America’s leadership expert : Man With Vision

Clay: This is Clay Staires. America’s leadership expert and podcast number 62. We’re talking about step number six in the Staires steps to freedom. In this Staires step we’re going to be talking about the what about, so this will be covering here trouble shooting issues in your organization on an ongoing basis. Once again, Clay Staires. America’s leadership expert. Been looking forward to talking about how we go from a day to day basis solving issues. How we … Putting together systems, putting together processes, and check lists to make sure that on an ongoing basis we are able to solve the issues that come up.

What I want to do today is spend some time poling some information out of a book that has been very influential on me and my coaching, and that is the book Traction by Gino Wickman, and I’m going to be grabbing some information out of his issues chapter, so I think that’s on page like 131 in that book. For those of you reading along feel free to go ahead and turn to page 131, and we’re going to start into some of the key things that I was able to pull out of this chapter, but again as Clay Staires, America’s leadership expert, I’ve been able to spend a ton of time with business leaders and business entrepreneurs. People that are overwhelmed with the amount of work. The daily details that go on, and they just, they lack the ability. Yeah, they lack the ability to have vision to have the foresight of issues that come up, and as a result they are not aware of the issue until it is right upon them, and so we run as business owners. This is so unfortunate, and I find this very often as Clay Staires, America’s leadership expert.

I find this so often with business leaders and entrepreneurs that they are running from fire to fire putting fires out rather than becoming more and more of a fireman. They get stuck in the world of … Rather than becoming a fire chief they become more and more of just a fireman on a day to day basis, so let’s grab some things here from the book Traction by Gino Wickman. What I want to do here is first of all talk about the three steps. The three steps. Even before we get to that let’s talk about the three lists that you need to be maintaining. The three issues list that you need to be maintaining.

Number one, we have the main issues list for the company. Now, this is going to be an ongoing list, and I would encourage you to not just have this on a piece of paper that you are writing things, although that may be helpful I think it’s important that the ultimate list gets on some type of shareable format, so you can in real time share this list with your key leaders, your key reports, so the number one list is the list, the main issues. What I would call the issues list for your company. These are things that we’re not going to solve these this week. We’re really not even going to be focusing on solving these things this quarter, but these are issues that we need to be attacking more than 90 days out. Maybe as we walk through this year these are some issues that we need to tackle.

The second list that I wanted to encourage you to have is a weekly leadership team issues list. Now, these are issues that you and your leadership team are focused on solving this week. They are front burner let’s get this stuff taken care of right now, and then thirdly we’ve got the list of … This would be what I would call departmental issues list, and this would be the issues a little bit further down in the organizational chart. Each department has a list of issues that they are trying to solve this week, okay? Once again, this departmental check list. These are things that we’re focusing on this week and trying to solve.

I’ve been asked often times as Clay Staires, America’s leadership expert, to help managers get their head around, get their hands around all of the different work, all of the different activities that are going on in the organization.  I’m actually heading over to Oklahoma City just a little bit later on this afternoon to spend some time with an organization that is in this very spot. They’ve got their managers, their senior managers, that also have mid level management responsibilities and also have worker responsibilities. They actually have responsibilities where they have to produce a product for a specific client on a daily basis, so the organization and the structure of their time can be extremely confusing, and when I ask them as far as their issues list what are some main things, well each person has their own issues. Each person has their own things that they are focused on. They don’t have a common target to begin tackling, so this is what I’m going to be doing with them today is going over and spending time with them. Helping them design these three lists.  I’m looking forward to spending time there.

Once we have the three lists now let’s talk about the three steps that we are going to take as Gino Wickman calls them. It’s the IDS system that he uses with every issue. The IDS. The I is to identify, the D is to discuss, and the S is to solve, so let’s dive into this just a little bit. What we’ve got here is first of all on the identification. What we want to do starting with your issues list that we have, we want to identify the top three issues that we are going to focus on this week, and then we’re going to follow the IDS formula to help us solve and find solutions to these problems, these issues, and the idea, keep in mind, the idea is that we solve the issue once, and we keep track of the solution, so if this problem comes up again, if this issue comes up again, all we need to do is go to the list. Go to this system. Solve it the same way.

First of all when we are identifying the problem usually what goes on here is rarely is the stated problem really the issue. The issue is usually much deeper than that. The issue isn’t you know we’re having problems keeping track of people, you know? That’s not really the issue. The issue is a management issue. You have to dig down into that. You know, oh we have an issue. Bob quit. Okay, the issue isn’t necessarily that Bob quit. The issue is why did Bob quit, and what are we going to do? What holes are left because we haven’t managed that well?

Also, in this identifying the issue we want to be careful not to move forward until we have clearly identified the real issue. That’s important. We got to dig down to find the real underlying issue, or once again you’ll find yourself solving the same problem over and over and over because you haven’t yet found the real issue.America’s leadership expert Then finally once you have identified the real issue then you can move to discuss, and stay laser focused on the real issue until it’s solved.

This is important because as we move to the second step here in the discussion this can be the hard place here because in the discussion so often we get off on bunny trails. We get off and well and another thing, and we start talking about stuff that really aren’t focused on the issue, so as we move to step number two, the D, discuss, in an open and honest environment everyone must share their thoughts, their ideas, concerns, and solutions regarding the real issue, and this can be hard because sometimes the real issue is uncomfortable. Sometimes the real issue, it requires me to be vulnerable because sometimes the real issue could be me and my own personal issues that I brought to work. We have to have an open environment where we trust one another to discuss and debate what the real issue is because I promise you right at the very beginning everyone’s probably not going to be on the same page with what the real issue is. Everyone may agree with what the problem is, but the issues that lead to the problem is where we have to be more open, more vulnerable, and move in unity.

Everyone needs to get it out on the table, but only say it once. If you say it more than once then it’s almost like you’re politicking. It’s almost like you’re trying to push your agenda, but just say it once. Once everything is on the table, and things are getting redundant, now it’s time to move to a solution, so usually what I do in this scenario is as people are talking about the issues I am writing them down on the white board, and if it’s already on the white board then I don’t need you to say it again as we go around the table. If Bob has already talked about this issue, and then it comes around to Susie, and Susie has the same issue she doesn’t need to say it again. It’s already on the board.

Then finally with the greater good in mind, and this is so key.America’s leadership expert This is why it’s so important to have people on your leadership team that are willing to sacrifice for the greater good because in this conversation right here with the greater good in mind the solution is always simple. Though sometimes it’s not easy, and sometimes it can be hard, it’s at least simple as opposed to being complex. There can’t be all kinds of moving pieces to this thing. It has to be simple.

Then finally we move to the step number three. The S. The solution or solving the issue.  It’s more important that you decide that it is what you decide, okay? You have to decide. Once again it’s more important that you decide then it is what you decide. You have to make a decision. It’s so important as leaders. Leaders must make decisions, and so often we have to make decisions quickly. The solution needs to be stated by someone until you hear the sweet sound of agreement. We keep talking about it. In other podcasts we have talked about how to do the Jedi move, the Jedi mind trick and how to get everybody to do what you want them to do because they want to do it. We have to move to agreement. Everybody’s on board. If people don’t own it you can’t hold them accountable.

Sometimes you will have to go back to the discussion step after the solution is stated because you haven’t truly solved it yet, and once everyone agrees, or at least until you can live with the decision, the action step must be owned by one person, and put on a to do list which then is confirmed to be completed in the following week, okay? Once again, this is the issue solving track by Gino Wickman in the book Traction. Starting on page 131. I want to encourage you to go there. Get the book. You’ll love it. This is Clay Staires, America’s leadership expert and podcast number 62. The Staires steps to freedom.

Step number six. What about?

Test. Test. Good deal. We’re back.

This is Clay Staires, America’s leadership expert with podcast number 63. The 10 commandments of solving issues. We had a nice podcast in our last session, number 62. Talking about the IDS formula for solving problems as stated by Gino Wickman in his book traction. I believe that started on page 131 in that book, and he goes on in this chapter to talk about the 10 commandments of solving issues, and I found as Clay Staires, America’s leadership expert, traveling across the country, speaking with managers, doing management training with large and small organizations across the country, that management so often, so often management is the problem. It’s not … I just found so much lesser the problem is vision. Most of the problem is management. It is the implementation of the vision. It’s the holding people accountable. It’s the having the systems, and especially as I coach entrepreneurs and business owners as Clay Staires, America’s leadership expert.

What I find so often it’s this management piece that keeps entrepreneurs from getting to freedom. Yes, they may be making money. That is fantastic, or maybe not making money, but they can be successful, but the problem is they still don’t have freedom. They still have to go to work every day. They still have to show up. They are still tied to their company, so what I want to talk about here in this podcast is the 10 commandments to solving issues. Again, in our last podcast we talked about the three steps to solving issues. The IDS formula. Let’s dive in here to the 10 commandments of solving issues, and maybe I’ll talk like this. Thou shalt … I’ll do some of this stuff, okay?

Commandment number one, and I don’t know that these are in any particular order, but commandment number one, thou shalt not rule by consensus. This is so important. Yes, when I get my leadership team together I want to discuss, but when it comes down to decision I want the input from my team, but as the business owner the decision is on me. The buck stops here. I am the one that is making the decision.  I’m not ruling by committee.  I’m not ruling by consensus. This is not a democracy. My leadership team, yes they may be giving me time, but I am paying them for their time. They do not have their money and their families invested in this company the way that I do, so I do not rule by consensus.

Number two, thou shalt not be a wienie. I love this one. You’ve got to be able to make the hard decisions. You’ve got to be able to … As Jack Welch talks about, you have to be able to have the edge. Make the hard decisions. Do the hard thing.  As Clay Staires, America’s leadership expert, I get to spend time with business owners across the country and entrepreneurs helping them not be a wienie. Giving them the confidence that they need. Helping them see themselves for who they truly are rather than living in this world of emotion and drama and fear. Oh, if I make that decision then somebody may get mad, so I’m not going to make the decision, and I just don’t know if I should do this. Thou shalt not be a wienie, and this reads right into commandment number three.

Thou shalt be decisive. This is one of the key things. I just got an opportunity to speak to a group here in a suburb of Tulsa, Jenks, Oklahoma, and their leadership Jenks program and their chamber of commerce, and this was one of the pieces, one of the steps that I talked about with leadership. Leaders make decisions. You must be decisive. In solving issues, you must be decisive. If you fade back from making decisions, if you continue to stay in this circling pattern of well we just need to talk about it more. We need to think about it more. We need to have another meeting with more people, and have a committee. It just keeps your organization from moving forward, and if you’re not careful while you are not moving forward you are losing money, and your company can go down.

Commandment number four, thou shalt not rely on second hand information. This is key. Once again, so often what business leaders do. Have you ever wondered why all of a sudden all of these reality shows are coming out that kind of go behind the scenes in different businesses? America’s leadership expert Because so many businesses are just filled with drama, and that’s why we watch these TV shows every week is that there’s always drama. We just want to watch how tragic it can be. How many bad decisions can they make? We look at the TV, and we’re going, “Stop making these stupid decisions.” The problem is is that if they stopped making the stupid decisions we would stop watching it because healthy is not that entertaining. Healthy is fulfilling, but it’s not entertaining. It’s the drama. It’s the emotion. It’s the tragic decisions that go on when all of a sudden the business owner has a secretary, and the secretary’s pregnant. I wonder if it’s his. Stay tuned to next week, so we’ve got to keep the drama out of the company, and this is one of the key things, do not rely on second hand information.

Go directly to the source, and everybody in my companies, they all know that if you come to me with a problem, and I say, “Who is saying that?” And if you go, “Well, I don’t feel comfortable saying.” I will fire you. I will fire you because you are unwilling to give me the information that I need to correctly and successfully lead my company.  “Well, you know, there’s just a lot of people.” Oh, man. That really makes me frustrated. As Lay Staires, America’s leadership expert, this is one of the things that I will not tolerate is for people to be pointing fingers to anonymous people and say, “Yes. I heard. Everyone’s talking. Oh, there’s a group of people. There’s these people.” I want to know names, and if you don’t give me names I will fire you.

Commandment number five, thou shall fight for the greater good. There has to be a willingness to see the greater good and not just be focusing on self and what gets you where you want to go. Is it important for you to get where you want to go? Yes, it is, but if you begin to put your needs consistently above everyone else’s needs the company will go down.

Commandment number six, thou shalt not try to solve all your problems. You will have problems on and on and on. The issues list never stops. It’s never over. You’re never done. So many people when they are writing a to do list, they get frustrated because they’re saying, “The to do list just never stops.” It’s like well it’s never supposed to stop. It’s never supposed to stop. It goes on and on. Once again, as Clay Staires, America’s leadership expert these are issues that I see come up consistently with business owners, that there’s this idea, this fantasy, thinking that I’m going to get to a point where there are no longer problems, and that is not the case. If you want to get to a place where there are no longer problems you need to sell your company and go get a job with somebody else, and then they can just tell you every single day what they want and what they need you to do.

Commandment number seven, thou shalt live with it, end it, or change it. These are your options. Live with it, end it, or change it. We do not have an option of tolerating it. This goes back to number three of be decisive. Don’t be a wienie. You have to either make the decision to change it, or make the decision to end it, or make the decision to we’re just going to live with it.

Commandment number eight, thou shall choose short term pain and suffering. In this world you will have pain. In this business you will have suffering. You can guarantee it. It will come your way. The issue is what are you going to do when it comes? How are you going to respond to it? Once again, we go to number five. Fight for the greater good. Are you willing to choose short term pain for long term gain?

Commandment number nine, thou shalt enter the danger. I call this the furnace. Wickman calls it enter the danger. I say enter the furnace. Willingly enter into the furnace. The fire that purifies. The struggles, the difficulties, the problems, the issues that come up that purify you as a leader and purify your company as you solve over and over and over. What is it? If you heat up silver the impurities rise to the top, and it is easily to remove the impurities, but if you don’t heat up the silver it is very difficult, if not impossible, to remove the impurities, so commandment number nine, thou shalt enter the furnace.

Then finally commandment number 10, thou shall take the shot. This just reminds me of my basketball days back in high school. When it would come to the end of the game there were a few guys on the team who’s, “Do not give me the ball.” They were terrified. You can see it in their eyes. I was always the one saying give me the rock. Give me the ball. There’s three seconds to go. We’re one point behind. Give me the ball. I want the ball in my hands. I did the same in football. I did the same in track. I wanted to be the one. I wanted it to be on my shoulders. Give it to me. Let me take the shot, and so as a business owner this is one of your responsibilities. Take the ball. Take the shot.

This is Clay Staires, America’s leadership expert, with podcast number 63. The 10 commandments of solving issues.

This is Clay Staires, America’s leadership expert, with podcast number 64, defining A, B, and C players. Oh, this is one of the things that if we are not careful as business leaders, as entrepreneurs, as owners of businesses, if we are not careful we will not take the time to identify clearly what A, B, and players look like and what they do, what their characteristics are, and as a result C players can creep into our company, and we will tolerate them, so this episode, episode number 63 is all about helping you define. I want to strongly encourage you, as Clay Staires, America’s leadership expert, I want to strongly encourage you to take notes on this and actually put these up in your office. Slap them up on the wall. Let people see these are the definitions of what an A player is, a B player, and a C player.

I think it is Jack Welch, when he was the CEO of GE. Once a year he would always cull his entire organization of all C players. It was like setting … He was like Moses. He’s up on the mountain, and he is saying, “Okay, C players come over here.” Then he’s saying something, and all of a sudden the earth is opening up and swallowing them whole. Cutting them out of the organization. As Clay Staires, America’s leadership expert, this is one of the key things that I find with business leaders, with owners across the country, is that they hire people, and there is an emotional attachment to the people, and because of that emotional attachment they struggle getting rid of people, and they put the value on the people primarily due to how long they’ve been with them.

Well, I can’t get rid of them, they’ve been with me too long. It’s like oh. We want to identify people in these three categories, so let’s dive into this. Once again, as Clay Staires, America’s leadership expert, these would be the definitions or the characteristics of an A player. Write these down.

Number one, they arrive to work early and stay until the job is done. Oh, I love that. Number two, they embrace ongoing learning, and don’t push back when assigned something that is new and challenging because they like big challenges. They love being challenged. They embrace it rather than pushing back. I don’t know if you can do that. Number three characteristic of an A player, they hold themselves to a higher standard than management does, so they can show that they really don’t need a boss. This is huge. Once again, as I travel the country, and as I work with my clients across the country as Clay Staires, America’s leadership expert, I find so often that there are leaders, business owners, that are worn out because they are tolerating low performing employees. Employees that don’t have the inner drive, and so they are constantly battling with having to provide that inner drive for them. It can be extremely draining.

Number four characteristic of an A player, they are hungry for more work and more obstacles to overcome. Number five, they are goal oriented and want to win. Oh, my gosh.  I’m just saying all these things, and I’m going oh this is wonderful. This is exactly who you are wanting.  I’m going to go ahead and give a shout out here to my personal assistant in my company, Shawn Loman. He is an A player. I’ve been truly blessed, and there are been many of my clients that have been truly blessed because of his work ethic and his mentality in my company, and he’s 23 years old.

Number six, they have a growth mindset that is focused on constant improvement. Number seven, they consistently get their job done. Word, consistently get their jobs done without broadcasting their emotional state to the room. Look what I did. Look how I’ve done this. Has anybody else? Oh, I guess I’m the first, and being sarcastic. They consistently get their jobs done. With these people you usually can’t tell whether they are going through a personal tragedy, or if they have won life’s lottery because they will get their work done either way. Again, back to Jack Welch, they have the edge where they are able to work through difficult situations and continue producing.

Finally, the eighth characteristic of A players, they can stand to work. Get this, they can’t stand to work around B minus or C players who represent mediocrity and people who are slowing them down. They will get so frustrated. This is one of the ways you keep A players is you have to get rid of your C players. If you don’t get rid of C players, A players will leave you.  It’s very important for you to know, so again as Clay Staires, America’s leadership expert, these are just the characteristics that I want you to carry with you, that I want you to understand as a business owner, as a business leader, as an entrepreneur, this is how we evaluate. Please write these things down. Put them up on the wall. Hold people to these standards.

Let’s take a look at B players. The characteristics. Eight characteristics of B players. Number one, they arrive to work right on time, and leave work right on time or two minutes early. Number two, they push back at the thought of ongoing learning and tend to ask if they are going to get paid for it because it’s not necessarily part of my job description would be something they would say, so they’re asking for a little bit extra. If I give you extra I expect extra back. Number three, they hold themselves to the standard that management sets and actively demonstrates. Oh, that’s key. They wait for management to set the standard for them. They constantly compare themselves to their co workers to justify their lack of effort and excellence.

“Well, I’m doing better than Bob.  I’m doing better than Susie. I’m doing better than them. Okay, I get it.  I’m not as good as Michael, but I’m better than Bob.” They use others to evaluate themselves. Number four, they don’t want more work, and they spend any free time they have planning their next vacation. Again, these are B workers. They’re not bad, okay? These are not bad folks, but they’re not A players. They’re B players. They’re the B job. They’re the JV. Number five, they are not goal oriented, and they hope the company wins just enough so that they don’t have to look for another job.

Number six, they have a fixed mindset that is based upon their belief that each person is born with a certain amount of skills, and that is all there is to it. This fixed mindset versus a learning mindset. This is from Carol Dweck. A book called The Learning Mindset. You may want to check out that book. It’s very impressive. Number seven for B players, they consistently get their jobs done while bringing their up and down emotions to the work place each day, so this is a key thing again. B players are getting the job done, but at the same time they do bring a bunch of drama. They bring what they had from home right into the office. They bring the TV shows right into the office.

Then finally, number eight, they love working with B minus players and C minus players because those people justify that they’re doing good. Those people justify. Their slow work pace, and whom they can go out to eat with and talk about. Everything except doing an excellent job, so these are the characteristics of B players.

Then finally we get into this C player category, and once again unfortunately I think you’re going to find these are very, very common, and unfortunately as I get to travel, and as I get to coach business owners and entrepreneurs across the country as Clay Staires, America’s leadership expert, what I discover is so many people have way too many C players that they are tolerating in their organization. Let’s take a look at this. See if any of these sound familiar. Number one, they arrive to work five to 10 minutes late, and always have a traffic related personal or medical excuse. Just this morning I was walking out of my office complex, and a gal that I know from another company was walking in. It was seven minutes after 9:00. She’s walking in. I know that she’s supposed to be at work at 9:00, and I go, “Oh, running a little bit late?” What do you think she said? “Oh, my gosh. This morning there’s construction on Harvard. It’s just slowing everything down.” She’s blaming it on the construction. We want to be careful with this. Again, I’m not saying she’s a C player, but that’s a C player move right there.

Number two, they systematically make teaching them so hard that management gives up on them. We don’t fire them, but we just give up on them. We tolerate their lack of performance since they are branded unteachable they get less put on their plates than anyone else. We don’t give them the work they need to be doing, but we keep paying them. Oh, that’s so common. Number three, they have no standards and want to do the least amount of work possible during each work day. When you walk into the room they minimize their social media screen and their chat room programs to pretend to be working.

Guys, this is so common. Does any of this sound familiar to you with your employees? They find ways to leave work early and take extended breaks. They fudge on amount of time it takes for them to accomplish nearly every single task, and they need to be praised for just doing their job, or they will have an emotional breakdown. Oh, am I preaching to the choir? Can I get an amen out there? This is so common, and unfortunately it is management’s fault because we allow it to remain. We don’t get rid of the C players.

Number five,America’s leadership expert they view success as based largely upon luck, and they are actually bitter towards people who are more successful than they are. Number six, they have a fixed mindset that is based up on their belief that each person is born with a certain amount of skill, and that’s all there is to it. Does that sound familiar? We talked about that with the B level players as well. Number seven, they only work hard when they emotionally feel like it, and they usually don’t. Their emotions drive them. Whether they are going to perform or not is all an emotional thing, so you don’t know what you’re going to get from them on a daily basis. Number eight, they love working with B minus and C minus players who justify their slow work pace, and they go out of their way to spread gossip and negative feelings around the office to bring the room down to their way of thinking.

Folks, if you are a business owner, if you are an entrepreneur, if you are a business leader, a business manager, please take it from me, Clay Staires, America’s leadership expert, you must focus on your A players, and give them the lions share of your time and your resources. You need to fire, fire today right now. Even turn this podcast off, leave your desk, get out of your car, go give a call, walk up to these people, fire them now. Get them out of your company, and all of your B players, you need to give them opportunities to step up into being an A player. Give them the chance. Give them the invitation to step into being an A player. If they don’t accept the invitation and move forward, it just lets you know this is a B player. I need to keep my eye on them because if I don’t they will turn into a B minus and C player, and now you’ve got problems if you allow them to stay.

This is Clay Staires, America’s leadership expert, with podcast number 64. Defining A, B, and C players.

Clay Staires