“Experience is not what happens to you...

Learning What are you doing with your pandemic experience to be a more effective leader?
...it’s what you do with what happens to you”This quote by Aldous Huxley, the English author best known for his book, “Brave New World” speaks volumes about what leaders are asking themselves and their teams as the next phase of post-pandemic business starts to take hold. In previous posts, we’ve talked about the VUCA business environment and how leaders must adapt to the challenges it presents. The foundation for adapting is how leaders and their teams are learning from the events of last year and creating new experiences to support sustainable success.To help leaders better understand adaptability, it is helpful to look at the learning process through the lens of the Four Stages of Competence Model created by Noel Burch of Gordon Training International in the 1970s. He identified four stages of skill development providing leaders with a structure to identify and assess where they and their teams and companies are...
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"Trust is Earned...

Trust How does your team trust your leadership?
...When Actions Meet Words”Last month, we explored the leader-follower relationship through the lens of followership. In this edition, we explore another element of this critical business relationship and a topic that many leadership conversations struggle with. Intellectually, every leader, even the poor ones, can agree that trust and trustworthiness is important to effective leadership. Unfortunately, not all leaders, especially the poor ones, know what it takes to be viewed as trustworthy. Moreover, they fail to understand the consequences of not being trusted until the damage to their team is done. As the expression goes, “Losing trust is like crumpling a piece of paper. No matter how much you smooth it out, it is never the same.”One of the simplest ways to break down the key elements of trust and trustworthiness comes via the Trust Equation developed by Trusted Advisor. The equation states Trustworthiness is equal to Credibility plus Reliability plus Intimacy...
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“We Get the Leaders...

Followership How does your team’s followership align with your leadership?
...We Choose to Follow”Earlier this month, I read the title quote in a post by Laurence Barrett from my LinkedIn network. His posts always get me thinking and this particular sentence got me thinking about an important topic that routinely gets little airtime yet is extremely important in the leadership development universe. When we ask leaders if they can truly be a leader if no one follows them, the obvious answer is no. Yet the topic of followership continues to lag in the leadership discussion.In the Leadership and Organizational Behavior class I teach in a local MBA program, we introduce the relationship between the leader, the followers, and the situation. One of the exercises we discuss is the idea of creating a course on followship and the key topics we would need to cover in such a course. After creating an exhaustive list of topics, I change the title from followership...
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“Nothing is Stronger...

building-habits How are your habits supporting your team’s desired results?
...than a Habit.”Last month, we discussed the importance of relevant leadership skills, knowledge and attitudes through the lens of leading in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) business environment. We received a lot of great feedback from the network, especially as leaders look ahead at how they will effectively lead in a new year. However, my friend and fellow leadership colleague, Nicole DeFalco reminded me there is a fourth piece to the leadership development tool we call the KASH Box.The KASH Box is a leadership development tool most widely credited to David Herdlinger, an experienced leadership business coach, author and speaker who runs KASHBox Coaching with his business partner Joan Walsh. I had the distinct honor of having been individually coached by both David and Joan in the early days of RPC Leadership Associates Inc. and credit both for their role in our success in those early years.KASH is an acronym...
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“Effective Leaders Operate in Understanding...

Attitude-Adjustment As a leader, how are you and your team going to achieve desired results?
...What Can Be Done.”Happy New Year!Over the last few weeks one of the more common comments comes from folks who apparently thought changing over to a new calendar year would suddenly make the challenges of the previous year somehow fade away. The reality, of course, is the issues leaders regularly tackle do not abide by our sense of time. They happen unannounced, they linger until resolved and reoccur if poorly resolved. This inspired the theme of this discussion with the title taken from a conversation between my friend Rick Kolster and Col. Allen West on Rick’s podcast, “The Bald Truth”.The title is a quote from Col. West during that discussion which got us thinking about what leaders need to focus on to understand what can be done, especially in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) business environment. In our experience, we can categorically look at three key areas that form the...
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Who are you...

Who-Am-I-2
...really? It has long been a tenet of effective leadership that it really begins with effective self-leadership. So much so that in our coaching practice, we maintain that if one cannot lead themselves, they do not have the right to lead others. While that may come across rather strong, we’ve seen it play out as advertised, both positively and negatively over the last several decades.Self-awareness is obviously key to effective self-leadership, yet it remains a challenge for far too many leaders. In a January 2018 article in Harvard Business Review titled, “What Self-Awareness Is (and How to Cultivate it)”, Tasha Eurich stated that their four-year research study estimated that only 10% to 15% of their over 5,000 study participants were actually self-aware.In some of our more recent posts, we discussed how the pandemic has been a bit of “truth serum” for leaders across the globe. No one has escaped the need...
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“Action and Adaptability...

VUCO-2-0 What new opportunities are you taking advantage of?
...create Opportunity.”At the risk of sounding redundant and a little like Captain Obvious, the new reality challenged every leader’s script for success. It reminds me of a term from my former life, VUCA which is an acronym for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. It was coined by the Army War College in the late 1980s as part of post-Cold War planning discussions. There is little doubt today’s 21st Century business environment encompasses all of these conditions!Instead of dwelling on each of these conditions and their impact on leadership, let’s look forward and see how today’s leaders can create opportunity as motivational speaker Garrison Wynn suggests in the title quote. By way of structure, we will use the VUCA 2.0 Model coined by former Medtronic CEO Bill George. He simply redefined the original letters in the acronym to now mean Vision, Understanding, Courage and Adaptability. Let’s explore each in more detail:Vision ~...
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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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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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“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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“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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"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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"...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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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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Are you a Know-It-All...

Learning-Leader
...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 21st 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 thatMe: 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 action we should take.Them: I disagree. I don't...
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