Tail That Wagged The Dog

“Why does a dog wags its tail? Because a dog is smarter than its tail. If the tail were smarter, it would wag the dog.”

I remember in ’97, when the movie ‘Wag the Dog’ came out—it got me thinking about things or people that control things, who really shouldn’t.

We see that in business organizations and the communications that come from it. Last month, I met with a client that has about an eight thousand person organization, with one of their direct reports having a true majority of that organization. As we discussed this leaders vision and what they would be planning for the year, this leader shared with me that their direct report had already held a vision meeting with the majority of the organization and wondered if what they had to share, would be redundant.

That’s a great example of allowing the tail to wag the dog, and as a leader—if it’s your organization, and your responsibility for the effectiveness and results—you have to lead and ensure the entire team knows your vision.

Every leader wants a dozen things to happen at all times:  more revenue, lower cost, better customer service, etc. We are huge fans of the book Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. It’s one of the best messaging books out there, and we even partnered with them to create a program because it was so good. One of the key takeaways from Made to Stick is simplicity.  There is a great study of a trial lawyer who reviewed cases he had won versus cases he had lost.  The realization is that when he won, he said ONE thing. There was more focus in his messaging. When he lost, he said 10 things (think kitchen sink), having scattered points, hoping something would stick. There’s a connection between what the lawyer wants to do and us, as leaders: put it all out there.

That’s where simplicity comes into play, and we use our Decker Grid system to find the Point of View to help with that focus. For every year or quarter, your team should be able to embrace a key theme of an area they need to work on. So, your Point of View should be listener-focused and action-oriented while broad enough to encompass some aspects of the business, but specific enough to know where they need to emphasize and focus. So, think about themes or needs your team has to focus on, here are some ideas: efficiency, being more strategic, growth, accountability (giving you a hint on what we at Decker, are focused on).

You can control what you can control, don’t let the tail wag the dog. Be sure to lead your organization or team to success by being succinct and focused, while giving a vision of success.

I Don’t Need to Prep. I Can Wing It.

Does your calendar look like the above? Many do. Just yesterday I was talking with an executive about an upcoming meeting. A few minutes into the conversation, he realized, “Whoa. This is a way bigger deal than I thought.” This is a critical week for meetings, as we’re all squeezing … Continue reading

A PowerPoint Paradigm Shift

Ever get into the rut of doing what you’ve always done because it’s comfortable – or because it’s the way it’s always been done? I’m talking about presentations – specifically the ones where you use PowerPoint. We were reminded of this when a client recently shared that he led a … Continue reading

Influence with a Point of View

What’s your point of view? It’s not a “nice to have,” it’s a “need to have” – and let me tell you why: It’s hard to argue with getting better results. But don’t just take my word for it. Recently, a self-proclaimed “Decker Super-Fan” (for reference – she’s taken Communicate … Continue reading

Don’t Waste Time: What’s The Point?

Get to the point, or I will walk out of this meeting. It’s an aggressive approach, but this strategy works for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to keep meetings moving. I love that the Washington Post shared this insight because we can all learn from it. The busy CEO has no … Continue reading

Learn from TED Live, featuring Bryan Stevenson

Our heads are still spinning from last week’s TED Live conference (we streamed it live into our headquarters all week and took down tons of teaching points and notes). What does that mean to you? You’ll get applicable bits of TED to learn from – we’ll be sharing highlights from the … Continue reading

5 Tips for a Successful Sales Kickoff

Enormous hotel. Matching notepads and pens galore. Hundreds of people riding the fence between vacation and business attire. Yup, I’m talking about a global sales kickoff meeting. Every VP Sales knows the importance of a successful kickoff, but how do you ensure engagement, education, and excitement about new products and the … Continue reading

What the TSA would say about your next presentation

Lately, the best thing about FedEx Office is the commercials. Thanks to our Program Leader Maria Ralph – who’s constantly on the lookout for examples of good, bad, and ugly communications – here’s one of the best from FedEx Office’s latest campaign: You need to be airport security for your … Continue reading