Issue No. 208 of Your Weekly Staff Meeting features a hot-off-the-press book on pruning principles, or as Drucker called it, “sloughing off yesterday.” And if you missed my Top-10 book reviews of 2010 and a PDF of 200+ book titles, visit the eNews archives here on this blog. Plus, check out my Management Buckets website with dozens of resources and downloadable worksheets for your staff meetings.
The Pruning Moment
OK. I admit I’m going out on a limb, but I’ve already found a contender for my Top-10 book list for 2011. The chapter titles are powerful enough. The actual chapters are pure dynamite. Example:
--The Wise, the Foolish, and the Evil: Identifying Which Kinds of People Deserve Your Trust (Chapter 7)
--Pruning: Growth Depends on Getting Rid of the Unwanted or Superfluous (Chapter 2)
--When Stuck Is the New Normal: The Difference Between Pain with a Purpose and Pain for No Good Reason (Chapter 4)
--Sustainability: Taking Inventory of What Is Depleting Your Resources (Chapter 13)
Dr. Henry Cloud, a leadership coach to CEOs and business executives, and a clinical psychologist, has introduced a new term into the leadership lexicon: the pruning moment.
He defines the pruning moment as “that clarity of enlightenment when we become responsible for making the decision to own the vision or not. If we own it, we have to prune. If we don’t, we have decided to own the other vision, the one we called average. It is a moment of truth that we encounter almost every day in many, many decisions.”
Cloud melds the personal and the professional in this pruning manual of memorable stories and principles and shows why they must go hand-in-hand—and why lack of character on the personal side is often the unseen obstacle to “necessary endings” on the business side.
“Getting to the next level,” Cloud writes, “always requires ending something, leaving it behind, and moving on.” He takes Peter Drucker’s “planned abandonment” and “sloughing off yesterday” themes (download my Results Bucket chapter) and delivers a detailed road map for arriving at your preferred destination.
Necessary endings, he adds, “are the reason you are not married to your prom date nor still working in your first job.” Leaders get that, so what’s new and fresh? How about his list of the 11 reasons why leaders and managers avoid necessary endings? Here are just four of the preferred avoidance strategies:
--“We are afraid of the unknown.”
--“We do not possess the skills to execute the ending.”
--“We have had too many and too painful endings in our own personal history, so we avoid another one.”
--“We do not learn from them, so we repeat the same mistakes over and over.”
If your gut says it’s time to end a relationship, help an employee exit, dismount a dead horse, say farewell to a sacred cow, or drop a loser program, product or service, this just-in-time pruning book will show you how.
Cloud uses a simple rose bush illustration to explain the pruning process. Pruning is “removing whatever it is in our business or life whose reach is unwanted or superfluous.” It’s also a process of “proactive endings.” He coaches leaders to prune in three categories (think rose bushes):
1) Prune healthy buds or branches that are not the best ones.
2) Prune sick branches that are not going to get well.
3) Prune dead branches that are taking up space needed for the healthy ones to survive.
He likes Jack Welch’s view that a leader must discern whether a business or a division needs to be fixed, closed or sold.
“All of your precious resources—time, energy, talent, passion, money—should only go to the buds of your life or your business that are the best, are fixable and are indispensable.”
“Leaders by nature,” Cloud adds, “are often optimistic and hopeful, but if you do not have some criteria by which you distinguish optimism from false hope, you will not get the benefits of pruning. Sometimes the best thing a leader can do is to give up hope in what they are currently trying.”
Then, this zinger: “Wise people know when to quit.”
And effective leaders know when to ask people to exit. Commenting on Welch’s “Neutron Jack” style of pruning the bottom 10 percent of employees each year,” Cloud nudges the timid leader with this wisdom: “And I can understand why many people were upset with a fixed strategy like that for firing employees. But I do believe that there is some number of people in every organization and every life who will be routinely ‘let go’ if leadership is doing its stewardship job.”
Cloud also delivers fresh ideas in other management buckets, including three practical questions to ask in the Meetings Bucket. If a routine meeting is “sick and not getting well,” he offers this example: “We have tried repeatedly to use these times for forecasting, and it just never works. We can’t get the information we need as the discussion progresses, and even though we have tried, it is confusing and a waste. Let’s stop using this meeting to do that.”
I underlined a lot of pages in this book. It’s filled with gems…I mean, it’s a bouquet of roses that will brighten your day and lengthen your career.
To order Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward, by Dr. Henry Cloud, click on the Amazon graphic below:
Your Weekly Staff Meeting Questions:
1) Cloud says, “All of your precious resources—time, energy, talent, passion, money—should only go to the buds of your life or your business that are the best, are fixable and are indispensable.” What needs to be pruned in our organization?
2) What needs to be pruned in your own life?
Delegate Your Hoopla! - Insights from Mastering the Management Buckets: 20 Critical Competencies for Leading Your Business or Nonprofit
One of the big ideas in the Hoopla! Bucket, Chapter 10, in Mastering the Management Buckets is to appoint an International Executive Vice President of Hoopla! (funny title, powerful purpose).
Some CEOs, senior pastors and department managers recruit a Hoopla! Coordinator because they understand the principles of the Delegation Bucket. Others appoint a Hoopla! Champion because, frankly, they stink at affirmation and celebration and so they leverage the giftedness of another person to ensure that workplace stress is mitigated and team members are affirmed. Whatever your reason for finding the perfect person for hoopla!—just do it! Hoopla! honors God.
For more ideas and resources on affirmation and celebration, visit the Hoopla! Bucket.
March 15, 2011 – ECFA FORUMS 2011: “Board Governance Essentials for Ministries” with John Pearson, Wes Willmer and Dan Busby at The Hope Center, Plano, Texas (Dallas area). Register at ECFA.
April 26, 2011 – CEO DIALOGUES ROUNDTABLE with John Pearson and Bob Kobielush at CLA Dallas 2011. Register at Christian Leadership Alliance.
Note: Dates for our 2011 Management Buckets, Nonprofit Board Governance and 3-Year Rolling Strategic Plan workshops are now posted here, JPA 2011 Workshops, along with some new workshops on hiring and firing (Top-10 Hiring Mistakes) and goal alignment (The Results Bucket).