“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 21st 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 21st Century Leaders to make the right decisions for the sustainable success of their organizations. From my...
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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 21st 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 a...
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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 we are...
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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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To win in the marketplace…

…you must first win in the workplace! Welcome to the fifth and final key to success in our series on "Leading at the Speed of Business". We’ve spent several months now talking about the importance of adaptability as it pertains to staying relevant in today’s business environment. Whether leading a growing small business, an established large business or a non-profit enterprise, staying relevant will always be a concern. In our final installment, we focus on the importance of the right culture that views adaptability as a norm rather than something members of the organization have to do.  It is who they are versus and not just what they do. Adaptability is how the organization collectively thinks in order to achieve sustainable success! It is always important to level-set definitions with the audience so the discussion doesn’t get side-tracked. We define culture as the shared set of beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviors...
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“If you want to understand how a lion hunts…

Lions How are you learning how the lion hunts?
…don’t go to the zoo. Go to the jungle.”This quote by Jim Stengel, former Chief Marketing Office at Proctor & Gamble sets up this month’s conversation on Leading at the Speed of Business as we discuss the fourth of five keys to success. We left off the conversation last month by looking at how Cognitive Diversity helps 21st Century Leaders adapt quickly by embracing creativity and diverse thinking. This month we explore the importance of how effectively we communicate diverse thinking to adapt and stay relevant.It is my contention that effective communication is the biggest challenge 21st Century Leaders face today! When we think of all the ramifications and repercussions of poor leadership communications, we can clearly see why this is such a big issue. What can leaders do to effectively communicate at the speed of business?Knowledge Rules ~ Technology gives us unfettered access to vast amounts of data and information...
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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 the reader...
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“Strength lies in differences...

different-3 How are you finding strengths in differences on your team?
...not in similarities.”This month, we continue our conversation on Leading at the Speed of Business by discussing the third of five keys to success. We began the discussion two months ago with the first key to success: Get Ready to Warp. Last month, we centered the conversation on the second key to success: Servant Leadership. This month, we dive into Cognitive Diversity as the third key to success. Successfully leading at the speed of business is rooted in diverse thinking. People who think different, will ultimately do different and will be more comfortable with change and adapting at the speed of business!What does Cognitive Diversity entail and what do leaders need to know to leverage the strengths that Stephen Covey alludes to in the title to achieve effective and successful leadership?Key in on Psychographics vs. Demographics ~ Most of us are familiar with demographics that look at population groups based on...
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"Are You Playing to Win...

Keys-to-Success How are you playing to win as a 21st Century leader?
“Are you playing to win…or playing not to lose?”This is a common question I ask all my clients at one point or another during our time working together. Whether they are a corporate leader over a business unit or division, a non-profit leader of an agency or association, an entrepreneur or small business owner or even a high school student leader, the intent of the question is always the same. Are they embracing risk or are they avoiding failure? Are they focused on the future or are they leaning too heavily on the past? The question usually comes up as the leader is struggling on some level to lead at the speed of business!In my own experience working with leaders at all levels described above, there are five keys to success when leading oneself/a team/an organization in 21st Century business. Collectively these keys to success support a leadership mindset focused on...
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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, gain multiple perspectives...
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“It’s What You Do, Not What You Say...

Vision How are you part of your organization’s future and how do you know?
…If You’re Not Part of the Future, then Get Out of the Way.”Whenever I see these words to John Cougar Mellencamp’s song, “Peaceful World”, it reminds me that one of the biggest challenges leaders face is painting a clear picture of the intended future of their team, department, business or organization. This is the time of year where many leaders are doing just that, visualizing the intended future produced by strategic plans, budgets and resource allocations now ready to be executed in the upcoming new year. However, these documents aren't enough to dictate success as they are typically created by spreadsheets and analytics. Visions are realized through emotional engagement by members of an organization so having more than logical plans and budgets to achieve success is necessary.What is the story? ~ Before leaders share the picture of the intended future, they have to have a clear idea of the story themselves....
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“To Learn you have to Listen...

Listen-Learn-Grow How is your leadership creating sustainable value for your organization and how do you know?
…To Improve you have to Try.”Earlier this month we proudly launched the third in a series of business alignment books specifically addressing the unique leadership challenges of corporate leaders as they strive to create sustainable value for their stakeholders. In nearly all of my coaching engagements, speeches and workshops, the question of value, which I also use synonymously with relevance, comes up in the discussion. It is an issue all leaders grapple with and is complex in that it means something different to just about everyone! So, what does creating sustainable value entail in order to create desired results?To learn you have to listen ~ Whenever we do sales-related coaching, we spend time early in the discussion with the concept of helping others buy, not selling to them. This requires effective listening to understand what is valuable to the prospect or client. In similar fashion, leaders of teams must listen effectively...
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The Missing Piece for Corporate Leaders

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In our quest to leverage the Business Alignment process to business leaders across key organizational situations, we are proud to announce the upcoming availability of “The Missing Piece for Corporate Leaders: Achieving Sustainable Value through Business Alignment”. As its predecessors did for Entrepreneurs/Small Businesses and Non-Profit Leaders, this third installment helps Corporate Leaders understand the importance of aligning their people, processes and tools to bridge the gap between the Vision and Strategy and the execution of the Strategy through aligned Goals and Metrics to achieve Desired Results. Corporate leaders have a unique challenge in they achieve success through many layers in the organization. The more layers, the more opportunities for the Vision and Strategy to get sanitized and diluted by the time it reaches the part of the organization that needs to execute the Goals aligned to the Strategy. Complexity can beget confusion and the most effective leaders understand that simplicity...
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“No matter how thin the pancake...

Pancakes13 What new behavioral action is your leadership thinking enabling?
...it always has two sides.” By the end of 2017, I will have given multiple versions of our popular “Generational Diversity in the Workplace” presentation to over a dozen different audiences. While each audience is unique, a common question usually arises along the lines of, “I fit the generational demographics, but I don’t think like my generation.” Each time, this question, and subsequent conversation, brings me back to the wisdom from my Aunt in the title as it frames for me the value of understanding psycho-graphics to be an effective leader in the today’s dynamic business environment. Psycho-graphics are quantitative methodologies based on people’s attitudes and values. Most of us are used to demographics that are the tried and true “labels” to help us organize what is going on around us. If all we focused on was demographics, the best we could hope to gain would be effective management. However, we...
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“A mind that knows how to think is more empowered...

brain How do you think?
...than a mind that only knows what to think.”Through the course of the summer, I kept bumping into this uneasy feeling as I experienced what was happening around me.  I kept asking myself with each new situation, “What were they thinking?” As it turns out, after coming across Neil deGrasse Tyson’s words in the title of this article, I was asking the wrong question. I should have asked, “How were they thinking?” as I now believe that answer has far greater ramifications in our leadership-challenged world of today! Let’s break down his words further to see what we can learn relative to 21st Century Leadership.Only knowing what to think ~ If we define thinking as “…concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it.” as William Deresiewicz does in his October 2009 lecture to the plebe (freshman) class at the United States Military Academy at West Point, then...
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“Adapt…

Organizational-Culture How would you characterize your culture and how is it contributing to sustainable success?
…or Die” I was recently reintroduced to Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch’s book by the same name as the title.  I have always liked the bluntness of the message, especially as it applies to Organizational Culture. The importance of the value and impact of culture begins with understanding what culture really is and that it has multiple moving parts.  Once we define what culture is, we can then look at how culture affects organization execution externally as well as how culture impacts organizational operations internally.  As leaders continue to fully grasp the nuances of 21st Century Leadership with all its changes, one truth remains constant; Culture will ultimately determine whether success is fleeting or sustainable! Culture is defined as the system of shared values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that develops within an organization and guides the behavior of the members.   Culture exists on some level with or without leadership doing anything at all...
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