Enduring Principals – Your Personal Code of Conduct 4

What does it say about the World we live in when we question the honesty and integrity of the people in leadership positions – both in government and the clergy? Public trust in our lawyers, teachers, and financial institutions are at an all time low.

Worth Remembering …

“Leaders walk their talk; in true leaders there is no gap between the theories they espouse and their practice” – Warren Bennis

What is ethical or unethical behaviour? Ethics is best described as a set of moral principles or values that defines what is considered right or wrong behaviour for a person or a group. Some people suggest that there is a difference between business ethics and personal ethics. But, to my way of thinking – I believe you’re either ethical or you’re not. There is only one kind of ethics. You either believe in being honest – to act with integrity – to be guided by a strong sense of values and fair play – or not. How can you behave one way at work and then behave a different way at home and still be true to  yourself – still be true to your own personal code of conduct – your own set of enduring principles?

The first course I ever taught at Algonquin College’s School of Business was a “Business Ethics” course developed by one of my hero’s Professor Ron Knowles. Professor Knowles developed the course for first year business students in our SME program (Small, Medium, Enterprises). One of the neat things about that course was I got to work with first year business students to help them develop their own personal code of conduct – their own ethical decision making model that they could use to help them make the right decision when faced with an ethical dilemma. (An ethical dilemma is when you’re confronted with a situation where there is no clear right or wrong answer. No clear right or wrong way to behave.)

Worth Remembering …

“Be more concerned with your character then your reputation. Your character is what you really are, while your reputation is what others think you are.” – Dale Carnegie

What do you hold to be true? What are your enduring principles? What are you not willing to compromise – no matter the situation – no matter the personal price you’ll have to pay?What series of questions do you ask yourself to solve your ethical dilemmas? If you where to sit down and script your personal code of conduct what kinds of things would you include? Do you believe in honestly? Acting with integrity? Do you believe in treating people fairly, consistently and with respect?

I’ve been put into positions in the past where I had to compromise my own set of values. I’ve done some things that in hindsight I should have handled differently because I ended up not being true to myself. What I did was not illegal but, it still bothers me to this day. And because I’m still bothered by it – I know it was the wrong thing to do. I should have acted differently no matter the cost. When we behave in ways that conflict with our own judgment of what is right, we lose face in ourselves. You may not always make the right decision – regardless of what ethical decision-making model you use. But you will make a decision that you can live with no matter the outcome because you where true to yourself.

Worth Remembering …

“The depths and strength of a human character are defined by its moral reserves. People reveal themselves completely only when they are thrown out of customary conditions of their life, for only then do they have to fall back on their reserves.” – Leon Trotsky

The Josephson Institute of Ethics, a non-profit training and consulting organization based in Los Angeles California advocates principled decision-making based on six common values they call “The Six Pillars of Character”. The Institute contends that these six pillars are the basis of ethically defensible decisions and the foundation of well-lived lives.

  1. Trustworthiness: Honesty, integrity, reliability and loyalty
  2. Respect: Civility, courtesy, tolerance, acceptance
  3. Responsibility: Accountability, pursuit of excellence, self-restraint
  4. Fairness: Process, impartiality, equity
  5. Caring: Empathy, compassion, a sense of duty
  6. Good Citizenship: A sense of fair play, giving back, giving a hand up.

What we say to ourselves and our actions must be congruent. The words and our behaviour must match. There are people whom we trust and those we do not. And if we ask ourselves the reason why – most likely it’s because we trust congruency and are suspicious of incongruence. Results of a Society for Human Resources Management survey found that only 27% of the employees feel that their organizations leadership was ethical. At the end of the day – you have to be true to yourself. The bottom line is – If you have to ask yourself if you acted ethically or not? – you already know the answer. 

You Don’t Have to Like Them to Work With Them 1

Team work sucks! Let me repeat that – Team work sucks! Team work sucks because most often everyone on the team doesn’t pull their own weight. I’ll try not to be too cynical here – but you can’t expect to throw people together – call them a team – and have them perform without teaching them what it means to be part of a team – And what it takes to be a good team player.

Worth Remembering …

“Coming together is a beginning – Keeping together is progress – Working together is success” – Henry Ford

Making teams work is a challenging and difficult process. Nonetheless, you can increase the likelihood that your team will succeed in accomplishing individual and team goals by carefully managing the setting of team goals and priorities, how team members are selected, trained and compensated.

Team goals may vary depending on the role that teams play in your organization. Problem solving teams, self-managed teams, cross functional teams, work teams and virtual teams. Teams can be brought together, based on each team members area of expertise, to work on a specific project and once that project is completed the team is disbanded. (Project Managers work in this type of environment)

Some organizations will call it a team – but what they really want is for people to get along with each other. They aren’t really a team in the truest sense of the word. Everyone on the team needs to work independently from one another but they must coordinate their efforts with other team members to accomplish the overall team objective. I refer to this kind of team as a work team. I suspect this is the type of team in most organizations – so to keep this article in context – I will discuss work teams and how to manage them effectively.

Creating High Performance Work Teams 

The most popular team building model – forming, storming, norming and performing that is taught in most business schools was first introduced by Bruce Tuckman in 1965. Tuckman PhD. was Director of the Academic Learning Lab at The Ohio State University. His model depicts the four stages of growth that all high performing teams must go through. As you read through the description of each stage – think about how you would apply it in your department or organization when forming a team or introducing a new team member.

Worth Remembering …

“Teams are now the primary force of organizations. They are worth cultivating at their core. There core is the mind of each team member.” – Nancy Kline

Forming: Forming is the initial stage of team development. This is the getting-acquainted stage in which team members meet each other, form initial impressions, and try to get a sense of what it would be like to be part of the work team. Managers can help this process along by planning meet-and-greets or social events outside of the traditional workplace. Be sure to personally introduce any new team member to each member of the team. I would tack up a picture of the new team member on our information board to help break the ice.

Storming: Conflicts and disagreements are inevitable as team members start to work together. Different personalities and work styles will clash. (They don’t have to like each other but they DO need to get along with each other) That’s why soft-skills – a person’s ability to communicate and interact effectively with people – is critical to team success. Hire people who like being around people. (Loaners and hermits need not apply)

Norming: This is the third stage in creating high performance teams. This is when the dust starts to settle down and the “real” work begins. Be sure to post your policies and procedures. Team members need to know what is expected of them. They need to know what “Normal” behaviour is. (There is no common sense. The only thing common about common sense is it’s not very common amongst most people.) Team members aren’t born knowing how to be a good team member. Like any skill – it’s a learned behaviour.  It’s your responsibility to teach them how to be a good team player. As the team leader, supervisor or manager you need to “call” people out who are not maintaining those standards. Never allow team standards to slip.

Performing: This is the final stage of team development. This is where you get to walk around and monitor their performance. People do what you inspect – not what you expect. You must manage by walking around. Get out of your office – roll up your sleeves now and again. Lead by example. Be prepared to work one-on-one with someone who is struggling. Your role is to give each team member the tools and training they’ll need to be able to perform their role – and then to get out of their way and let them do it. (Resist the urge to Micro-Manage)

Worth Remembering …

“You can’t play the game without all the players on the court … The team must be assembled quickly and play as a unit almost from the start. Failure to recruit strong, cohesive team players means a losing season.” – Ann Winblad

Work teams create a synergy that results in a level of performance greater than any one person’s performance. (Together Everyone Achieves More) Norms shape team behaviour by imposing group standards. Managers need to monitor individual performance so that “Social Loafers” can’t go un-detected. And most importantly – managers can improve work team performance through selecting individuals based on their soft-skills and not just their technical ability.

Move Over Gents – It’s The Ladies Turn To Lead

In the words of Bob Dylan – “The times they are a changing” – And I for one – applaud it. Frankly it’s about time. I’m pleased to see that more and more women are now taking back their right to choose; the right to choose when and if they want children – without feeling guilty if they choose not to have children at all. I’m pleased to see that more and more women are now taking back their right to choose when and if they want a career outside of the traditional family model. (Try managing the family home on your own and then tell me that’s not work.)

It’s great to see that more and more women are now managing and leading Fortune 500 Companies. That more and more women are now starting their own small businesses. Matter of fact they are out pacing men in that category. They’ve taken the management skills they developed managing the family home and are now applying them in the business world. According to research conducted by The Centre for Women’s Business – 10.1 Million firms are owned by women – employing more than 13 Million people. One in five of all firms generating 1 Million dollars or more in sales are owned by women. The total number of sales generated by firms owned by women topped 1.1 Trillion dollars in 2008. (These are American numbers but women are outpacing men in starting small businesses in Canada as well)

Dee Dee Myers – Author of “Why Women Should Rule The World” believes that women are more successful at running small businesses because women can make people accountable for their actions, but, they can also be there to support them. “Females have that trait, where maybe most males do not” – The trait that Myers is talking about it empathy – The ability to see things from another persons point of view. As Myers suggests – women come by it naturally – men on the other hand have to work at it.  If your success as a manager is predicated on your ability to build relationships and develop collaborative teams then what better skill is there to have then empathy? After all think of a job that you could have in your life time that didn’t involve communicating and interacting effectively with people. (There isn’t any)

Research conducted by Distinguished Professor Julia T. Wood – Professor of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina and Deborah Frances Tannen – Professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University may also explain why women have made tremendous inroads into a territory once considered a “man’s” domain.

Wood’s and Tannen’s research produced the following theories:

  • Men and women have different ways of showing support, interests and caring. .
  • Women tend to see communication as a way to connect and enhance a sense of closeness in a relationship. Men see communication as a way to accomplish objectives.
  • Men emphasize independence and are less likely to ask for help in accomplishing an objective. Where as women seek out and welcome relationships.
  • Women are inclined to express agreement and support, while men are more inclined to debate.
  • Women are more inclined to face each other and make eye contact when talking while men are more likely to look away.
  • Men tend to jump from topic to topic but women tend to talk at length on one topic at a time.

A very dear and close personal friend of mine likes to remind me now and again that she doesn’t need a man in her life to “complete” her. She’s capable enough to do that all on her own. After all she’s been operating her own very successful small business now for over 30 years. She knows who she is. She’s not afraid to speak up and ask for what she wants. That’s one of the many qualities I love and admire about her.

Mary Matalin, former counselor to President George W. Bush and Vice President Cheney was quoted as saying – “Women around the world are rewriting history at a ferocious pace with or without mans permission”. After all – it’s easy to argue that men haven’t been doing such a great job of managing things lately.

The glass ceiling is still there. The key to breaking through that barrier in today’s world has more to do with your ability to get along with people. And in today’s world women seem to be better equipped to do that.


Put People in Positions Where They Will Be Successful 2

If you were a tree what kind of tree would you be? If you were a colour, do you think you would be red, blue, yellow, or green? What would you think if your Interviewer asked you to draw a pig? Believe it or not, these are the kinds of questions you might get asked during your job interview. Don’t panic; Interviewers aren’t looking to have you committed. They are, however, looking to gain some valuable insight to your attitude, behaviour, and potential in the workplace. Weird science? Perhaps. But today’s behavioural assessment tools are becoming more and more prevalent as companies look for ways to hedge their bets against the high costs associated with hiring the wrong person.

Worth Remembering …

“Whatever the circumstances of your life, the understanding of type can make your perceptions clearer, your judgements sounder, and your life closer to your hearts desire.” –  Isabel Briggs Myers

Behavioural assessments are not new. Personality research dates back to Hippocrates in 400 BC. Hippocrates believed that we each have our own natural, perfect, unchangeable personality style. He believed that while we each have the same factors comprising our personalities, four distinct styles of behaviour emerge. It’s interesting to note that no matter what assessment tool you use – Myers Briggs Type Indicator, Colours or DISC – they all agree that there are four distinct styles of behaviour and that each style reacts to  the same situation differently. And generally speaking we “Fit” into one of the four styles.

Each of the four styles has their own strenghts and limitations; and there really isn’t one style that’s better than any other. It is clear, however, that some styles are better suited for some roles, tasks, or careers. Yes, it’s true that we all have the ability to modify our behaviour to get a different result, but we all have one style that feels most comfortable to us and we use that one style most of the time, regardless of the circumstance. Keep in mind that a strength overused or used in the wrong situation can be a weakness.

Worth Remembering …

“Effective executives fill positions and promote on the basis of what a person can do. They do not make decisions to minimize weaknesses but to maximize strengths.” – Peter F. Drucker 

I use an assessment tool in all of my coaching engagements and workshops based on the DISC theory first introduced by Dr. William Marston in his epic book, Emotions of Normal People published in 1928. In the mid 1950’s, William Clark further developed the Marston theory. He utilized the simple matrix entitled DISC and identified the factors that comprise each of the four styles. I use the tool to help identify the style of the person I am working with – their strengths and their limitations. And it provides my client with a universal language that is easy for them to understand. (They already know what they do well and what they don’t do well – but now at least they have a name for it and a reason behind why they do what they do)

We are who we are – but it doesn’t have to dictate where we end up. We are adults and we can learn new habits. Just stop doing one thing and start doing another. And the more that we do it – the more it becomes us. I believe the key to performance improvement is by understanding ourselves well – and by studying the behaviours of others. Managers spend way too much time trying to change people. What they should be doing is spending the time to find out what their people do well – and then put them in positions where they will be able to play to their strengths.

These are the four  distinct styles of behaviour associated with DISC Theory. Recognize anyone you know? Which one sounds most like you?

D – Dominant Style, Direct and Decisive: These types of people make quick decisions when others cannot; they will confront tough issues or situations, accept change as a personal challenge, and will keep the team focused on task. (In the olden days we called this style the typical “A” Type personality. (I’ll let you figure out what the “A” meant.) Others may see limitations because they may come across as unapproachable. They can be insensitive to others needs. Patience is not your strong suit. D Style persons naturally want to take control. They have a lot of qualities that we like to see in our managers.

I – Interactive/Interpersonal Style, Optimistic and Outgoing: These people like to make themselves available to others; they spread their enthusiasm and positive attitude to others and will give positive feedback to their colleagues and teammates. They are great communicators and have an innate ability to build collaborative teams. Others may see limitations because they can appear to be disorganized. They love being around people so they find it difficult to work alone. They’d rather be liked then to be respected. I Style persons make great sales people – social convenours or teachers.

S – Steadiness Style, Sympathetic and  Cooperative: These types are team players; they are sensitive to other’s needs, approach meeting agendas methodically, and are great listeners. They are very loyal, show up to work on time, and maintain the status quo. They prefer to be non-confrontational. Others may see limitations because they can be indecisive – they find it difficult to make quick decissions for fear of making waves. They have a tendancy to resist change for fear of failing. S Style persons work best in a structured environment where processes have been defined and people are expected to follow procedure.

C – Conscientious Style, Concerned and Correct: These types of people like things done the right way as they see it. They are very thorough and will maintain standards; (as long as they where the ones who developed the standard). They emphasize accuracy and will try to use some diplomacy to get their way. C’s are our very best planners. Others may see limitations because they can be overly concerned with perfection. They prefer to work alone. C Style persons make great accountants, lawyers or project managers.

Worth Remembering …

“Everyone has peak performance potential. You just need to know where they are coming from and meet them there.” – Ken Blanchard.