May 2011

RECRUITING IS BACK – ARE YOU READY? If you have anything to do with the assessment and selection of people who want to join your organization, you need to enroll in “Picking Winners and Keepers,” our blended learning, VILT (virtual instructor-led training) course focusing on in-depth, post-behavioral interviewing. If you ever . . .. . . have found yourself unable to make a confident hiring decision by the end of the selection process, or . . . been unsuccessful finding the right people to meet your current and future business needs, or . . . faced the cost and disruption of a mis-hire, or . . . ended up frustrated after a hiring interview because you felt you still didn’t know the candidate this unique interactive learning experience was created for you. The course features on-line self-study combined with instructor-led teleconferences, incorporating 1-on-1 accountability. Here’s some feedback from recent participants in the course – “Liked the format a lot – easy to follow and digest, sequential flow, great structure” “ Morrie’s content helped make uncovering a candidate’s relationship building skills a science” “Provided me with techniques to assess someone’s values match” “It really improved my focus in interviewing – provided structure without the loss of spontaneity” “Morrie gave me permission to go ‘off-script’ and really find out who the candidate is” The next course begins June 22nd – you can sign up at: http://performancecounts.com/programs.html
There are still a few spaces left for the Executive Education Seminar – “The Leadership Challenge,” that I’ll be teaching June 10-12 at the University of Montana. We have a fascinating and diverse group of people, from all over the country, and from a myriad of businesses and professions, already registered. You can register by emailing: Kathy.white@business.umt.edu Or you can call Kathy at 406.243.6715. You can get all the details on the seminar at www.business.umt.edu/leadership Two other bits of interest: The book that Arleah and I wrote on relationships – “Love in the Present Tense: How to Have a High Intimacy, Low Maintenance Marriage,” is now available in ebook format. This is the book for couples wanting to take their relationship to the next level; for couples pondering another commitment; and for young adults who don’t want to experience divorce. We want to thank all of you who have so enthusiastically supported the book, as well as our work with couples. Arleah has written a book of her own. It is tentatively titled – “Sharon’s Doll: My Journey Since The Death Of My Daughter.” It chronicles her recovery over a thirty plus year period, and her extensive work with hundreds of families who have lost children. She wrote it to help those whose lives have been indelibly altered by the most devastating loss imaginable. In the United States, every year, 1,600,000 children die. And that loss has a catastrophic impact on the survivors. The manuscript is out for review and publication, and we will keep you apprised of its status. Business: “What’s Your Interpersonal Impact?” There are a lot of things that business people learn about and focus on – management, sales, finances, succession. But it is rare for them to pay much attention to their interpersonal impact. What I mean by that is captured in a question that I often ask my clients: “After people meet you for the first time, what do they think about who you are, and how do they feel about you? Do they think you’re pretty smart; not so smart; pretty congenial and friendly; not so approachable; a real professional; or a rank amateur? And do they feel good and positive toward you, and look forward to getting to know you better? Or do they feel like there’s a huge impenetrable wall up that they could never surmount? I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, for a couple of reasons. First, because the most recent research on first impressions, is really sobering. According to a number of studies, you have around 118 seconds to make an impression and impact on another person. This applies to both personal and work relationships. That’s not a lot of time. And it certainly blows apart the old homily about how it takes a long time to get to know someone. In our culture, if it does take you a long time to get to know people, you probably won’t know many. You may dislike this shift in the culture at large, and certainly in the business environment, but not paying any attention to it, can limit your opportunities, and your adaptability to changing modes of communicating with people. Just look at what’s happened with webinars. We’ve discovered that most people lose interest in the typically structured webinar, in under a few minutes; and start fiddling with their favorite form of technology, or start daydreaming. The other reason I’ve been pondering this, springs from a recent encounter I had with a politician in one of our national bodies. We both spoke at a meeting and had some time to interact with each other. Most of the positions he takes I have no problem with. But as a person, I was very put-off and even repulsed. At this point in my life, I’m quite used to political superficiality (someone talking to you, while they’re sizing up the room with their eyes). But this fellow didn’t even make an effort to be superficial. And, in addition, everything about him, non-verbally, reeked of mean-spiritedness. So even though we may be strategically aligned, I wouldn’t vote for him if he were the only person running in a one candidate election. And the saddest thing is, that I’m fairly certain that he is clueless as to his impact on others. So, I have a question for you. “What do you want to accomplish when you meet with someone?” And I don’t mean, here, tactically or task-wise. I do mean, what kind of person-to-person bridge do you want to build, and what kind of feeling tone do you want to create? You’re already doing this unconsciously and automatically. What I’m suggesting, is that you take conscious charge of this process, identify exactly the impact you’re having on others, and ask yourself if that’s what you want to accomplish. If you’re unclear about the impact you have, ask the most significant people in your personal and work life – they’ll have no problem identifying what it is. If part of your work is developing other people, the greatest gift you can give them, is honest and direct feedback on how they impact you and how you feel about that impact. Nothing else will come close to the value of that kind of information, in helping them grow, develop, and succeed.
Political and Cultural Observations: “Obama and Usama” I couldn’t let a month go by without commenting on the killing of Usama bin Laden. I think we did exactly the right thing and I’m glad he’s dead. He was definitely in the same category of a Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin, and there’s not much more to say about him. I’m not at all sure, though, that his demise will have a significant effect on the war on terrorism. He was a pretty paltry and pathetic figure at the end of his life – sequestered in his bedroom, drinking Cokes and watching himself on TV. Not exactly the persona of the leader of a world-wide jihad against the West. There are, unfortunately, a plethora of lunatic fanatics still running around looking for opportunities to destroy themselves and others. And they don’t need any kind of figurehead to inspire them.I did have a stronger reaction to two other facets of bin Laden’s death. First, I was really put-off and disappointed in the street celebrations in our country, immediately following the announcement of his killing. If we want, as a culture, to distinguish ourselves from the Muslim fanaticism we see so often, on the “Arab street,” those celebrations were sure as hell no way to do it. This was not Mardi Gras or New Year’s Eve. It was a very necessary military operation to remove a hideous despot. I can’t, for the life of me, imagine what the celebrants were thinking and feeling, that lead them to create street parties. My reaction to bin Laden’s death involved a myriad of feelings, none of which induced me to celebrate and party. I felt a sense of vindication and justice delivered and a good healthy dose of revenge achieved. And I felt a profound sadness for friends and unknown thousands, who had to relive the horror of 9/11. Above all else, I felt a deep grief for all those lost and those left behind, in this senseless war with insanity and supreme irrationality. I know a number of Navy Seals, one of which trained many members of Team Six. They are true heroes, phenomenally trained and disciplined; who do a job that almost none of us would have the courage or wherewithal to do. People jumping around in the streets like a bunch of drunk party-goers, do not do justice to these heroes. My other reaction has to do with Obama’s decision to take out bin Laden in the manner in which he ordered it. The decision has a significance which, I believe, has not been fully noted. Employing Navy Seals, with clear orders to kill bin Laden, represents a major shift, on Obama’s part, from the rigid ideology of many of his advisors and a vocal segment of his political base. From the pure ideological perspective of the far left, a capture of bin Laden would have been their preferred solution. This would have allowed bin Laden to experience due process and preserve his constitutional rights. (I know, as I write this, how crazy this sounds, but this is actually a position taken by many folks – just consult the blog-a-sphere.) In fact, I’m still waiting for the ACLU to demand a trial, in absentia, for bin Laden. On the other hand, Obama could have simply ordered an airstrike to completely obliterate bin Laden’s compound. For another part of Obama’s base that would have been more palatable. In some strange way, for some folks, that seems less brutal and more “humane,” than putting a bullet in his head at close range. Both of these alternatives would have been ideologically more simpatico, but would also have been a propaganda bonanza for the Jihadists. Can you imagine the world-wide media circus that would have been catalyzed by parading bin Laden around in handcuffs? That would have certainly transformed a fading has-been, into a reborn martyr. The avoidance of these choices, and the decision to launch a lethal, surgical strike, signals, I believe, a very substantial move, on Obama’s part, toward leadership, and away from politics. Leadership is fundamentally about risk, and the courage it takes to deal with potential failure. This doesn’t make me anymore a fan of Obama’s, but it does indicate a maturing in a role that, until recently, has been so far over his head, that he’s been struggling to just hit the water line. (I know that this observation may not please partisans – on either side – but I have a greater fidelity to my values and my commitment to the truth, then I do to party politics.) I hope that this shift is indicative of more decisions, in the future, that reflect the true interests of our country, over the strident voices of ideologues. Personal: “Texas Children’s Hospital: The Courage of Kids” I seem to be having a number of life changing experiences these days. A few weeks ago, as part of getting feedback about Arleah’s book (mentioned above), we had a number of meetings with healthcare professionals who deal regularly with the death of children. We were in Houston, at the Texas Medical Center, doing some work with the staff at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. One of our meetings was at the Texas Children’s Hospital, and in particular, at a program that specifically dealt with childhood cancer. What we didn’t know, until we arrived for the meeting, was that the focus of this program, was on children diagnosed with terminal cancer. The director of the program was very gracious and informative, and told us a lot about how they treat the children, and how they help the families, both during the treatment process and after the children die. During this meeting I felt a heavy sadness, not knowing that this was simply a precursor to what I would soon experience. The director offered to take us on a tour of the facility, and show us every aspect of their program. We accepted her invitation, and began the tour. I cannot put into words, effectively, what it felt like to move through the facility and see what we saw. Everything there was child-centered. Open spaces, play areas, brightly colored, and a buzz with activity. The staff were amazing – upbeat, positive, involved whole-heartedly with the children and their parents. I was holding myself together pretty well, until we entered an area with a bunch of children assembled for a kind of learning activity. Until that point, we had pretty much walked past children and staff and not really focused on them. When we got to this area, time seemed to stop, and everything seemed to go into slow motion. I started to really look at the children, and what I saw hit me straight in the heart. Almost every one had a shaved head, and many had surgical scars running from one end of their head, to the other; like a horrific zipper. These were kids that were five, six, seven, maybe as old as ten or eleven years old. I was stunned at first, and then overwhelmed with sorrow. How could this happen – to so many children? We left this area – I was reeling at this point – and went to a smaller room. In this room, were three mothers with infants in their arms. The babies were receiving chemotherapy through IV’s in their legs. I don’t remember now, how long we stayed there, what I did, or exactly what I was feeling. Just a brief glance at those courageous mothers and their helpless babies was devastating. I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life. I can’t imagine what it would be like to hold my child in my arms, watching them endure pain, knowing that they were dying. Arleah and I left the Institute, and went downstairs to wait for our ride to the next meeting. We didn’t talk a lot. There was not much to say. We have certainly been through enough in our life to have some perspective on what’s really important, and what, in the long run, is inconsequential. And this experience certainly reinforced , and for me, took it to another level. I don’t believe, as I’ve written before, that I take any of the important relationships in my life for granted. Or that I feel sorry for myself for some of the losses and challenges we’ve faced. After this experience, I am more than ever grateful for the people in my life – for Arleah, our kids, our families, and our friends, and will cherish them forever. Morrie

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