“What have we learned?”

Learn-and-lead As a leader, what have you learned?
As we close out the year for the ages, many are using the time to reflect on the recent past in order to set the stage for what is next. Our experience tells us that for most, this is a loosely defined informal process which tends to produce minimal, if any, change in attitudes and behaviors. For this reason, we focus our coaching with clients, as well as the theme of this post, on learning. By definition, learning results in modifying behaviors by experience. We focus on the issue of learning because without the observable modified behavior, we could argue actual learning does not occur.As early as this past summer, we began asking our clients what they had learned about themselves over the previous 3-4 months. The idea is centered on leaders making time to consciously capture their experiences to learn what changes to make in their businesses. In our experience...
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“A goal is planned conflict...

conflict-with-status-quo How will your goal planning process defeat the enemy of your success?
...with the status quo.”It is the time of year when leaders evaluate the results of what has been a very challenging year. The purpose is to presumably create new goals to continue achieving desired results next year. Yet, no matter how many leaders I ask what their goal planning process looks like, the vast majority simply do not have one. The closest processes resemble an organizational to-do list with little or no context behind them. But is that enough? As the title quote from Hyrum W. Smith suggests, those goals must be strong enough to move to a desired future that is likely in conflict with the status quo.The challenge is that merely setting goals is never enough in and by themselves to create the necessary level of planned conflict. We wrote about this idea two years ago on how an effective goal planning process is a great motivator for success! The...
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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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“To attain Knowledge, add things every day…

…To attain Wisdom, remove things every day.”No matter how much leaders intellectually know about the folly of trying to fit ten pounds of stuff in a five-pound bag, they seem to always go down that path, ultimately leading to frustration and stress. Of the many conversations with speaking engagement audiences, prospects and clients around how they manage their time, we will invariably get to the question, “What are you going to stop doing so you can do these other new things you need to do?” Unfortunately, the most common response, either verbally or non-verbally is, “What do you mean?” This month’s conversation will discuss “What I mean!”I had the opportunity recently to visit Gettysburg National Park with my wife. Being a Civil War enthusiast, we were excited to visit the site of the pivotal turning point in the War. In one of the exhibits, painted on the wall in large letters...
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Start Steady…

…Finish Strong!This has been a mantra I’ve lived by since the days of running marathons in the early 90s, to helping get my kids ready for Army and Navy boot camps.  As each was getting mentally and physically ready to attend their respective basic training, I would repeat the phrase over and over especially on our training runs.  Now it holds a place on my triathlon jersey as a constant motivator to keep improving as a triathlete.  It is in this context the mantra was recently put to the test and got me thinking about its relevance in a broader leadership setting. Start Steady ~ In the local sprint triathlon earlier this month, I was even more committed to a steady start in the swim as I have ever been. It was not about talent, rather finding a pace that was in keeping with this being a sprint, but not burn...
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“Secure your mask on first…

…and then assist the other person.” Those of us who frequently travel by plane recognize these words from the Flight Attendants’ pre-flight instructions to the assembled passengers.  Those of us who prefer flying with Southwest Airlines have even heard comedic versions such as putting your mask on first “before assisting your favorite child!” In any case, the message is clear; take care of yourself first! As you approach your goals for a new year, I could (and have) say the same thing to every leader responsible for leading a team, business, group or project; take care of yourself first! To be clear this is not a manifesto for being a self-centered leader or to put themselves on a pedestal of self-involvement.  It is quite the opposite.  Here is what it does mean:In order to give 100%, you have to be 100% ~ I coach several solopreneur business owners who provide services...
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I Listened

4251071698_0249329460 How is listening improving your leadership?
In the 1999 movie, “The 13th Warrior”, Antonio Banderas plays an Arab in the company of a band of Norsemen. There is a scene where all the Norsemen are talking in a language the audience cannot understand while the lone Arab sits intently. Eventually the entire conversation is in English meaning the Arab can now understand what they are saying. When he responds to an insult in their language, one of the Norsemen angrily questions, “Where did you learn our language?” He responds simply, “I listened!”Effective communications is the quintessential skill for effective leadership and listening is a crucial component to effective communications. Many leaders attend class after class on how to speak and present, while very few, if any, have been to an effective listening class! Listening has always been a key part of my own success as a leader and I will use those examples to highlight the value...
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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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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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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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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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Leadership Lessons...

...From Running TriathlonsSeveral weeks ago I ran a Sprint Triathlon in our hometown, something I’ve done for the last four years. However, what made this year special is I ran it with my youngest son who was running the race for the first time. Since it was his first race and our plan was to run it together, our motto for the race became “Start Steady, Finish Strong”. Undoubtedly, most of you reading this have heard of the famous Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii. The Sprint Triathlon is the shortest of the four official distances but still involves the same three events – swimming, biking and running in that order. So as I reflected on the race, it occurred to me the parallels between training and running triathlons with the leadership coaching I do as part of my practice.When I first began competing in triathlons, I viewed them as separate events in...
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