“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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"...the only thing we have to fear...

Effective-leadership How is your leadership helping your team manage fear and uncertainty?
...is fear itself..."Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke these words at the beginning of his inaugural address on March 4, 1933. As I read through the entire inaugural address to understand its full context, it occurred to me he was speaking about Leadership, both his and that of the citizenry of that time. Fast-forward to today and we find the message of effective leadership in uncertain times remains resolute.What does it mean for leaders to remain resolute and effectively lead in a dynamic and fast changing business environment? In our ongoing work with clients, these are the main themes of focus for effective leadership.Lead with Attitude ~ Effective leaders inherently know that attitude leads behavior. What we think, we do. If leaders think of uncertainty as a crisis, then no matter how hard they try, a certain level of panic will ensue. Effective leaders know that how they show up matters and are...
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“Without ambition, one starts nothing...

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...Without work, one finishes nothing.”In today’s dynamic business environment, it seems far too many leaders are struggling with getting started in a direction for their business, completing a strategic objective for their business or some combination of the two. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote in the title then ends with, “The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.” In the context of today’s business environment, how ambitious is the team you lead to move in a specific direction as a team? How hard is your team willing to work as a team to finish what they start and achieve the team’s desired results? Let’s explore both questions through the lens of leadership required to answer them effectively.However, before we get to ambition and work ethic, let’s first level-set on the use of the term “Team”. Unfortunately, team and teamwork are often used improperly to describe a group....
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“Prospects are highly informed…

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…but not necessarily accurately informed.” Happy New Year and welcome to our first edition under our updated branding!  We are excited about our new look and feel with the same professionalism and trust our stakeholders have come to expect over the first ten years in business! As the title quote from Leanne Hoagland-Smith suggests, our initial topic for 2019 addresses ability as leaders to make the right decisions based on how informed they are when they make key decisions for their teams/agencies/businesses. With the amount of information leaders have access to doubling at an alarming rate, it is no surprise the difficulty in being accurately informed to make the leadership decisions that keep the team, agency, or business growing. It’s been said people don’t typically disagree on the facts, rather people typically disagree on the interpretation of the facts.  As the pace of change increases, so too does the pressure to...
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Are We Too Soft…

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…on Our Soft Skills? Much is said and written these days about soft skills and how important they are to business success. Often, the context of this discussion is the evolving influence of technology in our daily lives. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR) and any other technology that threatens (real or imagined) to replace humans in the workforce is a driving force behind the need and effectiveness of our soft skills. It’s as if we are less afraid of losing our hard skills and more afraid of our lack of soft skills and ability to think critically! Another context for this conversation is in the discussion of “skills gaps”. The November 2018 LinkedIn Workforce Report found the biggest “skills gap” is in San Francisco/Silicon Valley followed by New York City. The top 3 skill gaps in San Francisco/Silicon Valley are Oral Communication, Business Management and Leadership in that order. In...
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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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“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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“Remember, language was the first form of virtual reality.”

Last month in this forum we talked about the difference between knowing how to think and only knowing what to think. This month, we acknowledge the connection between how we think as leaders and its impact on how we behave as leaders. Specifically, we are looking at the behavior of effective communications. It is important that leaders know how to communicate effectively beyond just knowing what to say. It is, in my experience, the single biggest challenge for 21st Century Leaders to manage as they strive for sustainable success! So, what that means is: Leave the echo chamber ~ Sure, it’s safe to hear that things are going well within the organization from your team. But if that is all you hear, as a leader, you are in trouble and may not even realize it! When is the last time someone on your team disagreed with you? Can't remember that far,...
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“Sir, I do not understand”

This month’s title comes from my days as a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point and was one of the only four answers we could give as plebes (freshmen) when questioned by upper-classman.  As I do a fair share of key note team presentations and workshops on Effective Communications, I thought it appropriate to the subject.  Effective communications, or the lack thereof is, in my experience, the number one issue in business today. An issue because we are communicating more, yet listening less.  We are blitzed with content and yet struggle to put the content into a reliable context of our leadership situation.  The result is a too often occurrence of unmet expectations.The purpose of all communications is to elicit some degree of behavioral response.  Any change effort, no matter the scope and scale, begins with understanding expectations.  Sustainable success, the ability to repeatedly achieve desired results,...
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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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"Don't tell me...

Integrity1 What narrative are your words and actions telling your followers?
...show me.”We define Integrity as the alignment of what you think, what we say and what we do such that they all tell the same story.  We are constantly judged on how these three dimensions align as we interact with others.  However, only two of these are visible to others and create the most common input to how others view us.  In personal settings, the misalignment between these elements may create some personal conflict.  As leaders, the misalignment between our words and our actions could ultimately destroy them! It is amazing to me the disconnect between what leaders say they will do and what they ultimately do without realizing the consequences of the disconnect!  For example, comments suggesting a leader is committed to the mission and strategy of the organization while that same leader consistently misses on meeting goals and delivering on the promise.  When it comes time to evaluate that...
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Sticking Points

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Given our recent focus on the multi-generational workforce, this edition of What to Read helps us understand generational diversity more effectively.  I recently had the opportunity to listen to Haydn Shaw speak at a local chamber event.  His combination of candor and experience got me interested in his book, “Sticking Points”.  Haydn’s take on generational diversity and the most common challenges (12 by his count) are all good reasons to read this book. My favorite parts of the book are Chapter 3 where he introduces a five-step approach to dealing with  misunderstandings and misperceptions in a multi-generational workplace.  As effective communications are a large part of my coaching practice, I also enjoyed his take on the communications issues between the generations outlined in Chapter 8.  As we focus on perception, this is a great way to not only know why the generational misperceptions occur, but also how to work through them!...
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It’s not the facts we disagree on…

…it’s the interpretation of the facts we most often disagree!In this classic conflict between content (facts) and context (interpretation) lies a key element of effective leadership; managing perceptions! We’ve heard many of the mantras around perception including the most common, “Perception is Reality”.  But what is perception and how does it influence our ability to be effective leaders?  Perception is the process we use to organize and interpret our sensory inputs in order to understand, and give meaning to, what goes on around us.  More specifically, perception can be addressed by looking deeper into the factors that shape our perceptions and reside in the Perceiver, the Situation and the Sensory Target.  Let’s look at each of these to see what we can learn to be more effective leaders! The Perceiver ~ Even before we encounter our next sensory input, our previous experiences and attitudes will impact how we interpret, or simply...
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Change the Narrative...

…Change the Culture!I recently attended a lecture that carried the above title and was intrigued by the ensuing discussion around how effective communications can literally change the course of an organization based on the narrative used to inspire it.  In my mind, effective communication is the number one leadership challenge in business (for-profit and non-profit) today supported by an abundance of real-world examples, surveys and professional articles.  Most surveys I’ve read on this topic not only identify the issue, but also identify leadership’s own poor attempts to improve communications within their organizations.  It is this challenge to improve what is a well-known issue that highlights this leadership discussion. Effective communication is defined as the ability of the sender and the receiver to understand the message in the same context.  This implies using clarity in the message itself, choosing the most effective and efficient media to transmit the message and using an...
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Your ‘Yes’ means nothing…

…if you can’t say ‘No’It seems the hardest thing to do in business these days is to say ‘No’ to someone else.  We can think of plenty of times we regret saying ‘Yes’ when we knew damn well it was going to mess up our current priorities, or worse, put us in a position to be less effective than we are capable of.  Let me just put it out there now; ‘No’ is a legitimate response in any business if it is, in fact, the appropriate response for the situation.  While most would agree to this fact intellectually, the majority still struggle with actually doing so!  Why is that?As a business leader, part of the art of the profession is making effective knowledge-based decisions.  A crucial ingredient to this decision-making process is listening to insights from those who work for you; including insights that may disagree with your own thoughts on...
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We live in an Information-rich...

...Knowledge-poor world. In 2010, the Institute For The Future (IFTF) published a report titled, “Future Work Skills 2020.” The report outlines six key drivers of change over the next ten years as well as ten skills required by the future workforce to meet those disruptive drivers of change.  Of course, it is not only the future workforce that needs to develop these future skills.  The future leadership structure, which enables the workforce to optimize these skills, will also need to adapt to the new reality.  As we are now four years into this cycle, let’s see how well leaders are doing in enabling these skills. According to the IFTF, the six descriptive drivers of change are: Extreme Longevity, Rise of Smart Machines and Systems, Computational World, New Media Ecology, Superstructed Organizations and a Globally Connected World. In order to adapt to these disruptive forces, the ten skills for success identified by...
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Information is Knowing a Tomato is a Fruit, Knowledge is Knowing not to put it in a Fruit Salad.

In a previous edition, we discussed the relationship between Information (organized data) and Knowledge (information in context). I bring it up again not to highlight the contents of a fruit salad, but to highlight a much more crucial issue for leaders – timely decision-making. In my work with leaders, we describe the first two steps in the decision-making process as 1) Identify the Issue and 2) Gather and Analyze Information. The decision-maker must properly define the scope of the problem, situation or challenge in enough detail to create tangible alternatives. They must also gather the right amount of the right information to make a knowledgeable decision. Information overload is not a new challenge. Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a Senator and Adviser under Nero in the early part of his reign. Seneca was a prolific letter writer whose thoughts, insights and convictions were well read throughout the literate Roman Empire. Even in...
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Well Done Is better than Well Said

Recently we spoke of Authenticity and how we discern who we really are behind the behavior that represents what the outside world sees of us, our mask if you will. Leaders especially are faced with crucial decisions that may challenge their ability to be authentic. What they have to fall back on in tough situations is their integrity. It is a value so often thrown around like so many buzzwords and we, unfortunately, see the negative results around us in business, politics and even sports. In his 1996 book "Integrity", Yale Law Professor Stephen L. Carter writes that integrity requires three steps: "discerning what is right and what is wrong; acting on what you have discerned, even at personal cost; and saying openly that you are acting on your understanding of right from wrong.” Each of these points is crucial to being a true leader of integrity. Discerning what is right and wrong...
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Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Look on any bottle of shampoo and you will see some variation of these three words. In addition to its application for improved hair care, the concept of repetition is also at the heart of successful and sustainable leadership development. Leadership development must be a continuous process for every leader in every organization regardless of circumstances. Organizations, large or small, for-profit or non-profit benefit from the investment in leadership development and the effective use of repetition to embed the new attitudes and behaviors that contribute to achieving desired results. This month, we will explore three reasons why continuous leadership development must be based on creating new repetitive habits of thought (attitudes) of success. A quick note on our use of the term development as it sometimes gets used synonymously with training. In the context of this discussion, training would refer to the process of helping leaders learn new skills. Development is...
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