The Best Teacher…

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…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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Making Leadership a Way of Life!

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The title of this month’s conversation also happens to be the Vision for RPC Leadership Associates, Inc. As we celebrated our ten-year anniversary in September, it seems only appropriate to reflect on how our Vision has inspired and affirmed everything we achieved and what it has meant to our business these last 10 years.   To set the stage for how it all started, one of the prevailing issues I saw throughout my military and corporate career was just how few leaders there are in business, politics, religion, sports and any other category of work you want to add. Of course, by leadership I mean those who are leaders versus those who carry the title or just “do” leadership. And so, it has been a personal crusade to support those who strive to be leaders to their core, to the point they don't know any other way; it’s now a way...
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“To Learn you have to Listen...

…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...
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“No matter how thin the pancake...

...it always has two sides.”By the end of 2017, I will have given multiple versions of our popular “Generational Diversity in the Workplace” presentation to over a dozen different audiences. While each audience is unique, a common question usually arises along the lines of, “I fit the generational demographics, but I don’t think like my generation.” Each time, this question, and subsequent conversation, brings me back to the wisdom from my Aunt in the title as it frames for me the value of understanding psycho-graphics to be an effective leader in the today’s dynamic business environment.Psycho-graphics are quantitative methodologies based on people’s attitudes and values. Most of us are used to demographics that are the tried and true “labels” to help us organize what is going on around us. If all we focused on was demographics, the best we could hope to gain would be effective management. However, we don’t lead...
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“A mind that knows how to think is more empowered...

brain How do you think?
...than a mind that only knows what to think.”Through the course of the summer, I kept bumping into this uneasy feeling as I experienced what was happening around me.  I kept asking myself with each new situation, “What were they thinking?” As it turns out, after coming across Neil deGrasse Tyson’s words in the title of this article, I was asking the wrong question. I should have asked, “How were they thinking?” as I now believe that answer has far greater ramifications in our leadership-challenged world of today! Let’s break down his words further to see what we can learn relative to 21st Century Leadership.Only knowing what to think ~ If we define thinking as “…concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it.” as William Deresiewicz does in his October 2009 lecture to the plebe (freshman) class at the United States Military Academy at West Point, then...
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“Beware the lollipop of mediocrity…

…Lick it once and you will suck forever.” “Average”, “Par”, “Mediocre”, “Safe”, etc.  There are many words we use to describe the middle-of-the-road thinking and actions.  We see it in the traditional bell curve as well as the “Diffusion of Innovation” curve that Simon Sinek speaks about in his now famous TED Talk on “Starting with Why”.  Being a successful 21st Century Leader means getting out ahead of the middle-of-the-road thinking by not even considering it in the first place.   As Brian Wilson, philosophical music leader of the Beach Boys says in the title quote, once you are satisfied with ordinary, it is hard to be and do special things! The challenge, then, is how do leaders avoid licking the lollipop of mediocrity?  How do they eschew the comfort of ordinary and lead others to a new compelling special place.  How does a leader overcome the inertia of the status quo...
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"The culture of any organization is shaped…

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…by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate." This has been one of the easiest newsletters to write for the simple reason that I see so many examples of the situation outlined in the undated quote above from Gruenter and Whitaker. So much so that it seems like the right time to break down why it occurs and provide some thoughts on how to help leaders avoid the this trap that many find themselves caught in. One of Peter Drucker’s quotes reads, “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast” which means when you get culture right, the rest will more often than not, fall into place.The conversation begins with the definition of culture itself. We define culture as the shared set of beliefs, values and attitudes that guide the behavior of the organization. Every organization, large or small has a culture that is created in one of three ways:Leaders hire associates...
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Leadership is a Habit.

Do You Believe It and are you Practicing It?Everyone has leadership potential but not everyone uses that potential to its fullest measure. More often than not, it is because leadership, and I mean great leadership takes us on a journey requiring repetitive practice and an unwavering attitude towards changing our performance.But is it possible to create new leadership habits? Research tells us that once old habits are burned into the part of the brain responsible for short term memory (the hippocampus) they are there to stay. We also know that over 75% of these permanent habits are negatively influenced as we grew up (don't color outside the lines and don't talk to strangers come to mind). New habits come from getting out of our comfort zone and reaching into our stretch zone - where true change occurs. If we focus on incremental and continuous change, what the Japanese call "kaizen" we...
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"Discipline is the Refining Fire...

...by which Talent becomes AbilityNo matter how much leadership development, management training or personal coaching we attend or participate in, successful leadership must always include a discussion of discipline. This reference by Roy L. Smith is a great example of the crucial role discipline plays in our success as leaders. In one of my earliest newsletters I spoke of talent and what it really takes to create the ability to be a successful leader. In the years since I have had the pleasure of working with successful entrepreneurs, organizational leadership teams and not-for-profit leaders and boards. In every case, the ability to be disciplined leaders contributes to their sustainable success.I recently had the privilege of attending a seminar by a fellow coach who spoke of the value of 10,000 hours. If you have read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Outliers” (previewed below) you know about the 10,000 hours. He speaks to the idea...
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