Podcast

Executive Leadership Podcast #18: Leading When Times Are Good

We often hear about leadership being made in tough times. But what about when times are good? When goals are being met and targets are being hit, it’s our natural tendency to back off and slow down. In Episode of 18 of our Executive Leadership Podcast, we’ll share tips for making sure momentum stays where it’s at and business continues to stay on track in both good times and bad.

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Read the transcript below:

Welcome to the John Maxwell Company Executive Leadership Podcast where our goal is to help you increase your level of influence, increase your reputation as a leader, and increase your ability to fully engage your team to drive remarkable results. Hi, I’m Perry Holley, a John Maxwell Company facilitator and coach and I’m Chris Goede, Vice President of The John Maxwell Company. Welcome and thank you for joining.

Today’s topic is “Leading When Times are Good.” Perry, this is interesting and I even mentioned to you, wow, we often hear about people talking about leadership is made in the tough times, and so this title really intrigued me and I know that it really came up from a coaching call that you had with one of the clients that we help at the John Maxwell Company. Tell me a little bit about that and how he even got to the point where we came up with leading when times are good.

Yeah, it was funny. I ask the coachee and our monthly call. I said, how’s business? He said, never better. I said, how’s the team? He goes, we’ve got some challenges. I said, what? And as we work through the challenges, it occurred to me, and I started writing notes and I actually wrote an article on this to blog about was, you know, we always say, like you said, it takes a captain on the steer, a ship on storm. Anybody can steer a ship on calm seas, it takes a leader to steer a ship on rough seas. Well, what I’m learning is it really takes a captain on calm seas as well because what I learned is when things are going good, when the goals are being met, when the targets are being hit, our natural human tendency is to say, I did it and we back off. We slow down. You can use the word complacency. Sometimes pops in. It doesn’t have to be as bad as complacent. We just back off. And I wonder if you’ve seen something similar.

Well, absolutely. And really what we’re talking about here today is around Level 3 influence. And how as a leader do we continue to have influence at Level 3 where people are continuing to have reasons to want to follow us and we’re continuing to produce in the good times and bad times. Which leads back to what John says. Everything rises and falls on leadership. So to your point, it is about that captain. What’s interesting is, and I think that this was ingrained into me, again, you can obviously just tell from the podcast and my story and journey. I’m very influenced by John. He said something that he tends to take things and make them very simple, right?

Which works for me as a former football player I can actually kind of comprehend it. He said to us one time, he said, I’ll never understand why when things are going really, really well, times are good, people take vacations. And I thought, wow. Yeah. He goes, man, when things aren’t going right and you can’t do anything right and this and I go take a vacation. When things are going well, as a leader, what you need to be doing as you need to be being aggressive, you need to continue to innovate, you need to continue to adjust and to empower your team and continue to, you know, he used the gas pedal man, keep it floored. And Oh, by the way, when things aren’t going well, I have no problem with you taking a vacation, right? Or taking some time off. So with a leader, when we make sure that good times don’t derail you, your great efforts to get. So, Perry, I had this question for you, as we transition here, what can a leader do to make sure that good times don’t derail your great efforts that got you there?

Yeah. So I’m thinking about it and came up with four or five ideas there. And number one. And, we teach this in 5 Levels quite a bit at Level 3, as you said, his vision, I’m all about making the goal. I’m all about making the milestone, but if, if the team thinks or if you think even worse, if the team thinks that we have made it, then, then there’s easy to back off. But if they think, if they really understand, it’s just a milestone along a longer journey that we continue to cast the vision every chance we get that we’re always, the destination has not been reached that were in the journey. But we’re doing well. We’re we’re making progress. We’re hitting those key performance indicators. However, there’s, there’s further to go and I think people back off if they don’t know, they think we’ve arrived when we really are just on the journey.

Yeah, I agree. And one of the other things I would add to that thought is, I was reading a statistic and they interviewed 40,000 different team members from different industries and what was interesting was that 85 percent of them could not name the top three or four objectives of the organization. And so that got me thinking like that’s going to happen. when times are bad, John says it’s a great exaggerator momentum or when things are well going well, business is going well, profits are up, all those things are up. And so when I thought about that, I thought, man, that is right there. We need to make sure that as leaders we continue to focus on what we and what our team do really, really well and continue to make sure that that aligns with where the organization is going so that they can, you know, snap of a hat name the top three objectives of the organization. And the last thing I’ll say here is, is if there was no need for change, I think this is a great comment. There’s probably no need for you. You can tweet that Perry Holley Yeah, no need for change or no need for you or the John Maxwell Company, Perry, Holley. And so man like that, that, that is so true. If that’s the case, there would need to be a captain of the boat on good times. Right? And so that is not the case.

Another one that I was thinking of was, making sure you and the team continually do your daily disciplines. What I find me personally, this is my personal life, leading me is I have a certain routine, a morning routine or a set things I do to get my reading in and get my development in into and then with my job to do the daily things that I know are required to get me where I’m going and I take weight loss. We’re trying to, trying to get in shape and you’re losing weight and I had a goal, hit the goal and wants to go good and feel good and get up the next morning and break the routine, start to do the bad habits. Why would you do that? That’s just human nature that does that. I said even when I hit the goal is now vision, vision, vision. What’s the next goal? And then go to the neck. And now I keep going, keep doing the daily disciplines of success.

My, my wife calls that, Chris, weight loss, yoyo. You get to a point to where you feel good about that. It’s interesting you say that because with my kids, I say this a lot, small things lead to big things and I think at times when things are going well for our team, our leadership, our organization, if we’re not careful, we’ll take our eyes, will lose focus off of those small things. John and the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership talks about the law scoreboard. And what’s interesting about this as he uses a lot of athletic illustrations, and I started thinking about this as I was preparing and I thought, man, I’m a huge sports fan. I know you are as well. Probably a lot of our listeners in every sport, there’s a scoreboard, right? And so as leaders and as organizations both when times are not going well but are going well, we need to make sure that we are continuing to have a scoreboard in front of the team continuing like I talked about, to push them, to engage them, to innovate, to change why things are going well. And I just thought about that. It’s like, man, so many organizations, they just don’t have scoreboards and if they do have scoreboards, maybe they’re not measuring the right things. Maybe they’re not to your point, measuring those small things and here’s what’s going to happen. If you don’t have it and things are going well, you’re never going to begin to see the shift happen and you’re not going to be able to make an adjustment time. And before you know it, you’re going to be like, wow, I went from being this incredible leader to. I can’t lead anything. And so I would just encourage you to make sure that you are tracking what matters. Track the right things, track the progress, and not just the end result of look at our numbers this month. They look great, or look at the impact we’re having on people. That is great. Like one of those small things that lead to those big things.

But it’s so true and it’s fun for me, especially as I’m and I had this little mantra that I have written about and I can remind myself small things done daily consistently over time, remarkable results. And that we all were really good at studies leaders, especially setting really big audacious goals. Yeah. The problem is it’s easy to not feel like I have time today or it’s too hard, or I’ll do it tomorrow. Or if I had a small goal, John actually teaches a concept called irreducible minimum. What’s the least you could do that cannot be reduced that you have to do? But there’s a key word at the end. Everybody’s, I can do that. I said, well, there’s one more word every day. Yeah. And well, what do you mean by everyday? Everyday. And that’s what we started to break down on. So if you track it for me, I find that I can easily fooled myself. Going back to the weight loss, yoyo is my brother asked me, how much weight have you lost? I said 60 pounds. Wow, that’s a lot. Well, I lost 30 of it twice because I got there that I put it back on. I’m going to use that. I’m doing really well. It’s just,  I’m yo-yoing. Like you said.

Well, you know, one other thing when we talk about this and we talk about keeping the team focused and we talk about measuring one of the things that I’ve seen work successfully in making sure that momentum stays where it’s at and the business continues to stay on track during good times is collaboration.

A lot of times when we have problems or when the seas are rough, we go, man, we need everybody to come in here. How are we going to fix this, right? But when we’re by ourselves or when things are going well and we’re like, we’re good, we got that. You got to be. I got this. And so one of the things I’ve seen work really well is from a collaboration standpoint is with the team asks the question, what should we be measuring? Are we measuring the right things? Are we tracking the right things? You know, what are we not tracking that we should be tracking? And the other thing is that in our team at the John Maxwell Company, one of the things that we do, and we learned this a couple of years ago, we call it triads and it’s where if I have an idea, if I have a thought, if I have whatever or a team member does, we go when we get two other people, maybe even from different departments, maybe from the sales department and marketing, whatever. And we say, here’s an idea, what do you think about this? Or Hey, I’m concerned about this or, and then you just do a little stand up quick try just to make sure everybody’s mind staying sharp and you’re thinking about different ideas. And so, we just use this little term called triads, periodically and our team to make sure that we’re not getting stale even when the times are good.

Yeah. And John says, all of us are smarter than one of us. It just helps me to get out of my own head and like the collaborate. Also find a, I think this might be the fifth one for me was celebration. You know, it’s hard to, especially in tough times, it’s hard to remember to celebrate small victories, but in good times, you do want to the milestones. It doesn’t have to be you know, an offsite, a barbecue lunch for everybody, but it could be small celebrations along the way to help celebrate the small wins so that it’s a great time to remind them this is a small win.

There’s not the, we’re not there, we’re still got places to go, but a celebration seems to be overlooked sometimes. And I like it myself because it, it gives me a little points along the way to stay connected with the journey. It allows you to, at times like that, communicate and restate the vision to continue to establish energy around what you’re doing. John’s really good at this and this is kind of a model that I’ve grown up with in our organization. What’s when I say good at it, I kind of chuckle and thinking about preparing for this and how he has lived this out. Because here’s what I would encourage you to celebrate the small wins like you said, but celebrate them quickly, meaning right after the win, right? Don’t, don’t have a team or something to achieve something that you guys set out on the scoreboard or a goal in and say, we’re going to celebrate that next month. Like figure out how to get it done within that week or the next week. And why I chuckle is because I can think back of all these little celebrations in two point. They don’t have to be big, right? They could be box lunches for everybody in whatever, anything. I think back about some of the celebrations that we’ve had and they’ve been dinners that I’ve been lunches or they been, hey, here’s a gift card, man. We hit this goal or whatever. And he quickly goes straight into now put your seatbelt on because here’s what we’re here to do. Here’s our vision. This is what we’re challenging to do. This is where we’re going. And before you know it, you, you leave the meeting and you forgot the fact that you were there celebrating something and you began to get recharged. And so, just make sure that you acknowledge small wins, celebrate them quickly after accomplishing them and don’t miss the opportunity even when the times are good to recast that vision and to reestablish additional energy on top of that the team already has.

Well, the five that we talked about were vision, vision, vision. Do the daily disciplines track what matters, collaborate and celebrate as you wrap it up because it’s how can you encourage our team, even if times are good and they are right now in most of the world, they armies are booming and the businesses there, it’s always challenges, but there’s really an comparison is really a good time. How would you encourage our listeners?

I think my biggest encouragement for you would be two things. One was the last point that I just talked about, celebration. They don’t have to be over the top. Make them small, do them quickly after accomplishing the goal and don’t miss the opportunity to let the team know that they need to tighten the seatbelt because use it to recast the vision, the energy where we’re going. Continue to build on that momentum I talked earlier about, I think now’s the time to continue to push and innovate and think, and then my last challenge for you is around the scoreboard. The law of scoreboard continued to ask the team even in good times, are we measuring the right thing because here’s why that’s so important. Number one, are you measuring? And then are we measuring the right thing? Because as, as an organization, as a leader, and I use the example of maybe we’ve been shared and on this podcast before, if you’re on a plane and your coordinates are just a hair off and you leave LA and you’re headed to Atlanta, you know by the time you get to the Midwest, you may think a little bit about we’re not going to the right, but by the time you get to Atlanta, you could end up landing in Orlando. And so if you’re not tracking, you’re not measuring the right things, you may not be able to adjust the right time to be able to build off that momentum. So those would be my two things.

Well, that’s great stuff. Thank you for sharing that and just as a reminder to our listeners, if you’d like to learn more about the 5 Levels of Leadership or perhaps bring a 5 Levels workshop to your organization, please go to a JohnMaxwellCompany.com/podcasts. You can leave a comment for us there. You can ask a question there and also just reminding you that if you want to know more, if you’re not clear on all the 5 Levels, Episode 1 of this podcast series is a a a full explanation. Chris takes us through the 5 Levels. So, thank you for joining. This has been the John Maxwell Company Executive Leadership Podcast.