Flight of the Buffalo: Soaring to Excellence, Learning to Let Employees Lead by Ralph Stayer and James Belasco

Summary
  1. All leaders face a challenge of leadership. The old models and paradigms no longer work. How leaders develop, and live a new model of leadership, is and will be the critical success factor for most every business. What leaders really want in the organization is a group of responsible, interdependent workers, similar to a flock of geese. I could see the geese flying in their “V” formation, the leadership changing frequently, with different geese taking the lead. I saw every goose being responsible for getting itself to wherever the gaggle was going, changing roles whenever necessary, alternating as a leader, a follower, or a scout. And when the task changed, the geese would be responsible for changing the structure of the group to accommodate, similar to the geese that fly in a “V” but land in waves. I could see each goose being a leader. Crafted in the crucible of realtime leadership experience, that paradigm is built around the following leadership principles: • Leaders transfer ownership for work to those who execute the work. • Leaders create the environment for ownership where each person wants to be responsible. • Leaders coach the development of personal capabilities. • Leaders learn fast themselves and encourage others also to learn quickly.
  2. PS – a lot of kindle highlights here but there are a lot of gems. Worth reading the book in its entirety
Key Takeaways
  1. “They don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care about them.”
  2. I learned that how you say things is often as important as what you say.
  3. Ken Blanchard, who taught me to concentrate on making the pie bigger not on how to get the biggest slice.
  4. I discovered that I as the leader had to change first, before I could get anyone else to change.
  5. Partnerships require advance thought about the impact of any action on the other person. That’s difficult, particularly if you guess wrong.
  6. I had to learn how to listen and really hear. I had to learn to work with others and trust them. I had to learn to appreciate their contributions as much as or more than my own. I had to learn the value of learning and how to systematically accomplish it.
  7. I know it is easy to talk about being different. It is a lot harder to be different.
  8. “In most situations I am the problem.” My mentalities, my pictures, my expectations, form the biggest obstacle to my company’s success. Understanding that I am the problem allowed me to learn how to become the solution.
  9. Again and again I came back to the following insights:
    1. In most instances “I am the problem.” My desire to be the head buffalo, my wanting to rescue people, my previous success, all got in the way of successfully handling the current situation. Nothing constructive happened until I recognized me as the obstacle and changed my behavior.
    2. The customer is the boss, not the internal organizational boss. For too long I insisted that the person in the corner office had to be served first, with data, with deference, with swift response to requests. We didn’t make the progress I knew we had to make until we started serving the customer first.
    3. Think strategically. I used to begin with what we could be and then manage forward. We struggled to make inches of progress and usually finished out of the money. It wasn’t until I began with what we must be for customers and managed backward from that, that we won gold medals.
    4. Practice the intellectual capitalism leadership style. Create the conditions where the intellectual capital holders assume responsibility for delighting their customers. Everyone must be a leader before there’s effective leadership in the new organization.
    5. Leading is learning. I languished until I realized that learning faster was the key to my survival. Maximizing everyone’s learning is the key to my organization’s success. My organization didn’t soar until everyone became an avid learner.
  10. What do I know that just isn’t so?
  11. The awful truth about leadership—each person must write his or her own personal cookbook.
  12. Management’s job was to establish the conditions under which performance served both the company’s and the individual’s best interests.
  13. This became a self-fulfilling prophecy—the less I expected of my people, the less they delivered.
  14. Now I know that I must empower people for the new level of performance—not order it. The best way to empower people is to ask: What am I doing or not doing, as a leader, that prevents them from assuming responsibility and performing at the new level?
  15. Don’t stop with vision. Vision alone is no solution. Everything is execution.
  16. I also came to realize that my first reaction is usually wrong.
  17. People Rise to the Challenge—When It Is Their Challenge
    1. NOTE: Must make your idea their idea
  18. Being a leader requires continual learning.
  19. See leadership as a personal, emotional journey. Understand it happens in your gut before it happens in your or anybody else’s head.
  20. Leaders Add Value by Helping People Feel Powerful Rather than Helpless The leader is powerful when he/she figures out how to achieve what needs to be done. People are very different in organizations led by leaders who feel they know how to do what needs to be done. They feel powerful in having the control and influence necessary to do whatever it takes to get the job done. They see themselves as the instruments of their own destiny. They are connected to the organization’s success and failures because they know they are responsible for it. They are all working to achieve a common vision.
  21. I learned to change from being a victim to being responsible by asking myself, “What am I doing or not doing that causes the situation I don’t like?” Restating the problem into factors that I control helps me feel, and be, powerful.
  22. It is easier to complain about what we don’t have than to give up what we do have.
  23. When I asked him why he hadn’t mentioned his need to me several years earlier, his answer was classic. “You never asked what we needed. You were so busy selling your solution that you didn’t hear what we wanted.”
  24. The principal tools of production today are not machinery and equipment. Neither is it solely the brainpower of the managerial leadership. Rather, the tools of production are the ideas and talents (the intellectual capital) of the scientist, the machinist, and the programmer. Therefore, the possessors of the intellectual tools of production, the people, will come to exercise effective power.
  25. We’ve all grown up learning to follow authority: first our parents, then our teachers, and then our bosses. The first and probably most often reinforced lesson we learn is “Do as you are told by the person in charge.” Now, however, the “person in charge” is the person who formally reports to you. In this topsy-turvy world, as a leader you actually work for the people who work for you. In the past, as leaders we planned products, budgets, facilities—the concrete financial aspects of the business. The assumption was that the people would go along with the plan. I learned the hard way that assumption was no longer safe. In addition, I must plan for the mind-sets and mentalities of the people, if I want the financial plan to work. Our leadership tools haven’t changed significantly, but the focus of their use has. The primary purpose of strategic planning is not to strategically plan for the future, although that’s an important purpose of the exercise. It is primarily to develop the strategic management mind-set in each and every individual in the organization. The purpose of the process is not only to produce a plan. It is to produce a plan that will be owned and understood by the people who have to execute it. I discovered that the leader has a new set of responsibilities. The leader, at every level in the organization, must strive to implement these four principles: 1. Transfer ownership for work to those who execute the work. 2. Create the environment for ownership where each person wants to be responsible for his/her own performance. a. Paint a clear picture of great performance for the organization and each person. b. Focus individuals on the few factors that create great performance. c. Develop the desire for each person to own—be responsible for—his/her own great performance. d. Align organization systems and structures that send a clear message as to what is necessary for great performance for the individual and the organization. e. Engage individuals—their hearts and minds, as well as their hands—in the business of the business. f. Energize individuals around the focus of the business. 3. Coach the development of individual capability and competence. 4. Learn faster. a. Learn themselves. b. Create the conditions under which every person in the organization is challenged to continually learn faster.
  26. I’ve learned that my job is to work hard to understand what it takes to (1) win today and (2) create the circumstances where I can win tomorrow.
  27. QUESTION: What do I have to learn to lead in this new age? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: Learn the new paradigm today—and get ready to learn a new one tomorrow.
  28. Helping people regain their own authority and power to respond appropriately in work and life is a leadership skill of the highest order.
  29. The Person Doing the Work Must Own the Responsibility
  30. For people to want to own the responsibility, and stop being victims, I had to change my behavior. I loved rescuing people. I loved solving problems. The result? People were lined up waiting to be rescued. People kept bringing me problems to solve. My people did just what I wanted them to do. If I wanted to play head buffalo, they were more than willing to play buffalo herd member. When I realized that rescuing people and solving problems is a permanent job, I understood the error of my thinking. People would never learn to take care of themselves because I was always there to take care of them. People would never learn to solve their own problems because I was there to solve them for them. I’d take this job with me to the grave. Suddenly, the overwhelming task didn’t seem as attractive as it once had. As Rosa Parks was too tired to move to the back of the Birmingham bus and thus started a revolution, so did my weariness start a revolution in my company. If I was going to have a gaggle of geese, I realized, then I’d have to stop playing head buffalo.
  31. QUESTION: How can I get people to do it right the first time? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: The person who does the job must own the responsibility for doing it correctly.
  32. As the leader of my organization I am responsible for creating the environment that enables each person to assume responsibility for his or her own performance. The people own the responsibility for delivering great performance. I am responsible for creating the environment where this ownership takes place.
  33. If You Want Ownership Behavior, Pay for It
  34. All of my leadership efforts directed toward transferring the ownership paid off. Despite the external chaos, the people were able to keep focused on delivering great performance for their customers.
  35. QUESTION: Am I creating owners or dependents? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: If you want them to act like it’s their business, make it their business.
  36. I’ve learned that coaching is about providing support and guidance. Coaching is very person-centered. Great coaches know that teams with the best skills and competencies have the highest winning percentages. The primary purpose of coaching is to develop the individual’s skills and competencies. A coach helps you do what you know you must do!
  37. My football coach put it best. He told me, “You didn’t come to this university to learn how to play football. You came here to learn how to be a better person. So this season you’ll learn to be a better person by learning how to be a better football player.”
  38. I learned that great coaches did more than ask questions and not give answers. Great coaches had to provide guidance so people could find the “right” answer. So I sought to provide more guidance.
  39. One day it finally hit me: The real expert in great performance is the customer. Everything begins with delighting the customer. That’s why every one of our job descriptions begins with this statement: “The things I do to get and keep customers are …” Things really improved when I modified my focus to ask, “From the customer’s point of view, what is great performance?” The coachees finally had a way to get their questions answered from the true expert in what they had to do. They felt more focused and secure.
  40. In the best of all worlds, what is great performance for your customers?
  41. What do you want to achieve in the next two to three years?
  42. How will you measure your performance?
  43. Measurement is the motivator for improvement. Resist the temptation to define the measurements for the person. Make certain that he or she owns that responsibility. Wrestling with the “How will I know when I do it?” question helps the individual learn about what he or she really wants to accomplish. It is not uncommon to find that clarifying measurements often changes the objective. The expert in answering this question is often not the individual alone, but the individual in conjunction with his/her customer. Again, this drives the individual back to discussions with the customer.
  44. What things do you need to learn in order to reach your goals?
  45. What work experiences do you need to help you learn what you need to achieve your goals?
  46. Learning is something you do, not something you are told. People don’t learn chess by watching. They need to begin playing in order to learn the game. As a coach you need to be able to see all the decisions, problems, and actions that need to be done as opportunities for yourself and others to learn and grow.
  47. QUESTION: Is the person becoming more capable? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: Focus on developing the person, not the scoreboard.
  48. I learned the hard way that leaders learn fast—or they don’t complete the journey. Leaders need to keep on learning. The world changes so fast that we need to keep learning new things so we can cope. The rapid pace of change drives the need for continual learning.
  49. Speed is essential. The gold medal goes to the swiftest. Rapid change requires rapid learning. Success has always depended upon learning, but in the past the change was slower, so we could take longer to learn. As the pace of change quickens, the race belongs to the swiftest learner.
  50. Success is a valuable teacher, providing you don’t get lulled into complacency by her succulent fruits. I’ve learned that what got me to where I am will not get me to where I need to go.
  51. QUESTION: Am I learning fast enough? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: It’s never fast enough.
  52. The Leading the Journey model is based on four leadership activities: 1. Determining focus and direction 2. Removing the obstacles 3. Developing ownership 4. Stimulating self-directed action
  53. There are two kinds of obstacles: those that are found in the systems, structures, and practices, and those that are found in the mind-sets of the people.
  54. I learned that system/structure factors produced these troubling mind-sets. I learned to focus my efforts on the context obstacles, so I can affect the powerful determinants of behavior.
  55. Newton discovered the law of gravity. He was correct, except in one situation. Everything does flow downhill. Except in an organization, where ownership flows uphill. We call it upward delegation. The result? Managers own all the wrong problems.
    1. NOTE: except if you invert the hierarchy pyramid as it should be with the leadership on the bottom acting as servants
  56. Vision is the beginning point for leading the journey. Vision focuses. Vision inspires. Without a vision, the people perish. Vision is our alarm clock in the morning, our caffeine in the evening. Vision touches the heart. It becomes the criterion against which all behavior is measured. Vision becomes the glasses that tightly focus all of our sights and actions on that which we want to be tomorrow—not
  57. Vision is the most sought-after executive characteristic.
  58. More important, vision paints a picture of what your organization must be if it is to survive. The essence of executive vision is saying, “Here’s where we have to go, and here’s a general road map for how we will get there.”
  59. We must manage backward from the future, rather than forward from the present.
  60. Vision flows from extensive contact with customers and suppliers. It does not flow from some mystical insight into the future gained by consulting one’s gut (no matter how golden) or one’s astrologer. There’s no substitute for direct feedback from the people who make the marketplace.
  61. “In the best of all worlds, from the customer’s perspective, what is great performance?”
  62. “Wealth, like happiness, is never attained when sought after directly. It always comes as a by-product of providing a useful service.”
  63. Clarity is power. Clarity motivates people to use the vision as a criterion to evaluate their actions. People ask, “Does my action support the vision?” The answer must be clear. Vision provides the tight focus on thinking strategically. It insists that everyone direct his or her energies toward creating the tomorrow we want. Brevity helps. Use a short, simple, easy-to-understand statement of your vision to gain clarity and empower its use as a decisional criterion.
  64. People need to see the personal benefit from their vision of great performance.
  65. Actions must reflect the vision. I learned that the leader must live the vision, or no one else will. People watch what we do as leaders and follow. They notice most what we do, not what we say. They follow most what we do, not what we say.
  66. of our definitions of leadership is to “get people to do the right things.” The right things are everything that must be done to deliver great performance from the customer’s point of view.
  67. Focus everyone in your company on owning the responsibility to find out what his or her customers want and then on consistently delivering that great performance.
  68. The question asks about the product from the supplier’s point of view. What a waste! It doesn’t matter what the supplier thinks he’s selling. It only matters what the customer believes he’s buying.
  69. In Leading the Journey we need a destination, and there’s no better destination than the customer’s location.
  70. Location is more than just a geographic spot. I learned the hard way that it is also a state of mind.
  71. The easiest and most direct way to find out where the customers’ heads are is to find out from the customers themselves.
  72. Leaders Design Systems and Structures That Help Keep the Focus on the Location
  73. Notice the partnership approach. Notice the shift in emphasis from what I have in my bag (or can get from my factory) to what the customer needs. My job now is not to sell my products. It’s to help the customer achieve his/her goals.
  74. What happens before a customer call will often determine what happens during the call and after that call. We’ve learned to prepare the ground before we attempt to plant the seed. We take three significant preparation steps before every partnership interview. First, we search the data bank of the information service to which we subscribe for significant trends, developments, and issues in the industry and the company. We identify a few significant issues to serve as a launching pad for discussion and the tangible demonstration of our interest in and knowledge about their business. We know we’ve succeeded when we hear such statements as “We didn’t know that.” Or “How did you find that out?” We intend to bring substantive and, we hope, new information to the interview. Second, we plumb our own internal data base to identify the personal interests and issues of the people with whom we’ll be talking. We gather and track personal information about all customers. Our data base contains such important data as birthdays, anniversaries, names of family members, favorite sports, colors, vacation spots, and other personal information. We shape what we present and how we present it to meet the personal preferences of the listener. Third, we call in advance to review the purpose and agenda for the meeting. We ask customers what they want to accomplish in the meeting and how they will know when they’ve achieved it. We inquire about their preparation and what preparation they expect from us. We clarify expectations and get on the same wavelength. No surprises or blindsides.
  75. We begin by working to understand the customer’s business. We pose a version of the following general directive: • Tell me about your activity. We follow up with these more specific questions: • What are the few keys to success in your unit? • What is your unit’s advantage in the marketplace (why do customers buy from you?), and how do you contribute to that advantage? • What is great ICBIH (I can’t believe it’s happening) performance for your unit, and for yourself, for the coming year?
  76. What current/future developments will change the way you and your unit do business? We follow with a subset of more specific questions, such as: • What developments are impacting both your department’s activities and the company’s? • What do you see coming in the future that will change the way you and your company do business? • What do you and your unit plan to do to prepare for these coming events so you are ready before they occur?
  77. What are the biggest problems you face? We follow with a specific question: • What prevents you from being a great performer?
  78. How can we help you? We follow up with the more specific questions: • How can we help you be a great performer today? • How can we help you remove the obstacles that prevent you from being a great performer today? • How can we help you prepare to be a great performer in the future?
  79. Based on the above, how would you define great performance for me in the coming year that will best contribute to your great performance?
  80. What would I have to do this week to earn a rating from you of 10 out of 10 for perfect contribution to your great performance?
  81. QUESTION: Are you a supplier or a partner? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: Sit with the customer, or don’t get in the door.
  82. Anticipate Problems Rather than Solve Them
  83. What will it take to have a profitable textile business? 2. What will it take to never be surprised again?
  84. most new developments occur from outside an industry.
  85. I need to help people look for developments outside our current fields, in parallel fields that pose both threats and opportunities to the areas in which we currently function.
  86. I established a system called scan, clip, and review. We borrowed it from John Naisbitt and from the CIA. In academic circles it’s called content analysis. It’s simple and works like this: Everyone in the company scans ten periodicals he or she does not normally read each month. These range from highly technical journals to such popular periodicals as Prevention, Rolling Stone, andMother Jones Good Earth Journal. Each person clips all articles he or she thinks are interesting regarding future trends and puts them in a file folder. People clip advertisements, articles, opinion letters, anything they think will have any potential impact on the business in the future, no matter how farfetched it may seem at the time. The entire company is divided into seven-person interdisciplinary, interdepartmental “review cells.” Monthly, people circulate their file folders of clipped articles to the other members of their review cell, so that everyone reviews the clippings in all seven file folders. Quarterly, the seven members of the review cell meet and discuss the important trends they noticed in the clipped material they reviewed. The discussion is built around three questions: 1. What is the future event that will have the greatest impact on our business? 2. What will happen when that event happens? 3. What can we do now to prepare for that event? We use a process called a future wheel, which is shared throughout the company. Every six months, the trends are reviewed and appropriate changes in strategy are made.
    1. NOTE: fascinating. something similar at glenair?
  87. We get lots of ideas. Imagine having seven hundred people all scanning, clipping, and reviewing! We don’t get blindsided anymore. We hear the footsteps. Our customers come to us to find out what’s coming. We get lots of discussion about appropriate actions. And we get lots of commitment to a future course of action once the discussions are done.
  88. I learned that successful leaders ask the following thinking-strategically questions: • What do we really want to create for our customers? • What will it take to create what we want?
  89. Thinking incrementally is an American disease. We learned it early in life. Our parents were always admonishing us, “Try a little harder. You’re almost there. Just a little bit more.” The mentality was reinforced in the classroom: “Eighty-eight percent is almost an A. Study just a little bit more and I’m certain that you can get it.”
  90. It’s not that thinking incrementally is bad. It’s just that in that thought process you begin from where you are now and add a little more to it. The view from your current position includes the limitations of all of your current assumptions, your current paradigms, your current prejudices. All of that baggage clouds your vision of what’s possible in the future.
  91. Thinking Strategically Manages Backward from the Future
  92. Leaders who engage in thinking strategically begin with where they want to go. Then they look backward from the future and ask, “What will it take to create that new tomorrow?” It’s the looking back from tomorrow that gives thinking strategically its power, because that perspective helps you escape the limitations of today’s situation.
  93. Begin with the End in Mind—the Federal Express Example Federal Express knows the importance of thinking strategically. They begin from the end state they want to create: “Absolutely, positively, it has to be there on time.” With that end state firmly in mind they ask the strategic-thinking question “What will it take to get it absolutely, positively there on time?”
  94. QUESTION: What will it take to create what I really want? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: Ask for enough or you will get less than you need.
  95. I have found that too many people “settle” instead of reach. I’ve learned how expensive that can be. I also learned that my task in Leading the Journey is to help people focus high enough. I need to encourage individuals to “reach” for great performance for their customers, rather than “settle” for acceptable performance. Part of providing focus and direction to my organizations is to keep all the noses pointed straight up.
  96. Leaders must keep helping people prepare for the next match, rather than savoring the win from the last match.
  97. Dealing with customers provides a bear hug on reality.
  98. Getting better at delivering great performance for your customers is the only answer to the “How high is up?” question.
  99. Here are a few measures I’ve discovered are essential to any business. Without drowning in accounting details, get the following figures. Monitor them as vital signs of your organization’s financial health: 1. Track on a frequent (weekly and monthly) basis: • Cash on Hand and Projected Cash Flow. There are three essentials in any business: cash, cash, cash. All businesses are cash businesses. There are two ways to track cash. The first is using a funds flow analysis. There are many good ones available.
  100. ExpensesOrders. Increasing expenses often go hand in hand with increasing orders. But often, expenses continue to increase after sales level out. Monitoring this ratio of current expenses to current orders (which will be future sales) will ring an early-warning bell and help you prevent expense inflation and profit deterioration. The ratio also tells you when you can expect future cash problems.
  101. Receivables. Nothing is more insidious than not collecting the cash that customers owe you.
  102. Sales ÷ Working Capital. This critical ratio shows the stretch in your working capital. (Working capital is current assets—cash and accounts receivable—minus current liabilities.) Working capital supports sales. With too little working capital, you grow yourself to bankruptcy. Typically, each dollar in working capital supports eight dollars in sales. When your ratio is below 5:1, you are likely not using your cash well and are not earning good enough margins. When your ratio exceeds 15:1, you may be technically bankrupt.
  103. Track on a less frequent (semiannual/annual) basis (primarily for the banker): • Current Ratio (Current assets ÷ current liabilities). This short-term solvency ratio tells you (and your banker) whether you have the short-term funds to pay your short-term liabilities. Ratios of 2:1 are considered good. That means there are two dollars in current assets for every one dollar of current liabilities. When the ratio falls below 1.5:1, the bankers get nervous. When it falls below 1:1, they start looking at pulling the line.
  104. You need to really know your costs. How? Use a real-time direct costing system. Assign every penny you spend to a product, a customer, a function.
  105. One of the biggest fallacies going around is that customer service doesn’t cost, it pays. The cost of serving some customers can pay you right to the bankruptcy court.
  106. The key to financial health is getting everyone to make financial decisions as if they were spending their own money out of their own checkbook. Too many people spend a “budget” of someone else’s money. Witness the spending sprees at the end of each year.
  107. Love your enemy as your best friend. Enemies are very valuable. They help you organize and focus on what must be done. Part of the leader’s job is to use competitors’ actions as a way to focus individuals on great performance for their customers.
  108. Competitors easily become the greater enemy against which we can all rally. Why fight with the person in the next office when there’s someone outside the gates looking to destroy us all? In most organizations, the people may not agree on much among themselves except that they all dislike the competitor. I learned to use my competitors as a weapon to keep everyone in my organization, including myself, from getting complacent. I learned to use the competitor as a rallying point to focus everyone on great performance, and continuously raise the standards. One of the leader’s best friends, therefore, is the competitor who’s planning to steal your lunch.
  109. You can find out about your competitors without resorting to unethical or illegal means. Competitors will tell you if you just ask. Competitors’ salespeople love to brag about “conquests.” Let them, and pay attention when they do. Clipping services can collect trade and other news. Often research and technical journals tip off a competitor’s plans long before any specific product announcement. Many companies “test” customer response to proposed products. Often your current customers, who are their potential customers, are included. Stay in touch with them to find out what competitors are planning.
  110. As the leader I work to keep the competitor clearly in the forefront of everyone’s thinking.
  111. Watch Your Neighbors. Customers and Suppliers Can Become Competitors. Beware of Left Field
  112. Analyze your position vis-á-vis your competitors. Every marketplace player—you and your competitors—has strengths and weaknesses. Identify your strengths and weaknesses compared with your competitors. Understand your current market situation, and you improve the chances of your success.
  113. Examine your principal competitors and their current strategies. Identify your standing vis-à-vis those competitors from your customers’ perspective in terms of: 1. Cost structure: Do you have higher or lower costs than your competitors? Check out such things as comparable salaries, locations, cars, number of employees, competing bids. 2. Differentiated value of the product/service you provide: How do your customers see the value of the product/service you provide in comparison with your competitors? How would your competitors’ customers answer this question? 3. Price: How do you compare with your competition on price? Are you lower priced, about the same, or higher priced than your competition? 4. Delivery: Do you deliver on time more or less frequently than your competitors do? What would your customers answer? What would your competitors’ customers answer? 5. Quality: How does your quality compare with your competitors’? How would your customers answer this question? How would your competitors’ customers answer this question? 6. After-sales support: How good are you at being there to solve customer problems after you’ve made the sale? How would your customers answer this question? How would your competitors’ customers answer this question about them?
  114. Most firms practice the cruelest form of deception—self-delusion. They continue to tell themselves that everything is all right, right up the steps of the bankruptcy court. The inward focus is responsible for more business failures than anything else. Above all, this is a leadership failure.
  115. See it from the customer’s point of view. Great products are great only when customers buy them.
  116. The report would be shared with everyone, answering four questions: 1. What are we doing right that we should continue? 2. What are we doing wrong that we should either stop or improve? 3. Who is our chief competitor for that customer’s business? 4. What do we have to do to win the customer’s business?
  117. I learned that building close relationships with customers is a tonic for arrogance.
  118. We won in the marketplace because we were willing to go the extra mile for our customers (witness the survey), and we had the guarantee.
  119. “How can I maximize both value for my customers and profit for myself?” The answer? Create value. Customers don’t buy price; they buy value. What is value? Like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder. So I learned to ask my customers to tell me what value was for them. And guess what? They told me with clarity.
  120. “You never asked,” he said. “Your people were so busy selling me that they had no time left over to listen.” So much for being smarter than the customer. Without knowing what value is for customers, it’s impossible to deliver it consistently.
  121. Value Is Solving the Customer’s Problems
  122. Value Is Doing It Better than Anybody Else
  123. Choose the right customer problem on which to focus. What is the right problem? The right one is the one that drives the customer’s buying decision. Inevitably, there’s one overriding problem, the solution to which will encourage your customer to buy from you and not your competitor.
  124. QUESTION: Do our products and services stand out head and shoulders above our competition? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: Stay tuned in to customers and do whatever it takes to create value for them.
  125. One of the most powerful value-added strategies I’ve discovered is to identify the most profitable niche we can successfully serve, and then dominate that niche.
  126. Find Niche Applications for Commodity Products Find the crack—the crevice—that piece of unfulfilled demand. That’s what successful niche players do.
  127. Using locals, who understand and can relate to the customers, is one way to ensure the customer focus to identify value-added strategies.
  128. Minimize Your Dependence on Any One Customer or Product
  129. I learned that niche players usually survive by following the “avoid the big guys” strategy.
  130. How do we do that in the face of such awesome foreign competition? It’s obvious! Pick a niche in which low-cost labor doesn’t count and where we can move faster than our competition.
  131. a niche player in a tough industry, we survive by avoiding competition. That’s good advice in any industry.
  132. customers once lost are hard to get back.
  133. The basic niche player’s strategies: • Avoid the big boys. • Be flexible. • Find upscale applications for commodity products. • Stay close to your customer. • Avoid dependence upon a few products and/or customers. Focus your people on these value-added strategies. That’s the way you Lead the Journey using the intellectual capitalism paradigm. QUESTION: What do my customers want that they are not now getting? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: Niches are gold mines. Find them and start digging.
  134. Price competition almost always means that customers don’t see enough differentiation among products, so price is the only way to distinguish.
  135. Pictures Create Feelings—and That’s What Customers Really Buy
  136. The Product Name Must Paint the Picture
  137. Everything must contribute to creating the picture. Everything. The operant question must be “How does this activity or action contribute to the picture we want customers to have of our organization?” Each person needs to think strategically and then own the responsibility to do whatever it takes to please customers.
  138. If You Don’t Lose 20 Percent of Your Business on Price, Your Prices Aren’t High Enough
  139. He told me, “I learned years ago that the secret to success in my business was not winning most of the bids, but losing the ‘right ones. I only want to win the ones that I know I will do well on. I’m willing to walk away from business that is marginally profitable. I don’t need marginal business. I need the profit. I’ve learned that being the high bidder is the way to succeed.”
  140. Successful companies differentiate themselves by adding real value for their customers. Helping customers see the real value you bring marks the difference between high and low profits. The question is “What is real value from the customer’s perspective?”
  141. Our measurement of great performance was to have the highest selling price and the highest market share.
  142. The professor used the case to illustrate his point that price was an important determiner of value. Selling a Cadillac at Chevrolet prices would probably sell fewer Cadillacs, he said.
  143. QUESTION: Do your prices reflect your great performance? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: What your customers are willing to pay tells you what they—and you—think about your products.
  144. The new way to add value is through business partnerships.
  145. The New World Order: Partnership, Not Domination The giants have learned that it takes both size and flexibility to meet rapidly changing customer demands. Healthy smaller firms, surrounding the giant, provide the flexibility to focus and capitalize on the giant’s size.
  146. learned that unless both parties work as hard for the partner as they work for themselves, they are both doomed to fail.
  147. The win/win game not only involves finding partners “out there.” It also involves building win/win partnerships within the organization.
  148. Focus and direction allow your people to deliver great performance for your customers. Knowing the “right” direction is the first step. The second step is to identify and remove the obstacles that prevent you from achieving great performance.
  149. Focus on Those Obstacles You Control or Directly Influence
  150. Obstacles Come in Two Areas: Systems and Mind-sets While most of us are drawn to the mind-set obstacles of motivation, communication, and teamwork issues, the biggest obstacles are organizational obstacles, like the systems and structures. I’ve found that the systems and structures dramatically affect the mind-sets of everyone else.
  151. QUESTION: How can I identify and remove those obstacles that prevent great performance? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: Ask your people what prevents their great performance. Get to work on those obstacles.
  152. Systems are the most powerful drivers of performance.
  153. Attitudes are shaped by the environment within which people function. The environment is made up of the systems and structures in the organization. Although I could not change attitudes directly, I could change them by changing the environment. I learned that incorrect attitudes are a symptom of incorrect systems, structures, and practices.
  154. Performance Management System How are the standards of performance determined in your organization? How does your current system compare to the following model? 1.Manager determines the overall parameters/objectives. Define the playing field.
  155. You as the leader establish the parameters, the overall objective, the vision. You need to articulate great performance standards for the overall organization. You need to be certain that everyone’s nose is pointed in the same direction. 2.Set standards between performers and customers. We need to ensure that standards are set between performers and their customers. Each performer must meet frequently (weekly) with his or her customers to agree on standards of great performance. Then the performer must meet with other performers to coordinate activities with them. The leadership job is to make certain that this standard setting and coordination take place on a regular basis. 3.Reduce the expectation to a specific, measurable number. What gets measured gets produced. For a long while I measured sales and wondered why there was so little profit. Everyone’s attention was focused on getting that order. Delivering it profitably, or selling it at a price that would make money, was always an afterthought. People love to be measured. But measure the “right” stuff. The right stuff is that which creates great performance for customers. The right stuff is what helps you keep learning. The right stuff is what helps you continuously improve. Do you have a performance management system where performers define, with customers, specific numeric standards of performance? Every machine operator, every janitor, every secretary, must know exactly what great performance is for their jobs. If your current system does not do that, you have a serious obstacle.
  156. Information System Does every person in your unit know how he or she is performing? At the end of every day? Every week? If people don’t know how well they are doing relative to some target, you can’t ever expect them to do it well. To back up your performance management system, you need an information system that tells every performer frequently how well he or she is doing in creating great performance for his/her customers.
  157. Makes performance visible to every…
  158. Real data in real time. The data must be real data. Not sanitized accounting/financial data. And it needs to be in real time. Real time means “Now!” We need an information system similar to that in the game of golf. How long…
  159. Based on continuing conversations between performers and customers. Customers are the best source of feedback on performance. The best information system structures-in continuing conversations between performers and customers. These two systems form a loop—the performance management system and the information system. Both rely upon a stream of performance-based conversations between…
  160. Reward System Unfortunately, I succumbed to the folly of rewarding “A” while hoping for “B.” In the past, my reward system focused on attendance. I paid people to show up and then worried why they didn’t perform. I learned that if I wanted quality, I had to reward quality. If I wanted service, I had to reward service. The performer is the best person to determine what needs to be rewarded, and what is an effective reward. Begin with the performer-customer established standards of great performance, the performer-customer established feedback mechanisms, and…
  161. Assure the consequences of behavior. Performance must have consequences. Performance must matter. It must be clear that “them that does it, get it, and them that don’t do it, don’t get it” or get a…
  162. Pay for results, not…
  163. Too many people are rewarded for working hard, rather then getting the “…
  164. Blend monetary rewards (such as gain sharing, profit sharing, onetime bonuses, merit increases) and nonmonetary rewards (such as recognition, promotion, job assignments, autonomy). We can find as many ways to reward people as there are people. We don’t suffer from a lack of ways to reward. We suffer from a lack of imagination in identifying what turns people on, and in ways to distribute rewards fairly and equitably. Many leaders wrestle with “equity” issues: “Is this reward system fair?” They also struggle with “motivation” concerns: “Will these rewards motivate the behavior we need?” Both of these concerns can be dealt with by involving performers in designing the reward systems. As long as leaders own the responsibility for designing reward systems, they will also own the responsibility for making them “fair” and “…
  165. Once a month money will be paid out to all that have achieved their Great Performance weekly goals.
    1. NOTE: goal gradient effect respected
  166. If you don’t expect, measure, and reward great performance, you’ll never get great performance. In short: • Does every person know at the start of every day what great performance is for him/her? • Does every person know at the end of every day if he/she has been a great performer? • During the day is everyone motivated to do whatever it takes to be a great performer because he/she knows that he/she will be rewarded on the basis of performance?
  167. Systems are powerful message carriers that too often prevent the achievement you want. Structures do also.
  168. Does your organization structure meet the following model? If not, you have structural obstacles that prevent your achieving great performance. 1. Decentralize decision making to the point of customer contact. Those closest to the customer should make the decisions about servicing that customer. When that isn’t the case, you get organizational “handoffs,” a major obstacle.
  169. Multidiscipline teams where everyone is present. Parkinson’s law was written based upon the absence of teams.
  170. Simplification of processes and procedures. The only things that grow automatically seem to be weeds—and administrative procedures. Stem administrative procedure growth by emphasizing continual simplification of processes and procedures. One organization eliminates every policy and procedure every year. Anyone wishing to continue a policy or procedure must reapply for it de nouveau. They call it zero-based administration. 4. Focus on one customer, one product, one product/market combination. Structure focuses people on serving a homogeneous collection of customers. This focus develops expertise in what customers want/need and facilitates a customer focus throughout the organization.
  171. Does your structure encourage the decentralization of decision making to the level of direct customer contact? Does it facilitate the use of multidiscipline teams to solve customer problems? Does it force continual simplification and focus?
  172. Measurement becomes one more way in which leaders focus the organization in the “right” direction, consistently providing great performance for customers. Measurement is a powerful leadership tool when the performers and customers establish the measures.
  173. People Who Know How Well They Are Doing Will Do Well People need measurements to excel.
  174. People want so much to measure their performance that if they aren’t given a way to do that, they will develop their own.
  175. Your operators must be the experts on your process, because they are the only ones who can control it.
  176. The only people who could ever produce great products were those who actually made them.
    1. NOTE: touching the medium
  177. Here is the plan they developed: The people write down every customer-driven change they make. They count the aggregate number and then categorize them to spot trends. When they see trends, they review the internal systems and structure to see if they are aligned with where the market is going. They discuss among themselves what it will take to do better. They measure how long it takes to make the improvements and spot the trends. They track it against past performance. Their plan works. We seem to be one or two jumps ahead of our competitors. Sure it’s difficult. But isn’t it worth it? What’s the alternative?
  178. GREAT PERFORMANCE FOR THE PRESIDENT 1. Coach of strategic thinking Measure: Number of helpful contributions I make to the strategic thinking of others. Indicated by member/customer evaluations of the president in the monthly surveys. A rating of 10 is expected. 2. Learning and growth Measure: Attainment of 100 percent of the president’s educational goals. 3. 100 percent of the people believe they own the right problem and are capable of handling it. Measure: As indicated by ownership comments on the weekly reports. 4. Coach of personal development. Facilitator of learning for everyone in the company. Measure: 100 percent of direct reports attain 100 percent of their educational goals and report complete satisfaction with their development. 100 percent of all employee-partners attain 100 percent of their educational goals and report complete satisfaction with their development. 5. Ensure that all transactions are characterized by caring and integrity. Measure: Measured by employee responses of being important, respected, valued, and cared about personally on the quarterly all-employee survey. Other indicators are number of personal messages exchanged, number of personal celebrations acknowledged.
  179. I discovered that when people perform better, they are happier. My experience is that everyone wants to excel. Everyone enjoys winning. Everyone loves being part of a winning team. Winning reinforces itself. Everyone takes pride in his/her accomplishments. That is why most everyone loves sports. Sports give instant feedback on performance. We all share a deep desire for feedback on our performance.
  180. QUESTION: Do all the people in your company know how well they’ve done before they go home every night? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: People perform what they measure—help the performers to measure the “right” stuff.
  181. It sounds so simple. Get the information to the people who use it. It’s common sense. Unfortunately, it’s not common practice.
    1. NOTE: touching the medium
  182. One of my biggest leadership tasks is to remove the obstacles to great performance. One of the biggest obstacles I encountered was this misdirection of information. The company dramatically improved when I clarified who needed what information.
  183. The past can’t be managed. It is already gone. I saw that I needed to help people manage the work they did today, not yesterday.
  184. the leader’s job isn’t to develop the information. Rather, the leader’s task is to focus the people who use the information, and help them develop the system to get them the information they need.
  185. Leading the Journey requires that I remove the obstacle of the misdirection of information. Inevitably, that means that the performers get more of the information they need to control and direct the organization in both the present and the future.
  186. QUESTION: Are you managing the past, the present, or the future? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: Help the right people get the right information and they will do the right things.
  187. People obstacles are most often symptoms, not causes. Like Odysseus, we are pulled right to the rocks as we struggle to answer the siren song of people issues.
  188. The Best Way to Get Teamwork Is to Give the Team Work
  189. If I’ve learned anything in the last twelve years, it is that “I” can’t fix “them” until “I” fix “me” first. Then I must change the systems and structures to require teamwork. The obstacle isn’t simply a lack of teamwork. The obstacle is my leadership mentality, the actions that flow from it, and the systems and structures that prevent the teamwork.
  190. The president immediately got his executives together and they designed the “Improvement Audit” program. Three years later the program is going strong. Every division is visited twice a year by teams drawn from the other divisions. There’s been a direct savings of more than 21 percent, and the president told me, “I’ve never seen such teamwork.” Changing the audit and reward systems changed the mindsets, which changed the behavior.
  191. QUESTION: What systems are causing my people problems? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: Change the systems to change the people.
  192. Until great performance is everyone’s responsibility, it will be no one’s.
  193. In today’s intellectual capitalism world, the performers must be responsible for their own performance. The success or failure of the business must rest with the individuals who possess the critical capital. The leader’s job is to determine the direction, remove the obstacles that prevent focus, and then get the intellectual capital holders to develop ownership for moving in that direction. From firsthand experience, I know how tough it is to achieve this mentality. I also know how necessary it is.
  194. QUESTION: Who’s in the best position to be responsible? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: Get the right people to own the right responsibility.
  195. Again I found that the more I solved other people’s problems, the more problems they’d bring to me. I had worked myself into a fulltime “solve other people’s problems” job.
  196. My experience has taught me that the key to organizational success today is in getting the people to want to own the responsibility for their own performance.
  197. What is the problem? I ask because how you define the problem will largely determine how you go about solving it.
  198. Keep the two levels of ownership separate. Keep the responsibility for performance with the performer, and the responsibility for empowering with the leader.
  199. Empowerers proactively empower: asking questions, organizing data to confront people with reality, bringing customers and performers together to discuss standards of great performance and feedback on actual performance against those standards.
  200. Being the cold shower of reality, drawing the line in the sand that I did by calling the emergency meeting, is not enough. Nor is insisting upon tough standards, which I did in reminding everyone of our responsibilities for all those lives. In addition to those actions, and asking questions as I did at the beginning of the meeting, a leader’s proactive empowering responsibilities go beyond all of those. Freddie helped me learn that leaders also have to support the people in their needs and be ready to coach them, to help them, when they are ready to accept and execute their responsibilities.
  201. Leaders continue to coach and support because they are genuinely interested in that individual’s success.
  202. Freddie also helped me learn that ownership and responsibility are not zero sum games. I can transfer ownership and get other people to assume responsibility without diminishing my own ownership and responsibility in the situation.
  203. Ownership is not a fixed pie. In fact, it is an expanding pie. The more I transfer ownership to others, the more ownership I possess myself.
  204. Conversations are the vehicles leaders use to develop ownership. Use all instances, even seemingly insignificant cases, to precipitate discussion and learning about great performance.
  205. The leader’s main task concerning this ownership issue can be summarized in four letters, FCLP. F is for focus. C is for conversation. L is for learning. P is for performance.
  206. In every possible situation, Focus Conversations on Learning about Performance.
  207. When the leaders stop conferring benefits, people assume responsibility for delivering great performance for their customers.
  208. QUESTION: Do your people want to own the right responsibility and be great performers? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: The desire for owning the responsibility for great performance comes from within.
  209. Leadership isn’t processing papers. It’s about making things happen.
  210. Great Leaders Prevent Problems, Not Solve Them
  211. Stop rewarding people for bringing me problems and start rewarding them for solving their own problems. To accomplish that, I changed a number of systems and structures. Saying what needs to be done is simple. Doing it is anything but simple.
  212. We need substantially different actions to get us substantially different results.
  213. The “right” actions are those that meet the following criteria: 1. Deliverable: some specific, concrete, and tangible action. A meeting. A plan. A program. Answers the question ‘What will be done?” 2. Measurement: an indicator that helps you know when you have accomplished what you set out to do. Answers the question “How will we know when we have done it?” 3. Date: It must have a date by when it will be done. Answers the question “By when will it be done?” 4. Person responsible: Names the person who is going to be responsible for getting it done. Answers the question “Who will do it?”
  214. Your continuing leadership task: Help everyone in your organization identify what’s crucial and not crucial, and be dispassionate in dumping the noncontributors. Eliminate the “fat.”
  215. Another way to eliminate nonessentials is to think about your business as a raider would. Challenge yourself and your people: “Does this activity contribute at least 20 percent to the bottom line—or growing fast enough that it will in a few years?” If the answer is no, then get rid of it.
  216. Simplifying operations is another way to save costs. In an effort to solve problems, it’s easy to get caught up in drafting procedures. The procedure lasts long after the problem has been solved, outlives its usefulness, and becomes part of a growing bureaucracy. I empower my people regularly to attack their own procedures. They do this in two structured ways. First, we declare all systems null and void every year.
  217. Second, every week everyone writes a “5/15” report, no longer than one page, which takes fifteen minutes to write and five minutes to read. That report answers three questions: “What did I accomplish this week?” “What remains to be done next week?” “What needs to be fixed/changed/eliminated?” Anything that needs fixing/changing/ eliminating must be handled before the end of the next week.
  218. The people track the following data every month. Use these figures, or others of your own choosing, regularly, and you will run your business rather than your business running you. • Cash on hand and projected cash • Sales calls made to targeted customers • Customer moves through the sales cycle • Customer service rating for each person • Sales/orders • Quality levels • Weekly goal accomplishments
  219. The standard of performance is set by the poorest performer, not the best. People look to the leader for clues and a model of great performance. The leader sets the standard for performance by what he/she will and won’t accept.
  220. I learned that others would do much more if I expected more and accepted less.
  221. QUESTION: Do you like what you see in the mirror? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: Your organization is a reflection of what you accept.
  222. Why don’t people “just do it”? Because the systems and structures usually prevent them by building in long approval cycles and multiple approvals. If it takes several months of meeting and nine different signatures to get anything done, it’s much easier to decide not to do anything.
  223. In my organization I make certain that risk-taking is part of the standards of great performance for each individual and that taking risks is rewarded, even the risks that don’t succeed. Ensure that systems empower the “just do it” mentality.
  224. Speed gave them focus. Henry learned in this hare and tortoise race, it is speed on the track that wins.
  225. Do What You Do Best-Give Away the Rest to Someone Else
  226. The old story is forever new in its relevance and unfolds in varying experiences. Challenges lead to actions, which lead to learning, which uncovers more challenges. What is new becomes old. What we thought was the same has changed and is different. These endless challenges and changes make getting up in the morning worthwhile.
  227. Begin by Asking the Thinking-Strategically Questions • What skills, attitudes, and behaviors of people are required to deliver great performance? • What positions give me the maximum leverage to infuse these skills, attitudes, and behaviors throughout the organization?
  228. Choose carefully. Don’t compromise. Here are some techniques I’ve found that work for me: 1. Preparation is vital. Review your profile before you talk to anyone. 2. Ask open-ended questions, such as: • What would you redesign about your last job, and why? • How would your references answer the following question … ? 3. Take good notes. You’ll likely forget otherwise—count on it. 4. Ask tough questions like: • What are your weaknesses and how do they show up in performance? • What would you do differently now, in light of what you’ve learned? 5. Hold multiple interviews and get independent judgments from each interviewer. 6. Involve everyone who’s going to be involved with that person: customers, suppliers, peers, employees.
  229. Organization structure eliminates people’s weaknesses. So organize around people’s weaknesses. As people grow and develop new strengths, and weaknesses emerge, reshuffle the boxes. That’s why organizing is really a process of constantly reorganizing.
  230. I Never Heard of Anyone Lying on His Deathbed Who Said, “I Fired That Person Too Soon”
  231. The premium is on learning fast enough to cope and to stay ahead of the pack. Learning is the key. Faster is the pace.
  232. I became a student of everyone and a follower of no one.
  233. Most of us overestimate the value of what we currently have, and have to give up, and underestimate the value of what we may gain.
  234. Learning New Leadership Patterns Isn’t What You Know, It’s What You Do
  235. Mostly, I learned that I learned a lot more by doing than I did by reading or listening to lectures. Doing presents me with the opportunity to learn. Get on with the doing. The more you do, the more you have the opportunity to learn. Widen the scope of doing. Go up in hot-air balloons. Go down in submarines. Take the risk to speak up and stand out.
  236. The worst mistake may be the best learning opportunity.
  237. Knowledge is nothing without action. Nothing changes until you do something. What you do will directly determine what you learn.
  238. Anything Worth Doing Is Worth Doing Poorly—At Least in the Beginning
  239. Doing it just right is not what’s important. Starting is. You can’t start getting better until you start.
  240. Since the greater risk is in doing nothing, you can minimize the risk by starting.
  241. Mistakes tell us that whatever we’re doing is not working. They tell us something is wrong. Most of the time we look for “something” other than ourselves. The lengths to which I’ve gone to avoid making a mistake or own up to one I made illustrate my propensity to avoid feedback.
  242. I learned two important leadership lessons from this mistake. First, focus on the skills required to do the job that needs to be done. Background is secondary and relevant only as it supports performance in this job.
  243. Even though fear and excitement trigger very similar physiological phenomena, we perceive fear negatively and excitement positively. When we permit the negative emotional feelings of fear to overcome us, we miss out on great learning opportunities which excitement presents us.
  244. What’s the Worst Thing That Could Happen to Me-and What Can I Do About It if It Does?
    1. NOTE: fear setting
  245. I most often discover that the worst that can happen isn’t nearly as terrible as I initially feared, and I can do much to cope successfully with it if it does.
  246. Examining the worst possible scenario and seeing that there are creative ways to deal with it successfully helps to reduce the fear of the new and the different.
  247. Sharing my fear helped to both disarm any opposition and to avoid cover-up behavior.
  248. Use Fear to Increase Performance Fear is a wonderful stimulant. It quickens the mind, sharpens the senses, heightens performance. I’ve learned to focus the stimulant on doing better, rather than worrying about doing worse.
  249. When fear runs through my system, I ask myself, “What can I do to remove the potential causes of failure?” “What can I do to ensure* success?” I’ve evolved rituals to answer these questions constructively.
  250. QUESTION: What’s the worst thing that can happen and how can I handle it? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: Use your fear to mobilize your resources and stimulate your performance.
  251. Why do I get angry with that person, that topic, that situation? The answer to those questions tells me about myself, my best contributions to my organizations, and what I need to learn to Lead the Journey. One of my greatest teachers is my own anger, because it helps me learn more about myself as a leader. What I get angry about is what I need to learn more about. As tough as that insight is to swallow and digest, it is very valuable to my learning.
  252. What About You Reminds Me of What I Don’t Like About Me?
  253. In an effort to kill two birds with one stone, or more precisely, tone down two loud braggarts at the same time, I enlisted Ben to help me accomplish my changes. I asked him to watch me for loud bragging and self-centered kinds of behaviors. I arranged a signal for him to tip me off when I was slipping into the unwanted behaviors.
  254. Elicit the Right Help in Changing— Some Help Is No Help at All
  255. Focus on Performance to Overcome Anger
  256. Most of the time I discovered that open confrontation and discussion of the issues resulted in swift improvement.
  257. Anger tells a leader that he/she is shirking responsibilities. He/she is avoiding facing up to key performance issues. Anger is the red warning light that says, “Engine needs service.”
  258. “What is causing my anger in this situation?” I think it’s my impatience. I see, or I think I see, what needs to be done and I want to move on to the action phase. While others seem not to be ready yet, I sit and stew, and stew, and stew in frustration.
    1. NOTE: reminds me of me
  259. At its root, I discovered, anger is fear in another disguise. Why was I angry at Ben? I was afraid that he would ruin my business. Why was I angry during the selection process? I was afraid that I would waste too much time and not get to the “important” items I felt I had to do. I was also afraid that without me the best person wouldn’t get chosen. The fear, a.k.a. anger, showed me my lack of faith in both the process and the people. Anger was revealing my fears and raising them to an action level.
  260. QUESTION: What is my anger telling me that I need to learn about myself and what I’m doing? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: Listen to your anger and learn from it.
  261. Stubbornness often signals to me that I may be disguising my real concerns.
  262. There’s another cause that’s worthy of a leader’s stubbornness: great performance. In too many instances, people are willing to “settle” for average, okay, or good performance. They want to avoid the stress and strain and unknown of “great” performance.
  263. The first step in handling a divorce is to gather up the courage to act. In AA terms, this is called “hitting bottom.” I’ve learned some ways to “raise the bottom” so the fall isn’t quite so far.
  264. Keep the responsibility for performance with the performer.
  265. Getting customers to say, “I want this. I don’t accept that,” is an excellent way to introduce reality and authority into performance discussions.
  266. the stream of continuing conversations about great performance serves as an early-warning signal to potential causes of divorce.
  267. I learned in the customer case discussed just above that how you handle the divorce is as important as the completion itself.
  268. Business reflects, and is a reflection of, life. How we handle business is how we handle life. Business is life.
  269. I had learned from business that you can’t “give” people things and have them value the things they get. They only value the things they earn.
  270. The great teachers in this classroom of business are mistakes, divorce, fear, anger, and stubbornness. In every business setting, these great teachers are present and ready to teach me. Sometimes I am not ready to learn.
  271. The dominant theme in my life now is learning. Learning more and faster is the only true competitive advantage. I work to instill that love of learning throughout my organization, and my life.
  272. We have several systems that foster that love of learning. We set aside a sum of money for each person to spend any way they wish on their learning. We pay for scuba diving lessons as well as calculus instruction. Learning is learning. Learning the discipline to master scuba diving carries over into mastering the discipline of making better sausage and writing better computer code.
  273. People in organizations obsessed with learning will succeed.
  274. As a thirsty person seeks out a water fountain, I’ve learned to seek out experiences. I deliberately put myself in new situations.
  275. Tomorrow Belongs to Those Who Prepare for It Today
  276. While action matters, it’s the right action that matters most.
  277. There are always a thousand reasons not to do what ought to be done. There is only one reason to do it: because it is the right thing to do. The right thing to do always means choosing the morally correct alternative. Ask yourself, “Could I explain my actions on 60 Minutes and be believed?” Only take those actions that could be defended and believed under harsh public scrutiny. The success of any organization depends upon what its people are willing to do. Mobilize this incredible people power by doing what’s morally right.
  278. Don’t confuse the risk of failure with the fear of failure. Fear is a great teacher. Use that teacher to learn what you must learn. Do not be like Hamlet, who was immobilized by his fears. Learn to go through your fears as a runner goes through the wall of pain.
  279. Effective leaders let their actions speak so clearly that you don’t have to hear their words.
  280. Reflect on the content of this book. It defines my morality. It is about learning, focus, and customers. It’s about accepting responsibility. And it is especially about great performance. I believe that we all have a moral imperative to strive to become as great a performer as we can possibly be.
What I got out of it
  1. A great business and management book. Your people have to know you care, give away ownership and responsibility, push down decision making as far as possible to those who know it best, create win/win scenarios, establish a culture of trust