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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“Strength lies in differences...

... not in similarities.” This month, we continue our conversation on Leading at the Speed of Business by discussing the third of five keys to success. We began the discussion two months ago with the first key to success: Get Ready to Warp . Last month, we centered the conversation on the second key to success: Servant Leadership . This month, we dive into Cognitive Diversity as the third key to success. Successfully leading at the speed of business is rooted in diverse thinking. People who think different, will ultimately do different and will be more comfortable with change and adapting at the speed of business! What does Cognitive Diversity entail and what do leaders need to know to leverage the strengths that Stephen Covey alludes to in the title to achieve effective and successful leadership? Key in on Psychographics vs. Demographics – Most of us are familiar with demographics that...
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"Are You Playing to Win...

…or playing not to lose?” This is a common question I ask all my clients at one point or another during our time working together. Whether they are a corporate leader over a business unit or division, a non-profit leader of an agency or association, an entrepreneur or small business owner or even a high school student leader, the intent of the question is always the same. Are they embracing risk or are they avoiding failure? Are they focused on the future or are they leaning too heavily on the past? The question usually comes up as the leader is struggling on some level to lead at the speed of business! In my own experience working with leaders at all levels described above, there are five keys to success when leading oneself/a team/an organization in 21 st Century business. Collectively these keys to success support a leadership mindset focused on setting...
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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 21 st 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...
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If the Economy has changed...

...has your Business Model? Leadership is about managing change and there is no more significant change requiring authentic leadership in recent history as now.  We still see many businesses large and small not coping well with the necessary changes needed to keep their businesses viable.  A vast majority of companies must continue to leverage their ability to change on their own and reach into the leadership tool kit for some never before used tools. Understanding how to manage change involves first recognizing that a change is needed. Recognizing the skills and knowledge that brought your business to this point may not, will not guarantee your success going forward. More importantly, has your attitude changed with the new economic reality? What are you customers asking for now? What are your suppliers telling you now? What are your own sales and operations people saying about their ability to succeed now? What is your...
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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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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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You Cannot Control The Wind But You Can Adjust The Sails.

These words to the Ricky Skaggs song Can’t Control The Wind are a great entrée into understanding the Total Leadership Process. These particular words came to mind as I read a Fortune article about Larry Ellison and the BMW Oracle Racing Team returning the America’s Cup Trophy back to the United States after a fifteen-year absence. His thoughts on the victory centered on the right combination of technology, sailing skills and strategy. Strategy forms the foundation of the Total Leadership Process and reflects the Purpose of the organization. In actuality, the organizational Purpose is a combination of Vision, Values, Mission and Strategy but it is the Strategy that determines how the organization will compete in its current market and industry. Understanding the importance of this definition is crucial as the competitive landscape and assumptions in every industry are changing. What strategic assumptions worked when economic and industry growth rates were 10%...
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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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