Hollie Lee

Hollie Lee

Hollie serves as the Director of Administration for MSBCoach. She has over a decade of local government and small business/entrepreneurship experience. Hollie has a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Political Science from Mary Baldwin College and a Master of Public Administration from James Madison University. She also possesses an Executive Leadership and Management certification from the University of Notre Dame.

The Success Equation

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Strong Values + Strong Will x Skills = Success

I had the privilege of hearing author, Jim Collins, speak recently.  He said a lot of things that made me think, a sign of a good SME (subject-matter-expert), and one thing in particular stood out: “ First, great leaders must have strong values and a strong will and then skills”. How many people have you encountered that had tremendous skills and competencies, with great potential, yet they never reach that potential?  Skills matter and with a strong under-pinning of good values and a strong will, success is inevitable. We are constantly bouncing around the whole “values” concept.  Values are the guiding force of how we live and work. We understand that very few people have identical values. Yet, we know that our values must be in sync for us to work cohesively and productively. When was the last time you thought about how your values and your organization’s values work in tandem? If I ask you to list your personal values and that of your organization, would they align? Would there be any out of sync?  What does your organization offer in support of your core values?  How do your values support the goals/objectives of the organization?  It may be worth your time to examine this.  It could answer a few questions that you may have about your next steps and future goals. Jim Collins told a wonderful story of how having a strong will can make the difference in growing and surviving during tough times.  We all have those tough times – individually and organizationally. What determines a strong will? More importantly how do you develop one?  Ever heard of the phrase: “strong-willed child”?  I happen to have given birth to one….some of you are relating to me right now!  Once this child decided that she was going to do something or not do something, it became a real battle of wills.  I would usually resort to using a well-known technique of: “You will do it because I am bigger than you!”  I realized that technique was not going to last too long so fortunately I was given wise counsel that I should guide that strong will instead of trying to break it.  This wise person told me that my strong-willed child who was pushing all my buttons would have a greater chance of being a successful adult if I would nurture that will. So how do we nurture a strong will?   Here are some thoughts from Jim Collins’ insight and a few from someone who was raising one:

  • Be clear on your objectives.  Know what you want and don’t want. My strong-willed child was always very clear about her objectives, wants, needs, etc.
  • Be ok with others pushing against you.  Many times we get “talked out” of doing something that we know is the right thing to do.  The key here is to make sure that we are aligned with our values and clear objectives. Strong-willed people should always listen to wise counsel and adjust if needed but never cave to someone else’s thinking.
  • Set a plan and follow your plan.  We lose our way so often because we didn’t create a plan or follow the plan that we created.  We allow others to change it or we don’t take the necessary time to think it through.
  • Be “fanatically disciplined”.  This is one of the discoveries that Jim Collins made in his research of leaders for his book, Great by Choice. His research revealed that strong-willed leaders did the “hard” things, sacrificed for the future instead of enjoying the moment, and relied on their skills in times of chaos.
  • Mistakes are going to happen. And there will be consequences. Strong-willed leaders will choose to accept those circumstances and to learn from them. This is a lesson that I learned from my wise counselor.  Every time my strong-willed child made a “mistake”, I was encouraged to ask, “What did you learn?” instead of saying, “I told you so…”

In our ever-changing, competitive, super-charged information world, it’s more important than ever to be clear on our values and to be strong-willed.  What are you doing to stay centered on your values and strengthen your will?  

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Off Target with your 2014 Goals?

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3 Steps to Get You Back on Track

It’s hard believe we are past the half-year mark for 2014.  Have you pulled out your goals and reviewed your progress?  How are you doing?   If you are in the majority, you probably are not doing so well.  Why? There may be a few reasons:

  • Setting goals has become just an empty ritual. We take last year’s goal and “tweak” it.  Often there is not much thought put into creating the goal and not much thought given to it afterwards.
  • No one is really checking in, holding you or others accountable.
  • There are too many barriers – not enough resources.
  • Priorities are constantly changing.

As leaders, if we do not make reaching goals a priority, no one will. Setting and achieving goals needs to be part of regular conversations and expectations. Want some help to get things moving again? Let’s start by analyzing the goals that were set many months ago. 1.  Are these real goals?  Apply the SMART formula to them:

  • Are they specific? Significant? Stretching? Focused?
  • Does each of them have a specific metric that you have applied?  How far off the mark are you?  This shouldn’t be a guessing game.
  • Are the goals attainable?  Goals must stretch us and they need to be attainable. Were you over-reaching? If not, who is responsible for the lack of achievement? Have you been holding yourself and others accountable?
  • Are the goals realistic? Relevant?  Do they align with the mission and vision? Does everyone consider them real goals?
  • What are the time constraints?  Have deadlines been set?  Were there milestones established and published?  Have you and others met all the deadlines?  Why not?  What got in your way?

2.  Once you have completed the SMART formula, consider these questions:

  • Do you have the right goals for the mission and vision of your organization?  Are there more important specific goals that need to be introduced?
  • Which of the goals are truly attainable and relevant?   Which goals must be reached?
  •  Are your metrics appropriate?  Are you tracking the right things?  Are others tracking progress?
  • What barriers need to be removed?

3.  Pick the top 3-4 “must reach” goals. Schedule time with your team and stress the importance of this “2014 Goals Check-In” meeting. Send out an agenda days in advance. The agenda should include:

  • Vision and Mission discussion.  (Note: the vision and mission answers “Why we do we what we do.”)
  • 2014 Goals – Where are we? What do we need celebrate? What do we need to talk about?
  • Focus for the remainder of 2014. New goals, more focused goals.
  • Setting the plan
    • The SMART formula is applied to every goal
    • Barriers are identified and a strategy is created to deal with the barriers
    • Bi-weekly check-ins are scheduled to discuss each goal and progress (no exceptions)
    • Celebrate each milestone achieved
    • Reward appropriately

You still have time to achieve the “must-have” goals. Stick to your plan. Hold yourself and others accountable.  Be sure to celebrate along the way.  The reward of hitting your target will be long lasting and gratifying! Also, as you look to 2015 in your Fall Planning activities, MSBCoach would be happy to help facilitate meaningful and productive planning and team building sessions.  Contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to discuss a customized approach for your organization.

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Performance Reviews – It’s Your Job

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Six things that will make that job easier

Performance reviews – groaning ensues. I have met few people who like to give or receive performance reviews. Yet, we are continually told that feedback and holding people accountable are important to ensure engaged employees and successful organizations. Perhaps a little reminder may be in order – “Leader, it’s your job to give performance reviews”. Here are a few of the problems that most organizations struggle with:

  • Giving and receiving feedback has to be encouraged. Formal reviews are necessary and need to happen but equally important are ongoing conversations between you and your employees. Waiting for the “formal” review time to give and receive feedback is often too late for any real adjustments or meaningful celebrations.
  • Having a form that is just a checklist that you mark with a score or check is not feedback. I understand if there are standards and production requirements that need to be measured but it will never will never increase the engagement of your folks. A review must be a two-way conversation.
  • Often employees are unclear about expectations and goals therefore, they do not achieve the desired outcomes. Often organizations have changing priorities but those never filter down to the employees. Regular on-going review sessions would ensure that employees know what is expected.
  • Many organizations do not have an established performance review process or any accountability for doing them. It starts at the top. If leadership is not adhering to a performance review process among themselves, it will never become part of the culture. Performance reviews must be done at all levels.

Providing and seeking feedback doesn’t have to be hard and rigid. Some things to consider:

  • Employees want feedback and they really would like to give you some feedback as well. This is where the skill of coaching can really open the door to very meaningful conversations. Here are a few coaching questions to choose from:
    • What is going well? What’s one brag you want to share? What has been your biggest success?
    • What do you like most about your job, right now? What part of your job is the most satisfying?
    • What is not going well? What’s getting in your way of doing your job? What’s been your biggest challenge? What do you need to do differently?
    • What do you like least about your job? Which part is the least satisfying?
    • What am I (the leader) doing well? What could I do better?
    • What advice do you have for the organization?
  • Make the employee part of the process. Give them opportunity to contribute to their performance review. If there is a checklist, have them complete it and then compare with each other and discuss. Use the time to find ways to help them grow and problem solve.
  • Use the Performance Review as a reminder of the goals, vision and values of the organization. Engage the employee in a conversation of how the goals, vision and values are showing up in their daily routine of work.
  • Schedule at least three formal sessions during a performance year and strive to have on-going informal conversations. During the first formal sessions set the goals and encourage the employee to create goals. Discuss the expectations and how they will be measured. Set the dates for the next two formal sessions. One of the expectations should be that you and the employee will show-up for the sessions prepared to discuss successes, challenges and opportunities for growth.
  • Hold yourself accountable to have “mini” informal feedback sessions with all your employees. It can be as simple as asking one question – What would you like me to know, right now? The point is to have a conversation – you will definitely walk away with just a little bit more insight.
  • As a leader, if you are not receiving regular feedback from your leadership, seek it. You will become much better at giving feedback if you are receiving it. And a much better leader!

I can’t promise that establishing a culture of productive performance reviews is going to be easy. It’s going to take discipline and a real desire. I can promise that if you stick with it, the ROI will not just be in dollars – it will be a great place to work! 

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