Would you like a slice of controversy pie? A lesson in how leaders call out leaders.
According to ESPN, the official pizza sponsor of the National Football League (NFL) is upset that the organization has yet to get their employees under control. "The NFL has hurt us," company founder and CEO John Schnatter said. "We are disappointed the NFL and its leadership did not resolve this (Rovell, 2017).” The pizza company has been hurt and the culprit is a lack of leadership. So, like a true leader the pizza chain mogul pulls out the strong arm of blame. As izvents readers (by the tens) will recall, we recognize blame (more) as a sign of true and enduring leadership. Blame is always a recipe for success and often an indication of a parties investment in finding a solution.
Tell us John, how do leaders respond to a lack of leadership? Oh, the answer is sternly worded statements. "Leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership," Schnatter said. Papa John’s has been the esteemed official sponsor of the NFL for the last two years, a position they earned by beating out the steep competition through valor, ethical behavior and a commitment to core values shared between the like hearted organizations. (Newsflash noises) This just in, our previous statement was in error, after much research we lament to inform our readers that the origins of their status as official pizza of the NFL was due to their financial investment in the organization and that alone.
Papa’s has an official relationship to the NFL and they have benefited for years from that connection, so much so that they are fearful that their recent profit declines will be ongoing if their partner doesn’t get it together and “nip things in the bud”. That sounds like teamwork, the definition of which is always having someone else to blame. Like the saying goes, when the pizza profits hit the fan, blame the NFL. You’re not supposed to quote yourself, but it seems appropriate to dust off an old saying – for as smart as you are, you sure are stupid (more).
Not the least of which to mention how socially tone deaf these statements come across. Rather than assist their partner in finding solution, Papa John’s takes a view above the fray and casts their stones into the mix. "We are disappointed the NFL did not resolve this." Yeah NFL, how come you haven't solved racial disparities in America? Oh wait...by "resolve this" we mean declining profits, not that we want America to fulfill "liberty & justice for all.
What is humorous is that in the battle of Papa John’s versus the National Football League, the person in a position of leadership for Papa’s notes a lack of leadership as the core of the issue. In doing so, like so many of us learning to live out leadership on the daily, John fails to recognize the void in his own leadership. In moments like these we need the words of the sage of inspirational leadership Michael Jackson, “I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways.” When faced with an issue, blame isolates us from those whom we could collaborate with to find a solution and conquer the situation. We could use less statements and more action. If a statement is warranted, it’s advisable to take a deep breath and a step back before going public as there are layers to everything.
Observations, 3 in jest and 3 that are rather practical:
Rovell, D. (Nov 1, 2017) Papa John’s says anthem protests are hurting deal with NFL. ESPN Retrieved from - http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/21250448/nfl-sponsor-papa-john-not-happy-anthem-protests
Originally published as Team Dynamics: When Smart People Act Stupid In Business, January 24, 2017 in Young, Fabulous and Self Employed (YFS).
By Jon Isaacson
Intelligence does not always translate into savvy — especially when it relates to interpersonal dynamics within a team.
As a leader or manager (or whatever crafty title you’ve come up with to make corralling employees sound less bureaucratic), understanding and succeeding with humans will always be an evolving process.
Too often, smart people act in very stupid ways when dealing with others.
As noted in his book, Organizational Physics: The Science of Growing a Business, Lex Sisney outlines that the principles of “survival of the fittest” (a phrase that originated from Darwinian theory) was not about being the strongest or the smartest, but about being the best able to adapt to a given environment.
Adaptation at its most primal level is about survival. We observe in nature and in business that it is not always the smartest or strongest or the fittest for the role that rise to the highest levels of leadership.
There is no executive level leader who has not risen in the ranks without earning it in some way. We may disagree with their qualifications, but someone at some level who had authority found them fit for the role.
If you live your life frustrated by who is in power you will always be in turmoil. To rail against the system in a manner that changes nothing and only makes you bitter is a recipe for an aneurysm.
If you don’t understand by now, power is not about being the strongest, smartest or even the most qualified. If you think this – for as smart as you are, you sure are stupid.
Power dynamics in business
Continuing with the things observed in nature that apply to business, let’s move from the macro observations of power dynamics into the individual level of dealing with those people in your immediate sphere of influence.
If you know someone that you consistently butt heads with and find yourself frustrated with how they interpret and act upon conversations, you must understand that a leopard doesn’t change its spots.
Often the schism is related to communication which requires listening, interpretation and implementation.
One’s ability to understand is impacted by perspective and it is a statistical improbability that any two persons share 100% perspective alignment so there will always be a level of variance between how two people interpret a situation or conversation.
You will not wake up tomorrow and somehow make a 180 degree turn in how you see the world; so don’t expect others to either.
Most interpersonal friction is related to an expectation that the other party can see things in the same way and will arrive at the same conclusion. If you expect this – for as smart as you are, you sure are stupid.
So, what do we do then?
Are you giving away your power?First, understand that you are a leopard and that everyone else is a leopard as well. A leopard will not change it’s spots. At a base level individuals are not going to drastically change from who they are, how they see the world and how they respond to their environment.
Understanding yourself as a leopard and those you interact with as leopards will not solve your conflicts, but it will at least provide some perspective on the expectations you place on those relationships.
Secondly, survival requires adaptation. If you are in a truly toxic environment the smartest thing to do is to find a new environment.
If you are in an environment that has it’s ups and downs, but overall is an area that you feel you can make a positive impact in, then you will need to learn to adapt. Learning the language, culture and dynamics of your chosen environment is essential to your ability to thrive in any situation.
No one takes your power, no one can squeeze the life out of you, you choose how you allow people and situations to impact you. Confidently be your leopard self, stop being so functionally stupid and start adapting to your environment.
Thirdly, there is value in utilizing some of the many frameworks available for understanding and gaining perspective on those around you. Whether you are experiencing conflict within your team or not, investing in personality profiles and related tools can help create pathways for common language in working together.
As mentioned above, in Organizational Physics, Lex Sisney proposes that people are producers, stabilizers, innovators and/or unifiers (PSIU). Understanding where your leopard lines up in the characteristics of PSIU will help you better recognize your motivations, needs and sources of conflict as well as those characteristics in others.
There is no simple fix to human interactions, leopards have been roaring, clawing and biting other leopards for ages. If you aren’t doing something intentional to better the situation – for as smart as you are, you sure are stupid.
Struggling with recruitment of new talent to strengthen your team?
Why do we keep going to the same well expecting it to no longer be dry?
Hiring from a short list within an industry bubble does not create a lot of room for introduction of new ideas, perspectives and strengths.
Read more on this topic, article HERE.
If you have found something to be true from your professional experiences and then find a respected publication that echoes those concepts, is this still confirmation bias?
The reason many industries fail to innovate or self-disrupt before it's too late is that they only look for industry insiders to add to their organizations. We want the books of business and the low hanging fruit of a professional who is ready to hit the streets from day one. Many leaders know from painful experience, hiring carry overs from a competitor carry their own challenges and/or baggage. Hiring from a short list within an industry bubble does not create a lot of room for introduction of new ideas, perspectives and strengths.
While I strongly believe that an organization should promote from within they also should be looking to extend their pursuit of quality individuals beyond the industry bubble. A company that spends all those resources to build a culture and a team that rallies around core values are too valuable to thin or disband through the lack of local progressive opportunities for people who have earned such through building the team. This commitment to internal growth does not mean that an organization should only build itself from those who are already versed in the field of operation.
I am glad to hear a respected publication promoting this idea of recruiting candidates who either have no direct experience or who may be a bit of a gamble as they are not industry versed prior to joining your team. Author and CEO/Founder, Liz Ryan shares this challenge and insight, "When you hire someone who lacks industry experience, it challenges you as a manager. You get to see your new hire encountering your world, and that is an instructive thing to experience. You have to train your newcomer differently. You have to ask and answer questions you may not have considered for years — or ever."
Too often we come to a point in our career where we are confident, if not comfortable, with what we know and we begin to first assume that everyone should know what we know (we got our elbows deep in the mud earning our experiences) and secondly that we forget to re-invest those nuggets of wisdom into our teams. We forget that it took many years for us to get where we are and we want immediate results from those who are working on our teams, we lose a bit of our patience when we lose our connection to the ground floor.
We want a mix of backgrounds, perspectives, ideas and strengths on our teams so that we will continue to challenge each other to be the best that we can be every day. Business is sport, its a competition against our opponents as much as it is against ourselves to not settle in the victories already won. Unfortunately, in the current climate you are either growing or you are dying, there are no other options.
So what do we do? Do we just hire the next ugly duckling that comes along and turn them into the star quarterback? That's not the concept as this should not be about bolstering our already inflated egos but rather a means to challenge and build our organization by infusing it with new perspectives, strengths and potential.
In our experience we believe the criterion has been fairly simple, is the candidate 1) honest, 2) hard working and 3) willing to learn? If they can bring these three character traits, items that we cannot give them, then we can train them to have the opportunity to be successful in our industry. Anymore we are looking for relevant as opposed to direct experience. Someone may not have the technical skills in our industry but if they have the work ethic, relational strengths, a track record of team building, or other strong qualities that will help our team, we want to bring them in. "You will shake up your own thinking," states Liz Ryan, "When you hire outside your industry -- and that may be the best gift of all!"
Liz Ryan - https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2017/09/24/five-reasons-to-hire-someone-with-no-industry-experience/#720b80656de3
More from izvents - Attracting Talent, What To Look For and Hiring, Three Character Keys.
Jon Isaacson. Green belt in the puzzle art of business. Helping people clarify their vision, optimize productivity & follow through w/ creative solutions #MTWSL
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