“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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“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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“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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“...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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“..., 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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“It’s not who is right...

accountability How are you focused on what’s right as a leader, even if you may be proven wrong in any given situation?
...but what is right, that is important.”As we continue to focus many of our writings on critical thinking and the leader’s ability to set direction for their teams, this quote from Thomas Huxley rang true on so many levels. We continue these discussions 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 and conflict they feel they have limited control over. It stems from a frequent chorus of leaders struggling with what should be, versus what actually is, the current reality!In tough situations, it is not uncommon for leaders to hear themselves and other leaders lament the current situation through the lens of, “it could/would/should be this instead of that.” or “It isn’t supposed to be like this”. While these statements carry an element of truth in that...
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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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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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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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“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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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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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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“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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“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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We are all Products...

core-competencies How is your business capacity and capability supporting your strategy and how do you know?
...of Our Capability.A frequent topic of discussion in our leadership coaching practice in the last several months is how to manage burnout. When we explore the topic more closely, a common theme arises to the surface. It seems despite the many issues of the time (great resignation, post-pandemic uncertainty, global supply chain, etc.), leaders are still trying to achieve their original goals as if these issues simply didn’t exist.In truth, every business, for-profit or non-profit, public or private, large or small, operates on two related and interdependent variables: Capacity and Capability. Capacity consists of the assets and inputs, both tangible and intangible, the organization has on hand or can be readily acquired. Capability consists of the collective skills, knowledge and attitudes the organization leverages to conduct their business strategy and effectively compete in their markets. All businesses must assess their competitive strategy through the lens of their executable capacity and their...
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