What’s in it for me?

what-in-it-for-me How well are you communicating changes to your team?
Last month, we wrote about the impact of consequences and their importance in seeing visible change in skills, behaviors and attitudes. Without them, it is just too easy for leaders and followers alike to fall back into old habits. In this edition, and in response to conversations around change we’ve had with our own leadership and business coaching clients, we will focus on a structure we used both as leader and coach to effectively communicate change.It stands to reason that as a business strategy evolves, so too do the needs of the business for and from its people. As leaders communicate the new strategy to the organization, how are they also communicating the changes in skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary to effectively execute the new strategy? How are they winning over hearts and minds to help embrace change at an emotional level?The format we recommend and follow consists of the five...
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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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“Are you a GPS...

business-direction-compass How are you fully leveraging your operational leaders?
...or a Compass?”One of the common topics that routinely comes up in our executive coaching discussions with senior leaders, is understanding the distinction between strategic leadership and operational leadership. It is an important distinction that we’ve outlined in all our “Missing Piece” books. Recently, I watched an interview with Ken Frazier, former CEO of Merck & Co. who touched on this topic. During the interview he used the title phrase as his way of making the distinction, especially for leaders in the C-Suite.We define strategic leadership as the level of leadership that sets the direction for the organization. This includes creating and socializing the vision, mission and values of the organization. It also includes creating and executing the strategy for the business and how the business competes in its markets and industries. It is typically the realm of the leaders at the top of the organization. The CEO, Executive Director, Business...
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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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Making Numbers Count

Making_Numbers_Count_Header
This month, we highlight the value of tactical communications in the planning process around goals, metrics and desired results. With the focus on knowledge-based decision-making, we also highlight a book that has helped us become more comfortable with communicating numbers as leaders. In, “Making Numbers Count”, Chip Heath and Karla Starr outline a process that helps leaders not only understand the numbers, but more importantly communicate the numbers in a way that resonates with the audience both logically and emotionally!Our favorite section of the book is titled “Use Emotional Numbers ~ Surprising and Meaningful ~ To Move People to Think and Act Differently”. It is a powerful set of ideas in short and easy-to- understand chapters that help the reader quickly understand the authors’ idea. The authors use plenty of examples that also aid in the reader grasping the main idea in a way that also makes it easy to apply...
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“Execution is the ability to mesh strategy with reality,...

execute-strategy What will your tactical narrative sound like for your business leading into the new business year?
...align people with goals and achieve the promised results”One of the organizational planning best practices we use with our clients is beginning the process with a look back at what was accomplished in the current year. We look at how many of the goals were accomplished and what percentage of the desired results were achieved. This sets the stage for the leader’s communications narrative of what is being carried over to the following year as well as what needs to be added to continue to grow as an organization. In Chapter 6 of our most recent book, “Finding the Missing Piece: The Impact of Effective Communications on Sustainable Success”, we focus on the communications involved at a tactical level and why it is critical to the effectiveness of an organization’s overall communication strategy.Drawing on the definition of business alignment as the process of matching the organization’s tactics to the available or...
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“Trust is the glue of life.

PPT What will your operational narrative sound like for your business leading into the new business year?
It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication.”As business leaders start looking at how this year will end and begin planning for the next year, the words of Stephen Covey in the title ring true as leaders develop their new operational plans. Operational planning is comprised of the four guiding elements of the business: People, Process, Technology and Compensation. In Chapters 4 and 5 of our most recent book, “Finding the Missing Piece: The Impact of Effective Communications on Sustainable Success”, we focus on the communications involved in operational planning and why it is critical to the effectiveness of an organization’s overall communication strategy.Drawing on the definition of business alignment as the process of matching the organization’s tactics to the available or readily acquirable resources to achieve its strategic objectives, we will focus on the available or readily available resources needed to achieve the strategic objectives. In leveraging operational communications, leaders...
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Finding the Missing Piece

Rick_Book_Cover_Header
...The Impact of Effective Communications on Sustainable SuccessThis month, we are proud to announce our 7th book is now available on Amazon! As we navigated the pandemic and continue to support leaders across all business model and industries, we realized that effective communication continues to be a common challenge to leaders at all levels. Thus, “Finding the Missing Piece, The Impact of Effective Communications on Sustainable Success” was born. The book addresses key issues at all three levels of leadership we previously outlined in our “Missing Piece” series of books previous published for Entrepreneurs, Non-Profit Leaders, and Corporate Leaders. The book continues to leverage the Business Alignment Maturity Model to ensure that effective communications not only occur at each level of leadership while also aligning throughout the organization from Vision to Desired Results and embedded in the organizational culture!Enjoy the Book!Lead Well!
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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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Learn to say No...

prioritize How are you communicating your well-reasoned no?
...Without Saying No.In our coaching practice with corporate leaders, non-profit leaders, business owners and individual professionals, one of the most common areas of development is priority management. While some still refer to this challenge as time management, we beg to disagree. You see, these leaders aren’t really managing time as it is fixed at 24 hours in a day, seven days in a week, etc. What these leaders are managing is what they do with their time such as how they manage their priorities. Prioritization, by definition, means saying yes to the most important (urgent or not urgent) and saying no to the least important. Therefore, learning to say no is a crucial leadership and priority management skill.In an article from the October 2021 issue of Inc. Magazine titled, “Yes, it’s OK to say No”, Fawn Weaver, the founder and CEO of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, wrote about the importance of...
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“All I hear are excuses”

Reason-or-Excuse Is your team giving you reasons or excuses and how do you know?
As we continue to pull out of a year for the ages, effective leaders are closely monitoring the new methodologies and processes put in place to adapt to the new reality. As many are realizing, some on their team are adapting well to the new reality and others on the team not so much. As we work with these leaders across multiple industries, both for-profit and non-profit, we regularly hear them state some version of the title quote of this article. Our response is always the same:What’s the difference between a reason and an excuse?The most common response to this question is an extended silence followed by “I’m not really sure” or “I never really thought about it” or others to that effect. Aside from the fact that every leader must know the meaning of the words they use, in this case treating reasons as excuses or excuses as reasons, both...
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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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"Social Continuity...

Social Continuity Who will you reach out to today to strengthen your social contract?
...with Physical Distancing”A term created out the current pandemic we hear every day is “Social Distancing”. While I understand the intent and purpose of the term, I believe it can also lead to unintended emotional isolation during these periods of lockdown and quarantine.A different perspective came to light yesterday during a conversation with my accountability coach. She got me thinking (as she usually does) about what we are really asking people to do is physical distancing while keeping our social contracts intact.Nearly everyone I speak with has made comments relating to the positivity they get from their own social conversations within their networks. It is apparent as well when they are feeling isolated and directionally out of sorts when the social continuity breaks down. If that is you, reach out. If you don't know who to call, contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we’ll set up a call to get the conversation...
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Don’t Raise Your Voice…

Persuasion
…Improve Your Argument!Much is written about conflict and how society continues to struggle with managing it in an open forum. I see this struggle first-hand with my own clients who continue to work on their effective communications skills, especially with those who disagree with them. One of the key skills of leadership is the ability to influence and persuade their teams to go where they have not yet gone before, knowing they have to change but cannot do it on the strength of their own motivations. The Leader’s ability to persuade, and manage through the potential resistance, is directly proportional to their ability to build an argument supporting why their followers should behave differently than they are currently.With the advent of technology infused communications tools, the ability to persuade should be easier. The ability to reach more people efficiently theoretically makes the process itself more efficient. However, if you put a...
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Soft Skills...

BAMM_20190626-150042_1
…are the new Hard Skills.”Our conversation around the emerging importance of soft skills has, to this point, focused on their impact to the individual leader and in general terms of the impact to the organization which the leader leads. In this issue, we will directly address the importance of soft skills in the context of achieving sustainable organizational success using the Business Alignment Maturity Model© (BAMM) outlined in our “The Missing Piece…” series of books.As a quick refresher, BAMM is an organizational business model outlining the five stages of business alignment necessary to create sustainable success. Whether you are a small business leader/owner, a leader of a corporate business unit/team or a non-profit leader, your organization must align all its moving parts in order to achieve the desired results – over and over again! So let’s explore how soft skills factor into this sustainable organizational success:Creating a Compelling Vision (Stage 1)...
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We are not Hard of Hearing...

Im-not-listening If “Listening is wanting to hear”, what are you wanting to hear?
...We are Hard of Listening!It’s true! Most of us hear everything around us. We hear the familiar noises of our day (traffic, radio, family etc.) and it reminds us of where we are and what we are doing. But are we truly listening to what we hear when it matters most and how do we know if we are or not?Jim Cathcart once said, “Listening is wanting to hear”. The implication in his words is listening is a choice, a choice to truly listen to what is being heard. When I conduct Leadership Communications workshops, the topic of listening is always part of the agenda. Listed below are five ways a leader can choose to become a more effective active listener.Take Time to Listen – It does take time to listen effectively as a discussion cut short due to distractions or interruptions will not yield its full implications. Taking time to listen...
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