Vol. 2 Number 8 - August 2004.
Publisher: The Filson Leadership Group, Inc.
IN THIS ISSUE: The SAMMER Test: Get The Right Results In The Right Way At The Right Time.
SECTION 1: Brent Filson's Weekly Tips To Lead By.
Week 1: The SAMMER Test.
Week 2: Results That Are Meaningful & Measurable
Week 3: Results That Are Ethical & Repeatable.
Week 4: Apply The SAMMER Test Continually.
SECTION 2: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
SECTION 3: Points of Light.
SECTION 4: Message from Brent Filson. A DIFFERENT LEADERSHIP YARDSTICK
SECTION 5: News.
SECTION 1: Brent Filson's Tips To Lead By
(Apply these tips week by week throughout the month.)
Week 1: The SAMMER Test:
As a leader, you do nothing more important than get results. But simply getting results can be easy.
What's not easy is getting the right results ... to the right degree ... at the right time ... for the right purpose ... in the right ways.
It's been my experience consulting with thousands of leaders worldwide during the past two decades that the vast majority of leaders get the wrong results -- or the right results in the wrong ways.
This month I will describe a tool to help you get the right results. It's called the SAMMER Test, and you can use it continually throughout your career.
The SAMMER Test is simply a way of testing the results you intend to achieve, or the results you actually achieve, to insure they are the right results.
I talked briefly about the SAMMER test in last month's ezine, www.actionleadership.com/ezine/v2n7.html showing how important to an Initiative Strategy.
In this issue, we'll take a more detailed look at the the SAMMER Test, because it goes beyond the Initiative Strategy to encompass the results you aim for in practically all of your leadership activities.
SAMMER is an acronym. Results should be:
S - Sizable.
A - Achievable.
M - Meaningful.
M - Measurable.
E - Ethical.
R - Repeatable.
This week, we'll focus on the Sizable & Achievable.
SIZABLE RESULTS: Whatever organization you work in, that organization must get results to thrive, however those results are defined. This seems like an obvious point but many leaders miss the point. The point is that whatever results you are getting now, you can always get more. Not only can you get more, you MUST CONTINUALLY STRIVE TO GET MORE. Sizable is not an option. Sizable is a necessity. (See ezine, "Results Are Limitless". http://www.actionleadership.com/ezine/v1n4.cfm )
Size up the results you must get with your leadership. See those results as more than those achieved by the organizational status quo. Leadership isn't about getting people to do what they want to do. If you simply had to have people do what they want, you wouldn't be needed as a leader. Leadership is about getting people to do what they don't want to do and be totally committed to doing it. As a leader, you should always be challenging people to do more -- even more than they think they can do.
Many leaders tend to be comfortable and not want to deal with change. But comfortable people who don't want to change are in truth in great danger. Change defines our lives. The only security in life is opportunity that comes with change. I have found that in having people get sizable results continually, they come to see strengths in themselves that they did not know they had and are able to do things they might not have thought they could do. Having people see those things and do those things is one of the differentiating factors between managing and leading and between great leaders and average leaders.
In cultivating the all-important attitude of continually striving to get sizable increases in results, you must not only challenge others but also challenge yourself as well. You must be constantly dissatisfied with the way things are, constantly looking to make things better. It's a leadership art, the art of positive, productive dissatisfaction.
ACHIEVABLE RESULTS: But this art can only be manifested in combination with the art of the achievable. Many leaders impose unrealistic expectations on people and so lose their trust and confidence. People must be challenged to do what they don't think they can do, but they must also be able, ultimately, to do it.
Here's a tip for making achievable happen in the realm of sizable. Say to whomever you are challenging: "I know you don't think you can meet the challenge I set for you. But I know you can, and I'm going to support you in every way possible."
This week ... promote sizable and achievable in your organization. Identify results that are currently being achieved and think of ways that you can increase those results by challenging people to take action that helps them go beyond what they normally think they can do.
Week 2: Results That Are Meaningful & Measurable.
MEANINGFUL RESULTS: Leaders who find little meaning in their jobs or the results associated with those jobs, shouldn't be leaders, or they should change jobs and/or results. Most leaders understand this. But few leaders understand that meaning also involves the jobs of the people they are leading and the attitudes of those people toward those jobs and the results the jobs aim for. These leaders stumble on what I call the Leader's Fallacy.
The Fallacy operates when leaders believe that their beliefs are automatically reciprocated by the people's beliefs.
The fact is, because leadership is challenging people to do what they would not otherwise do, leaders' belief is seldom reciprocated. Automatic reciprocity is an illusion. If it happens, great. But for the most part, leaders have to work at making reciprocity happen.
That's done through the Motivational Transfer. I spoke of that (See April's ezine:
There are three ways to transfer our beliefs to others so they might believe as strongly as we do about a challenge.
(1) Convey information. Often, this is enough to get people motivated. For instance, many people have quit smoking because of information on the harmful effects of the habit
(2) Make sense. To be motivated, people must understand the rationality behind your challenge. Re: smoking: People have been motivated to quit because the information is indisputably correct.
(3) Transmit experience. This entails having the leader's experience become the people's experience. This can be the most effective method of all, for when the speaker's experience becomes the audience's experience, a deep sharing of emotions and ideas, a communing, can take place.
MEASURABLE RESULTS: As to measurements ... There is no value in business without measurements. Measurements link disparate things, organize activities, and help unify those activities. Apply precise, meaningful measurements to the results we want before we challenge others to get them. Without measurements, we can't make consistent improvements. Make sure your measurement system conforms to four attributes, that they are RELIABLE, REPEATABLE, ACHIEVABLE, and CONTROLLABLE.
This week ... focus on results you must achieve and make sure they are meaningful to you and to the people who must achieve them. In other words, be sure you and others are motivated to get them. If you are not so motivated, change your attitude and/or change the results. If you yourself are motivated but the people are not, use the Motivational Transfer Process. See:
If those results are not measurable, try to make them so, recognizing that in some cases results won't lend themselves to measurements. Apply the four attributes of measurements.
Week 3, Results That Are Ethical & Repeatable.
ETHICAL RESULTS: As a leader, you not only have to get results, but you have to get the right results. Results only happen when people take action. To get the right results, they must take right action. Ethics help promote right action.
Ethics, then, are not traffic lights, they're running gears. Ethics shouldn't impede your getting results, they should help you get more results.
This is an historic fact. Throughout history, people have been powerfully motivated by leaders who had a strong ethical component to their character. For instance, Plutarch said that Pericles' abilities to rally the Athenians to undertake hazards for his causes did not flow from the power of his language "but from the reputation of his life and the confidence felt in his character, his manifest freedom from every kind of corruption and superiority to all considerations of money. Though he made Athens great and rich, he did not make the inheritance his father left him greater than it was by one drachma."
Only when we win people's hearts, when we motivate them to see what they don't see, will they take risks for us and our cause. The power to win people's hearts is a moral power derived from ethical actions. A great Marine Corps sergeant-major, who inspired his troops to accomplish extraordinary feats, lived by linking moral power to inspirational power. For instance, wherever he traveled in the world with his units, he always remained faithful to his wife back home. "I'm faithful," he said, "not just for the sake of our marriage but for the sake of my troops."
Here are three ways to insure strong ethical component to your results.
1. Trust but verify: This was Ronald Reagan's motto when dealing with Gorbachev during the Cold War. It should be your motto in making sure results are ethical. Create and implement bullet proof reporting systems.
2. Be transparent: More results faster continually happens in an organizational culture that is open and honest. A business leader I know who can motivate others to achieve great results is soft spoken, modest and passionately honest. One of his subordinates told me, "He never raises his voice. He's a straight shooter and a straight talker. He has no hidden agendas. What you see is what you get. We're motivated by who he is." (See ezine on character)
3. Be the very values you want to impart. Only when we win people's hearts, when we motivate them to see what they don't see, will they take risks for us and our cause. The power to win people's hearts is a moral power derived from ethical actions. A great Marine Corps sergeant-major, who inspired his troops to accomplish extraordinary feats, lived by linking moral power to inspirational power. For instance, wherever he traveled in the world with his units, he always remained faithful to his wife back home. "I'm faithful," he said, "not just for the sake of our marriage but for the sake of my troops."
REPEATABLE RESULTS: Always look for more results in the more we vie for. The more is always there and can always be achieved. Make repeatability a condition of leadership. Evaluate others not only on the results they develop and achieve (or don't) but on the results that they repeatedly get.
Tenors have traditionally been big box-office draws, beautiful voices courting disaster, especially when hitting a high C. Up on the high wire of the high C, the tenor risks everything: scene, performance, career exploding a burst of energy into his diaphragm while relaxing his throat muscles. That combination of beautiful music, operatic drama, athletic prowess, and passion teetering on the edge of catastrophe makes the high C a compelling moment in performing arts.
It's a leadership lesson in repeatability. To sustain a career, a tenor cannot simply hit the high C now and then. He can't say, "I don't feel well tonight, it's okay if I miss the high C." When Tosca is announced, Tosca must be sung. Failure is achieving more-results-faster now and then.
A global-services company was growing at less than 5 percent annually until the leaders went through the Results Round Table of mine and saw that they could be growing at more than 15 percent. In the first quarter, they began instituting the new growth strategies, processes and leadership skills, and the second quarter they achieved an 11 percent growth rate.
"I don't know if we can repeat that the third quarter," a senior leader told me. "I don't know if we can get to 15 percent."
I disagreed. "Tosca's been announced," I said, "Tosca must be sung! You declared 15 percent. You're convinced you can do it. Do it! Do it repeatedly. Leadership closes the gap between where you are now in terms of growth and where you want to go."
I quoted Gen. A. A. Vandergriff's famous remark: "Positions are seldom lost because they have been destroyed but almost invariably because the leader has decided in his own mind that the position cannot be held."
Always look for more results in the more we vie for. The more is always there and can always be achieved. Make REPEATABILITY a condition of your leadership expectations. Evaluate others not only on the results they develop and achieve (or don't) but on the results that they repeatedly get.
Do this by identifying the processes used in getting results. See how those processes can be transferred and translated to other activities throughout your organization and even outside your organization.
For instance, I helped leaders in a manufacturing plant develop processes that speeded up the acquisition and testing of specialized furnace equipment, without sacrificing the health and safety of the workers in the plant. The "speed" process that they developed and executed was able to be transferred and translated to many logistical functions throughout the plant. In fact, aspects of those processes helped streamline the plant's order-to-remittance cycles.
This week ... Identify processes in your past successes that can be used to repeat results implement those processes. This is something few leaders do. They don't identify the processes that led to success or even to failure and so don't understand the mechanisms that they want to repeat or avoid. Make sure the processes you identify are specific mental or physical steps that others can easily repeat.
Week 4: Apply The SAMMER Test Continually.
During the past three weeks, you have learned to apply the SAMMER Test to activities in the past. Now that you understand its principles and applications, you can apply the Test to every result-achieving endeavor. Look to apply the Test within the context of Initiative Strategies, which were explained during the last two ezines.
SECTION TWO: The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.
In 1953, Jack Lemmon began working on his first motion picture, IT SHOULD HAPPEN TO YOU, co-starring with Judy Holiday. The director was the famous George Cukor. Throughout the early scenes, Cukor kept insisting, "Cut! Cut! Less acting! Less acting!" Finally, the exasperated Lemmon said, "Don't you want me to act at all?"
"Now you've got it!" said Cukor.
-- The art of great leadership communication is the art not of acting but of being yourself.
Croesus, the wealthy 6th century B.C. king of Lydia in Asia Minor, asked the oracle of Delphi whether he should attack the Persians. The oracle replied that should he attack, he would destroy a great empire. Emboldened by the prophecy, Croesus attacked, was defeated and lead away in chains. He sent a messenger to the oracle asking why she deceived him. She sent a message back saying she did not deceive him at all, that in attacking Persia, he had indeed destroyed a great empire -- his.
-- In leadership, wrong results often accrue from believing what we want rather than what is. Croesus should have applied the SAMMER test to the oracle's prophecy!
When the American composer George Gershwin died, an amateur composer took great pains to write a musical elegy in his honor. He gained an audience with Gershwin's friend, Oscar Levant, and played the elegy on a piano. After he finished, Levant was silent for some time then said, "It would have been a better piece if you had died and Gershwin had written it."
Getting the right people is more important than getting the right plans.
SECTION THREE: Points of Light.
When the philosopher Thales was asked what was difficult, he replied, "To know oneself." When asked what was easy, he said, "To give advice."
"If you are always right, you are usually wrong." Brent Filson
"Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those whom we cannot resemble." Samuel Johnson
"One dog barks at something and a hundred dogs bark at the sound." Chinese proverb.
"I've found that the best of leaders make use of the simplest of ideas." Brent Filson
"The great secret of power is never to will more than you think you can accomplish." -- Henrik Ibsen
"What a pity human beings can't exchange problems. Everyone knows exactly how to solve the other fellow's." Olin Miller
"What is success? It is a toy balloon among children with pins." Gene Fowler
"Better one word before the fact than two words after." -- Brent Filson
"A leader or a man of action in a crisis almost always acts subconsciously and then thinks of the reasons for his action." Jawaharlal Nehru
(SECTION FOUR: Message From Brent Filson:
A DIFFERENT LEADERSHIP YARDSTICK
It's a common occurrence, a CEO leads a company to record earnings, retires and in just a couple of years, those once high-flying earnings are dropping like shot ducks.
Observers blame the new leadership team. But most likely the observers are wrong. It's not just the new leaders who are screwing up. Instead, it was most likely the former CEO. Yes, the former, supposedly great CEO. Look to him for what went wrong and what went wrong provides lessons for leaders at all levels.
The reasons are clear but seldom recognized. They get back to the raison d' etre of leadership which is not the performance of the individual leader but the improved results of those being led. The problems lie in the definition of results. For when results are defined narrowly, i.e. in strict terms of share, margin, shareholder value, profits, organizations lose their elasticity.
And the quality of organizational elasticity is linked to its culture of leadership, leadership with a broader vision of results, encompassing the necessity to hire and develop people who lead others to get results.
So when decline follows the departure of great leaders, the safe bet is that those "great" leaders haven't hired and developed leaders and so really weren't great at all, no matter what results they got. In fact, they were quite poor.
To paraphrase Vince Lombardi on winning, getting good leaders for your team isn't everything, it's the only thing. The moment that you decide to hire, that very moment, is the living, breathing future of your organization.
A curious chemistry takes place in the hiring process. We don't just reach outward, we also reach inward. In hiring leaders, we invariably hire ourselves our strengths and weaknesses. So the hand we reach out to shake is not just the other person's hand, it's our hand. Hire to our strengths, we hire strong leaders. Hire to our weaknesses, we hire weak leaders.
I know a brilliant, young executive in a multimillion dollar manufacturing company whose ambition to become CEO of that company may founder on his maddening propensity to hire leaders who may be good but who are none-the-less not the very best.
That's because the leaders he hires must have what is an unstated but at the same time real skill: the ability to curry his favor. Those leaders are ostensibly qualified. But they are often not the very best of the pool because they come equipped with that extraneous skill.
Since results on his teams are also defined as the care and feeding of his ego, that executive is hiring to his weaknesses, so he continually makes what may ultimately turn out to be garbage-in-garbage-out hiring decisions that can ultimately wreck his ambitions.
On the other hand, I know another young executive, not nearly as brilliant, but whose hiring dictum may very well get him farther along in life.
The dictum is: Hire leaders who can not only do well in this position but in the next position and maybe even the position beyond that.
In other words, he hires to his strengths, his inner sense of self-confidence, which allows him to surround himself with people who are smarter and in some ways more capable than he and so is creating a rising tide of action and results that will further his career in powerful ways.
As Steven Jobs said, "I don't hire people to tell them what to do but to tell me what to do."
Yet hiring people who are capable of supplanting you isn't enough. Do more. Actively develop the knowledge, skills and careers of those leaders to give them the best possible chance of supplanting you.
An epitaph on a 1680 New England gravestone speaks to this:
What I gave, I have.
What I spent, I had.
What I left, I lost.
By not giving it.
That can be an epitaph for failed leaders. By not giving to your leaders, not developing their skills and careers, you lose them, lose the opportunity to have their riches enrich you.
Nobody is a success unless others want them to be. And when you have a passionate desire for their success, for helping them improve and achieve their goals, when they know that working on your team will be a defining experience of their career then you will have people who want like hell for you to be a success.
The decline following the departure of "great" leaders indicates that those leaders were most likely control-monsters, commanders not convincers, great at getting jobs done themselves but not challenging others to do them.
And when those others are ignored, they become inept.
So let's take an additional yardstick to our leaders and measure their total value, both when they're there and after they have left. Link that value to deferred compensation, bonuses, stock options for executives and to partially-delayed evaluations for middle managers and supervisors or whatever.
When leaders define their performance beyond their tenure, they will most likely pay more attention to those two factors that are absolutely necessary for any organization's continued well-being: getting and developing exceptional leaders.
SECTION FIVE: NEWS:
Brent's latest leadership book, The Leadership Talk: The Greatest Leadership Tool, will be available in bookstores in the fall. You can purchase advance copies by calling 800-403-5368. Mention this e-zine and you'll receive a free wallet card with the Leadership Talk processes. If you purchase the hardcover book, you'll receive a free copy of Brent's new book, 101 Ways To Give Great Leadership Talks. In addition, you'll be eligible to receive a set of Brent's previously published books at half price.
QuickSpeech is up and running. If you have a speech to give, go to the Quick Speech button at www.actionleadership.com and download the template. Fill in the blanks, and you'll have a powerful speech. Quick Speech is the highly popular companion supplement to Brent's book, EXECUTIVE SPEECHES, 51 CEOS TELL YOU HOW TO DO YOURS. Quick Speech has sold thousands of copies, but now it is available to you for free. Remember, the speech is not an end in and of itself but the gateway to The Leadership Talk. Learn to give speeches Brent Filson's way and you'll be better grounded to give Leadership Talks later on.
Brent's latest book, THE LEADERSHIP TALK: THE GREATEST LEADERSHIP TOOL. Will soon be printed and ready for sale. A major library distributor has picked up the book.
Brent has been interviewed on more than 60 radio shows since Memorial Day. He is shooting for at least 150 radio and tv interviews before the fall election. If you are interested in having him on your show or at your meeting, go to the Action Leadership website and click on either the "meeting planner" button or the "press room" button.
The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. is putting together a CD collection of interviews with leaders, called the Leaders Speak Series. It will begin this month and can be found on the Action Leadership website. Click on Leaders Speak CD Series. Brent says, I want to interview leaders from a broad spectrum of human endeavor to be represented. Dont be surprised to find landscape contractors, gang leaders, horse trainers, sports coaches, as well as business and political leaders. Leadership is practiced by practically everyone, and we will bring it to you on the CDs in all the richness of human relationships. For more information, call the F.L.G. headquarters, 413-458-4403 or contact Brent.
(c) Copyright 2003 The Filson Leadership Group, Inc.
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