Making Numbers Count

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This month, we highlight the value of tactical communications in the planning process around goals, metrics and desired results. With the focus on knowledge-based decision-making, we also highlight a book that has helped us become more comfortable with communicating numbers as leaders. In, “Making Numbers Count”, Chip Heath and Karla Starr outline a process that helps leaders not only understand the numbers, but more importantly communicate the numbers in a way that resonates with the audience both logically and emotionally!Our favorite section of the book is titled “Use Emotional Numbers ~ Surprising and Meaningful ~ To Move People to Think and Act Differently”. It is a powerful set of ideas in short and easy-to- understand chapters that help the reader quickly understand the authors’ idea. The authors use plenty of examples that also aid in the reader grasping the main idea in a way that also makes it easy to apply...
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“Execution is the ability to mesh strategy with reality,...

execute-strategy What will your tactical narrative sound like for your business leading into the new business year?
...align people with goals and achieve the promised results”One of the organizational planning best practices we use with our clients is beginning the process with a look back at what was accomplished in the current year. We look at how many of the goals were accomplished and what percentage of the desired results were achieved. This sets the stage for the leader’s communications narrative of what is being carried over to the following year as well as what needs to be added to continue to grow as an organization. In Chapter 6 of our most recent book, “Finding the Missing Piece: The Impact of Effective Communications on Sustainable Success”, we focus on the communications involved at a tactical level and why it is critical to the effectiveness of an organization’s overall communication strategy.Drawing on the definition of business alignment as the process of matching the organization’s tactics to the available or...
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“Trust is the glue of life.

PPT What will your operational narrative sound like for your business leading into the new business year?
It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication.”As business leaders start looking at how this year will end and begin planning for the next year, the words of Stephen Covey in the title ring true as leaders develop their new operational plans. Operational planning is comprised of the four guiding elements of the business: People, Process, Technology and Compensation. In Chapters 4 and 5 of our most recent book, “Finding the Missing Piece: The Impact of Effective Communications on Sustainable Success”, we focus on the communications involved in operational planning and why it is critical to the effectiveness of an organization’s overall communication strategy.Drawing on the definition of business alignment as the process of matching the organization’s tactics to the available or readily acquirable resources to achieve its strategic objectives, we will focus on the available or readily available resources needed to achieve the strategic objectives. In leveraging operational communications, leaders...
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“If you don’t know where you’re going...

Strategic-communication What will your strategic narrative sound like for your business leading into the new business year?
...any road will take you there.”Many will recall this classic line from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” in the conversation between Alice and the Cheshire Cat. As business leaders start looking at how this year will end and begin planning for the next year, it is important they plan through the lens of strategic thinking. Strategic thinking is comprised of the three guiding elements of the business: Vision, Mission, and Strategy. In chapter 3 of our most recent book, “Finding the Missing Piece: The Impact of Effective Communications on Sustainable Success”, we focus on the strategic communications involved in strategic thinking and why it is critical to the effectiveness of an organization’s overall communications strategy.We define strategic communications as the actions involved in communicating the long-term purpose and direction of the organization. To that end, strategic communications is unique in its application than the operational and tactical communications which we will...
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“The ability to learn faster than your competitors...

strategy-making How is your business strategy creating a sustainable competitive advantage and how do you know?
...may be the only sustainable competitive advantage.”It is the time of year where many organizations are starting to plan for the continued success of their business. Whether for-profit or non-profit, large national corporation or small local business, the challenges of maintaining a sustainable and successful strategy continue to challenge leaders at all levels. Leaders continue to navigate a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) business environment laced with supply chain issues, employee retention, political unrest, and economic inflation to name a few.The inspiration for the framework of this month’s discussion is an article in the most recent issue of Harvard Business Review titled “Strategy-Making in Turbulent Times – a Dynamic New Model” by Michael Mankins and Mark Gottfredson. Right up front I’ll argue whether their model is new or not, a point the authors even acknowledge as true for parts of their recommendations. However, the five elements of the structure are valid...
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Lead Well!

Lincoln-quote How are you leading well and how do you know?
For those who are regular readers of this platform, you might recognize the title of this edition as the way we sign off on all our online posts. I also use it to autograph the books we’ve written over the course of the last ten years. We also reference it in a different way when giving leadership presentations and speeches when we say that, while leadership is complex in so many ways, people ultimately want to be led well! But what do we mean when we say, “Lead Well”?In a November 2021 article, “7 trends dominating the future of work in 2022”, Korn Ferry talks about 7 key trends that business leaders all need to be focused on. Because we’ve coached our clients through all these trends/challenges in our business coaching practice, we decided to use them as a catalyst to further discussion what is means to Lead Well.While the article...
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A Book of Values

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This month, we tackled the issue of burnout from an organizational point of view. We know the modern workforce is drawn to organizations with a clearly defined purpose and have a strong foundation of values. We talked specifically about one of the causes of burnout is lack of purpose or meaning. Last year, friend and fellow business coach Alan Kovitz published, “A Book of Values” outlining 52 distinct values for leaders to reflect on.As I read the book through the lens of this month’s topic, my favorite values are Fairness and Wellness. Fairness in the sense of leveraging the uniqueness and individual differences in the organization to the greater good of the team. Wellness in the sense of ensuring self-care of an organization’s most valuable resources, again to the greater good of the team! Click here to get your copy!Enjoy the Book!
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“Resilience is not about how you endure...

Resilience-or-Burnout How is your leadership helping your team stay resilient?
...but about how you recharge and replenish.”Over the last several weeks, we’ve had the opportunity to attend a global virtual coaching summit as well as attend and speak at another national virtual coaching summit. A common topic, among many others, in both summits was around self-care and focus to avoid the impact of burnout in the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) new reality we live and work in. In fact, the title quote of this article is from a speaker at the global summit, Dr. Jacinta Jimenez, author of, “The Burnout Fix”.Dr. Jimenez spoke of burnout resulting from a mismatch between the nature of one’s work and one’s capacity as a human being. Taken to an organizational level, we’ve written previously about the importance of leaders understanding both the capabilities and capacities of their organizations. This naturally leads us to look at burnout at an organizational level versus an individual level.In...
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Finding the Missing Piece

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...The Impact of Effective Communications on Sustainable SuccessThis month, we are proud to announce our 7th book is now available on Amazon! As we navigated the pandemic and continue to support leaders across all business model and industries, we realized that effective communication continues to be a common challenge to leaders at all levels. Thus, “Finding the Missing Piece, The Impact of Effective Communications on Sustainable Success” was born. The book addresses key issues at all three levels of leadership we previously outlined in our “Missing Piece” series of books previous published for Entrepreneurs, Non-Profit Leaders, and Corporate Leaders. The book continues to leverage the Business Alignment Maturity Model to ensure that effective communications not only occur at each level of leadership while also aligning throughout the organization from Vision to Desired Results and embedded in the organizational culture!Enjoy the Book!Lead Well!
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“I’m too busy.”

Im-too-busy How are you communicating priorities to avoid the excuses?
A common theme we’ve noticed in our leadership and business coaching practice over the last year is the many variations of the title phrase becoming a more and more frequent response to workplace requests for assistance, coordination, or action. Unfortunately, it yields more frustration than not which is why we see an opportunity to dig in behind the expression and see what is really being said.The first thing we need to agree on is that it is a meaningless statement. Basically, it is a stall or an excuse to not engage. We equate it to the common expression that sounds like, “I didn’t have time to do, act, respond, etc.” In truth, the correct response is that they did not make the time to do, act, respond, etc. because they had other priorities, whether correctly or incorrectly created, that they attended to. In truth. everyone has the same 24 hours in...
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“Leadership is cause...

cause-and-effect How is your leadership causing sustainable success?
...everything else is effect.”John Maxwell’s first irrefutable law of leadership (Law of the Lid) states, “Leadership ability is the lid that determines a person’s level of effectiveness.” It is further reinforced by the title quote credited to Professor Stephen Adei, in 2004. In today’s VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) business environment, effective leadership is paramount to sustainable success in every sector; for-profit, non-profit, private, public, corporate, and entrepreneur. To the extent leaders effectively impact the cause, the more predictable and impactful the effect.In our upcoming book, Finding the Missing Piece: The Impact of Effective Communications on Sustainable Success, we refer to the answer to a question we often get in our coaching practice around the three things leaders need to know about effective leadership. Our answer is always the same:Create and communicate a Vision and StrategyBuild a Structure aligned to the StrategyDisciplined and accountable ExecutionIn essence, these represent the three levels...
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You don’t know what you believe...

Belief-System What do you believe in as a leader that your team sees in your actions?
...until you have to believe it!We began this month facilitating a session on Ethics and Values for our local chamber’s Leadership Institute which we helped develop and facilitate. Later, we received our latest issue of West Point magazine published by the Association of Graduates from my alma mater, the United States Military Academy at West Point. The issue is dedicated to how they teach character at West Point. It seems the universe is saying we are due for an article on Leadership Ethics and Values so, here goes!When we speak of ethical value-based leadership, we are more specifically talking about ethical value-based decision-making. But to truly understand ethics and values in context, we need to ensure we are grounded in a few key definitions. We define values as broad preferences concerning appropriate courses of action or outcomes and reflect a person’s sense of right and wrong or what “should be”. Ethics,...
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“I can trust people I disagree with...

Building-Trust2 What is your team’s level of trust in their leadership and how do you know?
...But I can’t agree with someone I don’t trust”As we’ve written in the past about the two main themes in the title (Trust and Conflict) as separate topics by themselves, we decided to combine the two based on what we are seeing in the world of leadership over the last few quarters. We’ve talked about trust quite a bit as leaders navigate the new reality with their teams. It is a central ingredient to being able to connect with and influence their team. We’ve also talked about a leader’s ability to manage conflict effectively including recognizing not all conflict is negative or destructive.As we combine the two into a single discussion, the title comes from a variation of narratives we’ve used in our coaching practice to help leaders understand how the two align. From a practical sense, we are breaking down any misconceptions that trust implies agreement or that disagreement implies...
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“Knowing is Not Enough. We Must Apply

kick-ass-repeat What is your team's motivation to follow you this year?
...Willing is Not Enough. We Must Do”Ah, the beginning of a new year with new possibilities, opportunities, and challenges for business leaders! It is a time of year where knowledge and intentions run high based on newly minted business plans, sales goals, and growth objectives. Such high expectations leaders have for their teams and businesses before the reality of the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) business environment sets in. Presumably, the impact of VUCA was baked into the business planning, sales goal planning and growth objective planning. But as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s title quote reminds us, planning is just the beginning of achieving desired results. It is through action and application that desired results are truly achieved!So, what is it that gets leaders and their teams beyond the knowing and intending to achieve desired results? What is their motivation? Actually, the second question is a large part of the answer...
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Are you trying to be Perfect...

Excellence What does imperfect excellence look like for your leadership standards?
...or Excellent?In our last article, we focused the discussion on organizational success by being reasonable and rational assessing the capacity and capability of the business. The context is around effectively leading the organization in the current new reality of a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) business environment. In this month’s discussion, we look at the same context applied to one’s self-leadership. How leaders lead themselves goes a long way in determining their effectiveness in leading others. A frequent self-leadership challenge we see in our coaching practice is the idea of striving for perfection. When we engage with a leader who is on this path of perfection, we ask the question that is the title of this discussion, “Are you trying to be perfect or excellent?”The first thing one notices in the question is the inference there is a difference between being perfect and being excellent. There are a multitude of examples...
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We are all Products...

core-competencies How is your business capacity and capability supporting your strategy and how do you know?
...of Our Capability.A frequent topic of discussion in our leadership coaching practice in the last several months is how to manage burnout. When we explore the topic more closely, a common theme arises to the surface. It seems despite the many issues of the time (great resignation, post-pandemic uncertainty, global supply chain, etc.), leaders are still trying to achieve their original goals as if these issues simply didn’t exist.In truth, every business, for-profit or non-profit, public or private, large or small, operates on two related and interdependent variables: Capacity and Capability. Capacity consists of the assets and inputs, both tangible and intangible, the organization has on hand or can be readily acquired. Capability consists of the collective skills, knowledge and attitudes the organization leverages to conduct their business strategy and effectively compete in their markets. All businesses must assess their competitive strategy through the lens of their executable capacity and their...
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Learn to say No...

prioritize How are you communicating your well-reasoned no?
...Without Saying No.In our coaching practice with corporate leaders, non-profit leaders, business owners and individual professionals, one of the most common areas of development is priority management. While some still refer to this challenge as time management, we beg to disagree. You see, these leaders aren’t really managing time as it is fixed at 24 hours in a day, seven days in a week, etc. What these leaders are managing is what they do with their time such as how they manage their priorities. Prioritization, by definition, means saying yes to the most important (urgent or not urgent) and saying no to the least important. Therefore, learning to say no is a crucial leadership and priority management skill.In an article from the October 2021 issue of Inc. Magazine titled, “Yes, it’s OK to say No”, Fawn Weaver, the founder and CEO of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, wrote about the importance of...
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“Learning occurs...

Knowledge What new knowledge are you applying to your leadership journey?
...at the Edges of Knowledge.”In our current volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) business environment, business leaders are coming to terms with the new reality. Much of what they knew about how to stay relevant to stakeholders three to five years ago has been rendered mute under today’s conditions. Both external and internal stakeholders now have much different expectations to the level where leaders are realizing a renewed sense of the importance and focus on culture, purpose, and effective communications as crucial to their sustainable success.Inherent in this process are the two key elements of the title quote. The first is the level of continuous learning embraced by 21st Century leaders as they strive for purposeful relevance. We’ve written about leadership learning over the years, most recently earlier this year which you can see here. The second is the importance of knowledge in the leader’s learning process to inform what really...
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“The secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old...

Leadership-Direction How well are you and your leaders focused on building the new?
...but on building the new.”A hot topic in social media and around the business community, both for-profit and non-profit is the discussion around how to structure the workforce in the new reality. Questions abound around bringing employees back to the office full time, part time, not at all and what are the ramifications of these options on how the business continues to run and how leaders effectively lead. On multiple LinkedIn discussions, we’ve posted that those leaders who can only manage effectively when their team is back in the office as it was pre-pandemic are insecure and need to reflect on why they are only confident leading under those conditions in this new reality. Of course, those comments were mostly met by agreement and a few disagreements, even one challenging our credentials to even make the comment in the first place.Our underlying premise, and the reason for the title quote attributed...
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“That was Then...

Past-Present How will your business cycle end, starting now?
...This is Now!”As we continue to work with organizational leaders in both for-profit and non-profit businesses, a common theme has emerged that resonates across them all. This current business cycle is a recalibration to the new reality (not new normal) of the current VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) business environment. The inspiration for the title for this month’s discussion comes from an S.E. Hinton book by the same title published in the early 1970’s. It’s also been a movie (1985) and a song (1986) by The Monkees music group. However, we are using it to drive home a crucial reminder to today’s 21st Century Leaders as they adapt to the current VUCA Business environment.Specifically, the focus is on the Operational Support Elements that bridge the gap between the Strategic Thinking process that informs organizational direction and the Tactical Execution that produces the desired results for sustainable success. In our “Missing Piece”...
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