State It Once: One Way to be the Leader in any Interaction

“State It Once” means you should, in a productive and constructive way, name a problem if a problem exists. This might be a problem with somebody’s behavior, it could also be a problem with a process. But, it’s never good to just leave it alone and not mention it. By Stating It Once, you call attention to the problem, you put it on the table where people can look at it and you acknowledge its existence.

If you are now starting to repeat the problem or having a redundant discussion about a person’s shortcoming, you are starting to ruin their reputation, demean them and you are also not helping us solve the problem. We suggest that the best thing to do is that after a problem has been stated once, which again that’s productive and constructive, it’s time to change the momentum of the discussion from the acknowledgement of the problem to a solution.

It might sound like this: if I were late to meetings and that were bothering you and a colleague – one of you might say,

“You know, Henry’s late to meetings and I find it disrespectful.”

And the other person might say, “You know, you’re right.”

And here is where the leadership moment happens. Instead of saying, “Yeah, you’re right, Henry is always late to meetings and that drives me crazy too.” They say:

“You’re right, Henry’s always late, what do you think might be causing that?”

Or, “You’re right, Henry’s late, is there anything going on in his personal life that could be causing that?”

Or, “You’re right, Henry’s late, what do you think the root cause is and what can we do to help him be on time?”

If you hear what’s happening in that moment, this person’s kind of doing a judo throw. They are changing the momentum of the interaction so that it becomes a solution oriented one. And we think that the leaders in an organization are the people who do that habitually.

Whenever they hear that negative momentum, they immediately convert it to a solution oriented dialogue. We are saying that those leaders can come from ANY area of an organizational chart, your title doesn’t matter. Our next book is going to focus on moments like this and these are the moments when you can create leadership wherever you are on the org chart.

Thank you for spending time with us again this month and we look forward to seeing you again next month.

 The preceding text is copyrighted material from the best selling book;
“Winning with Accountability, the Secret Language of High Performing Organizations”

Want to know more about creating accountable cultures? Take our free assessment and buy the book here.

As always, we welcome your comments. Join us on facebook to share your experiences or email us at [email protected].

Meet the CEO Coaches


Businessworld / India

Citius, Altius, Fortius — that’s what India’s business chiefs need, and that’s what CEO trainers give

The Gurus

But who are these people who make the CEOs what they are or what they want to be — confident, assured, poised? Meet the CEO coaches.

They are impartial observers who push the CEOs to exploit their potential. They don’t pass judgements; only point out strengths and weaknesses. They help others understand how things can be done differently. Ask them what they do and their most common reply is: “Hold up the mirror to the CEO.”

Their guiding principle is: “Ask, don’t tell.” They help the CEOs understand problems rather than give solutions. By asking open-ended questions they facilitate the process of self-discovery and self-motivation.

To Be Or Not To Be Coached

“Though a new phenomena by that name now, CEO coaching has existed in India for the past 30-40 years,” says [Gopal] Shrikanth. Earlier, there were strategic advisors who were essentially management gurus and expat professors who, having spent their formative years in India, would combine a trip to India once or twice a year with some professional linkup with their former batchmates.

… One of the reasons behind asking for external help is age. CEOs today are no longer old men who have spent decades in the industry and learnt through experience. Instead, they are young, mostly in early-to-mid 40s, have all the right degrees and management jargon to spew, full of energy and positive attitude, but often lack the sheer gravitas needed to make the cut. Moreover, expatriates posted in India as well as Indians dealing with foreign bosses now need to understand a lot of cross-cultural nuances. …

One-Man Army

Since coaching is all about the rapport that the coach shares with the CEO, most coaches work with miniscule, boutique teams and are largely a one-man army… CEO coaches are high-flyers who often visit a city or a country just for a half-day session with a client. The rates charged are therefore on a per-hour basis and normal sessions rarely go beyond one hour. At the CEO level, the rates range between Rs 50,000 and Rs 2.4 lakh per hour with expats and global coaches commanding a fee which is on the higher side. The duration of the training and length of the sessions also vary from level to level. At the CEO level the engagements are usually for a year and there are one-hour sessions once a month.

Be it a face-to-face meeting, a telephone call or a Skype session, an increasing number of CEOs are looking for a friend, philosopher and guide, in short, the CEO coach.

[excerpts from Businessworld, 25 October 2010]

by Shalini S. Sharma

Return to In the News

The Art of Accountability


UCD Business Connections / Ireland

Henry Evans has been advising leading executives and organizations worldwide for many years through his Dallas-based company Dynamic Results and is internationally renowned for his expertise in the areas of emotionally intelligent leadership and high-accountability culture. His recently published book, Winning with Accountability, is management reading in organisations from McDonald’s to FedEx and UPS.

Evans and his team have been trying to redefine accountability as a positive force for the organisations and leaders with whom they work. “I think in western culture accountability has a predominantly negative connotations and that is because it is generally used in a punitive way,” he says. “So after something has gone wrong, after a relationship or a project has gone south, we start to look for someone or something to blame-that’s what we have tended to call accountability.

“We’ve tried to redefine and reposition it in our work and in the way it is used, and our definition is simply that accountability means clear commitments which in the eyes of others have been kept.”

It is a concept that can create challenges for traditional leaders, but Evans emphasises that any accountability model can only work and enhance an organisation’s performance if it comes right from the top down.

“There’s a type of client who I call a ‘first-class client,’ and that might be a CEO, who is flying first class, reads one of the articles we publish and then lands and gives us a call saying ‘we want you to come and fix our people.’

“We always ask ‘where are you going to be in this process?’ and they say ‘well I’m fine- I just need you to come and fix my people.’ We don’t take those clients, because if the leadership is not engaged in the change effort, the leadership will be our biggest obstacle.”

According to Evans, for the change to work, it is vital that the top executives are demonstrating and exhibiting these accountability behaviors themselves, before they request it of anyone else in their organisation.

“The higher you get on an organisational chart, the more responsibility you have but often the less accountability you have,” says Evans. It is something he has experienced first hand in his work with CEOs, company presidents and other high-level executives. “What I find working with those people is that they have the longest list of things to do that no one else knows about, and they are also the least likely to be held accountable or challenged by others when they do have commitments.”

For this reason, Evans says he advises senior executives to proactively and in an unsolicited way “publish their commitments.”

“I encourage them to go to their temas and give them the heads up: ‘Here are the four most important things I need to accomplish this week, here’s what they look like when they’re done, here’s who is doing them and I wanted you to know about it.”

The comfort of ambiguity

The results, says Evans, are remarkable although he concedes that this change in culture will not work for everyone.

“While our clients report lower attrition, I have observed that when an organization does not-by our definition- have a high level of accountability in its culture, and begins to institute our methods, it has some increased attrition at first.

“There are some people who are very comfortable in ambiguity and low accountability, and when they see the tide changing they may self-select out of the organization, and go and work somewhere else.” Evans concedes that it is a trend which has somewhat abated during the current recession when people are more reluctant to jump ship.

“When these people do leave, it tends to create a space that gets filled by people who do want to be part of that effort because, using our methods, the language the executives use changes when they’re making and requesting commitments. When candidates are interviewing, they can hear the specificity with which they speak, and they are either attracted or repelled by that type of language.”

The accountability puzzle

In summary, the ‘accountability puzzle’ as employed by Evans and his team, and laid out in his book, basically constitutes:

Clear Expectations- every request should include a crystal clear result of your expectation, one that the other party can visualize;
Specificity-to avoid miscommunication, include a specific date, time and time zone in your request- the latter because of our more globalized work lives;
Share-true accountability begins when someone else knows about it, and you must invite and welcome people to hold you accountable, whether you report to them or they report to you.

“Using those four pieces of the accountability puzzle, you’re asking people for clear expectations that have a visual association,” says Evans who offers a simple example.

“Say I owed you money, and I said I’m going to pay you back on Friday. That’s a good intention and when you’re looking into my eyes I might really mean it, so the intention is there, it’s pure. But it’s not an accountable statement.

“If you wanted to help me craft it into one, you might encourage me and you might say, ‘Look, Henry, I appreciate you’re going to pay me back that money, thank you, but out of curiosity are you going to personally walk into my office and hand me a check? Are you going to send someone else, are you going to wire transfer it? I might say, ‘I’m going to to a cash machine and I”m going to get $200 and I’m going to go to your office.” Then you say, ‘Great, and when are you coming?’ I’ll say, ‘I’ll see you in Dublin at 1pm Irish time.’

“Once that conversation happens we both have visual associations. When I just said Friday at 1pm, you saw it in your MS Outlook, or your Lotus notes, or your diary-whatever you use. You had a mental picture and with that visual association your attention and retention doubled.”

It all makes a lot of sense. However, as one gets lower down and organization’s hierarchy, how willing might a subordinate be to call their senior to account and encourage them with such questions? “Yes, that is a frequent objection or concern when we’re instituting the method,” concedes Evans.

“There’s a lot of emotional intelligence woven into our accountability method, which is about inviting subordinates to hold you accountable for your commitments and rewarding them when they do. So this is really about creating the safety for people to do so. We talk a lot to leaders about this; about how one violation, one slip, can set you back months, even years, of openness.”

He again illustrates this with a personal example. A former competitive martial artist, Evans remembers one day walking through the lobby of his office and spotting a friend on the cover of a favorite magazine, Full Contact Fighter. “I picked it up and started reading it. My assistant saw me, and she knew I was supposed to be working on a strategic planning update for a client. She asked should I not be working on the strategic planning now. The first words that came to mind, frankly, were not ‘thank you.’ but they were the first words that came out of my mouth.

“That is because she was keeping our agreement- that we challenge each other to keep our commitments. And she was keeping her promise to me and that makes our peformance better, so I encourage her to do that.”

He admits that while some leaders are very self-aware and comfortable with this, others need to be encouraged through the bottom line benefits of encouraging such a real-time information conduit.

“I’ll say to some leaders, at the moment you are the last person to know what’s going on in real time and by the time you get to know, we’re already in a crisis because people are afraid to talk to you.”

And how do leaders deal with a failure by a colleague to meet such agreed commitments?

“You have to begin by looking at the person who doesn’t follow through and ask is this a constant or a variable?” says Evans. “Is this something that happens frequently or infrequently? And I would handle it differently based on the answer. If it is the former, the conversation would not be about that one incident, it would be about our working relationship and the fact that I’m starting to lose trust and I’d probably ask them what they think is likely to happen if I continue to lose trust?

“If I’m the one not following through, there is usually a way to renegotiate the promise before the deadline.” The ‘before’ here is the operative word, according to Evans. Don’t wait until the deadlines is upon you. “That is a strong behavior in terms of building trust.”

The apparent simplicity of the accountability model belies the remarkable changes that it can institute in an ogranization, according to Evans.

Perhaps, when it comes to management strategy, we sometimes forget to look at the simplest of truths.

by Ann O’Dea

Return to In the News

Honing to Perfection


Dallas Business Journal / USA Read on

Dallas Business Journal / USA

His company works with businesses and other organizations to help their top executives improve their performance

“We don’t like the word ‘coaching’ because it’s an extremely uncredentialed industry,” Evans said. “A large percentage of people calling themselves coaches are either unemployable or they have never led a large organization.” Evans, 39, of Dallas, is co-founder of Dynamic Results LLC, a firm that works with CFOs, CEOs and COOs to help eliminate roadblocks that keep them from reach- ing peak performance, whatever line of work that might involve.

Evans saw success as president and CEO of a member company of National Advantage Group, which managed business in- vestments and assets for various entities, from 1992 to 2003. And he saw failure when the firm took a major downturn with the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But he didn’t let that failure stop him from taking the advice of a fellow executive who thought other firms could benefit from Evans’ philosophy about how to improve company and organizational operations.

Along with co-founder Bob Irish, now a senior associate with Dynamic Results, Evans opened the company in Dallas’ Deep Ellum. He later purchased Irish’s interest in the firm.

The initial investment was less than $50,000.

In its first year of operations, in 2003, the firm’s gross revenue was $300,000. Within six months of starting, Dynamic Results had a full client load, Evans said. This calendar year, projections are that revenue will be about $750,000. Next year, he hopes to see gross revenue of $1.1 million to $1.2 million. Currently, the firm has about 20 organizations as clients both in the United States and overseas.

The firm is relatively small, employing eight associates who work with companies and their executives and two employees who handle administrative matters.

But just because the firm is small, that doesn’t mean its clients are too. Among them are executives of U.S. national defense entities, Amgen Biotech (NASDAQ: AMGN) of Thousand Oaks, Calif., and Saladmaster Inc., a Dallas-based maker of healthy cookware.

Half of the associates at Dynamic Results are certified in assessing individuals’ emotional intelligence, measuring the way they relate to and are perceived by other people. Some argue that such measurements are a four-times-greater predictor of success than an individual’s intelligence quotient.
Not every company executive that calls Dynamic Results to become a client is accepted.

First, coaches at Dynamic Results screen potential clients to determine if they’re coachable. That is, if individuals:

Have the nerve to try something new.

Trust the observations the coach may give.

Give an honest description of the company’s situation, including the manager’s role.

Desire to improve their firm’s performance, without complacency due to prior success.

Are willing to hold themselves and others accountable.

“We do turn away a lot of potential clients and associates,” Evans said.

Evans also steers away from describing his associates as “advisers,” saying that advisers tell clients what the advisers think should be done to fix the problems. Instead, Evans and his associates at Dynamic Results, acting as impartial observers, ask pointed questions about how things are done, and allow executives to draw their own conclusions and ideas in terms of ways to improve.

Clients commit to contracts lasting one to two years. In that time, associates work with clients every week or every other week, and then engage in strategic planning with executive teams every 90 days.

Associates measure accomplishments against benchmarks set in planning, then the results are reviewed to determine if and why goals weren’t met.

by Dave Moore / Staff Writer

Return to In the News