Too much Diversity Training...

inclusiveleadership How are you developing your inclusive culture?
...not enough Inclusion DevelopmentI had the pleasure recently of delivering our updated Diversity and Inclusion workshop to an audience of Human Resource professionals. We approach diversity and inclusion as a leadership development process as opposed to a program event. Introducing this through the workshop we realized this approach was new to many of the participants. It’s been known for ages that leadership training, while important, does not change attitudes and behaviors in and by itself. Millions of dollars have been spent to develop organizational leaders only to see little or no return because it was merely training disguised as development.In a simple formula we use in our coaching practice, we discuss the moving parts of leadership development; Skills, Knowledge and Attitude. We define skill as what to do and how to do something relevant to the job. For leaders, skills (hard and soft skills) such as how to set and achieve...
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Changing your Habits...

Old-vs-New-Habits What is your process to develop new leadership attitudes and habits?
...of ThoughtIn recent months, largely driven by the massive information assault on our lives due to the pandemic, social unrest and politicizing nearly everything under the sun due to the upcoming election, we’ve focused our writing around critical thinking. We’ve challenged readers to ask themselves why they think the way they do and digging deeper into how they think versus what they think.We know our thinking is a function of our beliefs and values and that our attitudes reflect our habitual thinking. With that in mind, let’s explore the five key questions leaders need to ask themselves as they change the way they think and act to stay relevant as 21st Century Leaders. These questions stem from multiple research sources and are conveniently summarized in “Leadership, Enhancing the Lessons of Experience” by Richard Hughes, Robert Ginnett and Gordy Curphy.How does a leader know what attitudes and behaviors to change? ~ One...
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Are you a Know-It-All...

Learning-Leader
...or a Learn-It-All?Earlier this year, we introduced what has turned into an ongoing discussion of one of the key skills of effective 21st Century Leaders. Critical Thinking, or the lack thereof, seems to routinely creep into the conversation because we constantly run into evidence it still needs to be reinforced in the leadership development conversation. While we’ve given examples in previous posts, one that continues to pop up goes something like:Me: What are you trying to achieve?Them: I don't want to do this and/or I don't like to do thatMe: OK, so what do you want to do?Them: I don't know.Of course, the real conversation goes much longer than the example above, but you get the idea. More thought on what they don;t want that what they do. Another different, but related, conversation goes something like:Me: I think this is the course of action we should take.Them: I disagree. I don't...
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“The Secret to Success without Hard Work…

discipline-1080x550
…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 21st 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 a...
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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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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 understanding of...
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Never Stop Learning…

…because Life Never Stops Teaching.A common discussion over the past several months has been how leaders stay relevant in today’s dynamic economic and political environment.  What was relevant five years ago is passe’ today.  What is relevant today will likely be on its way to obsolescence three years from now.  What is even more surprising is how many leaders seem to believe they can stay relevant with the skills, knowledge and attitudes learned years before.  They lament the need for different outcomes for their business (for profit or non-profit) and yet spend little time actively engaging in the process of staying relevant, the process of continuous learning!  Let’s break down each of the key areas of learning with some ideas to stay relevant in each one.Learning Relevant Skills – Skills are the things you need to know how to do to be an effective leader.  Goal Planning, Effective Communications, Time Management/Priority...
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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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To Be a Better Leader...

Integrity What will your leadership destiny be?
…Be a Better Person and Lead Naturally. I came across these words many years ago and they are one of the key influences behind the RPC Leadership Associates, Inc. Vision of “Making Leadership a Way of Life”.  Far too many people rely solely on a class, a book or a workshop to become better leaders.  What they fail to fully realize is the importance of understanding who they are as a foundation for effective leadership development. So what do we mean by being a better person as a foundation for being a better leader?  In a word, integrity!  More specifically, personal integrity defined as our beliefs, our words and our actions all telling the same story.  We all know people from our past or present who we know believe in one thing and say another, or those who say one thing and do another.  These people are "out of integrity" as there...
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Making Yourself Indispensable - The Power of Personal Accountability

In this month’s blog I spoke of the importance of personal integrity.  So it is only fitting that this month’s book review speak to the topic by way of personal accountability.  In "Making Yourself Indispensable: The Power of Personal Accountability", Mark Samuel identifies the choices and behaviors required to truly be accountable people and by definition, self-leaders. The heart of the book in my mind is not only identifying accountability as a choice, but creating a model in which we see the consequences of our choices.  Essentially, in any given situation, we face two choices based on our intention within the given situation.  One set of choices takes us to personal accountability while the other set of choices take us down the road to being a victim.  Either which way, the choice is ours! Enjoy the Book!
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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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Hope Is Not A Strategy - The 6 Keys to Winning The Complex Sale

The end of the year holiday season is, among other things, a season of hope. As we take stock of 2012 and begin to focus on 2013, we are filled with hope for a better life in whatever way is meaningful to us. However, hope alone is not going to carry the day. Hope has to become a Vision which further translates to Strategies, Goals and Actions that lead to Improved Results. In his 2002 best seller "Hope Is Not A Strategy - The 6 Keys to Winning The Complex Sale", Rick Page lays out very definitive sales strategies to differentiate your value and effectively close sales in a business-to-business selling environment. While the definition of complex may have changed in the last 6 years, in today's global and very uncertain business landscape, we can ill afford to "hope" we close a deal or "hope" the client buys from us again....
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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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Leaders At All Levels

I recently finished reading "Leaders At All Levels" by Ram Charan and would recommend it as part of your professional leadership library. Ram Charan is a world-renowned advisor to business leaders and corporate boards as well as best selling author or co-author of 14 books. He zeroes in on different ways to ensure organizations have the quality and quantity of leaders in their ranks to ensure continuity of leadership. I especially found his views on how to spot and develop leaders within the organization to be insightful. In one section in particular, he states, "The military is another source of leadership talent. Its leadership training is second to none." As I reflected on why I integrate military leadership lessons into my leadership practice, it occurred to me it wasn't that I was just learning how to lead, but rather I was learning to lead extremely well under adverse circumstances that makes a...
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Change Occurs At The Outer Edge of Your Comfort Zone

As we wind down 2012, many of us are reflecting on what we accomplished in 2012 and what changes we will make to continue our successes into 2013. In my own work with small and medium businesses as well as non-profit organizations, managing change is the most common topic of conversation; and why not? The uncertainty that remains in the economic and political environments have leaders in the unenviable position of making the next right strategic decision in the face of all this uncertainty. How do leaders mitigate this uncertainty enough to make the crucial decisions before them? While there are many moving parts to a successful business strategy, two elements of leading any organization is understanding the general environment you are competing in as well as knowing how your current capabilities match up to that environment. Key to a leader’s strategic thinking process includes a recurring assessment of their general...
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Is your Business in Alignment and why is that so important?

Growing up I learned how to take care of my cars myself. Tune-ups, wheels, brakes, engine timing etc. were all things that kept my cars running. And just like driving a car out of alignment decreased fuel inefficiency and added wear and tear to the vehicle, so leading a business or organization out of alignment is just as inefficient and, I could argue, irresponsible in today’s current economic environment. So what do we mean by “Business Alignment”? Wikipedia identifies no less than 15 definitions depending on whether you are a role-playing gamer or a biochemist. To a leader in today’s business environment, it means the level of congruence between the Vision of the business to the desired results expected from day to day operations. What we know to be true is when a business achieves alignment it holds a competitive advantage through increased effectiveness and efficiencies. What is a competitive advantage...
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Reality-Based Leadership

Several months ago I had the pleasure of meeting the author of this month’s book at a presentation she was giving. It only took me a few minutes meeting with her prior to her presentation to know she was the real deal. Cy Wakeman’s book, "Reality-Based Leadership" - Ditch the Drama, Restore Sanity to the Workplace, and Turn Excuses Into Results is a bit of a wake-up call for organizations and individuals who are struggling with what real leadership is and should be to succeed in today’s global economy.My favorite chapter in the book is titled Lead “First, Manage Second” because I believe it does a very good job of delineating the difference between leading and managing. In keeping with the theme of generational diversity, I can recount many situations involving multiple generations where the leader was really managing when they should be leading. In some cases, the leader was the only one not aware...
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The E-Myth Revisited

Since we are focused on choices this month, one of the more challenging choices a business owner makes is how much time to spend working in the business versus how much time to work on the business. In his book, “The E-Myth Revisited, Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About It”, Michael Gerber explains how the person who likes to work in the business as The Technician can also work on the business as The Manager and The Entrepreneur. My favorite part of the book is in Section 3 where the author talks about the three key activities that form the foundation of the business. These activities are: Innovation – Creativity is thinking new things, Innovation is doing new things to advance the business. Quantification – What do the numbers say about how far Innovation has moved the business. If you don’t measure it, did it really...
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The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read or write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.

This quote from Alvin Toffler, noted author (remember Future Shock?) and futurologist is a great way to put us in the mindset of this month’s topic: Dealing with Change. Aside from being one of my favorite topics to teach and facilitate, it is in my mind, one of the crucial core attributes of successful leadership in today’s dynamic business, political and service environment. To further set the stage, consider the results of a recent survey by McKinsey & Company of more than 1,600 executives, senior managers and mid-level managers worldwide where they were asked, among other things, about how well they have responded to the current economic crisis. No one doubts the economic crisis represents disruptive change but a significant test of leadership (RPC edition 10/08) as well. In the survey, respondents were asked to rate their level of satisfaction as a business leader in various areas. What caught my eye...
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To Be or Not To Be Aye There’s The Point

These famous and very recognizable words are from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act III, Scene I. I chose them to introduce this month’s topic and did so in what many consider the original, or in our case, authentic form. Authenticity in a crucial element in what I call Real Leadership defined as setting goals and achieving desired results. I also like the way Bill George, former CEO at Medtronic, stated in a Fall 2006 article for U.S. News & World Report titled Truly Authentic Leadership when he stated “The only valid test of a leader is his or her ability to bring people together to achieve sustainable results over time. There is no such thing as the “One-Minute Leader” because real leadership requires years of development and hard work.”So what makes a person an authentic leader? We all know everyone has the ability to lead and we know we all carry some...
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