Change now, daydream later

Excellent post (here) on Harvard Business Online by Marshall Goldsmith that tries to answer the question: “What prevents us from making the changes we know will make us more effective leaders?”  His answer is based on follow-ups with participants in Goldsmith’s leadership development courses:

At the end of my sessions, I ask leaders (who have received 360-degree feedback) to follow up with their co-workers and ask for ongoing ideas about how they can continue to become more effective. A year later, about 70% do some version of this recommended follow-up (as reported by their co-workers, not by them); 30% do absolutely nothing.

Why this happens is very familiar to me: my desire to change is side-tracked by procrastination.  The root cause of that procrastination is my desire to have all things in order — aka, perfectionism — before starting the change. 

I have learned a hard lesson trying to help real people change real behavior in the real world. The ‘couple of weeks’ that you are fantasizing about are not going to happen. Look at the trend line. There is a good chance that tomorrow is going to be even crazier than today!

If you want to make real change, ask yourself this tough question: What am I willing to change now? Not ‘in a few months.’ Not ‘when I get caught up.’ Now.  

Read the post and follow the links…

Manny Ramirez, Theo Epstein, and Leadership Do’s/Don’ts

Two posts on terminating top performers at HarvardBusiness.org (here and here) had my ears perked when I heard Theo Epstein, General Manager of the Boston Red Sox discuss the events in and around the Manny Ramirez trade.  Manny was, and still can be on occasion, one of the greatest right-handed bats in baseball history.  He does, however, have a unique attitude and deportment that is simply known as “Manny being Manny”.

I wondered how Theo would discuss what was, in essence, the termination of his top performer.  There is a lot to admire about his management style.  He’s not even 35, yet Theo is one of the more self-possessed, articulate, mature, and successful sport executives around.   Let me pass along a few “Theo’s do’s and don’ts” that I derived from the interview:

  • Don’t bad mouth past contributions — This makes one look bitter and foolish.  For goodness sakes, Manny averaged nearly 40 HR/110 RBI in a Red Sox uniform.
  • Do answer specific objections/questions with facts — That said, don’t let objections lie.  However, answer the objections with facts.  When Theo was asked about the secondary effects of losing Manny on David Ortiz, Theo could easily demonstrate that Ortiz’s production was unaffected by Manny’s previous absences.
  • Don’t, in the words of Theo, “parade around and tell people what’s going on behind the scenes, just to make ourselves look good“.  Too many sports leaders get caught up in trying to ensure everyone — fans, the media, and especially the players — knows that “they’re the boss”.  Continue reading
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