Triangle PerformanceAT C-LEVEL - April 2008
In this issue
Recession-Proof Leadership?
Do Something
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From the Top

Q2 has officially begun. Whatever you planned - or expected - for 2008, Q1 has disappeared and the results, as my daughter is fond of saying, "are what they are."

Sorry, no turning back, and no "do-overs."

You can't change them now, and they are empirical evidence, regardless of how they looked. Hope fully, there were no serious surprises. Remember to take a look - a hard look - at Q2 to make sure there are no surprises there, either.

Now's the time to make sure expectations match reality...

As always, I welcome your perusal and gratis downloads of the new and relevant material (articles, papers, etc.) on the website:

And, of course, don't forget to check out my blog;

Several recent blog entries include current discussions on those idiots in the airline pilot's union (ok, ok, I have a bias... so shoot me!), and my general dislike of traveling.

As always, I hope this finds you well, both personally and professionally, and feel free to call on me if I can help in any way...

Warm Regards,

D. Kevin Berchelmann

D. Kevin Berchelmann
Triangle Performance, LLC

Strategy & Leadership
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Recession-Proof Leadership?
-- It's not the economy, stupid...

Ok, as Forrest Gump said, "Stupid is as stupid does," and I certainly don't mean to call anyone reading this "stupid," per se, but leading in difficult times - in this case, either our recession, or "recession that isn't" (for those that think "denial" is a river in Africa) - isn't all that different from day-to-day leadership.

There are, however, some specific tips to consider:

1. Credibility is a must. If ever leaders needed their credibility to lean on, it's now. The best definition for leadership credibility is to simply "do what you say you're going to do."

The bigger statement, of course, includes making sure you take a definitive stand on those things that bring comfort during turbulent times - and then following up (doing what you say you'll do) on those strong statements.

2. See and be seen. Visibility is a big deal. Now's not the time to hide out in your office, pining away the days or lamenting for better times. Get out, be seen, be available, and most importantly, be heard. High visibility coupled with credibility is a near-guarantee of success in uncertain times.

I hate buzzwords and phrases, and "management by walking around" is certainly one of those; it is, however, a good concept for current times. Get out there...

3. Remember, you were young once. Put yourself in employees' shoes; this is uncomfortable, and there are plenty of unknowns. Lots of things are changing around them, and they are neither fully aware of the rationale, nor in control of, those things changing.

Cut 'em a break - you're not always easy to live with either, remember? Our folks - at least those sticking with it, trying to perform, succeed, and persevere, deserve our respect.

Those who aren't? Well, now's a good time for a change...

4. Want cheese with that whine? No open complaining, commiserating, or whining. Not now (assuming it was ever ok, which you know, of course, that it isn't) especially.

Your folks don't need to know that you feel as out of control as they do. It doesn't help them, or you, to believe that things are hurtling out of everyone's control. Better to convince them that hard work, strong performance, and effective leadership will prevail.

Because, of course, it will. You must know - and believe - that.

5. Sit down, shut up, and color. Focus is paramount, especially when there's an unseen drag on earnings called "the economy." Help people understand as best you can, explaining why things are happening (when you know), and why we're taking this specific action.

But in the end, they've got to do what's necessary to help your organization weather this storm, so just do it can become the fall-back phrase of choice. Don't allow so much discourse that we forget why we're here.

They want to vent? Ok, we'll allow that. Employees want to complain a bit, because gas is high, milk has doubled, and their 401K isn't making money?

Yeah, ok... Fine, fine.

Now, get back to work. Enough of the belly-achin', since last I checked, that's not a specific part of your job description, and I don't see how that's helping us get from here to there.

Sit down, shut up, and color. It's not just for kindergarten anymore.

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Do Something
-- C'mon, you know you want to!

Stagnation is the precursor to failure. Too often, we sit idly by, watching while things happen all around us, then act surprised when we're left out of the successful ending. Or worse, we realize, after failure, that we could have done something.

We're not paid to sit idly by, even if what we've been doing is working out just fine. We're paid to act. Sometimes boldly.

So, what have you ignored recently? What have you decided not to do, since doing so would be difficult, confrontational, or uncomfortable? Why in heaven's name aren't you shaking things up?

I say - do something big and bold. And do it now.

Here are some examples, in case you're still scratching your head...

1. Change something. C'mon now; you know there's something going on around you, in your functional area or department, that you know could be done better.

I say, go ahead - do it better.

Maybe you'll be right, and be a hero for changing something that needed to be changed.

Maybe you'll be wrong, and be a hero for knowing that something needed to be changed.

Seems the common denominator above - is that you're a hero. What's the downside??

Leadership activity is always better than leadership inactivity. Better to be known as a decision-maker (even if some of those decisions aren't "quite right"), than to be indecisive.

I once worked for a man, Col Scott Atkins. Col. Atkins told me that "If 25% of your decisions aren't wrong, it's simply because you aren't making enough decisions." There's some truth to that.

2. Hire someone. Now's the time to take advantage of our employer-positive labor market. I can't promise we'll have another anytime soon. Have a specific need that would/could increase the general productivity or success of your outfit?

Well, there's no time like the present. Let's get 'em on board.

Two reasons: First, it's a buyer's market, so you'll likely get all you need (and then some) for your dollars. Hey, that's better than a sharp stick in the eye, right?

Second, you'll have the chance to get a new hard-charger ready for when the cycle starts pointing back up (see economy article above). Having someone earn their stripes during hard times is fantastic, experiential training...

3. Fire someone. You know you have people you would be better off without: maliciously bad attitudes, mediocre performers, those dragging down entire departments... those pains in your keester that you've been lying to yourself that "you just can't get rid of them."

Hogwash. Whack 'em now.


You'll feel better for it, the organization will be improved, and co-workers of said dud may cheer your name.

Trust me - been there, done that.

4. Do it my way. (sorry, Frankie) Train/develop/mentor someone. Take charge, realizing that next to bringing in talent, the most significant thing we do as leaders - the most value-adding contribution we can make - is to develop those working for us into bigger, better, stronger, faster leaders.

Help someone grow into something more than their current state. We all need to develop, and one of the most successful ways of doing so is through direct attention from other successful leaders.

Provide training where necessary. All leadership is not learned through osmosis - it's a learned skill, remember? As such, sometimes we need to provide that skill-based training to those needing it and worthy of developmental dollars.

Step in, take charge, make a difference.

You can always do more than you're doing today - much of that doesn't require exponentially increased efforts - simply redirecting current attention.

And it makes us better in the process.

C'mon now... do something!

© 2008 Triangle Performance, LLC