Embed Routines and RitualsThis blog is about Principle #5 on your way to better personal effectiveness, ‘Embed Routines and Rituals’ originally introduced in the blog ‘The 7 Principles of Personal Effectiveness’. It is important that you are working through each of the 7 Principles, and highlighting any point that represents a gap for you, or challenges your current beliefs or practices.

The smallest unit of change is a habit, and it takes about thirty days to form one. Making the routines and rituals below everyday habits will enable you to maximize your effectiveness – no matter what’s happening in your environment.

I. Any time you have a thought that requires action, enter it into your system (phone/tablet/PC) within an existing task or, if it’s new, add a new task.
II. Keep small pads and pens handy for all the places you may think without easy access to technology (bedside table/bathroom/car/etc). Write one thought per page, tear it off and keep it with you until you can put it into your electronic system. This is the easiest way to avoid thinking the same thought over and over again – just get it out of your head.
III. Once you decide what the next action(s) is for any task, you have three choices; do it, delegate it, or defer it to a designated date (by simply using the date function in your system).
IV. Batch repetitive tasks like email at pre-allocated times. Turn off the email alert function. Responding instantaneously to emails trains others to expect your immediate attention to their priorities; which often aren’t aligned with your priorities at that moment.
V. If you are a senior leader expecting subordinates to respond instantaneously to your emails, be mindful that you may be creating a culture of urgency and anxiety at the expense of purposeful, intelligent action.
VI. Conduct a weekly review of your diary and task list – look for patterns of success and frustration. For example, who are the people who most deserve your time? Where are you actually spending your time? If there is a gap between the two answers, and there usually is, realign your diary and task list quickly and decisively.
VII. Limit decision fatigue, which is proven to diminish the quality of your decisions later in the day. For example, simplify your wardrobe and your meals to free up mental space for all of the other decisions in your day.
VIII. Take a leaf out of President Obama’s book. Rather than long briefing papers, he asks for short ‘decision memos’ with 3 simple checkboxes at the bottom of the page for his response: ∆ agree ∆ disagree ∆ let’s discuss.
IX. Each day, prioritise any (ideally all) of the following: exercise, meditation, visualisation, learning, and gratitude.

How did you go with this activity? If you can ‘Embed these Routines and Rituals’ into your daily life, my following blog will help you take the next step with the sixth principle of personal effectiveness; ‘Steer Meetings and Interactions’.

You can read the other blogs associated with personal effectiveness here;
‘The 7 Principles of Personal Effectiveness’
‘Accept Responsibility (Principle #1)’
‘Define Success (Principle #2)’
‘Develop a System You Trust (Principle #3)’

‘Recruit Your Stakeholders (Principle #4)’

For those of you who are interested in some further reading in this field of personal effectiveness, here are the key books and authors that have inspired me;

  • First Things First by Stephen R. Covey
  • Getting Things Done by David Allen
  • Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frankl
  • The Speed of Trust by Stephen M. R. Covey
  • Russian Dolls PhotoThis blog is about Principle #4 on your way to better personal effectiveness, ‘Recruit Your Stakeholders’ originally introduced in the blog ‘The 7 Principles of Personal Effectiveness’. It is important that you are working through each of the 7 Principles, and highlighting any point that represents a gap for you, or challenges your current beliefs or practices.

    Think about your journey to increased personal effectiveness like a set of Russian Dolls that fit neatly together. The goal is to align your journey (doll) with those of your key stakeholders above and below you.

    I. Engage your boss in the key shifts you are trying to make, why these are good for the business, and good for you personally. If your boss is sceptical, obtain commitment to a trial period with clear measures of success. Once your boss experiences your increased effectiveness and productivity, you will become a role model for what’s possible, and a source of insight for others.
    II. Engage your subordinates in the key shifts you are trying to make, and why these are important. Be specific about changes that directly affect them (e.g. no longer attending weekly marketing meeting, no longer taking meetings before 10am, etc). Encourage them to implement some of the same principles into their workday.
    III. If you have an executive assistant, ensure they understand your key roles, ideal week and most important priorities. Enlist them to help you build and maintain your system. Agree clear parameters about what you want to decide and what they can decide on your behalf. You will be a bit clunky at first, so run a few real scenarios to test the theory in practice. In the early days, check in regularly with each other. It will take a little while to find your groove, but once you do, you will empower your executive assistant to enable your ideal week; week in and week out.

    How did you go with this activity? If you have been able to successfully ‘Recruit Your Stakeholders’, my following blog will help you take the next step with the fifth principle of personal effectiveness; ‘Embed Routines and Rituals’.

    You can read the other blogs associated with personal effectiveness here;
    ‘The 7 Principles of Personal Effectiveness’
    ‘Accept Responsibility (Principle #1)’
    ‘Define Success (Principle #2)’
    ‘Develop a System You Trust (Principle #3)’
    ‘Embed Routines and Rituals (Principle #5)’

    For those of you who are interested in some further reading in this field of personal effectiveness, here are the key books and authors that have inspired me;

  • First Things First by Stephen R. Covey
  • Getting Things Done by David Allen
  • Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frankl
  • The Speed of Trust by Stephen M. R. Covey
  • System you trustThis blog is about Principle #3 on your way to better personal effectiveness, ‘Develop a System You Trust’ originally introduced in the blog ‘The 7 Principles of Personal Effectiveness’. It is important that you are working through each of the 7 principles, and highlighting any point that represents a gap for you, or challenges your current beliefs or practices.

    Don’t rely on your memory: your brain is not a system you can trust. You need a system that does the heavy lifting for you. The steps below take time and focus, but once you build your system, you will never look back.

    I. Capture all of your projects/tasks in one electronic system (e.g. Microsoft Outlook Tasks, Task Task, Remember the Milk, Google Task, Wonderlist, etc). This should be your primary tool for getting things done.
    II. Classify each task by category (your roles from the ‘Define Success’ principle); that way you can instantly see whether your tasks are in balance (e.g. 8 tasks in your Marketing role but no tasks in your Coach role may bring in lots of new business, but your team will be ill-equipped to cope).
    III. At the end or start of each week, go through the whole master list and select the priority tasks for the week ahead using the date function. Even though you may have dozens of discrete tasks on your list, you should only choose a small percentage of these tasks to focus on in any given week.
    IV. A ‘small percentage’ is obviously highly subjective, so here’s a simple way to prioritise: if you had exactly $100 to spend on your tasks this week, how would you spend it. If you’re like most, you won’t put $5 on 20 different tasks, but rather will spend it across 5 or 6 tasks including a couple of big bets of $30 or $40. How you metaphorically spend this money should guide what tasks you prioritise each week, and how much time you spend on each.
    V. Along with the category and date, also determine the outcome for each task and the very next step(s). Any notes related to this task should ideally be included in the body of the electronic task. If it’s a big task/project with lots of documentation, you can link the documents to the task for easy access.
    VI. Aim to have the bare minimum amount of paper on your desk at any time. Classify these materials by category so they match your electronic system.
    VII. If you’re a visual person, colour code your calendar, tasks and hard copy folders. For example, everything related to your ‘Marketing’ role may be red. This will allow you to see the balance or imbalance in your focus instantly. If your Marketing role is critical, but you have no red in your diary or task list for the coming weeks, this can act as an early warning sign.
    VIII. Create a tidy workplace – physical & virtual – so that you can get messy and immerse yourself in a particular task when you need to.

    How did you go with this activity? If you have ‘Developed a System You Trust’, my following blog will help you take the next step with the fourth principle of personal effectiveness; ‘Recruit Your Stakeholders’.

    You can read the other blogs associated with personal effectiveness here;
    ‘The 7 Principles of Personal Effectiveness’
    ‘Accept Responsibility (Principle #1)’
    ‘Define Success (Principle #2)’
    ‘Recruit Your Stakeholders (Principle #4)’
    ‘Embed Routines and Rituals (Principle #5)’

    For those of you who are interested in some further reading in this field of personal effectiveness, here are the key books and authors that have inspired me;

  • First Things First by Stephen R. Covey
  • Getting Things Done by David Allen
  • Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frankl
  • The Speed of Trust by Stephen M. R. Covey
  • PE Blog 2 graphicThis blog is about Principle #2 on your way to better personal effectiveness; ‘Define Success’ originally introduced in the blog ‘The 7 Principles of Personal Effectiveness’. It is important that you are working through each of the 7 Principles, and highlighting any point that represents a gap for you, or challenges your current beliefs or practices.

    Choices are much simpler when you know what’s important to you. Below is a summary of how to define what is important to you and how you can make better choices.

    I. Before you define success personally, revisit the aspirations and values of your organization. Your own success will be much easier and faster if you can create a direct line of sight to your organization’s aspirations.
    II. Get clear on what success looks like for you personally by answering the following questions: What is your core purpose in life? What are your most important goals? What are your values (in order of importance)? What are your strengths: when do you experience flow? What are the key roles you must attend to in your personal and professional life to create success? For example, leader, strategist, partner, individual.
    III. Rather than think of your roles as a baseball diamond, where you briefly touch one base before running to the next, think of them as a Venn diagram with lots of overlaps. For example, exercising with your kids combines the roles of parent and health in one activity.
    IV. Develop an ‘ideal week’. Start by defining the boundaries for work, and ideally engage your loved ones in this activity so you have a shared definition of success (e.g. home 3 night per week for dinner, Sundays completely work free, etc). Aim to batch the repetitive tasks like email at pre-allocated times. If you do your best work first thing in the morning, don’t have any meetings before 10am. Carve out space to regenerate with time for planning, learning and exercise.
    V. Living your ideal week 100% of the time is impossible for most people, but even 50% will produce a huge improvement in achievement and satisfaction.

    How did you go with this activity? If you’ve got a clear picture of what success looks like, my following blog will help you take the next step with the third principle of personal effectiveness; ‘Develop a System You Trust’.

    You can read the other blogs associated with personal effectiveness here;
    ‘The 7 Principles of Personal Effectiveness’
    ‘Accept Responsibility (Principle #1)’
    ‘Develop a System You Trust (Principle #3)’
    ‘Recruit Your Stakeholders (Principle #4)’
    ‘Embed Routines and Rituals (Principle #5)’

    For those of you who are interested in some further reading in this field of personal effectiveness, here are the key books and authors that have inspired me;

  • First Things First by Stephen R. Covey
  • Getting Things Done by David Allen
  • Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frankl
  • The Speed of Trust by Stephen M. R. Covey
  • In my last blog I introduced ‘The 7 Principles of Personal Effectiveness’ captured by the acronym A-D-D-R-E-S-S. I encourage you to work through each of the 7 Principles, and highlight any point that represents a gap for you, or challenges your current beliefs or practices.

    The starting point for increased personal effectiveness is to examine our assumptions and beliefs. The seven assumptions below may challenge conventional wisdom, but all of them are critical to your success.

    Accept Responsibility BlogI. There is no such thing as time management; everyone has exactly the same amount. Personal effectiveness comes from choice management.
    II. Your emotions are your responsibility. No one can make you feel anything you don’t allow them to.
    III. You get the behaviour you tolerate. If others are using your time in a manner that’s ineffective,
    you’ve made it ok for them to do so.
    IV. Blaming others for your situation makes you a victim, and hands them control of your life. You always have choices (even of you don’t like them).
    V. Understand that you never have to have the same thought twice, unless you really like having that
    thought. The answer is to have a system you trust.
    VI. Your time is your currency, spend it wisely. Your calendar should be a sacred territory.
    VII. Like elite athletes, we must rest, reflect, plan, warm up, cool down, and analyse our performance
    regularly if we want to ‘go faster’.

    Some of these messages may be a bit abrasive, but experience tells me that the next six principles of personal effectiveness are useless unless you accept complete personal responsibility for your circumstances.

    If you’re over this hurdle, my following blog will help you take the next step with the second principle of personal effectiveness; ‘Define Success’.

    You can read the other blogs associated with personal effectiveness here;
    ‘The 7 Principles of Personal Effectiveness’
    ‘Define Success (Principle # 2)’
    ‘Develop a System You Trust (Principle #3)’
    ‘Recruit Your Stakeholders (Principle #4)’
    ‘Embed Routines and Rituals (Principle #5)’

    For those of you who are interested in some further reading in this field of personal effectiveness, here are the key books and authors that have inspired me;

  • First Things First by Stephen R. Covey
  • Getting Things Done by David Allen
  • Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frankl
  • The Speed of Trust by Stephen M. R. Covey
  • In my previous group of blogs, I addressed the idea that we are leading in an increasingly volatile and chaotic business world (‘The Gap: How to Unintentionally Destroy Value and Exhaust Yourself in the Process’). The resulting chaos means it’s never been more difficult to lead. It’s also never been easier to blame external forces for under-performance in our organizations, and disorder in our personal lives.

    All of us must lead amid the chaos, yet some succeed and others fail. The first step in our path to increased leadership effectiveness, is greater personal effectiveness. In our research and practice over the past 15 years, we have identified many symptoms and habits that tend to inhibit personal effectiveness; captured in the list below.

    You might like to work your way through the SYMPTOMS & HABITS OF PERSONAL INEFFECTIVENESS list, and check every box that feels familiar to you (You may like to print off the image). This exercise will provide clues on the opportunities to create greater value in your organization, and get back more of your most precious leadership asset: discretionary time.

    In addition to your own perspective, you may also like to involve loved ones or trusted colleagues to understand how many of these symptoms and habits they habitually observe in you (or at least think about what they might say as you work through the list).

    Symptoms & Habits of Personal Ineffectiveness

    ADDRESS

    There are seven principles on the path to personal effectiveness captured by the acronym A-D-D-R-E-S-S, presented on the right.

    Over the coming weeks I will dive deeper into each of these principles and help you overcome the symptoms and habits you have identified above.

    You can read the blogs on the first four principles of personal effectiveness here;
    ‘Accept Responsibility (Principle #1)’
    ‘Define Success (Principle #2)’
    ‘Develop a System You Trust (Principle #3)’
    ‘Recruit Your Stakeholders (Principle #4)’
    ‘Embed Routines and Rituals (Principle #5)’

    For those of you who are interested in some further reading in this field of personal effectiveness, here are the key books and authors that have inspired me;

  • First Things First by Stephen R. Covey
  • Getting Things Done by David Allen
  • Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frankl
  • The Speed of Trust by Stephen M. R. Covey
  • Leadership Impact GapThe final and perhaps most damaging source of friction and drag that may be destroying value in your organization, and exhausting you in the process; there is a gap between our leadership vision and our impact on those we lead (Originally introduced in this blog; ‘The Gap: How to Unintentionally Destroy Value and Exhaust Yourself in the Process’).

    One of the forefathers of leadership thought, James MacGregor Burns, famously declared that “leadership is one of the most observed and least understood phenomena on earth.” Over the last hundred years, leadership thought and practice has traversed the varied terrains of charisma theory, behavior theory, as well as situational and contingency approaches, to name just a few. It’s all very confusing for leaders and change agents alike.

    Here’s the short path through this chaos. It doesn’t matter what your noble intentions are, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, or whether your mother loved your brother more than you as a child. In order to dramatically increase your effectiveness, what we need to know are three simple things: How would you like to motivate and encourage others to behave? How are you actually motivating and encouraging others to behave? And if we discover a gap between your intentions and reality, are you interested in doing something about it? This is the concept of impact.

    When leaders are asked to articulate their vision for their impact, they generally articulate a desire to motivate and encourage team members to reach high levels of achievement, approach their work with creativity, develop others and work effectively as a team. When we measure their actual impact, which we do using a highly valid and reliable instrument developed by Dr. Rob Cooke of Human Synergistics International called Leadership/Impact, we find they often motivate a very different set of behaviours. These behaviours include motivating others to follow the rules, oppose ideas, compete with their peers and avoid responsibility.

    ANZ Ideal Vs ActualIn other words, we are taking the chaos and creating more chaos. The picture to the right is a graphic representation of the gap I’m describing. On the left is the average ‘ideal’ impact. On the right is the average ‘actual’ impact.

    In my experience, there are three main reasons for the gap. Firstly, two thirds of all leaders are unaware of their impact on others. This can be because they have never asked, because people are too afraid to tell them, or because nobody in that particular environment knows any better.

    Secondly, we judge ourselves by our intentions and everyone else by their actions. This is a phenomenon social scientists call ‘illusory superiority’; a cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate their positive abilities, and to underestimate their negative abilities. The very same reason that 93% of us believe we are above average drivers!

    Finally, we are the product of our environments and conditioning. I may genuinely value creativity and innovation, but I operate in an environment that demands compliance. In spite of my noble intentions as a leader, consciously or unconsciously, I actually reinforce the status quo.

    Research CEOsTo the right is the ‘test/re-test’ data for the leaders in our doctoral research. On the left, you can see that their first measure, in aggregate, is even worse than the average of all leaders in the database. On the right, you can see that their re-test data looks like an ‘ideal’ impact. Once again, these leaders have learned to dance with the chaos and, as you can imagine, their world feels very different today than it did then.

    To dance with the chaos, you need a big brain and a small ego

    The chaotic world in which we now live and work offers us ready made excuses for under performance in our organizations, and varying degrees of disorder in our personal lives. But as you’ve probably determined from the four sources of friction and drag, much of this pain is self-inflicted.

    We do not have to settle for mediocrity or exhaustion. These are choices we are making, consciously or unconsciously. There is a better way, and relatively small changes can have a profound impact on your organization, your leadership and your personal life.

    The challenge is not whether you are succeeding or struggling, because in a highly changeable world, one can become the other quite quickly. The real challenge is, in the words of the legendary basketball coach John Wooden, “Are you good enough to get better?”

    Want to keep reading? Here are some quick links to the other blogs associated with this friction source;

    Original blog – The Gap: How to Unintentionally Destroy Value and Exhaust Yourself in the Process
    We are using a set of beliefs and assumptions that no longer serve us (Friction Source #1)
    We’re very committed, but are not quite sure what we’re committed to (Friction Source #2)
    We accept mediocrity (Friction Source #3)

    The third source of friction and drag that may be destroying value in your organization, and exhausting you in the process is; we accept mediocrity. (Originally introduced in this blog; ‘The Gap: How to Unintentionally Destroy Value and Exhaust Yourself in the Process’).

    Let’s assume for a moment that you are very clear on your aspirations. Our research and practice has identified eleven levers that leaders can pull to get there. Five are so called ‘hard’ levers: strategy, scorecard, structure, systems, and skills. Five are so called ‘soft’ levers: standards, strengths, story, symbols, and sustainability. The eleventh lever is leadership impact: this lever is as important as all the others combined: it acts like a handbrake or accelerator (I expand on this later).

    Each of the ‘S’ levers is worth one point in our alignment model (though I have represented each lever out of ten in the graph below for visual impact). The leadership impact lever is worth ten points. So your alignment score is S10 x L1, which gives you an alignment score out of 100.

    Alignment Inventory M1On the right is the first measure of alignment for all of the companies in our data base. That is, the measure of how aligned each of the eleven levers is to the respective company’s aspirations in the opinion of the organization’s most senior leaders. As you can see, the average score for most levers hovers between 6 and 7, which is how we get to an average alignment score of 45% (S6.7 x L6.7 = 44.89%).

    I recently conducted this same alignment measure in a room of 50 CEOs from multinational companies. The average alignment score across these 50 companies, from the broadest range of industries and sectors, was 43%. My guess is that your first measure would be pretty similar.

    How can we complain about the marketplace or head office when we score, on average, 6 or 7 across all of these levers? My provocation to you is that we are accepting mediocrity in our organizations.

    Alignment Inventory M1-M2On the right is the ‘re-test’ data for the companies in our database who have achieved transformation status; that is, a case study showing significant improvements across a range of metrics including financial performance, customer advocacy and employee commitment. As you can see, relatively small changes across each of the levers can add up to a pretty significant impact overall.

    These organizations are led by people who have learned to dance with the chaos of today’s world, professionally and personally. They have also raised standards for themselves and their colleagues; mediocrity is no longer accepted. These opportunities are available to all of us.

    Want to keep reading? Here are some quick links to the other blogs associated with this friction source;

    Original blog – The Gap: How to Unintentionally Destroy Value and Exhaust Yourself in the Process
    We are using a set of beliefs and assumptions that no longer serve us (Friction Source #1)
    We’re very committed, but are not quite sure what we’re committed to (Friction Source #2)
    There is a gap between our leadership vision and our impact on those we lead (Friction Source #4)

    Today’s blog will look at the second source of friction and drag that may be destroying value in your organization, and exhausting you in the process; We’re very committed, but are not quite sure what we’re committed to. (Originally introduced in this blog; ‘The Gap: How to Unintentionally Destroy Value and Exhaust Yourself in the Process’).

    We all have goals for our organizations, which I refer broadly to as aspirations. In the early days, I used to think it would be really difficult to get a group of senior leaders to agree a shared aspiration. As it turns out, this is not too difficult at all. Most leaders aspire to pretty similar things. In fact, if I showed you the aspiration statements of every client we’ve ever worked with, you would be hard pressed to determine their respective industries, let alone organizations.

    TAP 5CsThe real challenge is that we don’t properly scrutinize our aspirations. Specifically, is every single person in your organization crystal clear on what success looks like? Do you actually have the capability to get there? Do you have the bandwidth? Are you all confident you can get there? Are you all truly committed to this aspiration?

    The ‘5C’ model to the right shows how all of the clients in our database, in aggregate, have rated their aspirations against five key dimensions. It turns out that we’re super committed; we’re just not sure exactly what we’re committed to, or how we’re going to get there.

    Take this simple 5C test with your colleagues. If you are not all scoring in the 90%+ range on all five dimensions, then you are leaving real stakeholder value on the table, and probably exhausting many in the process.

    Want to keep reading? Here are some quick links to the other blogs associated with this friction source;

    Original blog – The Gap: How to Unintentionally Destroy Value and Exhaust Yourself in the Process
    We are using a set of beliefs and assumptions that no longer serve us (Friction Source #1)
    We accept mediocrity (Friction Source #3)
    There is a gap between our leadership vision and our impact on those we lead (Friction Source #4)

    burning platform imageIn my previous blog post I identified the gap between our noble intentions and our reality that is the primary source of value destruction in organizations, and exhaustion in leaders (Read it here; ‘The Gap: How to Unintentionally Destroy Value and Exhaust Yourself in the Process’). Today I will focus on the first source of friction and drag that may be destroying value and exhausting you in the process; we are using a set of beliefs and assumptions that no longer serve us.

    There are many leadership assumptions that destroy value and exhaust us in the process, but I will focus on the two most destructive. The first is that “change can be managed.” Please be crystal clear on this point: change management is an oxymoron. It is underpinned by notions of predictability, safety and control. Its primary tools are the change manager, the change team and the change plan. But in the immortal words of the great poet and pugilist, Mike Tyson: “Every man has a plan to beat me, until I punch him in the face.”

    Leading in the 21st century means we will be metaphorically ‘punched in the face’ many times because change is the only constant in our organisations. As a result, leading change must be the day job of an organisation’s most senior leaders, starting with the CEO, not a group of delegates. Change cannot be managed, it must be led. And if you think the difference is semantics, then I suspect more chaos is on your horizon.

    The second destructive assumption is that in order for people to change, we must instil in them a sense of urgency and fear. This is often colloquially referred to as a burning platform.

    A leader’s use of fear inducing strategies can be as much a sign of limited leadership capability as it is a sign of genuine and urgent crisis. After all, it’s much easier to scare the life out of people, than it is to inspire them with a compelling vision of the future.

    So before you light a fire under those you lead; understand that anxiety is the single most contagious human emotion. It encourages many physical and psychological consequences that turn chaos into more chaos. If you want people to act on your vision, you need to create a burning ambition: a fire from within.

    Want to keep reading? Here are some quick links to the other blogs associated with this friction source;

    Original blog – The Gap: How to Unintentionally Destroy Value and Exhaust Yourself in the Process
    We’re very committed, but are not quite sure what we’re committed to (Friction Source #2)
    We accept mediocrity (Friction Source #3)
    There is a gap between our leadership vision and our impact on those we lead (Friction Source #4)