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I am absolutely convinced that one of the most important keys to success in business (and life) is discipline.
I am absolutely convinced that one of the most important keys to success in business (and life) is spontaneity.
I am absolutely convinced that one of the greatest sources of stress in business (and life) is feeling guilty about not being disciplined or spontaneous enough, depending on your personality.
When I graduated from college and became a management consultant, one of the first things I was taught was how to answer questions from clients without giving away my age or lack of business experience. "Instead of admitting that you graduated from college last spring, just say that it's been a while since you were in school," was the answer I was advised to give. The underlying message was that we needed to portray ourselves as having more knowledge and experience than we actually did.
I recently saw a television commercial that made quite an impression on me, and I have a hunch that it might go down as one of the most effective advertisements of all time, assuming the company behind it is sincere. I'm talking about Domino's Pizza (DPZ) and the recent ad in which the company concedes the shortcomings of its product and explains what has been done to improve it.
Okay, I admit it. I'm a "draftnik."
For those who don't know, that means I have a bizarre fascination with the NFL draft, the annual process by which professional football teams go about selecting college players for their rosters. And while my passion for the draft certainly must be rooted in my lifelong interest in sports, there is something else, something more subtle and important, that explains my obsession. I call it talent management strategy.
Like it or not, all teams are potentially dysfunctional. This is inevitable because they are made up of fallible, imperfect human beings. From the basketball court to the executive suite, politics and confusion are more the rule than the exception. However, facing dysfunction and focusing on teamwork is particularly critical at the top of an organization because the executive team sets the tone for how all employees work with one another.
The greatest myth that exists about meetings is that they are inherently bad.
As a business society, we've come to accept that meetings are unavoidably painful and unproductive-one of the necessary evils of organizational life. But the fact is, bad meetings are a reflection of bad leaders. Worse yet, they take a more devastating toll on a company's success than we realize.
Teamwork is a choice. Too often we believe that the pursuit of team-work is mandatory. And when people see teamwork as a "must do" rather than as a "choose to," they avoid the work of making teamwork a reality. All leaders espouse a belief in teamwork, but few actually achieve it because they either don't understand or underestimate the work that teamwork requires. If they don't do that work, they only create frustration and disillusionment by raising expectations that they can't meet. What can we do about this? First, we can make a choice about teamwork. Rather than agree half-heartedly to a team-building effort, let's accept the sacrifice and labor that goes into achieving real teamwork.
Smart people sometimes overcomplicate life's problems. Perhaps, it's because they like to believe that the challenges they face are complicated ones. Or maybe they feel compelled to put their entire intellect to good use, even when it isn't necessary. Whatever the reason, they're often left feeling frustrated and looking, well, a little stupid.
Virtually every executive staff I've ever come across believes in teamwork. At least they say they do. Sadly, a scarce few of them make teamwork a reality in their organizations; in fact, they often end up creating environments where political infighting and departmental silos are the norm. And yet they continue to tout their belief in teamwork, as if that alone will somehow make it magically appear. I have found that only a small minority of companies truly understand and embrace teamwork, even though, according to their Web sites, more than one in three of the Fortune 500 publicly declare it to be a core value.
Take a look at this list of corporate values: Communication. Respect. Integrity. Excellence. They sound pretty good, don't they? Maybe they even resemble your own company's values. If so, you should be nervous. These are the corporate values of Enron, as claimed in its 2000 annual report. And they're absolutely meaningless.