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|Friday, February 07, 2014|
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
This year’s State of the Union address held many lessons for all leaders. Here are three, and the actions I suggest you take:
Know your Strengths and Weaknesses
Peter Drucker said performance can only be built on strengths, and weaknesses need to be identified and worked around. The wise executive knows herself well enough to do these things.
Whether President Obama has this self-awareness is beside the point — you must have yours. How can you get more aware of your strengths and weaknesses? Ask your spouse, ex-spouse, and closest friends — and make it clear you want the truth.
You can also listen (judiciously) to your opponents, if you have enough stature to have attracted any.
Your Opponents will Tell you the Truth
Focus on Strengths
The President is good at rallying his base, at managing the media, and at wrong-footing Republicans, among other things. He appropriately focuses on those activities. What are your strengths? Are you spending the majority of your time on those tasks?
Where are you seeing signs of struggle? Create a system or reassign the work as necessary. Just be sure you are self-aware of your weakness, without bravado or shame.
Advisors for Blind Spots
Regardless of whether you have a personal weakness in your blind spot or not, your best defense is an advisor. I’ve recruited someone who actually feels physically ill when any project is done less than 100% — and is happy to say it.
Recruit for Weaknesses and Blind Spots
Know Your Strategy
Strategy is the art of focusing scarce resources on key initiatives, with keen awareness of the environment.
It’s unknowable whether President Obama is unable to work with Congress, or just unwilling. Whether you believe it’s the President’s fault for being divisive, or the House Republicans’ fault for being obstructionist, the cold reality is that this President and this Congress haven’t been able to cooperate very much, and that fact is unlikely to change.
The wise executive accepts what is, and focuses where action is possible. The President did that by stressing a course that involves unilateral Executive Branch action that doesn’t require the help of Congress.
What aspects of your environment are difficult, and are you beating your head against them — or working around them?
Finally, the effective executive knows how to negotiate for results.
Here’s my preferred approach:
List your needs and desires, in priority order
List your negotiation partner’s priorities
Figure out which of your top priorities are least important to your negotiation partner
Figure out which of your negotiation partner’s priorities are least important to you
Create several tentative offers that give you what you most want, at the least cost to you, and give your negotiation partner (at least some of) what they want, at a reduced cost to them
Even staunch enemies can create win-win deals using this approach — some of the time.
For example, you may need work-scheduling flexibility, and your workers may have prioritized health benefits. It’s entirely possible you might save enough money via greater flexibility that you could afford to offer improved benefits and have money left over.
For President Obama, as for any other leader, you can accurately guess his priorities by seeing what he will and won’t negotiate over.
And when there is no negotiating, don’t. Here, the President is an acknowledged master.
Tom Cox is a Beaverton consultant, author and speaker. He coaches CEOs on how to boost performance by building workplace trust.
Friday, April 11, 2014
TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
The auto industry is starting to share more costs across manufacturers for complex and challenging design work, like new transmission design, and certain new engine technologies. What we’re not yet seeing is wholesale outsourcing of “unavoidable waste” components to specialist companies.
Monday, March 03, 2014
Check out interviews with employees from some of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon winners and find out what makes their company a great place to work.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE | OB BLOGGER
The medical research enterprise wastes tens of billions of dollars a year on irrelevant studies. It’s time to fix it.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
BY JASON NORRIS | GUEST BLOGGER
I don’t think anyone can (or should) remember what it was like to get things done without the internet. This milestone in technology has certainly benefited brick-and-mortar companies and subsequently launched a new era of businesses.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
BY ERIC FRUITS
Because they have little chance of working for someone else, today’s teens need to be entrepreneurs. But, first, we must teach our teens that entrepreneurship starts small.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
BY VIVIAN MCINERNY | OB BLOGGER
As retailers consolidate and newspapers fold, the business of modeling shifts to ad agencies, apparel companies and new media.
Friday, March 28, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
The next mysterious (or disastrous) event could be one that you or your team might suddenly need to respond to, probably under intense scrutiny.
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