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 July 16, 1999

leader’s edge: Chewing the fat on leadership

One of the things I write and talk a lot about is digging down deep when communicating. Well, let me dig down deep here to about waist level.

My metabolism has changed since I turned 40 a few years ago. After four decades of heavy eating and a slim waistline, things went haywire. I continued to eat gobs of food, but in this decade my waist suffered growing pains. Same behavior, different (and bad) results.

Now, stick with me for a few more seconds because I will relate all this back to leadership.

In the last three years, my doctor has noticed this trend during my annual exams. My cholesterol levels and waistline have both crept upward like Jack and Jill skipping up the hill. At the end of each appointment, in past years, I asked the doctor to tell me how bad the situation was and what I should do about it.

Back then, he said something like: Well, we need to keep an eye on this trend, and I would like you to exercise more and eat less. I think everything will turn around if you do so.

So, for about three days, I would exercise and eat less. Then I would go back to my normal eating and exercise routine. After all, I was far from obese. Two hundred pounds on a 6-foot-1-inch frame did not look that bad and I felt healthy. Same attitude, same behavior, bad results.

Ho hum, whoop-de-doo

Often, top-level managers try to get organizations to transition through change in the same way my doctor attempted to get me to change my behavior.

You know, troops, we exist in a changing industry and need to keep up with the times, they will say. We’ve had great success over the years, and I expect that to hold true in the future. But the management team and I will be looking at ways we should change in the future and will communicate those findings to you in future meetings and through articles in the company newsletter.

Ho hum, whoop-de-doo, another change directive.

And managers act surprised when they can’t get employees to get off the dime and make significant modifications in the way they operate.

Leaders know something that managers don’t. Leaders understand that employees will make significant transitions only if they have a sense of urgency that change is really needed.

What do I mean by a sense of urgency? Well, it isn’t this: We need to keep up with the times or we’ve had great success over the years. Those statements put people to sleep for the night (or fiscal year).

You create a sense of urgency when you truthfully specify for employees what bad things will happen if we don’t do such-and-such, and what great things will happen if we do. Bad things could include wage freezes, no bonuses, fewer promotions, possible lay offs. Good things might be salary increases, bonuses, promotions, growth.

During my recent appointment, my doctor’s eyebrows arched as he uttered the dreaded doctoral hmmmmm.

Wh-what’s wrong? I asked.

Your cholesterol levels have zoomed upward, and you continue to gain weight, he said.

Same ol story, eh? I replied.

No, he said, this is serious. You need to get your weight and levels down a lot and soon, or I’ll have to put you on medicine. We don’t want that. I want you to lose 10 pounds in the next three months and get your cholesterol levels back in line.

Is it really that serious?

Well, if this trend continues, your chances of an early heart attack rise significantly, he said with a smirk and a glare.

Salads, carrots dominate

You won’t believe how many salads and carrots I’ve eaten the last seven weeks. You would be amazed at how few morsels of red meat I’ve consumed in that same period. People have spotted me often at the recreation center and on the bike trails. And for the first time since early in the Reagan Administration, I’ve lost weight 12 pounds in seven weeks.

Human nature says behavior won’t change unless the attitude does first. In my case, my doctor’s visit this year brought new attitude, new behavior and good results.

Leaders don’t pussyfoot around. They don’t shy from using emotion to change attitude because they know that will also change behavior.

What MUST change in your company in the next few months? What are the good and bad consequences of meeting or missing that mark? Lay it on the line and watch the magic begin.

To find out more about Gregg Piburn and Leaders Edge Consulting, call (970) 669-0750 or visit www.LeadersEdgeConsulting.com and www.BeyondChaos.com.

One of the things I write and talk a lot about is digging down deep when communicating. Well, let me dig down deep here to about waist level.

My metabolism has changed since I turned 40 a few years ago. After four decades of heavy eating and a slim waistline, things went haywire. I continued to eat gobs of food, but in this decade my waist suffered growing pains. Same behavior, different (and bad) results.

Now, stick with me for a few more seconds because I will relate all this back to leadership.

In the last three years, my doctor has noticed this…

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