5 conversations

In the book “It’s the Manager” they discuss the 5 conversations to improve a company culture and work environment to increase employee engagement.

1. Role and Relationship Orientation: This typically last 1-4 hours once a year where managers define what success looks like in the individual’s role and how their work relatives to their coworkers’ expectations.

2. Quick Connect: Some attention, no matter what form, is better than no attention. Ongoing conversations that are rooted in the individual’s strengths are the most engaging.

3. Check-In: Managers and employees review successes and barriers and align and reset priorities. Managers should check-in once or twice a month, and they should last 10-30 minutes depending on employee’s needs and responsibilities.

4. Developmental Coaching: The true art and arguably the most difficult type of conversation to master. Most effective when the manager knows the employee well and understands their unique personality. Manager should have these 10 to 30 minute conversations based on project assignments and development opportunities. The purpose is to give the employee direction, support and advice when exploring career, aspirational or developmental opportunities.

5. Progress Review: Conversations that are powerful coaching tools when they focus on celebrating success, preparing for future achievements, and planning for development and growth opportunities. Formal progress review conversations should happen at least twice a year for 1 to 3 hours.

This may seem on the surface to be overwhelming doing these 5 conversations. In actuality, these conversations make managing employees more efficient and ultimately, they will save managers significant time. Successful ongoing coaching, employees will put less energetic toward misguided work efforts and unproductive politics that hurt a business.

Becoming an effective coach is the one thing a manager can do that will make most things they currently do easier or unnecessary.

For more details I encourage others to read “It’s the Manager”


Vulnerability Leadership

In “Good to Great” we learn of the Level 5 leader.  One whom is  both humble and exhibits professional will.  Humility is more about attitude of accomplishment rather than submissiveness.  The pursuit of humility in this case means it is more about the company or groups success than the individual.  Professional will meaning you will do whatever it takes to accomplish the objective.  Rigorous not ruthless pursuit of the end goal with your mind set on the next step not the finish line.

In the “Culture Code” we learn the story of Dave Cooper and Seal team 6.  Dave’s team had been captured during an objective when is team was not working as one.  This experience caused Dave to figure out a new way to lead.  How to get a group of people to ignore authority bias and work together.  Putting the team ahead of personal accomplishment.  Cooper used phrases like “backbone of humility” to describe his debrief sessions where seals had to give honest, truthful, hard feedback about what went wrong and who needs to do better.  In the book it states “It’s a useful phrase because it captures the paradoxical  nature of the task: relentless willingness to see the truth and take ownership.”

In my pursuit in life to achieve Level 5 leadership I appreciated this example of what I need to do differently.   Lead with questions and empower my teams to hold each other accountable to achievement.  This will take practice so I will continue to study strength based leadership and other leaders that lead with humility and professional will.  Or how I have come to understand it Vulnerability Leadership.

Quit Lying to Yourself

“It is fairly common for people who don’t get what they want to provide justifications—and even lie to themselves—by minimizing how valuable success is to them. It’s easy to spot this trend in our society today within entire demographics and population segments. You can read it in books, hear it in church, and see it promoted in schools. For example, children who can’t get what they want will fight for a little while, cry for a bit, and then convince themselves that they never wanted it in the first place. It is entirely okay to admit that you wanted something that didn’t come to fruition. In fact, this is the only thing that will help you eventually reach that goal—despite the obstacles you’ll encounter along the way.”

Excerpt From

The 10X Rule

Grant Cardone

Mirror and window

“Level 5 leaders look out the window to attribute success to factors other than themselves. When things go poorly, however, they look in the mirror and blame themselves, taking full responsibility. The comparison CEOs often did just the opposite—they looked in the mirror to take credit for success, but out the window to assign blame for disappointing results.”

Excerpt From

Good to Great

Jim Collins

Good is the enemy…

Do you settle for good enough?

“Good is the enemy of great.

And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great.

We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life. The vast majority of companies never become great, precisely because the vast majority become quite good—and that is their main problem.”

Excerpt From

Good to Great

Jim Collins

The Stockdale Paradox, Good to Great

In Good to Great, Jim Collins references The Stockdale Paradox. It is named after admiral Jim Stockdale, who was a United States military officer held captive for eight years during the Vietnam War.  Stockdale was tortured more than twenty times by his captors, and never had much reason to believe he would survive the prison camp and someday get to see his wife again.  And yet, as Stockdale told Collins, he never lost faith during his ordeal:

“I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”

While Stockdale had remarkable faith in the unknowable, he noted that it was always the most optimistic of his prison mates who failed to make it out of there alive.
“They were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”

What the optimists failed to do was confront the reality of their situation. They preferred the ostrich approach, sticking their heads in the sand and hoping for the difficulties to go away. That self-delusion might have made it easier on them in the short-term, but when they were eventually forced to face reality, it had become too much and they couldn’t handle it.

Stockdale approached adversity with a very different mindset: he accepted the reality of his situation.  Stockdale knew he was in hell, but, rather than bury his head in the sand, he stepped up and did everything he could to lift the morale and prolong the lives of his fellow prisoners.

He created a tapping code so they could communicate with each other. He developed a milestone system that helped them deal with torture. And he sent intelligence information to his wife, hidden in the seemingly innocent letters he wrote.

Collins and his team observed a similar mindset in the good-to-great companies. They labeled it the Stockdale Paradox and described it like so:  You must retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties and at the same time, you must confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.
The Stockdale Paradox carries an important lesson in life, a lesson in faith and honesty. Never doubt you can achieve your goals, no matter how ambitious they may be and no matter how many critics you may have.

Always take honest stock of your current situation. Be careful not to lie to yourself for fear of short-term embarrassment or discomfort, because such deception will only come back to defeat you in the end.

The first half of this paradox is relatively easy, since optimism really isn’t that hard. You just choose to believe that it will all turn out for the best, and everything that happens to you is a means to that end. Simple as. But optimism on its own can be a dangerous thing.
There’s no difference between a pessimist who says, “Oh, it’s hopeless, so don’t bother doing anything,” and an optimist who says, “Don’t bother doing anything, it’s going to turn out fine anyway.” Either way, nothing happens. – Yvon Chouinard

To embrace the second half of the Stockdale Paradox and truly really make strides you must combine that optimism with brutal honesty and a willingness to take action.
Look, nobody likes admitting that they’re overweight, that they’re broke, that they’ve chosen the wrong career or that their marriage is falling apart. But admitting such truths is an absolute necessity if you want to grow and improve.

At times it might feel like you’re taking a steps backward, but you can view that retreat as the pull-back on a sling shot: you’re just setting yourself up to make significant progress down the road.