“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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“If you want to understand how a lion hunts…

…don’t go to the zoo. Go to the jungle.”This quote by Jim Stengel, former Chief Marketing Office at Proctor & Gamble sets up this month’s conversation on Leading at the Speed of Business as we discuss the fourth of five keys to success. We left off the conversation last month by looking at how Cognitive Diversity helps 21st Century Leaders adapt quickly by embracing creativity and diverse thinking. This month we explore the importance of how effectively we communicate diverse thinking to adapt and stay relevant.It is my contention that effective communication is the biggest challenge 21st Century Leaders face today! When we think of all the ramifications and repercussions of poor leadership communications, we can clearly see why this is such a big issue. What can leaders do to effectively communicate at the speed of business? Knowledge Rules ~ Technology gives us unfettered access to vast amounts of data and...
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“Strap yourselves in…

…we’re going to jump to light speed!”I still remember the audience’s reaction to this scene in the Star Wars: A New Hope in 1977. We had never seen anything like it on the big screen until then and, of course, now it seems almost archaic! Today’s 21st Century Business environment can feel very much like everything is moving at perpetual light speed. It is also this metaphor we use to highlight the first of five Keys to Success initially mentioned in last month’s newsletter (click here to read). The first Key to Success is Get Ready to Warp (another name for Light Speed). Simply stated, it is not the ability to adapt that matters as much as the speed at which the leader is able to adapt in order to stay relevant. Here are three things a 21st Century Leader can do to stay relevant: How well do you know your...
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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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“To attain Knowledge, add things every day…

…To attain Wisdom, remove things every day.”No matter how much leaders intellectually know about the folly of trying to fit ten pounds of stuff in a five-pound bag, they seem to always go down that path, ultimately leading to frustration and stress. Of the many conversations with speaking engagement audiences, prospects and clients around how they manage their time, we will invariably get to the question, “What are you going to stop doing so you can do these other new things you need to do?” Unfortunately, the most common response, either verbally or non-verbally is, “What do you mean?” This month’s conversation will discuss “What I mean!”I had the opportunity recently to visit Gettysburg National Park with my wife. Being a Civil War enthusiast, we were excited to visit the site of the pivotal turning point in the War. In one of the exhibits, painted on the wall in large letters...
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The difference between wanting change clarity and resisting change is…

…apparently a difficult question to answer!  I’ve asked this question hundreds of times to business leaders, non-profit leaders and MBA students and the answers are as varied as their backgrounds.  It stems from an age-old scenario where, during a change conversation, some brave soul stands up and asks a question to clarify the change initiative.  The room waits in anticipation as to whether the questioner will get an honest answer or be forever tagged as a resistor of change.  Having led numerous change efforts in my corporate career, I welcomed questions as I knew it would help everyone understand the change in the long run.  However, in my coaching practice I get the sense I may have been in the minority!We have to ask why this challenge exists after many decades of change.  If we put the usual personalities and egos aside, one of the key issues is a fundamental lack...
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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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“I’m a much different Athlete…

Habit-change How will you be a better leader in the next two years?
…than I was two years ago!”These were the words of a world-class competitor just before competing in the most recent World Cross-Fit Games. Two years ago at the same games, he tore his quad halfway through the competition and had to withdraw. This year he stood on the podium winning the Bronze Medal in the 50-54 year age bracket! He would be the first to acknowledge that what changed in those two years was less about his physical abilities and more about his mental approach. A different attitude took him to the status of third best in the world!What does this tell us about being successful lifelong leaders? Plenty, and more than most of us realize! I would argue most people acknowledge the value of a positive mental attitude and mindset as a key element of success. This is especially true for those who have ever participated in activities (athletics, music,...
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“The single biggest problem in communication…

…is the illusion that it has taken place.”In the fast-moving, technology-fueled world we live and work in, we could easily be forgiven for falling prey to the illusion portrayed in George Bernard Shaw’s quote above.  As an Irish Playwright, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925 so he certainly knew a thing or two about communications.  It also supports my belief that there are time-tested tenets of Leadership Communications that are consistent with the passing of time.  However, in the 24/7 always-on world it is the context of Leadership Communications that has changed dramatically further perpetuating the illusion that it actually takes place at all!Effective Leadership occurs when both the sender and the receiver understand the shared meaning of the message.  It is in this shared meaning in which the illusion actually occurs.  In my own experience in the last 30+ years, effective communications is the number one challenge...
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