Executives: What Will You Do Differently In 2019?

Within the last week of 2018, I have had several individual sessions with Executives whom I am coaching plus a 2-hour session with my Mastermind Coaching Group (with 7 Executives). The topic throughout the week was: “What will we as Executives do differently in 2019?”

The following is a list of the various resolutions that they adopted/decided on for 2019:

  1. Have more staff meetings. Weekly staff meetings give you the ability to communicate more often with your inner circle of direct reports as well as giving you the opportunity to discern and get insights into how things are going and what’s happening organization wide. It also allows you to quickly address/deal with issues and concerns that need immediate attention/action. You should also encourage your direct reports to have weekly staff meetings so that they can do the same. Imagine what happens in an organization where there is constant feed-back and feed-forward loops of information, ideas, developments, issues, strategies, solutions… People are listening, sharing, doing, reflecting, analyzing, involving, communicating…
  2. Have shorter staff meetings. More staff meetings must mean shorter staff meetings where everyone learns to deliver reports and share ideas more succinctly. Each participant should come prepared and no one should get a pass! This should occur at every level – and in every department. As a result of a coaching session in August, one organization – a bank – (in the teller department) instituted a daily 5 minute huddle at the beginning of the day… and at the end of the day – except on Monday mornings when the huddle was 15 minutes. One outcome (within a week of starting this): A major – potentially – multimillion dollar fraud was detected, reported and quickly snuffed out on the same day! A new, junior staffer tentatively and hesitatingly shared what she thought was a ‘minor irregularity’ during the huddle…  It would have otherwise taken the bank a few days and up to a week to realize that there was a problem.
  3. Work shorter hours than last year. I believe in the principle that “I am working so that I can live – I am not living so that I can work”! Long work hours contribute to high levels of stress which then, over the long haul, contribute to serious health problems. Unless it’s a major, major, major crisis – go home, refresh, replenish, rejuvenate – rest so that you can start the next day anew! Most leaders who I have coached started out working 12 and 14 hour-days which is a recipe for stroke and heart attack… plus diabetes, being overweight, and a myriad of health depreciating issues and conditions.
  4. Focus more on the big picture. Keep the goals in front of everyone. Your organization’s vision, mission, goals and objectives are your ‘map’ for where the organization is going. The tasks and deliverables should all fit therein. Keep your direct reports focused on the big picture – so that the little things fit and make sense. Your direct reports should in turn pass these (from vision to deliverables) across to their direct reports – and thereby be spread throughout the organization.
  5. Focus on the “why”. Why does the organization exist? What is the organization’s purpose? Where and how do the deliverables fit into the purpose? Where does each department’s (vision, mission, goals, objectives, tasks, deliverables) fit into the overall purpose? For example: How does what the messenger do fit into the organization’s purpose -and which objective is being satisfied/fulfilled by the messenger’s activities? 
  6. Delegate more. An executive’s job is to deliver on the organization’s vision. He or she gets that job done through the people in the organization. That ought to be the mindset and operational practice of all executives, managers and supervisors. Delegate ‘effectively’ so that the work gets done. The relatively small number of executives in an organization get paid the big bucks to ‘ensure’ that the army of the big number of ‘staff’ deliver the work! I know that may sound crass… but it’s the truth. Delegation, however, should be followed by close monitoring, follow-up, review and feedback.
  7. Coach more. In this context, coaching is a collaborative and consultative process between a manager and employee where the manager in mostly a non-directive manner helps the employee to improve performance and productivity. The manager uses general questions, work-related examples and scenarios, pre and post event analyses and case studies to facilitate the growth and development of the employee. Areas where coaching can be very helpful include problem-solving, planning, and decision-making.
  8. Be ‘more of’ the leader you would follow. This is akin to the golden rule in the sense that in identifying how they like to be lead, can utilize some of the same principles when they lead. The skill of being empathic is useful here since the leader can put him/her self in the place of the supervisee and discern how to best coach the individual to perform better. However, there are times that the leader has to step out of this frame when the stakes are high like during crises and emergencies. In those kinds of circumstances, the focus is of necessity to get the job done – fast and right!
  9. Focus on accountability – You first, then everyone else!  Leadership is about accountability to the purpose, vision, mission – and results. Leaders must demonstrate that they are both accountable and responsible. They demonstrate the same behaviors, attitudes and mindsets that they are expecting of their staff. They hold themselves accountable at higher levels than they do their staff.
  10. Listen more – Be more responsive to what you hear! Leaders must both hear and listen. This means that they must put in place mechanisms, systems and vehicles that collect feedback from throughout the organization. Then they must pay attention to the information provided by staff, customers and data. And, then they must demonstrate that they have heard, listened to, processed and understood the feedback – and that they are feeding the information forward into the organizations next steps. In other words: Get the feedback! Then, respond with the feedforward!
  11. Continue with Executive Coaching (and get coaching for my direct reports). Continuously improving leadership skills is a priority. There are emerging challenges in leading staff in today’s workplace. The strategies and techniques which worked before don’t seem to be working as well now. Staff are younger, more educated, more diverse, and more independent. They are looking for less hands-on directing from above, and less over-the-shoulder leadership (they call it ‘micro-management’). Yet, many are also looking for more coaching and guidance so that they can get opportunities to move into higher positions. So this is no longer a ‘command’ and ‘control’ leadership environment. The phrase ‘soft-skills’ has become more important at the higher levels of the organization than ever before. Good executive coaching is the strategy that the world’s top leaders are using in order for them to stay relevant, and engage, enroll, motivate, persuade, inspire – and lead – their organizations to greater success.
  12. Coach – Train – Develop – Inspire – Communicate & Give Constant Feedback To My Staff. Management is about the products, processes, procedures and results. Leadership is about people: productivity; performance; relationships. Therefore coaching, training, developing, inspiring, and engaging are all people related!
  13. Constantly and consistently: Recognize & Reward; Enroll & Encourage; Embrace & Empower!
  14. Balance “democracy” with “accountability and results”. There is a movement in today’s workforce towards greater ‘democracy’ in organizations. Increasingly popular are words and phrases such as ‘consultations’, ‘participatory decision-making’, ‘participatory management’, ‘workplace holacracy’, ‘flattened organizations’, ‘leadership at all levels’, and ‘codetermination’. While the notion of democracy in the workplace is increasingly being encouraged, it is important that organizations balance these with accountability for the kinds of measurable results that keep the company in the black… and keep employees hired.
  15. Be more responsive than reactive. The term ‘reactive’ conjures the idea that a leader’s actions are ‘triggered’ by an unforeseen, unplanned for issue or event.  ‘Reactive’ invokes the idea of ‘knee jerk’ reactions. Being ‘responsive’ suggests the idea that, whatever has happened, the leader is pursuing a measured, planned, well thought out path to address the situation. ‘Responsive’ suggests that there is more control than ‘reactive.’  Certainly, there is also some measure of ‘emotionality’ in the difference between the two ideas, with being ‘responsive’ suggested a calmer psychological response.   Some leaders have suggested that ‘what if’, ‘what can go wrong’ and ‘worst case scenarios’ pre-planning exercises have helped them to ‘respond’ rather than ‘react’ to crisis type challenges.
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