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Opinions and information on leadership and leadership development by Dan McCarthy
Updated: 2 hours 15 min ago

Why Businesses Must Grasp Millennial Thinking or Face Economic Calamity

Thu, 08/22/2019 - 06:32

Guest post from Gui Costin:
When it comes to shopping and buying, the Millennial generation appears to play by its own rules.
And businesses that fail to understand the Millennial mindset are destined to fall behind their competition – and perhaps plummet into irrelevancy, says Gui Costin, an entrepreneur, consultant and author of Millennials Are Not Aliens.
“Millennials are changing how we buy, how we sell, how we vacation, how we invest, and just about everything else,” Costin says. “If you’re running a business, you have to pay attention to how they think and act.”
Millennials are the generation born roughly from 1981 to 1995, meaning that the older millennials aren’t that far from 40. There are about 80 million Millennials, or nearly one-third of the adult population in the U.S. – and that’s a lot of buying power.
Millennials grew up under very different circumstances than Baby Boomers and Generation X, though, and the way in which they came of age greatly influenced them.
One example is their relationship with technology.
“All of us, regardless of which generation we belong to, have been impacted by technology,” Costin says. “But the generation most affected by the digital, connected world are the Millennials. You could think of it this way: If technology were a geyser, Baby Boomers and Generation Xers have been sprayed by its impact, but Millennials got drenched.”
And their natural use of technology transformed the way they act as consumers, Costin says.
“Bargaining is a part of their process,” he says. “Because they are facile with technology, they rely heavily on their cell phones to price shop and hunt the best deals.”
Costin says there’s plenty that businesses need to understand about Millennials, but here are just a few other facts about their consumer habits worth paying attention to:
They let everyone know about their buying experiences. It is not uncommon for Millennials to candidly share details about their buying experiences, good or bad, on their public social media platforms. “This can translate to bad news for businesses that underperform or, conversely, great news for those that exceed expectations,” Costin says.
Big purchases can happen virtually. For many older people, it’s difficult to even conceive the idea of buying a car, for example, without ever physically seeing or touching it first. “Millennials do it all the time,” Costin says. “In fact, they are the very first of all the generations to make a large purchase without first performing an on-site inspection.”
Brand loyalty means something. No matter how fickle many people believe Millennials to be, they are extremely brand loyal, Costin says. In fact,60 percent of Millennials say they almost always stick to brands they currently purchase.
Information is essential. Millennials scour the internet to learn about a brand or product before making a purchase. They check websites, blogs, or peer reviews that they trust.
Instant gratification is paramount. Because they have grown up in a digital age, Millennials are used to speed and immediate gratification. “They value prompt feedback and communication and do not like wasting time,” Costin says. “Think emails, text messages, and online messaging.”
“The environment you grow up in determines what you become accustomed to,” Costin says. “Gen Xers and Baby Boomers need to realize that how they grew up is affecting the way they are selling and marketing their organizations. But you cannot sell and market to Millennials the same way you were sold and marketed to.
“The good news is, many companies are listening. They are actively replacing dated, manual processes with more efficient, cutting-edge tools to promote the convenience and speed Millennials crave.”
About Gui CostinGui Costin (, author of Millennials Are Not Aliens, is an entrepreneur, and founder of Dakota, a company that sells and markets institutional investment strategies. Dakota is also the creator of two software products: Draft, a database that contains a highly curated group of qualified institutional investors; and Stage, a content platform built for institutional due diligence analysts where they can learn an in-depth amount about a variety of investment strategies without having to initially talk to someone. Dakota’s mission is to level the playing field for boutique investment managers so they can compete with bigger, more well-resourced investment firms.
Categories: Blogs

Why Training and Development = Success All Round

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 06:00

Guest post from Royston Guest:
Growing and developing is a two-way partnership between the individual and the business. I think of it as a ‘soft contract’, the rules of engagement for how both parties can achieve maximum value from the relationship. If you are able to link your personal and professional growth to the organisation, you are more likely to stay and participate at a higher level through increased commitment and loyalty.
As part of this ‘soft contract’ of growth and development are three core principles which underpin its very essence, and which results in a win-win for all involved.
#1 An individual’s never-ending thirst for learning I believe every person owns their own performance through the conscious choices they make and one of those is undoubtedly having an attitude of constant curiosity for learning.
Sometimes, particularly as adults, we slip into the trap of complacency, operating in a state of unconsciousness where it feels like we are just going through the motions.
But the day you stop LEARNING is the day you stop EARNING!
It’s the day you slip into a place that I call ‘the groove or the grave’ – no man’s land. It’s the day you accept your place in the world of mediocrity where just enough is good enough. It’s the day when you lose your edge and stop being your best self.
In an increasingly competitive world, there is no such thing as standing still. All around you, people are actively moving forward and standing still really means you’re falling behind.
Do not get to the point where your people feel like they are falling behind, because from this point on, you will be just playing catch up, trying to reach the point where they think they ought to be. And that place is no fun for anyone.
#2 Setting your people up for success. If you asked your people what great performance looks like, feels like and acts like in their role, how aligned would their answer be with your version? There should be one version of the truth, and in my experience perception and reality are often misaligned.
If you haven’t created absolute clarity about what the expectations are for their role, explained and demonstrated what great looks like, and set them up for success, it’s almost predictable that you and your people will be working to different models and interpretations of what great looks like.
Create clarity of purpose for your people. Enable them with the mindset (attitude, determination, will), the skillset (technical or soft skills) and the toolset (tools to do their job) to truly unlock their potential and deliver excellence within their role fueling their inner self worth, igniting their self-motivation, building their confidence and their loyalty will be inevitable.
#3 Empowerment without enablement is a train crash! Empowerment is often an overused word which means little without enablement. The one without the other is simply a train crash.
Often training is created to serve the majority of the needs of those carrying out a general role, rather than catering for the individual needs of each unique employee. Although there is some efficiency in the traditional way of thinking, there is magic in making learning and development suit the individual.
Enabling an individual so they have the capability to contribute their whole self gets them to return next day inspired, motivated, and enthused to be the best they can be.
The success of any business is hardwired to the productivity of its people. Organisations that consider people as merely a paid resource have difficulty retaining good people and generally end up overpopulated with under performers.
Organisations that value people as their greatest asset and demonstrate it through their actions are positioned to get the best out of all employees whilst retaining their top talent or high potential - a catalyst for business growth.
Royston Guest is a leading authority on growing businesses and unlocking people potential. Entrepreneur, author of #1 best-seller Built to Grow and RISE: Start living the life you were meant to lead, CEO of Pathways Global and founder of The Business Growth PathwayÔ and Pti Worldwide. His new book RISE is a practical guide using a coaching framework to help the reader identify where they’re going in their career, and life, and how to get to there. It shares a plethora of ideas, strategies and practical tools that enables the reader to become more self-aware – unpacking their relationship with their past and understanding their present in order to make the conscious choices that will help them unlock their potential at work, unleash their success and create the future they want.
Categories: Blogs

What Business Leaders Can Learn from JFK’s Powerful Speech that Brought Us to the Moon

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 06:00

Guest post from Dick Richardson:
A simple definition of leadership is “Leadership is influencing others to do what they would not do if left to their own accord.”
Consider the most memorable speeches meant to persuade people: Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “I have a dream…” speech, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and John F. Kennedy’s “We choose to go to the moon” speech at Rice University.
What made these speeches so persuasive was not necessarily their oration, but their vision and appeal to the heart as well as the mind, and their construction. Let’s focus on Kennedy’s “We go to the moon” speech. This address followed a common structure for enrollment speeches—speeches to persuade.
Kennedy used two organizing principles for his talk. The first was chronology, starting with the past and ending with the future. The other was Aristotle’s three forms of persuasion: logos, pathos, and ethos—logic, emotion, and credibility.
The Past Kennedy started by talking about the past and what led the US to its current situation. He described in detail the breakneck pace at which technology was evolving, likening 50,000 years of human history to fifty years.  Continuing with this analogy, he said: “Then about ten years ago, under this standard, man emerged from his caves to construct other kinds of shelter. Only five years ago man learned to write and use a cart with wheels.” And at this pace, man will have “literally reached the stars before midnight tonight.”            Kennedy wanted to propose that reaching the moon was almost within our grasp, should we choose to travel there; that our past has now presented us with this opportunity.
The PresentHis speech then shifted to the present, hinting at the fact that no matter what we do, Russia would continue with its space program: “the exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not.” He contrasted the Soviet Union with the US. Both were competitors, but one would win. He said that the US must “become the world’s leading space-faring nation” in order to increase our own safety and security. Traveling to the moon was necessary to preserve our way of life, Kennedy inferred.
The FutureIn order to achieve this objective of landing on the moon inside of ten years, Kennedy then described what the country had already done to prepare for this future endeavor. He talked about the investments that had already been made in facilities, technology, Saturn rockets, and satellites, and the benefit to the American people of investing their hard-earned tax dollars in the mission—namely, a growing availability of high-paying jobs for skilled scientists. By committing to this future mission, we would be continuing the work already started.             Parallel to this presentation of history, current challenges, and future achievements, Kennedy used the framework of logos, pathos, and ethos.  
LogosLogos, or logic, is one element that Kennedy used throughout his Rice speech. He described all the investments made up to that point in space exploration and crafted a logical argument for why the US needed to invest at a more aggressive rate in order to gain the upper hand against the Soviet Union.
PathosAmericans were already on edge after Russia demonstrated superiority in space. So, Kennedy leveraged that insecurity, tapping into that emotion, fear and expressing sympathy for those real feelings.  That Russia might soon control the skies created a security weakness for the US. But Kennedy also appealed to our pride. “But this city of Houston, this State of Texas, this country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward—and so will space.”
EthosKennedy also demonstrated source credibility or authority—ethos—as he spoke, so that those in the audience did not question his statements.
On top of making a logical case for investing heavily in space exploration, Kennedy made Americans feel. They were afraid, then hopeful, then resolved, and then proud of the ambitious plan their president had outlined.
In addition to chronology and Aristotle’s forms of persuasion, Kennedy also used tried and true communication patterns.
Communication Patterns
If you listen to Kennedy’s speech, you will notice the following speech patterns and speaking style points:
  • Simple words. Kennedy doesn’t try to impress by using multisyllabic words no one recognizes. He makes the information he’s sharing accessible, understandable.
  • Short sentences. Kennedy also uses short, crisp sentences containing a single idea at a time.
  • Systematic. When Kennedy makes a statement, he then backs it up with an explanation or proof. He makes his point in a methodical way.
  • No extra fluff. He chooses his words carefully, packing a punch in as few words as possible. He chooses words that generate an emotional response whenever possible, such as “pride” or “un-tried.”
  • Repetition. Many of the great speeches, including Kennedy’s, use repetition for effect. Abraham Lincoln repeated the words “cannot” in the Gettysburg address: “Cannot dedicate…cannot consecrate…cannot hallow…” Similarly, Kennedy used the phrase “We choose” three times in his speech, just as Martin Luther King, Jr. used the phrase “Now is the time.”

Bio:  Dick Richardson is the founder and CEO of Experience to Lead, a firm that offers unique, immersive experiences to improve the leadership skills of senior business executives.  He is also the author of Apollo Leadership Lessons (Authority Publishing), a book that demonstrates what how the tactics employed by the moon program’s key decision-makers can be applied in business today, from the C-suite on down to the frontline. 
Categories: Blogs

How to Beat Scrutiny During a Culture Change

Thu, 08/08/2019 - 06:00

Guest post from S. Chris Edmonds:
When leading a culture change initiative, scrutiny of senior leaders’ plans, decisions, and actions increases heavily. I tell senior leaders that they’ll never be able to run a yellow light at a traffic signal in their town again! Yes, even senior leader behavior away from the workplace is scrutinized.
Consequently, it is extremely important for senior leaders to model their declared values – every day, with every interaction.
Too often senior leaders “manage by announcements,” publishing a set of expectations or rules that they declare are to be embraced from that moment forward, yet they do not actively demonstrate those expectations themselves, measure how well others embrace those expectations, etc. No wonder leader credibility suffers in many organizations. Only when senior leaders model desired valued behaviors will the rest of the organization trust those leaders, follow those leaders,and model those desired valued behaviors themselves.
Here’s a great example. A client shared an interesting perspective about his boss, a gentleman he’d been working with for over a year. His boss – let’s call him Tom – is a fabulous champion of the company’s culture change process. Tom has effectively led culture change initiatives at his last two organizations and has begun work to refine the culture of his current organization. Tom started with his senior leadership team by sharing his leadership point of view – his philosophy of leadership – and his values. He asked his direct reports to hold him accountable to those values and the valued behaviors Tom has defined.
In addition, Tom chartered his senior leadership team to refine that group’s purpose, values, behaviors, and norms to ensure everything they do helps the business grow and succeed and is consistent with their agreements.
The client’s comment unintentionally described the scrutiny Tom is under. He said, “I keep waiting for Tom to be inconsistent.” Two things are clear –
  1. Tom has really put himself on the line by declaring his values and asking his staff to hold him accountable for those values.
  2. For over a year, Tom hasn’t yet acted in conflict with his declared values. That’s really powerful!

Does Your Culture Serve Customers, Employees, and Stakeholders Equally Well?
If the existing culture is not serving customers, employees, or stakeholders consistently, it may be time for a change.
Senior leaders can refine their organization’s existing culture by doing three things:○     First, clarify performance expectations and gain employee agreement on those expectations.○     Second, define values in behavioral terms and gain employee agreement to demonstrate those behaviors.○     Finally, hold themselves and all organizational leaders, managers, andstaff accountable for both performance and values.
Most senior leaders have not experienced successful culture change. Even fewer, across the globe, have led successful culture change. The journey to become a high performing, values-aligned organization is both intense and gratifying. Senior leaders may not be aware of it, but they are both the sponsors and drivers of the organization’s current culture. When you are ready, we’re here to help.

S. Chris Edmonds is a sought-after speaker, author, and executive consultant. After a 15-year career leading successful teams, Chris founded his consulting company, The Purposeful Culture Group, in 1990. Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies since 1995. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Amazon best sellers The Culture Engine and Leading at a Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Learn from his blog posts, podcasts, assessments, research, and videos at Get free resources plus weekly updates from Chris by subscribing here
Categories: Blogs

Having the Courage to Trust Your Team

Thu, 08/01/2019 - 06:00

Guest post by Bill Treasurer:
Leadership is typically associated with action—with trying, doing, and achieving. However, there’s another side to leadership that focuses on the followers: trust. As leaders, we need to actively trust our followers, teams, and employees. While this sounds simple, it’s often a hard task for those of us who are goal-oriented.
Trusting other people requires us to let go of the impulse to control outcomes or people. It requires us to quell our defense mechanisms and ditch our preconceptions about “what’s right.” For Type A, coffee-clutching personalities, this goes against everything we stand for and believe. Trusting others is at odds with the take-charge spirit that permeates the business world. For example, in many companies, the most valued employees are those who force order, control chaos, and take decisive action. As the Roman poet Virgil said, “Fortune favors the bold.”
However, business success springs from empowered employees, and that requires mutual trust. On the one hand, you need your employees to trust you if you want them to follow your direction enthusiastically. On the other hand, you need to monitor their performance, which, if done too closely, comes across as distrust. To make matters worse, many leaders and managers work in organizations layered with forced hierarchies and inherently distrustful systems. It’s more difficult to instill trust in your workers if you’re an extension of a system that doesn’t trust them. “Oh, sure,” your workers may think, “I’ll trust you … just as soon as you stop monitoring our e-mails, stop drug testing, or stop requiring to-the-minute time reports.”
Establishing trust is hardest for new leaders
New leaders and managers, in particular, have the hardest time establishing what I call “TRUST Courage,” the courage of relying on others. For instance, consider how challenging it is for new managers to delegate important tasks to their direct reports. If an employee screws up, it reflects on the manager, not the employee.
Consequently, new managers struggle to let go of delegated tasks; instead, they hover over workers like smothering helicopter parents. In doing so, they thwart their employees’ development and keep themselves mired in tasks they don’t have time for—and should have outgrown at this point in their careers.
Delegation is a hard task for new (and even experienced) managers because it involves intentionally refraining from controlling an outcome. If a manager doesn’t trust that an employee will get the job done, he or she will take that task back—or worse—won’t even give the task to the employee in the first place. The result? Managers and employees become trapped in an unhealthy leadership dependency in which workers wait to be told what to do, like baby birds waiting for a meal. Inevitably, a dangerous cycle ensues: the manager completes the tasks, which prevents workers from gaining the experience and skills they need to perform the tasks, which keeps the manager from delegating the tasks, which requires the manager to finish the tasks—and it never ends.
Breaking the cycle
To break the cycle, you must build TRUST Courage. Yes, TRUST Courage involves taking on risk, gambling on other people, and accepting that you might get harmed in the process. It can be risky. You might feel vulnerable. You’ll be forced to rely on others’ actions, which are beyond your control. It will take courage to let employees do their jobs. It will take courage to keep yourself from interfering, to accept that employees will make mistakes. But the end result will be a more productive, efficient, and innovative workforce.
How can you trust your team more this week? What would that look like for you?

Bill Treasurer is a workplace expert, courage pioneer, and author of Courage Goes to Work: How to Build Backbones, Boost Performance, and Get Results.  Founder of Giant Leap Consulting, a consulting and training company specializing in courage-building, he advises organizations—including NASA, eBay, Lenovo, Saks Fifth Avenue, Spanx, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Pittsburgh Pirates—on teaching workers the kind of courage that strengthens businesses and careers. Learn more at
Categories: Blogs

When Going Gets Tough, Action and Attitude Carry the Day

Tue, 07/30/2019 - 14:33

Guest post by Marc Demetriou:

There are two words that literally have everything to do with the everything in your days, as you go forward to live your dream and fashion your success: Action and Attitude.
Action: The lazy and uninspired will never inherit the earth, nor even the slightest speck of it. In order to achieve anything, you must be up and doing, actively engaged, and ever in motion. Building a best life requires more than mere motion, and more than mere effort or baby steps. It truly requires enthusiasm, zeal, and zest, along with the unbridled passion discussed in the previous chapter. Action is for those who are willing to sprint and go all out. There are no half–measures or shortcuts.
Each action taken must be considered, measured, and weighed, as each must fit into the larger context of the overall plan. Success is ultimately the province of the one who is on fire, the one who is utterly determined, and the one who will keep shoveling and shoveling in the resolute belief that he or she will indeed move the mountain placed in his or her path, no matter its girth or its mass. When you are going all out, fear itself gets cast aside and all systems are go, because the committed, engaged, and utterly active have no time for fear.
Of course, it is you who must implement your plan, as there is no magic in the moonlight out there that will do it for you. Plans are always the wellsprings of action, and, as such, your plan is not made to gather dust. Action is passion in motion. As Pablo Picasso said, it is “the foundational key to all success.” As Bo Bennett, author of Year to Success, writes, “A dream becomes a goal when action is taken towards its achievement.” May you make what he says your daily mantra, for your road to success must follow just such a course—from the dream, to the goal, to the action, to the achievement, bit by bit and step by step, inexorably onward, until you can truly exhale, breathe deeply, and smile broadly after having fulfilled what you set out to accomplish. It can take a long, long time, but it’s not the time spent that matters. Rather, fulfillment is in the doing. That’s action.
Attitude: Attitude is a larger–than–life word. Your attitude is the embodiment of the very way in which you grapple with life. It is the living expression of your acceptance or rejection of what life dishes out to you. It is your signature, your logo, your mark. Ralph Marston went so far as to say, “Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude.” John C. Maxwell said, “People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.”
So, yes indeed, attitude is one very big word. To add to this potent litany of quotes about attitude is a popular saying that goes “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” Are you positive, upbeat and smiling when you try to succeed at anything, or are you down on the world and predisposed to think in skeptical terms about what is possible? Do you look for the good in people or rather expect to find the worst in them? Do you expect to take without giving or are you rather a “reap what you sow—you only get what you give” type? Is the cup always half full, or half empty?
If you think that you can take without giving, if you expect the worst from people, if you are generally negative and slow to smile, or predisposed to give less rather than more, then you might want to save yourself the time and effort and put this book aside right now, because success and a best life just might not be your thing. That is, of course, unless you are willing to do the hard work, and change! The truth is that you can begin to change your attitude by simply biting your tongue and smiling when it hurts. You are capable of changing and improving the way you behave and act, if you only have the will. Even the worst of attitudes can be made right with a little spit polish, glue, and hand–holding therapy. Believe it or not, no matter how hard or angry, ditching the negative and accenting the positive just might feel good. Why on earth would you want to hold onto a negative world view and attitude
The great American composer Irving Berlin who wrote in his book, Gathering No Moss: Memoir of a Reluctant World Traveler, “Life is 10 percent what you make of it and 90 percent how you take it.” What I am telling you is that 90 percent of what we are after here is largely the province of the upbeat and daring, the positive and determined, and the smiling and lighthearted. Yes, 90 percent of it is for those who will go forward undaunted, taking the hits and the failings and climbing over the pitfalls and the potholes, and even the occasional quicksand that will be placed in their paths. It is the positive and the upbeat who can deal with the vagaries and surprises of life. As Grandpa Charlie taught me, “Never stop moving in the direction of your dream.”
About the Author: Marc Demetriou is nationally ranked mortgage broker based in New Jersey and author of the book, Lessons From My Grandfather: Wisdom for Success in Business and Life.
Categories: Blogs

Taking Chances to Lead Change in the 21st Century: Why It’s Cool Not to Be So Cool

Thu, 07/25/2019 - 06:00

Guest post from Julie Benezet:

The internet changed all the rules.
Life has always had its challenges when new things showed up, but most of the time we thought we could handle them. While we didn’t love dealing with adversity, because we knew the people and situations involved, things seemed under control, familiar, . . . comfortable. At least that’s what we thought.
Then came the internet. With its global reach and instant transmission of vast amounts of information, we find ourselves living in a fast, hyperconnected world. Relentless change has become the norm. People, situations, and places we don’t know can have a direct impact on our lives, significantly altering the competitive landscape.  So much is unknown, and the new is everywhere--new technology, new economic models, new politics, new cultural norms, and new products and services. Much feels unpredictable, out of our control, . . . uncomfortable.
What does this have to do with leadership?  Everything.
The job of a leader, whether of a large corporation or small project team, is to discover new ideas to make life better for their customers, workforce, and communities. Then they have to convince others to join them in testing those ideas. The role has not changed since the concept of leadership was born. What has changed is the level of complexity, which is the gift and curse of the internet.
The job of 21st century leaders is to steer their organizations through the unknowns of the new toward a better place, and to treat its scariness as an asset, not a liability.
The internet introduced an infinite number of unknowns into business life. To succeed, leaders must find new ways for their organizations to satisfy rapidly evolving market and organizational demands. That involves experimenting with new concepts that carry no guaranteed outcomes. It can be uncomfortable, but that is how change happens.
Trying out a new idea is also awkward. Exploring its possibilities requires asking difficult questions about issues others want to avoid, talking to people you barely know, or suggesting fresh approaches that make them uneasy. Nevertheless, to create a winning idea, you need to learn as much as you can about the stakeholders whose lives you want to improve.
We work so hard in the 21st century to be cool, acting as if we know it all, but being cool rather than risking awkward conversations could cost us opportunities.
Charting a Course toward New Possibilities

Traveling on the road of discovery to realize new ideas requires taking chances. It is lined with uncertainty and reasons for turning back. Nevertheless, leadership calls for forward movement.

The Journey of Not Knowingâ sets forth four principles that provide navigation lights through the discomfort of pursuing something new.

The Core Four:
1.  Dare to dream. Choose an idea you believe will move people to a higher plain. It could be a different company communication culture to overcome people’s reluctance to give each other valuable feedback. You could explore a new market outside of your core business based on customer requests for help.  Or, you could find a different way to build teams, allowing team members rather than managers to choose and evaluate their members.
A dream often is something you’ve been ignoring, either because the underlying problem deeply bothers you or you know it will be hard. If it scares you, however, you probably are on the right track.
Once you identify a dream, crystallize it by soliciting feedback from the people who will benefit from it. 
2.  Get comfortable with the scariness of risk.
Adopt a healthy attitude toward risk and its contribution to success. As you test new ideas, much can go wrong.  Your friends, colleagues, or customers might think the ideas are stupid, irrelevant, or expensive.  If you lead a team, your teammates might greet them with suspicion or annoyance.
Their reactions could cause you anxiety, adding to an inner dialog already running through your head about the possible consequences of your experiment: Will they laugh at me? Will it fail? Will I lose my reputation, or my job over this?  Or, will they love it?
Nervousness comes with the adventure of pioneering ideas. It is part of driving change. It also signifies you are on the road to something better. Embrace discomfort as a reminder to pay attention, learn from mistakes, and recalibrate as needed.
  C.  Watch out for self-sabotaging behaviors.
Recognize that human beings are messy. That includes leaders.
When leaders try something new without knowing the outcome, the walls of resistance will rise.  People react defensively to cope with fear. Their reactions are normal.  Defenses give people short term comfort but prevent achieving better things. The biggest resistance, however, might come from you and stand in the way of your dreams.
Everyone has defenses. They appear in many well-known forms: Micromanagement, personalizing, and conflict avoidance top the list. To overcome their impact and return to the quest for new ideas, start by recognizing when your defenses are triggered. Understand their negative impacts. Then broaden your strategy to support your mission.
D.  Find drivers to fuel your travel through discomfort of the unknown
To move through the discomfort on the road to new things, you need a purpose or “driver” for traveling on it. Your purpose can be as simple as, “I so despise that guy competing against us on this proposal that I will work with our frightening analytics team who will assure a winning bid.” 
The strongest drivers arise from one’s values, life stories, and vision for the future. The deeper you go, the more fuel they will give you.  Self-knowledge is power. It means getting to know and accepting who you are, lending strength and clarity as you face the discomfort of the new.
In short, it’s cool not to be so cool.  Successful leaders plunge into the awkwardness of the new to learn about themselves and the needs of the people whose lives they want to make better. Their reward is the thrill of making a difference.

Julie Benezet spent 25 years in law and business, and for the past 17 years has coached and consulted with executives from virtually every industry. She earned her stripes for leading in the discomfort of the new as Amazon’s first global real estate executive. She is an award-winning author of The Journey of Not Knowing: How 21st Century Leaders Can Chart a Course Where There Is None. Her new book, The Journal of Not Knowing, offers a self-guided discovery mission to pursue one’s dreams and overcome the scariness along the way toward achieving them.  She can be reached at
Categories: Blogs

Effective Leadership Begins with a Strong Foundation

Tue, 07/16/2019 - 06:00

Guest post from Tabitha Laser:
What is leadership?  Since joining the workforce more than 25 years ago, and serving as a leader for numerous organizations, it’s apparent that leadership means very different things to different people.  Simply put, leadership is the art of inspiring, motivating, empowering, supporting, and assuring a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal.  Unfortunately, the term is often confused with management, which can be defined as the process of dealing with or controlling things or people.
Why, in our current environment, is there confusion around these two terms and does what makes a strong leader still exist? 
Part of the problem lies with our current misconception around how organizations are led.  A day doesn’t go by where I don’t read or hear the term “led from the top.” This is what I believe to be a ‘deadly practice’ because it creates unhealthy competition, acts as a barrier for growth, and limits an organization’s ability to achieve sustainable success.  Allow me to elaborate on that.
Imagine your organization as a building, where its leaders are at the roof of the building.  Now imagine the workforce, processes, and equipment as the walls, fixtures, and foundation of the organization below, and your customers, market factors, and environment as the external pressures being applied to your building. 
If your building is made of bricks, picture the three little pigs’ scenario. Your organization will be able to survive quite a beating.  If your building, on the other hand, is made of straw, then it’s likely your organization will succumb to the slightest pressure.  
Regardless of your building’s strength, when your leadership forms the roof of the organization, you are creating a situation where they are practically forced to take on more of a “management” role that one of “leadership,” making it extremely difficult for that organization to grow.  In some cases, there has been growth; however, it has been as a result of falsifying data, back-stabbing, and other counterintuitive behaviors. That’s not a sustainable way to grow any business.
So, how can we fix this conundrum?  
First, we need to flip the script, and start requiring leaders to lead from the basement.  Not just from the bottom up, but from the basement.  They need to be the ones who define success, illustrated by the location for the organization and the expectations necessary to achieve success, which form the foundation for the organization.  When organizations are led from the basement, the challenge to build around them to grow is eliminated, and the building is encouraged to innovate, experiment, and expand far beyond the organization’s expectations for success.  Only then leaders will be properly positioned to truly spearhead their organization and provide the inspiration, motivation, empowerment, support, and assurance necessary to sustainably grow without limitations.  In other words, 
“The sky is the limit for a roofless building built on a strong foundation.”
When organizations are led from the basement, management is ultimately unnecessary.  This is a difficult pill for most to swallow, but a necessary step every organization needs to consider if they want to survive and thrive long into the future!

About Tabitha LaserTabitha Laser is a multi-faceted professional with over 25 years of leadership experience in a wide variety of industries ranging from oil and gas, energy, manufacturing, agriculture, construction and many more. Her diverse background has provided her with numerous opportunities to work with government agencies and some of the world’s largest companies, including Fortune 500 companies like BP, 3M, and General Mills.  Her experience and education have fueled her passion to help shape the next generation of leaders, especially millennials, to avoid the pitfalls of their predecessors and lead beyond best.  Tabitha is the author of the book, Organization Culture Killers.  This is the first in a series of leadership books she calls “The Deadly Practices.”
Categories: Blogs

6 Ways to Just Say No to Stress

Wed, 07/10/2019 - 07:12
Guest post from Janelle Bruland:

There is a growing epidemic that is killing us as leaders, and it’s completely curable. Our culture is filled with more anxiety and stress than ever. None of us were built to handle what we are all dealing with on a daily basis. The average knowledge worker today is interrupted every 11 minutes by some form of communication. Many of us wake in the morning and immediately reach for our phones which we strategically placed on our bedside table the night before so that it will be the first thing we see each day. The people in our lives expect an answer to their messages in seconds, and they think we are ignoring them if we take even a few minutes more than that.

The result of all of this is chaos and chaos creates stress. Stress is a killer. It effects our health, causes confusion, and steals our joy. If it goes on long enough it might steal our time here on this planet and that would be even more tragic.

So, what can we do? My guess is that if you are reading this you have probably been overwhelmed recently. In fact, many of you live in a constant overwhelmed state.

I have learned firsthand that living this way is not sustainable. I have a successful business that I started in 1995. In a time of exponential growth and expansion, my husband got in the car and drove away leaving me with three young children to raise. If there was such a thing as a stress meter, I would have been afraid to know what the numbers were at the time. How in the world was I going to continue to lead my company and keep up with my duties at home (and anywhere else, for that matter)?

Sometimes challenges like these turn out to be a blessing because it forces us to figure out how to change things. I did just that. My heart was broken but there was no time to grieve. I had to get to work on a solution. I didn’t always do it perfectly, but I did discover transformational systems and practices that not only allowed me to survive, but to thrive in the most stressful time of my life.

I would like to share a few of them with you:

1. Write a list of things you are going to say no to. That’s right. Not a to-do list, but a not-going-to-do list. For example, I say no to the opportunities that come up that I am not completely passionate about.  When we choose to participate in something, we should be excited to be involved, not doing it out of guilt or obligation. I also say no to things that are not aligned with my core values and priorities.  To stay true to our values, our words, behavior, and actions must be in line with our beliefs. I decline requests that are not in my wheelhouse. Often, we are asked to do things that truly belong on someone else’s “to do” list. Be sure to pass on those, or delegate them to a more appropriate person.

I have learned to avoid those things that drain me of energy as often as I can.  Our time should be spent on activities that we enjoy and give us energy, not deplete it. And finally, I say no to relationships that are unhealthy. We will never be our best if we are constantly having to lift ourselves up from interactions with unsupportive or negative people. Eliminate these relationships.

2. Cut back on technology. I know. Easy to say. Hard to do. We are all afraid we might miss something, right? But it will be there when you come back to it. It’s not going anywhere. This is a tough one, but doable. At first you will literally have a physical reaction to leaving your cell phone behind or turning it off. But keep doing it and eventually you will experience the freedom that it brings to be unhooked and you will want to do it more often.

3.Train the people in your circle about how and when you will be responding. If you have just walked into the gym and get a call that you know is not a life or death matter, let it go to voice mail and don’t feel guilty.  Schedule a time in your day for phone calls and email. Pretty soon, people will know that you are not ignoring them. Do this one thing and you will begin to live a proactive life instead of a reactive one.

4.Take care of your health. We are no good to anyone else if we don’t take care of ourselves first. Commit to self-care. Fuel your body with healthy food. Find an hour a day to walk or go to the gym. Most of us are too sedentary. We work at desk jobs. Get moving. Schedule it and then don’t let anything keep you from it.
Exercise release endorphins that give us euphoria and joy. Endorphins are stress killers!

5.  Be grateful. Most of us live better than 90 percent of the world. Our complaints are usually, as one person said, “First world problems.” You will drive to work today in a decent car. You most likely live in a safe and warm place. Remind yourself often about how good you have it. If something needs to be changed, change it. One practice I use is to write down three things I am grateful for every day. This activity shifts my mindset.

6.  Go to sleep. If you do all these de-stressing activities you will find that you also start doing perhaps the most important thing to help relieve stress and clear your mind: sleep. Most of do not get enough sleep and, when we do, we don’t sleep well. Sleep is vital to winning the war on stress and having the life we always dreamed of.

These 6 practices were life changing for me. Incorporate them and enjoy the positive effects when you just say no to stress.

Janelle Bruland is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, and high-performance coach
who inspires others to live impactful and successful lives. She is Founder and CEO of Management Services Northwest, a company she started in her living room in 1995 and has grown into an industry leading company, named one of the Fastest Growing Private Companies by Inc. magazine. The CPO of Microsoft, Mike Simms, describes her as a true pioneer in her field. Janelle is also the Co-Founder of Legacy Leader, a leadership development company that teaches business professionals how to build a legacy, transform their leadership, and love their life. She is the author of The Success Lie: 5 Simple Truths to Overcome Overwhelm and Achieve Peace of Mind.

Categories: Blogs

Does Your Email Inbox Dictate Your Day — And Should It?

Tue, 07/02/2019 - 06:00

Guest post from Dianna Booher:
A reporter for Newsday called recently for a comment about his story on executive stress and the connection to email. As I shared stats from my organization’s recent survey, the reporter passed along comments from a CEO he’d just interviewed: “Email interrupts me all day long. I can’t focus on my core work. It’s 1:30. I have a project in front of me right now that should take me an hour and a half to finish. But because of the email distractions, it’ll take the rest of the afternoon to get it done.”
Do you feel this executive’s pain – the frustration of disruptions in focusing on your core work? The bad news: You’re not alone. The good news: There are simple solutions (not easy solutions, but simple ones).
My organization, Booher Research Institute, recently commissioned a survey of email habits and productivity from the Social Research Lab at the University of Northern Colorado. Here’s what a representative sampling of knowledge workers across multiple industries reported about their email habits:
  • 42 percent spend 3 hours or more per day reading and writing email
  • 55 percent check their email either hourly or multiple times per hour
  • 31 percent spend more than 20 minutes per day searching for information or files to include in responding to emails

Conclusion: If your inbox feels like an email monster, you’re not fighting it alone. Here are five proven strategies to getting through your inbox faster so you can focus on your core work and the important emails.
DeclutterIf you’ve ever tried to move your belongings into a closet or garage previously used by someone else, you understand this principle: Get rid of the items that served someone else’s purpose before you reload that space. You’ll typically sort the previous owner’s junk into piles: garbage, donate, sell.
Look at your email box the same way: Over the years, you may have let it become a collection of junk serving everyone’s purposes but yours. And your own purposes may have changed over time as your role has changed. Cutting your email clutter can be the easiest way to carve away a big chunk of wasted time.
In the earlier mentioned University of Northern Colorado (UNC) survey, a whopping 69 percent of the participants identified clutter as their biggest email problem. Once you set your mind to the idea, decluttering goes quickly. Let’s get even more specific about how.…
Ask Team Members to Stop Hitting “REPLY ALL” and Stop Doing So YourselfInstead, of using “REPLY ALL,” send congratulatory comments directly to the person who deserves kudos. Offer thanks directly to the person who helped you. Turn down an invitation only to the appropriate person. Why clog up seventeen other inboxes, only to have all seventeen recipients echo back?
A good rule of thumb on the REPLY ALL feature: Is your response helpful to all on the distribution list?  If not, fly solo. Granted, changing the culture can be difficult. But aim to set the example.
Cull Your Distribution ListsChances are great that you get copied on many emails you don’t need. Their usefulness to you has long since passed. But you’ve found it quicker just to delete those periodic emails than to take yourself off the distribution list permanently.
In fact, according to the UNC survey, knowledge workers report that fully 35 percent of the emails they receive are either irrelevant  (22 percent) or redundant (13 percent). (Irrelevant emails refer to those about topics that do not apply to you. Redundant emails are those with the same information sent by multiple people.)
That “quick and easy” decision is understandable when you’re dealing with just one email. But over time, that decision amounts to thousands of distractions.
You also may be surprised to discover that culling your distribution lists for emails you send may increase engagement with the interested parties on important projects. As with meetings, the larger the group, the lower the individual participation. When emailing for input, the same principle applies: When you copy a large list, people feel anonymous, and fewer feel it’s necessary to respond. If you need their input, cut the list and you’ll increase response.
Stop Responding on CCs Sent for Promotion or PressureHidden agendas. Backhanded compliments. CYA attempts. Whatever the label, you recognize these tactics when you see them. When you respond to such CC emails about projects and issues not directly involving you, this encourages the sender to keep up the self-promotion and the pressure tactics on colleagues.
If you’re ever tempted to write such an email yourself, by all means, do so. Just don’t send it. This strategy in particular may demand a new mindset and a major emotional adjustment. An email cannot be both a productivity tool and a weapon. While it may motivate some, it will demoralize others.
Turn Off Email Alerts or Disable Automatic RetrievalIn the UNC survey, 55 percent of the participants said they keep their email open either always (37 percent) or most of the time (18 percent). That’s a major distraction from your work – unless your primary job is to read and respond to email!
Instead, handle emails only two or three times a day: ideally in the early morning, after lunch, and at the end of the day. Responding every time an email pops into your box breaks your concentration, wasting minutes and energy with each interruption. Productivity studies show there’s no such thing as multitasking – just rapid attention-switching. That in itself creates stress, increases the chance for error, and reduces overall efficiency.
How you handle email can often determine the trajectory of your career—whether you piddle away your time or focus on your core work. Master your emails—make them faster, fewer, better —and you’ll stand out as a leader who communicates clearly and delivers real results.
Dianna Booher’s latest books include Faster, Fewer, Better Emails; Communicate Like a Leader; What MORE Can I Say?; and Creating Personal Presence. She’s the bestselling author of 48 books, published in 61 foreign editions. Dianna helps organizations communicate clearly and leaders to expand their influence by a strong executive presence. For more information, please visit   
Categories: Blogs

Leadership and the Innovation Crisis

Tue, 06/25/2019 - 06:00

Guest post from Alf Rehn:Some say we live in the golden age of innovation, an age ruled by transformation and revolution. They point to shiny startups and the seemingly unstoppable progress of technology, and proclaim that our age is on track to solve all problems and cure all ills. I say they are sorely mistaken.Instead, I would argue that we live in the age of innovation crisis. What crisis, you may ask? A crisis of imagination, a crisis of ambition, a crisis of vision. A crisis where there has never been more talk about innovation – there’s no end to the books, blogs, LinkedIn-groups and Instagram-feeds dedicated to the same – yet we still struggle to solve some of the basic problems in society. We’ve never spent more on innovation, yet as many CEOs are starting to notice, the returns are diminishing, and the trend is down, not up. This is an age where you can buy a pair of “smart” socks that can communicate with your phone and let you know how many times they’ve been washed, but where despite having an abundance of food we still have hunger, even in advanced societies. An age where a great deal of money pours to a limited set of people in a limited area of the world, for the solving of very limited problems, whilst many who reside outside of Palo Alto or other anointed “innovation hubs” see their livelihood eroding and their environments getting poisoned. An age with lots of talk of innovation, lots of resources for it, better conditions for it than ever – but also an age of shallow innovation and a lack of innovation leadership. This is an age where we, as a global society, spend a minimum of $3,000,000,000,000 (that’s three trillion dollars, and it is a very, very lowball estimate) on innovation every year, and where at the same time around 750,000 children will die of diarrhea – just this year. This doesn’t mean innovation is dead. Far from it. We still create things, we still solve problems, we still design the most amazing technologies. The problem, however, is that much of this is a random walk down solution lane. That is, when it isn’t a case of solving trivial problems simply because that’s where the money is at. You see, the issue really isn’t that contemporary innovation doesn’t produce things. It does. It creates many products, many services, new processes, and a plethora of apps. Some of these even make money. What it doesn’t do is to direct and focus the potential power of innovation – with all the money and the knowledge and the skills and the technology at our disposal – to where it can do the most good.Succinctly put, innovation has a leadership problem. There is innovation, but far too much of this is done without any deep, meaningful purpose. Instead, it goes where the money is, where the easy solutions are, following the path of least resistance. A true innovation leader would protest this, demand that innovation should have impact and purpose and a meaning beyond dollars and cents, but as we have a lack of such leaders, innovation focuses on shallow show-offs. Without true innovation leadership, we risk that the exponential technologies that could be harnessed to solve some of the most complex wicked problems of our age – an aging society, looming environmental disasters, ossified social structures, the coming water crisis, and so on – are instead focused on improving cheap entertainment and incremental improvements in food delivery system.What our age needs, then, are new innovation leaders. For these, skills such as innovation management and design thinking will not be special but assumed by default, just as we today assume people can handle email and Excel. Besides such basics, tomorrow’s innovation leaders will need to build strong, inclusive innovation cultures – replete with psychological safety and a capacity to reflect on the most challenging, contrarian ideas. For them, emphasizing diversity in innovative organizations will be a given, and they will leverage this to crank up innovation ambition and foster deep discussions about the purpose of the same. They will realize that some innovations can be done quickly, and they will be comfortable experimenting, but in addition they will understand that some innovations can take years, even decades, to come to fruition and have the courage to engage with them despite this.The next challenge for today’s leaders is to develop this kind of innovation leadership. We have the resources, and we have the problems. Do we also have the courage, the grit, and the fortitude to truly allow innovation to be all that it can be? Time will tell, but the organizations that are prepared to take up the challenge of innovation ambition and true innovation leadership will be the ones that define the decades to come. Will yours be one of them?Alf Rehn, author of Innovation for the Fatigued:  How to Build a Culture of Deep Creativity, is recognized as a global thought-leader in the field of innovation and creativity.  Rehn is Professor of Innovation, Design, and Management at the University of Southern Denmark, sits on numerous boards of directors, is a bestselling author, and serves as a strategic advisor for hot new startups to Fortune 500 companies. For more information, please visit
Categories: Blogs

A Leader’s Guide to Creating an Enduring Brand

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 08:58

Guest post by Lindsay Pedersen:

Show me a valuable business, and I’ll show you a leader who has had to make hard choices. They’ve had to look at 100 good ideas and take 99 of them off the table in favor of the excellent one.
That means they’ve also become proficient in prioritizing. Ruthless prioritization serves you—the CEO, the general manager, the team owner, the person on the hook for the P&L of your business. It buoys you from paralyzing overwhelm to empowerment.
Then you are truly leading your team, and your employees return in kind, with their own understanding, demonstration, and embodiment of the business.Easy to grok. But how do you do this?
Everything you decide to do in and for your business—all those hard choices and prioritizing—either reinforces or erodes your brand. So you need to pay attention to it. Brand should be the North Star to guide you. Your brand—the thing you want to stand for in the mind of your customer—is the best way to filter your decision-making. From day-to-day decisions (Should I attend this conference? Should I reevaluate this idea?) to monumental ones (Should I partner with this company? Should I quadruple my spending on this promising investment?), brand shines so brightly that it makes visible the right decision without you needing to spend precious time and cognitive energy weighing choices.
Because brand is the lynchpin for a business with pricing power, loyalty, employee meaning, and enduring value creation, you making decisions that reinforce your brand meaning enables your business not only to survive but to thrive.
You still might not think brand is your area of expertise. In the past, you may have felt tempted to delegate brand to marketing or even to an outside agency. But to do so is to miss brand’s power. It’s to mistake brand for a single-pronged marketing angle, when it is really the North Star of your business. If you are delegating the brand strategy, then I’d suggest that it is not a brand strategy. It might be a neat marketing campaign, but if it doesn’t force hard choices across departments and over time, it’s not a brand strategy.
And here’s the thing: You, the leader, must be the one to choose the focus of the business. You, the leader, need to be the one to select a single brand promise for your customers.
In shining that light on one thing, you inherently cast all other things in shadow. You deselect bad but also good ideas so that there can be single-minded focus on one excellent idea. That focus is the very thing that makes brand strategy powerful.
For a brand to create value for a business, customers, and employees, it needs to be genuine and bracingly clear. That is the only way it will empower the leader and employees to make tough choices that amplify the brand. Value-creating brands are ones that force tough choices.
The truth is, it can be difficult, sometimes scary, to choose a focus, to make tough choices to choose a brand North Star. It takes courage and conviction to develop and follow one. Yet you cannot delegate courage and conviction.
Think of a brand that you love. What are the tough choices that this business makes to inspire that love? In order to offer what you appreciate from them, what can they not offer? In order to appeal to you, who might they not resonate with, and therefore not have a relationship with? Now, think how much leadership courage and conviction it takes to make those tough choices. How does a leader cultivate that courage and conviction? By creating a brand with intention, infusing the brand throughout the business, and modeling the importance of the brand.
When I hear a leader talking about the importance of brand, I am also watching to see whether this leader really means it. Has this person said no to something attractive in service of the brand? Behind closed doors, does the leader look to the brand as a guide in the same way the leader does publicly?
When employees see you owning brand, using brand to filter and to make trade-offs, demonstrating that you feel it in your bones, the employees will too. Employees need to see you believing in and modeling the brand when it’s easy but especially when it is hard—or there is zero percent chance that the employees will stick their necks out to follow that guiding star.
It matters to employees if you’re giving them air cover or not. Because that’s a leader’s ultimate job, to do that hard, strategic heavy-lifting—the heaviest lifting one might ever do. It takes moxie to create a brand strategy. The reward is pricing power, loyalty, and enduring pride among employees. The reward is a brand—and a business—that creates value and endures.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Lindsay Pedersen is the author of Forging An Ironclad Brand: A Leader’s Guide. She is a brand strategist and leadership coach who views brand as a blend of science, intuition, behavioral economics, and ancient storytelling. She developed the Ironclad Method™ while building brands with companies such as Starbucks, Clorox, Zulily, T-Mobile, IMDb, and burgeoning startups. Lindsay lives in Seattle with her husband and two children. Keep in touch with Lindsay through her website:

Categories: Blogs

Why Purpose, Mission, Vision and Values Really Do Matter

Tue, 06/11/2019 - 06:00

Guest post from Chris Griffiths:
Being able to define your purpose, mission, vision and values allows you to plan for your company’s future success. The Purpose/Mission/Vision/Values concept can apply to just about anybody in any business. Whether you’re an established company, an enthusiastic start-up or a remote worker, use this strategy to help define who you are and where you want to be. Although this way of thinking and working aids companies and their growth, it is highly underestimated. However, when these concepts are expressed clearly and concisely and relayed to the company, your business will be more focused on its future goals.
With the aid of the ‘Why We Exist’ Canvas, you’ll be able to assess business problems standing in the way of achieving your goals and map out the steps in order to reach them.

1.    Purpose: What is your reason for being?If you were to ask your colleagues what the purpose of the company was, how many would answer correctly? If the answer is only a few, then they wouldn’t be alone. Did you know that people are more likely to thrive when their work has a clear purpose and meaning? Define the purpose of the company and share it with your team. With a purpose clearly defined, workers will be uplifted, resulting in an increase in their output. Once your purpose is defined, be sure to put it into action. Make it believable and ensure each individual in the company is committed to it. Give it a go and see how the process boosts productivity, loyalty and performance throughout the company.
Action: Use your Canvas to note down why you choose to exist as a company, beyond the financial gain. What are your strengths as a team/company? What is your thing that attracts the attention of others?
2.  Mission: What’s your core mission statement?Although a business strategy is likely to change over time, the company’s mission will not. If you’re unfamiliar with mission statements, they define the business and its primary objectives. For example, a company mission may be to boost productivity for individuals and teams worldwide. Be bold and courageous with your goals and mission statement. After all, if your goal doesn’t scare you then it’s not big enough. Defining a clear mission statement allows you to be transparent with the team. Your team will know what to expect from you and what you expect from them. Champion a grand mission, rather than bland statements. Once defined, check your mission statement by asking yourself these essential four questions:
●     What do we do?●     How do we do it?●     Whom do we do it for?●     What value are we bringing to others?
Action: Write an ambitious yet achievable position in your market or in your customers’ lives that recognizes your Purpose. Ensure your statement is concise and never underestimate the importance of your company’s mission.
3. Vision: Where is the future taking you?We all have a vision for our goals. ‘Where do we want to be in three, five or ten years’ time?’, is the key question to ask yourself when thinking about the company vision. Your vision is also a powerful influencing factor for employee retention and engagement. When considering your vision and how it could impact your team, think about how you can make it sustainable and scalable. Analyze areas such as how to carry your business in the future and establish timeframes for when you’d like to reach certain milestones. An important point to remember is not to define a statement purely for the sake of it. Define your vision in order to live it.
Action: What’s the difference you’re aiming to make in your customers’ lives or society at large? Define it on your Canvas.
4. Values: What do you stand for? Company values are closely linked with its mission. They represent choices connected with your mission and are the core DNA of your business. Think of values as your identity and what you stand for. Strong values lead to action and become a guiding force as your company grows. Your company values have the ability to influence others and welcome potential customers. Take some time to understand the real priorities of your business; you’ll then be able to determine the best direction for the company. Identifying and understanding your values is challenging, yet vital. By pinpointing your company values, you’ll be more aware of these factors when making future decisions.
Action: Now use your Canvas to define the principles and values that will accelerate your progress and success.
Inspire the people around you with your purpose, mission, vision and values to help cement business goals and take the company to the next level.
Chris Griffiths, author of The Creative Thinking Handbook:  Your Step-By-Step Guide To Problem Solving In Business, is founder and CEO of OpenGenius. Griffiths has helped thousands of people worldwide drive business growth using highly practical innovation processes, including teams and individuals from Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 companies, the United Nations, governments, the European Commission and Nobel Laureates. He is a pioneer in combining creative thinking strategies with technology to enhance productivity and is behind the iMindMap and DropTask apps, now utilized by over two million people worldwide.
Categories: Blogs

Transform Your Team With This Innovative Approach

Tue, 06/04/2019 - 05:30

Guest post from Eric Coryell:
Accountability.  Good employees are accountable.  Good leaders hold their employees accountable.  Good organizations have accountable cultures. But what does it really mean to be accountable?  And what happens when someone isn’t accountable?  How leaders deal with non-accountable behavior goes a long way to defining the culture of an organization.
The generally accepted definition of being accountable is that “you do what you say you are going to do.”  Yet everyone will inevitably fail on this accord.  Does that mean they are not accountable?  I think it is when someone does not “do what they said they would do” that accountability is determined.  Someone who is non-accountable will tend to make excuses, point fingers, deny, deflect or refuse to change.  Accountable people will take responsibility for not delivering on the desired results and start doing something differentuntil the desired results are achieved.
Wouldn’t life be great if everyone exhibited accountable behavior 100% of the time?  As great as that idea sounds it is not realistic and leaders must decide what to do when one of their reports is not acting accountably.  This action is generally known as holding someone accountable.  To effectively hold someone accountable the leaders sets the foundation by setting clear expectations, contracting, incentivizing, and putting feedback mechanisms in place.  If the employee does not deliver on the desired results and then doesn’t act accountably the leader has to step in and coach, reassess, train, or even (re)set consequences.  Continued non-accountable behavior can lead to disciplinary actions and even termination.
But who really has the accountability during this process?  Who is the one doing something different until the desired results are achieved?  The leader!  The whole notion of holding someone accountable is really a myth.  When a leader says they are holding someone accountable what they are really saying that they are taking the accountability away from the individual.  They are now the ones that are doing something different until the desired results are achieved.  And if they don’t achieve the desired results their leader is going to do the same thing to them.  This is called leader-led accountability and is the norm in most organizations.
There are two significant problems with this approach to managing accountability.  One is that not everyone is good at taking the accountability from their employees (formerly known as “holding them accountable”).  Some leaders are afraid of alienating their employees so they shy away from it or they convince themselves they can’t do that until they are perfectly accountable themselves.  The second problem is that it creates very upward looking organizations.  Employees are constantly looking up to their boss as they are the ones whose expectations they have to meet and they are the ones who will take their accountability away if they don’t meet them.
But there is another way a leader can manage accountability and that is by setting up their team to be accountable.  On accountable teams when someone fails to meet expectations and aren’t doing something different to get those results, the team members step in.  To many this sounds Pollyanna but more than likely you have been on accountable team at some point in your life.  Take a moment and think of the best team you have ever been a part of.  It might be your family, a high school sports team, volunteer organization, or a work team.  As you think about that team, I am confident it had the basics of all functional teams: (1) clear purpose, (2) some way of measuring whether you were achieving that purpose, (3) competent people, and (4) capable process.  But if it was a really good team than it probably had one more thing and that was a willingness and ability to deal with any issues that were getting in the way of the team achieving its purpose.  This meant when there were team members not upholding their end of the deal the other team members took the accountability and addressed the issue(s).
What made this all possible and what separates that team from most teams you have been on are two things.  First there was a real and meaningful shared fate on the team.  In other words, what happened to one, happened to all.  You either won together or you lost together.  This provided the motivation for the team members to take on the accountability issue.  The second thing your best team had was a real and meaningful level of trust amongst the team members.  This made it possible to deal with those real issues without damaging the team.
For today I want to focus on how to do the first step and that is to build a meaningful shared fate on the team.  Good coaches know how to do this (e.g. when someone is late for practice, everybody runs) as does the military – think boot camp.  In my experience I have come to realize that few business leaders do.  They typically look at their employees as having separate accountabilities (“John is accountable for sales, Mary is accountable for operations, etc.”) and then wonder why they aren’t functioning as a team.  Building a shared fate starts with the leader thinking of their team as a group of individuals who are responsible for achieving the team’s purpose and achieving the team’s metrics.  When the leader starts thinking in those term’s they start engaging in the behaviors necessary to build a shared fate on the team.  You can help build a shared fate by putting everyone’s desk in the same office, by making it hard to get on the team, by going through a difficult situation together, by sharing a common passion for the outcome, or even by creating a common enemy.  However, you choose to do it, leaders and coaches who want their team to become accountable must first focus on creating a real and meaningful shared fate for the team.  As that happens the accountability burden starts to become less for the leader.

ERIC CORYELL dedicates his time to helping organizations engage their employees through strategic alignment, leadership development, and the creation of functional and accountable teams. Eric’s new book is Revolutionize Teamwork, a quick read packed with valuable information that shows you how to create and lead accountable teams built on shared trust. Using the principles Eric outlines in this book leads to teams that are better able to make decisions and are motivated by group success.

Categories: Blogs

Diversity and Inclusion – Two Very Different Concepts

Thu, 05/30/2019 - 06:00

Guest post from Stephen Frost and Raafi-Karim Alidina:
To build an inclusive organisation, there are two main things you need to do.  You need to de-bias the systems that run the organisation, such as recruitment, pay, procurement, talent management and marketing.  And you need to lead inclusively.  Whilst both are important, leadership is the cornerstone, without which all the diversity initiatives in the world will be in vain.

When we think about how to reduce unconscious bias in organisations,
we often think about systems and processes. We think about recruitment policies, or how we do performance evaluations, or flexible working arrangements. We anonymize CVs, do 360° evaluations, and make work flexibility the default. All of these techniques are extremely important in making the workplace more equitable. They help to level the playing field and reduce the risk that we are systematically favouring or penalising any particular group.
However, as important as these processes are, they are only one half of the solution.
Diversity and inclusion – despite that they are often discussed together – are actually two very different concepts.  Diversity is about the mix of people on your team or in your organisation.  Making sure you have the right policies in place really helps with this half of the equation.  It makes sure that a broad swathe of people apply, that marginalised groups are just as likely to make it through the application process as majority groups, and that everyone has equal opportunity for advancement.
Inclusion, however, is about making sure the mix of people we have works.  It’s about ensuring that no one, regardless of their background or identity, has to worry about hiding parts of themselves. In an inclusive workplace, everyone has equal opportunity and support to thrive.  While policies can help with this to some degree, the work of including people is mostly done through leadership.
The reason for this is that while policies can mandate the way we review applications, they can’t really mandate how we run a meeting, or how we create an organizational culture.  That culture is built through the behaviours exhibited by all who work there.  If people are making sexist or racist jokes or comments, whether in formal meeting settings or during casual conversations, that creates a less inclusive environment. It makes those people who are the butt of those jokes feel like they are misunderstood and that people will judge them based on stereotypes rather than for who they are as an individual and the work they do.
However, if employees and especially organizational leaders make a point of calling out these bad behaviours and holding offenders accountable for their actions, we begin to show members of marginalized groups that these jokes do not reflect the culture the firm is trying to create.
Calling out offensive behaviours is easy, though – it’s obvious and overtly discriminatory.  However, there are subtler behaviours that are key to creating an inclusive environment that leaders should embrace.  For example, we know that women, disabled people, ethnic minorities, and other members of marginalized groups are more likely to be interrupted in meetings and have their ideas attributed to other people (usually middle-aged white men). If leaders make a point of ensuring that interruptions aren’t tolerated, or that when a good point is repeated that they give proper credit to the original person who made the point, it would go a long way to making sure that everyone feels welcome at work.
It goes beyond the traditional protected characteristics as well – introverts and people from lower socio-economic backgrounds, for example, often experience subtle behaviours that exclude them from bringing their whole selves to work and being their best.
To increase psychological safety – the feeling that it’s safe to contradict your boss, make mistakes, and dissent with decisions – leaders might consider having a dedicated devil’s advocate in meetings or including “rotten tomatoes time” in meetings where the goal is to poke holes in decisions or ideas that have come up. This creates a culture where disagreement and debate is welcome, and guards against blind spots and groupthink.
If you notice that some of your staff don’t speak up much in meetings, you might consider rotating the chair of the meeting to increase the participation of introverts.  Alternatively, you could send out questions with agendas in advance so that those who would rather think more deeply about their answers have the time to do so rather than simply reacting instinctually during meetings.
Policies and systems definitely need to be in place to ensure a diverse workplace – they help with recruitment and promotion, and ensure equality as much as possible.  But for inclusion, it is critical that leaders behave inclusively.  And when leaders set the example, their employees will follow. This is what creates an inclusive environment, and ensures that good people – regardless of their identity – can thrive.  As a result, those businesses will thrive as well.
Stephen Frostis co-author of Building An Inclusive Organization: Leveraging the Power ofa Diverse Workforce, and the CEO of the leadership consultancy Frost Included specializing in diversity and inclusion.
Raafi-Karim Alidina is co-author of Building An Inclusive Organization: Leveraging the Power of a Diverse Workforce, and a consultant with Frost Included, working with clients to help create more inclusive workplace cultures.

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Categories: Blogs

Leadership Irony: To Accomplish More, Do Less

Tue, 05/28/2019 - 11:17

Guest post from Sara Canaday:
As leaders, we are, by definition, doers. We finish. We deliver. We get results. And we love the feeling of accomplishment that comes with crossing things off our “to-do” lists. The tougher the task, the better we like it. We revel in being that person people bring the undoable to and then conquer.  That’s how we got here, right? We became the go-to resource for those around us, and it fueled our rise through the ranks. No whining. Just do it.
But what if our bias for action, our quest for pushing harder, won’t work anymore? What if incessant doing keeps us from greatness? Is that possible?
Here is a story that illustrates what I mean. A few years ago, I was asked to facilitate a leadership retreat for a tech company. On the agenda, was a business simulation that was akin to an outdoor scavenger hunt. The participants were divided into small groups and each team was asked to spend a few hours strategizing and developing a plan that would lead to the best and fastest way to find items and “collect” associated winnings.  Without going into detail, I can tell you that the group I was assigned to observe and coach post-simulation was convinced their airtight plan would net them the ultimate prize. They were going to stay together as a group and use their collective brain power to solve the clues.
That was their thinking anyway.
But a funny thing happened when the simulation started. This very deliberate and intelligent group of leaders almost immediately abandoned their well-thought-out plan and let their instincts kick in. Instead of sticking together and relying on their identified roles, several individuals strayed from the group and started to “hunt” on their own. The rest of the team followed suit and began to scatter frantically.   
When we debriefed later, the discussion was fascinating. Humans are all hard-wired for action, and these leaders started to realize the implications of that reality. They could all see that their competitive adrenaline rush and the time pressure ignited their natural bias for action. In the heat of the moment, they felt compelled—even obligated—to do something. To dive in and make it happen. Forget the strategy. Ditch the plan.   
Here’s the rub. As leaders, we are being asked to both think more and do more. We need better ideas and more strategies, and we also need to keep moving. That’s an impossible tension. We can’t endlessly do both things at the same time. 
So, what’s the answer? It might surprise you.
Modern leaders who are achieving phenomenal success have figured out the solution. Instead of making action the default for every challenge, these leaders are pairing that alternative with an opposite response. It’s not about replacing action, which we know is a necessary leadership ingredient. We still need to reach our goals, meet deadlines, and produce results. This is different.
They think of it as developing a companion habit that celebrates BEING rather than DOING. It involves a strategic pause. A mental time-out. Space for their brains to percolate and process the mounds of the information they’ve been packing in.
Whatever we call it, this new habit requires consistently taking some time away from the chaos of business to let ourselves reflect and plan. To connect the dots between information in different ways and to look at challenges from a fresh angle. We can’t possibly do that when we are in constant motion.
No doubt about it, modern leaders have realized the extraordinary benefits of the strategic pause. They don’t mistake motion for meaning.
Neuroscientists at Washington University tested this theory by collecting brain-scan data from people who were busy doing mental tasks like math problems and word games. While the intense focus of these tasks caused spikes in some parts of the brain, it also caused declines in other parts.
These researchers ultimately found a background activity in the brain that, oddly enough, is much more active when people are sitting quietly in a room doing nothing. That’s a pivotal finding.
They discovered that the “resting brain” is actually quite busy with absorbing and evaluating information, but we curtail that function when we allow the “active brain” to hijack all the mental energy. If we want creativity to flourish, we need to deliberately pause on occasion and allow that background process to take priority.
As hard as it is for us doers to believe, all the evidence says that maximum effectiveness and innovation start with…STOPPING.  
Yes, it’s tough to do. I admit it. We’ve been taught to move forward, to finish, to be relentless. We have even been handsomely rewarded for it.
But I am here to tell you that this bias for action could be working against you. If you want your organization and your team to grow, incorporate the strategic pause. Proactively make an unbreakable appointment with yourself to think. To be.Give yourself time and space. Change the scenery. You, your team, and all your stakeholders will be glad you did.  

Keynote Speaker, LinkedIn Learning Instructor and Author SaraCanaday is a rare blend of analytical entrepreneur and perceptive warmth. That powerful combination has increasingly made her a go-to resource for helping leaders and high-potential professionals achieve their best. She is a sought-after leadership speaker and educator, serving diverse organizations around the world. In that capacity, Sara has gained a unique, front-line view of leadership and its fascinating evolution. She shares those observations with in-depth analysis in her second book, Leadership Unchained:  Defy conventional wisdom for breakthrough performance,”.
Categories: Blogs

10 Questions Leaders Must Answer When Making Big Decisions

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 06:00

Guest post from Greg Bustin
Leaders are in the decision-making business.
Some of your decisions are bigger than others, and so to be considered successful on your terms as well as the terms of others means you must make more good decisions than bad decisions when the stakes are highest.
What’s your decision-making process?
There are 10 questions leaders must answer—either intentionally or intuitively, either alone or collaboratively—when making big decisions. At the heart of sound decision-making is being crystal clear about what you stand for.
Because no matter how much more complex the world seems to become and no matter how much more quickly we race to outrun others, great leaders operate from a set of principles they use daily as filters for making decisions.
Your mettle as a leader is not truly tested until your principles have the potential to cost you something. Money. Power. Position. Lives. Reputation. Your beliefs form the bedrock of your character. And your character drives your decision-making.
You also must know very clearly what you want. It’s hard to be committed—especially to an outcome that may stretch your abilities as well as those of your colleagues—if you’re not clear about what you want. And what you don’t want.
Goal clarity helps you minimize distractions and gives you confidence to make the necessary—and sometimes difficult—decisions that will allow you and your team to remain focused on your desired outcomes and remember why those outcomes matter. Clarity equips you to overcome obstacles, endure sacrifice and withstand setbacks as you press on toward realizing your dream.
And so the next time you’re facing a big decision, ask and answer these 10 questions:
1. What are the facts?
2. What is our objective?
3. What—precisely—is the problem or set of problems we must solve to achieve our objective?
4. Who should be involved in helping reach a decision?
5. What are all of the possible solutions?
6. Are the possible solutions aligned with my (our) core values? Eliminate those possible solutions that are not.
7. What are the consequences of each of the remaining solutions?
8. What’s the best possible solution?
9. How must we communicate this solution to our stakeholders?
10. Who will do what by when?
As you think about your personal leadership style and how you’ll apply these decision-making guidelines, recall the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt: “There are many ways of moving forward but only one way of standing still.”
So when you postpone a tough decision—when, in effect, you fail to decide—you are actually making a decision to do nothing.
It’s logical when facing a momentous decision to want to gather as many facts as possible, play out as many scenarios as you can devise, test theories, engage in conversations with confidantes and trusted advisors, and spend time alone soul-searching. You owe it to yourself and those you’re leading to be thoughtful about big decisions. But avoid the temptation to postpone a big decision simply because you don’t want to decide. Leadership requires you to make the tough decision and get your team moving.
The word “decide” is derived from Latin decidere, meaning literally "to cut off," from de- "off" (de-) + caedere "to cut" (-cide).
“Decide” shares the same partial origin as the words “homicide,” “pesticide” and “suicide,” which essentially means that to decide is to “cut off” or “kill off” other choices or options in order to choose a course of action.
Sometimes you must choose between several bad options. But choose you must.
Failure to act saps time, money and energy. Failure to act can hurt your customers and help your competition. Failure to act confuses and discourages your colleagues. Your colleagues are looking for a commonsense approach where trust, discipline and good old fashioned hard work gets things done. Confidant decision-making accompanied by decisive action is a one-two punch that’s important to any leader whose team is eager to contribute to success.
Once you decide, move forward.
"Don't make the same decision twice,” cautions Bill Gates. “Spend time and thought to make a solid decision the first time so that you don't revisit the issue unnecessarily. If you're too willing to reopen issues, it interferes not only with your execution but also with your motivation to make a decision in the first place. After all, why bother deciding an issue if it isn't really decided?" 
What big decisions are on your horizon? What options must you “kill off” in order to make your next big decision?
About the Author: Greg Bustin is an executive coach, consultant and speaker who has delivered more than 500 keynotes and workshops on five continents. Greg advises leaders at some of the world’s most admired companies, and his views about leadership have been published in The Wall Street Journal, Chief Executive, Fast Company, Forbes, Inc., Investor’s Business Daily, Leader to Leader, and other major publications. He’s written five leadership books. His newest book, How Leaders Decide: A Timeless Guide to Making Tough Choices (Sourcebooks), examines decision-making in history’s greatest triumphs and tragedies.
Categories: Blogs

The Unspoken Role of Confidence in Leadership

Thu, 05/16/2019 - 06:00

Guest post from Karen J. Hewitt:
Leadership is one of the most regularly used words in the world of business, and arguably one of the most important.  But what does it really mean, and is it delivering what it promises in organisations?
Leadership is “the action of leading a group of people or an organisation”, and there are two important things to note:
Firstly, leadership does not necessarily require an official title.  Whilst leading the organisation does often come with a title – like CEO or Managing Director – leading a group of people does not.   The latter, because of its lack of position power, implies the ability to influence without it.  Whilst some people consider both forms to be leadership; others differentiate between the two, saying that a manager has the title, whereas a leader has the people, i.e., the first form is not true leadership, but management.
An even better distinction comes in the differences between transactional and transformational leadership – a term brought to prominence by James McGregor Burns in the political sphere and then adopted in business. 
Transformational leadership is a style that can be used to inspire others to follow, and to create change in organisations, through a strong belief in a cause, inspiring people with a big vision, connecting with them as individuals and challenging their thinking.
Secondly, to lead in the sense described above requires influence, but this requires confidence.   Leaders need confidence in themselves, and to be able to inspire it in others, and the two are intrinsically linked. 
We follow people when we trust – that what the would-be leader says is in line with our own beliefs, and that what they say will be acted on, and become our reality.If the above is true, why then do we never discuss confidence in business? 
In high performance sport, confidence is a topic on everyone’s agenda, because the sports world knows what business has been slow to pick up on – that confidence is the secret to performance.
You can be the most talented person in the race, but only confidence will get you to the starting line.  Without it, you won’t leave the locker room, and with it you’ll step out of your comfort zone – the only place where potential can be realised.
All of this is relevant to your C-Suite, because these are the people you absolutely need to lead the organisation, and even with their official titles, they still need to be able to inspire a whole organisation. 
Transactional leadership will lead their people to perform to expectations, but only transformational leadership, with that additional ingredient of inspiration, will get performance beyond it.
And in today’s turbulent and tough business environment, do we expect any less than this?
It’s also relevant to all of your employees. 
Whilst having your C-Suite lead is imperative, you also need your employees to lead – to champion your change agenda, and speak out for and uphold your company’s standards. 
To do so requires confidence in all its facets. 
Your employees need a strong sense of self and their place in the world, an ability to project confidence to others – through their body language, voice and words – and to be resilient in the face of unexpected challenges.
In companies, we sometimes offer our people training in presentation skills, which help them to project confidence to others.  What rarely gets attention, however, is our employees’ sense of self and their place in the world. 
We trust they will either figure this out for themselves, or cover up for a lack of it by projecting a veneer of confidence in the workplace.  Indeed, many of us have become adept at this, but without the layers of confidence beneath it, something is missing, and others can see it.
Transformational leadership is the most powerful form of leadership, because as its name suggests, it has the ability to create wholesale transformation in your company. 
To deliver it, we need our leaders to have the natural charisma that comes from internal and deep confidence, when the leader is clear and congruent on who they are and what they believe in.
This type of confidence is long-term and highly effective, especially when combined with the ability to project external confidence to others.  
Investing in it will allow your employees to lead within your company, even when the winds of change are threatening to batter down its doors.
Some say that leadership is only really tested when the going gets tough, and without confidence in all its forms, how do we know our confident leaders will stand strong and tall, and handle whatever turbulent times throw at them?
The people in your organisation may already be of high calibre, but confidence is a part of being human, and peaks and troughs affect all of us, even the high performers.
Confidence is a subject that is more complex than most of us imagine, but with a little more knowledge, we can start understanding the role it plays in leadership.
And with a daily investment in building and maintaining it, we can start reaping the rewards.
Let’s also remember that corporate environments sap confidence from our people on a daily basis – another reason to make it a focus.   And to make sure this newfound confidence is able to take root, we need an equal focus on a culture that enables it to thrive.
With confidence such a critical part of leadership, and leadership key to unlocking the potential of your people and the organisation, isn’t it time to make the unspoken spoken?
Karen J. Hewitt is a multilingual “”Engagement and Culture Change specialist with proven credentials in creating cross-border leadership movements within organisations.  She is the author of “Employee Confidence – the new rules of Engagement”, finalist in the Leadership category of the Business Book Awards 2019.
Categories: Blogs

Building Trust Through Behavioral Integrity

Thu, 05/09/2019 - 06:00
Guest post from S. Chris Edmonds:
Cornell University professor Dr. Tony Simons’ powerful article, “The High Cost of Lost Trust,” appeared in the Harvard Business Review in 2002. In that piece, he described his team’s efforts to examine a specific hypothesis (“Employee commitment drives customer service”) in the US operations of a major hotel chain. They interviewed over 7,000 employees at nearly 80 properties and found that employee commitment drives customer service, but, most critically, a leader’s behavioral integrity drives that and more.

Simons’ team defines behavioral integrity as “managers keeping their promises and demonstrating espoused values.” Their research methods and analysis discovered:

●     When employees believe their bosses have behavioral integrity, their commitment goes up.●     As employee commitment goes up, employees willingly demonstrate discretionary effort. ●     Employees are more proactive, more present, and more productive with the application of their discretionary energy.●     Employee discretionary effort is visible to and highly valued by customers. Customers respond by staying more frequently, staying longer, eating on the property, etc●     Those customer behaviors generate higher profits. Significantly higher profits!

Dr. Simons’ team created an assessment that measured behavioral integrity on a five-point scale. Their analysis found that a 1/8 point gain on this scale generated a profit gain of 2.5% of annual revenues . . . which translated into $250K for each hotel! This study made an important link – one that had not been demonstrated before: manager behavior, specifically keeping promises and demonstrating company values, generates hard dollar profits. (Simons’ work continues at The Integrity Dividend with a book, programs, blog, and more.)

Whenever the trust of workplace leaders in the USA dips, employees consequently plan to look for a new job, citing low trust of their workplace, senior leaders, direct bosses, or even co-workers as a primary driver.

Two research studies have noted this “age of mistrust.” According to Deloitte’s 2010 Ethics & Workplace Survey, one-third of employed Americans planned to look for a new job when the economy stabilized. Of this group, 48 percent say that a lack of honest communication from company leaders was their primary reason for that decision. This survey also reports that 65 percent of Fortune 1000 executives who were concerned with the upcoming “talent drain” believed trust is a factor in this voluntary turnover.

Maritz Research’s workplace study echoes the Deloitte findings. According to the Maritz poll, only 11 percent of American employees strongly agree that their managers show consistency between their words and their actions. Only 7 percent of employees strongly agree that they trust senior leaders to look out for their best interest (!) and only 7 percent believe their co-workers will do so.

The Maritz poll also found that about 20% of respondents do not believe that their company’s leader is completely honest and ethical; fully 25% disagree that they trust management to make the right decisions in times of uncertainty. Of those employees who do not trust company management, only 3% look forward to coming to work every day!
Sharon Allen, Deloitte’s chairman of the board, notes that, by focusing on talent management and retention strategies, “executives may be able to reduce attrition.” She goes on to state, “Establishing and enforcing a values-based culture will ultimately help cultivate employee trust.”
What is the degree of trust in your workplace? What are you willing to do to measure that level of trust and improve in in the months to come?
S. Chris Edmonds is a sought-after speaker, author, and executive consultant. After a 15-year career leading successful teams, Chris founded his consulting company, The Purposeful Culture Group, in 1990. Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies since 1995. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Amazon best sellers The Culture Engine and Leading at a Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Learn from his blog posts, podcasts, assessments, research, and videos at Get free resources plus weekly updates from Chris by subscribing here

Categories: Blogs

The Lion on the Desk

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 11:26

Guest post by David Komlos and David Benjamin:
You arrive at work one morning, take the elevator up to your appointed floor, amble down the carpeted hallway staring at your shoes and wondering what the day has in store for you, open your door…and there sits a ferocious lion. As startled as you are, the lion roars a mighty roar.
If you are like most people, in the blink of an eye you slam the door, turn tail and run as fast as you can in the opposite direction.
In the blink of an eye: You saw a lion where a lion shouldn’t be; You absorbed the implications of there being a lion, untethered, mere feet from you; You thought about what to do about that; You decided on a course of action; and you implemented that course of action with haste. In the blink of an eye.

The sensing, absorbing, thinking, and deciding functions that you just processed were extremely efficient, and so you were able to get to action right away. No confusion, no mixed messages, no need for consensus-building or alignment, no persuasion necessary – just a very, very smooth path from sensing to fleeing.
The Actual Lion
Now, rather than the lion, substitute a defining business challenge licking its chops on your desk. Ask yourself which people, from in and around your organization:·         Play a sensing role with respect to this lion; ·         Act as absorbers, picking up stimulus from those sensors and translating them into implications; ·         Gather and think about implications and translate them into options; ·         Consider the options, weigh them, and produce decisions; and ·         Ultimately, implement or drive the actions that will enact those decisions.
In most corporate settings, the answer is probably a large group of people.The response to your metaphorical lion doesn’t happen – can’t happen – in the blink of an eye because those functions are played by a lot of people, distributed across and, sometimes, outside the organization.

  Sometimes, the response won’t get triggered at all (or gets triggered far too late) because business challenges don’t usually present themselves so plainly as our lion.
Take a new competitive threat for example…
(SENSE) Sales people might hear and observe their customers’ reactions to that threat – as might your market researchers, call center folks, external market experts, and even your finance team as they watch the erosion of market share and revenue.
(ABSORB) Some of those people may also absorb the implications of what they’re seeing, and there are also likely others whose job it is to explicitly look for trends like this and consider what they might mean.
(THINK) When fed an alarming trend, management will think about what to do about it (ideally, informed by the sensors and absorbers), and/or may outsource the thinking to experts and/or consultants.
(DECIDE) Those same managers may also decide on a course of action or bump it up the ranks to decide.
(ACT) And a team may ultimately be launched to implement the resulting action plan, together with a steering committee and supported by project managers, communications people, and so on.… and months pass…
Meanwhile, the lion has eaten your lunch.
Taming the Lion
Organizational SATDA – sensing, absorbing, thinking, deciding, and acting – is slow and unwieldy because so many people are involved and they’re all over the place, physically distant, and too often siloed. This is a first principal, universal truth. And this is why it’s so hard to keep up with the pace and scope of the metaphorical lions which, contrary to the popular song, don’t sleep at night (they’re too busy keeping you up.)
Recognizing this, what’s a great leader to do?
First off, accept the basic truth that this is just the way things are. No amount of reorg-ing, incentivizing, agiling, design thinking, change management, or outsourcing is going to undo this truth. At some point, to act quickly, the sensors, absorbers, thinkers, deciders and actors need to be brought together.
Next, convenethat group and equip them to join forces in executing all of the SATDA functions as part of a focused, non-linear effort, all at once: Get them in the same place; Orchestrate their interactions so that every individual bumps into every other individual meaningfully and repeatedly; Impose rules and roles at those collision points to diffuse hierarchy, self-interest, and polite conflict-avoidance; and weave those interactions together within a closed network. Just like neurons in a single brain; like your brain, when you saw the lion and ran.
When you’ve done this right, the result is very efficient, human parallel processing:·         Sensors (and everyone else) talking about what they sense, while·         Absorbers (and everyone else) are exploring both good and bad implications, while ·         Thinkers (and everyone else) are developing ideas and weighing options, while·         Deciders (and everyone else) are choosing and developing the best options, while ·         Actors (and everyone else) are building the right plan of action.
Finally, you need to trust in and commit to the results of their effort. If you’ve done a strong job of getting the right cross-section of people together, and if you’ve equipped them well, they will get to a shared understanding of the lion, clarity on what has to happen, and alignment on the importance of making it happen. You need to share in their shared understanding and their clarity, and you need to make the resulting action plan top priority. 
For this reason, to truly believe they’re right, you need to go back a step and add yourself to the group while they’re figuring things out, not after.When there is strong alignment and mobilization amongst the Sensors, Absorbers, Thinkers, Deciders and Actors (and you!), the lion won’t stand a chance.
CAVEAT: This approach won’t literally get you to action in the ‘blink of an eye’; you’ll need a few days of shared effort and a few weeks to get going on implementation. Which, on second thought, really is the organizational equivalent of the ‘blink of an eye’.

David Komlos and David Benjamin are co-authors of CRACKING COMPLEXITY: The Breakthrough Formula for Solving Just About Anything Fast (Nicholas Brealey; May 7, 2019). They are CEO and Chief Architect of Syntegrity, where they apply the formula to help leaders rapidly solve complex challenges, generate strong buy-in, and mobilize people for action.
Categories: Blogs