Today's Challenge: A Heart Transplant

I open some of my talks by telling the audience the presentation they are about to hear is not for them. After I let that sink in, I ask them to think of a leader they know who has failed to live up to their potential or perhaps the person who comes to mind is stuck in their career. I then tell them, “This talk is about how you may be able to help your friend.”

Leadership Tug-of-war

What makes an idea sticky? For me, a picture is extremely helpful. Not only can an image create a memory hook, the right picture can provide understanding and even insight. While thinking and writing about High Performance Organizations over the last several years, I've been searching for just such a picture.

My Last Trip to Build a Bear

My Leadership Begins at Home tagline once again came to mind a couple of weekends ago as I attended the college graduation of my daughter Sarah. 

It's official ... there's a new Mercer Bear in the world. 

I remember our first trip to Build-a-Bear like it was yesterday ... only it wasn't. It was fifteen years ago that we first set foot in a mall (remember those) to pay an insane amount of money to design a teddy bear. A teddy bear that honestly looked like every other teddy bear. 

Baby Bear 1

Looking back, the first bear cost little in comparison to the college bear, and I'm not referring to tuition. I'm talking about a higher price. Truthfully the latest version has cost me my life. Every precious ounce of life. All my prayers, cares, hopes, dreams, and yes, even my money. So many bedtime stories, front porch chats, soccer practices, and tanks of gas have represented the price tag. And if you ask me, worth every second and every penny. 

Baby Bear 2For leaders the temptation is to focus on the nine to five, those hours that represent work. The idea of Leadership Begins at Home is more about what happens from five to nine ... kids aren't the only ones who need to be doing homework.

As a father, I can tell you there are few things that compare to the joy of watching your kids grow up, knowing you have attempted to be fully present. 

Along the way I learned you can read all the Dr. Seuss bedtime stories in the world, attend every game, even show up for an occasional tea party, and still miss the moments.

Let me warn you ... technology will tempt you. Your schedule will seduce you. Leadership will lure you. And if you're not extra careful graduation will represent regret.

Thankfully, my daddy regrets are few, but I do wish I had respected the time more and been even more locked in. It was hard to appreciate just how fast it would pass. 

In a few weeks most kids will go back to school, but one of mine won't. No, our time for back to school shoes and backpacks has passed. 

I'm glad my wife and I took the time to build a bear. This one very real. Costly, but now priceless. 

Way to go kid. You were worth it!

Leadership Begins at Home,

Randy 

Feel free to leave Sarah a word of wisdom in the comment section below ...

I want to thank each of you who faithfully read and pass along my content to your friends and co-workers. Over the next few weeks I will be taking an extended blog break to spend extra time doing Homework. I hope you will too!

My next post will be Monday, July 20th. 

Introducing: The Chess Not Checkers Field Guide

People often ask me why I write books. My answer has been simple and consistent – I write books to encourage and equip leaders. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. So, with that as my motivation, you can imagine my disappointment when someone told me one of my previous books was “useless.”

Today's Challenge: Win the Heart?

I recently began a 25-city tour hosting Chess Not Checkers workshops. Over the years, events like these have proved fertile ground for outstanding questions for the Today’s Challenge series. The audience is diverse but has a definite youthful bias – many of the leaders are early in their career. It was a young leader who asked, How do you Win the Heart of someone older and more experienced than you?

High Performance Organizations Build the Bench

The Chess Not Checkers project set out to discover the “secrets” of High Performance Organizations (HPO).

Mark Miller and his team spent years to determine what separates the best from all the rest. In the end, they identified four primary “moves” all HPOs make… They Bet on Leadership, Act as One, Win the Heart and Excel at Execution. But, this was not enough; they wanted to know HOW they do these things so well. The answers were found in their “Best Practices.”

After the book, Chess Not Checkers was completed, Mark knew leaders would want the more tactical, application ideas embedded in the best practices. So, his response was to create the Chess Not Checkers Field Guide.  Mark asked me to be the co-author on this effort. Below is an excerpt from the Field Guide section on how HPOs Build the Bench!

Build the Bench

One of the most underrated best practices you can pursue if you are attempting to Bet on Leadership is to remember to Build the Bench. Sports teams are mindful of this; recognizing at any moment, at every position, someone needs to be ready to move from the role of backup to starter. Whether through turnover or injury, a next-man-up mentality is vital for a program’s success. Business should be no different.

If an organization intends to grow, a key focus of the leadership team must be to Build the Bench. Strong leaders do not have a scarcity mindset, fearing for their jobs if they help their direct reports grow. Actually, the opposite is true. Anytime you find leaders who can replace themselves, they are the last people you want to leave.

[Tweet "The ability to develop talent is one of the most important skills a person can possess."]

Like successful coaches, High Performance Organization leaders not only recruit great talent, they also enhance it. By identifying a clear picture of what they are trying to develop, they are able to create a clear path and close skill gaps that block the way. Organizations who focus on building the bench are also locked in on finding emerging leaders. They are always looking to fill a spot with a talented backup. These teams have development plans for those on the rise, and they systematically challenge everyone in the organization to grow to the next level.

If you truly want to create a leadership culture, don’t forget to build your bench. At some point you will need it,  especially  if  you  expect  to  achieve  championship  results.

Leadership Begins at Home,

Randy

What are doing to develop your leadership bench?

Comment Below ...

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