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    Leadership & Team Advisor

    Improving Leadership ROI through daily leadership and team development practices. Mark McCatty, Inc - Leadership & Team Advisor

    Practices of Authentic Leadership

    By, Mark McCatty, Leadership & Team Advisor with Mark McCatty, Inc. Authentic leadership describes the character and intentions of the leader. These traits compel the leader to work to remove obstacles – not impede progress – for those who trying to accomplish the vision. They engender feelings of comfort and competence from those that are lead. These leaders help others see what is possible.

    Leaders that lead intentionally and with authenticity have a sense of purpose that extends beyond their own person benefits. These leaders build positive relationships and connect with others. They lead from their heart and operate with the right motives. They have a clear understanding of their values and they discipline themselves to hold to these values.

    Sense of Purpose

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    A Leader's Role in a Healthy Organization

    As was stated in a previous post – An organization that sustains success is one that has 2 critical elements. The organization is smart and it is healthy.

    The leadership of an organization has four primary responsibilities regarding the development of organizational health; the ability of the organization to grow, and sustain that growth. Those four responsibilities for organizational leaders are: Inspire; Innovate; Collaborate; and Execute.

    It is not the leader’s role to fulfill each of these responsibilities personally. Rather, the leader must develop a climate that nurtures and encourages these characteristics in the culture of the organization.

    To inspire the leader must work to motivate and excite others to take action for common purpose, model positive leadership by treating others with respect, and by coaching and developing others. To innovate the leader must generate and support innovative ideas, encourages calculated risk-taking, and foster and encourage innovation. For collaboration a leader must act for the good of the organization, collaborate with others across the organization, and be a team player. To execute the leader must possess an orientation for results and promote the health of the organization.

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    SCRUM Can Get it Done

    What is the SCRUM Methodology?

    SCRUM is a popular agile methodology that helps organizations manage a project faster and more effectively. SCRUM is sometimes referred to as agile project management because it provides an adaptive, flexible framework designed to deliver working products in incremental steps throughout the project.

    The project is divided into a series of concentrated work cycles, called “sprints,” in which the project team works on a set of features from idea to implementation; these features are then integrated into the developing project.

    Why SCRUM Works

    Although SCRUM is often used to deliver software, the agile SCRUM framework is structured in such a way that it provides effective results within all projects and industries.

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    The Challenge for Change Remains the Same

    I was speaking with a group of non-profit leaders recently and we had a very interesting conversation about organizational change. From our discussions I learned that non-profit organizations have the very same struggles that other organizations have. These leaders shared some frustration with the fact that there is some hesitation to accept and adopt to change, even among those we would call engaged employees. This is the same frustrations I’ve heard for years  from leaders in manufacturing, financial institutions, and higher education/university work environments.

    There are two types of change that organizations deal with. The two types of change are planned change and emergent change. Planned change is top-down and mainly driven by management. While emergent change is bottom-up and comes mostly from employee levels.

    Planned change is compelled by a business need that the management structure observes. The management group decides that a change is required to support business values. These business values may be related to safety, productivity, customer satisfaction, quality, or budget/profit. The expectation is that the decided change must be implemented in order to achieve the desired positive outcome goals for the organization. The desire of management is that those responsible for implementing the change will understand, accept, and be fully devoted to carry-out the change initiative.

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    Health is Important to Culture

    Health is Important to Organizations, Too

    An organization that sustains success is one that has 2 critical elements. The organization is smart and it is healthy.

    To say an organization is smart refers to the competence in functional/technical areas.  The organization performs well strategically, financially, in marketing, and technology. To sustain the success an organization must also be healthy.

    Health [for an organization] refers to the ability of people within the organization to learn from each other, identify critical issues within the organization, assess risks appropriately, take initiative, and recover from past mistakes.

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    Effective Performance Management

    Some managers believe that they must be a ruthless manager. These ruthless managers operate with a theory X [Douglas McGregor] management philosophy. They use an extrinsic [carrot and sticks] approach to getting others to do their bidding. These ruthless managers believe that anything else would be wreckless; and would mean allowing employees to do whatever they want. This would result in failure.

    Allowing employees, who may not have the company’s best interest in mind; to do whatever they want would be wreckless. Even the best intentioned employees, who may not know what’s best for the company, can make poor choices if left on their own. Being wreckless also results in failure.

    That’s why the better choice for managers to use when leading others is rigorous. Rigorous involves having clear goals, objectives, and boundaries. And rigorous management ensures that these are all clearly and thoroughly communicated. Rigorous management allows for true commitment and knowledgeable empowerment from dedicated employees.

    Image result for keys to success

    Keys to Successful Performance Management

    Clarity: an important element is clarity. Managers need employees to be the best at what matters most. Employees need to understand exactly what is most important. Lack of clarity around goals/priorities and roles/responsibilities are common dysfunctions. Mixed messages around priorities is a common cause for failure.

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    Community in a Healthy Culture

    Every organization has 5 primary goals: to produce a product [or service], safely, with quality, creating customer satisfaction, and with a profit [or within budget]. The ability to accomplish these objectives consistently and intentionally occurs because the organization is technically “smart” and socially “healthy”. [I work with organizations to develop these outcomes.] A positive culture, with community, allows for the presence of organization health.  When people are working together in community there is a greater opportunity for the organization to reach its goals and objectives. In the absence of this community there is unpredictability and failure; culture eats strategy for lunch.

    Without a community of people working together people can easily become cynical and disengaged. Good community allows for a safer environment where people are watching out for others. Good community creates cohesiveness and makes it easier to tackle hard tasks without getting too fatigued.

    Case Example: Two operators where working together [at different times] on a single piece of equipment. The second operator was removing the cover on the equipment to access the interior compartment for maintenance. 

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    The Slower Pace of Change

    A frequent conversation with managers recently is that of dealing with change. There is a great deal of frustration among organizational leaders, and money wasted by these organizations when implementing good, well-meaning change. Yet it seems that even when the change is clearly beneficial – like keeping employees safer – there is still a significant force of resistance to accepting and implementing the new changes.

    Rhetorical question: Why would someone refuse to follow rules that will keep them safer?


    What we know about change is that somebody will resist it.

    ~Mark McCatty

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    Leaders Lead Change

    In Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek writes about David Marquet, the former captain of the USS Santa Fe, a Los Angeles-class submarine. Marquet, who was new to the USS Santa Fe, gave an order to The Officer of the Deck that could not have been fulfilled. The Officer of the Deck, who had over two years of experience, passed the order on without question. Marquet asked the Officer of the Deck if he knew there was a problem fulfilling the order he gave. “Yes, sir,” he replied. “Then why did you issue the order?” Marquet asked. “Because you told me to.”

    In his book Turn the Ship Around!, Marquet documents how he overcame the problem of unquestioned compliance. He started by changing a “culture of permission to a culture of intent.” “Don’t give instructions,” Marquet says. “Give intent.” He replaced “Sir, request permission to submerge the ship,” with “Sir, I intend to submerge the ship.” The subtle but significant shift was crucial. By putting the crew in control, the Santa Fe became the best-rated crew in Navy history. “[They were] trained for critical thinking, and not compliance,” Marquet remarks.

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    Team Warfare

    Team Warfare: Good teams fight together: Not with each other!

    Here is a wonderfully good example.  A group of US Marines were attending a military training. During their recreational time they went to a paintball range to enjoy some downtime fun. If you have ever been to a range like [http://www.paintball-junglegames.com] you know that there are several fields of battle to choose from. Participants informally group together to challenge other teams on one of these fields of battle. These Marines formed their own team and defeated every challenger. It was amazing to watch.

    Image result for USMC warfare

    Although there was no one main leader for the group each Marine shared common experiences, had an understanding of common tactics, and held common values. And they all were focused on a common goal. With no formal leader each Marine took control, as appropriate for the situation, and made decisions based on their situational awareness. Their success, as a group stemmed from their willingness to support each other’s leadership.

    Alignment versus conflict. As you can imagine, the civilian opponents failed. Their failure was not so much for their lack of military training as much as their inability to share leadership. There was more conflict and confusion on the civilian team because of the second guessing and delayed implementation.

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    Safety Leadership; Leading the Way

    Safety incident example:

    • Incident: Rupert, a plant mechanic twisted and broke his ankle while completing the task of hanging pipe below the in-pit-crusher.
    • Investigation results: Employee was negligent. Rupert was rushing through his tasks, and was not being careful. When moving from his ladder he inadvertently stepped on loose pipe that was on the ground.

    It is not uncommon to hear managers and supervisors describe a situation such as this as an example of poor performance. They would describe Rupert as negligent, unmotivated, and in need of discipline [for his poor behavior], believing that the act of discipline would correct his “attitude” and change his future behaviors.

    When employees err [and they will make errors] how the organization responds will determine the likelihood for future similar events. Leaders can establish either a “prevent” or a “punish” safety environment.



    Punishment by itself, as a response may discourage self-acknowledgement of error. When punishment is combined with extrinsic [reward/punishment] there is a tendency withhold anything that would cause a loss of reward [or would engage punishment triggers]. This means that the organization has less knowledge about reality and is less able to learn from past events. As a result, the organization is less likely to actively engage resources to prevent repetitive incidents from occurring.

    Let’s take another look at our safety incident example.

    Detail: It is a long walk down the conveyor belt to access the work area.  Rupert leaned several of the pipe segments against the wall where they were to be installed.  He them began installing them on the wall connecting each section to the other.  The pipe was to be installed high enough to require a ladder during the pipe installation process.  While working alone during the process, one of the uninstalled segments leaning against the wall fell onto the floor damaging the pipe threads.  Rupert became frustrated and angry when he discovered the damaged threads.  Now, he would have to stop the job, walk out of this remote area, and rethread the pipe.  This upset his schedule for the day.  Trying to stay on schedule he rushed to the shop and completed the repair then return to the job site.  To prevent further damage and delay he placed all the pipe segments on the floor.  As he progressed he moved the ladder but was now behind schedule and rushed.  During this process he failed to notice he positioned the ladder too close to a pipe segment lying on the floor.  As he stepped down from the ladder he stepped on this pipe and rolled his ankle.  The ankle was broken. 

    So, we can acknowledge that this incident was preventable. There are steps the employee could have taken that would have prevented the injury. One key area to review is the intention [or motivation] of the employee. Was the employee deliberate in seeking the outcome that resulted? Probably not. Who would rationally want to injure themselves?

    It’s bad enough that an injury occurred. What makes it even more frustrating is when a good employee is involved. Someone who works hard, tries to support the business goals, and is involved in an incident can be harder to deal with than that lazy employee we all seem to want to blame.

    So, if this incident was not intentional what contributed to it? And what could have prevented or defended against it? Looking at the error antecedent factors we can see that there were several potential contributing elements. [Think potential problem point-of-origin items like: demands of the task, capabilities of the individual, the work environment, or simply human nature traits.]

    Leading the way to safety

    The person in charge is either leading or impeding it. Impeding indicates the presence of obstacles and barriers. And many times this is our experience [especially in mining and manufacturing]. We unintentionally make it hard [or harder] to do the right thing. Whereas leading means that we make it easy to do the right thing. What would have prevented, or defended against doing the wrong thing in this instance?

    Many times we find that the high performing employee acknowledges their contribution to the incident. They are willing to be accountable and take responsibility for their error. If we are not careful, we can find relief in their response and close the books on the event. For the safety leader though this is a good opportunity for a fruitful conversation.

    Good employees feeling accountability for their error is commendable. However we really need to learn is why the decisions that were made [up to and during the event] seemed good at the time? That is the valuable conversation for a leader to hold. Until we learn what defenses can be taken to guard against the inevitable errors that good intentioned people will make, we cannot have a totally reliable environment.

    As a leader; do you lead or do you impede? Are you having productive and empowering conversations that develop shared learning?

    Mark McCatty, Leadership & Team Advisor


    Leadership Results through People

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    To Be a Better Leader; Build a Better Team

    A leader is only as good as the team they lead. You can’t be a world-class leader if your team is only 2nd class. Effective leaders need a team that is willing – and able – to contribute value. Unfortunately, many leaders don’t invest the time in building their [internal and external] team to the level that they should. This activity is one of those important/not urgent type.

    John Maxwell is well-noted as a leadership guru. I appreciate John’s Leadership Law #11 which states, “A leader’s potential is determined by those closest to them”. Simply stated our success is determined by those that are closet to us. We choose who is on our team.

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    Leaders Lead Learning Organizations

    To err is human.” The reality is that humans err. We all make mistakes. Some errors go by hardly noticed while other errors people make cause catastrophic consequences. So, the issue is not whether errors will occur; they will. The issue is what do we do about people’s tendency to make them, and how do we profit when they occur.

    There are some pretty interesting results from research about why we make these annoying errors. Some of the more commonly known causes of errors are:

    • Stress. Mental stress increases as familiarity decreases. When under stress we tend to operate emotionally and not cognitively.
    • Fatigue. Fatigue is affected by on-the-job demands, and off-the-job life style. Trying to do complex tasks while recovering from a late night out can create errors.
    • Difficulty seeing one’s own error. We all think that what we do is good. People may fail to detect abnormalities when working closely on a task, especially when preoccupied with something else. How many times has someone pointed out a needed edit [to a document] that you failed to see?

    Some of the more interesting ones are:

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    Supervisor As a Source of Motivation

    A frequent complaint from supervisors is that an employee or team member should be doing something…but they are not. And they state that when an employee is doing what they should be doing…it is being done incorrectly. This is a source of great frustration to many supervisors. Also, the managers wrestle with getting the supervisors to act like better leaders and deal effectively with their “errant” employees.

    shop team


    Supervisors need to understand their role for generating positive motivation and for creating a sense of ownership within their teams. The supervisors can be more effective at this critical objective when they are intentional about creating a more positive work environment through providing inspirational leadership, clearly communicate expectations [and provide the required support and encouragement], and when they assign work tasks that take into account individual strengths [and passions] of the employee.

    Knowing more about what will be motivating to the employee will allow the supervisor to better make assignments that are more intrinsically motivating [and will not require a carrot-and-stick approach]. This approach  results in goals being met, team members making better choices, and allowing the supervisor to do things that are really more valuable to the organization [than micro-managing staff].

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    Leadership Can Be Rigorous Without Being Ruthless

    Some managers believe that they must be a ruthless manager. These ruthless managers operate with a theory X [Douglas McGregor] management philosophy. They use an extrinsic [carrot and sticks] approach to getting others to do their bidding. These ruthless managers believe that anything else would be wreckless; and would mean allowing employees to do whatever they want. This would result in failure.

    Allowing employees, who may not have the company’s best interest in mind, to do whatever they want would be wreckless. Even the best intentioned employees, who may not know what’s best for the company, can make poor choices if left on their on. Being wreckless also results in failure.

    That’s why the better choice for managers to use when leading others is rigorous.

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    Facing Challenges Through Perseverance

    When we work to accomplish anything over the long haul, our internal drive fluctuates. Sometimes we’ll feel highly motivated; sometimes we won’t. Or, as an early mentor told me: sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you. But it’s not our motivation that will produce results — it’s the action we take that will determine the results we experience.



    Having perseverance and self-discipline help us keep taking action even when we don’t feel the motivation to do so. Perseverance is the ability to maintain action regardless of your feelings. You press on even when you feel like quitting. This requires determination. If you take the time, and invest the effort to cultivate this grit or persistence, then you can achieve what may initially appear to be impossible.

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    As a leadership and team advisor, I have helped numerous organizations, through speaker presentations, group training, and individual coaching, to meet the challenge of creating engaging and purposeful work environments. 

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