Don’t Press the Panic Button

by Onyeka Nchege on August 19, 2014

Pushing the ButtonNervousness, anxiety, overwrought, overwhelmed, fearful, agitated; these are all catalysts to one feeling like they are in a state of panic. The panic state often leads to hasty, illogical decision making, which can result in worsening an already percieved bad situation or ceasing any momentum towards a destination. Before reaching over to press the proverbial “panic button”, you have to pause long enough to ask yourself, “is there anything I can do to prevent this”?.

My answer is always a resounding YES to this question. To provide a perfect example when the temptation of pushing the panic button seems like the most viable option, let me explain a situation we are currently experiencing within my organization.

We have recently acquired new sales branches and piloted them on the first release of a new technology platform. As with any pilot, we are still resolving a host of issues and will continue to do so until we roll out subsequent releases of the platform. This uncertainty can cause a state of panic to many unfamiliar with the realities of software development and deployment processes.

Avoiding the panic button is as simple as bringing all of the issues you are experiencing to the FORE-front. The FORE-front equates to: seeking and being receptive to Feedback, taking Ownership of the issues you are experiencing, remembering the Relationships you have in place and Executing on a new or altered plan that maneuvers you around the panic button.

    Feedback – a true measure of where you are and possibly where you are heading, is to listen to what those around you are saying. Listening to those around you, especially those working through issues on a daily basis, helps you to truly assess the situation and provide sound decisions.

    Ownership – before a sound decision can be reached, the situation has to be understood in totality and to truly understand something you have to possess it on some level. Taking ownership means you have to privately and publicly acknowledge the issues.

    Relationships – people believed in you enough to put you in the position to make the decision that led to the issues you are experiencing, so the important thing to remember is they believed in you once and most likely they still do. Transparency is the key to maintaining the trust you’ve built with them.

    Execution – once you have all of the facts and assessed the issues, it’s time to make a decision to alter your existing plan or institute a new one. A timely decision needs to be made, but remember that a hasty decision can put you back in the place where you currently are.

So when it feels as though the ground is beginning to shake beneath you and your mind is spinning at the force of a tornado, remember to back away from the nearest panic button. Bring everything to the FORE-front to avoid a hasty decision that can potentially put you back in a state of panic.

Take Action: If there is something driving you towards pressing the panic button, either from a personal or professional perspective, decide today to check out the FORE-front to help you maneuver around that panic button.

Leadership on the Go…It’s O.N.



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Effective Influence Requires Reinforcement

by Onyeka Nchege on August 10, 2014

Best practice concept.In a recent post, I talked about how culture defines an organization and how the basis of that culture stems from the mission statement and principles. To expand upon that, an organization’s culture is also groomed through the actions of those in key leadership roles within the organization. For example, often when we hear of fraudulent practices carried out in an organization, those practices usually can be traced back to the leadership team within that organization.

With the high amount of growth that has taken place in our organization over the last couple of years, I wanted to gauge how our distinct culture was being received and practiced by the individuals that make up our organization. To accomplish this, I put together a contest where questions related to our department principle were sent out to everyone, and the first forty-five individuals who responded with correct answers would receive a company shirt. Knowing that everyone in our organization is carrying a heavy workload right now, I announced the contest, and its content, days in advance and sent out daily reminders to keep it at the forefront of everyone’s mind and to allow some time for preparation.

One of my favorite aspects about our organization is the competitive spirit we all share. More than once on this blog I have commented on how clean competition is the breeding ground for innovation. This contest reminded me of just how innovative people can be when they are in competition for something. Oftentimes competition is naturally looming in the doorways and merely needs a catalyst to be invited in to the room. In the example of this contest, in one of the daily reminders, I called out the individual managers in a way as to spawn clean competition between the various teams within our department. By calling them out individually, complimenting each on their individual strengths, it created an environment rich with eager competition to out best the other. A good example of the creativity would be how our development team created a script to automate email responses from the entire team! A great strategy unless one of those automated answers is not correct.

Overall, I was pleased with the amount of responses received in the contest. The total response rate across the organization was 47% and this came during a time, as I mentioned before, when everyone is carrying a weighted workload. That 47% was a split between full-time employees and contractors, where the contractors made up almost 20% of the participants.

Of those total responses, 12% answered every question correctly, 100% answered some of the questions correctly and 0% had all incorrect answers. While only 22% had the purpose statement completely correct, 100% responded with correct elements of the purpose statement. In almost 75% of the answers a key element was left off that happens to focus on ‘understanding the business’.

Other aspects of our department principle included our focus areas and leadership behaviors of which the contestants had 96% and 80% correct respectively. In an informal survey to determine why the response rate was not as high as I would have expected, some participants did not respond because they knew they did not have all the correct answers and did not want to have that fact acknowledged – contest or not.

The most important thing I learned from this contest is if you are trying to lead your organization in a certain direction, then you need to first ensure everyone is heading in the right direction. Often leaders assume because principles and guidelines are written down, or even on display in their workplaces, then that is sufficient for influencing the individuals within their organizations. Showing the directions sets the course for the organization’s destination, but it is the constant practice and reinforcement of those directions by leadership teams that keeps the organization on its course.

Take Action: If you are unsure of the what and why associated with your pursuits in life, take a refresher and reenergize your “push”.

Leadership on the Go…It’s O.N.



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How BYOD Enhanced My Listening Skills

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UNFINISHED: 40 Lessons

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Growing up I was an avid reader. I spent many hours reading primarily because my mother is an avid reader herself. I very much enjoyed reading for many reasons to include mental stimulation, stress reduction, gaining knowledge, vocabulary expansion, and building stronger analytical thinking skills. I will be the first to admit that over the […]

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