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Warriors

Brent Miller’s dog-and-pony show takes twelve minutes. When the lights are back up, Brent confidently asks if there are any questions.  This is his big mistake.

Ronda Simpson breaks the ice. “That was good, Brent. I at least understand your data better than I did in January.”

Brent smiles and says, “Given your twenty years as a manager, Ronda, I will take that as a compliment.”

Harold Stiner, Production manager, jumps in, “I know you have only been with us for a year, Brent. There are a few things you seem to be still struggling with. You want $150,000 to – what did you call it? – place two machines. Production keeps getting pushed to cut costs, and your boys in R&D want a hundred here and a hundred there.”

More interrupting than responding to Harold, Brent asks, “How much can we handle for this test installation?”

Harold imperceptibly tenses as he responds, “As far as I’m concerned, R&D wants to push up the cost unnecessarily. This will get the price up so high we may get stuck with the lot of them.”

Ronda smiles at Harold as he handles the new kid on the block and is quick to join sides against Brent. Ronda looks at Brent and fixes him with her famous stare. She delivers her equally famous admonition as if to one of her subordinates. “It may be back to the drawing board, Brent.”

Do you recognize the warriors in the conference room or does this sound like business as usual? Are the players productive and oriented to the goals of their company or are they pursuing their own agendas?

There are warriors at work.

Warriors are overly aggressive, insensitive, rigid, and have an unusual need to control people and situations. Understanding these characteristics is the key to effective counter play. Never giving an inch over anything, never letting anyone take advantage of them, and trying to take charge of everything are the essence of their play.

Next, warriors create a negative and emotionally charged environment for their game. Stepping on the feelings of others and being harsh and abrasive keep others off balance and preclude any personal involvements that might weaken or interfere with their game. It is important for them never to be in a situation where they have to deal with people as people.

Finally, warriors use arguing and a reputation for going to war over everything as a technique to keep others on guard and at an arm’s length. This fighting posture enables the player to defend his turf and to keep the game away from emotional or “feeling level” tricks. The game is and will remain a matter of who has the most muscle and the greatest willingness to go to the mat over everything.

What can you do?

Counter play is not complex. The key is to stay away from the usual technique of trying to get cooperation by showing the other person how cooperation will work to his advantage. With warriors, that is not an incentive to go along. Instead, the skilled counter player says, “If you don’t want to go along with me on this, I respect your choice. I thought I might be able to help you avoid the problems you are going to have over this. If they are not of concern to you, I have other things to do.”

For example, in the illustration Brent would do better using this technique with Harold than he does by getting into an argument. He can say, “Harold, I see your point about the price and appreciate your concern. Nonetheless, it may be better to test things out now instead of running the risk of your having to deal with irate customers. What do you think?”

As you develop a feel for pointing out negative outcomes to warriors, pulling it off depends on neither arguing nor reacting to hurting comments. No matter how cutting the barb, say, “Thank you for sharing that with me. My point is . . . .” If the player starts to argue over anything – and he will – passively listen until he stops talking. Now say, “My point is . . .” It is an exercise in being thick-skinned, not reacting or responding to the garbage.

Now you know and there you go.

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Bonus: Management Excellence – Audio TidBits Podcast

All management is based on guiding principles; and the effectiveness of management derives from those principles. This is true whether the principles are appropriate or inappropriate, reasonable or unreasonable, consistent or inconsistent. Similarly, the derivative nature of management holds whether the guiding principles are vague or well-defined, followed faithfully or haphazardly, applied day-to-day by managers who are highly skilled or fundamentally incompetent. Effective management, then, is a product of:

  • Guiding principles that are appropriate, reasonable, and consistent;
  • Managers who clearly understand the guiding principles, faithfully adhere to them, and who are fundamentally competent.

It follows from this that the effectiveness of an organization’s management is a product of the Principle/People equation:

  • Principles + People = Outcomes. …
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Audio Tidbit Frustration Factor More Tidbits

By The Book

Is there someone where you work who absolutely, totally, and unequivocally drives you up the wall? Do you sometimes feel like climbing the wall all by yourself as the quickest way to escape? If you are saying Yes! Yes! Yes! you have had first-hand experience with “The Frustration Factor,” up close and personal.

The players of the world are alive and well and ready to drive you up the wall. Some are aggressive, some passive; some are extroverts and others introverts. Whatever their personalities, they are mostly motivated by personal needs, status goals, and insecurities. If their private goals are coincidentally compatible with your company’s, so be it. If not, their selfish interests prevail.

Rich is an experienced player.

Rich’s approach to driving people up the wall is B-t-B: By the Book. In a less linguistically correct time, we called this CYA.

His main play is to do things the same way he always does them. What has worked before is likely to work again. He knows people seldom find fault with his handling things in the usual way, whether it works or not.

Next, Rich always looks at how things can go sour and little at how they can succeed. He asks, “What are the three strongest reasons for not doing this?” His motto is nothing ventured, nothing lost.

Finally, any time he has to do something that has some risk, he spends most of his time figuring out what to say if it goes sour. Of course, the best thing to be able to say is, “I was uneasy about this but went along reluctantly. I handled it the same way we always handle things. I did it By The Book.”

Rich’s play calls for doing things the same way he always does them. He avoids all risk whenever possible and has an explanation for failure made up ahead of time. Sure, there is a more simple version of Rich’s play. Do not do anything new or innovative and try hard to keep others from making that mistake. What can you do?

Playing with B-t-B players like Rich is not a game for the impatient or impulsive. It helps to understand that these players have little faith in their abilities and less faith in their basic grasp or understanding of situations or circumstances. Since they do not believe they can trust their judgments or instincts, they do not take any chances on themselves.

Next, they do not have much ability to anticipate or predict the behavior of others. The idea is that they cannot predict if a specific action will lead to praise or punishment. Usually, they think the likely outcome of following their judgments is punishment.

You can use disciplinary and other negative approaches to show that negative outcomes can come from playing B-t-B. But if you do, take pause. If the only response or reaction folks get from you is negative or critical, reasonable people do the reasonable thing. They put most energy into avoiding negative reactions. Consider the possibility that the B-t-B player is a product of your negative behavior.

suppose you are Rich’s manager. His rigidly sticking to the way he has always done things is driving you up the wall. He never uses his personal judgement even when he knows that the old way will not work. You can say, “What do you think? Is there a better way to do this? He may say Yes in some situations or No in others, depending on what he thinks is safest. Whatever he says, the question is then, “Why would you go that way?” The idea is to walk this B-t-B player through the decision making process. In most situations, you can close with, “You seem to have some ideas about this. Use your best judgement.”

When the player starts taking more chances and making decisions, it is important not to be too negative when things do not work out well. Avoid the temptation to second guess the player. Remember that avoiding negative reactions is why he is playing B-t-B. Your goal is to teach and encourage in positive and supportive ways. The reward for the player has to come primarily through success and increasing judgement and initiative.

Now you know and there you go.

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Do You Remember? – Audio TidBits Podcast

What do you think about taking a few minutes to remember Christmas? You haven’t forgotten? Relax, close your eyes and try really hard to remember. You may recall that it is really even better than you remembered. You are in for a nice surprise.

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The Great Tax Cut?

I am hearing that there is going to be a great tax cut, maybe even the greatest tax cut of all times. Unfortunately, that is the limit of what I hear of any substance. I guess I am expected to reflexively believe that a tax cut of any kind is good and that the current taxes people pay are excessive and unwarranted.

Since I get no details, I might as well go ahead and comment on what we know very little about. I hear politicians and political pundits do that daily and as best I can tell, they don’t know much about what they are talking about either.

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Reading for You Book Descriptions

Your Exclusive Guide To The High Road
Your Exclusive Guide To The High Road

This is Your Exclusive High Road Guide from the Travelers In-flight Preparatory School. We at TIPS are proud of our glorious history of providing superior orientation and tutoring services for newcomers as well as refresher courses for experienced High Road travelers. I'm your personal travel guide and advisor. As Top Dog at TIPS, I don't normally provide individual mentor services; but when I heard you were coming aboard this flight, I couldn't pass up the honor and opportunity to serve you personally.

I have sniffed out the best of the best insights and anecdotes from the High Road traveling elite for inclusion in this preeminent edition of our official TIPS guidebook and am honored to make them available to you for your enjoyment and consideration. I'm confident in assuring you that there is not a dog in the bunch, though I must confess, up front, that I have taken a few liberties with the source documents and the conversations among The High Road's old-timers that I have been privileged to overhear. To call it plagiarism sounds too harsh; but, well, okay, your calling a spade a spade is how it's done on The High Road. I have made it sound like I personally had all the insights and that the experiences were mine when that is not how it was. I just mostly hung around and listened; but what you get is pretty much what I saw and overheard.

Now that I have that out of the way, I'm looking forward to conducting your tour and hope that you are as excited as I am about the adventure that lies ahead. It's time now to kick back, relax, and enjoy your flight. Wonderful opportunities await you on The High Road.

As a special added value, I have tucked in an assessment of your readiness to be a High Road traveler along with tools you can use to assess the readiness of your beloved as well as your boss to travel the High Road with you.

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HTM 159 – Do You Have A Point? – How To Matter – Audio TidBits Podcast

The How To Matter podcast team is having a rambling chat ranging from frustration to whatever comes next. Like most casual discussions, the topic shifts with no particular theme. Let’s listen in to see how well we do following the conversation.

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Adaptive Leadership (003) – Audio TidBits Podcast

In this episode, the adaptive leadership series is continued. Focus is on leadership as a service and what does and does not lead to leadership excellence.

Note: In the last episode, I did not realize that the musical notes under the narrator might distort on a phone speaker. I’m sorry and will try to avoid similar issues.

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Adaptive Leadership (002) – Audio TidBits Podcast

The discussion of adaptive leadership is continued in this episode of the Leadership Shop Podcast.

The discussion starts with focus on vision and mission. It then turns to valuing the people who make the journey with him or her. A commitment to excellence is essential as well as valuing customers and always meeting or exceeding their expectations. Please listen in to hear how these important elements are explained.

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HTM 158 – Advice, Wisdom & Getting Down To It – How To Matter – Audio TidBits Podcast

The podcast team is having another one of their idea generator sessions. Today they share with us that wisdom and stupidity are linked and that taking care of today’s business today not only is wise but is a good start on making a difference to people who make a difference to us. Please listen in on their conversation.

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Life’s Little Lessons Vol. 4 – Audio TidBits Podcast

Thank you for choosing to go skidooing with us. We all have learned many of life’s little lessons and certainly have found some of them more helpful than others. Daniel has developed a series of skidooing episodes that he thinks represent priority lessons. Those are lessons we should all take to heart. Please listen to this episode and consider whether you agree with Daniel.

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Toronto, The Food Court & A New York Street – How To Matter

The podcast team members come to us from three remote locations to share their insights. Although their focus is not specifically on making a difference to people who make a difference to us, their musings range from having thoughts no one has thought before to the fact that people who gossip about others will sooner or later be gossiping about us.

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Adaptive Leadership (001) – Audio TidBits Podcast

In this episode of the Leadership Shop Podcast, we are introduced to adaptive leadership. In the past, it was enough for a leader to get the job done as the job is defined. The leader leads and the followers follow. That simple model is no longer enough. The world has become too complex and workers are no longer content to simply follow. Adaptive leadership is not only needed, it is required. Please listen to learn what adaptive leadership is all about. The series has thirteen episodes. This episode is where the discussion starts.

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HTM 156 – May I Drive You Up The Wall, Please? – How To Matter – Audio TidBits Podcast

Do you wonder how the frustrating elite of the world manage to be so successful at driving everyone up the wall? Are you frequently impressed by their expertise? Do they have a skill set you want to emulate? Perhaps not but if at least knowing more about how they do what they do seems potentially helpful, please listen and learn.