Tag Archives: Success

Are You A “Flat-Tire-HIPO?”

damaged flat tire

What Is A Flat-Tire-HIPO?

You know those people, those really, really talented people? Those people who REALLY get things done or those people who can spot the 2 numbers in a 20 page spreadsheet that have issues. Or those who are so incredibly charismatic or entrepreneurial or incredible presenters and can sell anything? Those people who are so special that everyone (even the ones who don’t like them) recognizes that they are HIPOs?   *A ‘HIPO’ is a high potential individual with significant ability and potential to move up the organization.* Well, it has been my experience that the most special, most talented, most capable of these HIPOs are flat tires. They are ‘round’ in all the ways that they are special, but they go ‘kathump’ as they hit that part of them, that non-round, non-perfect part of them that is flat. I know you’ve met these people—the guy who gets results . . . but leaves bodies; the person who is incredibly charismatic and people follow her anywhere . . . who can’t make a decision; the person who is charming and talks a perfect plan . . . who doesn’t actually deliver when promised. These are ‘flat-tire HIPOs.’

That Flat Tire Will Derail You

HIPOs are highly sought and cherished—as long as the organization benefits from the ways in which they are special. As long as their strength outweighs their cost. The higher up HIPOs go, however, the more likely that their deficit will begin to get in the way. The Center for Creative Leadership which does great research on Executive Development, Leadership and success factors for Executives, has identified several “derailers,” behaviors or traits that can ‘derail’ a career:

Failure to Change or Adapt During a Transition. Examples include:

  • Failure to adapt to a new boss
  • Over-dependence on a single skill and/or failure to acquire new skills
  • Inability to adapt to the demands of a new job, a new culture, or changes in the market

Problems with Interpersonal Relationships. Examples include being seen as:

  • Insensitive
  • Manipulative
  • Demanding
  • Authoritarian
  • Self-isolating
  • Aloof
  • Critical

Failure to Build and Lead a Team. Examples include:

  • Failing to staff effectively
  • Can’t manage subordinates
  • Poor leadership skills

Failure to Meet Business Objectives: Examples include:

  • Lack of follow-through
  • Too ambitious
  • Poor performance

None Of Those Apply to You, Right?

Riiiiiiiiight. Almost all of us . . . at least I’ve never met one of us it isn’t true of . . . have one or more of these. Especially HIPOs. People become HIPOs by being really good at stuff. When you’re really good at stuff, then you by definition are more focused on the stuff you’re good at than the stuff you’re not focused on. And you’re not as good, and maybe you’re pretty bad at, the stuff you’re not focused on. If you are a detail person, who really pays attention to the details and on getting things done, then it is highly likely that you’re aren’t as focused on the people side of things. You may be insensitive to those who don’t speak “detail.”

Yeah, I know, not you.

If you focus on getting results, you may be impatient. If you are ambitious, you may be TOO ambitions. There are so many combinations that are possible. And it is hard to see it in yourself. You need to listen to feedback. CLOSELY. It may be between the lines. When you are a HIPO, then the organization will appreciate you for as long as you aren’t hitting the “flat” part. That can be years. Eventually, though, your flat part will hit at the wrong time or with the wrong person and you will be out. UNLESS you start paying attention and learn to inflate those parts.

OK, I’ve take this metaphor far enough. What do you do?

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Filed under Career Development, Derailment, Executive Development, Feedback, Hi Po, Learning, Personal Change

Your ‘Tribes’ Are Important For Your Career Success

What Are Your Tribes?

Broncos, Seahawks.  Democrat, Republican.  Christian, Jew.  We belong to ‘Tribes.’  The correct definition of this is a social group that preceded the “state,” small in size.  The current use of the word is more of an ‘aligned’ group—somewhat informal with common interests and loyalty.  Some of these ‘tribes’ are ok to talk about at work.  Your sports team, unless it is the arch enemy of the prominent group’s team.  Your hobby group, unless it is politically incorrect.  Sometimes your tribe and your company are one—maybe Google is a tribe—but usually your tribes and your company are concentric circles with some overlap.  Sometimes your team/project/department is a tribe within your company.

It is an interesting question why we feel so strongly about the interests of our tribe.  This is probably one of the reasons that we don’t talk about some of this at work very often—religion, politics, gun control, abortion.  If I find out that you are not IN my tribe in one of these areas, it makes it harder for me to work with you.  Why is that?  You are the same person you were before I found out that you have a view that I completely disagree with (outside my tribe).  You are the same person.  If I liked you (or at least was neutral) before, why does knowing that you are in another ‘tribe’ change my opinion so much?

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What Do You Do About It?

One of the most important things to acknowledge is that there are tribes and there are tribes.  Each of us has had the experience of thinking badly—ok, if you can’t admit that—not as highly of a group of people because of something.  We applied stereotypes to them.  And then you became close to a single member of that group.  You made that person an exception.  S/he was different from the rest of the group.  S/he was an exception to all the characteristics you didn’t like/objected to.  And so it was ok to like her.  It was ok to think highly of her—because all that stuff didn’t apply to her.  It’s as if we’re hard wired to think like this.

So, take advantage of the fact that we make exceptions when we get to know someone.  Create more tribes.  Create cross-tribe tribes that are based on something else—fun, work, teams, companies, hobbies, interests.  Get to know people.  Make them exceptions.  Get to know people you admire. I once went out of my way to meet the two women who wrote a book, Success and Betrayal, that changed my life.  Who do you admire?  Who do you want to learn from?  Who do you want to be like?  Inside and outside of work—seek them out.  Make them your tribe.

Eventually, you’ll see that the stereotypes you believe about certain groups are just that—stereotypes—not reality.  People are individuals.  They fall on a continuum.  They are like others in their tribes in some ways and not like them in others.  I’m talking about ALL kinds of tribes:  religious ones, political ones, gang ones, 1% ones, creative, etc.  It is insane to write off a person because they disagree with you on one continuum (or four).  Find something to agree with them on.  Get to know them.

Why?

We’ve moved past our caveman days.  We need to interact with all kinds of people.   If you want to have career success—I mean career SUCCESS then all kinds of people have to want you to succeed.  Success doesn’t just come from the quality of your work.  Sure, you have to have that, too, but someone has to want to move you up the organization.  Someone has to want to buy your product.  People have to help you succeed.  Your tribe.

Some great books about Tribes:

The Dark Side of Tribes

Tribes are the way we interact, but there are some tribes that can get in the way of effectiveness, and therefore get in the way of your career.  Be on the lookout for these.  Sometimes a department is a tribe—a silo—and it is in the way of optimizing the whole organization.  This can bring you down as well if you are too closely aligned with the silo.  You can be too closely aligned with the boss, or with the industry or with actions of a group.  You need to pay as much attention to that as to aligning with better tribes.

Understanding tribes and how you interact with them can give you a new set of tools to improve your career.

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Filed under Books, Career Development, Success, Teams

Leaders Are Not Followers

I know.  I know.  There is a school of thought that leaders can/should be good followers.  I’m not saying that leaders can’t follow directions, or act appropriately within their hierarchy.  I don’t think leaders are followers.  I think leaders think for themselves.  Think. For. Themselves.

  • They challenge the status quo.
  • They think about what they would do if “it were my problem.”
  • They do not sit at the level in the organization and not speak up when something needs to be said.Leaders Aren't Followers
  • They step up.
  • They take responsibility.
  • They take risks.
  • They fail.
  • They pick themselves up and do it again.
  • And they teach their followers to do the same.

Leadership is about how you handle yourself. It is about how you think.  It is about how you act.  If you do these things, people will follow you–even if they are leaders too.

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Filed under Career Goals, Leadership, Success

Are You Stuck?

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Have you noticed that you’re not moving up in your organization any more?  Have your last couple of job changes been laterals?  Have your last couple of reviews been ho-hum? Are you starting to get the message that you’re stuck in your career trajectory?  There are some common causes and, believe it or not, some things that YOU can do about it.

Are You Bored?

Do you find yourself finding other things to do (other than your job) at work?  Are you consistently late for work and early to leave? Do you think you can do your job in your sleep? Have you done it and done it and done it and don’t want to do it anymore? Do you remember when you were challenged by the tasks of your job, but that was a long time ago?  Boredom is a common cause of burnout and demotivation in a job.  And it shows.  You may be the most experienced, the one with the longest tenure, but if you aren’t engaged with your job, it shows.  People who aren’t engaged don’t get promoted.  People who are bored are obvious about being bored.  People who are bored don’t get promoted.

Are You Under-Performing?

Have you noticed that people are passing you up?  Are they getting promoted (or appreciated and recognized) when you sit there like chopped liver?  This is the time to be really honest with yourself.  Are you really performing as well as them?  I know you’ve been telling yourself that you are, but are you really?  Are you making deadlines?  Are you over-delivering?  Are you looking for ways to improve what you do?  Are you looking at what you boss (and her boss) needs and trying to figure out how to get that done in addition to what you’re supposed to work on?  If your peers are over-performing, then you aren’t making the cut if you are merely performing.

Do You Have an “Attitude”?  That Shows?

Are you pissed?  Are you aware that you’ve been treated unfairly, badly, been ‘wronged’?  If so it shows.  No matter how much you try to keep it under wraps, it shows.  If it shows, people back off from you.  They can ‘feel’ your anger.  They certainly don’t promote angry people-even people who are out-performing others.

Are You Falling Behind?

We are constantly barraged by new systems, new tools, new processes at work.  Are you up-to-date on all of them?  Even the ones that you don’t need to use very often?  These tools, systems and processes change the way our minds work.  If you’re not keeping up, then you mind is not in sync with your co-workers’ minds.  Or your bosses.  People who can’t do the latest systems and tools rationalize it–I can do the same thing–the old way.  That may be true.  For a while.  Then others can take it to the next level and then the level beyond that.  And you can’t go there with the old way.  You may not even know what you can’t do if you don’t understand the new way.  Think about the things that you don’t do.  Texting?  Excel Pivot tables? Macs? Photoshop? Prezi? Dropbox?  Get with it. Do it.  Keep up.

Are You Being Rigid?

This is somewhat related to the item above, but that is more about tools and systems.  This is more about the way you think.  Are you open to new ideas?  I do organizational change management for major organizational changes.  I do a lot of ‘readiness’ workshops.  I see the rigid ones.  They are hard to get to the sessions.  They sit in the back and glare.  They bring up all the ways/reasons/causes that this won’t work.  My personal favorite, “We tried this before.”  Everyone resists some changes–that is completely normal.  If you resist all changes, if you are the one who knows all the ways and reasons this won’t work, then you aren’t fun to have around.  You certainly aren’t likely to be promoted.

Are You Not A Good Fit For Your Organization Anymore?

Organizations change.  People change.  Just like with marriages, sometimes you’ve grown apart.  Sometimes it’s time to move on.  The hard part is knowing when.  I used to work for an organization that was fairly small when I started and very large when I left.  It was a midwestern company when I started and an European conglomerate when I left.  It had one kind of product when I started and lots of kinds of products when I left.  Over the course of time from when I started and when I left there was an ebb and flow to the ‘fit’ for me.  Some management changes made it worse and some made it better.  Some positions were good fits for me and some were lousy.  In the end, it was me who had changed the most.  It was me who figured out what I liked about the work I had done for this company and figured out that I could find more of that kind of work as a consultant than as an employee at that company. It was a gradual evolutionary change in the relationship.  It happens.  It takes considerable thought and analysis to figure out whether it is a normal ebb and flow in the relationship or time to move on.  When it is time, either for you or the organization, then it isn’t likely that you will keep moving up.

What Do You Do?

Even if you decide that the fit isn’t right, there are things you can do in the mean time.  You have to really be honest with yourself.

  • If you’re bored, figure out how you can start to out-perform your peers.
  • Figure out how you can over-deliver.  Figure out how, in addition to your normal responsibilities, how to deliver something that your boss really needs.
  • If you’re angry, get some professional help to understand where it is coming from and to decide what to do about it.
  • If you are behind on the technology or systems or processes in your organization, then dedicate yourself to catching up and becoming an expert.
  • If you’re rigid, start to experiment with loosening up.  If you find yourself having a negative reaction to an idea, explore–privately at first–what would actually be the worst thing that could happen if the event took place.  Little steps can take you a long way to letting go of your rigidity.  Once you’re comfortable with letting go a little, then start to be more vocal about that openness.
  • If you are not a good fit for your organization, figure out why not, what you need in an organization and then GO FIND IT.
  • Any and all of these will relieve your boredom.  When you are experimenting with new behavior and thinking, it is really hard to be bored.

When your boss and peers see changes in you, it is highly likely that your upward trajectory will restart.

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Filed under Career Development, Career Goals, Derailment, Personal Change, Success, Uncategorized

Small Decisions, Big Life

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Learning From Friends

I have a friend in his eighties who insists that he is here because his grandfather broke his leg when he was a child.  I know, I know, that’s hard to follow.  I don’t know why he is fixated on something that happened to his grandfather as a child as the pivotal event–he hasn’t ever really explained that clearly–but his point is valid.  Things happen that lead to other things that lead to other things and suddenly you realize that life has changed course.  I have another friend, Sharon Short, who has written a great book, One Square Inch of Alaska.  (It is a delightful read and I highly recommend it.)  Woven through her story is the idea that we all make small decisions, sometimes what seem to be inconsequential decisions, that lead to important life events.  Both of these are true.  Events and decisions lead to the the lives we lead.

We can plan and plan and plan our lives, and then decide to eat at one restaurant rather than another and meet someone who absolutely blows all those plans out of the water.  It’s really fun to think about it.  Look at your life.  What were those events and decisions that altered the course of your life?  Did someone say something to you?  Did you meet someone?  Did you try something, or not try something?  Did you go somewhere?  Did you take an opportunity?  Or not?

Does that mean that you shouldn’t plan?  No.  Planning and subsequent actions are good.  Being adaptive, however, is probably the most important skill that can help us with our serendipitous lives.

One Square Inch of Alaska

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Lessons from Life for Business

Learn Some MoreThere are a lot of things that you  do as a matter of course in your life that if we did them in our businesses lives, things might run more smoothly:

Be Purposeful

  • Don’t work for just a paycheck–have a purpose to your work, something that fulfills you and supports your values
  • Treat your job with the same integrity that you treat your family, your church, your hobbies

Spend Time With Each Other

We don’t spend much time with each other any more at work.  We don’t know each other deeply or even–  shallowly.   It’s very difficult to be an effective team, to feel like a connected team member, to trust each other enough to deliver extraordinary results without KNOWING each other.  In this day of contractors, offshoring, virtual work, you have to work harder to spend time together in a way that builds powerful relationships.

  • Eat together–even remotely–sharing food is a real way of building closeness.
  • Regularly talk and check in.  Use the marvelous tools that are available–Skype, Lync, IM, Facetime–to reach out to each other.
  • It’s about relationships–focus on building them
  • Listen and support your co-workers

Be Reliable

  • If you say you’ll show up, do it.  If you say you’ll deliver, do it.
  • Be trustworthy.

Create a Balance

  • Create a balance between life/work for yourself and your subordinates.

Have Fun

  • You only get one life, have fun with it
  • Have fun with your co-workers
  • Think about your job in ways that make it fun–don’t be a drudge

What Other Lessons Can We Bring To Our Business Life From Our ‘Real’ Life?

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Lessons from Business For Life

Time To Learn

There are a lot of things that businesses do as a matter of course that if we did them in our personal lives, things might run more smoothly:

Have a Mission

  • What is the purpose of your life?  A business probably couldn’t get a way with having a “just go with the flow” approach to mission.
  • Why do you exist?  Check out mission statements from Fortune 500 companies.  Some are better than others, but they all are a statement of why that organization exists.
  • Do you have a mission statement? Is your purpose in life to make the world better?  To impact your family?  Your community? To grow yourself in some way?  If you think it through and write it down, then it is more likely to happen.

Have a Strategy

  • How are you going to accomplish your mission?
  • What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT).
  • What is your timeline.
  • Who are your competitors?
  • Challenges?
  • What actions will you take.
  • What help do you need?
  • Where will you find it?

Set Quarterly Goals

I think corporations take this focus on quarterly goals too far, but I do think that having an annually goal and quarterly milestones do help keep things focused and on track.

  • Do you even have annual goals?
  • Do you break down the milestones necessary to meet these goals?  It will help you get there.

Remove ‘C’ Players

Ok, Ok, maybe some of those ‘C’ players are family.  I’m not advocating getting rid of family.  If, however, you have people in your life who are naysayers, bullies, constantly critical or who sabotage you, then it’s time to think about ‘firing’ them.  They aren’t supporting your goals or mission, and they are dead weight that you’re carrying.  Get them out.  (And if they’re family, maybe figure out how to get them into therapy or at least spend less time with them!)

Manage the Money

  • Have revenue goals.
  • Have spending constraints.
  • Manage cash flow.
  • Establish and keep good credit.
  • Use the tools–budget, review, track, adjust–that businesses use.

Have a Recognizable Brand

  • Who are you?
  • What do you stand for?
  • What value do you add?
  • When people think of you, what do they think of?  (Aunt Alice is always late . . . Dad is always grumpy . . .Brother always resists . . .Sally is always knowledgeable and cheerful).
  • Figure out what you want to be known for.  Figure out how to establish a brand that does that.

Market

  • Market yourself.
  • Market the things that you believe in.
  • People don’t know things about you unless you tell them.

Communicate Effectively

  • Focus on being clear about your message–so many problems in family and friend relationships are the result o communication problems. If you were having the same kinds of issues with your boss or your subordinates, chances are you would seek help or spend a lot of energy trying to find a solution.
  • LISTEN.  Most failures of communication are actually failures of listening.  Let the person you are communicating with KNOW that you hear what they are saying (even if you don’t agree) BEFORE you respond.
  • Choose the right media for communicating–be careful what you put into text or email.  Try to be face to face or at least voice to voice during important communications.

Be a Leader . . . and a Manager

  • Set the vision
  • Inspire
  • Don’t give up
  • Focus on the systems and structures of your life.  Set up systems that run themselves and are supported by your life’s structure.
  • Balance long-term and short-term views.

What Lessons From Business Would You Add To Your Life?

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Filed under Personal Change, Uncategorized