There are several guarantees in the campaign for President of the United States: • The other side – regardless of the side you are on – will be portrayed by their opponents as completely out of touch with the “average” American • Every candidate will make promises that can only be kept with the cooperation of Congress, and every candidate will pledge to work with their opponents across the isle • Personal attacks will be plentiful and usually cloaked in an argument about policy implications • The choice between candidates will always be framed as two distinct visions that will determine the destiny and fate of the country • Integrity – or specifically the lack of it – will be called into question by the candidates, their surrogates, and the media pundits There is little any of us can do to change the first four items on this list. They are going to happen regardless of any efforts to restore civility and common sense to the campaign.
Most of the people I speak with today describe their life as running as fast and far as they can … and then being asked to run even faster and farther. One of the participants in a leadership boot camp I’m conducting for a client asked for help with time management. It turns out that she didn’t really need time management tips at all. She keeps a calendar with priorities, and she knows all of the time management techniques she needs to be successful. In fact, this leader is widely considered to be very effective by her colleagues. The problem that we face isn’t time management. It is focus and resource allocation to be more effective.
Accountability and the execution that accompanies it explain why the smartest or most talented people don’t always experience the greatest levels of success. If accountability didn’t matter, the company with the best product or service would dominate the marketplace. And, every government agency would deliver amazing value. Talent, time, experience, and resources do matter. As we enter the 2012 Summer Olympics, the country of Monaco is a safe bet to continue its string of 26 Olympiads (both summer and winter) without winning a single medal. So if you are the USA Men’s Basketball Team competing against Monaco go ahead and take the day off from accountability. I am guessing that you will survive. But that’s not your reality. You don’t hire all the smart people while your competitors hire dunces. You aren’t running the most up-to-date computer systems while your competitors are using Commodore 64’s. Accountability is – more times than not – the difference between achieving your goals and getting beat in the marketplace.
Another month, and another weaker than expected jobs report. So what’s up with the economy? Welcome to the new normal: Unemployment that is higher than anything we can remember in decades. Scores jobs are available due to a lack of skilled workers. Slow growth that feels like a recession even though technically it isn’t, and most of all, uncertainty.
We live in an era of unprecedented uncertainty. At least that is what we are led to believe. Yes, the economy is sputtering at best. Jobs are at risk or non-existent. Europe could implode financially. The Middle East could implode politically. Depending on your political views, either the left or the right is about to take the country over a cliff from which there is no return. The challenges we face are certainly more expansive in their scope, but unprecedented uncertainty? Hardly. Do you believe that the level of personal anxiety is any higher today than that which existed during the Cuban Missile Crisis; World War I or II; the Civil War; the Great Depression; or life in the American colonies during the Revolutionary War?
In this era of economic uncertainty and stretched-thin corporate resources, many workers feel the need to practically chain themselves to their desks in order to maximize their productivity and thereby prove their worth. No one really likes the idea, but these days, how can you get everything done in less than sixty hours a week? In her new book, What to Do When There's Too Much to Do: Reduce Tasks, Increase Results, and Save 90 Minutes a Day, Laura Stack says the key is to work less to achieve greater success. She turns time management on its head and debunks the idea that you have to run yourself ragged to be more productive.
Our sins, as we learn from religious teaching, corrupt our character and cloud our sense of what is right and wrong. Most important, they form a habit pattern that leads to our downfall. It works that way for organizations, too. Here are the seven deadly sins for business success today:
My friend Larry Winget (www.LarryWinget.com), blew up his Facebook following last week when he posted this comment: “If your life sucks, it’s because you suck!” A number of people missed Larry’s point. Your life isn’t defined by your circumstances unless you allow it. There are many people – like my friends W. Mitchell and Chad Hymas – who have refused to allow tragic circumstances that were not their fault define their lives. And, there are others whose lives have spiraled out of control despite living in ideal circumstances. Circumstances can make it easier or more difficult to succeed. They can define your environment. But ultimately, the choice to be personally responsible and accountable is more important than your circumstances.
It is time to stop thinking about new management initiatives and start embracing leadership principles. Programs and initiatives come and go. Principles never end. There is only one leadership principle you will ever need if your goal is a culture where everyone is committed to consistent results, strong working relationships, and volunteered accountability.
What if the unemployment rate is the wrong measure? The U.S. economy added 243,000 jobs in January 2012, and the unemployment rate dropped from 8.5 percent to 8.3 percent. That’s huge, and everyone should be excited regardless of their political affiliation. This is the type of employment gain that solidifies the economic recovery. But, what if the right number turns out to be the wrong measure?