The Court of Public Opinion | Part 2, Outside

The Court of Public Opinion | Part 2, Outside

I was consulting a division of a company in the hospitality industry.

Before I began working with the senior executives, a major event occurred and was represented in the news.

The Warning Signs and External Signals of trouble in the Court of Public Opinion were everywhere:

I watched as the executives, and in particular the CEO, “whistled in the dark.” You know—if you’re walking down a dark and menacing road at night, if you whistle a happy tune, everything will be ok! Right?

They did not address this honestly in the public domain nor in employee meetings.

I watched the impact on stock price, revenue growth, and internal defections of valuable personnel.

CEO’s and other C-Suite Executives, BEWARE!

There is something all around you that can sink the best of intentions and plans! You must attend to it or face dire consequences for your company: the Court of Public Opinion (COPO).

At first, it may be invisible, like air to a bird, until we intentionally become aware of it.

There is  a human tendency to avoid what is unpleasant, disturbing, threatening, disruptive—what appears to be “bad news.” So it is counter-impulsive to take on COPO and have an effective and even masterful relationship with it. And, this is crucial to effectively lead and to succeed.

Four aspects of COPO and their corresponding registers/dashboards are:

ASPECT

    1. The internal rumor mill
    2. Marketplace reputation and perceived 
company future
    3. Customers and general public
    4. News media

REGISTER/ DASHBOARD

    1. The company culture
    2. Stock price
    3. Sales and market share
    4. All of the above

An additional complexity is that these four aspects influence each other.

To deal with COPO powerfully, you must begin by understanding what it actually is.

What is the nature of it? What is the DNA of COPO?

Very specifically: it is what people are saying and what people are hearing.

So the key is listening. Not to the noise of our own internal dialogue, our interpretations, judgements, and opinions. The CEO needs to listen outwardly and vigorously to her/his executives. And the executives need to listen outwardly and vigorously to each other. And the entire C-suite needs to listen to the workforce, the public media, customers. How can a leader effectively respond to others in an authentic and persuasive way if that leader has not fully heard exactly what people are actually saying?

No question that there is certain information that cannot and should not be said outside the  C-suite and/or Board room.  However when an event occurs, such as a critical change of leadership, an SEC investigation, a security breach, a crisis, etc. if you do not manage The Court of Public Opinion consciously and intentionally, then it will go its own way and you will be subject to it and the victim of it.

As the leadership of the company, what guides you in your response?

Shakespeare gave us this sage advice:

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

What do the executives on behalf of a company stand for?

Every company these days has mission-vision-value statements.

Are these alive and practiced in the daily life of the company?

Are they the basis for actions, for strategic choices, for dealing with breakdowns?

Or are they wall-paper: good intentions but not actionable? We all know the proverb ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions.’

We make sure our clients learn to listen deeply and thoroughly, and to respond effectively and powerfully to the Court of Public Opinion.

 


Want the “Warning Signs • External Signals” for The Court of Public Opinion?

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Character

Character

Each day, our news is filled with shocking revelations of corruption: in sports, entertainment, education, government, healthcare, business, and other fields. The costs are high: severe loss of credibility of institutions/individuals and damage to the personal lives of those people impacted.

What is the root cause of these failures? And what is the solution?

The Japanese speak of kokoro—character, essence, heart, spirit. The Samurai cultivated kokoro in themselves and those they mentored or trained. These breaches of morality, ethics, and law reflect a breakdown in kokoro—in character.

A search in the dictionary finds character associated with uprightness, trustworthiness, incorruptibility, honesty, a state of being whole and complete. Integrity is associated with these same antonyms.

“An individual is whole and complete when their word is whole and complete, and their word is whole and complete when they honor their word,” says Harvard Business School emeritus professor, Michael C. Jensen in an interview that appeared in The Magazine of the Rotman School of Management, Fall 2009. He draws a direct connection between integrity defined in this way and organizational effectiveness and productivity. So too for individuals and teams.

Is your word your bond? Is your team’s word their bond? That is, is it binding? In the daily practice of your work and life, is there consistency between what is said and what is done?

Common remedies are insufficient.

When a baseball player wants to hit a homerun, he doesn’t climb up in the stands where the scoreboard is and manipulate the numbers. He deals with what it takes standing in the batter’s box to powerfully and accurately hit the ball coming at him.

To resolve the root cause of our societal/business problems and to produce a home run in our performance as individuals, teams and organizations, we must deal with what is in the batter’s box of our business and life: our character, and our integrity.

• • •

Barry Pogorel Leadership deals with the root cause of great performance, enabling you and your people to produce extraordinary results. Contact us to schedule a confidential conversation. 

A Butterfly Is Not a Better Caterpillar

A Butterfly Is Not a Better Caterpillar

The words “change” and “transformation” are regularly used interchangeably. Transformation is often considered a big change.

This conflation—collapsing together of two terms—conceals an enormous, difference-making possibility.

Numerous surveys of senior executives across industries indicate that 60-80% of transformational/change initiatives) fail, do not fully deliver, or sometimes make matters worse. 

Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, a 19th century French writer, composed this epigram:

“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Why? Because changing something does not always get to the underlying issue.

Improvement is an example of change. It is a kind of extension of what has already existed. For example, getting better means better compared to what has been or already exists. So Karr’s epigram asserts that improving is somehow giving us more of the same in a certain way.

What is “transformation”?

Dictionary.com: “…change in form, appearance, nature, or character…” As is generally done, this definition collapses change and transformation. Let’s separate the two:

A change in form and appearance is very different from a change in nature, or character. Changing form or appearance does not get to the root or source. Sometimes reorganization, removing a particular person or team, reengineering, instituting a best practice—can produce incremental improvement (sometimes temporarily, and sometimes can make matters worse). But do these actions get to the root or source of an issue? Likewise, changing yourself as a leader—changing style, technique, strategy, emulating a well-known leader—can yield improvement. But does it fundamentally alter who you are and your power to lead?

Transformation is a different order of things.

Transformation deals with nature or character—of ourselves, our teams, our culture/organization. A synonym is “metamorphosis.” A butterfly is not an improved caterpillar. It is an entirely new creature, with possibilities that a caterpillar could never dream of.

The Wright Brothers’ flight, the invention of the American democracy, Einstein’s conceptions of the universe, great art, brilliant entrepreneurship and leadership—these all are expressions of transformation. Creating and realizing entirely new possibilities.

My work is a rigorous technology for causing the transformation of individuals, groups, and organizations so that they can create and realize wholly new possibilities, and achieve what was previously impossible.

Dictionary.com: “transformation…from the ancient Greek:  tekhnē =art, skill + lógos= rational principle that governs and develops the universe.”

The process begins by asking, “What is possible for myself, for my organization? Not what is predictable—not what would be an improvement on what now exists—but rather what might be possible?”

You have to put aside the “it can’t be done”, “it’s impossible”, “we tried that before”, “no one’s ever done it”, “what if we fail?”

You have to put the past aside, and open up to the question “What might be possible?”

• • •

Barry Pogorel consults executives to transform their organizations, to make happen what could not happen, and change the world. He is president of Barry Pogorel Inc., a consultancy for leaders worldwide.

Alex and the Wall

Alex and the Wall

Free Solo is a documentary film of Alex Honnold’s solo, free (no support ropes) climb of Yosemite’s 3000 foot El Capitan Wall. What he did was impossible. And in the fabric of his story are the elements of what it takes for any human being to accomplish what is impossible in their chosen field or area of concern.  If we shake off the natural complacency that gradually overtakes us in life, and tell the truth, there are impossible things we dream of making happen that would light us up: A extraordinary goal. An inspiring achievement. A dream. A vision. An authentic passion. And in the course of living with all its “slings and arrows,” most of us at some point give up such a pursuit and resign ourselves to go about the business of normal living. Alex did not. He had El Capitan. What did it take to climb the Wall? To accomplish the impossible? Some of what it took:

Honesty—he was in the practice of rigorously telling the truth in his life. When on a vertical wall two thousand feet above the ground, hanging onto a tiny ridge or dent in the granite, he had to see and say what was real. No illusions, no guesses, no hopes, no speculations. This included beginning the ascent one day and knowing himself well enough to tell the truth: “Today is not the day to climb.”

Integrity—he had to do impeccable preparation. Integrity is defined as “no component parts missing”. Nothing overlooked or left out or not considered. His execution of the climb had to be equally impeccable. Every step, every reach, every grasp had to be considered. Part of his readiness was to have integrity with his own physical state: to be in perfect condition, which included have an injured foot-ankle restored.

Single focus—a passionate commitment to the feat at hand. All self-concerns, all ego, was dismissed the moment it showed itself. There was nothing but The Wall. He was fully present at each moment.

Unstoppable and “un-reasonable”—he dismissed any thoughts of “it can’t be done” or “this problem makes it undoable” or “this is insurmountable” or “this is bigger than I can ever be” or “it’s never been done” or “I’m not the one to do this.” He put aside all reasons for why not. Instead, he thought only of “what’s needed now?” and “what’s possible in this situation?” and “what’s next?” No self-concern for comfort or convenience. No formula, no habitual patterns of thinking, planning, and acting. Dealing with this moment. Doing whatever is called for, whatever is wanted, whatever is needed. No thinking. Total presence.

Mostly in life we look for the confidence of certainty. He had only the confidence of honesty, integrity, focus, being present and perfect readiness.

These elements made an ordinary person extraordinary.

What about you? What is your El Capitan?

I Challenge You to Lead Your Own Life

I Challenge You to Lead Your Own Life

I challenge you to lead. To lead your own life, and be who you are. Take on something big. Put your stake in the ground for something that inspires you and moves you—something that doesn’t yet exist in your sphere.  To recreate and alter your reality, something that would make a difference.

Do you ever stop and wonder—regarding the circumstances of your life—“How did I wind up here? I thought I’d be somewhere else at this point in my life, be something else at this point.” Do you have a sense that you are living life “by default?” Playing it safe and coasting now that you’re at the top? Ask yourself, why are you not living this precious, one life you have to the fullest?

Heraclitus of Ephesus, more than 2000 years ago, in 5th Century BC Greece,  said: “Your character is your fate.” Amazing! And, conversely,  I suppose that your fate, or future, is your character. I don’t mean the future when it happens (positively this will affect you)—I mean right now, today, what is your future?

It shapes and defines you.

Imagine yourself six months from now, living the experience of all your goals. How does this make you feel? Excited? Joyful? Rich?

A leader develops his character by taking on something big. Something he didn’t think was possible.

Since you’ve read this far, I’ll share a life hack with you. To make new goals part of your reality, not only do we (as humans) rely on our self-confidence, we allow threads of evidence to appear in our day to day experience. We must trust. If it seems impossible, you must do the work!

If you would like to have a short call and discuss your goals – please reach out to us using the contact form at the bottom of the page.

The New Science of Leadership

The New Science of Leadership

I just typed in “leadership” on amazon.com and found over 200,000 entries! Google has over 4 million.

It seems that everyone has something to say about leadership. And yet looking at the world today, from business to government, leadership is missing. What’s more, it is missing that it is missing. More information, strategies, characteristics, styles to copy don’t make a leader. A new approach is required.

From the content of our “Being a Leader” Course Part I:

The Four Foundational Factors of being a leader are

  1. Integrity
  2. Authenticity
  3. Being up to something bigger than oneself
  4. Cause in the matter

We promise

You will leave the course being a leader and exercising leadership effectively as your natural self-expression, in any leadership situation and no matter the circumstances.

Being a Leader and the Effective Exercise of Leadership
An Ontological/Phenomenological Model

  • Ontology: study of the nature of being
  • Phenomenology:  study of consciousness and the objects of direct experience.

— Los Angeles, August 2018 *


* Please inquire for upcoming dates.