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06-04-19

Debate, Decide and Align

BussesOne of the most dysfunctional and destructive organizational pathologies is undermining, especially at executive levels.

Unfortunately, we see this all the time. 

Issues are discussed at the executive meeting.  Alternatives are debated.  And eventually, a decision about the best course of action is made.

Far too often, what happens next is that executives who did not get their way undermine the decision.  Sometimes, their undermining is overt, blatant, and public such as when executives say, “They made a dumb decision.” 

Most of the time, however, the undermining is much more covert.  Whispering at the watercooler.  Backstabbing in the bathroom.  Sniping at Starbucks.

This kind of behavior, especially at executive levels, must never be tolerated.

In contrast, high-performance executive teams debate, decide, and align.  Once a decision is made, everyone aligns behind it, even it if wasn’t their preferred course of action.

SHIFTPOINTS® helps companies unleash the accelerating power of alignment, because ... 

Alignment is the ultimate competitive advantage™.

www.shiftpoints.com

05-21-19

WHAT DOES TEAM MEAN?

jazz band

A lot has been written about teamwork.

Teamwork is the foundation of alignment.

But many people have never been on a high-performance team, thus they do not have a real framework or experience base to work from. They don’t really know what “team” means.

In addition, there are many kinds of teams:

A crew team is a homogeneous group. Each member has a virtually identical build and an identical skill-set. There is only One Team, and they must work in perfect harmony in order to win. They are all—quite literally—in the same boat!

A golf team is a loose collection of individuals, all playing their own games. The team wins if enough people win their individual matches. However, it is possible for an individual player to win the individual trophy, yet have their team lose the match.

An improvisational jazz band is a different kind of team altogether. There is no conductor, no playbook, no scoreboard, no trophy, no match to win or lose, and no coxswain to keep everyone synchronized. Yet, the musicians demonstrate amazing teamwork.

A football team is a highly interdependent group of diverse players. Each player has very specialized skills. While there are sub-teams—offense, defense, and special teams—there is only one winner at end of the game. They win or lose as a team.

In 2015, retired General Stanley McChrystal discussed the complexity of sub-teams in his book, Team of Teams. In many companies, the real issue is that people are aligned with their “sub-team” but are not aligned with the other teams or with corporate.

  • The Boston office is tight, but they don’t get along with the New York office.
  • The marketing team is tight, but they don’t get along with sales.
  • The corporate finance team is tight, but they don’t get along with the divisions.
  • The European team is tight, but they don’t get along with the Americans.
  • The Democrats are tight, but they don’t get along with the Republicans.

People tend to get along with their immediate group. Their function. Their local office. Their clan. Their tribe. But they fight with people who are not part of their group.

So, as you embark on the journey to improve alignment, perhaps you should start by answering One Simple Question, “What does ‘team’ mean?”

Learn more about creating One Team

05-14-19

HOW YOUR OPERATING MODEL IMPACTS ALIGNMENT

BlueprintCompanies operate in many ways. Some are highly centralized, others are highly decentralized.

Your corporate operating model is a key factor in deciding how to create alignment.

The following list is not meant to be exhaustive but can help you articulate your operating model.

The “One Business” Company

  • Company competes primarily in One Market
  • Most likely, the company is organized functionally (sales, marketing, manufacturing, etc.)
  • Most likely, there is One P&L

 

The Highly Centralized Corporation

  • Big, strong corporate headquarters
  • Most of the big decisions are made at corporate
  • Divisions are partially autonomous
  • Alignment is primarily created “top-down” by corporate

 

The Multidivisional Corporation

  • Strong corporate headquarters and strong divisions
  • Division leaders are General Managers
  • An even balance of power between corporate and divisions
  • Cross-divisional alignment is created by corporate

 

The Federation

  • Moderately strong corporate headquarters
  • Autonomous divisions, often led by Presidents
  • Only a small amount of “top-down” corporate-level alignment
  • Alignment is primarily created at the divisional level
  • Small focus on cross-divisional alignment

 

The Conglomeration – A Company of Companies

  • Small corporate headquarters
  • Company Presidents are highly autonomous
  • Alignment is primarily created at the operating company level
  • Little or no focus on cross-company alignment

 

The Association

  • Corporate has very little power
  • Members choose to affiliate—or not
  • Members pay to be a part of the association
  • Corporate has limited decision authority, and primarily exists to serve the members
  • Alignment is often around a common agenda

 

The Denomination

  • Many different operating models
  • Some have very strong corporate-driven alignment … others have very little
  • Always bound together by One Doctrine and/or One Tradition

 

The Abomination

  • If your company is in this category, you definitely need my upcoming book, Drive One Direction!

 

What is your company’s operating model?

 

SHIFTPOINTS® helps companies unleash the accelerating power of alignment, because

Alignment is the ultimate competitive advantage™.

Contact us at start@shiftpoints.com or www.shiftpoints.com.

04-04-18

A LEADER WORTH FOLLOWING

This past weekend, millions of people around the world celebrated Easter.  They went to church to worship Jesus and pledged their allegiance as followers. 

To millions, He is a leader worth following.

So, how about you?  Are you a leader worth following?

Leaders, by definition, have followers.  The question for you to consider is why they are following.

Are they following because they have to?  After all, you’re the boss. 

Or, are they following because they want to?  Because they believe in you and your vision.  Because they believe that your strategy is the right one.  Because they believe that you know the way.

So, perhaps it is time for you to take a long, hard look in the mirror.  Ask yourself, “Am I a leader worth following?”

I’m sorry to say that many leaders—if they are honest with themselves—should conclude that the answer to that question is, “No.”

SHIFTPOINTS has worked with almost one hundred companies and thousands of leaders.  I’m sorry to say that we have seen many toxic leaders.  I’m also distraught that many toxic leaders have risen to the highest levels of government, industry, and even churches.

These toxic leaders would dramatically improve performance and morale if they simply resigned. 

Conversely, we have also worked with many exceptional leaders who are, in fact, leaders worth following. 

Leaders worth following are servant leaders.  They lead with humility and inspire followership. 

And the best leaders—just like Jesus—build high-performance leadership teams.

Most people know that Jesus had twelve disciples.  They were a most unusual bunch, perhaps the most unlikely leadership team ever assembled.  None of these guys would have ever passed the initial resume screening of an executive search firm.

Leadership experience… nope.  Advanced degrees… nope.  Professional certifications… nope.

Yet Jesus chose these ordinary guys anyway.  He transformed them into an extraordinary leadership team. And then He left.

They went on to change the world.  All but one gave their life for the cause.  By almost any measure, you can argue that they were indeed the world’s greatest leadership team.

SHIFTPOINTS develops high-performance executive teams – because you can’t win without one.

 

04-17-17

#12:  THE DISCIPLINE OF INSPIRATION

Good executive teams manage the business.  Great executive teams lead the business. 

But world-class executive team inspire the business.

For me, Holy Week is always the most inspiring week of the year.

And it was a good reminder of how important it is for executive teams to inspire. 

I think it is too easy for executive teams to get caught up in goals, plans, KPIs, and ops reviews, and lose sight of their ultimate responsibility.

Which is to inspire your company.

In addition, far too many executive teams have money as their ultimate definition of success.  It has been said that money is an excellent servant, but a terrible master.

Making money is a good thing.  Shareholders expect a return, and employees expect a paycheck.

But your company needs a higher purpose.  Your company needs to make the world a better place.  Your vision needs to articulate these things in an inspiring way.

Virtually every company has a mission, vision, and values.  Candidly, most are the kind of corporate blah-blah-blah that everyone tunes out.

So, my challenge to executive teams is to write a corporate purpose statement.  A corporate purpose statement answers a very simple question.

Why do you exist?

And, if you want to inspire your team, the answer better not be, “to make money.”

SHIFTPOINTS® develops high-performance executive teams - because you can't win without one.

01-23-17

#6: THE DISCIPLINE OF TEAMWORK

In theory, every executive team is a team.

But in reality, most executive teams struggle with the discipline of teamwork.

There are many reasons for this. Executive teams have unique dynamics that make them unlike any other team in the organization. (More on this in the weeks to come.) Most function like a golf team, where everyone is playing their own individual game.

In contrast, high-performance executive teams operate more like a basketball team. They have a high degree of interdependency. They model unselfishness and demonstrate a “we before me” attitude.

You don’t develop this kind of teamwork by sitting in a conference room presenting PowerPoint slides to each other. You must spend time as a team working together to solve your company’s most pressing problems. You must also take time celebrate your company’s biggest victories.

A few Check Points for your consideration:

  • Does your executive team have a strong foundation of trust?
  • How much of executive compensation is based on overall corporate performance?
  • Are you tolerating any executive behaviors that undermine teamwork?

SHIFTPOINTS® develops high-performance executive teams - because you can't win without one.

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01-16-17

#5: THE DISCIPLINE OF EXCELLENCE

Every executive performs.

But most executive teams have at least one member who is not meeting expectations.

In contrast, high-performance executive teams optimize the performance of every member of the team.

This starts with high – and continuously elevating – expectations of performance. High-performance executive teams are constantly raising the bar.

They set high targets and challenge each other to get better.

Thus, every executive must commit to both individual excellence and continuous improvement. (I’m astonished by how many reach the executive level and then stop growing and learning.)

In addition, as companies grow and evolve, the executive team must also grow and evolve to embody the discipline of excellence. 

Sports teams are great examples of the relentless quest for excellence. They trade for players who can upgrade the team. They are constantly evaluating performance. Raising the bar is just part of the process.

Here are a few Check Points for your consideration:

  • Is every executive on the team really performing up to your standards?
  • Does your executive team have a culture of challenging each other to “raise the bar?”
  • What are you doing to help each executive develop their professional skills?

SHIFTPOINTS® develops high-performance executive teams - because you can't win without one.

 

01-02-17

#3: THE DISCIPLINE OF PURPOSE

Every team has a purpose. 
 
But most executive teams have never taken the time to clarify what theirs is.

In contrast, high-performance executive teams have a clear – and unique – sense of the discipline of purpose.
 
This seems like it should be obvious, but there are many different kinds of executive teams.  In the same way that each company should have a unique purpose, the executive team running that company should have a unique purpose as well.  (A church’s executive team has a very different purpose than a construction company’s executive team.)
 
To clarify your executive team’s unique purpose, consider three factors: decisions, outputs, and outcomes.
 
Decisions are the unique things that your executives decide as a team.  (Like approve bonuses.)  In some companies, this list is actually quite small, since most of the decisions are made by individual executives without bringing the issue to the entire executive team.
 
Outputs are the unique deliverables produced by your executives as a team.  These include things like corporate strategy documents, annual budgets, or organizational goals. 
 
Outcomes are the unique results that your executive team is responsible for as a team.  These include things like financial results or employee engagement.

Once you know your executive team’s unique purpose, you can design the team to accomplish it.

SHIFTPOINTS® develops high-performance executive teams - because you can't win without one.

 

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12-19-16

#1: THE DISCIPLINE OF VALUES

Every organization has values.

Unfortunately, most executive teams do not live by them.

In contrast, high-performance executive teams are fully devoted to their values. To high-performers, the discipline of values is much more than words on posters in the break room or in a booklet on the brochure wall.

High-performance executive teams use their values to guide their decisions and never tolerate behaviors that are inconsistent with their values.

Far too many companies tolerate executives who do not personify their values because they are “making their numbers” or “have been here since the beginning.”

Here are a few Check Points for your consideration:

  • Which of your executives most personifies your core values?
  • Should “value personification” be a criterion for executive bonuses?
  • Are there any executives whose behavior is so counter to your values that it is time for them to go?

SHIFTPOINTS® develops high-performance executive teams - because you can't win without one.

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12-12-16

THE TWELVE DISCIPLINES OF HIGH-PERFORMANCE EXECUTIVE TEAMS

A little over eight years ago, I left the staff of McLean Bible Church and restarted my consulting business.

Since then, we have worked with over thirty different organizations in fifteen different industries.

As we have reflected on these experiences, we identified One Common Denominator. Every organization had some issues with the executive team.

So, we have been working to answer two questions:
  • What is a high-performance executive team?
  • How can we best help our CEO clients build one?
We have developed a model that addresses these two questions called The Twelve Disciplines of high-performance executive teams. Over the next twelve weeks, we’ll be sharing them with you.

In the meantime, if you would like to jump start the transformation of your executive team, drop us a line at start@shiftpoints.com.

SHIFTPOINTS® helps companies unleash the accelerating power of alignment.