Leadership Development

It is amazing sometimes to see strategic plans that forecast significant growth in revenue, market share, and/or general scope, but don’t show a corresponding effort to develop the leaders necessary to execute that new growth. How did you think that would happen? Or do we just not really believe our own plans?

Realizing Leadership Potential

Successful leadership is the true advantage in today’s global marketplace. Leaders have certain traits, such as a compelling vision, emotional intelligence, the ability to listen and inspire, and confidence in themselves and their ability to take risks. Cracking the “leadership code” is not easy, but it is attainable. There must be a plan in place that sets the vision and provides the steps necessary to succeed.

Through Triangle’s proven expertise and results-driven approach, leaders can truly turn their potential into demonstrable performance; this can include consulting, facilitated sessions, team alignment and coaching.

Except for a handful of charismatic leaders mentioned in every history book, leadership, for the most part, is learned skills and behaviors, and is certainly critical path to any organization’s success. This includes line supervisors, management and most significantly, the senior leadership team. Coaching, at the executive and management levels can be a rapid, personalized path to skill-building. Training and facilitated learning discussions (via local sessions or “retreat-based”) are solid foundations for all levels. Succession planning helps organizations develop real bench strength – so necessary today for continued success.

Knowledge is a cornerstone of performance

Virtually all demonstrable skills (yes, including leadership and management) are learned. Our facilitated sessions go beyond the robotron “talking head” at the front of the room, utilizing dynamic, highly-interactive facilitation techniques, delivering real results from our training efforts. Additionally, we believe training is best done in manageable bites, rather than a 2-3 day “forced march;” each program is modular, with single modules taking from 3-4 hours to complete, with built-in reinforcement mechanisms.

Trust is the currency of leadership. And it’s neither rocket science nor “soft” skill development. Trust is simply the confluence of competency, integrity, and empathy. It’s as necessary as oxygen for successful leaders.

Discretionary effort is that effort that employees give us by choice, and trust is the only reason employees will give it.

Leadership is inherently simple. Organizations complicate it for no reason. Its practices, concepts, applications… haven’t changed much in a couple thousand years. There aren’t new concepts, only new authors, trying to peddle a glossy hardback using principles and techniques that look strangely familiar to what you’ve been using for 5, 10, or 25 years.

Don’t buy the snake oil, or fall for the fads. There’s no “new” way, only better methods of encouraging and systematizing “old” ways.

Triangle Performance works with its clients to bring about the transformation and results necessary to compete and win in today’s economy. To learn how we can help you, call 281.257.4442 or click here.

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On Leadership Development...

The Sun is Late…

… or, what to do when a plan doesn’t come together. I can honestly say I’ve learned more from my mistakes than my successes. I doubt I’m alone in that. What’s that old saying? “That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?” Obviously, none of my mistakes were fatal and none ended my career… yet. Some of my biggest mistakes I considered colossal failures at the time, only to learn later that there are actually some things I can’t control. Like the time I lost $1.1B in multi-year resourcing. Or the time I started an international incident in the skies over Younameastan. Or the time I invested in a gold mine (seriously!). I was fortunate to work for a number of leaders that knew mistakes are rarely intentional, and almost all can be important learning opportunities. I always tried to pass that on to the men and women who worked for me afterwards. Yes, mistakes can be frustrating and costly, but in a corporate setting, they’re rarely life threatening. One of my favorite mistakes happened during my last fun assignment in the Air Force when I was leading a rapidly deployable group trained to respond to a wide variety of contingency operations. We were deployed to a bare base for a self-imposed training exercise to test our readiness to operate in chemical protective gear – an old-time Cold War, NATO-type exercise. By bare base, I mean a runway and a patch of dirt with zero support infrastructure. It was only for a few days, but both the days and nights were long and filled with hard physical and mental...

Free Leadership Development

— Please, don’t tell my wife I’m doing this… Yes, leadership development can cost money. Most of us believe the returns are well worth it, and I’ve had the professional pleasure of working with many of you in improving the skills and behaviors in your leadership staffs. But you know what? Most of the more significant things that leaders can do are free. That’s right. Gratis, free of charge. No sales tax, shipping and handling, or any other spurious expense. What, then, can we do to take advantage of this FREE leadership development? Nothing more than some simple effort on your part. Without going into ad nauseum detail, suffice to say that there are three very simple things that a leader can do to set him/herself apart (positively) from the pack: Ask for input. Even when you already think you know the answer. Here’s the funny thing, and those I’ve worked with have heard me say this countless time: ask frequently for others’ input.If you ask all the time, people don’t get offended when you don’t “take” their suggestions each and every time proffered. If you only ask once per year, that person will fully expect you to use their input in a meaningful way… after all, why would you finally ask if you weren’t going to take it.Besides, keep on asking, even if you don’t believe you’ll get a meaningful response. Even a blind squirrel gets a nut every now and then, and who knows? Maybe that employee will just get lucky… Say please and thank you. Face it — no employee with the brains of a rock...

It Is What It Is… But What Is It?

I looked up from my desk the other day and noticed (again) a retirement present from a good friend and co-worker that says, “It is what it is.” Too often, I hear that phrase uttered in a tone of voice that conveys resignation to an unpleasant situation or acceptance of defeat. It doesn’t have to be that way! As leaders, a key to success is in understanding the last part of the sentence: “…what it is.”  It might be something we have control over, something we can only influence, or something that affects us and our people but is out of our hands.  How quickly we ascertain which of the three It is, and how we communicate that to those who work for and with us often determines whether we (the royal WE) are going to rise above the challenge. In a past life, I commanded an organization responsible for deploying personnel to all parts of Europe and Africa. We were too short staffed in certain specialties to do what were we being asked to do, and getting additional manpower was out of our control. What was in our control was how we used the personnel we had. Instead of being resigned to playing the victim to the asymmetric workload distribution between specialties, we developed an aggressive cross-training program that enabled the willing, but underemployed, personnel to team with those who were in danger of burning out. As a result, we built a greater number of very capable, cross-functional teams that were scalable and incredibly efficient to deploy and employ… and we significantly improved morale in the process. This speaks to three core truths of leadership: leaders...

Perception trumps reality. Every time.

Okay we’ve all heard the little idioms, like “perception is reality to those who perceive,” or even just “perception is reality.” My personal favorite is “my perception is my reality.” What the hell does all that mean? Well for you, leaders, it means that how people perceive your leadership is infinitely more important than what you intend for your leadership to be. It means that what you say means little, compared to the actions that you take (or words that you write). This isn’t rocket science, right? Goodness knows we’ve heard all this before, that our actions are more important that our words. But do we really get it? In my experiences, the answer is no. And here are some examples: Actual ethics violations aren’t the problem — it’s the perception of ethics violations. Let that sink in for a bit. In leadership, we all too frequently feel that an ethics breach means we’ve done something affirmatively. For instance, we accepted a gift from a supplier, then because of that gift we renew that supplier’s contract for another year. No brainer, right? Hold on a minute, Mr. Gekko; that’s incorrect, from an employee’s view. The ethics violation occurred when you accepted the gift… period. Even had you cancelled the supplier’s contract, the gift acceptance was your ethics breach. You see, it’s the appearance of conflict that causes ethics concerns, not the actual dastardly deed. It doesn’t matter if you care, they must see that you care. This comes up a lot with coaching clients, when presented with 360-degree feedback that suggests that they “don’t care about us.” “But I...

Politics, People and Leadership

— Don’t get them confused Politics. Damn. It just seems to permeate everything we do today. And not, necessarily, in a good way. “We the people” have seemingly become unable to have common conversations about so many issues. Leaders… Don’t fall for it. This communication impasse, this idiotic inability to have constructive dialogue, this desire to be “right” about all things partisan that will forever be based in opinion (no matter how strongly you believe), cannot become part of who you are. Not in your professional leadership role. Do I mean that, outside of work, you can’t have opinions? Of course not. Do I mean that you shouldn’t vote, participate in the political process, or even strongly debate those outside of the workforce on issues that are important to you? Of course not, have at it. We should do all of those things, as — in my opinion — we have an obligation as citizens to do. But don ‘t take citizenship all the way to jerkship. You can show your opinion without showing your ass. Really, you can. And I’m not speaking of literal bias here. I don’t mean the near-criminal act of assuming that a subordinate who doesn’t see your political views is somehow damaged. I hope we don’t even have to go there—if we do, we’re in worse shape than I thought. What I do mean is, you simply cannot let the common political bias affect how you lead others at work. And you’ve got to be ever vigilant, as these things can sneak in insidiously. I see them occur, maybe unintentionally, in three distinct areas...

Physicians, Physicists and Brainiacs

–Coaching the know-it-all You read know-it-all in the subtitle like it’s a bad thing. That’s not how I meant it at all. No, I’m not referring to the seventh-grade insult where we looked at the smartest kid in the room and said, “Well, Mr. Smarty-pants, you think you’re just a know-it-all.” No, that’s not what I’m talking about at all. I’m referring to those people who hold positions that — quite literally — require that they know it all. And yes, there are several of those floating around in various organizations today. For example, you certainly wouldn’t trust a surgeon who frequently said, “You know, I’m not quite sure about this, but let’s just give it a try anyway.” Nor would you be thrilled if you discovered that a PhD physicist working in some hush-hush, ultra secret laboratory somewhere, said, “Man, I don’t know if this hydrogen bomb will be safe to transport, but hey, I’m giving it my best guess.” And the list goes on. Not with just physicians, physicists, and other scientific experts; we also include others in the mix, like high-level economists, super-duper engineers (gosh, hope this bridge holds up), and other individual experts that hold sway in things like major decisions, fiscal policy and even advancing regulations or legislation. Life and death can be held in the balance. These experts tend to hold positions where their key value is providing their knowledge… their expertise. Now, in and of itself, this isn’t a major problem. After all, why wouldn’t we expect these obvious experts to be, well, the expert? The problem isn’t with their expertise, per...

Analog Leadership Meets the Digital World

— Faster isn’t always better… Analog… “Analog…” Analog… it sounds so, well, old. Leadership, in its most successful, meaningful form, is not about size, scope, or reach. It’s about relationships. Trusting relationships. Our followers trust those they hold out as leaders when: That leader demonstrates appropriate competency for their position, The leader demonstrates integrity (does what she says she’ll do), and The leader convinces them they have some level of empathy; that they care as much about the subordinate as they do themselves. Leadership is entirely personal. It’s about people. It’s all about trust! Have I beat you to death enough with this yet? We live in an age where the digital medium reigns supreme. Where information, both broad and narrow in scope, can be transmitted instantaneously and simultaneously, across vast networks and collections of people, and in fact happens countless times each day. That makes it more, not necessarily better. Sharing information is not the same thing as communicating. And communications are necessary to build that trust we speak of so frequently. Trust, friends, is the very currency of leadership. You can inform digitally. You lead personally. Information can be digitized; leadership is—and always will be—analog. Now, don’t get me wrong… I’m a long way from a Luddite; I blog, tweet, and facebook. I manage my LinkedIn account, send this electronic newsletter, and subscribe to a multitude of feeds, blogs and forums. I use dropbox and evernote, write using dictation software, carry a tablet for shorter trips, and have a smartphone roughly 10x of the total computing power of NASA in 1970. My smokin’ Surface Pro syncs with my...

25 Leadership Tips and Hacks

I was just doing some thinking on a plane ride recently (not much else to do). Often, we are our own worst enemy, sabotaging our efforts with our own behavior. Though added resources (people, money, etc.) seem to be an answer to many of our challenges, the reality is that Leadership, first and foremost, is what will cause us to succeed or fail. And leadership is free. Here are some things to consider as you go about your day… If one employee has an attitude or morale problem, it’s COULD be an exception. If more than the exception, it IS a leadership issue. If you say you’ll do something, do it. If it gets you in trouble with your boss, live with it and accept that responsibility. Integrity is not situational. Quit nickel-and-diming line employees. They are the only ones making us money. When asked to decide, decide. We’re paid to make decisions, not stall with unnecessary questions and analysis. Turnover is a symptom, not a root cause. Reducing turnover without addressing the root cause (usually Leadership) is simply smoke and mirrors. Enough with the barrage of emails. If you cc: others just to make sure your addressee pays attention, you are part of the problem. After the first email reply, communication is an issue; pick up the phone or walk across the room, floor or building. I don’t know your intent, only your actions or words. Quit assuming. Ask. Take care of employees, they’ll take care of you. That’s a promise. Hold each other accountable. If your peer does something wrong and you say nothing—you’re now part of...

Decision-Making, Mistakes and Leadership

— If you ain’t failin’, you ain’t tryin’ Oops! Mistakes. Nobody likes ‘em, everybody makes ‘em. Yet it still sends a quiver up the spines of leaders everywhere, hearing “you made a mistake.” Our minds start racing, searching for pieces of memory that could reveal where we may have stretched a bit, or perhaps were a bit unsure in the decision we made. “Crap! Now what…?” We investigate our mistake, searching minute details in hopes of ensuring we never make that mistake again. Or any mistake, frankly. Many of us spend numerous waking hours fretting over the possibility (and reality) of making one mistake or another, incorrectly believing that error-free efforts are the minimum threshold of success for leadership. How’s that working for you? I’ve got some suggestions that may help you be more successful — and less frustrated — in your leadership decision-making. First, a newsflash: you will make mistakes. Get over it. Mistakes are not inherently bad; our reactions to mistakes are much more telling than the mistake itself. So, here we go… The 3 Principles for Avoiding Death through Mistakes: 1. Make more mistakes. You heard me right — make more mistakes. Look, you didn’t know how to ride a bike when you started, did you? You didn’t know how to play golf well when you started, did you? Even your job… you couldn’t do that when you first started, could you? The answer to all of these is NO! You needed practice. Practice makes perfect. Well, technically, perfect practice makes perfect, but this ain’t Carnegie Hall. I used to work for General Lawrence Bose. He...

The Simplicity of Leadership

—quit complicating the uncomplicated By that, I mean that leadership is not complex. Can it be difficult? Certainly. But we need to remember to keep things as simple as humanly possible. We read books, articles, white papers, etc.… All in search of a silver bullet, a magic wand, or something that will allow us to leapfrog common sense and simple leadership techniques. We study “The Five Principles of Employee Engagement;” we listen intently to the webinar, “How to Increase Employee Commitment;” we read books on “Motivating Millennials.” And we don’t get any better. In fact, many could make a good argument that as we study these “new and innovative” techniques our ability to actually lead people gets worse. In other words, the more we “know,” the less we do. My advice then is simple: just stop it! (love me some Bob Newhart…) Leadership is really simple. Truly non-rocket surgery sorts of stuff. We rarely get into trouble for failing to “engage” employees, or for failing to “motivate millennials.” Nope, we usually get in a bind because we forgot to set clear expectations, refused to diffuse known conflict, or maybe we just didn’t listen to the feedback we received from interested employees. This is not higher level math. Leadership hasn’t changed much in a couple of thousand years. The business of leadership is inherently simple. A couple of years ago, I was at Champions Golf Club in Houston Texas as a guest of a good friend of mine (Roy). The owner of the club, Jackie Burke, used to be a PGA Pro, winning the Masters and PGA tournaments. Roy and...

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