Register today to attend the HR Gulf Coast Symposium on HR Issues, brought to you by HR Houston: CLICK HERE
Join Cooksey at the live session:
May. 15, 2019 | 3:45 pm – 4:45 pm
Track(s): Business Management & Strategy
On May 15, 2019, Scott Cooksey, Sr Consultant with CookseyConnects, returns to Houston to deliver his sought-after program: Powering Your Team through The Peloton of Change Management Techniques.
Organizations standing the test of time must constantly evolve. Navigating the change management techniques to drive change while maintaining high engagement at all levels requires commitment, coordination, and communication. This program provides participants illustrative examples, tools, and techniques designed to promote a healthy Change CADENCE™ to unleash individual potential and maximize team performance while protecting momentum.
Whether your perspective is as senior leader or individual contributor impacted by change in your organization, constant shifting of priorities and focus can wear down a team, often eroding engagement of employees.
Participants of this session will walk away with tactical tools, techniques and easy-to-implement strategies adapted from the world of professional cycling. It will leave you realizing that change management truly can be “easy as riding a bicycle”! Best of all, you will learn that there is truly more than only one way to win, when it comes to driving a results using the Change CADENCE™ system.
Register today to attend the HR Gulf Coast Symposium on HR Issues, brought to you by HR Houston: CLICK HERE
Join Cooksey at the live session:
May. 15, 2019 | 3:45 pm – 4:45 pm
Track(s): Business Management & Strategy
Your Bio Was Intriguing, but Your Content was Incongruent
As a busy professional, I’d imagine you would agree with me that if your general opinion of meetings was published as a book, the title might be something like “Stop Wasting My Time”. Each week, hundreds thousandsmillions of meetings likely occur around the globe. How in the world can you be sure the ones you choose to attend will be worth the time invested?
How to Choose Meetings You Should Attend
Is it a “required” meeting? If this is a standing appointment, you may still choose to “pass” from time to time.
Weekly sales meetings are a good example. A well-run organization should appreciate that if you are not in the sales meeting because you are on an actual sales call with a customer or prospect, that is a good thing.
However, if the meeting is your quarterly or annual review with your boss to discuss your performance, expectations, or special project you are being asked to head up, then this one probably is a meeting you should attend.
Did you call the meeting? Few examples in the world are more disrespectful than the one person who does not show up prepared (or, at all) for a meeting is the very person who called it. If you called it, you had most certainly show up (prepared) or respectfully cancel the meeting with plenty of lead time. [Trust me, the attendees will appreciate getting some unexpected time back.]
Is the topic relevant to you? Take a look at the information regarding the presenter or the topic and decide if that message is relevant enough to your current projects, responsibilities or interests to take the time to attend. If it is relevant, and you believe you will learn something from it, I’d say your attendance would be worthwhile.
Who else do you expect to attend the meeting? One of the best ways to get in front of a client, prospect, or influential person is to “happen to bump into them at a meeting” and learn you have a “shared interest in a topic.” One of my most fun meetings occurred on a Saturday morning, 28-mile bicycle ride when nobody else showed up except for me and the director of an economic development team. We showed up to ride bikes, but learned a lot about each other’s business, too!
Geography If you live in a large, metropolitan area, the idea of “just across town” can literally mean an eighty-mile round trip, or worse- getting caught in a crushing traffic jam at least one-way of your traverse to attend the meeting. If there is a 60-minute meeting that requires me to spend an hour or more in transit when I have no other business in the area or the above questions are void of compelling answers, I will likely skip it, no matter how much I “support the organization”. It’s simply not the best use of my time.
Recently, a monthly group I have been recently attending (I even spoke to this particular group a couple of months prior) announced their program speaker. I went down the list above and determined that given the reputation of the speaker (he was quite credentialed) and the opportunity to network with a few people I expected to see there, that I’d make the 40 mile drive (one-way) “across town” to the meeting. The lunch was tasty (maybe I should add a “culinary options” question to the list above as sushi is a definite plus for this particular meeting). The conversation fed my creative brain with some ideas for my new program under development – another plus. But…. to say the featured speaker was running a little late would be an understatement. He arrived about 10 minutes before the scheduled end of the meeting.
As If That Wasn’t Enough…
The moderator for the event acknowledged the promised “running time” for the meeting and informed the late-arriving speaker he could still have 10-minutes to present. [Again, as a speaker who has traveled extensively, I understand that things happen. I was annoyed, but kept an open mind. “Let’s see what he can do with 10 minutes”, I thought.
Here Is Where He Lost Me
With great anticipation, and a hurried introduction, the presenter jumped right into his presentation. I suppose the elephant in the room was his tardiness. Without any explanation, he just started into his presentation….that he did not appear to tweak one iota. How do I know that, you ask? His opening statement…I mean he built it up as a cardinal rule for meeting speakers…was “Rule #1″…. He spent three minutes (30% of his time) touting (are you ready for it?) the importance of arriving early at every speaking engagement to build connection with his audience! If that wasn’t enough, he then paused (remember, he’s only been given ten minutes to present) to shout out an order to the restaurant employee quietly clearing the table for an order of coffee…”black.” I quietly packed up my notes, stood up, nodded to the meeting facilitator, and hit the door. What a hack! [I later learned he went straight into a sales pitch from there.]
I have been on the fence about this particular group for a while. I had made a specific point to attend, as this speaker had worked with some of the biggest names in the business. His materials touted him to be “America’s #1 Expert on Sales“….too bad I didn’t stick around to hear his pitch! [Note: He was there to promote an upcoming event to which he was selling tickets…I will NOT be attending.]
If you call a meeting – show up ready for it. If you attend a meeting – know why you are there. If someone wastes your time – question whether it is important enough for you to attend the next one. And, if you are ever the featured speaker for a meeting,make sure you show up early to build some rapport with the audience or stop wasting my time!
The value of your network is only as good as the relationships you have with the people in it.
Earlier this week, I saw YET ANOTHER friend of mine on national television. This time it was Shon Fuller, who is in a national ad for Wal-Mart. Last season, another colleague of mine, Michael Dorsey, shared his very personal battle with weight loss as a member of the Blue Team on Season 14 of The Biggest Loser.
Just yesterday, I reconnected with an old friend I hadn’t seen since either of us had moved to Houston from Tulsa, Oklahoma…he moved here SIX YEARS AGO. Finally, this morning, I ran across an article in CRM (Customer Relationship Management magazine) featuring Word of Mouse: 101+ Trends in How We Buy, Sell, Live, Learn, Work, and Play, the latest book by New York Times best-selling author, Mark Ostrofsky…who just happens to also be a member of my local chapter of the National Speakers Association for which I serve on the Board. And it hit me….
I know a lot of people. In fact,I am probably one of the people Malcom Gladwell was talking about when he discussed connectors in his popular book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. Well, not specifically me, but people like me. I’ve heard more than once that if “(I) am not the guy, then (I) am definitely the guy who KNOWS the guy”. You can be “that guy/gal”, too, if you simply apply a little bit of effort and apply the truth about networking nobody wants you to know (but you should).
Here’s the Issue:
By the time you realize you might need to USE your network to help yourself, it is already too late to start building a relationship with them. See if these sound familiar:
Remember that one person who hit you up on LinkedIn, has only 14 connections, you haven’t seen since junior high, and they just messaged you asking to help circulate their resume because they got fired…yesterday? Loser!
Being introduced to someone at a cocktail party who suddenly thinks you have just been on your first date, believes you are “the one” and suddenly you find yourself being introduced to their parents that same night? Run, Forest, Run!
Or, my personal favorite, the friend you like to hang out with that is simply unable to just be your friend without trying to get you to sign up for “an amazing, ground-floor opportunity” with the latest MLM flavor of the month EVERY TIME THEY TALK TO YOU. Sorry, man. I love you, but dude, let’s just go get a beer, okay?
What to do:
Networking IS important. And, yes, sometimes it would be prudent (even professionally respectful) to ask for some assistance with an issue your NBF (new best friend) happens to know something about. Here is the truth about networking, on how to do it right and how to add VALUE to your connections:
When sending a connection request on LinkedIn please STOP using the boring “I’d like to add you to my network on…blah blah blah”, canned message and give them a personalized request that references something you talked about when you met them. Something like, “I like to stay connected with people who love fajitas and bicycles as much as I do. Let’s go for a ride sometime!” They’ll “get it” when the auto-formatted message has a button at the bottom to “accept” your request…and they will REMEMBER how they felt about you when you met, realizing you had something in common.
Get to know them first – See if you can set up a coffee, breakfast, or simply a quick call to meet with them and learn more about what THEY do. Ask how you can help THEM expand their circles of influence, make a connection with someone in your network that would be interested in what they do, or just talk about coffee. Seriously. If you can resist the temptation to talk about business during your “get better acquainted meeting” eventually they will ask how they could help you—most likely increasing the chances they actually will!
Keep in touch with them – Just because you met at a networking event seven years ago and haven’t spoken sense does not mean they will remember anything about you or why you even exchanged cards. Once in a while, forward something to them that relates to their area of expertise and ask a question or simply say “I thought you might find this of interest.” When you NEED that connection, it will already be deeper, even if they never respond to your messages.
Remember that people inherently do want to help you – Just resist the urge to always be asking. The fastest way to get a referral is to give one. Try it!
When your phone starts to ring IN with offers to help or a need for expertise, you will know all of that pre-work was worth the effort…especially when people begin to send personal referrals.
Who knows, someone will EVENTUALLY remember that I have a strong desire to host a game show and I will get the call. Until then, let’s chat about how I work with professionals like you who want to build lasting, profitable relationships with clients so they can live the life they deserve on their own terms!
No matter your degree of experience in dealing with them, when I say Manager, a very specific image pops into your mind.
Some managers are good. Those are the ones you would run through a brick wall for, just because they hinted you might be able to do it.
Other mangers are bad. You know the type. Do you remember that manager who was “supposed to spend time with you” each month? They would show up on the scheduled day, sit in front of you and ask “So, what do you want to talk about today?”…and the first thought in your head was “…How fast can I get you out of my office!” I had one of those once.
Currently, I’m spending time with a sales team in a coaching & leadership role. In an effort to better understand what activities our respective team members are regularly doing, I have committed to meet with them, one-on-one, each month to listen, coach, and offer direction, where I can add value. One of the team members, though, had one of the best pieces of advice when he suggested, early in each quarter, I should be asking each team member “How is your NEXT quarter shaping up?” What a simple phrase to illustrate the intention of any sales manager– how to keep your troops focused on moving forward by planning ahead for success instead of simply reacting to the crisis of the day!
I thanked him. This week, I just may have learned more than I shared.
Now, are you one of the leaders people are fighting to work FOR or are people running as fast as they can to get AWAY from you? If you are the latter, it just might be time to talk less and listen more.
This week, something simply amazing happened when I came down with bronchitis, lost my voice, and was unable to attend (under a doctor’s orders) a trade show my company had paid a LOT of money for us to attend. My team stepped up.
For years, I have been teaching fundamental leadership tools to business people around the world as a corporate trainer. Even before that, I had already read and adopted a number of fundamentals written up in David Allen’s best-selling phenomenon Getting Things Done. (Seriously, Google “GTD” and you’ll think you have found a “secret productivity cult”.) I guess I have always been a bit of the “everything has a place” kind of person.
Here’s the breakdown:
I have a folder for everything (Thank you, GTD!). When I walked out of the office on noon Monday to go to a maternity appointment with my wife, I fully expected to be back Tuesday morning at 7:15AM to load up and head down to the George R Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston to set up our booth. Just to be safe, I pulled that folder from the stack, left it conspicuously on my desk, and checked in with our Sales Manager to let him know where all of the collateral had been stockpiled for the event.
My wife and I went to her appointment, learned the baby is coming along nicely, and on the way home…completely lost my voice. Uh, oh. I had my wife call our Sales Manager to give him a heads up, and confirm some last minute items. He understood. The next morning, I was a no-go.
Just about the time the exhibition floor was slated to open…I received a text message with a picture of our booth all set up and ready to go. By the end of the day, I’d received another message that one of our team members stepped up to help out, and the day went great. In fact, if I was feeling good enough to come in the next day, I was told to head on to the office…as they had the event “handled”. Where I have seen so many people panic over a message like that, I just sighed in relief. All was right.
If you believe whole-heartedly that YOU absolutely MUST be there to make things happen positively for your team, you don’t have a team that communicates very well. If your team functions just fine without you, your leadership is working. By making sure everything was done ahead of time, my presence was less necessary! Plan your work. Work your plan. Fundamentals matter. Now, go get to work! The better you make THEM look, the better off YOU look.
p.s. I wrote this during the second day of that trade show while working from home. Yep, I had even had enough forethought to pack the power cord for my laptop. It’s been one of my most PRODUCTIVE days in WEEKS! Tomorrow, it’s back into the plant….
One thing I’ve noticed in leadership discussions lately surrounds the idea that everyone is a leader. Some established, experienced leaders withdraw from the idea quickly. “Too many cooks spoil the soup.” Or, “Someone has to be in charge.” How does anyone expect to get anything done when everyone thinks they’re the leader?
Room at the top
In a hierarchical organization, there is only one box at the top. Everyone can’t be in-charge. Someone must be ultimately responsible for what happens on a team. But must everyone else be impotent? Must everyone else wait until a box on the diagram above them opens?
When we were kids, we didn’t have org charts. Whoever showed up played. Sure there were some kids who didn’t get chosen early, but generally, at least in my circles, leadership was a function first of showing up and then either having the ball or having the best idea of which game to play.
New, organic, character-based leaders lead from who they are. It causes some concern in fear-based position-focused organizations, but generally organizations and leaders appreciate individuals who accept responsibility, act like owners , and avoid blaming others or acting like victims. We appreciate people who demonstrate initiative.
But the old top-down org chart just doesn’t create a naturally conducive environment for that type of leadership. We can talk about empowerment and initiative and creativity but there is always this looming idea that someone further up the ladder will stop anything they believe is unnecessary.
New Leaders Avoid Hierarchies
New leaders form something more similar to a tribe or a community. It’s based on connections. In fact, I’d go so far as to suggest that the new org structure is more of a project matrix. Seth Godin and others have suggested that everything is now a project. Your vacation is a project, and so is your current job. In a few weeks or months or years, you’ll get involved in another project (or job). Everything is more temporary that we like to think, unless we’re miserable and then everything is less temporary than we’d like.
Connections are the new keys to getting things done. Project management is less about the project or the activities and more about who you can enlist, for how long, and what is their level of commitment. Your connections and your ability to mobilize those connections will determine your success. If the world is one big matrix, how you can connect and with whom are the key questions.
In Tribal Leadership, by Dave Logan, Jack King and Halee Fischer-Wright, the authors noticed something about the stage 4 and stage 5 tribes. The highest most productive tribes built what they called Triad Relationships. A triad relationship is a relationship where one person introduces persons two and three. Two and three go on to build a relationship that no longer requires person one to be involved. That’s a triad relationship.
Can you create connections that outlive your engagement? If we’re going to be leaders who connect and succeed in the new community-based non-hierarchical world, we need to have the confidence and the genuine concern for others that would allow us to enable these triad relationships. A series of triad relationships that exist over time and engage for various projects begins quickly to look like one huge matrix.
So how are you at creating triad relationships? Does your organization support triad relationships or does it still reinforce old-style co-dependent relationships> Can you point to some connections inside or outside your organization that have gone on to produce outcomes not involving you? I can. It’s rich and rewarding to see results from a partnership that you helped to create, even when you’re no longer involved.
Without a doubt, the Internet has allowed people with common interests who were previously isolated by geography to CONNECT. The playing field has been leveled. Obscure performers like Tay Zonday or the Numa Numa guy become household names. An unknown singer named Justin Bieber found a connection with mainstream media success by first leveraging YouTube. Fundraisers now regularly build connection of political outliers to splinter issues, thus creating visibility for presidential candidates. Countries have been overthrown by their frustrated citizens who found real-time connections on Twitter. And, of course, there are myriad random “Fan Pages” created for topics formerly collected only in syndicated articles like “News of the Weird” or the Onion.
I’m guity, too. Back in 2009, upon reports of a call for President Obama’s consideration to add a new Secretary of the Arts post to his cabinet, I immediately fired up a Facebook fan page (partly as a joke, party serious) to nominate a good friend of mine (and incredible arts advocate) Ken Busby from Tulsa, OK for the post. With little to no effort, I immediately found connection to interested supporters who, if I’d been more serious, likely could have provided much needed leverage for wider support of the “campaign”.
Then, there are blogs which observe daily life, unexpected moments caught on video, and urban myths / legends like Milverine.
Sure, there are great ways to leverage social media to legitimately build an authentic CONNECTion with your customers and clients by sharing your views and offering tips to help THEM succeed (see what my friend Darren LaCroix is doing with YouTube!). But, let’s not stop the amusing aspects these creative platforms encourage. If there is something of interest to you, no matter how odd or less-than-mainstream it may seem to your immediate group of friends, post it up on YouTube. You just might find a community of like-minded people. Become known for facilitating CONNECTion between people and ideas!
Over the past few years, I have been conducting an experiment. In an effort to really understand why some people seem to be “natural leaders” and some “just do not have what it takes to lead”, I put myself on the road to figure out what it means to connect as a leader.
While most people would have been tempted to simply interview a number of trainers, speakers, and other business leadership gurus for a consensus vote, that just is not my style. I opted, instead, to throw myself into the fire.
During that time, I have led thousands of people to a better understanding of topics sadly lumped into a category called “soft skills”. Soft skills are what makes a leader a leader. In essence, there is nothing truly “soft” about soft skills. In fact, trying to lead teams without an understanding of soft skills is…well…in a word; HARD!
Today, I proudly announce, I have found the Holy Grail of Leadership, identified the Common Denominator of Successful People, and boiled it all down to a single act you must commit your entire life to mastering, if you want to achieve true success at every level. That word is “CONNECT”.
con·nect [kuh-nekt] verb (used with object)
(from dictionary.com) 1. to join, link, or fasten together; unite or bind 2. to establish communication between; put in communication 3. to have as an accompanying or associated feature 4. to cause to be associated, as in a personal or business relationship: to connect oneself with a group of like-minded persons; 5. to associate mentally or emotionally
Not a bad definition. And while definition #4 above seems closest to what I found to be true, here is the culmination of my extensive research on leadership, and what it takes to be successful:
O pportunities for a
N ormal of
Be honest with yourself. Take a moment and identify someone who has, at some point, taken a direct interest in your professional development. Perhaps this person has served as a mentor for you (formally or informally). They may be a person who, if they asked you to attempt to achieve almost any goal, you would gladly give it a shot. How did they CONNECT with you to earn your loyalty and respect?
Not since a playground game of “Follow the Leader”, have you been able to dictate that people to follow you. Stop acting like it is an entitlement you have “earned” by “paying your dues” (You should hear what my colleague Karen McCullough can teach you about getting over THAT ” old way of thinking”-seriously, hire her to speak for your group and mention this blog posting- THAT would be an example of CONNECTion!).
Tomorrow Today I challenge you to:
Call a meeting with your entire team (or work group, if you haven’t created a real “team” yet)
Ask each of them to pull out a piece of paper and list (anonymously) the top three aspects THEY admire in a leader
Collect the responses and end the meeting.
Take the answers into a room by yourself, list them on a piece of paper.
Try to find ANY attribute they have listed that could not be somehow improved, if you were to work hard and create opportunities to set a “new normal” of energetic, creative thinking among the group you aspire to lead.
If you change your ways FIRST, those around you will reward you with loyalty, respect, and more measurable (and profitable) results than you could EVER DEMAND them to achieve. What are you waiting for? CONNECT!
Recently, I had the opportunity to lead a staff development training day at a major university’s school of dentistry. There were approximately 60 people in attendance, most of whom worked in some type of support role either at the school, within a private dental practice, or both.
Realizing this training was being held on both the Friday before the U.S. Memorial Day Holiday and on a particularly amazing day (weather wise), I knew I needed to reel them in quick. I decided to open with an exercise to get them talking to one another and moving around the room (always a great idea first thing in the morning). I posted with a few questions for them to consider before moving about the room, asking each participant to write down the first answers to each that came to their mind. The reply immediately voiced from nearly half the people in the room, however, spoke volumes to me when I heard a collective, “But, nobody told us to bring a pen!”
Pause for a few seconds and think– In that moment, had you been leading the seminar, what would you have done?
What happened next, however, was both a bit of a relief, and an troubling explanation. Relief in that the local leader had indeed brought along enough ball point pens to pass around for the unprepared. Explanation in how that single action of providing the pens made me question what other bad habits among this team were being enabled to continue every single day- dismissed as “oh, they’re just like that” and “it’s easier to just hold their hands”.
Here’s the real kicker. This was about the 5th or 6th day of training this group had received during the entire academic year. “What?”, I thought. “You didn’t bring a pen to a training class?”
More times than you might believe over the past couple of years, I have witnessed seminar participants sign in at registration, collect their workbook (with certificate of completion already stashed on the last page), and ask for directions to the restroom….never to be seen again. And, to be candid, I’m not sure it is entirely their fault. They simply do not feel empowered to make a difference or influence change back at work and must be thinking, “Why bother?” Often, these are the same employees who have the best opportunities to make it right with your most important customers, clients, and vendors….and simply don’t even try.
Here are a few quick ideas for you, the mighty leader of your team (no, it isn’t a job title, it’s an attitude), to make sure the people around you are engaged, plugged in, and turned on at work:
Hold those around you accountable for their actions. Don’t just enable them by running to get ball point pens they clearly should have brought to the training session. If there are no consequences for unacceptable or unprofessional behavior, why should you expect them to change for the better?
Assign a book report. When you send someone from your team to a training seminar or conference, challenge them to come up with a brief presentation on 3-5 key points they learned and feel others would benefit from hearing about. If you were the one sent to the class, offer to share some ideas to your group in a staff meeting. Taking initiative says, “I’m working for the job I want….not the one I have.”
Listen. If your team is disengaged and discouraged, you should know it. If not by what they say, listen to how they say it. More importantly, listen to what they don’t say. If everyone around you has stopped trying to solve problems and only complain about them, it is up to you to draw them into helping solve the issues. If you ignore the obvious problems, you are in fact condoning them to continue.
Accountability is the name of the game. Build a solid team, and you’ll see the results with success at every level!
Last week, I left you with a challenge. Did you accept it? Why or why not?
A few years ago, I accepted a challenging assignment as an investment representative inside a community bank…only I didn’t realize how difficult a task it was going to be when I showed up for work that first day.
I was the fifth representative in as many years to occupy that desk. Ironically, management saw the office as a “five year old business” when it fact, it was only a collection of pieces of “five, one-year businesses”. Collectively, there was $2.9 million in assets and from looking at the client files, it was impossible to tell which accounts were still open, which were long ago closed, or how any decisions had been made for each client. My charge was to turn it around.
My first day was just before Independence Day 2001. The financial markets were still uncertain following the investment bubble which had popped only 15 months earlier, clients were skittish, and to make it worse, the world as we knew it (financial or otherwise) completely introduced a “new normal” that fateful day in September—only 90 days into my new assignment.
It would have been easy to throw my hands in the air, declaring the task impossible, and not many people would have blamed me. Not having many other options of where I might take my talents (financial firms were in “protection mode”), I decided to dig in and make it work.
Three years later, almost to the day, the book of business I’d inherited was now $12.5 million in asssets and produced a more predictable and stable annual revenue than ever before. The markets had been against me. For 18 months, my co-workers didn’t believe I’d actually stay (no other representative ever had). Management refused to offer more support or strategic direction than to tell me simply to “just keep doing what you’re doing and don’t worry about the rest of the department”. The success (and the rocky road I traveled to find it) can almost completely be attributed to my own deliberate focus on relationships with clients and co-workers.
In the midst of significant roadblocks, true leaders will emerge and success will shine, if they continue to focus on the relationships with everyone around them.
Until the next blog posting, I challenge you this week to complete this phrase OUT LOUD at least once per day:
“Today, I will focus on customer / client/ co-worker relationships by __________________________”.
Be deliberate. Be honest. Let others hear about what you notice in the comments below.