Triangle PerformanceAt C-Level

From the Top

We're in Q4 of 2012... where has the year gone?

If you're anything like me, the time is whipping by waaaay too fast. And not just because it means I'm getting older, though that's obviously true. It just feels like I need more year to get done the things I need to for 2012. Ever feel that way? The reality of course, is that either we're on plan/schedule/budget, or something didn't work right. Something that we control, or could have controlled.

Like I mentioned last month: rationalize 'till you're blue if it makes you feel're either on-target or you're behind. Anything else is sophistry.

Triangle Performance LLC's 2012 Survey of Senior Leadership (our sixth annual) is available, and with almost 15% more respondents than last year, a rousing success, and as usual, quite enlightening!

Revenue/Earnings Enhancement continues to lead the way, and Management/Leadership Performance continues be a big deal. Clear Vision & Strategy are again important, and have been since we began surveying.

The summary results can be yours by downloading here.

More surveys... Many of you have, so I'm opening the 2013 Survey of Compensation Trends today.

This will be our seventh consecutive annual survey on the topic. There are just a few brief questions for this one, taking you just a minute or two, and you can find that link here:

2013 Survey of Compensation Trends

Freebie Alert...
I'll be finishing my 2013 pro-bono plan in November. This is a major part of my consulting practice, and a necessary part of my personal life. Please contact me if you know of a worthy, charitable not-for-profit that could use some help with leadership, strategy, coaching, or related challenges. Pro-bono means free.

On Stage...! New video, this one is the first in a three-part series on "Leading from Anywhere," this particular video discusses geography.

Who are you, really?? Take a complimentary assessment. Find out more about candidates; create a benchmark for skills in your organization, and use as templates for coaching efforts. Click here to go to my assessments page; then click on the link to take and receive a complimentary Personality assessment.

I'm in the news (in a good way!)...

My Houston Business Journal feature covering 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'm speaking to an internal leadership group in October on Leadership: Fundamental Lessons for the Senior Team.

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...

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:

Purposeful Leadership-- It's not a technicality, and

Money Matters-- Fair compensation in turbulent times

...and don't forget to check out my blog, But that's just me...; some interesting (I think) posts, like Employee Engagement--Measure it or Forget it!, and Leadership Shake-up--5 ways to make things happen... please comment, complain, or scream at me if you agree, disagree, or just want your opinion read, seen, and heard

Are you social? Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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.

Warm Regards,

D. Kevin Berchelmann

D. Kevin Berchelmann
Triangle Performance, LLC






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Strategy & Leadership

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Responsibility, Accountability, and Leadership
-- A how-to guide...

I recently had a conversation with some really smart people around our colleague, Dan Pink, and his new book Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. Read the book, it's a good one, discussing how intrinsic motivation trumps extrinsic almost all the time. If you were expecting me to now give you some detailed book review, you're about to be disappointed.

As these things often do, we ended up in an extended "bunny trail" conversation around the whole subject of individual responsibility and accountability, and what that really meant from a leadership perspective.

Here's what we discovered during our lengthy and oft-times overly pseudo-cerebral discussions:

Responsibility--the easiest part. Responsibility is simply a list of things we do, tasks we perform, jobs we are given. Alan Weiss called this "inputs." You can be responsible for myriad things, both that you specifically control, and some... well, not so much.

In my world, I'm responsible for providing proposals, answering emails and calls, responding promptly to clients, advising on various things within my expertise, teaching, coaching, etc.

These are all Responsibilities.

Accountability--it's not the same as "blame," per se, though there is a certain sect of people who would ascribe such. No, it's bigger than that, yet infinitely simpler. It's the outcomes of our responsibilities. It's the results expected from our inputs.

For me, improved leadership behavior, demonstrably better skills, increased performance of a business, function, or enterprise (that actually follows my consulting or advice!) are all Accountabilities. It's the results or outcomes of my Responsibilities.

We often confuse these two, yet the differences are both clear and significant. Pay attention to them.

Leadership--heavily influences both Responsibility and Accountability. For instance, we influence--actually determine--what a subordinate's Responsibilities will be. We tell them what we want them to do, what we expect them to be working on, when to be there, etc. Leaders have, quite literally, 100% control (there's that word) over employee Responsibilities.

Now Accountability gets a bit fuzzier.

Yes, leadership determines, from a starting level, what results and/or outcomes that an employee will be Accountable for (sorry for the dreaded stranded preposition--couldn't be helped). But there is also a measure of personal acceptance required for real Accountability to be visible to others--an important component.

An employee can be Accountable "because I said so," but evidence of that employee actually accepting that Accountability requires a willingness on their part to demonstrate that accountability openly, e.g., "Yes, I did that," "No, it wasn't an accident, it was my intent," "That was my responsibility, and I didn't do it," and so on. These demonstrate acceptance of accountability, and that's something only the individual can do.

Now, leadership clearly influences all of this. Leadership has to make sure that Responsibilities are clear, reasonable, and have value. Leaders must also ensure that an environment exists where accepting Accountability is not necessarily fatal; that demonstrating Accountability is a mark of courage and success, not of weakness and/or failure.

This, of course, is the heavy-lifting part.


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Micro-Management & Pace-Cars:
-- Nobody really wants either of them around

NASCAR racing is the #1 spectator sport in the world, with a single event-the Daytona 500-collecting almost 20 million viewers. I'm not necessarily a huge racing fan, but apparently many are...

Now, these cars are hurtling around an oval track at speeds approaching-and sometimes even exceeding-200 miles per hour. Even the curves of the track are banked-some nearly 35 degrees-to allow the drives to keep those speeds up, even while turning.

In other words, steps are taken to make certain that cars can go fast; that there aren't any artificially-created impediments to their driving success. The cars, then, are capable of moving as fast as they are capable of...

...until, that dreaded pace car shows up.

Pace cars generally surface whenever there's a problem. In NASCAR, a pace car is a car which limits the speed of competing cars on a racetrack in the case of a caution period, such as an obstruction on the track.

The pace car enters the track ahead of the leader; drivers, then, are not allowed to pass the pace car (or anyone else, for that matter) while the pace car leads the field at a pre-determined speed, which may vary by race. Regardless, this pace car limits the speed of all the other cars.

Nobody really likes to see the pace car on the track. Broadcasters don't like it (picture trying to excitedly narrate a leisurely, circular drive); fans don't like it (no one is racing, they came for a race), and the racecar drivers certainly don't like it, since they came to the race to, well, race, and that means going as fast as they can.

Micro-managers are like pace cars. For instance:

  1. The micro-manager is in absolute, total control over all other things trying to perform their designed functions. Everyone is watching the micro-manager, wondering when s/he will leave the office, allowing those powerful followers the opportunity to sprint into action, racing for success.

    Sound familiar? How many times have we experienced-ourselves or through another-someone so very capable of performing but under the control of a management "pace car?"

  2. Their speed is self-limiting. Make no mistake; though they may not have the speeds of some of those thoroughbreds under their charge, most pace cars are fast. Many are capable of speeds up to 190 miles per hour; all can likely do almost 150 miles per hour.

    Can your Prius do that? Or even your Lexus?

    Micro-managers are equally self-limiting. They may have personal capabilities far beyond their self-imposed limitations, but their need to control the performance and/or behaviors of others (like the pace car) overrides their natural, innate abilities.

    Instead of focusing on what they could do under any given circumstances, they instead focus on those speed-limiting control aspects of their team. This, of course, leads directly to...

  3. No one can go any faster than the micro-manager. The penalty for a NASCAR driver passing a pace car is generally being sent to the back of the racecar pack. The penalty for "going around" an organization's micro-manager is likely a similar demotion.

    This third element is why senior leaders-assuming they aren't thee micro-manager(s) in question-should not tolerate this errant style of leadership; the organization is effectively saddled with a "governor" of sorts-a speed control or speed limiting device-where nothing and/or no one can go faster than that micro-manager.

    Seems a bit stupid, to me.

And since micro-managers are seldom your absolute best performers, folks, they most certainly are holding your organization as a whole, and certainly some of your top performers, back.

In NASCAR, at least, they do have one advantage over the micro-manager: At the end of the caution period, the safety car leaves the track and the competitors may resume racing.

Micro-managers invariably have tons of reasons why they behave in such a manner. Here's the real skinny: either...

a) The people working for them are incompetent and should be summarily whacked, or

b) The micro-manager is simply a natural control freak, using archaic, unnecessary management tactics solely to "lift his or her leg" on each action or transaction.

Tell him (or her) to stop.

Make it a performance issue, Manage it away, or manage the micro-manager out. The organization-and all the racecars-will thank you.

But that's just me...

© 2012 Triangle Performance, LLC