The Best Teacher…

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…is Your Last Mistake What is your attitude towards failure? We ask this question, or a variation of it, many times when coaching leaders at all levels of an organization. Interestingly enough, we get more absolute answers from front line managers and supervisors and more broadly defined answers from senior management. Said differently, our experience tells us we see less leeway for failure on the front lines to the point of wanting to be stressfully perfect to a different attitude towards failure where it is a means to learn and grow. I am not suggesting these experiences are scientifically representative, merely what our experiences are with the topic. The question is, why the difference at all? It’s amazing how frequently we hear about the lessons we learned from our mistakes along the pathway of life. Learning how to walk, riding a bike, driving a car and all the other things that...
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Are you a Know-It-All...

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...or a Learn-It-All? Earlier this year, we introduced what has turned into an ongoing discussion of one of the key skills of effective 21 st Century Leaders. Critical Thinking, or the lack thereof, seems to routinely creep into the conversation because we constantly run into evidence it still needs to be reinforced in the leadership development conversation. While we’ve given examples in previous posts, one that continues to pop up goes something like: Me: What are you trying to achieve? Them: I don't want to do this and/or I don't like to do that Me: OK, so what do you want to do? Them: I don't know. Of course, the real conversation goes much longer than the example above, but you get the idea. More thought on what they don;t want that what they do. Another different, but related, conversation goes something like: Me: I think this is the course of...
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The Missing Piece Workbooks are now available!

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If you liked the value you found in  "The Missing Piece " books you’ve read over the past several years, you’ll love the new workbooks that align to each of your Missing Piece favorites! Each respective workbook includes the original text from the corresponding book that brings the Business Alignment Maturity Model to life in the context of your business. We moved the questions from the end of each chapter into the section of text that speaks to each question. No searching back through the chapter to refresh your memory, it’s all right there to help you put what you read into the context of your organization and team. Best of all, we added specific tools referenced in the books to better support your goal planning, business analysis and operational metrics. These tools will get you started faster to create sustainable success for your organization! If you are a   Corporate...
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“Without ambition, one starts nothing...

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...Without work, one finishes nothing.” In today’s dynamic business environment, it seems far too many leaders are struggling with getting started in a direction for their business, completing a strategic objective for their business or some combination of the two. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote in the title then ends with, “The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.” In the context of today’s business environment, how ambitious is the team you lead to move in a specific direction as a team? How hard is your team willing to work as a team to finish what they start and achieve the team’s desired results? Let’s explore both questions through the lens of leadership required to answer them effectively. However, before we get to ambition and work ethic, let’s first level-set on the use of the term “Team”. Unfortunately, team and teamwork are often used improperly to describe...
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“Profit is a By-Product…

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…of Serving Clients Exceptionally Well” Every once in a while, we get into a conversation with leaders about profit and how to improve profit margins and profitability. Before we get too far into the discussion, I make sure we are in agreement on what profit is in the context of leadership. Without that level-set, the conversation can dramatically bypass the key decisions needed to truly enjoy the profitability the leader is looking to achieve. Because we’ve had several of these conversations recently, it made sense to share what I believe is the essence of sustainable profitability. The title quote comes from Katherine Mauzy, the Head of Financial Advisor Talent Acquisition at Edward Jones. For context, earlier this year Edward Jones was named one of FORTUNE Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For”, the 20 th year they’ve made this list! Let’s go ahead and break down her quote from a leadership...
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Don’t Raise Your Voice…

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…Improve Your Argument! Much is written about conflict and how society continues to struggle with managing it in an open forum. I see this struggle first-hand with my own clients who continue to work on their effective communications skills, especially with those who disagree with them. One of the key skills of leadership is the ability to influence and persuade their teams to go where they have not yet gone before, knowing they have to change but cannot do it on the strength of their own motivations. The Leader’s ability to persuade, and manage through the potential resistance, is directly proportional to their ability to build an argument supporting why their followers should behave differently than they are currently. With the advent of technology infused communications tools, the ability to persuade should be easier. The ability to reach more people efficiently theoretically makes the process itself more efficient. However, if you...
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I'm Still Sayin'...

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...More Revelations for Making Leadership a Way of Life! We are proud to announce the availability of our sixth book, “ I’m Still Sayin ’…More Revelations for Making Leadership a Way of Life”. It is a follow-up to our most popular seller, “ I’m Just Sayin ’…Revelations for Making Leadership a Way of Life”. In this recent release we once again draw upon the best ideas and articles we’ve published over the last five years organized by their relevance to Individual Leadership, Leadership Relationships and Organization Leadership. Along with the ideas and articles in the book based on reader input, we also included five never-before published articles to continue fueling the conversation around being a successful lifelong leader! Enjoy the Book!
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Soft Skills...

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…are the new Hard Skills.” Our conversation around the emerging importance of soft skills has, to this point, focused on their impact to the individual leader and in general terms of the impact to the organization which the leader leads. In this issue, we will directly address the importance of soft skills in the context of achieving sustainable organizational success using the Business Alignment Maturity Model © ( BAMM ) outlined in our “ The Missing Piece… ” series of books. As a quick refresher, BAMM is an organizational business model outlining the five stages of business alignment necessary to create sustainable success. Whether you are a small business leader/owner, a leader of a corporate business unit/team or a non-profit leader, your organization must align all its moving parts in order to achieve the desired results – over and over again! So let’s explore how soft skills factor into this sustainable...
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“Creativity flows…

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…when Curiosity is stoked." As we continue to explore the soft skills required for effective 21 st Century Leadership, adaptability will always be near the top of the list. However, adaptability begins with the ability and openness to explore and experiment. Effective leaders need to be curious enough to think beyond their existing individual and c...
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8 Steps to High Performance

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It has been a while since I’ve reviewed a book in these pages and, as it so happens, I just finished a great book that also applies to this month’s leadership message. Because there are so many leadership fads out there, it is refreshing to read a book that uses what we know through science to support ways to improve our leadership performance. Marc Effron’s book, “ 8 Steps to High Performance , Focus on What You Can Change (Ignore the Rest)” is one you should give a read! My favorite chapter deals with Step 5, Maximize Your Fit, in the 8 Step Process the author outlines. Maximizing Fit is a crucial element to staying adaptable and relevant as the world around us changes, as the author explains, faster than people change. Therefore, people need to be aware of the continuous changes going on around them and adapt accordingly. This is...
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“I can explain it to you…

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…but I can't comprehend it for you.” As we continue to explore the value of soft skills critical to being effective 21 st Century Leaders, our discussion turns to one of the most sought after, yet least available soft skills: Critical Thinking. While many definitions exist for critical thinking, they all rally around the concept of objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment. In this world of short attention spans and social media driven opinions and assumptions, a leader’s ability to objectively analyze and evaluate the myriad of situations and decisions they face daily makes the title quote by former New York City Mayor Ed Koch all the more relevant! When we dig deeper into the construct of critical thinking, we find several key attitudes and skills necessary for 21 st Century Leaders to make the right decisions for the sustainable success of their organizations....
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“You can’t Motivate People…

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…You can only Create a Game Worth Playing” Motivation seems to be a recurring topic in many of the coaching conversations I have so it seems fitting to discuss in some detail as it is clearly still misunderstood by so many leaders and followers. And given the timing of March Madness and the upcoming Opening Day for baseball, it seemed only appropriate to use the quote from Michael Gerber to open the discussion of how leaders can create a “Game Worth Playing”! One of the biggest misconceptions around motivation is that it can be externally applied. What is externally applied are the conditions in which a person is motivated to apply the three elements of motivation: Direction, Intensity and Persistence. As these three elements are applied to one’s behavior, that person’s motivation can be inferred by how much they apply to each of the three. From my own experience, creating a...
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“The Secret to Success without Hard Work…

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…is still a Secret!” At the end of last month’s edition, I mentioned how we would explore the widening gap in our soft skills relative to what 21 st Century Business requires. However, when I began to write my thoughts on the topic, I realized I had skipped a step in the process of enhancing and improving our soft skills. Being effective in any skill requires practice until the skill becomes a habit. It occurred to me I would be remiss by not addressing the biggest obstacle to changing habits first before continuing our thought process on soft skills. In this edition, we will discuss the obstacle most anyone looking to change to more productive habits encounters ~ self-discipline! As the title suggests, there is no secret to success without hard work. Because this journey involves work that does not come easy, it is fair to say our desire to achieve...
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“Prospects are highly informed…

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…but not necessarily accurately informed.” Happy New Year and welcome to our first edition under our updated branding!  We are excited about our new look and feel with the same professionalism and trust our stakeholders have come to expect over the first ten years in business! As the title quote from Leanne Hoagland-Smith suggests, our initial topic for 2019 addresses ability as leaders to make the right decisions based on how informed they are when they make key decisions for their teams/agencies/businesses. With the amount of information leaders have access to doubling at an alarming rate, it is no surprise the difficulty in being accurately informed to make the leadership decisions that keep the team, agency, or business growing. It’s been said people don’t typically disagree on the facts, rather people typically disagree on the interpretation of the facts.  As the pace of change increases, so too does the pressure to...
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Are We Too Soft…

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…on Our Soft Skills? Much is said and written these days about soft skills and how important they are to business success. Often, the context of this discussion is the evolving influence of technology in our daily lives. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR) and any other technology that threatens (real or imagined) to replace humans in the workforce is a driving force behind the need and effectiveness of our soft skills. It’s as if we are less afraid of losing our hard skills and more afraid of our lack of soft skills and ability to think critically! Another context for this conversation is in the discussion of “skills gaps”. The November 2018 LinkedIn Workforce Report found the biggest “skills gap” is in San Francisco/Silicon Valley followed by New York City. The top 3 skill gaps in San Francisco/Silicon Valley are Oral Communication, Business Management and Leadership in that order. In...
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We are great at Goal Setting.

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We suck at Goal Achieving! Full disclosure, I am a goals geek! I’ve used goals most of my life beginning at age 12 when I set my first 2 significant goals. The first was to join the Boy Scouts and become an Eagle Scout which I did 2 years later. The second was to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point which I did 10 years later. To this day, goals continue to play a significant role in our ongoing success at RPC Leadership Associates, Inc.  As we reflect on our current goals in the season of Thanksgiving and create new personal and professional goals for the new year, let’s take a deeper look through the research of Edwin Locke and Gary Latham at the five ways goals have high motivational impact. Challenging Goals are more likely to lead to higher performance ~ We never really know what...
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“You never get a second chance…

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…to make a good first impression.” As leaders, we have countless opportunities to make good first impressions no matter the industry, market or business model. This is especially true in today’s dynamic business world in and amongst all the clutter of so many “impressions” we come across on a daily basis where relationships ultimately carry the day. There is one facet of making a good first impression that I see organizations, large and small, for-profit and non-profit, public and private struggle with and that is creating and executing an effective onboarding process. I maintain there is very little else that says an organization cares about a person’s success in their new role than an effective onboarding process! My focus here is not to define the perfect onboarding process as that is going to be organization specific. My focus, instead, is to share some thoughts on effective onboarding at three different levels...
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Making Leadership a Way of Life!

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The title of this month’s conversation also happens to be the Vision for RPC Leadership Associates, Inc. As we celebrated our ten-year anniversary in September, it seems only appropriate to reflect on how our Vision has inspired and affirmed everything we achieved and what it has meant to our business these last 10 years.   To set the stage for how it all started, one of the prevailing issues I saw throughout my military and corporate career was just how few leaders there are in business, politics, religion, sports and any other category of work you want to add. Of course, by leadership I mean those who are leaders versus those who carry the title or just “do” leadership. And so, it has been a personal crusade to support those who strive to be leaders to their core, to the point they don't know any other way; it’s now a way...
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Spark

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Being a military veteran, I am always interested in how the lessons of military leadership translate to the business world. So, when I came across this most recent book written by three military veterans, I had to check it out. “ Spark: How to Lead Yourself and Others to Greater Success ” by Angie Morgan, Courtney Lynch and Sean Lynch did not disappoint. The idea of the spark is about change, how one spark can ignite change either as a person or an event to achieve greater success. My favorite chapter is Chapter 4, Becoming an Accountable Leader. Accountability is such an important part of effective leadership and the authors do a great job of not only defining the importance of accountable leadership but also put it into context through their own personal stories (a format repeated throughout the book) of how they evolved as accountable leaders. The personal touch allows...
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How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci

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In this month's post, I used a quote from Leonardo da Vinci that actually came from this month’s book. This book was recommended by one of my clients and after reading it, I can see why! “ How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci ” by Michael J. Gelb is a great read not only on what made da Vinci such a great genius, but also provides ideas on how to apply his genius to our current day leadership environment. My favorite section is actually the section the quote came from. Leonardo Da Vinci’s second of seven principles is called Dimonstrazione , a commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence and willingness to learn from mistakes. Along with the text, the book provides self-assessments for each of the seven principles and this chapter is no exception. The leadership lessons learned through the exercises in this chapter around challenging one’s own beliefs,...
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