Monday, January 14, 2019

Stand for Something or Fall for Anything

In my coaching and consulting practice, I often find that I am working with individual leaders, teams or organizations to develop, re-frame, redefine or otherwise establish their core values.  This exercise can be motivated from a number of sources:

  • Personally - to gain clarity on work challenges, desired advancement or changes in career, making choices about current/future fit ian organization, and exploring challenges related to work/life balance and similar choices. 
  • Teams - trying to strengthen teamwork, manage conflict, get clarity of where the team is going, how they are going to get there, and what is permissible/non-permissible behaviors/actions.
  • Organizationally - usually as part of an organizational reset and often tied to redevelopment/ reestablishment of a strategic plan or trying to figure out why desired results are not being achieved.
I love this kind of work - regardless of level at which it happens - as I do believe it is critical and crucial work.  Other leaders that I have worked with over the past 30 years plus would tell you different.  In fact, they would consider "values" work to be a lot of fluff and really only good for those ubiquitous annual reports and strategic plans that are mandated to them by an external agency, a board of directors, or by a variety of other stakeholders.  They engage in this work and produce such only because it is mandated, not because they see benefit in the exercise or expect to adhere to these values after the glossy publication is put on the shelf.  And, for me, the results of this lack of commitment are clear.

Having worked for these kinds of leaders and organizations I can attest to the personal impact on me and can certainly relate to the toxic effects it has on the broader workforce and for employee engagement.  Values matter on a number of fronts.  Many of us make employment and career choices - sometimes implicitly rather than explicitly - on the basis of whether a leader's or organization's values resonate with our own.  As I'm sure many of you have heard or read, the #1 reason that people leave organizations relates to their relationship, or lack thereof, with their direct supervisor. I would venture that a strong parallel conclusion would be that people also leave organizational cultures that don't resonate with their core values.

And let's remember that "leaving" an organization may not just come in the form of physical departure.  Many organizations, striving for higher levels of productivity, are fighting significant forms of both presenteeism and absenteeism based on a lack of true and authentic engagement of their workforce - on the basis of shared values.

Just as problematic, however, and more distressing to me are leaders that do have a strong sense of core values but consistently fail to strongly articulate those values and/or strongly and consistently put them into action.  The reality then becomes that a team or an organization fails to see a consistent presence or application of core values - whether that of the individual leader or of the organization.  Too often the result of this is other leaders, staff and stakeholders are either left to guess or interpret what values should guide actions OR, more worrisome, live and lead to a set of values that actually contrary to what the leader or organization is intending or hoping for.  The clear result of this "organic" and evolutionary model of leadership is an organizational free-for-all that lacks cohesion, alignment and as often as not results in unproductive and destructive conflict.

Clear personal values, clear team values and clear organizational values that are fully defined and effectively and courageously utilized to animate other structures and processes (e.g., recruitment, retention, performance management, strategic planning, communication) can be powerful in moving individuals, teams and organizations forward.  Certainly a great reference for me in this regard is Simon Sinek's "Start With Why".  Understand and lead self before you can effectively understand, lead and attract others that believe what you believe.

This also means having the courage to articulate - in some level of detail - what you believe in and stand for and then having the courage to act on those stated convictions.  This is why I push my individual coaching clients or consulting clients so hard on moving beyond one-word statements of their values.  Stating that we hold values of integrity, respect, transparency and so on needs to move beyond those basic and potentially powerful words to longer definitions and clear examples of what those values will mean in action, what is permissible and what actions and behaviors are out of bounds. Once those definitions are affirmed the proof really is in the pudding - is a leader or organization prepared to make a stand in service of those values?  To make the courageous and hard choices that demonstrate that these values mean something?

In the absence of committed leadership, founded on one's or an organization's well-developed values, the next wind will blow you in the next easiest direction.  You are no better off than those leaders who never believed in an exploration or declaration of powerful values.  Your glossy publication will gather just as much dust.

Leadership is a lonely venture, but in the end it IS all about leadership.

I end this particular post with a poem by Dylan Thomas which I have referenced before.  It speaks to me about being true to self, holding true to one's ideals, all in an effort to make a real difference in this world of ours.  For me, it is also a call to courageous leadership.  Choose to lead by your values and your terms.  There is a place and an organization calling for your talent and your leadership. 

Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. 

Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night. 

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. 

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Do not go gentle into that good night. 

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. 

And you, my father, there on the sad height, Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Greg Hadubiak, MHSA, FACHE, CEC, PCC
Executive Coach/Leadership Consultant
President & Co-Founder
BreakPoint Solutions

Helping leaders realize their strengths and enabling organizations to achieve their potential through the application of my leadership experience and coaching skills. I act as a point of leverage for my clients. I AM their Force Multiplier.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Endings...and Beginnings

This both is and is not a New Year's post.  So you can either relax or regret the narrative to come!

This post represents (another) new beginning for me.  And an end.  In early June 2012 I made my first venture into the blogosphere.  I had a lot of questions at the time.  Still do.  Back then there was a lot of uncertainty and anxiety in my life.  I had just been forcefully been "reintroduced to the marketplace" and effectively turned my back on a 25+ year leadership career in public sector healthcare.  I had opportunities to continue in my profession in the moment and in the months and years that followed.  At that stage, I'd like to be able to say that I was making choices with a clear and steady mind but it is much more truthful to acknowledge that I left embittered, jaded and cynical.

But I did indeed strike a new path.  I started to experiment.  Didn't know what it was to be a management consultant, nor did I even have coaching in my sights until later in 2012.  I look back now and honestly feel that I wandered rather aimlessly for much of 2012 and 2013 trying to figure what next and who I was.  And who I was going to be.

At this time I asked myself, "So why a blog about leadership?", "Why another leadership blog?", and "What more of value can I add to this subject that hasn't already been said?

Well coming up on 7 years of writing - and listening to others - I have found that the value in having a blog about leadership is that it has allowed me to "think out loud", engage with others, and build relationships in ways I never thought possible.  

When I first started writing I thought it took equal amounts of courage and arrogance to put my opinions and musings out into cyberspace.  Opening myself up for potential ridicule and criticism - "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt".  My hope was  that my perspectives would not be deemed foolish nor arrogant but rather helpful to leaders of all backgrounds and experience levels as they strove to make their mark.  

In those early days my vision and focus were rather limited.  At that point, I still carried my healthcare career with me and expected - and wanted to - carry on a conversation with like-minded individuals in healthcare only.  Since then, and because of the variety of my experiences in both the public and private sector, I have found that the leadership and human issues I so often help my clients through are more common than different across a variety of sectors.  

My fundamental motivation, however, has not changed - I have been and continue to be motivated to make a real and substantial difference in the lives of my fellow human beings.  Second, I believe in personal obligation to do my part to advance and support the quality of leadership as a critical lever in achieving organizational success and potential.  I bring a clear bias to this work in that I have a strong commitment and belief in the skills and abilities of those we lead (or purport to lead) and that the best means of unleashing their full potential is through effective and empowering leadership.  Finally, and certainly not least, I believe that all organizations can advance the quality and efficiency of their operations by simultaneously making a commitment to empowerment, continuous learning, and continuous improvement. 

So what's different going forward?  Well for one thing it won't just be my voice you hear in this blog any longer.  Rather you are going to be hearing from my BreakPoint Solutions partners and perhaps a few guest bloggers going forward.  So instead of hearing or being challenged by one lone voice with a few decades of leadership experience you will literally have the benefit of hearing from the a team of voices with many more decades (if not a couple of centuries) of experience.  

My hope is that you will still continue to engage in a conversation through this blog.  Your reaction and input has helped inform many posts over the past 6+ years.  The blog will likely continue to evolve, much like I have and much like BreakPoint Solutions has over the past year or so.  I believe it will still continue to be personal in nature, reflecting our lived experiences as leaders, coaches and consultants.  The blog will be a bit of everything because of that.  Reflecting our own continuous learning, our intention to be courageous for ourselves and our clients, and help us awaken to undreamt of possibilities.  

Ultimately, I hope that the blog will serve to support the work of other leaders.  I hope that it can be a starting point for many conversations with colleagues, friends and future acquaintances as we strive to make a difference in a variety of human endeavours.

Always an ending.  Always a beginning.  Be courageous, chart a vision, awaken to possibility.  Evolve.

Greg Hadubiak, MHSA, FACHE, CEC, PCC
Executive Coach/Leadership Consultant
President & Co-Founder
BreakPoint Solutions

Helping leaders realize their strengths and enabling organizations to achieve their potential through the application of my leadership experience and coaching skills. I act as a point of leverage for my clients. I AM their Force Multiplier.