Maturity and Leadership is Ownership

In the pursuit of ‘Maturity’ for 2017, one of the first places to start is maturing the thought processes – maturing the mind, the beliefs.

Why is this important?

Beliefs Drive Behaviors

When companies bring us in to start the culture shift, our conversation turns to:

“Build them:

  • from What?”
  • into What?”

Often, the conversation turns to the need to have leaders at every level that embrace the ownership mindset (as opposed to the passive or victim mindset).

There are many reasons for an organization to have a passive, victim mindset but we will save that blog for another day!

As we start to initiate change, here’s my secret sauce: We start having development sessions and discussions that lead to permission and application. HOWEVER, I have a disclaimer:

The workforce uses what we teach as a lens to judge the quality of leaders within the organization.

The process can expose poor leadership by teaching excellence. If titled leaders at the various levels aren’t willing and ready to lead in the way we teach, please don’t bring us in – we will only educate your people to hate you!

From an organizational standpoint, what will you let your people own? How are they taught to think? Are they developed, equipped, then empowered? Dumbed down to a mindless drone? Or just tossed in and expected to figure it out as they sink or swim?

Beliefs are built within an environment. Conversations and experiences shape individual beliefs. The individual’s beliefs combine to become the collective, which becomes the culture.

{The podcast for this week is geared to the individual, if you’d like to have a conversation about shifting the organizational mindset, please reach out for a discussion.}

Owning the mindset

Let’s look at the difference between an immature and mature mindset:


Blames others

Victim mindset


Passes the buck (abdicate)

Success is external (outside my control)

It can’t, I can’t, never be, always been, why try?


Admits their contributing actions

Ownership mindset


The buck stops here (responsible)

Success is internal (beliefs, actions, outcomes)

I can, we can, let’s do it! Let’s get started.

If we were studying the game film of our lives, we would start to see our tendencies. A mature mindset, an ownership mindset, asks:

  • What were my actions?
  • What are my tendencies? (Beliefs? Behaviors?)

Rather than externalize control – let’s work to internalize control. There is always something you can do, some action you can take, to improve the outcome.

If you feel your voice isn’t being heard: Work on increasing your influence.

If you are working for a bad boss: Learn how to lead up and negotiate operating space.

If you are under resourced: Find a way (pool resources, offer an internship, do something!)

There may be that voice in your mind right now that is telling you that I don’t understand your situation and that you can’t and here’s the list of 25 reasons why….

Which side of the list above does that fall under?

Can I encourage you to consider the mature, ownership mindset?

Your present is just the starting point. Plug in your desired destination and work with others to map out the moves – the GPS routing – that can find a way to get you where you want to go. It may not happen overnight but the next move can!

You will re-route, there will be twists and turns along the way. It’s OK; It’s all part of the journey

How about a few 1-liners to get you going? I like 1-liners because it helps my mind hold on and they are easy to repeat to counteract unproductive thinking

Nothing is perfect the first time.

Everything worthwhile takes effort and struggle.

If it were easy, everyone would do it!

The struggle is Victory being birthed!

Adversity reveals character.

We make the journey AND The journey makes us.

Mature the mind, OWN your destiny.

Own the Mission, own the mindset, own the methods, make the moves!

For more on this topic, click the mic to check out the full podcast. Have a great week!

How the best develop their people for results…

As an Organizational Effectiveness consultant, I look to add PROVEN value to customers every day.  My value proposition – or where I add the most value –  is in developing the people in organizations with a purposeful intent to increase their performance and bottom-line results.

As for the bottom-line, here it is:

Being the best takes a concerted effort from an intentional team.  An effort that embeds and involves L&D (Learning and  Development)  deep into the organizations CULTURE.

According to ASTD (American Society for Training & Development), the BEST are bench-marked by:

L&D has an enterprise-wide role.

L&D professionals are not just Lackeys holding NEO (New Employee Orientation) classes.  They are savvy business partners that are involved in the executive team, they understand and create solutions to business issues and are vital in setting organizational strategy.

• Learning has value in the organization’s CULTURE

Again, the Culture (Language, Beliefs, and Behaviors) embraces learning opportunities for employees and Leadership, alike.  These organizations don;t just talk the culture – they walk the culture – they back up their language with BEHAVIORS because of their belief that L&D can and will make a difference.  It exists, purposefully, for
the growth of the organization, and helps drive innovation.

The commitment extends to the heights of C-level involvement.  Learning is not something that is done at the lower levels.  As many of you have heard me say, “They are Growing Leaders, Growing Leaders!”

L&D is directly linked to individual and organizational performance

The BEST realize that in order for the organization to achieve the desired level of sustained performance, L&D must be aligned with the business performance goals  and the measurement of the effectiveness of learning it that it must help drive personal/organizational efficiency and effectiveness.

Investment is made in learning and performance initiatives

Again, Culture is not about language only – it’s not all talk!  You can tell the BEST because they put their money where their mouth is – they fund L&D – they make a strategic investment!

Investment, by it’s nature expects a return.  L&D professional cannot expect an endless stream of funding without some level of increase in individual/organizational performance.  On the other hand, Leaders need to understand that behavioral change doesn’t happen overnight.  As with most strategic initiatives, the return will take some time to play out.

In a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania (1995 Richard Zemsky).  It was discovered that a 10% investment in PPE (Property, Plant, & Equipment) companies realized a 3.8% increase in productivity whereas that same 10% invested into People Development yielded an 8.6% increase in productivity.

On average, the BEST according to ASTD re-invest

• About 0.7% of Revenue, or
• Approx. 10.88% of Profit, or
• Roughly 2.15% of Payroll, or
• $1081 per employee

How about your organization?

Is it’s mantra, “Growing Leaders, Growing Leaders…”?

Is the Learning tied to performance enhancement?

How does it’s investment bench-mark against the BEST?

Creating Intentional Organizational Culture

In the last Blog, I talked more about discovering your present culture and although there are a number of formal ways (Organizational Surveys, Discovery Initiatives, hiring great consultants like me) we talked about the informal (survey of eyes and ears).  

Today, I would like to take a few minutes and discuss next steps..  How do you tweak, shift, shape, remake, or even re-engineer the present culture into a desired culture.


As with most things in business (or life) we need to define our Burled Arch.  Without consideration to our present location – our first step is to dream – to envision where we want to go and what we want the team to feel like – again, broken into the three components of – Language, Beliefs, and Behaviors.

From a blank canvas, start to get a picture of desired daily life in your organization… 

What mindset do you want your organization approaching their day with?  What about HOW they approach their interactions with each other?  Or our clients?  Their mindset toward problems or adversity? 

What if you think (or feel) that you are not fully ready to carve a brand new, fresh trail of desired Culture?

 – Get others in the organization involved

 – Search for companies with great cultures and find one that feels right for you

 – Use others as a template

I am a firm believer that there is very little ‘new under the sun.’  Modeling your desired culture after another is a great way to start, while adding your unique perspective to it.

Finally, on the creation of vision, make sure that the new vision is a good fit for the organization or that it is a vision that can be (somewhat) easily adopted and implemented.  If the vision is too much of a radical shift – there may need to be some smaller vision shifts created to work the organization up to it.


R.A.C.E. is my powerful and effective model  for Change Management.  The implementation phase of Culture shift must be broken into the components of making sure everyone is:

R – Ready to change (Line out with great clarity what the shift means in people and process, in Language, Beliefs and Behaviors)

A – Action is developing the internal marketing campaign FIRST!  We must take the action steps necessary to get our team on board! Use a phased-in approach while leveraging the Lead  and Swing Dogs for Team adoption.

C – Use Checkpoints to monitor progress and make mid-course corrections.

E – Evolve the Vision AND the process.

Cultural awareness is critical to having an Organization that operates with intentionality.  Cultural change, like most change, is not an easy undertaking.  However, with some strategy and a great process, you CAN shift your culture to something fantastic!

Organizational Culture – Part 1

Every Organization has a ‘Culture’ and as I’ve discussed in previous blogs – that culture is either by design or it is by default. In any case, the Culture exists.

What is the present ‘Culture’ of your organization?

I define ‘Culture’ as a being made up of three components:

Common Language

It is a rarity, nowadays, that I would get to help create a company culture from scratch – before any employees are hired – before any defacto culture exists. Most of the time, our starting point is two fold from the outset. 1.) Present Culture 2.) Desired Culture.

There are many reasons for Present Cultures: adaptability of the people to work problems, differing perspectives between team performers and team leaders, communication competencies (or lack thereof), aligned (or mal-aligned) incentive/compensation programs, layoffs, cutbacks, growth – and, probably, a hundred more… The Reason(s) are an important piece – as the Root Cause – of any issue is DEEPLY important to change.

So if you took a few minutes today – and simply walked the halls of your office or sat in the break room of the manufacturing plant – What would you hear? What would you see?

Like it or not – this is your present Organizational Culture.

Are your people tired? Does their behavior align to the Company values? What are their individual and collective beliefs? And what does their communication look like?

It is a great exercise to sit, watch, listen, and record the beliefs, behaviors, and conversational language that occurs in your company. It can be VERY eye opening.

You say, “How do I know what my people believe?”

Easy… Watch their actions, listen to their communication.

Belief Drives Behavior.

I could say that phrase a thousand times over – People will reveal what they believe by their actions and by their speech. Their actions are, usually, a truer representation of their beliefs.

Over the next few days (with as much objectivity as possible) just listen, just watch, just record.

Is the Culture Proactive? Or Reactive? Owners? Passengers? Victims? Engaged? Disengaged? Empowered?
The work comes into play once the present ‘Culture’ is discovered – and we’ll discuss that in the next blog!

In the meantime – checkout one of the previous blogs on Culture – Have a great day!

Confronting wrong beliefs and behaviors

Dogs don’t know what they did wrong yesterday!

As Leaders we must be vigilant about our culture and when changes are needed or confrontation over beliefs or behaviors needs to occur – they need to occur as close to the behavior as possible – this is not a once a year employee review type thing.

Most people have difficulty when it comes to confrontations. When it comes to confronting beliefs it can seem even more so. They refuse to confront something immediately and allow it to build and fester until it or they blow up. They use anger as a method for emotional strength to deal with something that should have been dealt with all through the year and not just at the review. (As you can tell – I’m not a fan of the yearly review)

Without discussing the pro’s and con’s of social plurality, let me just say when it comes to business teams – we can’t have 16 dogs pulling in 16 different directions – or even 2. We need everyone pulling in one direction – one purpose, one goal, one team.

To that end (our ‘Burled Arch’) we are going to need to solidify a unified, positive and purposeful culture (again – beliefs and behaviors). To gain this focus – it’s just a fact that not every belief and behavior is going to line up and that we’re going to need to discuss this with the individual team member(s).

So how do we do it:

  1. Understand the specifics of where we believe they are off the trail.
  2. Take the mindset that most people have honest intentions
  3. Ask them to talk about their lens (belief/perspective) on that particular issue.
  4. Help them back on the trail

When you seek first to be very specific about the issues, to get their perspective and to give people the benefit of the doubt – it helps keep the confrontation on topic. Many people view correction or confrontation as an assault or a rejection of them as a person. This immediately backs that team member into a corner and we can all see the picture of a cornered dog, right? For self preservation they will almost always come out fight for self preservation.

For years I’ve taught on using the ‘sandwich method’ for confrontation – where you affirm the person (bread), deal with the issue (meat), affirm the person, their contribution / value (bread) and set points of accountability and clarity around future behavior.

For most team members – your sharing your lens and the desired lens of the future will be enough will be enough for them to see a different perspective and start the change process. If a team member continues to engage in divisive behaviors or continues to hold onto beliefs that are contrary to the team and harmful to progress then we’ll need to increase the intensity and frequency of the confrontation. If it comes to it – you may even, ultimately, recommend that they run for a different team and that’s ok too – not our first choice – but we have to value the mission, we have to value the other players on the team – and we have to guard the culture!

Shorter post for today – leaving time for your Friday comments – have a great day and weekend!