What’s in it for me?

what-in-it-for-me How well are you communicating changes to your team?
Last month, we wrote about the impact of consequences and their importance in seeing visible change in skills, behaviors and attitudes. Without them, it is just too easy for leaders and followers alike to fall back into old habits. In this edition, and in response to conversations around change we’ve had with our own leadership and business coaching clients, we will focus on a structure we used both as leader and coach to effectively communicate change.It stands to reason that as a business strategy evolves, so too do the needs of the business for and from its people. As leaders communicate the new strategy to the organization, how are they also communicating the changes in skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary to effectively execute the new strategy? How are they winning over hearts and minds to help embrace change at an emotional level?The format we recommend and follow consists of the five...
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No consequences...

consequence-management How are you managing consequences on your team?
...No change!In our goal-planning work we facilitate with our leadership and business coaching clients, a key element of the process is documenting the rewards and consequences attached to any specific goal. Whether it is an individual, a team, or an organizational goal, we look at the rewards of achieving the goal and the consequences of not achieving the goal. This process is critical to establishing why the goal is important to the individual’s, team’s or organization’s success. These rewards and consequences always exist for any goal. What doesn’t always exist is the full understanding leaders have as to the impact they have on achieving the desired results.Psychology tells us people are more motivated by consequences than they are by the equivalent number of rewards. This is due to the impact of fear, survival, immediacy, and conditioning to name a few. What we’ve encountered in our leadership and business coaching practice is...
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“Accountability is the glue...

accountability1 How is your team holding themselves accountable to win?
...that ties commitment to the final result.”This month’s discussion is inspired in part by recent events in the world of sports. We recently witnessed exciting college basketball final four tournaments with the women’s tournament setting overall viewership records. We also watched the NFL draft as 32 professional football teams take steps to predict and perfect their team’s future success. With that in mind, we turn our thoughts to a much-discussed topic in our leadership and business coaching practice: accountability.To quote a post that has made the rounds on social media (original author unknown) and goes:Bad teams are not held accountable.Good teams are held accountable by the coach.Championship teams are held accountable by each other.It aligns quite nicely with our definition of a team as, “A group of people brought together to use their complementary skills to achieve a common purpose for which they hold themselves collectively accountable.” It is the last...
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“Content is the King...

content_v_context How well do your followers understand their kingdom?
...Context is the Kingdom."We’ve written extensively on the importance of context in leadership ranging from effective communications to critical thinking to effective decision-making. We recently came across the title quote in an article by Dave Ulrich as yet another reminder of the importance of context over content for effective 21st Century leadership. Additionally, we’ve actively embraced artificial intelligence (AI) as an important support tool for our leadership and business coaching practice. One of the key lessons in using AI (ChatGPT in this case) most effectively is the ability to leverage the right prompts or questions to support the issue at hand.Recently we had a conversation with ChatGPT and asked it the following question:What are the top 3 tips to ask ChatGPT great questions?The response back is listed below without edits:Be Specific: Provide clear and specific details in your question. Instead of asking vague or broad questions, narrow down the scope to...
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“..., you have to be immune to criticism, but...

Feedback How is your team receiving your feedback?
...at the same time, responsive to feedback.”We find this distinction between criticism and feedback to be an interesting topic as we coach our client leaders through the many changes occurring in their businesses. In a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) business environment, it is easy to take any negative input, whether from internal or external sources, as a personal affront. The skill of the leader is to know the difference between criticism and feedback as the title quote from Deepak Chopra suggests. His entire quote above is, “The biggest insight is that if you want to be successful, you have to be immune to criticism, but, at the same time, responsive to feedback, which are two different things.In our leadership and business coaching practice, we routinely facilitate coaching around the differences between the two so we are using this month’s discussion to share some thoughts on how leaders can effectively leverage...
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Dialog is about learning...

curiosity How are you leading your team with dialog versus debate?
...Debate is about winning.We’ve spent a good deal of time of late speaking to the importance of critical thinking for 21st Century leadership to achieve sustainable success. In the new reality of the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) business environment, the leader’s ability to separate the information wheat from the information chaff is crucial. As important as critical thinking is to effective leadership, the ability to both share and evolve their thinking with their followers is just as important!In this discussion, we outline some key ideas from our own experiences to enable critical thinking starting with the ideas from the title. We’ll begin with dialog:Dialog is about Learning ~ We all intellectually know that learning can’t occur if the leader is always talking and not listening. It occurs at the outer edge of the leader’s knowledge which we wrote about several years ago here. True dialog requires effective listening (not just...
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“Those who cannot change their mind...

Open-Minded How are you leveraging critical thinking to execute your business decisions?
...cannot change anything."This quote from Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw leads us into this month’s discussion and part two of our discussion around critical thinking skills. Last month, we introduced the first four of eight critical thinking skills. This month, we discuss the last four critical thinking skills identified by Zety writer Michael Tomaszewski earlier this year. Last month, we focused on the skills that support the leader’s ability to make the best decision under their present conditions and assumptions. In our current discussion, we focus on the skills that support the leader’s execution of their decision and their ability to flex their decision when the conditions and assumptions change! Before we dig into these four skills, as a reminder we define critical thinking as, “A process where leaders question their own assumptions, as well as those of others, using a mix of research, analysis, questioning and exploring new ideas to...
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“Execution is the ability to mesh strategy with reality,...

execute-strategy What will your tactical narrative sound like for your business leading into the new business year?
...align people with goals and achieve the promised results”One of the organizational planning best practices we use with our clients is beginning the process with a look back at what was accomplished in the current year. We look at how many of the goals were accomplished and what percentage of the desired results were achieved. This sets the stage for the leader’s communications narrative of what is being carried over to the following year as well as what needs to be added to continue to grow as an organization. In Chapter 6 of our most recent book, “Finding the Missing Piece: The Impact of Effective Communications on Sustainable Success”, we focus on the communications involved at a tactical level and why it is critical to the effectiveness of an organization’s overall communication strategy.Drawing on the definition of business alignment as the process of matching the organization’s tactics to the available or...
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“Trust is the glue of life.

PPT What will your operational narrative sound like for your business leading into the new business year?
It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication.”As business leaders start looking at how this year will end and begin planning for the next year, the words of Stephen Covey in the title ring true as leaders develop their new operational plans. Operational planning is comprised of the four guiding elements of the business: People, Process, Technology and Compensation. In Chapters 4 and 5 of our most recent book, “Finding the Missing Piece: The Impact of Effective Communications on Sustainable Success”, we focus on the communications involved in operational planning and why it is critical to the effectiveness of an organization’s overall communication strategy.Drawing on the definition of business alignment as the process of matching the organization’s tactics to the available or readily acquirable resources to achieve its strategic objectives, we will focus on the available or readily available resources needed to achieve the strategic objectives. In leveraging operational communications, leaders...
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“I’m too busy.”

Im-too-busy How are you communicating priorities to avoid the excuses?
A common theme we’ve noticed in our leadership and business coaching practice over the last year is the many variations of the title phrase becoming a more and more frequent response to workplace requests for assistance, coordination, or action. Unfortunately, it yields more frustration than not which is why we see an opportunity to dig in behind the expression and see what is really being said.The first thing we need to agree on is that it is a meaningless statement. Basically, it is a stall or an excuse to not engage. We equate it to the common expression that sounds like, “I didn’t have time to do, act, respond, etc.” In truth, the correct response is that they did not make the time to do, act, respond, etc. because they had other priorities, whether correctly or incorrectly created, that they attended to. In truth. everyone has the same 24 hours in...
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“I can trust people I disagree with...

Building-Trust2 What is your team’s level of trust in their leadership and how do you know?
...But I can’t agree with someone I don’t trust”As we’ve written in the past about the two main themes in the title (Trust and Conflict) as separate topics by themselves, we decided to combine the two based on what we are seeing in the world of leadership over the last few quarters. We’ve talked about trust quite a bit as leaders navigate the new reality with their teams. It is a central ingredient to being able to connect with and influence their team. We’ve also talked about a leader’s ability to manage conflict effectively including recognizing not all conflict is negative or destructive.As we combine the two into a single discussion, the title comes from a variation of narratives we’ve used in our coaching practice to help leaders understand how the two align. From a practical sense, we are breaking down any misconceptions that trust implies agreement or that disagreement implies...
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“All I hear are excuses”

Reason-or-Excuse Is your team giving you reasons or excuses and how do you know?
As we continue to pull out of a year for the ages, effective leaders are closely monitoring the new methodologies and processes put in place to adapt to the new reality. As many are realizing, some on their team are adapting well to the new reality and others on the team not so much. As we work with these leaders across multiple industries, both for-profit and non-profit, we regularly hear them state some version of the title quote of this article. Our response is always the same:What’s the difference between a reason and an excuse?The most common response to this question is an extended silence followed by “I’m not really sure” or “I never really thought about it” or others to that effect. Aside from the fact that every leader must know the meaning of the words they use, in this case treating reasons as excuses or excuses as reasons, both...
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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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“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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Don’t Raise Your Voice…

Persuasion
…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 put a...
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Soft Skills...

BAMM_20190626-150042_1
…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 organizational success:Creating a Compelling Vision (Stage 1)...
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“Prospects are highly informed…

content_in_context-resized-6001
…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…

ED-AK082_bauerl_G_20090827153620
…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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“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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“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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