“You can’t Motivate People…

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…You can only Create a Game Worth Playing” Motivation seems to be a recurring topic in many of the coaching conversations I have so it seems fitting to discuss in some detail as it is clearly still misunderstood by so many leaders and followers. And given the timing of March Madness and the upcoming Opening Day for baseball, it seemed only appropriate to use the quote from Michael Gerber to open the discussion of how leaders can create a “Game Worth Playing”! One of the biggest misconceptions around motivation is that it can be externally applied. What is externally applied are the conditions in which a person is motivated to apply the three elements of motivation: Direction, Intensity and Persistence. As these three elements are applied to one’s behavior, that person’s motivation can be inferred by how much they apply to each of the three. From my own experience, creating a...
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“The Secret to Success without Hard Work…

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…is still a Secret!” At the end of last month’s edition, I mentioned how we would explore the widening gap in our soft skills relative to what 21 st Century Business requires. However, when I began to write my thoughts on the topic, I realized I had skipped a step in the process of enhancing and improving our soft skills. Being effective in any skill requires practice until the skill becomes a habit. It occurred to me I would be remiss by not addressing the biggest obstacle to changing habits first before continuing our thought process on soft skills. In this edition, we will discuss the obstacle most anyone looking to change to more productive habits encounters ~ self-discipline! As the title suggests, there is no secret to success without hard work. Because this journey involves work that does not come easy, it is fair to say our desire to achieve...
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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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“You never get a second chance…

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…to make a good first impression.” As leaders, we have countless opportunities to make good first impressions no matter the industry, market or business model. This is especially true in today’s dynamic business world in and amongst all the clutter of so many “impressions” we come across on a daily basis where relationships ultimately carry the day. There is one facet of making a good first impression that I see organizations, large and small, for-profit and non-profit, public and private struggle with and that is creating and executing an effective onboarding process. I maintain there is very little else that says an organization cares about a person’s success in their new role than an effective onboarding process! My focus here is not to define the perfect onboarding process as that is going to be organization specific. My focus, instead, is to share some thoughts on effective onboarding at three different levels...
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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 win in the marketplace…

…you must first win in the workplace! Welcome to the fifth and final key to success in our series on " Leading at the Speed of Business" . We’ve spent several months now talking about the importance of adaptability as it pertains to staying relevant in today’s business environment. Whether leading a growing small business, an established large business or a non-profit enterprise, staying relevant will always be a concern. In our final installment, we focus on the importance of the right culture that views adaptability as a norm rather than something members of the organization have to do.  It is who they are versus and not just what they do. Adaptability is how the organization collectively thinks in order to achieve sustainable success! It is always important to level-set definitions with the audience so the discussion doesn’t get side-tracked. We define culture as the shared set of beliefs, values, attitudes...
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Spark

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Being a military veteran, I am always interested in how the lessons of military leadership translate to the business world. So, when I came across this most recent book written by three military veterans, I had to check it out. “ Spark: How to Lead Yourself and Others to Greater Success ” by Angie Morgan, Courtney Lynch and Sean Lynch did not disappoint. The idea of the spark is about change, how one spark can ignite change either as a person or an event to achieve greater success. My favorite chapter is Chapter 4, Becoming an Accountable Leader. Accountability is such an important part of effective leadership and the authors do a great job of not only defining the importance of accountable leadership but also put it into context through their own personal stories (a format repeated throughout the book) of how they evolved as accountable leaders. The personal touch allows...
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"The absence of conflict…

…does not equal the presence of trust.” Just over five years ago, I wrote these words in a blog detailing the important elements of trust. They recently came back to me as the topic surfaced as a key element of so many coaching conversations over the last several months.  There was a leader struggling to verbalize the diminished trust they had with a key associate. Or the leadership team concerned that a public proclamation of trust as a value would somehow have a negative effect (images of the sleazy salesperson who leads with “trust me” accompanied by a sly grin!) These, and other similar conversations, have me wondering why something so obviously key to effective leadership would be so difficult to verbalize. Upon reflection, I found the conversation broke down to two primary categories of trust; Ethics and Compliance, both of which we’ll explore a little deeper. Trust based on Ethics...
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How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci

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In this month's post, I used a quote from Leonardo da Vinci that actually came from this month’s book. This book was recommended by one of my clients and after reading it, I can see why! “ How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci ” by Michael J. Gelb is a great read not only on what made da Vinci such a great genius, but also provides ideas on how to apply his genius to our current day leadership environment. My favorite section is actually the section the quote came from. Leonardo Da Vinci’s second of seven principles is called Dimonstrazione , a commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence and willingness to learn from mistakes. Along with the text, the book provides self-assessments for each of the seven principles and this chapter is no exception. The leadership lessons learned through the exercises in this chapter around challenging one’s own beliefs,...
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“A mind that knows how to think is more empowered...

...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 21 st 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...
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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...
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The invention of the ship…

…was also the invention of the shipwreck! Effective Leadership involves among other things a sound decision making process. As it is a process it involves looking at not only the decisions immediate impact but the longer-term effects as well. As this quote from French Philosopher, Urbanist and Cultural Theorist Paul Virilio suggests, there is casualty in every leadership decision. For context, the decisions discussed here are primarily focused on the ones with the broadest impact to the organization and the strategy. Understanding the impact the decisions have in a broader sense is the challenge every leader faces multiple times a day! There are always Pros and Cons – The first thing to understand is that every decision has pros and cons. Seems obvious, yet I routinely see leaders making decisions only based on the upside of their decision and falling victim to their own confirmation biases. A common occurrence is a...
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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...
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It’s OK to not Know How…

…It’s not OK to avoid Learning How! It’s not a secret that continuous learning is an important element of staying relevant in today’s business environment.  While there are a multitude of reasons and business drivers why this is our reality (technology, global enterprise, socio-cultural shifts to name but a few), it still amazes me how often ignorance is used as an excuse for not keeping up with change, to which I usually respond with the opening quote.  At some point, all leaders arrive at a point of “I don’t know…” relative to their business.  However, leaders must never fall for the, “…but I’m not going to worry about it” as a means to avoid learning what they need to know. In my experience, there are two primary reasons leaders fall into the trap of avoiding the right level of personal development necessary to stay relevant.  The first is lacking a complete...
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"Don't tell me...

...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...
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ROI - Return on Integrity

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As we find ourselves in ever more challenging leadership situations across business, politics, religion and sports, I find myself looking more deeply into what effective 21 st leadership really is and why it seems to so difficult to achieve.  As if he was reading my mind, John Blumberg comes along with his new book, “ ROI ~ Return on Integrity , The New Definition of ROI and Why Leaders Need to Know It ”.  It is unlike many leadership books in that it’s not a book of answers as much as it is a book of questions to help leaders get better answers to help them lead with integrity. My favorite chapters are Chapter 2, Discovering the Drift and Chapter 12, The Call of Every Leader.  In Chapter 2 he speaks of the drift that I have heard John speak of many times before in his speeches and keynotes.  It is...
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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...
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You Don't Know SWOT!

Of the many lessons I’ve learned throughout my career, one that has generated sustainable success is the effective use of the SWOT Analysis.  For those readers who are not familiar with the SWOT Analysis, it is a flexible tool that helps the leader identify internal S trengths and W eaknesses as well as external O pportunities and T hreats (hence the acronym).  It can be used to assess individual circumstances and/or organizational situations with a very straightforward process.  The challenges for both frequent SWOT users or those leaders just getting started with the tool is that most fail to realize the full value of the SWOT process.  Most only realize half the value by ignoring the most effective part of the tool! In a traditional SWOT Analysis, the leader creates four lists containing the collective insights on the internal Strengths (list #1) and Weaknesses (list #2) along with the external Opportunities...
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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...
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“Excellence drives Mediocre People away…

…just as Mediocrity drives the Superstars away” One of the greatest challenges any leader will face is putting the right team together and positioning them to excel and achieve desired results!  This is true of businesses large and small, for-profit or non-profit, public or private sector.  What I love about the title quote from Jim Hunter’s book, “ The World’s Most Powerful Leadership Principle ” is the simple truth it represents for leaders to invest in fielding the right team to realize the Vision, execute the Strategy by achieving their Goals leading to the aforementioned Desired Results.  However, what is frustrating is how many leaders are not addressing the mediocrity and lamenting the inevitable departure of their best team members.  Let’s break down the two issues and address what leaders can do with each one. Excellence drives mediocre people away ~ Of course the first challenge to this issue is defining...
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