If You’re Not Listening...

listening How is your listening adding value to your leadership?
...Sit Down and Zip It..Because, quite frankly, you’re not adding anything new to the conversation! While I’ve always paid particular attention to leader’s listening skills, it appears that in the last six months we are being inundated with examples of those intent on change by talking over everyone else in the conversation. We’ve written about this idea of effective listening many times over the years and it seems appropriate that we do so again to reinforce the idea that leaders must listen to learn fully what is new about a given situation. If they are only interested in talking, then they are literally adding nothing new to the conversation by only repeating what they already know! What does it take, then, to zip it and listen when the first instinct is to keep talking? Based on our experience, there are three key knowledge elements to effectively listening in order to learn...
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Too much Diversity Training...

inclusiveleadership How are you developing your inclusive culture?
...not enough Inclusion DevelopmentI had the pleasure recently of delivering our updated Diversity and Inclusion workshop to an audience of Human Resource professionals. We approach diversity and inclusion as a leadership development process as opposed to a program event. Introducing this through the workshop we realized this approach was new to many of the participants. It’s been known for ages that leadership training, while important, does not change attitudes and behaviors in and by itself. Millions of dollars have been spent to develop organizational leaders only to see little or no return because it was merely training disguised as development.In a simple formula we use in our coaching practice, we discuss the moving parts of leadership development; Skills, Knowledge and Attitude. We define skill as what to do and how to do something relevant to the job. For leaders, skills (hard and soft skills) such as how to set and achieve...
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Changing your Habits...

Old-vs-New-Habits What is your process to develop new leadership attitudes and habits?
...of ThoughtIn recent months, largely driven by the massive information assault on our lives due to the pandemic, social unrest and politicizing nearly everything under the sun due to the upcoming election, we’ve focused our writing around critical thinking. We’ve challenged readers to ask themselves why they think the way they do and digging deeper into how they think versus what they think.We know our thinking is a function of our beliefs and values and that our attitudes reflect our habitual thinking. With that in mind, let’s explore the five key questions leaders need to ask themselves as they change the way they think and act to stay relevant as 21st Century Leaders. These questions stem from multiple research sources and are conveniently summarized in “Leadership, Enhancing the Lessons of Experience” by Richard Hughes, Robert Ginnett and Gordy Curphy.How does a leader know what attitudes and behaviors to change? ~ One...
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“Education is not the learning of facts...

Thinker-Auguste-Rodin What is your process to expand your leadership knowledge box?
...but the training of the mind to think.”When Albert Einstein said these words, the internet did not exist. The networks that did exist in the form of telegraph and telephone did not provide access to data and information as we have now. One could almost say we no longer need to learn facts because we have access to them instantly through any number of Google searches. More importantly, the second part of his quote still resonates today. We would suggest it has become harder to train the mind to think than it was even in Einstein’s day.Training the mind to think is what critical thinking is all about, especially for 21st Century Leaders. According to Drs. Richard Paul and Linda Elder, critical thinking is where the thinker improves the quality of their thinking based on how they think and the associated intellectual standards. As human beings, much of our thinking is biased,...
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“Don’t mistake activity...

progress-measuring-device-color-tachometer-speedometer-icon-performance-measurement-symbol-scale-arrow-colorful-infographic-177784451 What are your new leadership best practices?
...for achievement.”Just over 20 years ago, I wrote one of my many papers for my MBA on telecommuting. In it, I outlined my thoughts on how telecommuting would impact organizational leadership based on the world as we knew it then and with an eye towards the future. Given the societal lockdown due to the pandemic, I recently re-read what I wrote in late 1999 and was surprised at how the ideas still hold up as relevant in an era where we now refer to it as working from home, mobile workforce or anything but telecommuting!The pandemic added social distancing as a new term in our day-to-day vocabulary. While society practiced physical distancing, the greater challenge is maintaining the social proximity we wrote about several months ago. In our ongoing work with corporate leaders, non-profit leaders and business owners, several key points from a 20-year-old paper still resonate.How to Lead – We...
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“Why Do You Think That Way?”

healthy-attitude2 Why do you think that way and how will it change the future for the good?
Likely one of the greatest leadership challenges of a generation is playing out in real time. No matter where one turns, the one-two combination of the pandemic and social tension has, in our minds, proven what we’ve known for quite a long time. We have a growing gap in effective leadership in all corners of society. The challenge is further supported by a leadership development industry that has largely failed to deliver a return on investment off the billions of dollars spent annually around the globe.Managers at all levels are too comfortable with the logistically convenient leadership training sessions without bothering to include accountability for applying the new skills and behaviors to the organizational strategy. This creates a scenario of too much leadership content and not enough leadership context to be effective. It’s almost as if doing the same thing over and over will generate a different result!One of the key...
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...Not Enough Action

Picture1 What is your call to action?
If ever there is a time for leaders of all stripes to influence change, it is now. We are recovering from an extended pandemic that saw the economy tank and where politics and science clash with the people as pawns of both sides. We witnessed a heinous abuse of individual power and lack of humanity in the death of a person of color at the hands of unthinking police officers. And through it all, the rhetoric keeps piling up. Too many leaders are saying the obvious and not enough of the hard truths. We must change the narrative from:Too much Past, not enough Future ~ The financial world likes to qualify what they say by claiming past performance does not predict future returns. We hear much too much airtime on the past when what we need is a picture of the future. Without a clear destination, the leadership journey is a...
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"Priority is...

Context-Matters How are you creating knowledge for your next key leadership decision?
…a Function of Context”It occurs to me as I reflect on the last few months there exists a glowing opportunity to improve our collective ability to make more effective business decisions. In the last few months, leaders have been bombarded with reams of data and information about the pandemic. In the last few months, leaders have also misinterpreted or misunderstood the difference between good information and total BS bringing the title quote from Stephen R. Covey to mind.If we agree that effective decision-making is a crucial soft skill (it is!) for leaders to have, then we have to also agree it is crucial to having the full understanding of how to do it well. In today’s fast paced, technology-infused world we live and work in, it is critical for leaders to cut through the noise and make effective knowledge-based decisions. In our experience, these guiding principles apply when making key business...
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“Value is measured in the total upside of a business relationship...

relationships What is the value of your business relationships and how do you know?
...not by how much was squeezed out of any one deal.”These last few months have been like no other in recent years. As I continue to work with leaders across the corporate, small and medium business and non-profit landscape, one reality has surfaced in glaring fashion, what is the real value the business provides to its stakeholders? This blog’s title quote from Mark Cuban, the well-known entrepreneur and businessperson, speaks volumes as business leaders have several months of “ground-truth” feedback based on the real value of their business relationships.There are three key relationships that rise to the surface as the most meaningful to achieving sustainable success for any business. They are the relationships with people, the relationships with the supply chain and the relationships with the broader community. While these relationships may overlap, for the purpose of this discussion, we will address each individually.Relationships with People ~ People have been impacted...
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“Are you a Problem-Solver...

problem-finding How are you as a leader problem-finding for your organization?
...or a Problem-Finder?”Like many leaders, in the early days of my career, I fancied myself as a problem-solver. My behavioral assessments reinforced it and, quite frankly, I was good at it. However, at the point where I began leading larger corporate teams, I realized being a problem-solver was not enough. And so began a journey to re-define myself as a problem-finder. As a leader, it was important to be able to see potential problems and issues before they impacted our organization and clients. At one point, a client actually asked me directly if I had some sort of crystal ball (I didn’t) because we developed a strong sense of seeing what others did not!It is why I ask organizational leaders of for-profit and non-profit organizations, business owners and emerging leaders, “Are you a problem-solver or a problem-finder?” Of course, since most are familiar with problem-solving, the first question I get back...
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“It is not Balance you need...

process-adaptability How are you ensuring your core processes are adaptable?
...but Adaptability”One of the underlying benefits of this new reality is it provides a stress test for business continuity plans and the core processes that keep businesses moving forward. Based on what we are seeing, there is plenty of opportunity for process improvement as we now know what worked coming out of last year is likely not going to achieve desired results going forward!Process improvement has two major moving parts. The first key part is how well the processes are documented. This is crucial as it provides a common set of instructions for the entire team, business and/or agency to follow. It also provides a baseline for any adjustments necessary when the underlying business conditions change. The second key part is by what methodology does the team, business and/or agency keep these core processes evergreen? In other words, how is each core process objectively reviewed to ensure it is still relevant...
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"Social Continuity...

Social Continuity Who will you reach out to today to strengthen your social contract?
...with Physical Distancing”A term created out the current pandemic we hear every day is “Social Distancing”. While I understand the intent and purpose of the term, I believe it can also lead to unintended emotional isolation during these periods of lockdown and quarantine.A different perspective came to light yesterday during a conversation with my accountability coach. She got me thinking (as she usually does) about what we are really asking people to do is physical distancing while keeping our social contracts intact.Nearly everyone I speak with has made comments relating to the positivity they get from their own social conversations within their networks. It is apparent as well when they are feeling isolated and directionally out of sorts when the social continuity breaks down. If that is you, reach out. If you don't know who to call, contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we’ll set up a call to get the conversation...
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"We the People..."

Citizenship
During these uncertain times when many are in some degree of self-isolation and working remotely, it makes sense that there might be some time to catch up on reading. One of the leadership challenges we see, especially in an election year as we are in now, is the level of citizenship demonstrated across the landscape in the United States. When we speak of leadership, we often speak of the ground rules of effective leadership. As we’ve spoken often, “Leaders read!” When we speak of citizenship, the same idea applies. It is those ground rules that are behind our recommendation for what to read this month. If you have not yet read, or recently read, the Constitution of the United States, this may be a great time to begin. Click here to begin reading!Lead Well!
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"...the only thing we have to fear...

Effective-leadership How is your leadership helping your team manage fear and uncertainty?
...is fear itself..."Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke these words at the beginning of his inaugural address on March 4, 1933. As I read through the entire inaugural address to understand its full context, it occurred to me he was speaking about Leadership, both his and that of the citizenry of that time. Fast-forward to today and we find the message of effective leadership in uncertain times remains resolute.What does it mean for leaders to remain resolute and effectively lead in a dynamic and fast changing business environment? In our ongoing work with clients, these are the main themes of focus for effective leadership.Lead with Attitude ~ Effective leaders inherently know that attitude leads behavior. What we think, we do. If leaders think of uncertainty as a crisis, then no matter how hard they try, a certain level of panic will ensue. Effective leaders know that how they show up matters and are...
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“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people...

LV-Logo-v1-1024x386 How is your voice improving your effective leadership?
...but the silence over that by the good people.”I have written in this forum every month since we started RPC Leadership Associates, Inc. twelve years ago. The first post that year related directly to my military career titled, “Everyone looks like an effective leader...until the enemy shows up.” It was an expression used both in the military and in my business career to highlight the importance of effective leadership, of being an example to follow in any situation. As I reflect on more recent events, the words in the title by Martin Luther King resonated as the voices of effective leaders become more and more important in this dynamic business environment.What, then, does it mean for leaders to exercise their voice and how can they become comfortable with the associated risk? Based on my own experience, I believe there are three key foundational elements to finding one’s leadership voice.Integrity ~ effective...
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Ignition

Ignite A Guide to Building High Performing Teams
This month we focused our discussion on strategic leadership and the key skills necessary to effectively lead a 21st Century organization. Given that organizational leadership is a team sport, it is only fitting that we highlight a new book by Gordy Curphy, Dianne Nilsen and Robert Hogan, “Ignition, A Guide to Building High Performance Teams” The authors set out to create a very practical book to help teams develop regardless of the type of team they are. The book aligns nicely to their research-based Team Assessment Survey as well as the Rocket Model which I use specifically in both my business and leadership coaching as well as my graduate teaching of MBA students.My favorite chapter is Chapter 10 where the authors spend an entire chapter specifically talking about C-Suite Teams. These are the top leadership teams in any business, for-profit or non-profit who essentially guide the strategic direction of the business....
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“If you think you know something...

3-Player-Chess
...then it is hard to be open to learning.”Last month I posted about Dr. Max McKeown’s book, “The Innovator’s Book – Rules for Rebels, Mavericks and Innovators”. In the post, I highlighted a specific page that includes the title quote of this post. I believe it sets up this month’s topic quite nicely as we talk about Strategic Leadership. At the beginning of the calendar year, many businesses, for-profit and non-profit, large corporations and small privately-owned businesses are executing their strategic plans. As we begin yet another calendar/fiscal year, let’s explore what really goes into thinking strategically as a leader in the 21st Century dynamic business environment.In the past few month’s I’ve given multiple speeches and presentations around these strategic leadership competencies as they are at the core of staying relevant and achieving sustainable success in their businesses. These competencies are based on the research of Kimberly Boal and Robert Hooijberg...
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The Innovator’s Book

innovate
With a theme of adaptability in this month’s post, it is only fitting to review this author’s latest book. I’ve reviewed Dr. Max McKeown’s books before and his latest does not disappoint. “The Innovator’s Book – Rules for Rebels, Mavericks and Innovators” is unique in that is does not at all read like your typical business book. Yet it is the kind of book that with few words gets one thinking about how they are thinking about and implementing their strategies for sustainable success.My favorite page in the entire book is titled “What you know can hurt you” When I read it, it struck me how tritely we use phrases like “continuous learning” and “we need to innovate” without really understand what we are asking ourselves to do. With that, I listed most of the page below to give an idea of how the book is set up to generate new...
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If the flower does not bloom...

flowers-blooming
…fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower”What bloomed in your business this year? What didn’t? This is the time of year when many leaders are taking stock of their business to celebrate successes of the past business cycle. Possibly salary increases and bonuses for the deserving are part of the discussion along with stronger relationships for the upcoming year. It is also the time of year to understand the misses from what was planned twelve months prior. Reflecting on what assumptions changed or did not play out as planned and what was misinterpreted leading to less than desired results.As we go through these conversations and reflections, it might be easy to identify individuals and teams who contributed to both the successes and the misses. While rewarding the high contributing teams for their great work is a must, stopping there misses the bigger issue identified in the title with...
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The Best Teacher…

try-fail-try-again-till-succeed
…is Your Last MistakeWhat 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 people learn...
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