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How to Keep Smart People from Killing Each Other

While I am spending a little downtime with my family, I wanted to share with you a timeless article from our Leadership Library.

If you want to poison the well where you work, allow a Certified Jerk to roam free.

Mollycoddling is a pernicious and infectious organism you need to expel from your organization.

No Asshole Diagram

It’s easy to figure out how to deal with the Certified Jerk

This phrase is powerful in so many ways.

Smart people can often be prima donnas – I’ve heard those accusations myself … the smart people part, of course, not the second (and when it has been used, it’s typically disguised in less elegant terms) … but the brilliance of some people is often more blinding than enlightening.

Fortune magazine once asked Dr. Mehmet Oz about the best leadership advice he had ever received.

Keep reading so you don’t miss how to make the tough decisions

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The Four Common Features of Equally Successful but Different Cultures

We’ve been exploring the impact of different cultures and how they affect our organizations.

W hat are the common threads shared by these radically different cultures that you can apply to make your company equally successful?

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“Lary, give this customer a call. We’ve just received an unauthorized return, and I want these shoes sent back. Funny how the green shoes they bought don’t fit and the red ones fit perfectly.”

It wasn’t uncommon for the Chairman of company North (remember, “N” for “Nasty”?) to stop by my office with a message like this. His remarks were actually a code:

“The red shoes sold well but the green ones the customer bought aren’t selling … so now they’re claiming they don’t fit so they can return them. We’ve had no other such complaints. Tell them we won’t accept them and ship them back.”

I made a note to contact the customer, figuring I’d call them after lunch when I would be more likely to catch them three time zones away. No e-mail back then.

Unexpectedly, the Chairman returned to my office 20 minutes later to ask,

“What did they say?”

The first few times this happened I asked,

“Who?” …

failing to make the connection he expected.

While I learned the nuances of merchandising economics with these examples, what I finally realized was that the Chairman expected me to drop everything and call them immediately.

He wasn’t happy,

“What else are you doing?”,

and after a few unpleasant encounters, I finally caught on.

Don’t miss the 4 Common Threads that bind successful companies

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Can Radically Different Cultures Produce Equally Great Results? Part 2.

Last week, in Can Radically Different Cultures Produce Equally Great Results?, I posed the question: If measured by financial performance, can dramatically different organizations be equally successful?

I n this short series about culture development, we’ll take a look at how sound business principles and cultural patterns often collide within an organization’s walls.

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How can opposing cultures both succeed?

In many ways, it doesn’t seem fair that both charitable and churlish cultures can thrive.

It’s easy to embrace the benevolent culture created by Sid Rich (we’ll call it Company South, “S” for Sid) as profiled in the first article in this series.

His company deserves to be successful.

Wouldn’t it be great if that was the company you worked for?

Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value. ~ Albert Einstein

What if you’re stuck on the other side of the tracks?

Contrarily, when you look across the aisle at the rough and tumble world of Company North (“N” for Nasty), highlighted by temper tantrums, public floggings and a petulant devotion to spending a dime on anything, we’re either glad we’re not working there … or wishing we didn’t.

Some powerful lessons are evident as we compare and contrast these companies, their styles and culture, although some lessons are not very inviting.

continue reading to see some of these cultural differences

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Can Radically Different Cultures Produce Equally Great Results?

There’s more emphasis every day on the value and influence of culture on business success.

W hat does it mean if your culture is dysfunctional and your employees think it’s a train wreck?

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“He threw a lead crystal ashtray at his son’s head?“ I asked. ”Thank God he missed.”

“He threw his secretary’s typewriter through a second story window – it wasn’t open – into a parking lot full of cars below?”

These are just a few of the stories I heard after I joined the firm.

You do not lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

Ever feel like you were a galley slave?

In short order, I recognized that the company’s cultural ancestors probably included a toga-clad, sweat-drenched galleon driver pounding out a cadence of “ramming speed” with a wooden mallet.

Their cost-containment strategy was medieval.

Keep reading to capture some of the most important elements of a great culture

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Four Sports Metaphors to Make you a More Effective Leader.

The simple things in life are often the most important … and the most memorable.

T hese are swing thoughts you can put to work immediately … and with powerful results.

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Who can say it better than Yogi …

“A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore”,

“I always thought that record would stand until it was broken”,

“I wish I had an answer to that because I’m tired of answering that question.”

Yes, I know, you’re disappointed this week that I’m not talking about Newton’s Third Law of Motion or The Key to Understanding Quantum Physics … but my brain needs a rest … and I’m still straining with every molecule in my body to understand what Newton’s talking about.

When in doubt – sports.

Sports in this country have become a glutinous conundrum of romance, excitement and heroes, leavened with money, big egos and scandals.

Yet, sports are uniquely imbedded in our culture, and we can still glean valuable lessons from them.

Let me share with you 4 Powerful Sports Metaphors that will help you become a More Effective Leader

To scoop up these 4 nuggets or leave a comment, please click here

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Is Your Leadership Team at the Top of Its Game? | Take This Challenge

Your Leadership Team is the linchpin of your success as well as your organization’s.

H ave you taken a close look at the strengths of your Leadership Team? If there are gaps, what are you doing about it?

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Thermopylae.

Little Big Horn.

Vicksburg.

The Alamo.

For many, these words conjure a spectacle of clubs, spears and cannons … for others a vision of what might have been.

For me, they resound with will, determination and commitment … AND … they are a compelling reminder of how we can apply limited resources to overwhelming challenges.

Sounds like the role of the CEO in today’s demanding economy, doesn’t it … focusing scarce resources on a few critical initiatives?

Is Your Leadership Team up to the Challenge?

Do you recognize that the gaps in your leadership team are the single biggest obstacle to your success?

Continue and take the Leadership Team Challenge

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Happy Birthday, Winston | How Did You Get It All Done?

Today, November 30, is the birthday of Winston Churchill.

H e was born 136 years ago in 1874 … and died 50 years ago in 1965 … yet his talent and prodigious output remains striking to this day.

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Winston Churchill has always been one of my favorite historical characters … and for many reasons. His oratorical wit, style and passion was without peer.

An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity, a pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity. ~Winston Churchill

He had a spine of steel … with discipline and resilience to match, albeit the certainty of his convictions often triggered an abject stubbornness that wasn’t always welcome. It also created no small amount of turmoil.

I suppose some of these attributes can be found among many of us, so by themselves, they may not be so distinctive.

Prime Minister during WWII is only part of his record

To believe is to be strong … Doubt cramps energy … Belief is power. ~Winston Churchill

For me, his greatest distinction is the enormity of his accomplishments.

In most lifetimes, we’d be fortunate to accomplish a fraction of what Churchill got done.

Most notably, he served as the Prime Minister for Great Britain (and for 40+ years in the House of Commons, holding many other cabinet-level positions previously), leading the Allies to victory against the Axis forces during World War II … by most standards, enough to earn eternal praise and approbation.

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The Nobel Prize for Literature

Yet, who else in that same lifetime wrote 43 book-length works in 72 volumes?

Keep reading to learn of Churchill’s extraordinary accomplishments

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Five Lessons for Success from the Alabama Crimson Tide

It’s the heart of the college football season and there are valuable lessons we can learn from the most successful programs.

Y ou don’t have to be a football fan to embrace them. They are timeless lessons that apply to any business.

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“Who’s walking on my field?”

You’re lugging 40 pounds on your back in 100 degree temperature.

Your head’s tucked inside a small capsule like a two-pound sausage in a one-pound casing and sweat’s pouring down your face.

There’s no chance the sun will disappear … it’s only 10 a.m. … and while there’s water everywhere, your reach for the next bottle seems to exceed your grasp.

Oh, yeah, and the boss expects you to be running – not walking – on his field.

Run, don’t walk, to see the 5 Lessons for Success …

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Is it Too Much Trouble to Set Clear Expectations? If so, be prepared for mediocre results

Few executives will admit it’s too much trouble to Set Clear Expectations, even for their direct reports

I f it’s true for you, make sure you’re prepared for plenty of confusion and mediocre results.

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When I talk to executives every day, there’s hardly a conversation that doesn’t include the same 2 things:

  • “Why aren’t I getting more done?”, and
  • “Why aren’t my people getting more done?”

There are several simple and proven leadership tools that can save your bacon many times over.

Don’t stop just because you’ve heard this before

Keep reading for important insights into Setting Clear Expectations

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This is How You Create a Lifelong Customer

In many instances, finding customers can be easier than keeping customers.

T here are a lot of things we can do to get them to show up. But, do we do everything to make sure they keep showing up?

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You don’t have to look very far to find instances where customer service lands with a thud.

Restaurants are a pretty easy target

Restaurants may be one of the easiest targets since we’re in them all the time, so imagine my pleasant surprise to receive a Missed Opportunity check from a Grand Rapids, Michigan restaurant I visited while there to celebrate my Mom’s birthday.

The dish I ordered wasn’t quite up to par, a little dry compared to previous visits.

Keep reading to learn about how to turn the tables on Missed Opportunities

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