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How to Defeat the ‘Fog of War’ in Business

February 7, 2015
The 'Fog of War' in Business

The ‘Fog of War’ in Business

There is a phenomenon in battle called the “fog of war’. What it means is when individuals who are fighting in a war perceive they are losing. They may act according to the perception and retreat when in fact the unit or army they are part of is winning the war. The fog of war creates a challenge for generals and their armies. If individuals and individual units feel they are losing from their perspective, they may give up which prolongs the victory. The same phenomenon can happen in business.

In our daily fight to be successful in our roles, we will have defeats. Perhaps we have a disagreement with a co-worker or supervisor. Perhaps we lose out on a sale we were expecting to win. Perhaps a client has a poor experience with our service or product, etc. Sometimes these events can cause us to think and feel our isolated experience is a sign of enterprise wide problems. This can cause discouragement and discontent with some members of our team and can spread to others.

I have fought feelings of discouragement many times. I have experienced personal losses in a business sense and was tempted to think, we must be ‘losing the war’ as a company and maybe I should give up or move on. I also know from experience and from our training, we get what we focus on. We will find evidence of our predominant thoughts. When I focused on challenges and failings, I would feel discouraged and questioned whether we could achieve our goals. Conversely, I began to focus my thoughts and energy around the successful outcomes I desired, my results inevitably changed and my perception of where we were as a company changed. That perception increased my confidence and satisfaction with my company.

The ‘fog of war’ in my experience seemed to happen when our business was in what Bruce Tuckman called the storming phase of team development.  Tuckman proposed his model of team development called forming, storming, norming and performing in 1965. Forming is where we set goals. This can happen at when a company is new or when changes occur. It can happen when we lose or add new people. Storming is where we feel comfortable enough with each other to express discontent and challenge each other. It can be uncomfortable and unpleasant. Norming is where we start to give up our own personal crusades and agree with others to make the team function. This phase is not about avoiding conflict, it is about coming together. The final phase, performing is where the team is achieving goals and things are running smoothly. A company can be in one of the four phases as whole and individual teams may be at different phases. Individuals on teams can be at different phases as well.

It is easy for employees who are in the storming phase to experience the ‘fog of war’ phenomenon. If a team or company stays there for a prolonged period, they have a greater of not emerging this phase leading to business failure. If you are a leader of a company or team in the storming phase, have hope. Most companies go through similar phases. The following suggestions can help shorten the storming phase and remind team members that even though they may experience setbacks from time to time, they will ultimately succeed.

Emerging From the 'Fog of War'

Emerging From the ‘Fog of War’

  1. Let your team members know that the challenges of this phase are temporary. Educate your team that all companies go through similar phases. Just naming this phase of team development will help give the team hope things will get better keeping the, positively engaged.
  2. Keep your team focused on positive outcomes desired. It is easy to get fixated on failures. Remember, we tend to manifest the results of our predominant thoughts. Keeping the team focused on positive outcomes will help dissipate negative energy.
  3. Make sure you as the leader and your team leaders model the attitude that the team will emerge victorious. Team members must be able to look to the leadership for how to act in times of challenge and difficulty. A negative team leader will multiply the ‘fog of war’ dynamics if not addressed by discipline or replacement.

    Leadership Must Model Behavior Which Guides the Team Forward

    Leadership Must Model Behavior Which Guides the Team Forward

  4. Show your team you have faith in them. Team members can lose hope and exhibit behaviors that hurt the team. Let them know they are a valued member of the team. Help them understand the impact of their performance and behavior on the success of the team.
  5. Encourage the team by sharing any team successes no matter how small. Celebrating successes will lift morale and give hope the team and organization is moving in the right direction.
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Cure for the CEO Disease

January 30, 2015

Do you know a CEO or top executive that is unaware of their impact or overestimates their abilities? Leaders who are out of touch with the truth about how they “show up” is all too common. This phenomenon is what Daniel Goleman calls the “CEO disease”. Goleman reports…”the higher up the ladder a leader climbs, the less accurate his self-assessment is likely to be.” (Primal Leadership, Pg. 92, Daniel Goleman (2002)).  The problem is that as a leader climbs the organization, the less feedback he or she receives. According to James Conway and Allen Huffcutt, who analyzed 177 separate studies that assessed more than 28,000 managers, found these managers were not receiving consistent feedback on their performance. The lack of feedback problem is reported to be more acute for leaders who are women or belong toCEO Photo a minority. (See Peggy Stuart, “What Does the Glass Ceiling Cost You?” Personnel Journal 71, no. 11 (1992): 70-80).

The predominance of the CEO disease has a large negative impact on cultures of businesses all over the world. When leaders drive negative emotions within their organization, they erode the foundation of a culture that enables people to excel. Leaders who are aware of their impact and work to drive positive emotions will conversely strengthen the culture that enables people to excel.

Four steps to cure the CEO disease:

  1. Recognize that you can change. Many leaders have the mistaken opinion that they need to be accepted for who they are, because after years of habits and behavior they can’t change. The latest neuroscience has destroyed the myth that we can’t change. We maintain neuroplasticity until we die, meaning, we can make changes to how we think and behave. American author and futurist, Alvin Toffler, says “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
  2. Create an environment where it is safe to give and receive feedback. Some people fail to give feedback because they fear punishment or the leader’s wrath if they dissent. Some only give positive feedback because they do not want to be labeled negative or going against the party line. Some are afraid to give feedback because they don’t want to upset others or hurt their feelings. By creating this environment, CEO’s and managers will get a more accurate finger on the pulse of their organization. Understand that all feedback you receive is subjective. Each leader gets to determine what to do with the feedback they receive. Knowing what people really think is always better than ignorance.
  3. Be willing to take a 100% honest look at yourself. Many executives work with coaches to improve their self-awareness. Consider participating in a 360 review. This can provide a valuable roadmap for behavior change. Work with great training and development organizations who will provide you with a safe environment to strengthen your leadership competencies. These environments should push you out of your comfort zone to learn and grow. When we are out of comfort zone, our most challenging leadership behaviors surface and a skilled facilitator will help accelerate awareness and behavior change.
  4. Recognize the process of becoming an effective leader is a lifelong pursuit. Even the most effective leaders recognize they can make improvements. For the best leaders, making minor adjustments and behavior improvements sets a powerful example for the team and will pay dividends on the emotional and cultural health of the organization which will translate to better financial results.

For more information on how to cure your CEO disease, call a Leadership Training Adviser at Rapport Leadership today 800-989-0715

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Look Ahead

April 21, 2014

A little over two years ago, I began mountain biking. What began, as an activity to replace playing basketball when my knees began causing me problems, has become a passion that I can’t seem to get enough of. In addition to the health benefits and the low impact on my knees, I love the many challenges the sport has to offer. One of the challenges of riding off road trails is effectively negotiating all the obstacles. This requires riders to look ahead.

I have learned from experience that when I look back while riding, even for a moment, I almost always go off the trail. When I look ahead, I am able to see and avoid obstacles. Looking ahead works best when you look where you want to go. I also notice when I look ahead and I focus on the obstacles instead of where I want to go, I often run into those obstacles.

Looking ahead applies to life as well as mountain biking. As we look ahead and focus where we want to go, we have a much better chance of achieving our desired outcomes and goals. There are reasons to look back while riding and in life. I look back when riding to know if another rider is coming up behind and wants to pass. This must be done very briefly to avoid crashing. Another reason to look back is to compare current times with past times to measure improvement.
Mountain Bike CrashMountain Biking

Out of six of our 2.5 day intensive leadership classes, we have only one class that looks back. All the other classes are focused on looking ahead. When a student brings up challenges of the past, the trainers ask, “What will you do differently?” They ask the student to look ahead and to focus on desired results. In our Power Communication class we encourage the student to look back for a brief moment for one purpose, to help the student look ahead.

Let us look ahead to individual and organizational success. Look for the outcomes you wish to achieve. There are and will be obstacles to overcome. Keep your eye on your goal. Look back to measure your growth. If you find you are hitting obstacles and going off the trail, refocus and look ahead.

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10 Stress Reducing Habits

February 12, 2013

Healthy habits can protect you from the harmful effects of stress. Here are 10 positive healthy habits you may want to develop.

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  1. Talk with family and friends.
    A daily dose of friendship is great medicine. Call or write your friends and family to share your feelings, hopes and joys.
  2. Engage in daily physical activity.
    Regular physical activity relieves mental and physical tension. Physically active adults have lower risk of depression and loss of mental functioning. Physical activity can be a great source of pleasure, too. Try walking, swimming, biking or dancing every day.
  3. Accept the things you cannot change.
    Don’t say, “I’m too old.” You can still learn new things, work toward a goal, love and help others.
  4. Remember to laugh.
    Laughter makes you feel good. Don’t be afraid to laugh out loud at a joke, a funny movie or a comic strip, even when you’re alone.
  5. Give up the bad habits.
    Too much alcohol, cigarettes or caffeine can increase stress. If you smoke, decide to quit now.
  6. Slow down.
    Try to “pace” instead of “race.” Plan ahead and allow enough time to get the most important things done.
  7. Get enough sleep.
    Try to get six to eight hours of sleep each night. If you can’t sleep, take steps to help reduce stress and depression. Physical activity also may improve the quality of sleep.
  8. Get organized.
    Use “to do” lists to help you focus on your most important tasks. Approach big tasks one step at a time. For example, start by organizing just one part of your life — your car, desk, kitchen, closet, cupboard or drawer.
  9. Practice giving back.
    Volunteer your time or return a favor to a friend. Helping others helps you.
  10. Try not to worry. The world won’t end if your grass isn’t mowed or your kitchen isn’t cleaned. You may need to do these things, but today might not be the right time.
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Change Your Altitude

December 10, 2012

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Imagine flying in a balloon and looking at yourself and your situation from a higher altitude.

 

An intelligent and motivated executive may be negatively impacting their co-workers without realizing it. A small business owner may have a vision of what is possible; they invest countless hours and energy to achieve their vision, along the way that vision may get clouded in the din of day to day operations. In both cases, a different perspective can be very effective.

 

This lack of clarity may cause the impact of your actions to not be aligned with your intentions. According to a 2010 study, “senior leader reputation can drive employee commitment by as much as 41%.”

 

In these cases it is helpful to partner with someone who can help us see more clearly.  A trusted adviser or coach can work with you to change your perspective. Executive coaches use a process to help you take an elevated view of things. A skilled coach can help you see with your mind’s eye, your interactions at work or in your personal life. With practice you will be able to adjust your approach to bring your behavior in alignment with your intentions. 

 

In addition to working with a coach there are others ways to change the altitude of your perspective. One highly effective way to get an elevated view of your reputation and to see things more clearly is through a 360 evaluation. This formal process allows you to compare your perspective of your reputation and compare it to up 16 other people. You may choose from among direct reports, peers, family members and more.

 

A less formal method of seeing yourself and your situations more clearly is from trusted and honest advisers. Work with people who know you well and ask them to lend their unbiased feedback.

 

Executives will benefit from taking time to gauge the impact they are having within the organization. Working with a coach or trusted adviser will provide the change in altitude necessary improve your results and will help you be more effective in whatever role you are in.

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The 5 Things You Can Do to Lower Your 2012 Business Taxes

December 10, 2012

Spencer Horn:

Scott is an exceptional tax adviser. I highly recommend him!

Originally posted on Scott W. Taylor, CPA:

The sun is setting on the 2012 tax year and there are many changes to the tax code on the horizon. Business owners all across the country should be aware of the changes that lie ahead. This is not the year to sit on the fence about tax decisions.  Taxpayers should coordinate their tax planning immediately with a tax advisor to plan for the new tax laws that are going into effect or not being extended from 2012. There will be a lot of surprises if taxpayers don’t plan appropriately for their respective circumstances. There are five points in particular that I am advising clients to consider as we go into 2013, with expected uncertainty and change that is pending:

  1. One of the surprises for taxpayers is the drastic changes to Internal Revenue Code 179 deductions related to property, equipment and improvements placed in service for businesses.  Deduction levels are…

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Remember that overnight success usually

September 10, 2012

Remember that overnight success usually takes about fifteen years. -Anonymous

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