“The needs of the many outweigh...

business-goal-planning How are your recent leadership decisions impacting your business tensions?
...the needs of the few...or the one.”Over the last few months, this dialog between First Officer Spock and Captain Kirk in the 1982 movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, keeps popping up based on many of our coaching conversations thus far this year. If you are a fan of the genre, then you know the circumstances behind the brief dialog between these two characters. The reason it keeps coming up is it highlights one of the key challenges all leaders face in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) business environment. The challenge of leading through competing performance tensions in the business!While the quote speaks to competing tensions between the many versus the few or the one, the idea of competing performance tensions is not new. What is new is the context in which these tensions reveal themselves as leaders navigate the new reality of today’s business environment. The three...
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“The purpose of today’s training...

Think-Different How are you training to defeat yesterday’s understanding?
...is to defeat yesterday’s understanding."As leaders make time to plan for the next business cycle, we’ve noticed a common theme both in our coaching conversations as well as in general conversations not directly related to coaching. Leaders are quick to delve into the operational plans for their businesses and organizations. However, when the asked about their personal leadership development plans, the conversations suddenly go silent or taper off significantly. Thus, this is the theme for this month’s discussion around how leaders must think more broadly when it comes to planning for sustainable success in a new business cycle.The title of this month’s discussion is from the 17th Century Japanese philosopher, Miyamoto Musashi. He is also a noted strategist, swordsman and ronin. He is credited with developing a unique style of swordsmanship, a feat he could not have accomplished by continuing to use the yesterday’s understanding of his time. So too, leaders...
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“...Inspire through values...

values21 How is your culture aligned to your organizational values?
 ...and motivation takes care of itself."One of the most visible effects the current VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) business environment has been the impact on organizational culture. We define organizational culture in our leadership and business coaching practice as the shared set of Values, Beliefs, Norms and Attitudes within an organization that guide the Behavior of its members. At the foundation of this definition are the core values of the organization that become the guiding principles of its leaders as they model the desired culture.What we’ve observed over the last four years is less about the values themselves and more about the struggle leaders face in aligning their core values to the desired culture. The title quote from Tony Hsieh, the late founder of Zappos, highlights the point. When we look at the relationship between values and culture, we can state it in simple terms as Values + Alignment = Culture....
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“A different world cannot be built...

vision-lg How are you leading differently to achieve desired results?
...by indifferent people.”A recurring theme in our writings this year center on critical thinking and the leader’s ability to set direction for their teams in the context of operating in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) business environment. It is a recurring theme because we continue to see and hear about business leaders struggling with change they feel they have limited control over. Using the title quote attributed to Peter Marshall, former chaplain for the U.S. Senate in the late 1940s, we continue to explore effective leadership in a VUCA business environment.Indifference is defined as a lack of interest or concern in a given situation. It is being apathetic in a situation and is a clear reflection of the leader’s attitude. This is an important distinction as part of the challenge of effectively leading change is thinking it merely involves doing different to get different results. It is a common misconception...
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Don’t practice until you get it right...

Create-Value How are you ensuring your business can’t get it wrong?
...Practice until you can’t get it wrong.Sustainability and spaced repetition are joint themes deeply embedded in our coaching practice since day one. Sustainability is mentioned in all seven of our books and spaced repetition is built into our attitude change platform/practice. In fact, a good portion of our coaching practice is helping our clients focus on repetitive practice to develop new attitudes, behaviors, and skills.In this discussion, we take a look at how repetition factors into the key elements of business leadership. We will explore the value of repetition as it pertains to leading people, managing resources and creating value regardless of whether the business is for-profit, non-profit, small business, large corporation, public or privately held. Let’s get started with the most important aspect of business leadership: leading people.Leading People ~ In any business, people are the heart and soul of the sustainable success of any business. In today’s dynamic new...
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“Curiosity has its own...

critical-thinking How are you leveraging critical thinking to support your business decisions?
...reason for existing."The title of this month's article is actually the second half of an Albert Einstein quote that reads, "The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing." We introduced thinking differently as a lead-in to innovation last month which we also know is a function of curiosity. As we continue our conversation around diversity of thought, we will speak directly to the importance of critical thinking. Even now, as the conversation around Open AI and ChatGPT ramp up to a fever pitch, the need for leaders to understand the importance of critical thinking has never been more crucial!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 inform in a way not restricted by subjective perspectives of peers and/or the status quo."...
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Diversity of Thought...

Adaptability-Symbol How are you thinking different about leading your business?
...is the Wellspring of InnovationLast month, we wrote about thinking differently as a means to develop new habits and behaviors in order to continuously evolve as business leaders. Based on the response from that article, we decided to continue the theme and expand on it through the lens of diversity and critical thinking. The title inspiration comes from multiple articles and social media posts we came across in our research for this article. The essence is leaders must think different to do different. So, let’s break it down on how leaders can think different.Demographics vs. Psychographics ~ The essence of truly understanding diversity of thought, or cognitive diversity as its also referred to, is leaders recognizing different attitudes people hold. A team can look diverse based on demographics related to age, gender, race, education, etc. However, if the diverse demographics converge into a single psychographic based on similar attitudes, then the...
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“I never thought of it that way”

Think-Differently How are you thinking differently about how you are leading your business?
As a business and leadership coach, these words are music to my ears! When I’m asked the usual question at networking events, “What do you do?”, I answer with, “We’re in the attitude adjustment business.” More often than not, it catches the asker by surprise. Yet, truthfully, it completely captures our goal when working with our clients, to help them think differently about what it takes to lead in the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) business world we operate in.We enter a new business cycle with some existing challenges (rising interest rates, supply chain issues, etc.) and new challenges (impact of inflation, etc.). To that end, leaders must embrace the idea of thinking differently about what is possible given the current economic, socio-cultural, political and regulatory conditions affecting their markets and industries. As we work with our for-profit and non-profit clients to think differently, we identified several common themes, regardless of...
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“If you don’t know where you’re going...

Strategic-communication What will your strategic narrative sound like for your business leading into the new business year?
...any road will take you there.”Many will recall this classic line from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” in the conversation between Alice and the Cheshire Cat. As business leaders start looking at how this year will end and begin planning for the next year, it is important they plan through the lens of strategic thinking. Strategic thinking is comprised of the three guiding elements of the business: Vision, Mission, and Strategy. In chapter 3 of our most recent book, “Finding the Missing Piece: The Impact of Effective Communications on Sustainable Success”, we focus on the strategic communications involved in strategic thinking and why it is critical to the effectiveness of an organization’s overall communications strategy.We define strategic communications as the actions involved in communicating the long-term purpose and direction of the organization. To that end, strategic communications is unique in its application than the operational and tactical communications which we will...
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“The ability to learn faster than your competitors...

strategy-making How is your business strategy creating a sustainable competitive advantage and how do you know?
...may be the only sustainable competitive advantage.”It is the time of year where many organizations are starting to plan for the continued success of their business. Whether for-profit or non-profit, large national corporation or small local business, the challenges of maintaining a sustainable and successful strategy continue to challenge leaders at all levels. Leaders continue to navigate a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) business environment laced with supply chain issues, employee retention, political unrest, and economic inflation to name a few.The inspiration for the framework of this month’s discussion is an article in the most recent issue of Harvard Business Review titled “Strategy-Making in Turbulent Times – a Dynamic New Model” by Michael Mankins and Mark Gottfredson. Right up front I’ll argue whether their model is new or not, a point the authors even acknowledge as true for parts of their recommendations. However, the five elements of the structure are valid...
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“The secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old...

Leadership-Direction How well are you and your leaders focused on building the new?
...but on building the new.”A hot topic in social media and around the business community, both for-profit and non-profit is the discussion around how to structure the workforce in the new reality. Questions abound around bringing employees back to the office full time, part time, not at all and what are the ramifications of these options on how the business continues to run and how leaders effectively lead. On multiple LinkedIn discussions, we’ve posted that those leaders who can only manage effectively when their team is back in the office as it was pre-pandemic are insecure and need to reflect on why they are only confident leading under those conditions in this new reality. Of course, those comments were mostly met by agreement and a few disagreements, even one challenging our credentials to even make the comment in the first place.Our underlying premise, and the reason for the title quote attributed...
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“That was Then...

Past-Present How will your business cycle end, starting now?
...This is Now!”As we continue to work with organizational leaders in both for-profit and non-profit businesses, a common theme has emerged that resonates across them all. This current business cycle is a recalibration to the new reality (not new normal) of the current VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) business environment. The inspiration for the title for this month’s discussion comes from an S.E. Hinton book by the same title published in the early 1970’s. It’s also been a movie (1985) and a song (1986) by The Monkees music group. However, we are using it to drive home a crucial reminder to today’s 21st Century Leaders as they adapt to the current VUCA Business environment.Specifically, the focus is on the Operational Support Elements that bridge the gap between the Strategic Thinking process that informs organizational direction and the Tactical Execution that produces the desired results for sustainable success. In our “Missing Piece”...
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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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“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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“What have we learned?”

Learn-and-lead As a leader, what have you learned?
As we close out the year for the ages, many are using the time to reflect on the recent past in order to set the stage for what is next. Our experience tells us that for most, this is a loosely defined informal process which tends to produce minimal, if any, change in attitudes and behaviors. For this reason, we focus our coaching with clients, as well as the theme of this post, on learning. By definition, learning results in modifying behaviors by experience. We focus on the issue of learning because without the observable modified behavior, we could argue actual learning does not occur.As early as this past summer, we began asking our clients what they had learned about themselves over the previous 3-4 months. The idea is centered on leaders making time to consciously capture their experiences to learn what changes to make in their businesses. In our experience...
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“A goal is planned conflict...

conflict-with-status-quo How will your goal planning process defeat the enemy of your success?
...with the status quo.”It is the time of year when leaders evaluate the results of what has been a very challenging year. The purpose is to presumably create new goals to continue achieving desired results next year. Yet, no matter how many leaders I ask what their goal planning process looks like, the vast majority simply do not have one. The closest processes resemble an organizational to-do list with little or no context behind them. But is that enough? As the title quote from Hyrum W. Smith suggests, those goals must be strong enough to move to a desired future that is likely in conflict with the status quo.The challenge is that merely setting goals is never enough in and by themselves to create the necessary level of planned conflict. We wrote about this idea two years ago on how an effective goal planning process is a great motivator for success! The...
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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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“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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