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Leadership Can Hurt! -- November 'At C-Level'

D. Kevin Berchelmann, CEO, Triangle Performance, LLC
At C-Level

November 2008

Triangle Performance, LLC

From the Top

Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you have the opportunity to take some time off -- even with all the dynamics and challenges in our world today, we still have much to be thankful for...

Lots of folks are asking about potential salary increases for 2009. In researching the topic, as I do each year, I'm seeing payroll ranges moving a little less than 3.5% on average, when they are moving upward at all.

The elephant in the room, of course, is that many firms -- as many as 2-3x normal -- are freezing compensation levels in 2009.

As a reference point, it's typical -- in all years -- for 5-8% of firms to report "no increase" for the upcoming year. As an additional note... surveys for this topic completed later in the year are revealing lower numbers than those completed earlier. This is clearly a dynamic, evolving issue.

Feel free to download my research and article on the topic http://www.triangleperformance.com/articles/articles/comp_trends_2009.pdf).

As I mentioned last month, I'm completing my annual Survey of Senior Executives. If you haven't yet responded, there's still time, and I would appreciate your input -- here's that link http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=QAgW1aY2U2RiSAoVezRJsw_3d_3d).

Cutoff date is November 28, so act fast. Results will come out before next month's At C-Level, so check your inbox.

For those still wanting to see the results from 2007-2008, you can download that here http://www.triangleperformance.com/articles/seniorsurvey/2007_1_senior_survey.pdf).

Feel free to read my recent articles on Compensation Trends, Circa 2009 http://www.triangleperformance.com/articles/articles/comp_trends_2009.pdf)

...and Teamwork Sucks http://www.triangleperformance.com/articles/articles/teamwork_sucks.pdf),

and as always, I welcome your perusal and gratis downloads of the new and relevant material (articles, papers, etc.) on the website http://www.triangleperformance.com/articles/index.html).

...and don't forget to check out my blog; please comment, complain, or scream at me if you agree, disagree, or just want your opinion read, seen, and heard. Some interesting posts on Leaders vs. Manipulators, Layoffs, and the idiot Detroit automakers.

Berchelmann's Blog (blog.triangleperformance.com)

As always, I hope this finds you well, personally and professionally; please give me a call if I can ever help in any way.

Warm Regards,

D. Kevin Berchelmann


Triangle Performance, LLC




Strategy & Leadership

Leadership Can Hurt!

-- Better wear a helmet...

It's not that leadership is overly complex -- it isn't. It does, however, require a significant amount of skill. Those skills can come from a variety of sources -- good bosses, bad bosses (yes, we learn from idiots and jerks as well), development programs and efforts, mentors, reading, etc. Where we get them is not nearly as important as that we get them.

But even with those skills, many fail. Many stumble badly. Many just plain suck at it. Sometimes it's a "right place and right time" thing. Lots to be said for combining planning and opportunity, right? Frequently, however, leaders stumble because someone in their charge stumbled. Or failed. Or dropped the ball. Or some other nifty cliché.

Or sometimes, it's just plain "stuff happens." Leadership is fraught with risk; we cannot be successful at leading if we are unwilling to stick our neck out from time to time. Sometimes, it seems, our neck can get lopped off when we do...

So, leadership can hurt -- better wear a helmet!

By wearing a helmet (it's a metaphor, folks... you didn't really think I meant wear some goofy headgear, did you??), I mean:

1. Prepare. Develop core leadership skills. Refine them, emulate others (the good ones), collaborate with smart people. In other words, set yourself up to succeed.

2. Plan. This is different than personal preparation as mentioned above. This means get ready for the unexpected. Develop contingency thinking and strategies; seldom do plans -- even great ones -- go off without a hitch. If that "hitch" is something you could have/should have foreseen, shame on you, that's your fault.

Do some "what if" thinking when leading others. Develop rapid decision-making skills, and don't be afraid to "immediately make another decision" when one doesn't work. You've got newer, better information now, so stop riding that dead horse (I'm on a metaphor-roll today...).

3. Finally Execute. Fortune favors the bold. Make hard decisions, make them quickly, and stand behind them solidly, don't waffle a bit. Be willing to immediately change to a "better" decision (see dead horse metaphor above). Take advice from those relevant people around you, then act on it. Patton's "violently executed plan" comes to mind here.

So does Nike's "Just do it."

So, yes, leadership can hurt. Circumstances may change; people will disappoint you; decisions anointed as "great" will turn out to be "not so much..."

Stuff happens. Put on your helmet. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back in there...


Our Cheese has Wheels!

-- Change is good, right??

My typical starting point: "So, I've got this client..."

I was working with some mid-managers at this particular client. The session I was facilitating was on the topic of Leading Change.

Many of you are aware of Spencer Johnson's book, "Who moved my cheese?" Though a bit simplistic, the book describes a pretty good metaphor for "change" in organizations. The basic premise is that companies are comprised of a bunch of mice, who when they find their "cheese" (representing anything comfortable and routine), they don't like that cheese to be moved.


So, we're discussing Leading Change, and the "moving my cheese" metaphor comes up regularly. And not, I might add, in a favorable light. One of the more senior in the group finally stated -- somewhat exasperatedly -- that their cheese "was always being moved." "Hell," he said, "It gets moved so often, our cheese has wheels!"

Our cheese has wheels... now there's a metaphor we can get our arms around. Things are changing so rapidly around us -- some good, some bad, but the constant is change itself. This is a loud call for leadership to step up and do your job -- it's not just driving change, it's making sure others understand it and can help in the efforts.

Remember a couple of things when leading change in your organizations: First, there's only two types of people who like and/or unilaterally accept change from the very beginning -- those who personally control the change, and those who personally benefit.

All the rest are somewhere in the "need to be sold" category, and frankly, we are lousy at getting the right information to the right people when doing this.

Second, we seldom provide enough information to support the change. The best way I can describe this is with a graphic (see below). At the top (Big Kahuna directing the change -- remember above?), there's all the available information -- why, who, what, expectations, rationale, etc.

When the Big Kahuna passes change info down, he doesn't want to overburden all the Little Kahunas, so he only passes down what s/he feels they need to know. This isn't malicious, the Big Kahuna thinks s/he's helping by reducing the information minutiae.

This "halving" of information is probably helpful to those who don't personally implement, but advise or provide functional support. When you reach the first level of Real Manager, information becomes the choke point. The available information continues to decrease slightly, but the need for information, particularly as it reaches first line supervisors, is ravenous.

Here's the problem, folks. We need to reverse available information flow when we reach the "do-ers" in the organization. They do need -- or want, little difference -- that detail left out, that defined minutiae. They are the ones getting asked basic, complicated questions by people who don't always have the overview knowledge of the Kahuna-suite.

You want better change efforts and initiatives?? Quit being miserly about the information. It's not top-secret, there's little reason to withhold, and you may actually get a higher degree of buy-in when people know the real background and why of a particular effort.

When it comes to available information, start sharing the wealth.

Do it now.

c) 2008 Triangle Performance, LLC

Triangle Performance, LLC | 6046 FM 2920 #320 | Spring | TX | 77379
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Name: D. Kevin Berchelmann
Title: President & Founder
Group: Triangle Performance, LLC
Dateline: Spring, TX United States
Direct Phone: 281-257-4442
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