to helping others get what they want in exchange for the blood, sweat and tears that go into helping the team and business get where it is going.

Competitive salary and benefits are baseline price-of-admission elements, the starting point. The answer to the WIIFM question is the reason the best, most productive people are on your team. If you can’t answer that question accurately, specific to each of these people, you have some work to do. I’m the Outsider and that’s what I think.

New blog: Thank you for being a subscriber to this blog. It is moving to the Route 2 Results website. Please go to the site and subscribe in order to continue to receive regular postings. As always I will protect your privacy and respect your time.

Posted by: Randy Boek | January 18, 2012

Belief drives behavior

Instruments of production or human beings who must produce? A leader’s beliefs regarding employees drives the leader’s behavior towards employees.

Inherent in the belief that employees are human beings who must produce rather than simple instruments of production is the commitment to respect the dignity of those led. People will do stupid things, make bad decisions, and make mistakes. So will you. Learn from them and help others do so. In the rare situation when someone’s behavior violates ethics, integrity and demonstrates an unacceptable character flaw, get rid of them now. The team expects it. Do it in a way that respects dignity, whether you think they have any or not.

Anyone who has worked with a highly competent and effective leader has grown as a result of the experience. “People are doing the best they can, they will do better when they know how,” is an adage that has been around awhile in the realm of human development. A good addendum to that quote is that it is the leader’s job to help them know how.  Consider adopting a personal value that everyone that works under your leadership will grow, improve and be better as a result.

The best leaders build better human beings, not just better employees. I’m the Outsider and that’s what I think.

New blog: Thank you for being a subscriber to this blog. It is moving to the Route 2 Results website. Please go to the site and subscribe in order to continue to receive regular postings. As always I will protect your privacy and respect your time.


Posted by: Randy Boek | January 12, 2012

Common Sense at the Crossroads

Leaders do what is right. Sometimes there are consequences that aren’t right. Courage to see what needs to be done, take action and be accountable for that action regardless of the stupidity that may attack that action or outcome is character. It is not a characteristic that exists based on title or position.

Pal David was an elementary school principal in a rural community many years back. One of his school buses broke down, in the road, on a dangerous curve, near the school. The driver’s capability was limited. The principal was called. While not licensed to drive a school bus, he knew how based upon truck driving experience from back in his college days. He went to the bus, hopped in the driver’s seat and was able to drive it to a safe place.

The union contract said that management could not do bargaining unit work. A grievance was filed. Time and resources that should have gone to educating children were wasted. The principal got a slap on the wrist, and smiled.

I am not anti-union. I understand precedent. I am anti-stupidity. When rules and policies need to be broken, character demands they be broken.

When common sense is at the crossroads character demands that we do what is right. Sometimes the only reward is our own sense of self-worth and legacy of character. I’m the Outsider and that’s what I think.

New blog: Thank you for being a subscriber to this blog. It is moving to the Route 2 Results website. Please go to the site and subscribe in order to continue to receive regular postings. As always I will protect your privacy and time.

Thank you and Best wishes for Health happiness and prosperity in 2012.

Posted by: Randy Boek | January 4, 2012

Not Quite The House that Jack Built

Getting business results through others can and should be easier and more satisfying. If leadership is the solution to what ails us, it should follow then that developing other leaders is a primary accountability of every leader regardless of level in the business. The ideal and reality are not always aligned, yet there is a great example where an ethic established in the first part of the 20th century created an enduring foundation at General Electric. Not to detract from the accomplishments of Jack Welch, but therein lies “the rest of the story.” Welch’s  success and celebrity CEO status were built on that foundation created by a great and largely unsung leader that preceded him.

Thomas Edison invented the light bulb and from that Charles Coffin (1892 – 1912) invented General Electric. Inherent in that were two social innovations that established the foundation for Welch’s success – research laboratories and systematic management development. According to leadership guru Jim Collins, Calling GE, “The House that Jack Built,” isn’t quite accurate. In a Fortune article about the greatest CEO’s of all times he writes, “In fact Welch was as much a product of GE as vice-versa.”

In this excellent CNN/Money/Fortune article, The 10 Greatest CEO’s of all Time, author Jim Collins (Good to Great) says relative to General Electric, “Coffin built the stage upon which they all played.”

The many things that GE does right can not be directly installed as bits-and-pieces to other business that lack the foundation. Great leadership accomplishments may be the vision of one but they get done as the result of big efforts and hard work by many top floor to shop floor leaders doing good work every day. I’m the Outsider and that’s what I think.

New blog: Thank you for being a subscriber to this blog. It is moving to the Route 2 Results website. Please go to the site and subscribe in order to continue to receive regular postings. As always I will protect your privacy and time. Thank you and Best wishes for Health happiness and prosperity in 2012.

Posted by: Randy Boek | January 2, 2012

It’s 2012 – Time to stop kicking the dog.

Results through others – it is a simple concept of few words. It ought to be easier and more satisfying.  Yet the inherent challenges cause both metaphorical and literal dogs to get kicked daily.

Some call it leadership. Some call it management. It is a unique alchemy that moves seamlessly from one to the other at any point in time on any day. Some believe that at a granular level, leadership is about people and management about stuff. To achieve results through others requires both. I like the term Leader as the catchall word to define the work of being the person in charge, the boss, the team leader, the place where the buck stops for a specific group of people.

Leadership is the solution to what ails us and we are seriously ailed in America at this point – largely due to leadership failure in both the private and public sectors. Amid a parade of criminals,  hucksters and PR machine celebrity CEO’s we mentally sort the wheat from the chaff in determining credibility. Bernie Madoff, Dennis Koslowski, Jeffrey Skilling go to prison.

Richard Branson builds great companies with good people providing great service. Bill Gates and Steven Jobs build companies that change the world.  Behind the scenes and in no small part supporting and making possible the monumental success of great CEO’s is a legion of shop floor to top floor leaders that make it happen every day.

If you are in the shop-floor to top-floor hierarchy, your perspective and related actions impact the business and the lives of those you lead – every day.

The best leaders provide profound value to the business and the lives of those led. What are you going to learn in 2012 to make your job as a leader easier, more satisfying and more valuable? Learning that improves competence, courage and effectiveness when passed on to those led creates exponential leverage for results.

There is career security.  There is no job security. You are a professional leader. Remember, leadership is the solution to what ails us and plenty ails us. That is career security and the dog is getting tired of being the best friend of someone who kicks her.  I’m the Outsider and that’s what I think.

New blog: Thank you for being a subscriber to this blog. It is moving to the Route 2 Results website. Please go to the site and subscribe in order to continue to receive regular postings. As always I will protect your privacy and time. Thank you and Best wishes for Health happiness and prosperity in 2012.

Posted by: Randy Boek | December 13, 2011

Whose time is more valuable?

Easy question. Mine, of course, and that is how everyone who is honest answers the question. That is only true, however, in a static situation where neither of us needs something from the other.

Case in point: In a business setting, basic math indicates that the person with the higher salary is the one whose time is most valuable. The average Fortune 500 company CEO’s time is worth about $4000 an hour and a top 20 US hedge fund manager’s time, $268,000 an hour. This is just math.  In-fact, neither of these people sell their time.

If either of these people suffer a heart attack, get shot or hit by a car, in an instant the $30 an hour paramedic’s time becomes more valuable.

That’s the problem with using money as the only measuring stick to define value.

My time is more valuable to me and your time is more valuable to you and then things change. You need something that I can provide and all of a sudden my time becomes more valuable to you than your own. I want something from you and now your time is more valuable to me than my own.

Mutual respect is an essential for people working cooperatively in an organization and it is demonstrated in a number of ways. Respecting colleague’s time is one of them.

If your title, position and ego have convinced you that it is ok to be late to meetings, cancel meetings on a whim, turn a scheduled half-hour meeting into a one hour meeting,or anything else that is disrespectful to your colleagues time, your mind is playing tricks on you.

A leader who jerks people around because they can is a jerk. I’m the Outsider and that’s what I think.

Posted by: Randy Boek | December 7, 2011

Arch Day 2011

Seventy years ago  Dad was seriously wounded in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Another sailor, Tommy Thompson saved his life that day. He recovered and went on to fight the air war in the Pacific aboard PBY’s as a Crew Chief.  His war-time experiences did not totally define him but they were a big part of who he was.

He has been gone for nine years. He always recognized December 7th and I learned to also. Dad was fiercely independent so he became an entrepreneur. He started three businesses one of which has been operating for forty years now and is still in the family. There were things he  knew that served him well in business.

  1. Things could be worse and they will get better. He almost died on the tarmac at Kaneohe Bay on the morning of December 7, 1941. When times got tough as they do occasionally for entrepreneurs he knew they would get better, there would always be another customer and that he could find them and he did.
  2. Your word must mean something. He had a reputation in the community for honesty and integrity. It was important to him and he did what was necessary to keep it sparkling clean.
  3. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Clear, to the point, no waffle words. You always knew exactly what he expected, and what he thought. He was once 86ed from his granddaughters softball game for heckling the opposing team’s pitcher. He never understood player self-esteem being more important than competition. (His granddaughter went on to be on the short list of best top ten collegiate pitchers during her university years)
  4. Determination –  He had little education and and even less capital. His business plans were in his head. His chances of success slim. He did it anyway.
  5. Give people a hand – He picked cotton as a child and came to California like a family in a Steinbeck novel. That together with living though the depression and the war gave him a soft spot for people in need. Many people came and went through the doors of the businesses. A good many of them took advantage. He never lost his compassion.
  6. Your life get’s easier when those around you learn and grow. As soon as I could drive I was behind the wheel of a van and had my own weekend accounts and a couple of guys to work with me.
  7. Clear accountability – When a customer who my crew and I served complained Dad took me with him to talk to the customer and fix the problem.
  8. Buck up and get it done or I’ll find someone who will. He had no patience for laziness or whining.
  9. Ambiguity and gray areas were not for Dad – Teamwork was not in fashion back then. To Dad a team was a group of people playing baseball or football. People worked for Dad. His idea of a team at work would have been a group of people doing what I want, how I want it done. Crystal clear. No ambiguity.

Tom Brokaw called them the Greatest Generation and that sounds about right. I’m the Outsider and that’s what I think.

Archie A. Boek, 1919 – 2002

Posted by: Randy Boek | December 1, 2011

Ivy League MBA – What’s missing?

I once worked with a CEO who had an Ivy League MBA. He was very frustrated at his inability to connect/communicate effectively with employees. Smart guy but…

I had a good discussion once with a bank CEO about a strategic planning project.  The CEO while polite in saying so, was concerned that we would not be deemed worthy by the Harvard MBA CFO, yet the project would not have interested the BCG (Boston Consulting Group). I wondered in what ways the CFO’s arrogance negatively impacted the business. Guess I should have wondered more subtly.

This excellent article in The American Scholar states, “Our best universities have forgotten that the reason they exist is to make minds, not careers.”  Author, William Deresiewicz has an Ivy League education. He tells of his wake-up call that came when he realized he could not converse with his plumber.

We don’t need more MBA’s. We need more leaders who are competent, ethical and lead with integrity and humility. If that comes with an MBA, great. I’m the Outsider and that’s what I think.

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