This executive team met in Chicago to plan the biggest project of their careers - my colleague Peter and I are enjoying the ride.

This IT executive team met in Chicago last week to plan the biggest project of their careers. My colleague, Peter, and I are grateful to be involved.

Over the course of a career, every leader looks back and sees one particular project as the biggest project of their life.  So, how would you lead differently if you knew that truth in the moment?

When a global company decides to sell off its largest division, the “separation process” is a colossal undertaking for the IT professionals. Imagine if the Federal Government of the United States of America decided to split into two countries within 12 months — and your job was to make sure both countries had all of the data they needed to run their government smoothly on Day-One of the separation. Tax ID numbers, Social Security, Medicare, Employment and Criminal History, Federal Court cases past and present, etc,, etc,, etc.…  It’s a project so big, it’s impossible for 99% of the population to even imagine.

Oh yeah, and you may not have a job in either country when this historic endeavor is complete. How’s that for a challenge?

Leading Change

The view from our downtown Chicago planning meetings last week: a window into the world of leading change on a global scale.

The view from our downtown Chicago planning meetings last week: a window into the world of leading change on a global scale.

Last week our team spent three days in Chicago helping a Fortune 50 company plan this endeavor. No, it’s not the size of the US Federal Government – but it’s close. And the leader of this team was wise enough to realize he needed help with three very important objectives:

  1. Help make every hour count
  2. Get more done, with less effort, through great teamwork
  3. Help each individual leader grow, so they could find a great job for themselves on the back-end of this project

With projects this large, it’s both the big things and the little things that are important. Good leaders need to think ahead to anticipate the “pressure points” that will create havoc on the emotional systems of the organizations – and also the untimely one-on-one interactions with employees from all levels who are confused, stressed, or angry with the disruption.

Change impacts people in the organization differently: this flip chart helped the "leaders" see how the "followers" react differently.

Change impacts people in the organization differently: this flip chart helped the “leaders” see how the “followers” react differently.

Once-in-a-lifetime projects don’t come easy. There will be competing priorities, 18-hour work days, and missed holidays. There will be customers who don’t like the plan, leaders who won’t embrace the change, and people who won’t get along. But isn’t that leadership?

Blending the Seven Fs

With only three days for the “planning retreat”, we can’t boil the ocean. The best possible outcomes from an urban leadership retreat are simple: make sure we have a Compelling Plan the team can rally around, develop a set of Shared Commitments to keep the team glued together, and identify Specific Strategies to help the individual leaders stay resilient. That’s where the Seven Fs fit in! We did our best to create a retreat plan that included moments of insight and growth for the team around: faith, family, finances, fitness, friends, fun and future. And we formed around these important questions:

Blending the Seven Fs helps leaders stay positive in difficult times.

Blending the Seven Fs helps leaders stay positive in difficult times.

  • How do the Seven Fs help us be a better team?
  • How do the Seven Fs help us be better Change Leaders on the biggest project of our lives?
  • How do the Seven Fs help us be the leader we want to be when we grow up?

I’ve been doing this work for more than 20 years now, and this past week I re-discovered something very important: paying attention to the Seven Fs brings people together. The Seven Fs help leaders live with less stress and lead with less fear.  And the Seven Fs help people like you and me be good leaders.

So…how are you doing on your faith, family, finances, fitness, friends, fun and future?

Simple reminder: Good leaders, working together with good intentions, make great things possible!

Simple reminder: Good leaders, working together with good intentions, make great things possible!

Good leaders recognize the significance of their work and prepare for every project to be their finest hour. And they invest in the people important to their success by introducing The Seven Fs into their work.

Please share with me: what was the biggest project of your life?

And drop me a note if you want your own copy of The Seven Fs Wheel.