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Leadership, Rules, & Cream-filled Sophistry: At C-Level

D. Kevin Berchelmann
It's Thanksgiving. The fat lady is warming up her voice for 2012's sunset...

The presidential elections are over. To quote Forrest Gump, "and that's all I have to say about that."

I've been busy, and I sincerely hope you have been as well, from a productive and/or profitable sense. My travels this past month have taken me to San Francisco, Baltimore, New York, and Naples. Some good eats (like I need that), and lots of good discussions with folks planning for 2013.

I had lunch recently in Naples, Florida with a colleague, Meg Wheatley. Meg is the author of Leadership and the New Science (seminal work on leadership—a tough but meaningful read that should be part of your library). Meg is a wonderfully bright woman, with definite ideas about leadership—some of which I agree, and some... not so much (sorry, Meg!). For instance: she feels like business should be in "duck and cover" mode, hunkering down until the coast is clear, and more leaders "come to their senses."

I could not disagree with that any more strongly.

Now is most certainly not the time to hunker down—it's the very time we should make sure our strategy is perfected, with enough confidence to take calculated risks, and positioning our organizations for leadership in the near-term, which will better solidify our strength longer-term.

So, no hunkering. You read it here first...

For more on a related subject, see my blog post (link below) on Twinkies: Leadership sophistry with a cream filling)

And if I can help with the leadership development, compensation planning, or strategy parts, you know how to reach me.

Triangle Performance LLC's 2013 Survey of Senior Leadership begins now! You should also receive the survey link in a later email, later this month or early December. This will be our seventh annual survey; the participant rate continues to grow, as does the validity of the data presented. Go here to take the survey.

Our 2012 Survey of Senior Leadership is still available; you can download the summary results for your perusal.

If you need some comparative data for 2013 compensation/payroll adjustments, download our article: Compensation Trends, Circa 2013 – Is that all??  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. I have some more specific data for manufacturing, industrial services, energy, Houston, Texas, and Baltimore. This free report is in its 6th year...

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. Yes, pro-bono means free.

On Stage...! New video, this one is the second in a three-part series on "Leading from Anywhere," this particular video discusses roles and functions or departments.

Who are you, really?? Take a complimentary assessment. (NOTE: those who have taken this, please be patient, results to you within the week—had a glitch on my end.) Find out more about candidates; create a benchmark for skills in your organization, and use as templates for coaching efforts. Go to my assessments page; then click on the link to take and receive your complimentary Personality assessment.

Some newsworthy mentions:

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

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

Given it's compensation season, I'm posting some of my more relevant articles on the subject. Download as needed:

Money Matters -- Fair compensation in turbulent times,

Pay Raises: I'm Thinking of a Number between 0 and 10. -- Yours may be "0", and

You can motivate with Performance Reviews? -- Whouldathunkit?,

...and don't forget to check out my blog; some interesting (I think) posts, like Twinkies: Leadership sophistry with a cream filling, and chasing employee happiness is a crock!... Please comment, complain, or scream at me if you agree, disagree, or just want your opinion read, seen, and heard.

My blog: But that's just me..

Are you social? Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter @TriangleKB, 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 BerchelmannPresident

Triangle Performance,LLC




Strategy & Leadership

Leadership has Rules

-- And we know what they are!

Leaders, new and old, sometimes lose sight of the most fundamental tenets of leadership.

Here's a reminder...

I frequently tell executives that leadership--its concepts, theory, and core applications--haven't changed in a millennium.

Some of our demographics may have changed, forcing us to use alternative applications of those concepts, but the basic concepts and theory remain.

So, why don't we "just do it?" Sometimes we aren't motivated; sometimes the "time" just doesn't seem right. Maybe we simply forgot some of the basics... hence this article.

I use the following rules both for new managers/leaders, as well as for any level of leadership when taking on a new role or new challenges--some good things to not forget.

So, here goes...

Kevin's Survival Kit for Leadership--5 Irrefutable Laws

1. Never delay or abrogate a decision that must be made. Make it and move on. You may have to immediately make another decision; this doesn't mean your first one was wrong, merely that your second one had the benefit of additional knowledge.

When in the military, I worked for a General Lawrence Bose, who would frequently tell me, "Shirt (I was a First Sergeant, called a "Shirt," another looong story), there aren't many "wrong" decisions; it's just sometimes we have to make another decision quickly after the first."

Some truth to that...

2. If you want something specific done, say so specifically, using clear, plain language. Employees generally have some difficulty doing their basic jobs; adding "mind-reading" to their description is just plain unfair.

No hints, implications, or innuendos. Say what you want, and use English! Directness counts.

3. If you always answer employee's every question, you'll forever be answering employees' every question. Questions are teaching moments--don't rob employees of the opportunity.

Sounds trite and I don't mean it to. If an employee is asking simply because they're being intentionally obtuse, get rid of the employee. If they are a decent employee asking because they don't know, then teach them; they'll know next time, and you'll both be better for it.

4. Make your expectations clear, then back up a bit and give employees room to do their job. That doesn't mean "never look back;" to inspect what you expect isn't micro-management, it's just good-management.

Employees--even top performers--need clear expectations. In fact, especially top performers. Give 'em a target, provide resources and guidance, remove obstacles when necessary, and then let them do their job. Check back later, since you still have those specific management responsibilities.

5. Employees need their managers to be leaders; they don't need a shoulder, a buddy, a sympatico, or a commiserator. If you want a friend, buy a dog.

We struggle with this. Everyone wants to be liked, and it always seems difficult to decline a beer after work, or something similar. I'm not advocating a monk-like existence, disallowing any contact with your troops; merely reminding you that they would like to have a friend, but they need you as a leader if they are to be successful.

You do want them to be successful, don't you?

These laws are fairly intuitive, and certainly not rocket science... or brain surgery... or rocket surgery. They are simple management and leadership axioms that have passed the test of time.

Print these out, laminate, and put in your top desk drawer... and don't forget them; your employees certainly will not.

And follow them zealously.


Leadership Communications and Behavior Change

-- If they would only listen to me...

I get it. Really. I do.

It's as aggravating as all "get out" (likely a southern term) when those working for us don't do what we want them to do. Particularly when we tell them what we think they should be doing.

Strange as it sounds, our folks don't always do as we suggest.

Given our obvious intellectual firepower (can they not read the title on our business card?), why, then, would those in our charge not do what we said, suggested, directed, or beamed telepathically??

The short answer is usually, "they don't want to." That, however, makes for a damned short article here, so I'll expand a little...

In general, people willingly accept and implement our advice (or in other words, change their behavior) if and only if...

1. Its relevant,

2. It's practical, and

3. It's presented in a manner acceptable to them

I'll explain...

It's relevant as long as it's top-of-mind for their current thinking. In other words, if you're expecting them to file it away until eventual utility strikes, fuggedaboutit. Not going to happen. It needs to be information, data, or advice that is usable in the near-term, solving something of current concern.

It's practical as long as it has real world applications. If it's some theoretical idea, or some pie-in-the-sky "ism" that you've concocted over a late-night drink, save your breath. Sharing it with them at this unproven stage will simply accelerate the glassy-eyed stare from a subordinate that we've all come to love. It needs to be meaningful to be, well, meaningful.

Finally, the toughest part: the input, advice, or feedback must be presented to them in a manner acceptable to them. I'll say that again--acceptable to the employee, not to you.

This is one of the more common things I work with when coaching executives and senior managers. It doesn't matter if you're right, it only matters if it actually influences or changes their behavior. If you use that as your litmus, it should become clearer.

For example: many more senior leaders gravitate toward logic and fact. Now, I know you're thinking, "Well, duh, Kevin!" Hear me out, though. You're only representing about half the working population.

The other half resides in the land of emotion. Where facts are facts, alright, but they don't necessarily mean "I agree." You see this all the time, without really realizing it. You know you're dealing with it when responses include. "Yes, but I still believe..." or "I know, but..." or my favorite, "It's just not that simple..." All of these point to someone relying more on emotion than fact; remember, if you're trying to influence or change behavior, you've got to meet them on their terms, not yours.

Or, as my grandmother used to say, "If you walk out in front of a Mack truck because you have a green light, you're right. And you're still dead."

But that's just me...

Triangle Performance, LLC | 6046 FM 2920 #320 | Spring | TX | 77379

News Media Interview Contact
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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