Lead Well!

Lincoln-quote How are you leading well and how do you know?
For those who are regular readers of this platform, you might recognize the title of this edition as the way we sign off on all our online posts. I also use it to autograph the books we’ve written over the course of the last ten years. We also reference it in a different way when giving leadership presentations and speeches when we say that, while leadership is complex in so many ways, people ultimately want to be led well! But what do we mean when we say, “Lead Well”?In a November 2021 article, “7 trends dominating the future of work in 2022”, Korn Ferry talks about 7 key trends that business leaders all need to be focused on. Because we’ve coached our clients through all these trends/challenges in our business coaching practice, we decided to use them as a catalyst to further discussion what is means to Lead Well.While the article...
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“Resilience is not about how you endure...

Resilience-or-Burnout How is your leadership helping your team stay resilient?
...but about how you recharge and replenish.”Over the last several weeks, we’ve had the opportunity to attend a global virtual coaching summit as well as attend and speak at another national virtual coaching summit. A common topic, among many others, in both summits was around self-care and focus to avoid the impact of burnout in the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) new reality we live and work in. In fact, the title quote of this article is from a speaker at the global summit, Dr. Jacinta Jimenez, author of, “The Burnout Fix”.Dr. Jimenez spoke of burnout resulting from a mismatch between the nature of one’s work and one’s capacity as a human being. Taken to an organizational level, we’ve written previously about the importance of leaders understanding both the capabilities and capacities of their organizations. This naturally leads us to look at burnout at an organizational level versus an individual level.In...
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“Leadership is cause...

cause-and-effect How is your leadership causing sustainable success?
...everything else is effect.”John Maxwell’s first irrefutable law of leadership (Law of the Lid) states, “Leadership ability is the lid that determines a person’s level of effectiveness.” It is further reinforced by the title quote credited to Professor Stephen Adei, in 2004. In today’s VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) business environment, effective leadership is paramount to sustainable success in every sector; for-profit, non-profit, private, public, corporate, and entrepreneur. To the extent leaders effectively impact the cause, the more predictable and impactful the effect.In our upcoming book, Finding the Missing Piece: The Impact of Effective Communications on Sustainable Success, we refer to the answer to a question we often get in our coaching practice around the three things leaders need to know about effective leadership. Our answer is always the same:Create and communicate a Vision and StrategyBuild a Structure aligned to the StrategyDisciplined and accountable ExecutionIn essence, these represent the three levels...
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You don’t know what you believe...

Belief-System What do you believe in as a leader that your team sees in your actions?
...until you have to believe it!We began this month facilitating a session on Ethics and Values for our local chamber’s Leadership Institute which we helped develop and facilitate. Later, we received our latest issue of West Point magazine published by the Association of Graduates from my alma mater, the United States Military Academy at West Point. The issue is dedicated to how they teach character at West Point. It seems the universe is saying we are due for an article on Leadership Ethics and Values so, here goes!When we speak of ethical value-based leadership, we are more specifically talking about ethical value-based decision-making. But to truly understand ethics and values in context, we need to ensure we are grounded in a few key definitions. We define values as broad preferences concerning appropriate courses of action or outcomes and reflect a person’s sense of right and wrong or what “should be”. Ethics,...
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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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“Knowing is Not Enough. We Must Apply

kick-ass-repeat What is your team's motivation to follow you this year?
...Willing is Not Enough. We Must Do”Ah, the beginning of a new year with new possibilities, opportunities, and challenges for business leaders! It is a time of year where knowledge and intentions run high based on newly minted business plans, sales goals, and growth objectives. Such high expectations leaders have for their teams and businesses before the reality of the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) business environment sets in. Presumably, the impact of VUCA was baked into the business planning, sales goal planning and growth objective planning. But as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s title quote reminds us, planning is just the beginning of achieving desired results. It is through action and application that desired results are truly achieved!So, what is it that gets leaders and their teams beyond the knowing and intending to achieve desired results? What is their motivation? Actually, the second question is a large part of the answer...
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Are you trying to be Perfect...

Excellence What does imperfect excellence look like for your leadership standards?
...or Excellent?In our last article, we focused the discussion on organizational success by being reasonable and rational assessing the capacity and capability of the business. The context is around effectively leading the organization in the current new reality of a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) business environment. In this month’s discussion, we look at the same context applied to one’s self-leadership. How leaders lead themselves goes a long way in determining their effectiveness in leading others. A frequent self-leadership challenge we see in our coaching practice is the idea of striving for perfection. When we engage with a leader who is on this path of perfection, we ask the question that is the title of this discussion, “Are you trying to be perfect or excellent?”The first thing one notices in the question is the inference there is a difference between being perfect and being excellent. There are a multitude of examples...
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“Learning occurs...

Knowledge What new knowledge are you applying to your leadership journey?
...at the Edges of Knowledge.”In our current volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) business environment, business leaders are coming to terms with the new reality. Much of what they knew about how to stay relevant to stakeholders three to five years ago has been rendered mute under today’s conditions. Both external and internal stakeholders now have much different expectations to the level where leaders are realizing a renewed sense of the importance and focus on culture, purpose, and effective communications as crucial to their sustainable success.Inherent in this process are the two key elements of the title quote. The first is the level of continuous learning embraced by 21st Century leaders as they strive for purposeful relevance. We’ve written about leadership learning over the years, most recently earlier this year which you can see here. The second is the importance of knowledge in the leader’s learning process to inform what really...
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“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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