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To Your Health

The furor over health care points to a core concern in our society; the way we discuss and decide important issues. Learning how to talk about and resolve contentious subjects should begin at home and in school. It rarely does. In the business world executive education programs, management training courses, conflict resolution workshops, leadership development, take us only so far. Back in the workplace it is still too common and easy to fall back to the patterned reactions of agree-disagree, win-lose. Last week John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods created uproar when he wrote about his perspective toward health care. He has a stake in the game and did comment about the difference healthy food makes in maintaining health. He also took on the present administration for its views. Is there something to learn from his thoughts? Many who disagreed with him were ready to boycott his grocery stores. They wondered why he would alienate shoppers like themselves, Obama supporters. So, what is free speech? What does it mean to dig down, way down and look for new, innovative answers to old, frustrating questions? Why is it so hard to talk and so easy to polarize? Philosopher Krishnamurti once said, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society”. Is he talking about US? Is he talking about the...

Leadership Strategies and Juggling

In our executive leadership development program we teach juggling. Yes, juggling. We don’t use plates or fire burning torches. The high potentials, entrepreneurs, and seasoned managers in our courses learn to juggle personalities. The capacity to hold lots of swirling egos without having them fall to the ground is the sign of a high level leader. Let me explain. We all know we are not push button robots who are programmed to do our work, say “Yes” to every request, perform perfectly and then pick our human selves up at the door before we go home. Some part of every leader would honestly prefer this, except then we would just need high level mechanics and programmers to keep businesses running. Unless leaders have a keen understanding of what makes employees tick, what causes one to push while another wants to pull, when one says “stop” while another says “go” there is little chance of team or organization success over the long haul. So, back to juggling: It is vital to be aware of the patterns that we bring to the workplace and how these patterns cause us to interact. An insightful leader can keep positive action going and the players from hitting the ground by helping them become aware and accountable of having what they say and what they do stay in alignment. Any juggler worth his or her weight in twirling plates knows that staying steady and aligned, keeping a sharp eye on how the plates create a pattern, and following the physical law of gravity is what determines success or crash. So, learn the rules of relationships...

4 Tips to Better People Management

Last week when I visited Pilgrims Pride I saw the power of how good people management and a vision of “whole people at work” can make a difference.  One reason, among many, has to do with their Human Resource department. Often H.R. is filled with individuals who know the rules and make sure they are followed. And then there are the few who really see their mandate to manage and grow the people. Such as Human Resources at Pilgrim’s Pride, deep in the heart of Texas. The company could be considered a virtual small town with 43,000 employees in many states. So, what do they do differently and what are the tips for growth and development? Inspiration from a book written by Michael Gooch, a senior V.P. in the company gives a snapshot of the philosophy that permeates the company. In “Wingtips with Spurs” he shares best practices cowboy style. And in the wisdom of the vast open plains and the ranch where it takes true grit and determination to master the day to day challenges of man, animal, and the elements we can learn about resourcefulness, adaptability, and resiliency. The practice of people management is more an art than a science. Ranchers and managers often fall into the same trap of reactionary behavior that has them responding to near disasters on a daily basis. Here are some tips for executive leadership development programs, conflict resolution workshops and how to behave better with each other. 1. About arguments and upsets: Conflict like water, sustains life. However, like water, take on too much and you drown. 2. Management fads: Fads are like cattle...

About Leading

One hot sunny day last week we drove two hours east to visit with some human resource executives at Pilgrim’s Pride in Pittsburg, Texas. You all know Pilgrim’s Pride if you ever think about eating chicken. It’s the nation’s largest poultry company and is consistently on Fortune’s list of America’s Most Admired Companies. Having lunch with Jane Brookshire, Executive V.P. of H.R. we talked about oil, corn, chickens, and poverty. Until then those concepts never would have come together in my thinking.  Our lunch discussion gave me, if you will, food for thought. Using corn to make ethanol means that the price for feeding chickens goes up, and this staple is no longer readily available for a large majority of folks who see this as an important and inexpensive part of their diet. Healthy, low cost and versatile, chicken is good for you. It made me see the trade off we make and ethanol, which seems to be an interim solution, certainly is not the long range answer. Lunch covered many other subjects and Connie, Donna, and Mike who are at the core of talent management, leadership development, and supervisor training talked extensively about what they do and hope to continue doing in their executive leadership training programs. What impressed me the most was their cumulative desire to permit their employees, over 43,000 of them, to bring “the whole person to work” at every level of the organization. This is the kind of company that walks its talk and we left for our drive back to the Dallas airport with renewed determination to help make work a place for...

Being Smart with Nature

When I was at Google last month I had the pleasure of hearing Dan Goleman talk about his new book “Ecological Intelligence”. Dr. Goleman has been, and continues to be a pioneer in “new thinking”. We know enough about the brain in this century to understand its plasticity. This means there is an ever changing possibility that we can grow and become smarter every day of our lives. No more is I.Q. considered static. No more are we doomed to become old and dumber. No more are our ailments meant to be lived with, to suffer in silence. And now that we know we are masters of change we can do something about almost everything! Thus, “Ecological Intelligence” charges us to think, and think, and think again. It is time to become more conscious, to stay awake to the world, to own our own power. No, not in a way to claim our power over nature, that is the old way. Rather it is vital that we be stewards with nature. This is the time for all of us to learn about and become proficient in systems thinking. In his book, Dan Goleman reveals to us how the invisible environment we have been ignoring is causing us to choke on our own decisions. He shows us that “being green” without thinking through what that means is merely a “feel good “marketing ploy. We need to ask questions, questions that take us up river to the hidden impact of the goods and services we consume. For example, he talks about the sunscreen he used to use, thinking it was environment...