About Lindy Brewster

With 20 years of experience as a senior manager at board level, teaching and consulting, Lindy Brewster is the President of ORConsulting Inc. Lindy has an established international track record of successfully supporting top leadership of organizations in the Fortune 500 and teaching leadership self awareness and effective behaviors in the Business Schools at Lancaster (UK) and Georgetown Universities. She has developed organization-wide interventions that include adapting to culture change, increasing retention in a highly volatile market, increasing performance and managing effective relationships with trade unions.

Accountability Part 4: The High Performance Team of Your Dreams

In the previous three blog posts about accountability, the foundation was laid for understanding what it means in the business context and how certain types of accountability can put organizations in risky positions or, at best, cause an inefficient use of resources. Now its time to discuss the highest level of accountability, which is seen in the most successful teams: Personal Accountability. When Alan Mulally took over as CEO of Ford Motor Company, the organization was hemorrhaging money, poised to lose more than $12 billion in one year. He brought his senior team together in a weekly meeting to take a look at the programs they had running and asked them to rate how things were progressing on a red (bad), yellow, and green (good) system. All of his executives rated their programs as green. The irony was not lost on Alan, and he pointed out to his team that it is difficult to have all green programs and lose money hand over fist. He encouraged them to be honest with him so they could start to address their issues. However, they continued to report their programs as green in subsequent meetings, clearly afraid that if they reported as [...]

2016-12-15T15:32:14-05:00By |Leadership|

Why California is Leading the Way with Talent

One of the biggest challenges in any organization is attracting and retaining the best talent available. In a difficult economy, the employer controls the job market, as jobs are at a premium, and employees are willing to forego some job satisfaction for a stable job. However, with the economy in an upswing, employers are finding that even employees who are generally content with their work situation are exploring the job market – going on interviews, accepting offers, and asking for their employers to match offers that they are getting from competitors. Perhaps the most impactful and also the most challenging to satisfy are the millennials, who currently make up about 35% of the workforce¹. The undeniable leader in attracting and retaining millennial talent to its borders is California. There are a number of obvious reasons for this, from its pleasant climate, to thriving cities, to legislation that encourages career opportunities (no non-compete clauses). Beyond this, however, there are things that leaders can do to emulate what companies in California are doing to successfully recruit talent. So, what exactly is California doing to win the war on talent? Last week, the Harvard Business Review (HBR)² outlined some of the methods [...]

Accountability Part 3: Why Second Best Just Isn’t Good Enough

It is my sincere hope that you have not experienced first hand what No Accountability does to an organization (see Part 2 of this blog series). What is more likely is that you have spent most of your career in a setting that exists at the second level of accountability: Mutual Accountability. When I was on Active Duty in the Air Force, I heard a story about a senior enlisted member who broke the rules. One of his duties was maintaining control of the unit’s government vehicles. He handed out the keys, collected the keys, and kept the vehicle logs. One weekend, he was seen driving around in one of the vehicles, running personal errands. He had been placed in a position of trust and violated it. The person who witnessed the dishonest behavior did the right thing and reported it to the chain of command. When this report was investigated, it became clear that this was not a one-time offense. This individual was punished, to include being stripped of rank. It was important that all in the unit understood that this type of behavior would not be tolerated. This is mutual accountability in action. And it works – [...]

2016-12-15T15:32:15-05:00By |Leadership|

Accountability Part 2: An Organization in Chaos

In my last blog post on accountability, I talked about how the misapplication of accountability can stunt the growth of your team. My next three posts will follow up on the concept of accountability – specifically the three levels of accountability in an organization. The topic of this post is the lowest level: No Accountability. And if you think this doesn’t happen in organizations, think again. An acquaintance (“Tim”) was relaying a story about some work he did with the Federal government as an auditor. He was called in to take a look at why the food service company at a military installation was losing money hand over fist, despite running a busy operation. The managers had tried everything they could, from increasing traffic to raising the prices as high as they legally could – and still they were losing money. Tim came in and noticed that their end-of-day reconciliation showed a ‘waste’ category of up to 40%. In other words, he believed employees were stealing from the business. To solve this problem, he came up with an ingenious solution. Tim placed buckets behind the counter, and everything that was labeled in the books as waste needed to end [...]

2016-12-15T15:32:15-05:00By |Leadership|

What Happens in Vegas…Never Should Have Happened

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” This saying, commonly known as ‘Vegas rules’ essentially means that there are certain times and places where people can engage in bad behavior and have it overlooked or swept under the rug. It’s fun to let loose once in a while, but in reality choices can have consequences that you didn’t see coming. In other words, your behavior may have happened in Vegas, but the consequences can follow you. This is especially true of leaders in organizations. It doesn’t take long searching the Internet for examples of fallen leaders before you realize how serious the issue of corporate ethics is. This was brought to the forefront of recent news with the suspensions of Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, the two most powerful men in soccer, being upheld for allegations of corruption¹. Blatter has been the President of FIFA since 1998, heading the organization that oversees the world’s most popular sport. FIFA generated more than $2 billion in revenue in 2014, $140 million of that being profit². Platini is the head of UEFA, Europe’s soccer confederation. These men have been suspended from their posts for their roles in [...]

Accountability Part 1: 3 Ways You Are Short-Circuiting Your Team’s Development

One of the most common things I hear discussed when I facilitate workshops is accountability, most often how to drive it down into the organization or their own team. This inspired me to create a 4-part blog series on accountability in organizations. This first post will focus on recognizing some common leadership mistakes around accountability. The following three posts will focus on different levels of accountability, moving toward the most effective ways to drive accountability with your team. Accountability is a fundamental part of business success, right? Companies have ethics officers, whistleblower hotlines, annual performance reviews – there are even accountants, which shares the same root word as accountability. Without a true commitment to accountability, we’d likely see all sorts of corporate abuses the likes of Enron or Bernie Madoff, and without holding people to standards, we would see drastic decreases in business performance. With something this vital to your business success, it is important to understand that leaders can misapply accountability, blocking development for the people on their teams. I once consulted with a company that had a leader who was obsessed with control. If you had a conversation with someone outside of your department, he wanted to [...]

2016-12-15T15:32:15-05:00By |Leadership|

Be the Change: 4 Ways to Get Your Team Onboard with Change

In our last blog post, we talked about leaders managing themselves through change. This is obviously important for any leader to be effective in today’s rapidly evolving economic environment. If you are an individual contributor, you wouldn't have to go any further than this. However, leaders have to do more than just get themselves into a good place with change, they may have a team they need to bring along with them. Because people have such varied responses to change, leaders have to be able to flex their approaches. Seana is a senior-level manager in Human Resources, and she has just found out that the company has decided to move in a different direction with their HR information systems and move away from the system they’ve been working with for the last decade. Although somewhat limited and antiquated, the HR team is very familiar and comfortable with the system. She understands why the change is being made, but she anticipates some resistance from the team as they work through the change. Seana was proactive and was able to get a lot of information about why the change is being made and has shared it with her team. This seemed [...]

2016-12-15T15:32:15-05:00By |Leadership|

Don’t Let Change Manage You: 4 Characteristics of a Change Agent

Some people love change. Some people hate change. Some people are just along for the ride. No matter where you fall in the continuum, we know that change is difficult – because change necessarily involves loss. In the workplace, change can mean loss of job security, loss of relationships, loss of identity, loss of routine, loss of benefits, the list goes on and on. We stand to lose a lot when change comes around. We are all too familiar with the loss that change brings, which is why many of us show some sort of resistance to it. This resistance can look very different from person to person, however. Some resistance is intellectual – where you might disagree with a conclusion or a decision being made. Some resistance is emotional – where you might be reacting out of fear or anxiety for what the change might mean for you. Despite the threat of loss, we know that not everyone responds to change in the same way. There are generally three ‘characters’ who might show up when a change occurs. One is the Resistor. This person is having a very difficult time with the change and has strong emotions related [...]

2016-12-15T15:32:16-05:00By |Leadership|

How to Prevent Your Survival Mechanism from Backfiring

Our bodies are wonderful organisms. We are specially designed to recognize threats in our environments and prepare ourselves to eliminate the threat either by running away from it or by attacking it. This is what is commonly known as the Fight or Flight response. This response is a finely tuned survival mechanism that increases the odds that we will live to fight (or flee) another day. If this mechanism is for our good, how does it backfire on us? Let’s look at a day in the life of James. He wakes up late, having slept through his alarm. In his rush to get to an important meeting on time, he gets pulled over and receives a speeding ticket. He shows up late to the meeting and his boss had to pinch hit for him on an important presentation. After the meeting, his boss asks him to see him at his office before he goes home that day. James tries to take a moment over lunch to decompress from his frustrating morning only to realize that he was supposed to have dialed in to a vital call with a client at 11am. You may have experienced some days like this. [...]

2016-12-15T15:32:16-05:00By |Leadership|

Three Ways to Create Bad Relationships at Work (and How to Fix Them)

You may have heard the phrase, “If it wasn’t for the people, work would be great.”  Although many point to their peers and coworkers as providing a strong sense of camaraderie and meaning in the workplace, often the biggest complaints are aimed at peers and coworkers.  In fact, usually when someone resigns from a company, it is as a result of interpersonal issues in the workplace.  Why is it that some of these relationships can go so well and be so rewarding while others can be so frustrating and destructive? When considering how people interact with each other in the workplace, there are four main approaches people can take, most of which only serve to create relational problems.  The approaches are as follows: Passive – This approach is friendly and wants to be liked.  They also desperately want to avoid conflict.  As a result, they are generally seen as team players and flexible, but can also be doormats to people who are prone to taking advantage of other people’s good will.  There are times when this approach may be appropriate, but if you’re always this way, you’ll find that more and more people will cross your boundaries. Passive-Aggressive – [...]

2016-12-15T15:32:16-05:00By |Leadership|
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