Do We Have the Right Team Members?

Do We Have the Right Team Members?

One of my favorite business leadership books is Jim Collins’ book “Good to Great”. A mantra from the book, “get the right people on the bus—in the right seats” (with the right training), guides the leadership, team, and company culture development work we do with our clients.

We find that companies who engage the right people in the right seats enjoy increased profits, strong teams, and staff retention.  But, too many companies experience just the opposite. Why? There are a few reasons. I’ll share two here.

Fuzzy Core Values

Core values are the essential beliefs that every action is measured against. These beliefs are crystal clear and lived minute-by-minute. A company’s values are so strong that every single person—no matter their role—needs to align with those values.

Sadly, too many companies do the “core values exercise”, whip the values up on the website, make a few beautiful posters to hang around the office, and put a check mark next to “Write Core Values” on the to-do list. They might be dusted off during a new employee onboarding process, then forgotten.

Clear, impactful, and livable core values are essential to building great teams. If a candidate doesn’t fully align with the company core values this is probably a sign that the wrong person may get on the bus (aka your company) and drive it off the cliff!

Does your company have “ride or die” core values? Hiring team members who are a great fit, ready to rock results, and achieve company goals rests on the foundation of unshakable core values. Are your company core values rock solid and lived every day?

Ignore Red Flags

Many companies we work with are in fast growth phases. The pressure to hire people can silence the “red flags” about a candidate’s character or culture fit.  What is the company culture? It is guided by core values, as well as, the practices, policies, and expectations that shape interactions? If a core value is teamwork and a candidate is lukewarm about working on a team (which is discovered during interview process), don’t ignore that red flag.

Great teams are built on trust, accountability, transparency. As finding great candidates is more difficult, ignoring candidate red flags in any three of these areas can undo everyone’s hard work, trigger profit loss, and missed milestones.

Technical skill and competency are not sufficient reasons to hire. Leaders who’ve faced the ugly impact of hiring the wrong people always say: “We can train technical skills and support competency development in a role, but we can never train or develop character or make someone a good culture fit.”

Right People Right Seats

Develop and test company core values is key. But the work doesn’t stop there. To get (and keep) the right people in the right seats, invest and consistently train those values at every level of the company. Develop teams that are built on trust, accountability, and transparency. This set of key action steps supports increasing revenue and building great teams that do impactful work.

Jenny DuFresne is the CEO of DuFresne Solutions Group, a training and leadership development firm, helping companies develop mid-level leaders, emerging leaders, and shape company culture for success. Learn more at www.SeekLeadership.com.

3 Ways Women Veterans Inspired America This Week

3 Ways Women Veterans Inspired America This Week

Today, November 10th, is the 243rd birthday of the United States Marine Corps. In August 2018, the Marine Corps celebrated 100 years of women serving in the Corps. The Marine Corps has a distinguished history securing freedom on land, air, and sea.

I am proudly a woman Marine veteran.

Unfortunately, many women veterans who served in the five branches of the U.S. military, our service is often forgotten or overlooked. As Sarah Maples elaborates in her article, The Inconvenience of Being a Woman Veteran, women veterans are mostly invisible in our country.

But this week something historical happened. An exciting change that is worthy of recognition and acknowledgement. The highest number of women veterans ran for local, state, and national office ever in the 2018 midterm elections.

There are three reasons I find this is compelling and inspiring.

Dismantling Barriers

When I was in uniform, barely 5% of Marines were women. There were no women Marine pilots. One of my responsibilities was assigning new officers to flight school. I never saw a woman’s name on my roster. I recall that the intense debate centered on women lacking the strength, intelligence, and grit to be combat pilots. Women just couldn’t handle an F-18 Hornet (fighter aircraft) let alone the rigors of battle were the frequent justifications to keep women out of the cockpit.

In the midterms, many of the women veterans who ran for office were combat pilots. They flew helicopters or fighter jets in Iraq or Afghanistan. Several women are combat-wounded having lost limbs while executing their missions.

Through their service in roles once closed to women, they dismantled barriers while still facing and navigating obstacles that are the “norm” for every woman who serves.

Visibility Counts

Women veterans are invisible. A common question we get is “What branch did your husband serve in?” Rarely are we asked, “What branch of the military did you serve in?” There are many women who served during World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Invisible. Today, thousands of women veterans with multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan are invisible.

With the history-making number of women veterans who ran for office—whether they won, lost, or races are still too close to call—the visibility is inspiring for women veterans. With elected leaders who’ve traveled in our shoes, our issues and needs can be included in policy-making and budget decisions. This visibility counts for our healthcare, mental health, housing, education, job-reintegration, disability support, and other service related issues that women veterans uniquely face.

Work Together. Get the Job Done!

A military mission has no political party. Our women veterans who will assume public office understand this. Women veterans bring to elected office several important perspectives. Women veterans know how to work together to complete a mission. There are critical solutions needed to address issues in our country. Women veterans are trained to accomplish the mission by evaluating multiple concerns and setting a path of action. From a gender perspective, women view solution-finding from a holistic perspective. Women collaborate, include different voices and perspectives to find common ground. We work together to get the job done. Our country needs this dynamic leadership more than ever.

As our sisters-in-arms take office or recalibrate for another run, I trust that women veterans will see the incredible value in our service and sacrifice. I trust that this great country will recognize that we have women warriors among us whose sacrifice is instrumental to maintaining the freedom that we all enjoy. Our leadership as women veterans is valuable and critical to discover and implement solutions.

Jenny DuFresne, CEO, DuFresne Solutions Group, a training and leadership development firm helping leaders and teams grow people, profit, and impact. Jenny served for 10-years as a U.S. Marine. Learn more at www.SeekLeadership.com.

3 Wins from the Google Walkout

3 Wins from the Google Walkout

The day 20,000+ Google employees walked out in protest over the handling of sexual harassment against women at Google, I happened to be in a training with two Google employees. The topic? Diversity and inclusion in the workplace and the impact of unconscious bias on everything.

No one is immune from unconscious bias. We all hold stereotyping beliefs about groups of people that drive our actions or inaction.

From my lens, the explosive Wall Street Journal story that fueled the Google Walkout, exposed a slew of unconscious biases. These biases are present when a woman, whether junior or executive, reports sexual harassment or a hostile work environment as a result of male leaders or team members’ inappropriate action.

In the workplace, unconscious bias has negative consequences. Its why, for example, few women are in executive leadership or in board seats. An unconscious bias exists that says women are not good leaders. Or why three influential tech companies (Google, Facebook, Twitter) have 1.8% of a combined 41,000 staff who are African American.

Uncovering unconscious bias takes training and awareness. Which brings me to what I saw as 3 wins from the Google Walkout.

Men Care

Win #1: There are men that care about women’s experiences in the workplace. The pictures of Google employees from 50 global Google offices were filled with men. What I loved about the images is that it speaks to men’s concern and desire for women to be respected and valued. Of course, men caring about the issue of women being sexually harassed must move further. Care must translate to action.

Clear, accountable action by male leaders to address sexual harassment against women in the workplace is the solution.

Men’s Actions Matter

Win #2: Men hold the majority of board, executive, and mid-level leadership roles in companies. Male employees are groomed for leadership roles often fast-tracking men into leadership sooner than women. Men in leadership and aspiring to hold leadership roles have the power to take real action. Real actions interrupt and hold accountable men who sexually harass or create hostile work environments for women. To do this, I believe male leaders must take an important first step. Take action to uncover their own unconscious bias and its impact on leadership and decision-making is a safe and effective action.

Imbedding unconscious bias training into leadership development work is one way our company, DuFresne Solutions Group, helps tackle this issue.

Men’s Voices Matter

Win #3: Getting rid of sexual harassment and hostile work environments affecting women takes courage. The images of the Google Walkout show thousands of men in support of women. Some held signs or raised their fist in solidarity. Some walked alongside women. All powerful steps to interrupt and cause accountability for a harassment-free workplace for women. I believe men’s voices are the powerful ingredient needed to create lasting change. Men who talk with other men when they see inappropriate behavior, words, actions, or inaction are the critical, courageous conversations that matter. Men see and hear the kinds of male behaviors, words, or actions that create inappropriate conduct or sexual harassment.

Men are important and critical to interrupt male behavior that undermines a great workplace for women and men.

The Google Walkout can be a catalyst for leadership development that is proactive in uncovering and bringing awareness to unconscious bias. No one is immune. We all harbor unconscious bias.

Leaders, especially men in leadership roles, have an opportunity to take action and use their voices to end sexual harassment against women in the workplace. It is good business and the key to profitable, stable companies.

Jenny DuFresne, CEO, DuFresne Solutions Group, a training and leadership development firm helping leaders and teams grow people, profit, and impact. Learn more at www.SeekLeadership.com.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

3 Actions Help You Lead Powerfully This Week

3 Actions Help You Lead Powerfully This Week

Want to positively impact your bottom line? These 3 actions help you lead powerfully this week and feel energized.

Have you had this conversation with yourself?

My road as a leader is so lonely. I’m feeling disconnected, exhausted, and uninspired. Why doesn’t my staff get it?! We’ve gone over the same practices, but no one gets it. Why? (heavy sigh) I feel so depleted. Ugh…40 new emails…I can’t stand it. I’m so tired.

Sound familiar? I don’t know a single leader that is not having an internal dialogue that sounds similar.  Leaders are urged to cultivate the “right” behaviors, attitudes, traits. We are excited to tick off 80% of the behaviors, attitudes, or traits the research says make us “better” leaders.

In my 25 years of diverse leadership experience—military, corporate, nonprofit, and small business owner–this internal leader dialogue is rarely addressed.

What is the cost of this conversation?

The “Right” Traits Are Not Enough

Do you know it’s costing you to ignore this internal dialogue? If you’re not burned out, you might be unhappy, frustrated, or depressed. The impact on our leadership and the effect on everything we touch is profound.

In my leadership journey, I realized that the less I cared for and attended to my personal self the less effective I was as a coach, mentor, guide, and gauge of the organization and my staff’s temperature.

But I learned a valuable lesson. I now prioritize several key rejuvenating activities in my daily schedule. I am vigilant ensuring my leadership role and activities do not overshadow my self-care.

Fill Your Tank

Leadership is a full out, high participation activity. In our leadership roles, we give significant mental, emotional, and physical energy to our teams and company. We rush, rush, rush. Every day, we are so hurried we fail to refill our fuel tank. Just a like a car, when there is no more gas, the car becomes useless. Leading is no different. A depleted leader is useless to everyone.

3 Actions Help You Lead Powerfully This Week

  1. Dedicate 20-minutes to connect with you. Start each morning with 20-minutes filling your cup. Meditate, pray, journal, take a walk to connect with you. Get up before your family for deep, quiet time. In just 20-minutes, you’ll feel great!
  2. Unplug from technology for one-hour each day. Unless there is an immediate life or death issue that demands your attention and expertise, you can afford to unplug for 60-minutes. Have a personal conversation with a friend. Think about your family, your personal dreams, goals, or interests—anything but work. Give yourself permission to let your mind rest and rejuvenate.
  3. Take lunch away from your desk and office. Get some fresh air and sun. You deserve to feel refreshed for the afternoon activities. When did it became fashionable to be chained to our desks, eat lunch, and continue working? Research shows that we are less effective the more we work and multitask. Take a full lunch, relax, refresh, and rejuvenate. Your decision making, clarity, and productivity will multiply.

If you desire to be a leader that positively influences your people and organization, refilling your tank daily must become the rule of your leadership, not the exception.

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