Last night during his State of the Union address, President Obama spoke about the special forces who worked as a team to "take out" Osama Bin Laden. His point was that every member of the team was singly focused on successfully completing their dangerous mission. They relied on each other for communication, air cover, and support. When one of the rescue helicopters crashed, they didn't stop and point fingers and blame each other. They covered for each other. They helped each other up the stairs and made sure that every one got out alive. Every member of the team operated with mutual trust.
What follows are the three surefire steps:
In the past week, I have been repulsed by news of one of the biggest scams of all time. Bernard Madoff, head of Bernard L. Madoff Securities, allegedly conned scores of wealthy investors, lulled by promises of higher than average yearly returns. Madoff was the CEO of a company with over 200 employees. We don't yet have all of the facts. However, what is remarkable to me is that so many, including Madoff employees, did not question consistent financial returns that defy explanation. How could so many allegedly smart people believe that there are special algorithms that are immune from market forces? And how could so many ignore the red flags of a leader who became gruff and angry when questioned about his strategies?
When times are tough, it is human nature to batten down the hatches. However, when business is reduced to just a set of metrics and numbers without consideration to the human side of business, growth and productivity are unintentionally squelched. Several years ago some colleagues and I were making a sales pitch to the CEO of a large chemical manufacturing company set to make major large-scale change. We argued that there was a need to manage the human side of the change in order to get the desired return on investment. The CEO remarked that his employees would just have to "get over it." Fortunately, we were able to persuade the CEO and CFO that they could not afford to be distracted by employees who were not on board and aligned with the desired changes.