My friend Lee Colan is the author of 13 books and the co-founder of The L Group. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with him about leadership and attitude and consistent execution (or what Lee calls adherence).
Lee reminds us that so much of our success starts with our thoughts. Thoughts influence our beliefs, which influence our words. Our words reflect our commitments, which influence our choice of actions. Ultimately, our actions influence the results we achieve.
But it all starts with the thoughts in our head.
As Lee says it, “Your thoughts today lead to your results tomorrow.”
In this brief interview, Lee shares more about this model and why consistent execution is so important.
Below are a few stand-out quotes from Lee:
“Your thoughts today lead to your results tomorrow.” –Lee Colan
In all of the organizations I have had the privilege to lead, I am always thinking and focusing on culture. Culture, to me, is important both at home and at work. It is the engine that either limits potential or sustains success.
“Transforming culture is the real leadership work.” –John Mattone
John Mattone has been featured here before. He’s a leadership guru, a top-ranked CEO coach, and runs a top-ranked leadership blog. Whenever he contacts me, I know that I will learn something. I recently had the opportunity to talk with him about his latest work.
“The culture you create and reinforce will determine your success.” –John Mattone
When you talk about cultural transformation, what are you referring to? Under what circumstances might a company look to transform its culture?
Always. The need to transform culture and ensure that you always have the culture in place to drive sustained operating success is a never-ending pursuit and business priority. A healthy, vibrant and mature culture will drive success and keep any organization “ahead of the curve.” So many factors are creating “disruption” in all sectors—digitization, globalization, and the need to operate at two-speeds (fast in emerging economies, slower in mature economies). Traditional differentiators like size, scope, legacy and market position are no longer differentiators. To stay ahead of the curve, CEO’s and senior teams must always be re-thinking, re-shaping, and reinventing their own purpose as well as the purpose of the enterprise. It is no longer about the company you want to create; it is now much more about the company that you must create.
Copyright John Mattone and Nick Vaidya; Used by Permission
“The need to transform culture is a never-ending pursuit and business priority.” –John Mattone
How do you define what is the right culture for your organization?
You have to be passionate and diligent about measuring everything. This is the 6th step of my Cultural Transformation Model. Measuring operating metrics is part of it. Measuring the effectiveness of your talent systems, your engagement levels, and getting views from your customers and suppliers, and actually measuring what’s working and not working in your culture are all critical. Ultimately, it’s about leveraging your strengths and gifts—the positive legacy aspects of your business (and culture) and addressing the “gaps” and having a laser-focus discipline is what’s required. Sometimes, the C-level team determines based on this “world of feedback” that the company must become more innovative. This will then lead to strategies on how to recruit and select talent who possess the capability to be agile, nimble and innovative. Prescription before diagnosis is malpractice in medicine. However, I would say the same principle applies in the world of corporate reinvention and renewal.
Copyright John Mattone and Nick Vaidya; Used by Permission
“A healthy, vibrant and mature culture will drive success.” –John Mattone
Culture is established by both communication and action. People will listen to what you say, but they will closely watch and emulate what you do. Action on large, highly visible initiatives will certainly make priorities and culture clear in a big way. However, it takes time to formulate and communicate large initiatives, plus it often takes time for the results to be achieved and visible. Action on small initiatives while larger actions are in progress can be very effective.
“Culture is established by communication and action.” -Bruce Rhoades
Good leaders interact with the organization at all levels and with cross-functional teams. Many times during these interactions, opportunities to take action on smaller issues will present themselves. These small opportunities are issues, changes, or decisions that can be addressed by a few of those directly involved without much involvement from the leader. They can solve small customer irritations, eliminate frustrations and inefficiencies in a process or a department, drive a decision or make a localized change. I am a big proponent of taking proper action on selected small opportunities. One of my favorite sayings is, “Never underestimate the effect of taking action on small things.”
Here is why:
“Never underestimate the effect of taking action on small things.”
10 Major Benefits of Taking Action On Small Things
Accelerates Empowerment and Learning: Action on small issues will build organizational confidence, get quick results and allow people to learn from mistakes that have smaller consequences and reduced visibility. It helps people cultivate their leadership.
Teaches Delegation: When done correctly, implementing action on small changes teaches others how to delegate, how to decide who needs to be involved in developing action and approval, how to form a collaborative team and how to involve and grow others.
Improves Accountability and Decisiveness: When a small team is empowered to take action on smaller decisions, they become more comfortable with accountability and find it easier to make decisions. Using smaller initiatives also provides decision-making experience for more people at many levels in the organization.
Boosts Career Satisfaction: Since many small actions are localized to specific processes or departments, they can help remove daily irritations that hinder department or operational processes. At the same time, people learn that they can assume more responsibility and make a difference for the organization.
Enhances Collaboration and Team Building: With more small actions, a larger number of people are able to participate in collaborative problem solving and work together with a variety of defined roles to implement change. The benefit is that more people in the organization can gain experience, grow and achieve results.
“Taking action on small things rapidly creates an empowered workplace.” -Bruce Rhoades
Improves Communication: When a leader is able to initiate many small actions at different levels of the organization, or with various teams, it helps to “flatten” the organization, cut through bureaucracy and allow a larger population to see the leader in action. People become more comfortable communicating with the leader and each other. Additionally, small initiatives to implement change can get more people communicating who normally would not do so.
Were you were born between 1980 and 2000 and are or aspire to be in a senior management position?
Do you have a boss who is younger than you from this generation?
I’m always fascinated by the research that shows how various generations act and react. Sure, the research often results in generalizations. Some of us may resist or see the exceptions. Still, there’s no denying that there is truth in the research that may help you become a better leader. Perceptions about each generation shape how we manage and lead.
Chip Espinoza is a noted expert on generational dynamics and especially the Millennial generation. How to manage them is often a subject, but increasingly it will shift to how this generation will lead and manage others.
“Invest in yourself before you expect others to invest in you.” -Chip Espinoza
What are some of the characteristics of Millennials?
Ambiguity is their kryptonite. If you want to freak a Millennial out, be ambiguous. Millennials believe everything is negotiable, and they expect authority figures to be friendly, helpful, and their advocate.
Career development is their love language, and they expect to have a voice in the organizations they work for—from day one. They also tend to confuse quantity with quality. For example, in college, if there is a 10-12 page paper assigned, if they write 12 pages, they often will think it warrants an A.
It is important to understand that intrinsic values drive behavior. Millennials have some very admirable values when it comes to work, but their behaviors are often misunderstood or misinterpreted.
Here are some intrinsic values of Millennials and how managers characterize them:
Millennials express a desire to do what they want when they want, have the schedule they want, and not worry about someone micromanaging them. They don’t feel they should have to conform to office processes as long as they complete their work.
Millennials express that they deserve to be recognized and rewarded. They want to move up the ladder quickly but not always on management’s terms. They want a guarantee for their performance, not just the opportunity to perform.
Millennials are recognized for having a great imagination and can offer a fresh perspective and unique insight into a myriad of situations. Their imagination can distract them from participating in an ordered or mechanistic process or from focusing on solutions that are viable under organizational constraints like timelines and budgets.
Millennials are perceived as primarily concerned with how they are treated rather than how they treat others. Tasks are seen as a means to their ends. Millennials are often preoccupied with their own personal need for trust, encouragement, and praise.
Millennials often experience anger, guardedness, offense, and resentment, and they shift responsibility in response to critique and evaluation. They want to be told when they are doing well, but they are not used to being told when they are doing poorly.
Perhaps due to technology, Millennial communication style can be experienced as curt. They are perceived as inattentive to social courtesies like knowing when to say thank you and please. Whether intentional or not, their behavior is interpreted as disrespectful or usurping authority.
Millennials struggle with cause-and-effect relationships. The struggle is perceived as a narrow-sightedness guided by internal interests, without an understanding of how others and the organization are impacted.
Millennials, as a cohort, are recognized for their intellectual ability but are often perceived to struggle with a lack of attention to detail. They have a hard time staying focused on tasks for which they have no interest.
Intrinsic Value: Meaning | Managerial Perception: Indifferent
Millennials find little energy in doing things they don’t consider to be meaningful. As a result, they are perceived as careless, apathetic, or lacking commitment.
“To attract followers a leader has to be many things to many people. The trick is to pull that off while remaining true to yourself.” -Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones
Let’s start with the first word in the title of your book, Contagious Culture. How are leaders contagious?
In so many ways: our mindset, our regard for others, our attitude, our energy – it’s all contagious. Going a bit deeper, I look at “contagious” in two ways: 1) how a leader makes others feel, and 2) how he or she influences how others show up by how he or she shows up.
A leader’s intention, energy, and presence has a big impact and huge influence on the people around her. It’s felt in her presence, how she shows up in a room, how she regards others. People respond to that and are either inspired and uplifted by it or demotivated and deflated by it. The minute a leader walks into a room he or she is setting the tone – if they’re in a good mood, people feel it. If they’re in a bad mood, people feel it. If they’re optimistic, people feel it. If they’re worried, people feel it. We are always having an impact with our presence and how we show up. This impact is felt by those around us and is often paid forward.
Just think of the last time you were in a conversation and in a good mood, and the person you’re talking to starts complaining or gossiping or their energy is just negative, and all of a sudden you start to find yourself complaining, gossiping, feeling negative. Or, you have a positive regard for someone in your company, and a leader in the company starts to “bad mouth” them – even in a lightly nuanced manner, and you start to feel your regard shift. You’ve “caught” that person’s state. We do it all the time. It’s easy to match a “low vibe” or “negative state.” We’re driving our kids to school and we’re in a funk, all of a sudden the whole car is in a funk. You’re in a great mood, your teenager is giving you grief, and slowly but surely you feel your energy start to drop and that good mood turns bad. The company is going through a challenging time, and the energy of doom and gloom starts to take over. Fortunately it works both ways… An executive with great energy and presence walks into a room, and all of a sudden the room feels lighter, creative, more alive. You’re in a funk, you have a quick chat with a colleague who’s got great energy, or meet a random stranger in an elevator who feels nice to be around, and voila, your state starts to shift. You’re feeling “ick” about one of your colleagues and someone shares positive regard for them, and you get a glimpse into another possibility.
At the end of the day when you want to look at how you feel walking away or walking into something (a conversation, a meeting, a room) – do you feel good, big, fuller, awake, expansive? Or do you feel exhausted, small, drained, yucky, constrictive? That’s energy – and it’s contagious. It works for the positive (it’s a super power) and it also works for the negative. Gossip, complaining, making stories up, regarding other people poorly, negative energy, these are all contagious and highly influential. Fortunately it works the other way too: accountability, seeing the good in people, optimism, and positive energy. We can choose which way we want it to go and that takes leadership.
“You become what you believe, decide, and act upon.” -Anese Cavanaugh
5 Components of Showing Up With Intentional Energetic Presence (IEP)
You developed the 5 Components of Showing Up With Intentional Energetic Presence. How’d you develop this model?
This came from experiencing for myself and watching over and over again with clients and our program participants the cycle of how I notice “impact” and “showing up” really happens – and what’s necessary to make it sustainable and effective. When I broke it down, I could see these 5 components forming a cycle. You can enter at any point, but you need all five. Some days, depending on where you’re at and what you need (and what the room, project, your team, or the other person needs), the entry point might be different.
I find that intention and impact are really good book ends or anchors – what’s your intention for the impact you want to create? Your energy, your presence, and your actions & skills are going to help make it so. I noticed years ago that people often would go really heavy on one or two of these components, but they’d leave out the others and it would cost them – impact, relationships, peace, results – so I put them all together. These work with the IEP Leadership Model shared in the book, in that each level of the model helps strengthen and nourish these 5 components.
“Your meetings and agreements are where culture shows up.” -Anese Cavanaugh