In the Land Where Eagles Soar

1989RonNancyFarewellIn the land where eagles soar,
Morning’s light opens doors.
God’s grace shines ever more.
Yet bittersweet’s the taste,
At freedom’s core.

World’s at your feet,
People gonna tweet.
People gotta eat.
Man needs to do the solid,
Open his wallet,
Or go home.
And leave people,
The hell alone!

People slingin’ bombs,
Which side you on?
Bomberang!
Winners and losers,
The Man’s the chooser.
Back a boozer,
Who’s the loser?

In the land where eagles soar,
Morning’s light opens doors.
God’s grace shines ever more.
Yet bittersweet is the taste,
At freedom’s core.

Catch peace on the wind.
Hearts will mend.
Listen for the morning dove.
Wrap yourself in love.
People push and shove,
You can rise above.

In the land where eagles soar,
Morning’s light opens doors.
Stop the madness,
Stops the sadness,
Freedom’s knockin’ on the door.

Today, My Tanks Were on Empty. 

Today, my tanks were almost on empty.  I didn’t have any more energy left to manage the daily, interim or long-term crises I have in front of me.  Just the acknowledgement of such, may create another crisis! I couldn’t decide what to do.  After all, I am responsible for family, friends, coworkers, partners, industry associates and customers.

You could even say I have a leadership crisis in the mix, if that’s not too self-important. Where do you turn when you are at the end of your rope and you’re last in line?

I’m not self-important.  The definition of self-important is “having or showing an exaggerated opinion of one’s own importance; pompously conceited or haughty.” If you believe I am that person, I have another crisis of which to contend. A time of crisis, is a time to look in the mirror. Make sure self importance doesn’t include writing the checks you can’t cash. It isn’t about the money, although that is a means to an end. What I mean by that is you need to look past words and see the person behind them. What does that person do and what has that person accomplished, virtually on their own. That’s a small business person, that’s an entrepreneur. That’s why I love this expression, Successful business people stand on ground that is “crumbling beneath their feet,” Joseph Schumpeter

Essentially those I interact with daily, I would imagine, would be more than a bit surprised if I went off the rails.  The problem is, I have all the responsibilities, all the failures, regardless of who within the organization has made the mistake(s). I have always been afraid I just didn’t have the will.  I have always been afraid I was to give in or give up. I just didn’t. No brag. Just fact.

I think, if I went off the rails, maybe then someone who depends on me would have to step up in a big way and fill these shoes. My biggest fear today? The question. “Who is ready?”

Here is some advice from John Baldoni, who is a leadership consultant, coach, and speaker. He is the author of nine books, including 12 Steps to Power Presence: How to Assert Your Authority to Lead. See his archived blog for hbr.org here. Baldoni’s advice has helped me.

Take a moment to figure out what’s going on. An executive I know experienced a major disruption in service to his company. He was the person in charge and he told me that at the first response meeting everyone started talking at once. The chatter was nervous response — not constructive — so he delegated responsibilities and then called for a subsequent meeting in an hour’s time. This also helped to impose order on a chaotic situation.

Act promptly, not hurriedly. A leader must provide direction and respond to the situation in a timely fashion. But acting hurriedly only makes people nervous. You can act with deliberateness as well as speed. Or as legendary coach John Wooden advised, “Be quick but don’t hurry.”

Manage expectations. When trouble strikes, people want it to be over right now — but seldom is this kind of quick resolution possible. It falls to the leader in charge to address the size and scope of the crisis. You don’t want to alarm people, yet do not be afraid to speak to the magnitude of the situation. Winston Churchill was a master at summing up challenges but offering a response at the same time. As he famously said when taking office in 1940, “You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory; victory at all costs; victory in spite of all terror; victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.”

Demonstrate control. When things are happening quickly, no one may have control, but a leader can assume control. That is, you do not control the disaster — be it man-made or natural — but you can control the response. A leader puts himself into the action and brings the people and resources to bear. Think of Red Adair, who made a name for himself putting out oil fires that no one else could. A raging blaze may seem uncontrollable but Adair knew could control the way it was extinguished.

Keep loose. Not only does this apply to personal demeanor — a leader can never afford to lose composure — it applies to the leader’s ability to adapt rapidly. A hallmark of a crisis is its ability to change quickly; your first response may not be your final response. In these situations, a leader cannot be wedded to a single strategy. She must continue to take in new information, listen carefully and consult with the frontline experts who know what’s happening.

As much as we like to see senior executives pitch in and help with the heavy lifting, there is a limit. A senior executive’s prime role is setting direction. If he or she is engaged too much in front line responsibility, then who is doing the vision thing? Some executives still enjoy doing that hands-on work; they like the rush of adrenaline that comes from direct action. Too bad. That is not their job any more.

Leaders have another important role during a crisis and that is to provide perspective. As Mike Useem has written in The Go Point, an insightful study of decision-making, effective leaders can often do more by standing back from the action.

It is why, as Useem notes, that the team leader in mountaineering expeditions often remains at base camp rather than hiking to the summit. That way, if trouble strikes, he can direct the response with the perspective that comes from seeing the mountain as a whole and the conditions that affect the summit team.

The measure of a leader is often tested during a crisis. And those leaders who can engage directly, but still maintain their sense of perspective, are the ones that will help the organization survive.

I hope I’m that person. At least I think so. If that make me self-important…

P.S. I wrote this in 2013 and decided it is still relevant, maybe even more so today! I guess I am at least capable of listening to others advice. Thanks Mr. Baldoni!

 

 

Precipe

Hi Mom

Echoes of the past,
Haunting me.
Steps alone.
Steps in the driven snow,
Only I can follow,
Only I can know.
A path ill forgotten.
The journey, a pause,
Takes my breath away.
Reaching back to the life,
I’ve been given.
Breathing life back,
Back to the future.
Where only I can,
Know who I am,
Alone.

Successful business people stand on ground that is “crumbling beneath their feet,” Joseph Schumpeter

The Dangers of Alone

We’ve all heard it’s lonely at the top. The real danger is being alone in your convictions.

As a leader of a company or an institution, you can be surrounded by the best people with the best intentions, yet be alone in your convictions. Your “best people”, be it a perception they’re doing the best thing for the company or institution for whom they work, there’s is a conviction they’re right.

They think they know more about the issues. Maybe they don’t know enough about the issue to tackle it on their own and are afraid to ask for help. Maybe their ego clashes with your own. Maybe there’s a personal bond between you and a key person that has been broken. In any or all of these cases, as their leader, you’re left alone.

The irony is you may start down the same path, initially want the same things but lose somehow, one or the other person(s) loses their way.

The danger is, if you are left alone in your conviction your decisions will be undermined. You will experience outright rebellion, where its obvious where you stand. You can deal directly with the issue and the person or persons who oppose you on the issue. The danger is the person(s) may be a valuable asset and leave, or simply refuse to work with you on the issue.

Compromise is by far and away the best alternative. The less desirable alternative is to replace the person(s). This will result in all sorts of new challenges let alone delays, even if in the end, you get the results you need and want.

The person(s) who think they know more about what’s best on an issue, may say “Yes”, do nothing, or stall a process to keep the initiative from moving forward. Basically, they’re blowing smoke up your behind. The danger is the stall. Delays will doom an initiative to fail. This is also the case when they are in over their head and are afraid to admit it.

Ego is always a danger in as a leadership issue. If you have someone you depend upon who’s ego gets in the way, it’s a complex situation. It could simply be personal, a matter of respect. The person(s) believes they’re the smartest person in the room and there’s no room for anyone else’s opinion. Worse it could be jealousy or contempt which boils down to a lack of respect.

To deal with most if not all of these issues, first look retrospectively into your own objectives, and communicate with the person(s). Be honest and forthright in your convictions and your own doubts. A compromise may be the result. Be honest about your concerns about the person(s) motives outlined here as well. Considering the resolution is to move forward in your convictions you have to make decision, regardless.

Do you get a “yes”, a commitment to move forward with your initiative? Great. If you get the affirmative, but see there is a lukewarm reception towards moving forward, closely monitor the results. If there’s a bigger issue, a lack of the skills necessary and most likely an ego clash, you need to find someone you can trust, someone capable of carrying forward your initiatives.

If you feel like there’s a problem with the person(s) leadership skills, I recommend enrolling the person(s) in a Dale Carnegie leadership/management course and recommend they read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey.

Finally, if is a personal bond broken between you and another person(s), quickly mend the fences. This may require great personal sacrifice. You acquiesce through humility and forgiveness on your part. If there’s no healing salve, find an exit strategy for that person(s) as quickly as possible.

The alternative is, at the very least lack of focus at the very worst, a chasm amongst and between you and anyone whomever supports that person(s). If that person(s) is otherwise a great asset to the company or institution, you have to decide what’s best all concerned. If you let someone else drive a wedge between you, your people and the business, all will suffer.

And that my fellow leaders, are the “dangers of alone”.

Successful business people stand on ground that is “crumbling beneath their feet,” Joseph Schumpeter

My thoughts on the Thousand Oaks Shooting, and Ian Long

A young #Marine with a passionate plea. More needs to be done for Veterans with PTSD.

I’m a Landline

I’m a landline.
Yeah old as the dirt I’m buried under.
Not too deep. I can be broken.
Throw me a 5G lifeline.
AT&T or Walker Texas Ranger.
I’m in danger!
I need to get more fiber in my diet.
Rescue this song.
Like every episode.
I’m the good looking song.
What could go wrong?
Well, I’m old, not blind.
Life’s not been too kind.
Walker needs to rescue me,
AT&T 4G is taking too long,
I’ll never finish this song…

Nothing Ventured! (slide show)

Hi MomNothing ventured.
Nothing gained.
Yes. That’s you.
That was me,
At 18 too.
I’m unknown.
I’m unread.
Nothing here.
Nothing said.
I’m granite.
You’re Atlantic.
In New York,
You pick your fork.
In Des Moines,
You pick your employment line.
Don’t tell me the ice is melting,
When the snow is pelting,
When you haven’t felt the cold,
When you’re too young, to feel old.
Don’t tell me we need an open door.
We’re already poor.
Show me you’re real,
Or I’ll show you the door.

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