The last two weeks have been packed full with client work in five cities necessitating plane, train and automobile travel through nine states! I write this while flying the final leg home; so far, the travel has been uneventful, except for auto traffic during rush hours in a few major metropolitan areas.
The variety of client work included:
- Facilitating a session with a business owner and his leadership team to develop a 3 year strategic plan for an organization with plans to grow from about $30M to $65M during this time.
- Consulting with a $12M service company started by 3 partners over 30 years ago who desire to develop the next generation of leaders and begin the transfer of ownership.
- Working with a team of 4 who are the key leaders of a $500M construction project. There was a significant lack of trust among the group which needed some outside help to address.
- One-on-one coaching of 3 up and coming leaders in a $200M regional office in an intentional effort to prepare these leaders to run this business within a few years.
- A year-end review and planning session for the leaderships team of a highly regulated business with global operations.
The variety of work and engagement is very enjoyable to me; the travel, not so much. Reflecting on the last couple of weeks, I have a number of observations I hope you will find of interest.
- We Assume Way Too Much – In each client situation, assumptions about the knowledge and commitment level we think other people have is usually inaccurate and leads to many, many misunderstandings. Leaders assume those on their team have the necessary knowledge, facts and required information necessary to perform expected tasks or move projects forward.
As it turns out, nothing could be further from reality. In each case, I was able to help the client understand the assumptions they were making and to help identify how the assumption can be avoided in future interactions. This insight alone will have immense value for years to come.
- Conflict Avoidance Is Not A Good Strategy – Whenever two or more people attempt to work on a common goal, the opportunity for conflict is very real simply because capability, knowledge, commitment level and life in general are often different for each person.
Conflict doesn’t have to be nasty; on the contrary, healthy conflict can and does lead to greater levels of commitment to the final decision which is made. Conflict is inevitable, and successful teams know how to have healthy, productive conflict.
This team learned and applied a simple model which not only will develop trust; it will increase the profits the firm can retain.
- Great Results Can Only Happen When Expectations Are Clear – Leaders expect certain results to be achieved, yet in each situation over the past 10 days, their expectations were not clearly communicated. This resulted in rework, delays, misunderstandings and stress – all of which could have been avoided if the leader took the time to ensure the expectations were crystal clear from the onset.
The time you invest in the beginning ensuring clear understanding of all involved will save countless extra work hours on the team’s part. This will have a real dollar impact.
- Einstein Was Right – Thinking we can do the same thing over and over and expect a different outcome does result in insanity – for both the leader and those on the team, not to mention to ultimate customer!
Old habits are indeed difficult to break. Some habits continue to serve us well while others must be replaced if we are to meet the goals we desire. This is hard work yet the outcome is well worth the effort.
What lessons have you learned over the past month or so? I’d be interested in knowing!
PS, This message will be posted during the week of Thanksgiving here in the US. My warmest wishes to each of you and your families for a Happy Thanksgiving celebration. I am thankful for each one of you and am thankful I can spend the holiday with some family and friends.
PPS – I spoke too soon regarding the “uneventful” part of the travel. The second leg of the plane trip home was delayed about an hour due to a mechanical issue. Not that I am superstitious; however, I will not speak of an experience before it has been completed anymore!