Resilience and the Art of Taking an "L" As a Predictor of Talent Success...

When it comes to long-term success for a working class professional in today's world, nothing is more important than knowing how to "take the L".  

Let me explain.

"L's were taken" or "Take the L" has been around in phraseology since the early 2000's.  Here's the Urban Dictionary cite:

TAKE THE L

Stands for "Take the loss". Frequently used to describe flunking a test, being dumped, being stood up, being beaten up or robbed, or losing one's money in the stock market, gambling, or through exploitative business schemes. I really took the L on that history exam. The-art-of-taking-an-l-header
 
While those cites are mostly from one's personal life, Taking the L as a skill is easily transferred to the professional realm.
 
Note from my personal life: I've got a son in an Engineering program, and it's been a challenging first couple of years. He's not a 4.0, but he works his ass off, and to his dismay, he doesn't always see correlational results to that work (from his view). I've tried to counsel him on what's coming for him in the professional world when he gets there. The guidance goes something like this:
 
"I take L's every week, sometimes every day in my business life. That meeting didn't go as well as it should have. Someone tells me "no" on new business. The L's are everywhere if you look hard enough."
 
We're trained by social media that life is nothing but success. Social media is bullshit, and comparison is the thief of joy.
 
Nobody loses on social media, and kids get a lot of trophies growing up these days. Everyone, it seems, is a snowflake.
 
But the L's are coming for them in life and at work.
 
With that in mind, the counsel to me son goes like this:
 
"In baseball, failing 8 of 10 times at bat (hitting .200) confirms you're no good. Failing 7 of 10 times (hitting .300) makes you an All-Star.
 
"Teams in Major League Baseball are desperately trying to get to a 92-70 win/loss record so they can make the playoffs (success!) as a Wild Card.
 
"Professional life is a lot like the MLB. You're trying to get to 92-70. Take the L and do the work in your career - there's a game the next day."
 
Of course, what we should be looking for is resilience in candidates as we recruit. Can they take a loss and rebound?  Resilience is hard to measure, and in my opinion, it's driven by a few things:
 
1--Behavioral makeup - Sensitivity as a behavioral measurement matters. Low sensitivity people can take rejection, high sensitivity people take longer to recover. Assertiveness is also a tag along trait we should measure as well to look at resilience. Taking an L in the workplace is going to make people with low assertiveness even more unlikely to get back in the game the next day.
 
2--How someone grew up and overall hunger level - Silver spoons haven't taken as many L's. Understanding how someone grew up can tell you a lot about how bothered they are going to be when Cheryl throws up all over their idea in a team meeting. 
 
3--Mentoring to this point in their career - It's true, guidance in the professional realm matters. The more you've had someone who has seen you fail and been a muse for you - in big ways and in small ways - the more likely you are to have resilience and the perspective that proceeded your desire to show up the next day and grind.
 
If you're looking for someone with resilience, spend some in the recruiting process digging into to how they bounce back and what happens after a big/small failure.  If you're looking to grow resilience on your team, talk more about reactions to failure and setbacks.
 
You want a team that can take an L.  Most of us are striving to go 92-70 in the game of life and squeak into the playoffs.

Talking Politics As A Manager in 2020: The Advice Hasn't Changed...

It's 2020, which means it's an election year.

Of course, there's more going on in 2020 than just an election - pandemic, resulting economic Dudestruggles, social movements and unrest, etc.

Since all of these things in an election year have been politicized, it seems like a good time to remind you of how to communicate your political views to your team and the rest of the company as a manager of people.

It's simple for best results as a manager of people. You don't routinely share your political views or hot takes on things that could be considered to be political with direct reports.

The reasons are pretty simple. As a manager of people, you're responsible for shepherding a group of direct reports through a given week, quarter or year.

If you've done a good job of hiring, you're leading a diverse team - which broadly defined, means your people don't all look, sound or think like you. You're in a position of power, so the more you broadcast polarizing information like political views, the more you risk alienating good people who aren't a carbon copy of you.

That's true any year, but especially in an election year. Since the events of 2020 have become polarized politically, you also need to be aware of polarizing your team on current events as well.

I'm not saying you can't be you. And note I'm 100% saying you should be clear that you're against racism and for safety related to COVID. You can and should share those views, and it's an important part of leading on issues.

I'm saying that the stronger/hotter you are on a polarizing take - whether you come from the hard left or hard right - the more you risk shutting someone down on your team from talking to you, which almost always results in lower engagement and one foot out the door.

Managers from both the hard right and the hard left struggle with this. For best results, remember that in competitive election years, the country is split pretty much evenly between two political parties.

Some of you will email me and say, "But Kris, how do I find the line?" Well, if you're manager of people, that's what the money is for.

Your job is to keep all the good people on the bus. The team that successfully navigates 2020, 2021 and arrives at 2022 at a different place with the highest percentage of talented employees retained and rowing in the right direction wins.

Leadership is art. I'm sorry I'm saying you shouldn't share that op/ed you loved from The New York Times or Fox News with the team. 

Listen more than you talk. Connect with everyone on your team on a 1/1 level. Show empathy to all.

Play to win in 2020.


BOSS Tip: Send an Agenda/Info For Your Meeting, Control the Narrative...

Capitalist Note: Quick hit today from the BOSS Leadership Series, the 7-module series of manager training designed to make your managers better leaders of people!

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I see you and I sense it. You've got an escalating situation - either inside your own team that you manage, via cross-departmental relationships or interacting Agendaswith clients. Things are spiraling and it seems like you can't get ahead.

I'm not embedded with you, so the reasons for the spiral can be many, right? But let's assume for the sake of this post that you're on top of your game, the path you're pursuing is valid and correct, you've got the talent to deliver, etc. You're just getting chopped up repeatedly as you deal with your team, other departments, and/or clients. You just can't seem to get ahead of it.

I'm going to give you one small thing to experiment with to regain control:

Start sending out Agendas for the meetings you're holding. As a senior level course, send some reports with favorable data/info with the agenda for best results.

Meetings suck. They suck more when you're the host and you lose control of them.

Agendas let everyone know what you're going to go through in the meeting. They allow you to be in control, and they allow you to bring wayward conversations back to what you - the organizer - wanted to accomplish.

Data/Info sent with agendas that's favorable to your cause/goals help you establish credibility. To the extent you have enemies in the mix or people who don't agree with your approach, data and info sent with agendas can help you frame the narrative.

It's easy to hijack a meeting away from someone who's not prepared. It's harder when they sent the agenda.

It's even harder when they share an agenda with some reports and info that suggests their path is valid.

Control the narrative and prevent meeting hijacking by sending an agenda. Start with no more than 5 items, each described in 4 words or less.

The floor is now yours. You're welcome.