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From the Top

This newsletter is dedicated to my baby sister, Elizabeth, who passed away January 3, 2011. She was 46 years old.

Alice in Wonderland's Cheshire Cat (cleverly paraphrased to suit my needs) on Planning: "If it really doesn't matter to you where you want to go... then it really doesn't matter which way you go to get there."

Triangle Performance's Kevin Berchelmann on Planning: "Accountability starts with expectations; expectations start with plans. Don't for a second believe you can have accountability without planning. You cannot."

Strategy and planning are a must, because:

a. They are fundamental obligations of leadership,
b. Only effective leaders can see the patterns, relationships and linkages that explain our current state against our desired state, and
c. Vision (an intersection of strategy and planning) begins in leaders' hearts, not in conference room butts.

Steven Cates (AOL fame) said that "A vision without a plan to execute is probably just a hallucination." In New Orleans vernacular, "True dat!"

Further, and you need to read this twice (or very carefully once) and really give it some thought: If your strategy and plans require additional, competent leaders, or better skilled leaders, yet you don't specifically plan for same, you are planning to fail.

Don't do that.

If I can help you with your planning - strategic or operational - or you feel your leaders' skills may need improving, don't hesitate to call. I'm like Ghostbusters... without the slime.

The results from our 2010 Survey of Senior Leadership are still available for download:

Triangle Performance LLC's 2010 Survey of Senior Leadership

The 2011 Survey of Senior Leadership will arrive in your email box soon. Please take the time - it takes just a few minutes - to complete and comment.

If you still haven't completed budgeting for 2011 (you should call me - you need the help) our annual Compensation Trends, circa 2011 is still here for the taking. Feel free to download, and use as needed in your budgeting and plans. If you'd like to discuss some of the detail, give me a call or drop me an email and I'll do my best.

My recent client efforts include extensive organization design, executive talent management, executive compensation planning, individual executive coaching (multiple), and numerous facilitated sessions on various topics of leadership development, management, employee engagement, trust, and more...

Some newsworthy mentions:

The Houston Chronicle interviewed me for a business-section article on Planning and Goal-Setting (quite apropos given my comments above), and you can read that article here. Wooty "dissed" me about my foreign-language goal, but she was fun to talk to nonetheless... interviewed me for an article on Compensation, specifically asking for expert input on 2011 pay increases, longer term trends, pay-for-performance, and google's ridiculous 10% across-the-board increase. You can read that here.

IMC-USA (a consultant gaggle) printed an article I authored, appropriately titled "But that's just me..." It focuses on the myriad ways we can do almost anything, and that many experts, especially those ordained as such merely because of their "tribe," well, aren't...

The Houston Business Journal featured my firm (and a large, multi-year client) for an article on team-centric executive development.

He speaks... (apparently I have a message that resonates with some... who knew??).

I delivered a keynote address to the Human Resources Association of Treasure Valley (HRATV) in Boise, and will do the same soon in Louisville (tentatively scheduled for April; the folks there were kind enough to reschedule after my end-of-year "events" took over my schedule).

I'm scheduled to keynote the San Antonio ASSE in February, followed by the keynote address at ASSE's East Texas Expo in March.

I'm also confirmed to speak to several additional groups in upcoming months, including:
-- **Corporate event on Leadership Integrity,
-- **Leading the Business from the Back of the Bus, to a group of support services staff,
-- HR's Role in Leading Business to Economic Recovery and Growth for SAP's annual HR conference in Las Vegas.
-- ...and others.

Speaking of speaking... I continue to present two favorite topics:

Sit Down, Shut Up, and Color!
Breaking through employee entitlement...

Leadership is Easy... until it isn't.
Successful leadership in challenging times...

And my newest, Leading the Business from the Back of the Bus, designed specifically for those support and related "back-office" functions that don't actually drive the train or blow the whistle, but still catch heck when the darn thing jumps the track...

If you have a corporate or association event, I'd certainly enjoy speaking to your group. You can see more information regarding topics and details on my website.

Further, feel free to download and read a few articles that may be relevant today:

Backseat Driving: Leading the business from the back of the bus,

Letters from the Field #1... A leader on leadership development,

Compensation Drives Business Success -- You're going to spend it anyway; may as well get something for your money!, and

HR2 -- Human Resources Returns (as in ROI)...

...and don't forget to check out my blog;some interesting (I think) posts, like Incentive factoids and other drivel, and the HR-Ethics Conundrum... please comment, complain, or scream at me if you agree, disagree, or just want your opinion read, seen, and heard.

Berchelmann's Blog

If you'd like to know how I can assist you, your organization, or a colleague of yours, please fill out this form and I'll send you some specific information, articles, engagement results, and so forth.

As always, I hope this finds you well, personally and professionally; please give me a call if I can ever help in any way, and feel free to forward this to anyone you feel may be interested. (Really!) I appreciate your referrals.

In Memorium...

Many of you know this, but for those who do not... my mom passed away December 29, 2010, and my baby sister Elizabeth passed away the day after my mom's memorial service, on January 3rd. Thanks so much for the cards, emails, txts and calls... they helped during a trying time. I miss them both terribly.

Warm Regards,

D. Kevin Berchelmann

D. Kevin Berchelmann
Triangle Performance, LLC

Strategy & Leadership

It's Not Your Parents' Leadership Anymore, Part Deux
-- It's harder today, pure and simple

Leading has never been easy. Carrying that mantle has forever been a challenge, to be sure. And it will continue to be so. And I'm not necessarily saying it was "easy" for those who lead 15, 20, 30 years ago.

Only that today, it's harder

The rules for leadership, of course, are constantly being rewritten, and have consistently been rewritten in the past; but never at the pace they are today.

It's harder today, in general, than it was in yesteryear (I have no idea how long a "yesteryear" is, I just wanted to use the word). And I say that with all appropriate apologies to those (and that includes me) long-time baby-boomer leaders.

Why, you ask, is leadership so hard? Why - or how - is leadership harder today than in days gone by? Well, thanks for asking, and I'll tell you. It's harder because:

1. You've gotta answer the "why?" Long gone are the luxurious, heady days where we could say "do it 'cause I said so," and get away with it. Today's empowered workforce wants - needs - to know why they are doing something. Everything. Anything.

In many ways, that's a good thing. It promotes independent thinking, empowered decision-making, and better buy-in.

In other ways, the whiney "why's?" of over-entitled employees, challenging just because they can, well... not so much.

2. Today's leadership must be transparent. As mentioned above, everyone wants to know "why." They also want to evaluate, analyze, and Monday-morning quarterback your every decision, mandate, opinion, and thought.

And don't get me started on compensation and such. In the age of "say on pay," the ubiquity of social media, and increased freedom and support for public scrutiny, a leader's every move, decision, and bodily noise can be open to the public for comment and opinion.

3. It's riskier. Leaders have always been risk-takers. That's not new, and frankly, it's part and parcel to the job. But today, it's riskier than ever to lead. Consider that today's leaders face:

a. Unprecedented ambiguity. We hire and fire based on quarterly reports and current decisions, but insist our leaders take and hold a "long" view.

b. Drastically changing business conditions. Nearly all environments are changing today; without crystal balls, tarot cards, Ouija boards, or the Amazing Kreskin (that's an age-check), leaders today are expected to know what's happening, what's about to happen, and what we should do about what's about to happen.


Only really good guessers need apply.

c. Unrealistic (or at least damned high) standards of behavior. Ok, some are realistic, but to expect leaders to be nearly saint-like merely because they lead is simply dumb. But we do. We expect them to be better, less fallible than the rest of us. In fact, we demand it.

And we want 'em whacked immediately when they don't measure up.

As I said, leading has never been easy - never for the faint of heart. But today's leaders face challenges that often resemble a gauntlet. And I'm not talking about the chain-male-glove sort of gauntlet. I'm talking about the Clint Eastwood 1970's Dirty Harry movie Gauntlet (age check #2).


Devil's Advocate
-- Saint or sinner??

"Yes" men, "No" men, or some happy medium ("men" used for convenience, and is in no way gender-specific)??

Do we want our closest and/or brightest to agree with us merely because it was our idea? Or are we actively seeking constructive, challenging dialog??

Must we always have complete, obedient agreeance (not a real word, but my baby sister Elizabeth always used it, so here it is), or do we really want diversity of thought?

Personally, I believe that when really smart, well-intentioned people disagree, the final outcome or decision is always - ALWAYS - a better one.

Further, I'll also opine that "diversity of thought," particularly in leadership decision-making, is one of the only valid business cases for intentional, purposeful "diversity" in an organization.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it...

And let's be clear: I'm not talking about Joe/Jane pain-in-the-butt employee who always disagrees, simply for the sake of disagreeing. Nor am I referring to those schmucks among us who are simply rabble-rousers looking for attention via a cause they can denigrate.

I'm talking about smart, well-intentioned people disagreeing and able to substantiate their disagreement with logic, data, and thought. I believe it's a good thing. So, how do we get it to happen? Well, I'll tell you how...

First, you must provide a forum. There has to be an accepted arena, vehicle, or secret handshake, code-word, or ring-knocking ceremony where those with contrarian views know they can share.

And don't be shy - advertise this forum.

Next, like birth control, there has to be a "safety-first" mentality. Those who may disagree must know (not just hear) that their well-thought, well-intentioned disagreement is welcome - in fact, expected - in the course of regular dialog. And that they won't get shot between the eyes for doing so.

Finally, it's gotta matter. Naysayers, contrarians, devil's advocates - whatever the name - have to see their push-back accepted as input and occasionally alter decision-making some of the time if you really want it to continue.

Being "accepting" is good, but not good enough. You've got to be prepared to actually USE their unpopular inputs. Go figure...

I once worked with a CEO who would frequently tell me that "If you and I always agree, one of us in unnecessary, and I'm keeping my job."

Early diversity at its best. Thanks, Russ.

But, that's just me...

© 2011 Triangle Performance, LLC