Quotes By Dr. Caroline Fisher

When it comes to great leadership – if you think you can do it or you think you can’t, you are right.

Are you trying to control your organization through rules? Forget it – it will never work. Rules are based on the rear view mirror – and are usually intended to control the minority of possible offenders. Perfect rules never created excellence – never.

No one is born knowing how to lead in today’s world. No one. Today’s great leaders develop greatness over time – through honesty with themselves, truly listening to others, coaching, courage to learn from mistakes, and profound humility.

If your team or organization is not achieving the results you desire, grab yourself a mirror – quick! Like it or not, you play a role in the mediocrity.

Unconscious incompetence wreaks havoc on an organization. You aren’t good, but you don’t know you’re not good – it’s the ultimate in self-deception.

The most powerful question a manager can ever ask is, “How can I help?”

Stop measuring hours and efforts. Hours and efforts are irrelevant. Instead measure results and achievement of goals. Clarity of desired results is the foundation of true accountability and empowerment, and ultimately brings out the best that employees have to offer.

What we are looking for determines what we don’t see (in ourselves, in others and in our organization). Sometimes things are improving, but we don’t see progress – because we are fixated on our brokenness!

Moving your culture forward always starts with defining where you are trying to go! What is your company’s Vision? Mission? Performance targets? Form should always follow function when it comes to designing a high performing culture.

In the absence of a clear direction (windshield view), employees will always focus on the past (rear view mirror). This is not wrong – employees have to focus somewhere! Do your employees have a clear future in which to place their gaze?

True empowerment is the only ticket to control in an organization. It’s counter-intuitive, but the tighter your grip on employees the less control you will have as a manager.

There will always be equity in an organization, in one way or another. Got a toxic culture? Don’t be surprised if the staplers start disappearing. What goes around comes around – every time.

Communication is a pay now or pay later scenario. If you don’t make time for it now, you will be required to make time for it down the road (and at that point, it’s often not pretty).

In this self-empowered era, some companies become great in spite of the top team. Employees often move forward by moving around top management. Is your company becoming great in spite of you?

Employees and managers cannot be held accountable for expectations that have not been established. A shared definition and understanding of “excellence” is the first step to creating true accountability.

“Equal” is a cop-out in organizations. Creating “equality” is often management’s simplistic method of avoiding real life issues and opportunities in an organization. “Equal” policies and procedures are not always “fair” – and will drive away your quality team members.

The best way to deal with conflict is to ask a question – don’t make a statement! Great leaders are masters of asking questions. Do your questions have a question mark or an exclamation point at the end of them? Think about it.

The one thing all leaders have in common? Followers. Turn around… is anyone really following you?

The only thing we know about the past is…it’s not the present or the future. Unless you want it to be. A new future requires only a willingness to leave the past in the past. But you gotta wanna.

Forgiveness changes everything. And it’s essential for a team (and individuals) to move forward. Great teams and high performers rely on it.

Your culture is simply a collection of habits that you’ve collectively developed over time. Communication, accountability, goal orientation, silos? Just habits. Blaming, scapegoating, victim mentality, us vs. them? Just habits. Whatever your collective habits – they can be changed!

Beware of the C.A.V.E. people in your company (Citizens Against Virtually Everything). Every company has them – and they will hold your team hostage if you let them. Turn your focus to those that are moving into the future and taking responsibility for doing so! (It will drive the CAVE people crazy when they can no longer hold court.)

High quality employees leave toxic and ineffective cultures! And then you are left with a team of people that can’t find a job anywhere else. Good luck!

Employees join organizations, but they leave their manager. Don’t expect to hang onto quality employees if you are not up for being a quality leader.

There are two types of organizations – those that focus on goals, ideas and possibilities, and those that simply focus on each other. Listen to hallways talk…are people discussing goals? Or another employee’s bad hair day.

In the absence of communication and relationships, people make stuff up (about each other, about themselves, about goals ... about everything).

In the absence of a shared definition of the team's direction and a shared "we", the focus becomes individual direction and "us vs. them"/"me vs. you".

A shared "we" is comprised of many things (a shared vision; shared and aligned goals; shared and individually owned core values; a shared definition of "excellence"; shared Operating Agreements/Commitments; shared skills; etc.) - all vividly linked to the future.

In the absence of a shared "we' and a closely held definition of excellence, conflict and challenges will be managed/confronted in the context of personality differences.

If a team doesn't have a shared and vivid "windshield view" (where we are going), the focus will be on the "rear view mirror" (where I came from; my past experience; your past mistakes; etc.)

In the absence of interpersonal (leadership) skills, individuals will rely on past experiences and survival strategies to deal with stress and conflict (and many of their past modeling was inadequate).

Management and "leadership" are not the same thing. Both are necessary, but both serve different purposes in an organization. Management (when implemented in the absence of leadership) leads to COMPLIANCE at best (with rules, policies, procedures, controls, etc.). Excellent teams set the context for true COMMITMENT (which is achieved when true leadership and management approaches are in balance).

Hierarchy, chain of command and a paramilitary structure alone do NOT create excellence and commitment in today's world (even in the United States military)!

Mandates don't work.

Command and control doesn't work without a foundation of shared direction, relationships, communication and trust.

A "strategic plan" means nothing unless it's owned and embraced by all levels of the organization - and unless each team member has line of sight from their role to this ultimate direction.

People cannot live up to expectations that are not clear.

Establish (together) your shared direction and desired "we", and you will then have the context for commitment, performance appraisal/development, accountability, selection, and promotion (and individual team members will know whether or not they belong on the team).

In the absence of a shared "we", a team lacks a larger context in which to resolve conflict, make decisions, allocate resources or engender commitment.

People generally don't resist change, they resist being changed. Without a vivid and shared context for change (vision, mission, goals, values, etc.), the average team member will push back in the face of change.

In order to let go of the past, there must be something related to the future to grab ahold of. Most individuals need to hold onto something!

Assuming positive intention in others changes everything. (Of course, this requires that individuals actually HAVE positive intention ...)

Fear, scarcity and the perception of separateness are the greatest drivers of negative attitudes and behavior on a team.

Organizations and teams change one individual and one relationship at a time.

Unresolved conflict and resentment will always surface if not allowed to mend and heal - and usually it comes out in hurtful and unproductive ways.