Episode 15: Best Practices From Leaders We Coach


We are blessed to work with amazing leaders all over the globe, and we are going to share some of the tools, tips and best practices from leaders we work with. These tips from CEO’s, CFO’s, Directors, Front Line Managers, Team Leads and Project Managers. This fast-moving dialogue will include stories, successes and challenges that our leaders have experienced. Join us as Jeff Smith, Jennifer Owen-O’Quill, and Lee Hubert share our stories and ideas. We believe this will help give you ideas to continue to grow to your next level of leadership and performance in the coming year.

Transcript [Download here]:

Jeff: Welcome. It is a beautiful day here in Virginia. We are so excited to be with you. This is Jeff Smith. Today, I have the pleasure of having two people with us. I have got Jennifer Owen-O'Quill and Lee Hubert. They will be joining us! Today, we have been doing strategic planning. We are taking a break from our strategic planning day for Voltage to take a moment to spend with you and talk about the best leaders that we work with. These are the folks that we coach, that we lead with, that we help strategize. We really appreciate throughout the course of the week that you guys reach out to us and talk to us and send us e-mails. Let us talk to you about how you can connect with us while we are on the show. First off, it is Voltcast: Illuminating Leadership. You can e-mail me at jeff@voltageleandership.com. Our website is www.voltageleadership.com. You can like us on Facebook at Voltage Leadership. You can connect with me at LinkedIn and Jeff Smith, Voltage Leadership Consulting or Jennifer Owen-O'Quill or Lee Hubert at Voltage Leadership Consulting.

Lee: Yes, sir.

Jeff: You can follow me on @VoltageLeaders for Twitter. If you have been doing that this past week, I am sorry for all the jmu shout outs but those that know American football, we are playing for a national championship in just a few weeks. I have been filling out the Twitter with my jmu stats.

Lee: Go Dukes!

Jeff: Go Dukes. Again, thanks for being with us. We have got an international audience. We have had folks in the last weeks from China, Egypt, the UAE, Vietnam. In that spirit, we had Greek for lunch today.

Jennifer: That is right. So good.

Jeff: Alright. If we fall asleep, it is just the heavy lunch. Hopefully you threw something at us. Today, we are sort of in the holiday season in the US. Our next week show will really be a look back at what made us successful this year, what made you successful. But today, we thought we would say okay who are some of the leaders that we have been working with and what do they do? What are some of their best habits so you can incorporate that into your habits? Maybe just when we think about best leaders, what are some of the characteristics? We will start at broad and then we will narrow it down to some specific examples. Jennifer, I will start with you. What are some of the best characteristics of leaders that you work?

Jennifer: One of them is for sure to have a regular platform for communicating and for listening. To have whether that is a quarterly intentional time to communicate what you are doing at town hall format. People can ask their questions to you directly either online are live. Regular good weekly communication with your direct team is really important. Those simple a simple steps of being transparent, sharing what is going on and asking questions is what I would say.

Jeff: Thanks, Jennifer. Lee?

Lee: Well, those are really great. I like to think about the recurring communication. I use the word genuine, we have had this discussion in the past, there is a certain authenticity that people have and people can tell when you do not have it. In a high level, we are going to get more specific as today’s show rolls along, I am sure. You have to look them in the eyes, are they paying attention to you and are they real?

Jeff: I like that. You guys have heard us talk previously about John Hagmeier. I had the chance to be with John and the other authors of the book this past Thursday and Friday. We are really working on what happened with interactive achievement story, how do they build up, and just being around John for a couple days I was also reminded around positivity and then ability to see that good in your organization. Seeing the good in people. None of the leaders that we discussed are perfect. We are going to share their best practices that we say wow, that is really good, but believe me that they are working on things too. Whether it is time management or ability to connect or how to say no. Any of the people that we talked about today, please know that they are working themselves too. Just like we know you are working on yourselves as part of the reason you listen to the show, but one of the things that John is fantastic at was this positivity and being able to see the best of Jennifer, the best of Lee and the best of Jackie, the best of Jacob, and being able to say how do I get more of that into my day? I think best leaders, they see something that maybe you do not see yourself either and they talk to you about that and try to get you to be your best self more often.

Lee: Interesting. It is like if they can see something you can like if the definition of a good coach is getting you to perform to an ability that you did not know you had, how good is that?

Jennifer: Absolutely.

Lee: How good is that? You mentioned John Hagmeier, a fascinating story, and you think about when we had him on or you had him on, I called in that day. He made a point about allowing his people to fail. Let that sink in for a second, a lot of people do not do that. If you fail, what happens to you? There is punishment, the stress, and all these things. He went on to his way to say okay you have permission to fail because I know you are going to learn from it and then you will be the better for it and we as a collective team will be the better for it. Then when somebody failed, you heard what he had to say, he would own that but the person, true to his form, that is awesome leadership to me.

Jeff: Absolutely.

Jennifer: I will have to get back on both of those but I will start with about choosing about positivity. Jeff, a simple note, I am doing some work with a company and both the executive team and the managers have put together ground rules of how they want to be together. Then we compared what they each came up with separately to see where that was shared and that positivity, that positive attitude, was on both lists. It was really great, just positivity and respect were on both lists and just repeating that sense of let us go, we can do it, and keeping the culture thinking in the right direction is helpful and good.

Jeff: Good. A few things offered is regular communication, authentic, genuine in another word, regular positivity dozed in as well, right? It is not that there is not a need for reality and being able to hold people accountable...

Lee: You mean people cannot be 100% positive, 100% of the time.

Jeff: Sorry now, this is not working.

Lee: Come on, it is Christmas time.

Jeff: Well, yes, exactly. But let us start going into what some of those best practices are, what are some of the ones that we see? I will start with one. It is gentleman named Mike Yamamoto. Mike and I work together at Capital One. This is back ten plus years. Mike was a Director of the company, very high up, several thousand people reporting to him. I was helping to support him from a human resources perspective. Here is what Mike did, each every week, he put thinking time on his calendar. Mind you, he has got several thousand people that are under him. His days were full of meetings after meeting and there were more people. I just could not understand, I am like, 'Mike, what do you with this thinking time?' He goes, 'I think.' I like to blog it but there is a wisdom.

Lee: Yes, that is deep.

Jeff: But what he did was he would also have reading time and he would say, 'Jeff, here is the deal. When I am at my best, people could be bringing big problems to me and I need to have that time to really analyze it and think about it but they also pay me to be proactive and look into the future. If I do not have time on my calendar to sit around and think, what good am I?’ Sometimes we get our day so busy with e-mails and the next meeting and the next phone call, the next e-mail, the next this, and the next that. We become the human doers and we forget about being human beings. What Mike did a nice job of was protecting his time and he called it thinking time. If you look at my calendar, Wednesdays afternoons I have thinking time in my calendar. Friday afternoons, I have thinking time in my calendar. Do I honor every week? No. But every time I get there I have to make a choice and it makes me trip up. I can promise you many times, I have taken that thinking time. It is incredibly valuable. Lee, you got one?

Lee: Yes. To add on a thought to that, we have talked about the five year in the past where people spend a lot of their time in transactional mode. To get to a fifth year, you need strategic thinking time where you are offline and you catch some really good brainwaves, that is awesome. I was going to add a characteristic of a good leadership practice that I have heard and I have seen and that is listening.

Jennifer: Amen.

Lee: Just plain old listening. I had a leader that both reported to and worked with others. This person listened with their eyes. Sometimes my spouse listens with her eyes. Are you listening, Jen? Sometimes she listens with her eyes. There is something to that. I mean you really feel understood as opposed to the opposite experience you get into the corporate situation, a busy situation, people buzzing around. Are you heard?

Jennifer: I see that with people interacting with their phones. If you pick out your electronic device in the middle of a meeting, you negate everybody in the meeting.

Lee: You are really important to me.

Jennifer: You are so not important to me that I am going to pick up this device and I am going to check out to the people that are out there and acknowledge them and you lose so much of your credibility and the trust of the people in the room because their assessment of why you are going there and what the value is that that is more important than I am. Wow, that is just the wrong message.

Lee: Yes. There is a cultural fiduciary here. By that, you maybe think of the trust bridge, right? We have a nice radio show about behind the manager's closed door, best practices, and some of these we will talk about but there is a trust bridge you must walk across. As the leader, you have a cultural fiduciary responsibility to own that. If you are devaluing people by abdicating that responsibility, I am sorry it will not happen.

Jeff: Jennifer, how about you? Anything else that you want to bring up this time?

Jennifer: I said that I want to get back around to when we start again. It is not just positivity but it is also play. Teams that play together, stay together. That is true. It is true. We have the opportunity to sort problems out while we are playing that you cannot sort out if you are trying to solve the problem in a meeting head on. I have a trouble communicating with some on the team but we go out and we hit the golf ball around the course for a little bit or we get on the water or we go bowling. There is some inter personal stuff that just gets solved. For the leader, you are taking your team out, all kinds of interactions, you can just sit back and watch.

Jeff: I love it. I agree, I think is one of those fascinating things that we can probably, a task here in Voltage, can do enough of. In our strategy session today, that is one of things we talked about. Maybe enter a 5K together. How can you kill two birds with one stone? Each one of us probably has our own goal to be in good shape and working out. Why not have it be part of the play could be let us set a goal together of running in 5K and stay in shape, perhaps some playful time. It is just a play for play's sake. I hear some of you, you are rolling eyes and saying oh my gosh Jeff, you do not work where I work and that is just not possible. What I would offer is that it does not have to cost a lot of money and see what you can do to make it happen. When we come back from break, what we will do is we will talk some more about play and then we will continue with some of our other best practices. You have been listening to Voltcast: Illuminating Leadership. We look forward to talking to you again in two minutes.


Jeff: Welcome back and thanks for being with us today. We are getting ready for the holiday season here in the US. We thought today, what we will do, is just share some of our best practices. That would be our gift to you, some best practices from our clients. We have got Jennifer Owen-O'Quill and Lee Hubert and Jeff Smith here from Voltage. We are all leadership coaches, facilitators, speakers, and these are the best practices that we have accumulated throughout the course of our years' knowledge. We will just say that that is more than fifty years.

Lee: No, that is not enough.

Jeff: Less than 200 among three of us.

Jennifer: That is right.

Jeff: Jennifer, before the break you brought up play. When we talk about this play, how do we make it... Well, let us ask. Does it need to be intentional, does it have to have a purpose, or are you proposing that a good leadership move is just to play?

Jennifer: Yes. I would say both of those things are true and serves something. You can turn a piece of work into something playful and have it be something that is strategic planning is more fun to do because you think about how you construct that time but it is also okay to simply play together and to learn about the things that you find out about your teammates in that process. Just the ability to be together and hang out and have those stories and that laughter, oh my goodness, it makes such a difference. I mean the pictures of a recent company's holiday party had a hypnotist come and I mean this is a crazy story that is going to be part of their culture now because they have some fun with something very silly. That kind of thing is good for a company.

Jeff: Good. Lee, do you have about play?

Lee: Yes, yes. Just to change the venue. I mean play is good and if people are stuck in the here and now all the time, they will get so freaked out and nervous and jerky, they forget how to play. We do something at Voltage Leadership called the obstacle course and some of you out there in the radio audience, if you done this and experience this before or if you get people up and moving, that is the first thing. The second thing is it changes the scenery, right? Now you are up and moving and guess what, you now have to collaborate. You have to communicate. You have to figure that out. Well, what are some of the deficits if I can use that word that we see when we go on our client sites? It is usually about lack of communication and when it does happen, at what quality and what level, right? How about frequency? The obstacle course is a great tool that we use to get people up and to collaborate.

Jeff: Yes. I love doing that. Yes, we use obstacle course, we use a Lego game where we build things.

Lee: I like Legos. That is right.

Jeff: We have fun with that. We do blindfolded darts to reinforce how you set clear goals. I really think that if you are creative and sometimes the leaders are like oh my god, Jeff, I am busy, I do not have time for this.

Lee: Yes.

Jeff: At CorVesto, one of our organizations, they have a morale committee. At Qualtrax, they have got a group that gets together and they plan out the fun event. Do not feel like it is you. Know that what you are trying to do is say playing is okay, how can we go do it together and then let some of the people in your team to create it. When I was at Capital One, this is back a generation now, but we got $50 per quarter per person. Not everyone can do that, I get it. But to Jennifer's earlier point, just going out and see people ice skate, that was one of the things we do. Go rollerskating, play some putt putt golf. We were talking earlier, in a previous life, Lee and I worked on the same team and I took a health care group out. The first time I mentioned play in the health organization, 'If you do this Jeff Smith, people will die.' I was like, wow.

Jennifer: That is management. We will play with you there.

Jeff: I know, I did not realized that was quite that powerful but that was mindset is. Everything is just so critical. We have forgotten how to have fun and so we did it. We did it on a Friday afternoon, when there was not going to be any big needs. We did not take nursing staff off but what we did was we went out and we played Captain's Choice and if you swung and missed twice, just pick up the ball and throw the ball as far as you can. The other part is for a few holes, we will let you have like a total of three clubs for your whole team.  The good players still had to use a hard club to use. It is hard to hit the ball a hundred yards when you do not have a putter.

Lee: Yes, there you go.

Jeff: Just be playful with it. Invite people in. But the important part is it does not have to be perfect. It has to be that you are trying and that you allow your culture to be in place where people can be authentically themselves.

Lee: It is interesting you say that. It almost does not matter what the activity is. If you play golf, that is great. You do not play golf, well that is even better, right? Because then you get to laugh at each other. But think of it this way, you are going to ride around the golf cart for eighteen holes with somebody. Let me tell you, you are going to get to know that person by the end of eighteen holes you are going to know about even unknown things. That is a good thing. There is this pre-decorum, there is morale building. I mean, I agree with you sometimes you are going to see the eyes roll good. Okay, this sounds a little bit strange guys, we do not have time to do this. I would tell you do not have time not to.

Jennifer: That is right.

Jeff: I will just close on this and then guys we will think about another favorite characteristic or trait or practice. Well, my favorite exercise, and I have done it in multiple organizations is a scavenger hunt. You do things around town, buy a portable camera or you can use Smartphones. We did this on my mission trip this past summer with high schoolers down in Santo Domingo. We went on San Juan De La Maguana down at the Dominican Republic.

Lee: That is easy for you to say.

Jeff: Yes, we had to find live chickens and other interesting things, but we have also had scavenger hunts in the business place where we told our customers to drop things off. We connected our customers into our games. There are fun ways of doing it. Let me give you another one and then Jennifer and Lee, I want you to kind of follow on. I have got a leader that I respect a lot that they write letters home. Greg Clark from Labs just did this recently where they sent a letter about all the 2016 accomplishments. They have worked really hard. Write a letter just everyone saying hey we really appreciate what you have done. I know, I have done this myself, I learned this practice from some other leaders earlier in my career. But the reason to write to home is that a lot of times it is the significant other or the family member or the friend at the house, they are the ones who have to make a lot of sacrifices.

It is a chance to give back. Sometimes we put in a gift card, you may not be able to afford a gift card but you will just send that sort of note that says hey I just want to say Lee or Jennifer, significant other, Jane or David, whomever, saying, 'I think you did a great job this year. I just want you to know it. We know that you made sacrifices and thanks for doing it.' Then maybe throw in an Applebee's gift card or a book, buy a simple card. If you cannot afford to do that, the note is fine. But it is that taking a moment to do a handwritten note or written recognition incident to the significant others. I think that is another best practice. Which one of you guys is going next?

Jennifer: I like the practice and a little bit off the topic of play and on the topic of problem solving, meetings that actually accomplish something. That is the best thing ever. When you actually go to a meeting and accomplish something. We gather these people in these things called meetings and we put all this firepower in the room and then everybody stands up and presents their piece or makes their announcements and to rob the people around the table of the thinking power in the room to say all right, these are the fifteen problems we have from the fifteen people around the table, 'Who wants help with theirs today? Okay, you three, which one of the three of them is the most important?' and the leader gets to watch the team evaluate. What problem arises to the level of critical for the whole team to work on first because we might get to the second or third one.

There are things that the leader learns as the team wrestles down its problems and to be able to prioritize people's time to try to get to everybody if really is that all three of them are really important. To watch the team just become very effective and that help that you get in both of the thinking and then afterwards. I can follow up and do that. It is different when you agree to it together across a conference room table than when you are tasked with it offline. I think problem solving meetings are my favorite best practice of a great leader.

Jeff: Excellent. Lee?

Lee: Yes, that is a great point. I will say that a little bit differently. Jeff has said this differently at times, you have to be living in the present moment. You get into a meeting and then all of a sudden, there is this tension or this vibe in the air and it is like okay, what is going on here? Now, if you have got your antenna up, you got your ears on, you are going to understand that. You are going to sense that or you should. If you cannot, why go forward with your pre-planned agenda? I have been in client sites where leaders have told me pretty highly compensated important people would say I go to these pre-planned package meetings, I do not feel like I am heard and they will tell me in diagnostic mode is that you have a D person, privately. This is an issue for us. My next question obviously is we have brought this to. The answer is well, we do not feel comfortable speaking up about it. To Jennifer's point, if where you are problem solving the meeting and adding on my point, you must be living in the present.

Jennifer: I would say to jump on to that, Lee. One of the things that can get in the way of wanting to go to a meeting is having a sense of oh my goodness there is ten thousand very important things that are chasing me on the way to this meeting. But if the meeting is the place where you can solve five thousand of it or big one that is troubling me the most. Then your anxiety about the time that you are taking away because of the opportunity that you have to get the support and the guidance from your peers. It changes the way that you produce the meeting and that changes the spirit of the room, that matters.

Jeff: Yes, I want to take up from the Cleveland Clinic that I learned along the way. Amy Foster or Cara Wilson, etc., Chris Nagel all helped me understand this. Started the meeting with words that outcomes for the meeting and then what has been working well and then let us get to the problems. What happens Chris at Cleveland Clinic does this really well. At first, you come in and his job is to get better results and he is fantastic at giving results. But what would happened was that there was no relationship building in the front. You dive right into the problems and what would happen if you have 58 and a half minutes of problem solving but no connectivity. If you take that moment again in meetings, say what are the designed outcomes. You might learn what is really going on and maybe we shift our agenda.

Lee: What is working well gives us a chance for some recognition and doing something afterwards. If you can take that recognition, do it in a room but then follow up later on. Maybe share that with a few other executives so that people can know that you are listening and that you share that. Also, the team, starts congeal together and you are not always coming together. Just problem solving is important. But not just always being in that reactive mode.

Lee: Right.

Jeff: It is a little bit what do we want to talk about today and let us not start in problem solve every time. What is working well? What is working right from the Power of Ted. That is some asset based thinking instead of always the deficit based thinking. Lots of good suggestions, a few from this segment. Let us continue to play, find ways to do that. I would also say continue the positivity, listening, being present, putting down electronics, looking people eye to eye and really being able to be there. Having a spirit enjoyment. We are going to spend more time in this workplace, it does not have to be organized play always either. It can just be something that we enjoy. What we will do is we are going to take a two minutes break here. When we come back, we will pick up with a few of our favorite best practices. We will see you in two minutes.


Jeff: Welcome back. I am here today with Jennifer Owen-O'Quill and Lee Hubert. Thanks for joining us. Our gift to you is that we are sharing some of the best practices that we know from today. We cannot afford to give you pearls as gifts but we can give you pearls of wisdom.

Lee: Listen to you go.

Jennifer: There we go. I will take pearls though.

Jeff: What we have been trying to do is just give you some of our best practices and be able to help you maybe move forward. Lee, as we are talking sort of in break, you want to talk about a little bit concept called hug. Why don't you kick us off at this?

Lee: Yes, earlier you were talking about Jonathan Hagmeier and his team. Interesting concept, I mentioned something about being allowed to fail. Think about it. You are in leadership mode, you are working with and through human beings, not human doings to your point. How do you capture their best effort as opposed to the stat of an effort, the base effort. They had something called hug. Whether or not you are being honest.

Jeff: Honorable.

Lee: Honest too. Be honorable, be unselfish and be generous. I mean think about that, if you do those three things, you have had a full day. If you are honorable as opposed to not. If you are unselfish as opposed to gee what happens to the landscape now that protecting as opposed to not, be unselfish and be generous. Sometimes that means with your time, to my point be in the present time and being impressed as living in the now.

Jeff: Go ahead, Jennifer.

Jennifer: I have a thought about generous. When so much drama happens because we assign meaning to what somebody says does and does not say, does not do, look at us wrong, what is the most generous assumption that you can make?

Jeff: What do you mean by that?

Jennifer: Why are you looking at me like that horribly? That is the most generous assumption that you can make in this situation. If we really approach this situation even if we are frustrated with someone, they are doing the best that they can with the situation that they have right now. I do not know what else is going on in their lives. What their capacity that they have been and in this moment, that was the best that they had. I am going to make that assumption. I am going to keep making that assumption. When we do that, wow, it is so much easier to coach people, it is easier when people make mistakes. Being generous goes to how we interpret the world around us too.

Jeff: A couple thoughts there. John, we have been working on the book. Looking early next year, we will have a whole chapter dedicated to hug and how we talk about ways that put into practice. Also referring to the outward mindset by that all returns too. We are going have those ladies on the show come January or early February. It is called seeing beyond ourselves and it is about all of us get intrinsically focus inside, we look at our own needs, but how the best leaders that make it to work with, they really take the time and they spend looking at others. Something of Heather Neff. She is the CEO of Virginia Lutheran Homes. Heather does a great job of making sure that there is time for the residents that lived there, it is time for a staff, but also time for community and being with connect. It is not that she is not busy and dates are crazy, but when something is wrong and you have got people living there 24-hours, she immediately goes to I bet they were doing the best job they could possibly. Let me go into the situation with that as my fault and saying yes, there is still a problem but I bet they were doing the best they could situation and then we start to understand. Yes there is still a problem but I thought they were doing the best they could and let me start to understand that and so I think that is a great example of generosity. Jennifer, did you have another best practice or best trait you want to share?

Jennifer: When it comes to responding to people's thoughts and ideas, another generous way to approach that is try to say yes, not no. When you say no, everything stays the same. Something does not happen, money does not get spent, time does not get taken and resources and all of that. When you say yes, or when you entertain an idea, you have to keep thinking about it. You have to take the time, you have to evaluate something. You have to figure out how to resource it. That is why it is so easy to say no or at least say nothing which is of course if I could go back and give my future self a couple of hours, how about we just try listening instead of waiting and we are jumping on the no.

Jeff: Here is one that I want to pick up. A couple my clients have done this really well. Kirk over at Rackspace, Marcy Daniel with Power School. It is about resetting your calendar. I first really learned this concept from Scott Eblin who is with us a few months ago, the author of Overworked and Overwhelmed. It is not letting the calendar control you, you control your calendar. I will say it again, not let your calendar control you, but you control your calendar. So many of us, to use Scott's earlier term, are rack and stacked. Our scenarios is one o'clocks is we are on the show, at two o'clock we go back to strategic planning. Four o'clock, I am in coaching a client or blah, blah, blah.

Lee: Blah, blah, blah.

Jeff: What I appreciate though is do not let that calendar control you. How do you go about resetting your calendar? First, we do the next task first thing this morning as a team. It is called the wheel of life. So you can Google it to find it. Take a quick assessment, figure out where are you on how well you know your friends or your romance or your wealth or your physical environment, your job. You start with the assessment. Then you get real tension about where do I want to invest my time. Yes, I am encouraging you to put a time in your calendar like going for a run. I was able to have a dinner with my friend Matt Scott last night. He happened to be in town, have time for that.

Put those things on the calendar. Hey, look, if you really knew me guys, I am like the least organized, disciplined, putting things on the calendar kind of guy that you would think. But my life requires that. If I want to have things happen that I am excited about, I need to reset my own calendar. One of the first things I do is I make sure that I have dates with my kids. I have my run on the calendar. Then I start putting in things like okay gosh we got this major strategic plan also that I have got to do or we are teaching this program at XYZ client. But I do not let my life get overrun with all my commitments. They all have to be on there and then I have the chance to let my personal life, my health life, all those things get on there. Resetting calendar means you also have to go back and say have I been doing something that maybe someone else in my team could do? One of my clients, they just got a new person. The person is about 90 or 100 days in. Also they realized this person gets in that meeting for me and they cleared off four hours a week. If they did not stop and were not real intentional about how to clean up my calendar, they would never got in there.

My final best practice on that, and Scott talked about this on our show back in October, this is from the CEO. Basically, she sits down with the administrative assistant of hers every Friday and he looked to the next week and they try to take 20% of the meetings off the calendar. Because what happened is often the meetings that we said yes to who are two or three weeks ago, when we put him on the calendar, they were a priority. But when you look at only six or seven days ahead, are they still the same priority? I will go back to my camp models, leading with thinking time on the calendar can be critical. If you are an executive, a leader, you need time. I cannot tell you which emergency is going to be next week but I promise you there will be one and if you do not have any white space in that calendar where you can think and be your best self, it is not going to happen. Resetting your calendar is the best practice.

Jennifer: How you approach your time at the end of the week is really important. If you are coming up to the end of your week and you are leaving on a Friday and you feel anxious, then changed the way that you do your thinking on Friday. What is it that you need to change. I have coach myself and one of the things we were going on is that Overworked Overwhelmed, it is a busy calendar, it has been a busy season. He called, he is like wow, what is going on, how are you doing? I am great, I am so great. Why? I changed what I am doing on Friday. That is one thing. All I did was I start trying to catch up and I started planning. I started looking ahead instead of looking backwards because I cannot do much on Friday afternoon about what happened this last week and lots of the screaming fire but I can do a heck of a lot to prepare for the coming week. That is just one shift in my thinking about how I look at my time, look into the windshield and not the rear view mirror.

Lee: You made shift happen.

Jennifer: I made shift happen.

Jeff: This is a talk we give and you have to say that a lot slowly and carefully.

Lee: We make shift happen here. We make shift happen here all the time. It is okay. It is almost axiomatic where you give people who are on Sunday night and they have Sunday night anxiety.

Jeff: Yes.

Lee: To my point, they are not the present, be there, thinking about something that they maybe did not budget their time off work. It is almost axiomatic. Here is somebody that says I try to say yes to everybody as often as I can. When I was at ACAs, Human Resource Capacity, a lot of people knocking on my door. A lot of times, it feels like drinking from the fire balls but I could try to say yes as often as I possibly could. But every time you say yes to something, you will say no to something else. Somebody said that one. When you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else and what is that? We have to understand what the tradeoff is.

Jeff: It is coming up this holiday season and we are all connected all the time. What is it you are trying to do before we get out the office? I try to encourage people to do two things. One, try to have that last half day before you get out of office. Let us say you are going out for a week and have it such that you can protect it so you can write down all the things, clean up all your work. I also try to protect the first two or three hours the day you get back so that you can come back in and dig out a little bit. To Lee's point, that Sunday night before you come back or the night before you comeback, you do not have to spend three hours digging into the e-mail. I want you to be really relaxed and recharged when you come back in.

Try to exit out well and enter back in. I also work with people and say what is your strategy for when you are gone? Because you should have a strategy. Otherwise what ends up happening is these things called Smartphones will work all the time. They are like unprofessional. Others are like when the kids sleep in, I am going to be on it from 7:30 to 8:15. I do not really care but it is being intentional. That is the word I am really looking for is that we want to be intentional about what is your plan for when you are out of the office? A few good ideas in the segment as well, looking for a yes, the hug, honorable, unselfish, generous, resetting your calendar, really connecting with folks by saying yes or saying no to something else. By saying yes to listen to us for the next segment, you will get a few more things in there. Who knows. We will be back in two minutes for Voltcast: Illuminating Leadership. See you in two.


Jeff: Welcome back. I am here today with Jennifer Owen-O'Quill and Lee Hubert from Voltage. We had a great discussion. We have been having fun, hopefully you guys had some fun with us.

Lee: Absolutely.

Jeff: We have been talking about best practices of our leader. In our last segment here, we are going to each take probably one more lesson that we picked up from one of our clients and share with you. I think Jennifer you are up first. Jennifer, go for it.

Jennifer: I know I finished out the last segment by saying that you need to be looking through the windshield and not in the rear view mirror but to contradict my end, that is a word to erase in 2017, it is the word but. It is also important as part of your process when you get to the end of a project, just take the time to do an after action. When we have a significant scope of work that we have handled, we stop, and we look at what happen from beginning to end, what went right, what went wrong, what we would do differently, next time if they want to do it again, what would we not do,  what would we keep the setting and just gathering that information makes it so your organization is constantly getting faster, better, stronger. When there is a discipline inside an organization to take the time to pause at the end and to look at how you did, this is also a great time to celebrate. Say, wow. This was really successful. Look at all the things we have accomplished and next time we are going to be able to repeat that success because we have taken time to think about it before we have moved on. That is also important as part of the process after action reviews.

Jeff: Had to say that real quick, real tangible. At least twice a year, sometimes three times a year, we will have events where we invite our clients in. We go in, just scheduled in, so we have a breakfast where we meet from 7:30 to 10:30 and then we just schedule the next hour for our after action review. We are in there together. The first question that we ask is do we endorse that outcome so they will achieve it, yes or no? Then we start to ask, okay, what will we do differently? Since we are already together, it is really quick. I want to add that as a coach, I am supposed to be really great at giving and receiving feedback but sometimes I am little thin skinned and I do not love it.

Getting the feedback right afterwards. But what I have found with this process has been given in that kind of package and that element has allowed me to hear the feedback. I have found that it is a really easy way of doing it because I also, did we hit the target, yes we did good. We did this right and right. Now I can hear one or two things that we need to work on. Yes, I think after action reviews are great. Lee, you got anything?

Lee: Yes. You and Jennifer made me think of this. I will call the priority queue. I am working with a client and they are in the significant leadership position. A lot of information flowing through this person's desk that you have forums, they talk to a lot of people and there are time demands and monetary demands, budgetary demands, made on these people. I have a request, whatever it is, I am a leader, I am in the organization and here is where the rubber beats rope for a lot of people. Do you hear me or do you not hear me? That has do with so many different things. Do I leave the organization because I am angry? Am I a star that is not being retained because you are not paying attention to me? What I advocate for, what we learn from this, is the priority queue.

If you ask me for something that is capital item or whatever it may be, I am going to communicate back to you in some formal way, sometimes with a spreadsheet, sometimes it is a PowerPoint, sometimes it is all of the above and say here is what is on in my front burner as the leader. You ask me for X number of dollars to buy this device, this machine. The answer is not no forever, it is no for now because I am sharing with you what is higher up in the queue. That is the priority queue. The practical takeaway from that is people when they hear that and experience that, it answers that big objection. I cannot be heard, you are not paying attention to me. I walk away from the experience going okay, I did not know that all that was assigned to your plate first of all because I am just waiting for our CEO and wait to come around and take care of my individual needs, do you understand? 

Jeff: Is it that how it works?

Lee: People come away from that experience going okay I have some empathy for the leader and now I am communicated with. Sometimes the answer is yes. It happens, might be three months, maybe six months, might be next year, but at least I have something psychological to grab a hold of and that what makes the big difference.

Jeff: Thanks, Lee. Let me build on that around this transparency. Yes, a leader is trying to be as transparent as possible.

Lee: Okay, right.

Jeff: It is on the priority queue. Absolutely working out. I am thinking about Amy Ankrum out at Qualtrax, the president of Qualtrax. She is in the show a couple of weeks ago in our strategy. They work at really being transparent. By that, what I mean is that here is how much we are going spend on budgeting for marketing. Here is our revenue group. Here is what we think about spending on training center and etc. and get the team around it and be able to make some group decisions. You cannot always be transparent and so I want to say as a leader, choosing what is your approach to transparency is going to be and then having a conversation about it.

There are times when there are things that you cannot be transparent about but you can say we are working on something that we will be back in touch with you on Friday or we are going to do something in the next week. I have got one right now that they are in the midst of an acquisition. Massive amount of work is going off on the side. They were able to come out and say guys, we are working on some really interesting projects that we cannot give you full details. We know that is going to make you anxious, we get it, we cannot quite share everything. What we can do is come back weekly and answer what we can answer.

In the meantime, here is our core business and here is what we are doing really well. Here is the three major goals that we have got and keep moving forward. It would be great if they could be transparent. They are not allowed to. Sometimes is leader or probably great company, it is just you are not allowed. Sometimes, several more companies this year, their deals did not close. If they take in the whole organization through all of those steps and triggers of an acquisition, Oh my gosh. We are towards end of the show here. Is there any last one comment or one tip that you guys want to share with our audience?

Lee: Well, what you just said, being transparent and then what happens in your experience when you are not. If you are trying to communicate and in the absence of that, what happens is people fill in the blanks with noise. If you talk about a cultural or do share your responsibility. If you leave that door open for the noise, shame on you, you own that. 

Jennifer: The other thing I would say is this idea that their priorities and allow people the space to actually think through how they want to prioritize something. We have got a lot of great ideas around the table and we do not have a time for all of them. That was piece of our work this morning too. Wow, look at all these great ideas we have and we do not have the time for all of our great ideas. Which one, given the limited time that we have, are we going to put first and when we do that, we end up being happier because we are doing things we enjoy that really matter.

Jeff: Thank you. Thank you guys. Just a few notes about upcoming weeks and kind of the year for Voltcast coming up. Next week, we are going to review around what would right this year, what were some of the things that made this a successful year and continues this theme. They will be some real tangible things that will work for us as well as what worked for the clients that we saw all around strategy etc. The first week of January, what we are going to do is help you with your planning. What does 2017 look like? Some of our best practices will have a blog out so you can pick that up at voltageleadership.com. Check out our blog. Then as we go into 2017, our intent, this morning is we are going get bestselling authors on here. We are going to have leaders that we work with so you will not hear us describing. They will be on with us. Lee and Jennifer will come in probably once a month each and talk about some of the stuff that we are seen as some of the best practice.

A little but more of a teaching. That sort of the flavor of where Voltcast is going over the course of next year. Thanks for being with us in. In the meantime, please e-mail us and send us your best thoughts. To do that, send an e-mail to jeff@voltageleadership.com. You can also reach out to us on our website www.voltageleadership. com. You can like us on Facebook at Voltage Leadership. You can follow me on Twitter, @VoltageLeaders. If you need to reach us during the week, the best phone number to reach out to us is 540-798-1963. We really do work hard and try to get back to you as quickly as possible. We appreciate all the messages that you sent out to us. In the meantime, we know this is a very special holiday season at this time of the year in the United States so to each of you please take time to be with family. Really slow down, enjoy your time together.

There is always some drama chaos with family but take the time to see the good in each other and thanks for being with us. Again, this is Jeff Smith, Jennifer Owen-O'Quill and Lee Hubert signing off for today. In the meantime, happy holidays and we will talk to you again next week. Take care.