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The CEO of small company and I were talking about his aspirations for the company. It was time to begin stepping back from the day-to-day operations to focus on the big picture. All he needed was a way for them to produce the same results as when he was involved: predictable performance.

Talking with his employees, a picture began to emerge. Everyone loved the CEO. He valued them. He paid above market wages. He treated them with dignity and respect. They were owners in the company and proud of the products they produced. They knew their role in accomplishing the company’s mission.

During an economic downturn, he protected their jobs. Those he let go, he helped to land on their feet. They were sharing their stories with pride. They were loyal to him.

He had the foundation for a great company culture. Helping him create predictable performance should be easy. The mechanics are a simple.

As the conversations continued, another part of the picture began to emerge. The employees were afraid. Why? Some of the C-level executives, VPs and managers were not committed to his values. Much of the effort he expended in operations was mitigating the challenges they created. Pockets of the CEO’s culture existed throughout the company, but not in all areas.

The culture he was creating would not survive without him and neither would the predictable performance he wanted to create. His people values were necessary for creating the predictable performance.

How do you create a culture that does not depend on you and values people?best_culture

1) Know your values. If you have not given them much thought, tell the stories about what makes you viscerally angry, brings tears of joy or moments of deep satisfaction. These are indications of what you value. Values won’t be a single word. Often they are a simple statement of lessons learned.

2) Define your non-negotiables. We make trade-offs every day on our values. Some are more important than others. Which ones are you unwilling to give up?

3) Hire for the non-negotiable values; train for skills. How? Ask questions that let them tell their stories and listen. You’ll hear their values. If you hire based on your values, your mangers will hire based on the same values.

4) Let them go if you don’t see those values demonstrated in their actions.  Creating a great culture is difficult. Destroying it is not.

pyramid_cultureA great culture starts at the top with shared values that permeate all levels of the organization. A culture that values people is at the heart of predictable performance.

When the culture is no longer dependent on the CEO and strong people values are present and practiced, creating predictable performance becomes profitable.

Categories : Performance
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Things were going well. Everything finished on time. Everyone had gone home for the night. Job well done.

It’s Monday. The phone rings at 6am.

Things are breaking that were fine the day before.

We had followed our normal processes. The appropriate people were informed and consulted. What could possibly have gone wrong?

Things had always worked before. Or had they?

Over time, our way of doing things evolved informally. A sticky note here. An informal conversation there. A handshake over a beer.

It gave us the illusion of agility. Fighting fires and fixing things became part of the culture…except things didn’t get fixed. They were managed on the fly and did not show up in the results we measured.

It became our “normal.” Then in the course of our normal chaos, a ball was dropped. We had to change.

Have you had one of those moments? Has your team’s performance evolved over time. It’s only a matter of time before something different breaks.

The good news: You don’t have to give up agility to get the same results every time. To create predictable performance:

1) Clearly define the standard of excellence for a result and communicate it to your team. In medicine, the right medication administered in the right way, at the right time, in the right dose to the right person is the standard. The standard for a delivery service is the right package delivered on time to the right address. All of these conditions must be met to produce the desired result. What is the standard for your result(s)?

2)  Define and document the process that supports the standard.

3) Follow the process and empower your team to change what doesn’t work well. Where necessary, define the limits of their authority for implementing change.measure

4)  Measure against the standard.

5) Align your recognition and reward systems to support the behavior you want. .

6) When things don’t work well, go back to #1. Do we have the right standard? If so, then what didn’t work well? Update the process.

That’s all it takes to create predictable performance.

True agility is in managing those things you could not foresee and for which you could not plan. If your organization is used to flying by the seat of their pants, it will take patience and diligence to bring about the change. Your job is to lead them in the direction you wish to go.

Are you ready for predictable performance? If so, let’s talk. Click the link to schedule your complimentary discovery session.

Categories : Performance
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If I have to do part of it, I may as well do all of it…

It takes me less time to do it than to…

If I don’t keep my eye on everything…

A CEO I worked for said those things. I was the only one he trusted, until “it” happened.

Sicker than a dog, I couldn’t perform my duties. My team had to function without me. They did a stellar job. I could not have been more pleased or proud. The CEO realized that my team had my back and I had his. I had created predictable performance with my team.

I was no longer indispensable. I was free. Free to pursue new opportunity. Free to focus on the big picture. Free to be sick and unconcerned. Free.

Are you free? Or indispensable?

If they can’t function without you, you’re a slave. Being indispensable is killing your business and your team.

How do you move from indispensable to free?

Simple, you create predictable performance.

It’s easy and it will take a little effort. Start with one project or task.

⇒Define the result you produce.

⇒Define the steps to produce the result.

⇒Define the decision points in those steps. What happens when things do go 100% correctly? Teach them how to think like you.

⇒Define the boundaries for the authority they need.

⇒Let it go.

Trust them. Mistakes will happen. It is an opportunity to learn and grow.

The greatest benefit: their growth frees you.

You are more valuable to those who work for you when you are focused on the things that only you can do: charting the course for the organization, keeping an eye on trends and threats, ensuring adequate resources are available, etc.

Depositphotos_7360567_originalThe choice is yours: slavery or freedom.

What are your tips or stories about creating predictable performance? Share them in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

Would you like to become a little less indispensable? Schedule a complimentary conversation, here.


Categories : Performance
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In a difficult situationKodak ignored digital photography. IBM ignored the PC. The major PC manufacturers ignored Dell. The PC industry ignored Apple. The publishing industry ignored on-demand-print and electronic readers. An online book store? Really?

The threat was present but not taken seriously. Why would a consumer change their behavior?

While the “giants” were focused on their strengths and opportunities, enterprising people exploited their weaknesses, created their own opportunity and disrupted the industry. Some giants weathered the storm. Others are no longer in business.

We’ve been told to focus on our strengths, accentuate the positive. It’s natural. It’s easy. It’s dangerous.

wotWeaknesses and threats are not negatives to be swept under the rug.

They represent an opportunity for innovation. That’s how your competition sees them.

Weakness exposes a threat which can be turned into an opportunity. The opportunity once realized exposes new weakness.

Shift your perspective.

Take a look at your company’s or department’s weaknesses as though you’re the competition.


  1. What do your customers really care that you do well? This is part of your strategic advantage. If you’re not doing it as well as they would like, they might be ready to jump ship.
  2. Is there something that you do that unintentionally causes them pain?
  3. What do your customers wish you did better?
  4. What do you do well that your customers don’t care about? Can you eliminate it to reduce cost without reducing quality or service?
  5. Are there alternatives, another way of producing the same result as your product or service? Is there technology on the horizon that could create an alternative?
  6. In the chain of buyers (purchasers, users, influencers), is someone being neglected? If their needs are not being met, they can influence others to try something new.
  7. Who are the non-customers in your industry? Why are they non-customers? Are they a large enough segment that your competition could gain momentum?
  8. How can the competition take advantage of the situation?

How can you prevent that from happening? Borrowing from Illuminate by David Corbin:

⇒ Face it – If you answered those 8 questions, you know the threat is there.

⇒ Follow it – What is happening? Do you have a process for periodically reviewing trends and your strategy?

⇒ Fix it – Take action. “The enemy diversion you have been ignoring will be the main attack.”[i]

Your competition may not exist today. They may be just over the horizon awaiting their perfect storm of opportunity. Weakness creates opportunity. The only question is who will benefit?

To schedule a complimentary conversation, visit ChatWithLeslie.

[i] 21 Brutal Rules of Warfare from Actual Soldiers

Categories : Strategy
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The Gift of Trust

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new mindset to new results written by 3d manWhat would happen to your team, if you gave each member the gift of trust?  Not the type of trust that requires proof…but an authentic trust…a willingness to put yourself in their “hands with the complete and deliberate awareness that you may be disappointed?”[i]

Interesting question, isn’t it? You might be thinking, “You can’t do that.  Everyone has to prove themselves. I won’t trust so-and-so until they prove they are good at ________“.

Do you realize how frustrating it is for your employees  to wait for you to decide to trust them? Do you realize how much more work you take on? Do you realize that as a leader you are impeding the growth of your business, organization or team (or family)?

High performance teams cannot develop without the willingness of the leadership to bestow authentic trust on each member.  Trust empowers the recipient, creates the space for them to step up to meet your expectations and discover their full potential. Trust also frees you to focus on other important tasks, allowing you to be a more effective leader.

The more you trust, the more they step up, the more they grow. It becomes a virtuous cycle of growth that frees you to grow as well.

If you are in a leadership position today, chances are someone took a chance on you.  You didn’t necessarily merit the chance. Remember that feeling? A little anxiety as you took on the task. A sense of accomplishment and pride when you succeeded. That one person’s trust made a difference in your behavior and your life.  The greatest reward though came through the relationship with the one who trusted you.  It expanded and grew deeper. Remember that feeling?

Only an authentic leader can bestow authentic trust. What does your ability to trust say about you?

[i] Degraffenreid, Blazing a Trail to Success: The New Art & Science of Acknowledgment

Categories : Team Dynamics
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