skills


“The lofty halls are lonely and cold.  With each advancing step we lose those cherished traits that brought you to this level of responsible esteem.” – J. Durant

While the prefix C- denotes the highest level of command it also reflects a rare condition.  Few will achieve it even though they may possess all of the characteristics for being a magnificent leader.  A C-level is a statement in trust by the company, investors, public and other members of the management team.  Trust however may be a fair day condition that is in your favor today and places you on the outside looking in tomorrow.  It is important to recognize that much of what a C-level may do is not on par with the supreme role as CEO.  Each company defines this roles differently but definitively two areas of separation involve the working relationship with the Board and Shareholders, and the other serving as the face before the general public.

Over the course of my career I have worked for, served as and have provided advised to C-Level executives.  Each has a distinctive persona which makes it challenging for lateral C-Level movement.

The C-Level seeking advice is most often cautiously reserved.  It was often driven by fear that caused by a lack of trust.  Don’t get me wrong C-Levels can be some the hardest shells that you will ever come in contact with but one thing is certain they seldom reveal themselves.  In fact some have even expressed that its almost impossible to find a bit of honest and confidential counsel.  It for this reason that many who reach this stature live in the present because the future is often a quagmire.  Whether it be market conditions, global shifts in competition, operational matters, disruptions caused by a number of factors can shift success to ouster overnight.  Those that hold these offices realize this and logically expect to go from engagement to engagement for the remainder of their careers and command unprecedented salaries befitting of tenure expectations. The C-Levels I worked with ranged from demanding to quite personable.  Some of this had to do with  the business climate (geographic and industry type) while the more personable relationships grew out of my core values.  This isn’t a boastful statement but in the case of two companies it was because I gave comfort, honesty, unwavering commitment and make it happen attitude (trust building).  All the while creating an atmosphere in which they could focus on strategic issues which had previously been diverted by attention to tactical firefighting issues.  In retrospect I was very lucky to not only be a comfort but also to build a durable personal relationship (without expectations because of the character traits that I outlined previously).  I also suspect, somewhat reluctantly, that the remained a bit of reserved mistrust that still held them not fully committed to the relationship.  The renegade of the group was the C-Level ‘self’.  It is in this state that we get distracted by the need for self-examination and rely heavily on knowing it all, which is not always the case.  In fact the self C-level is often a founder or first C-level conscript that is filling some very large shoes at a point in time when even the simplest mistakes can be catastrophic.  There is also a tendency to get a bit too immersed in the day-to-day operations which detracts from creating forward progress and may create a dependency that erodes the respect from the operational elements.  It also reflects in an abject personality traits that may endear a few but set off others as abrasive, curt, aloof and even anti social.

Playbook #1 – Truth and Trust

Every C-level needs a trusted partner that will deliver truth.  History can greatly effect how quickly this can be established.  Even assurance are not enough until it is seen and felt first hand.   When I was at AT&T and working as a division director my C-Level and I had a very unique relationship.  We would talk about serious confidential and highly proprietary matters.  There were times when I would have to stop him and get clarification because it seemed at the time to be beyond my level of comprehension.  Like a loving father he would clarify and often smile and say “its good you had me explain these things because I haven’t revisited the reasons for a very long time”.  It was also with great sadness that his passing revealed to me that he not only viewed me as his son (aka protege) but one of the few people he could trust with honest simplistic truth.  While it filled me with pride it also was bitter sweet to think a person could spend a lifetime in a business and at best could only expect guarded half truths.

As a C-Level the lack of trust and truth makes work difficult.  It requires multiple data points to substantiate and often we must revert truth/trust based decisions deeper in the organization in order to distance ourselves from the possible fallout caused by these shortcomings.  This is often the reason when an organization has some sort of newsworthy mishap that the blame rests with a member of staff and not directly attributable to the C-suite.  In a dynamically radical and disruptive world the concept of urgency is paramount.  Having to go through extra efforts to get to decisive information creates at perceived atmosphere of procrastination which is in fact the result of trust and truth reaching the C-Level.

Playbook #2 – Use of Peer Network

As we professional progress our peer network changes.  Some remain loyal friends/confidants and others fade away as a result of dissimilar interests.  Even though it sounds a bit stiff the relationship moves from collaborator to resource.  As a resource it can be as casual as having a chance social meeting to chit-chat to a more formal raiding of them as a employee.  Both the C-level and the peer need to recognize that with the tenuous C-level reality that nothing is long term.  If its casual it may be sporadic even unplanned  meetings and for the resource a life after a C-level departure is a hint to start self-relocation.  Now there are exceptions such as those with specialized abilities but this is becoming less a factor and may even be viewed as a liability.  It also means that despite introvert tendencies that one must force themselves to be a part.  Slow decisive attention to character transformation may be required.   It’s much like the ‘wall flower’ syndrome where you go through stages of observation, reserved interaction, participation and involvement.  Likewise the extrovert C-Levels need to regulate themselves.  Don’t show your cards or alienate before you examine, size-up and inject yourself into a foreign peer network (and never assume that what once was is still).

Playbook #3 – Self Management

When I think of failed C-level situations and even some that failed to offer acceptable adoption advice it all came down to self attitude.   You can easily list an unacceptable behavioral trait and somewhere within the C-suite you will find it in all it’s glory.  There is after all the to fit the role but the question that creates doubt is whether it needs to be manifested in such a fashion?  Is this atmosphere the result of their experience, the climate they operate in or events taking place at this moment?  One of my biggest peeves isn’t always about the C-level but about the arm chair critics that sit there leveling their view on what the C-level should be like.  Yet they have never sat in the chair let alone observed and interacted with the C-level on a routine basis.  These comments, opinions and in some cases revolts, threaten the existence of the C-level.  So what makes the difference?

  • Logical and visionary thinking.
  • Ability to quickly process complex situations.
  • Willingness, by necessity, to delegate downward.
  • Building a trusted and responsible team that is committed and communicative.
  • Frequent revisiting your personal operating model.
  • Remain focused on achievement and avoid social distractions that generate little or no value (and potentially increase risks).

Strong leadership acknowledges the existence of opposition.  It prepares for it, sees it and has adopted a respectable level of response as may/may not be required.  The short fuse and the spontaneity aren’t appropriate regardless of position, confidence or desire to act.  Take a breath and choose you actions with a clear mind and forward looking examination.

Playbook #4 – Personal Persona

In present day social media setting more and more C-Levels are expressing their inner self to the general public.  While mentally releasing and ego boosting there is another edge to the sword.  As a C-level your personal life should be guarded for the benefit of the company and shareholders.  One moment of spontaneity can result in catastrophe.  Be it a political stand, a naive response to a technical or market condition, jokes (which aren’t always received as they are intended) or family matters which pose a security risk care and attention must be always on point.  Those C-Levels that I have advise who have this desire to be in the social media limelight I requested one simple thing, “put your desires in the hands of a medium for social networks”.  This not only includes electronic social media but also with the press and public involved engagement.  It serves as a gate of control,  suitable framing and most effective deployment possible.  In doing so you don’t loose the ability/desire and at the same time the goal remains in keeping you in a light that isn’t damaging.

Playbook #5 – Health

Newly appointed C-Levels are apt to face a level of stress and demand that has never been imagined.  Trading operational stress driven by tactical goals is a world apart from stress guided strategic matters.  Time and attention is seldom the work day, and in the course of staying on top of things the C-Level will be interrupted by routine operational issues that remain important.  Demands become the driving force and in fact many proclaim that they have lost control of themselves to a large extent.  For this reason you must allocate time for your well being.

  • Mentally a moment of meditation and reflection are essential at least twice per day.
  • Physically a routine of exercise is strongly recommended.  Maybe its a simple stretching regiment or a full blown high impact workout the choice remains yours.
  • Nutritional control on both intake, types of intake and the amount of indulgences you permit yourself to take.
  • Recreational wellness.  Taking those moments to take a breath and enjoy the fruits of life.  It might be a simple matter of some recreational reading or writing but a moment invested yields a positive return.

Playbook #6 – Commit Fully

It’s not just a job, it’s not just a role and it’s certainly not just a title it’s a dedicated responsibility.  For many the euphoria creates self-indulged sense of importance which ultimately leads to a shortened career.   In many ways its like an mountain turned upside down.  All that hard work to reach the summit has given way to a stewardship to serve.  To serve customers, investors, general public, communities and the enablers called employees.  Without winning and leading those contingents your career will be short lived.   Some have told me that if they don’t love and promote themselves that no one will.  Yet the way you promote yourselves isn’t about yelling the loudest but showing the value of self.  It is this trait that is most important and yet is woefully under-supported.  Some will require an extensive makeover (most do) and others need to amplify virtues hidden underneath a rough persona.   This is about succeeding and being recognized for abilities, talents and leadership regardless of race, color, creed or national origin.  It also means in a diverse and globally connected world that different skins must be carefully woven to appeal to this condition.

Conclusion

A C-level leader, by title or by role, is a position of responsibility.  It’s lonely, often exhausting and a bit of a gamble in terms of tenure.  But it is the result of success and on top of this more success remains in your hands and no one else.  Do good things for you, your supports, advocates and even your challengers.  Bring to the C-Level position dignity, respect, decisive leadership and a vision towards the future.

“We live in a time where reality and fantasy exist with blurred lines.” – J. Durant

In context of transitional sciences we consider and debate the question as to the adaptability of people to morph from the present state to some aspired to condition.  The journey is often rough as the result of many condition.  Theriantrhropy is the mythological ability of human beings to metamorphose into other animals by means of shapeshifting.  The present day the concept of theriantrhropy can be considered as our ability to change ourselves into different forms, not necessarily in the physical sense but in behavioral/intellectual ways.   Some of this will occur as a bi-product of experience, exposure and learning.  Other changes result from external influences.   During the last decade our ability to transform has been challenged with the rapid changes in our world be it occurring in society, technology, business or the tightened connections within the global community.   We simply cannot curl up into a ball, in the corner of a room and expect to be safe.

First State Condition (Now/Present)

Before we even get started one must give consideration to what state the person(s) are in.  Are they struggling, unmotivated, overachieving, opinionated, persuasive, empowered, bewildered, etc.?   We must never overlook where we are, what is causing these conditions to exists (both good and bad), and what corrections might need to be employed before embarking on a state of transition.  I refrain from relating this to specific genders, age groups or cultures to avoid generalization, but these two can play a hidden but decisive contribution as to what occurs and how these matters must be attended two.

Second State Condition (Compelling Drive)

We must assume that we have taken steps to acknowledge, re-mediate and to address the know conditions that exist in the first state.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that it has been resolved, but it is expected that it becomes an element of attention during the course of transitioning in order to facilitate expedient achievement of planned objectives.  In the second state is when we look to elements to facilitate transitioning.  The most common tactic is to engage ownership.  In today’s business climate it less about assignment and more about taking voluntary ownership.   Some companies have created this climatic condition that can be viewed as customary.  However for others, especially in industries and cultures that are have a strong ‘command and control’ mentality, this will be something very new.  In order to achieve this we must,

  • introduce the concept and all of the beneficial reasons for this change in approach,
  • put forth the elements needing ownership and permitting guided signup for each. Note: it is critical that we guide this in order to avoid over-subscription or taking on roles that  are a mismatch, and
  • go forth, monitor, coach/counsel, reassign if necessary (but with dignity) and update as appropriate.

Third State Condition (Steady State)

Our conditioned ability to reach a steady state in transitioning is not for a single occurrence but one that will survive the potential every changing events that are apt to occur.  It was difficult to suggest that that a steady state would ever be achieve and would most likely be assaulted with new transitional challenges.  Whether these occur as a result of new principals and constraints or whether embodied inside of an element of disruptive change is unknown.  Experience has shown that changes occur, that some of these are apt to fail and then repair sometime later, and others will take the world by storm (duration to be either sustained or momentary).  It’s for these reasons that transitional aptitude and mindset must be keen and responsive.  Reliance on resilience based on the person or intuition are simply added benefits, not a reliable means to achieve positive and lasting flexibility.

The third state has one element that is key, toning.  Like a body builder who achieve a desired stature in order to maintain that they need regular toning physically, mentally and nutritionally.  Toning to achieve a steady state in transitioning (addressing the regular assaults of solicited and unsolicited change) involves toning.

  • Physical transitional toning – Regular involvement, refinement and development of transitional aptitude.
  • Mental transitional toning – Intense topical immersion through educational means.  It is important to utilize a geographically diverse variety that  (formal, informal, reading, classes, mentoring discussions, observation…) fits your learning style.
  • Nutritional transitional toning – Understanding you physiology…. what your application index is, the type of person you are (Myers-Briggs, Colored Brain…) and how to provide a suitable intellectual nutritional balance to maintain proficiency.

As management we are always worried about time and cost.  How much time will need to be dedicated to or how much cost will be involved.  This is not only a very legitimate question but also one that must drive much of what we do.  Instinct is not a sound means to achieve real and last results.

In terms of time, this relates to the three states as previously described.   Lots of issues will require attention even though these are matters that should have been corrected earlier.   Slow progress caused by environment and events will extend time.  However, the payback is found downstream as we start to pace the organization with present day state of changes.  No drag race goes from a standing stop to full speed immediately, and neither should we expect organizations to transition that way.

The cost relate mostly to the cost of time but the offset to the time is a higher degree of control and responsiveness to change.  We can easily dispatch an event to an appropriate level of attention, with a proper support collective in an expedient fashion and do so without be reacting but orderly responsiveness.

In conclusion, what we see happening and what some of you may envision is a lasting change in behavior.  A change that brings pragmatic protocol to embrace habit conditioned to the realities of transitioning, change and expediency.

 

 

On a daily basis we are exposed to topics of leadership.  From the aisles of government to the offices of commerce we seek leadership.  Our pursuits call upon leaders of the past who’s successes give instantaneous acclaim for their profound leadership.   However, we also see the assault on leadership from the rank-and-file that are in search of what they perceive to be leadership.

What is leadership or more specifically the instrument that we call a leader?  There are numerous definitions that exist and most point to the characteristics that a leader should have.  But is that really a definition or is it simply a personal depiction of what they perceive a leader to be.  In pondering this topic I tried to visualize the model which is comprised of two end points; a person who is followed (aka leader) and those that respond to the edicts of that person (aka the follower).   This definition is not  limited to just people but can also relate to entities such as a company, country or even market. Leadership these examples is earned and not bestowed, as might be the case when we deal with an organizational setting.   Thus we have two ways in which a leader reaches this role, by earning it through value based outcomes or though assignment.

images (2)Let’s talk a bit more about assigned leadership.  While we all assume that a leader has earned the role it can also be heavily influence by need and urgency of that need.  Each of us can easily think of cases where you wonder how a person became the leader when there appears to be a lack of leader traits.  It may be the case of earning the seat by tenure/opportunity and less about character traits.  However, as a follower (or a person sitting on the sideline as an observer) our scorecard may be much different that the one being used by the leader’s leader.  What we must come to realize that a leader’s leader may not only looking at the tactical implementation of initiatives but how those fit in with broader corporate objectives.  The leader-leader may know of about matters of urgency and thus are looking for the trait of decisiveness, technical abilities and project delivery track record as key components needed in this newly appointed leader.  All the while the contingent of followers are looking for a guide, mentor and someone who can appreciate their challenges.  In short the conflict between ‘action based decisiveness’ and ‘cooperative support’.  As we have read in the last few years there has been ample discussions about the focus of generational attitudes on the leadership model.  I’m not going to delve into each except to say that conditions will challenge each and every generation.  There may be times commanding group think, where as at other moments a more pragmatic scientific approach or even a unconfirmed decisiveness that is required.  It is mostly likely not feel right for you, it may never been fully embraced by you, but you will be expected to support the approach.  Now I’m a bit reluctant to say this but it is as important to know how to be a committed, effective, trusted and faithful follower as it is to be a responsible leader.   This is not something that is easily achieved and will require you to #transition your entire persona to fit varying conditions.

The leader who achieve acclaim through accomplishments is often lauded by others. You can’t take achievement away but at the same time we cannot assume that their style or approach is reproducible.   There is always that hint that right-place/right-time was the factor that made it happen.  It also should be noted that its easily to reverse engineer elements into an outcome as the baseline for success.  But even in those cases there are conditions, often undisclosed that contributed to it taking place.   Timing, budgets, corporate support, market readiness, human capital and the much allusive innovation often sit behind successful efforts.   So the leader sits between the two ends of success; the followers (instruments) that will be put into action whether in a day-to-day operative setting or on a initiative based venture and the leader’s-leader who is commanding the leader as a follower.

It is important to realize that the question of transparency and awareness exists.  How much is needed to invoke success or how little.   This question is best considered when thinking about ability to influence and knowledge capability of the individual (or even group).   During my career I have had many occasions when the market should have known but the ability to convert was near to impossible because of fear of the unknown.  The value of transparency, even with a risk reduction roadmap, remained an obstacle.  The information ‘fell on deaf ears’, it failed to transition thinking and added one more variable to a list of other variables that still had not been resolved.  One can never, regardless of  virtues, overcome these barriers.   Leaders and followers may be called upon to engage in initiatives or support processes based solely on face value, and this command massive trust.  Anyone who has sat in this role has had more than one hair brained scheme dropped in their lap and was expected to carry it out.  It is highly possible that you were right, if that is at all important, but being right isn’t the question.  The question is about achieving a result as a leader in the face of all opposing odds and utilizing the resources at your disposal.

As a professional, leader of follower, we are obligated to mature as professionals but also as individuals.  It possibly the reason why elder leaders are called upon for their wisdom because it is expected that they have reached a level of maturity.  Life teaches us many lessons most of which cannot be repeated because of the parties involved.  But none the less they took place, the story was written and the last chapter produced.  To reach maturity the craft of following, leading, sharing and #mentoring must occur.  If your pursuit ended in college, you leadership desires ignored following development then the outcome will produce substandard leaders.  Ambition, interest and even technical skills are not enough to be a leader that is anything more than an expendable resource.  Once you have served a purpose your value is no longer worth the fallout from the elements that lacked the potential for leadership growth.

Education is important, but it’s value impact is achieved when used with the right leadership personality.   The right tools will assist in achieving goals but if the talent is not there, then don’t expect to produce a world class painting just because you have an expensive badger hair paintbrush.

GBS Instrumental Leadership

The context of the Global Business Service (GBS) is a collective of organizations that are a resource to other institutions around the world, and not solely focused on domestic market.   The GBS model involves a spearhead, participants and market.  Because of its disruptive emergence out of shared services and outsourcing paradigms the ability of GBS to achieve formation has been circumstantial and not cohesively formed.  By this, we have engaged numerous events and initiatives to hold onto the concept of GBS but have been a bit apprehensive to raise acclaim as the leader.  I’m sure its a worthy bar room discussion as to why, but at this point its more a matter of embracing the need for leadership, determining how that can be achieved and putting it into action.   Time and time again leadership contention becomes a leading barrier to achieving worthwhile results.  Organization vs. organization vying for the leadership role becomes a polarizing effect.

imagesIn the meantime however is the target consumer who operates in its own independent sphere of needs and benchmarks.  Are they the leader looking to direct or are they the follower of a supplier (or possibly even a market)?  It’s this quandary that is where confusion commences and as a result assertions of leadership are made.  Often it becomes a unsettled state in which neither party takes leadership but also neither one takes responsibility when issues arise.  The result isn’t just hampered outcomes, its creates negative emotions that may never turn positive (eg. mistrust, apprehension, disappointment, accountable failure…).   GBS awaits leadership, from the onset with those institutions that deliver value based services.  Secondly there needs to be leadership in governance by those agencies and institutions that are crafting the channels of opportunity.  A lack of leadership often results in a reflection of confusion, disarray and loss of opportunity.   But also there needs to be humble but privileged following that realize that acclaim comes to those are the backbone resource for the GBS initiative.   Looking back on past ICT (Information, Communications and Technology) initiatives the overlapping leadership of multiple organizations has caused failures to take place.  Even more pronounced is that their durability remained only for the period of time in which instrumental parties remained in place.   Leadership isn’t about reward but about building capability for durable empowerment.   In Southeast Asia agencies vie for leadership of GBS, corporate suppliers are looking for and aggressively competing for leadership visibility and employees are striving to become leaders while still in the embryonic stage.  All the while the consumers outside of the region are at a loss as to where to go or how to gauge the reliability of the organizations and services.  So what needs to be done?

The first step in leading is to understand and objectively evaluate present conditions not only on the ground but also looking beyond the present.  Without this self-directed examination what will result is gross independence of organizations that continue to run autonomously.  This will ultimately results in shallow depth of value generation and a narrow band of specialization.   Secondly we need to craft the most basic form of structure that will center on bring about GBS.  This fundamental form will ultimately result in key initiatives to build corporate and organizational leadership through educational, editorial and trade events.   The big question in most minds is who should be leading GBS?  I suggest that it does not have to relegated to one leader and that there is ample room for leadership each bring to bear an ability that another may not possess.  As is the case in government and business, while there may be one leader (such as ‘President’ or ‘Prime Minister’) there still remains a cabinet and other regulating leaders that must be consulted and to which agreement must be struck.  While the focus is often one the one, it is really a reflection of the decision of the collective of leaders.   Finally, more attention must be directed as to whether the consumer is the leader or the follower or whether they are in fact a peer leader.  A peer leader that has a span of leadership control, in this case the consumer having domain control to engage, monitory and see to delivery of service delivery outcomes.  By comparison the peer leader of the provider has domain control to engage, perform and deliver outcomes not simply because they are driven by contract but because its the right thing to do in order to sustain a productive relationship.

Yes we have leaders by title, some by role and others by relegation of duties.  But true leaders do not bask in the shade awaiting a provocation.  True leaders engage and form action based upon conditions that exist or that are anticipated.  It also should be acknowledged that followers play an essential role.  Not only do followers deliver outcomes but they are also play a role in continued sustained leadership.  All must be ripened on the vine for one day to be harvested and brought forth to the next purpose in the food chain of leadership.

SPECIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT to members of PIKOM leadership for providing the leadership discussion stimulation which provoked this article to be written.

It has become a norm to adopt the principal of asking for what you want.  However, we are seldom prepared to except the disappointment of it not coming true.  You hear and see this when the topic of generational behavior becomes a topic of discussion.

Personal empowerment isn’t a gifted ability to achieve end results.  Personal empowerment is the gift of responsible understanding of what you can do and what elements you have no control over.

Recently an acquaintance was lamenting about his personal love life.  On a regular basis he puts forth is painful anguish, his frustrations and the underlying hurt that he is experiencing.  While I try to make light of the topic and encourage him to grow up a bit, I do feel and appreciate his pain.  This situation is more than likely one that all of us has experienced at one time or another.  On this recent sharing of experiences I made the suggestion that he needed to start looking at personal relationships with a different viewpoint.  That viewpoint involved using the sensory abilities and to stop looking at these engagements as thought it was some pragmatic business plan.  His reaction, although not as a total surprise, was to suggest that I needed to get up to date with my thinking.  It made me chuckle and my retort was simple…. “I’m not the one with the problem, you are.  And as long as I’m still alive you need to know who is in control.”   I share this story for one purposeful reason, and that is about your ability to control.

We can fool ourselves into believing we have these powers and abilities.  Maybe we do, and yet maybe they are just in the early stages of development.  Whatever the case, we are able to do things with these but they may not necessarily drive a #transition in thinking, behavior or outcomes.  They simply become like bees swarming around your head or more aggressively become rubber bullets bouncing off of superman.  As a result content is created, loss of respect occurs, avoidance becomes a natural reaction and underlying to all of this an undercurrent of distraction occurs that takes our focus away from other more pressing and important matters.

Control is not a tool of force, to be wheeled as bludgeoning device, but is an art form that is used to mobile results.  Yes, I would consider this to be one of the pillars for successful transitioning, but certainly not the only one.  Climatic conditions, experience, resourcefulness, clarity and lean visioning are also essential and necessary contributory forces.  Control however becomes a tool to be used prudently, never allowing the control to be assumed as a given but considered as a resource to be exercised.  Initiatives that go terribly wrong have shown time and again that control (excessive or lack of) was a contributing element.

Types of Control

How good is your self-control?  Most would answer in a positive way.  But let’s say you haven’t eaten today and you walk into your home and there sitting on the counter is your favorite food.  You partner has given you explicit instructions not to touch the food until they arrive.  Can you exercise restraint, thus self-control or will you succumb to your hunger and cast aside respectful instructions?

Self-control gets tempered by conditions, and not all of these conditions are healthy ones.  Some may be driven by psychological conditions created by the work or family climate, situational conditions caused as a result of ingestion (like alcohol) or ones that occur from random unexpected situations.

Engineered controls are task focused regulators that can permit or reject outcomes.  Created to act as watch dogs they relieve us of regular ongoing vigilant oversight.  Even then we are obligated to exercise our self-control to not simply permit them to run unobserved.  In this day and age in exploring the possibility of grand scale artificial intelligence and learning machine technology the employment of engineered controls cannot be under estimated as required.  In this category of controls there are a subset of types ranging from feedback, to restrictive, alternative route and alert forms.  Its not as important to know what type or form but understand that these are a resource and when they should be employed.

Power of Transitional Control

Achieving outcome value is paramount.  It’s not simply not a question of Return on Investment (ROI), expediency or harmony but also embraces holistic fluidity.  Not trying to sound too vogue by creating new terminology but the concept of holistic fluidity embraces that belief that distractions become a rarity and that to produce value outcomes you must have all of your efforts in sync.   Even under the best of circumstances there will be assaults on the holistic fluidity of transitioning.  Politics, contentions, unrest, historic apprehensions, staffing shift, contentious initiatives and lack of self-control place at risk transitional success.  One might say, “I’m willing to see how things turn out has they have in the past”, but then we need to looking truthfully at the success stories of the past.  Are there any and if so is our success conclusion based on concrete fact or simply a weakening of outcome expectations?

Each of us is shaped by our journey.  Its not about the achievement of goals or the attainment of glory but rather its the way in which we have lived our personal and professional life.  In that story is the thread we call #transitioning.  Our transitions from child to adult, from student to employee, from individual to family….   Time and again we see that the abrupt moments are the ones that put us at risk and uncertainty.  Time and again we struggle to find stability and each time we advance we do so with a bit more comfort, less wasteful and more confidence.  This is transitioning and it all comes down to the degree in which we exercise control.  Whether it be what we can manage, called self-control, or we put into play other forms of control to guide our way to a positive outcome.

#transitioning #transitionalscience #control #plan #change

From birth the human inner-self seeks to impress.  Those first steps looking for welcoming approval from parents, the success in academic achievement and later in life the favorable approval from bosses and colleagues.  Are we impressing or simply looking for an absence of condemnation?

Impressing is a key element in transitioning, it’s the lubricant that provides for fluid movement towards achieving goals.  There is less proving and more permissiveness, and to a large extent being giving the privilege of accountability/responsibility is heavily influenced by the impression we have made.

Are We Playing to the Right Audience

As we mature our independence moves us away from those are strong supporters to those that are more in keeping with our peer status.  In those teen years expending effort on our peers (to impress and set forth a position in the peer group) we often foresake our parents being impressed.  Seems a bit ironic that we would give up what is a sound and dependable source of impressing for the simple feel good independence of peer approval.  If we look at this further we will often give up personal beliefs and norms in order to impress during those teen and early adult hood years.  Often, later in life, we find ourselves lamenting about this act of impression seeking rebellion and the abandonment of solid support.  From cradle to grave we stress to impress…. we seek endorsement often from those who can’t effect value for us and even if they can they aren’t a lifetime reliable source.  So who can we impress… the search starts with self.

Unfortunately the seeking to impress in our later professional, and to some extent our personal life, continues in this distorted path.  We seek solace in groups, support is sought in being a part.  We maintain a very convoluted belief that our strength will be seen in the group (by standing out) when in fact organizations look for those who are not a pact but the mobilizers of pacts.   Over the course of my work with companies I have found those who impress are those who understand that its an outcome and not a pursuit.  Meaning that a focus on self abilities and habits far out weighs ‘fitting in’.  It however also seems that the guides, the coaches and the educators are still operating from the position of ‘group’.  You will see papers, courses and even conferences that are heavily dedicated to group dynamics.   There are external events that are weighted with team building even when the work that is being undertaken is not a group exercise.  So as it tries to encapsulate the people in a spirit of community it ends up having to focus on ‘proper behavior’.

Back on Point

The dynamics of impressing, and in subsequent impact on transitioning has to be based on value delivery.  I once told a colleague that, “you should never go into a sales meeting with the belief that you need the sale”.  After getting some very confused looks I went on to explain that the drive for a goal creates a carnival atmosphere that borders on graveling.  Claims are made, truths are stretched and even our animated behavior becomes more comedic then valuable.   The customer knows the end game and so do you, so why not focus on relationship building and value based sharing than creating extra ‘must get sale’ window dressing that only creates more risk of failing.   Impressing, I contend, starts from within.  We need to look within ourselves and understand our limitations and not just our strengths.  We need to understand our value to the business and to ourselves, and in doing so create a valued asset and not just another operational liability for the business.   Yes, people are the backbone of a company.  However, that backbone must be viewed as to the value it presents.   It’s for these reasons that spending time on impressing should be the result of value and not based upon a position of popularity.

If you are popular and people around you move on you will face a new audience that may not necessarily be that impressed.  But also this new audience is most likely looking to impress as well, and this dynamic places a challenge on those who impressed based on popularity and not based on outcome.  Those in the technical and administrative communities realize that those that are among their ranks in value are not easily displaced by new entrants who wish to make their mark.  The old saying that ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’ supports this notion.

Conclusion

So what have we learned?

  1. Impressing is a key component in the transitioning equation.  It removes risk and creates a dependable basis for success.
  2. Impressing is a natural human condition.  However, impression through focus on value is more sustainable than impressing on a social level.
  3. Value is the key to all that we do.  To produce value it requires us to be impressed with ourselves.  But to be impressed with ourselves we must honestly understand our strengths and our weaknesses.
  4. The dynamics of group makes it difficult to create an ‘impression’ level that extends beyond the team.  Even in team sports a star player is only as good as the team he/she is a star within, and that is based upon self-impressed responsibility.
  5. Leaders are also subject to impressions created for both internal to the company but also to the external world.  Impressing that has gone bad is the result of a loss of focus in producing value and the entering into a search for impressing others.  (old habits die hard)
  6. Finally, impressions rely upon your crafted persona.  Truth, honesty, forthright, topical expertise and openness are some of the virtues we may use to impress and create adoration.

For some nations this is without question a violation of law and for others its an unwritten reality masked by smartly crafted employment criteria.  The fact is there are ways to avoid the onslaught of white haired seniors and to keep them from providing a value contribution to business and society.  It is quite ironic that when it comes to gainful employment that this resource is overlooked, while it is sought after if involves a volunteer role.

Up until the 1990s senior members of organizations were a prized and valued asset.  They weren’t looked upon as over-the-hill, a soon to retire dead wood or even a non-contributor.  What they were viewed as was a invested asset, one in which experience and skills became a tool and not a liability.  A changing of the guard and the search for greater profits put seniors in the cross hairs of business downsizing.  After all, they had earned a wage that was superior to the juniors and with each passing moment the cost of retirement and medical were rapidly becoming a concern.  To avoid these costs, the value elements was cast aside in favor of a pure money savings viewpoint.  In order to easy minds further the senior became a token, used to legitimize the need for earnings for growing families and up and coming talent.

Wise is this SO Wrong?

In business one has to constantly look at cost, and for public companies this is further stressed by the earning demands of shareholders.  We see the recognition of people giving way to such sterile titles as human resource and human capital.  This all to the credit of creativity but unfortunately ignoring that this commodity is in fact dealing with humans.  The fall out, which I prefer to call rubble, is a loss of self-esteem and a sense of having no purpose.  Those fortunate to harvest a nice retirement nest egg could move on, even if they weren’t ready.  But by-and-large most that were put out to pasture we not ready, and it damaged people (possibly your parents or elder relatives).  In desperation they sought purpose but faced a massive challenge to find anything close to what they had.  Relegated to low wage jobs they pushed forward.  What you see is a strong work ethic and commitment despite the devastating loss of self-esteem.  You would hear people further justify their role as ‘having nothing better to do’ or ‘they only need to earn a little to subsidize their retirement’.

The removal of the senior workforce created a much larger problem and that being the transitioning of work.  Many if not all downsizing efforts resulted in retrenchment of staff into roles that were either not in their skill area or simply they weren’t ready.  Masked by titles and faux responsibilities the train left the station.  The successes were far and few between, we see the advent of formal CSM (Customer Service Management) come into being as a result of these changes.  Further hidden from view was the masking of this problem in the form of further downsizing efforts where by the failures could be simply hidden within.  This misplace souls, along with the previous senior community saw a blooming of independent business occur.  Many in the form of consultancies and unfortunately a deterioration of quality service delivery from these temporary enterprises.  Many consultancies became a stop over in unemployment that permitted chances to seek permanency via consulting engagements.

What to DO?

Unless you are in the top 10% of those looking for a C-Level or Board position your chance of employment remains a challenge.  I worry when I see people 10 or 20 years my junior jumping positions for reasons that may or may not be under their control.  My concerns is that verbalized legitimacy is not a pretense for value based selling, its simply an excuse that helps you contend with the real reasons.  As a senior still ready-willing-able truthful examine yourself.  Most are unable to do this objectively and therefore you need to be coached as to what image you have.  Secondly, you need to show present aptitude and ability.  Seniors ARE NOT easy to manage.  Why?   Experience while valuable also poses a challenge to ideas and missions that may have flaws.  The value of experience is also a challenge (almost always in a positive way but for those in control it is often viewed as an affront on authority).  Likewise, is the challenge of socialization in terms of fitting in.  In my early business career fitting is was more about getting along and not about whether someone was older or different than us. Today socialization has become a matter of like kind and not ‘right kind’.  This situation disrupts elements of a company and creates more often than not negativism that becomes legitimized based on age and not the attitude that makes age as the convenient excuse.

Is There Remaining Value?

This is a questions that management companies need to ask.  I would also submit that this abundant resource should not be used for the mainstream day-to-day operational elements but as a knowledge pool that helps to support both operational and future reaching ambitions.  The span of time, creating experience, helps to see ahead without lingering on the past.  Looking ahead embraces innovative thinking at the C-Levels in business which up to now has very little support network to legitimize and test the possibilities that are contrived.    This knowledge pool can be deployed on one of two ways.  The first utilizing a hand selected consultancy pool but organized under a single point of leadership (either within or external to the company).  The second way is to form a group whereby experience and skill requirements are the criteria.  In this last form the company can entertain those with exceptional values even if they aren’t seniors in the context of age.

Conclusion

One should not view age as the factor but rather the loss of value and the pressing present need for correction that only can be achieved through the test of time which creates experience.  There is remaining work that needs to be done to overcome skill and aptitude gaps caused by the rash financially based staffing decisions that have been made.

I stated a few days ago in a social post that “if you stay in your profession long enough you will see a recurrence of discussions and battles from past times”.   Most rational thinkers would prefer a veteran from a prior war than a fresh enlistment who hasn’t seen the pressures of combat.  Its time to rethink the resources and the needs that our companies exist and stop searching for something that may or may not even exist.

Like an awakening from a dream old age sets upon us in a definitive fashion.  The rapid passage of your 30s, 40s and 50s give way to an abrupt realization that time has passed and now the model of our remaining life has changed.  Our plans and aspirations realized or not require a re-visitation with the distinct possibility that we will require adjustments. Despite a crusty hard headed obstinance acquired by time and experience an admission that conditions are such that we are no longer in charge.  Does it mean that we must give way or is their some sort of ritualistic passing of the torch that needs to occur?

As I look about at myself and my fellow ‘seniors’ there are many different variations.  Some are quite content in a casual routine, surrounded by loved ones and living out their lives in relative tranquility.  Others are bewildered and a bit down trodden by a world that is unfamiliar, leaving trust in respect without the realization that it could very well be a means of avoidance by the community at large.  This leaves me to gaze into the mirror with a hard fast stare, trying not to turn away from the past but not relying on that past as a means to plot a path today.  It would be ever so easy to simply regress to a dark corner and disconnect as much as is possible.  To silently walk the path with as little human contact as possible.  My deep down desire is to not rely upon the closet full of trophies and plaques, the miles traveled, the damage done and the sacrifices made but to make use of these things for what value they might have.  Like a car, its never worth the value that we spend but if we treasure our investment we will give care as best we can, thus my reason for not turning my back and adopting a convenient paradigm.

Is the realization for change mean that we should cast aside aspirations, or should I be more aggressive to accelerate rather decelerate?  Only I can answer that question but for sure with any forward reaching ambitions I cannot simply reply on my stripes of experience but have to better understand the world as it is today.  Full of virtues that are clearly not what I grew up with or believe, but these are conditions that my children have created for a world they want and for the children that they have.  To some very weird sense we must accept the destiny of today because it is of our seed that it becomes the plant of our offspring.  Have we done wrong because their world is different or should we revel with great pleasure that they have walked boldly forward, created conditions that they appreciate and unwittingly be sitting here, were I sit now as an elder wondering what is next and all of the other conflicts of an aged reality?  Is it poetic justice, no… this my friend is life as it always has been.  We say that technology is creating things faster but even in years gone past a similar lament could be heard, “if it ain’t broken don’t fix it” could be heard (1930s).  Throughout time change has confronted us like a slap in the face.  We face adapting, utilizing, considering and understanding.  To believe that we can simply exist without change is to misunderstand that WE change, and that impacts not just us but everyone around us.

So as we close out 2016 let us mature members of society get our legs underneath us, we ask for others to give some understanding to our plight but also the value we bring to the table.  Someday you too will be a member of these group. #JED2016

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