Category Archives: Leadership
You may be familiar with the analogy story of placing a frog in boiling water. But if not, here’s the anecdote, as referenced from Wikipedia:
The boiling frog is a parable describing a frog being slowly boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability or unwillingness of people to react to or be aware of threats that arise gradually.
So in relation to organizational culutre, my question to you is:
Is your culture cooked because no one percieved the danger around them?
Business history is replete with Enrons and Worldcoms deteriorating from a poor culture that grew rampant from within. Likewise, many nations have collapsed from having their culture diluted – think the Roman Empire on these lines.
We all have had our experiences with organizations that cooked their cultural frog. I myself worked for a company that was hijacked from the top by going counter to what the company’s founder and his employees worked hard to establish. By the time he realized what was going on, it was too late to reverse course and the company is now a shell of what it once was.
To prevent gradual heat from cooking your organization’s culture, here are some questions to ask yourself as a guide to keeping your cuklture pure and intact:
- Ensure your culture is promoted and marketed constantly throughout your company
- Don’t allow personalities or behaviors to come in and slowly erode your culture
- Measure every employee and leader through objective culture measures
- Mark the non-negotiable that cannot shift on your core values
- Ensure all business ventures, partnerships, and strategic alignments meet your cultural criteria
- The higher level of scope or responsibility, the larger the scale of checks-and-balances and accountability
- Make quick work (ie – cut loose) any individual who displays counter-culture behaviors
- Don’t compromise, or as Jim Collins says, preserve the core
- Hold open communication to allow the orgnaizaiton to mention any variations or concerns
- Objectively discern what behaviors may threaten to veer the vision off course
If this sounds like fairy tale business with no realty in today’s marketplace, I urge you to read this piece on the Market Basket takeover battle of 2014. In a battle that led one cousin to strip the other cousin of his role in order to takeover the grocery chain and bolster profits, the employees protested without working for weeks and brought the chain to it’s knees. this ultimately led to the favored cousin’s reinstatement and return to the company culture that made it a solid brand among it’s employees and customers.
Be steadfast and discerning about your culture. Stay vigilant to ensure what impact you’ve set out to make is seen through continually.
(boiling frog source: wikipedia)
(market basket article: bbc)
Have you ever noticed how emergency service providers – EMT’s, police, firefighters, doctors, lifeguards – don’t rush right into the scene of an accident? And have you ever considered why that is?
Think about what happens in our daily lives. We can get so bogged down by details and seeming urgencies that we lose sight of the landscape, and oftentimes the really important and critical matters that will make the largest impact to those we lead and serve.
This is the premise for responding to a scene of an accident. When the ambulance arrives, they don’t rush in and start reacting. They walk carefully into the heart of the scene to understand the incident and size up any potential danger. They don’t stop and treat the first injured person they see; instead they survey those injured and make note of the critical versus the minor injuries. From that, they can assess who needs the most urgent attention and can have a greater chance to save lives versus treating as they come across and missing a critical injury further down the scene.
This approach can serve our leadership influence well. A great leader will take these steps out of an emergency service providers’ playbook to be more effective in any matter:
- Get to the heart of the matter. Don’t stand on the sidelines, but get in the trenches to understand the issue.
- Don’t rush in. Take the time to delve into the situation, carefully observing all the variables and factors. Don’t prejudice your understanding before you truly know.
- Remove danger. If there is a critical matter that will profoundly and adversely affect everyone, address it and remove the situation by resolving it. As EMT’s remove people from an exploding gas tank, leaders need to remove their people and organization from those volatile situations before they can treat the other issues at hand.
- Triage. It’s easy to think you’re effective treating the first surface issue that comes across. yet you’re more effective and helpful when you see everyone involved and what the greatest and most urgent needs are.
- Touch every affected person. People affected by even collateral damage in a situation need to be identified and treated as well. Make sure your approach is complete and everyone is accounted for.
- Clean up. Once the scene is controlled and everyone is tended to, then create a clean up plan. Changes in systems, preventative measures, training, and perhaps noticing the signs that caused the incident will prevent future issues down the road.
- Most important – STAY CALM. A doctor or lifeguard that panics or gets excitable or overly emotional will cause nothing but anxiety in those they are supposed to be helping. Calming down a situation involves keeping yourself calm in order to instill a sense of control and hope in others during these crisis.
Great leaders make this a deliberate habit in their lives. By understanding these steps, you can meet any situation and come to the rescue to make your organization and people safer, stronger, and more secure down the road.
Have a story or strategy along this thinking that works in these situations? Would love to hear your input!
In recent weeks the area I live has been subject to much rain. So much in fact that certain areas have washed away in part; some a little, some quite a lot.
In the course of time and entropy, the elements that something is exposed to can wear it down. It often takes an outside agent for those items to be built back again, whether to maintain or to enhance.
Our leadership growth trajectory can be like that in many ways.
We often experience period of erosion in our growth and effectiveness, both professionally and personally. That step backwards can from from the external elements we find ourselves in. More often than not, those contributing factors come within our own selves.
In these times we can get discouraged from our failures and our paralysis to shore up ourselves will lead to further and more rapid erosion, lost credibility, and uselessness to every sphere we hope to influence.
But unlike the roadway which cannot repair itself, we can be our own agents for change. by learning form what derailed us, first within ourselves then in our response to those external to us, we can shift the momentum of our leadership influence into an upward trajectory and back on the path of growth and success.
And if that is a challenge, we can still rely on those agents other than self to help us. Our mentors, coaches, spouses, pastors, and colleagues can be great resources to get back in the game, if we are willing to let them help us.
Life and leadership are intertwined, and the object lessons in both are the same in many respects. Our growth is never a liner upward line, but usually a 1 step backward and 2 steps forward plodding over time that reaps positive results and tremendous impact to those around us.
Resolve today to take those 2 steps forward. Don’t allow your stumbling to hold you there. Look to improve your response, missteps, and faults and then charge forward to improve to build upon that resolve and revelation into your leadership character.
It’s always important to realize your shortfalls. It’s even more important to move on from them.