All blogs of type POV
I recently returned from a vacation with my family, one that involved a number of big, fun activities. Interestingly, when I look back at the trip it strikes me that the best part of it, especially in terms of the lasting benefits to our family, happened during the times "in-between" those activities. For instance, we loved the evenings when we were just hanging out together in the condo where we stayed. And the simple, informal meals we made when we weren't going out for dinner were the best ones of all.
A friend recently talked me into watching a reality television show – not an easy sell – that I found surprisingly fascinating. Part of my surprise is due to the fact that the show embodies many of the organizational health principles that I write about in my book, The Advantage. And, part of it is because it's on the Food Network. It’s called “Restaurant Impossible,” and it’s about a famous chef (not the maniacal, screaming guy you see on T.V. commercials) who spends just two days and a very limited budget trying to turn around a struggling restaurant. The fact that the show is focused exclusively on the restaurant business resonates with me, because when I was a kid I worked in a restaurant.
I'm really excited to announce that my new book is being released this week. The book is called The Advantage, and the subtitle is Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business. It is certainly the most comprehensive and important book I've written to date, bringing many of the concepts from my previous books and consulting practice together in one place.
Now, I realize that the subtitle is a pretty bold statement, but I honestly believe it's true. Let me explain why.
Most leaders who are looking for a competitive advantage for their organizations tend to focus on the classic, intellectual pursuits of business.
I have to admit, I’ve always hated discipline.
But at an early age my dad told me that discipline was key to success in life, and because I could see implicitly that he was right, I practiced discipline diligently in just about everything I undertook, from sports to school to work.
I think it’s fair to say that most managers like to do good things for the people who work for them, to make them feel more appreciated, productive and fulfilled. Unfortunately, many of them don’t seem to know what their employees really want or need, and so they end up relying on the same traditional things: training classes, monetary bonuses, small office perks. Now, employees aren’t going to turn down a bonus or a perk, and in many cases, they’ll be glad to attend a training class, but those things don’t have the transformational effect on people that managers would like.
Think about it. Ask any group of leaders if humility is important, and almost every one of them will nod their heads and tell you that the world needs more humble leaders in every field, from business to politics to, well, everywhere. Ask that same group if they would like an opportunity to be humbled, and virtually every one of them will decline. But I suppose it’s hard to blame them. After all, being humbled is, by definition, always uncomfortable and often painful.
I learned a simple, amazing lesson during a recent flight on one of the big, legacy air carriers. I won’t mention the name out of courtesy. Besides, I’m finding it harder and harder to distinguish between the big airlines these days. Anyway, I was sitting with a colleague in business class (something that I don’t take for granted), waiting for everyone to board so we could take off. The flight attendants weren’t in a particularly good mood, something I’ve grown accustomed to over the years.
A friend of mine (I’ll call him Al because that’s his name) recently embarked on a new career as a consultant, and he has been wildly successful, even during these difficult economic times. Anyone who knows him will tell you why he has done so well: he is one of the most diligent, enthusiastic and painstakingly thorough people you’ll ever meet. In fact, if you were a competitor of his, you’d say he is over the top. Even annoying. Al handles every client call as though he were talking to the Queen of England.
These days, virtually no one will tell you that teamwork isn’t important when it comes to an organization achieving its goals.Even cynics understand that groups of people who are willing to put their individual interests aside for the good of the team will outperform groups of people who do not.Having said that, there is something that often happens after a team succeeds that suggests many of us might be discounting the real power of teamwork. A great example of this happens in the world of professional sports.With the football season just behind us, perhaps a hypothetical example from the NFL would be a good case study.
Earlier this year I had the opportunity to spend time with the CEO of one of America’s most successful companies, a legendary organization known for its employee and customer satisfaction, as well as its financial performance. I attended their company’s management conference, listened to various presentations about their culture, and the extraordinary, homey and sometimes slightly wacky practices that distinguish them from their competitors.