“Why Do You Think That Way?”

healthy-attitude2 Why do you think that way and how will it change the future for the good?
Likely one of the greatest leadership challenges of a generation is playing out in real time. No matter where one turns, the one-two combination of the pandemic and social tension has, in our minds, proven what we’ve known for quite a long time. We have a growing gap in effective leadership in all corners of society. The challenge is further supported by a leadership development industry that has largely failed to deliver a return on investment off the billions of dollars spent annually around the globe.Managers at all levels are too comfortable with the logistically convenient leadership training sessions without bothering to include accountability for applying the new skills and behaviors to the organizational strategy. This creates a scenario of too much leadership content and not enough leadership context to be effective. It’s almost as if doing the same thing over and over will generate a different result!One of the key...
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...Not Enough Action

Picture1 What is your call to action?
If ever there is a time for leaders of all stripes to influence change, it is now. We are recovering from an extended pandemic that saw the economy tank and where politics and science clash with the people as pawns of both sides. We witnessed a heinous abuse of individual power and lack of humanity in the death of a person of color at the hands of unthinking police officers. And through it all, the rhetoric keeps piling up. Too many leaders are saying the obvious and not enough of the hard truths. We must change the narrative from:Too much Past, not enough Future ~ The financial world likes to qualify what they say by claiming past performance does not predict future returns. We hear much too much airtime on the past when what we need is a picture of the future. Without a clear destination, the leadership journey is a...
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"Priority is...

Context-Matters How are you creating knowledge for your next key leadership decision?
…a Function of Context”It occurs to me as I reflect on the last few months there exists a glowing opportunity to improve our collective ability to make more effective business decisions. In the last few months, leaders have been bombarded with reams of data and information about the pandemic. In the last few months, leaders have also misinterpreted or misunderstood the difference between good information and total BS bringing the title quote from Stephen R. Covey to mind.If we agree that effective decision-making is a crucial soft skill (it is!) for leaders to have, then we have to also agree it is crucial to having the full understanding of how to do it well. In today’s fast paced, technology-infused world we live and work in, it is critical for leaders to cut through the noise and make effective knowledge-based decisions. In our experience, these guiding principles apply when making key business...
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“Value is measured in the total upside of a business relationship...

relationships What is the value of your business relationships and how do you know?
...not by how much was squeezed out of any one deal.”These last few months have been like no other in recent years. As I continue to work with leaders across the corporate, small and medium business and non-profit landscape, one reality has surfaced in glaring fashion, what is the real value the business provides to its stakeholders? This blog’s title quote from Mark Cuban, the well-known entrepreneur and businessperson, speaks volumes as business leaders have several months of “ground-truth” feedback based on the real value of their business relationships.There are three key relationships that rise to the surface as the most meaningful to achieving sustainable success for any business. They are the relationships with people, the relationships with the supply chain and the relationships with the broader community. While these relationships may overlap, for the purpose of this discussion, we will address each individually.Relationships with People ~ People have been impacted...
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“Are you a Problem-Solver...

problem-finding How are you as a leader problem-finding for your organization?
...or a Problem-Finder?”Like many leaders, in the early days of my career, I fancied myself as a problem-solver. My behavioral assessments reinforced it and, quite frankly, I was good at it. However, at the point where I began leading larger corporate teams, I realized being a problem-solver was not enough. And so began a journey to re-define myself as a problem-finder. As a leader, it was important to be able to see potential problems and issues before they impacted our organization and clients. At one point, a client actually asked me directly if I had some sort of crystal ball (I didn’t) because we developed a strong sense of seeing what others did not!It is why I ask organizational leaders of for-profit and non-profit organizations, business owners and emerging leaders, “Are you a problem-solver or a problem-finder?” Of course, since most are familiar with problem-solving, the first question I get back...
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“It is not Balance you need...

process-adaptability How are you ensuring your core processes are adaptable?
...but Adaptability”One of the underlying benefits of this new reality is it provides a stress test for business continuity plans and the core processes that keep businesses moving forward. Based on what we are seeing, there is plenty of opportunity for process improvement as we now know what worked coming out of last year is likely not going to achieve desired results going forward!Process improvement has two major moving parts. The first key part is how well the processes are documented. This is crucial as it provides a common set of instructions for the entire team, business and/or agency to follow. It also provides a baseline for any adjustments necessary when the underlying business conditions change. The second key part is by what methodology does the team, business and/or agency keep these core processes evergreen? In other words, how is each core process objectively reviewed to ensure it is still relevant...
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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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"We the People..."

Citizenship
During these uncertain times when many are in some degree of self-isolation and working remotely, it makes sense that there might be some time to catch up on reading. One of the leadership challenges we see, especially in an election year as we are in now, is the level of citizenship demonstrated across the landscape in the United States. When we speak of leadership, we often speak of the ground rules of effective leadership. As we’ve spoken often, “Leaders read!” When we speak of citizenship, the same idea applies. It is those ground rules that are behind our recommendation for what to read this month. If you have not yet read, or recently read, the Constitution of the United States, this may be a great time to begin. Click here to begin reading!Lead Well!
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"...the only thing we have to fear...

Effective-leadership How is your leadership helping your team manage fear and uncertainty?
...is fear itself..."Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke these words at the beginning of his inaugural address on March 4, 1933. As I read through the entire inaugural address to understand its full context, it occurred to me he was speaking about Leadership, both his and that of the citizenry of that time. Fast-forward to today and we find the message of effective leadership in uncertain times remains resolute.What does it mean for leaders to remain resolute and effectively lead in a dynamic and fast changing business environment? In our ongoing work with clients, these are the main themes of focus for effective leadership.Lead with Attitude ~ Effective leaders inherently know that attitude leads behavior. What we think, we do. If leaders think of uncertainty as a crisis, then no matter how hard they try, a certain level of panic will ensue. Effective leaders know that how they show up matters and are...
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“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people...

LV-Logo-v1-1024x386 How is your voice improving your effective leadership?
...but the silence over that by the good people.”I have written in this forum every month since we started RPC Leadership Associates, Inc. twelve years ago. The first post that year related directly to my military career titled, “Everyone looks like an effective leader...until the enemy shows up.” It was an expression used both in the military and in my business career to highlight the importance of effective leadership, of being an example to follow in any situation. As I reflect on more recent events, the words in the title by Martin Luther King resonated as the voices of effective leaders become more and more important in this dynamic business environment.What, then, does it mean for leaders to exercise their voice and how can they become comfortable with the associated risk? Based on my own experience, I believe there are three key foundational elements to finding one’s leadership voice.Integrity ~ effective...
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Ignition

Ignite A Guide to Building High Performing Teams
This month we focused our discussion on strategic leadership and the key skills necessary to effectively lead a 21st Century organization. Given that organizational leadership is a team sport, it is only fitting that we highlight a new book by Gordy Curphy, Dianne Nilsen and Robert Hogan, “Ignition, A Guide to Building High Performance Teams” The authors set out to create a very practical book to help teams develop regardless of the type of team they are. The book aligns nicely to their research-based Team Assessment Survey as well as the Rocket Model which I use specifically in both my business and leadership coaching as well as my graduate teaching of MBA students.My favorite chapter is Chapter 10 where the authors spend an entire chapter specifically talking about C-Suite Teams. These are the top leadership teams in any business, for-profit or non-profit who essentially guide the strategic direction of the business....
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“If you think you know something...

3-Player-Chess
...then it is hard to be open to learning.”Last month I posted about Dr. Max McKeown’s book, “The Innovator’s Book – Rules for Rebels, Mavericks and Innovators”. In the post, I highlighted a specific page that includes the title quote of this post. I believe it sets up this month’s topic quite nicely as we talk about Strategic Leadership. At the beginning of the calendar year, many businesses, for-profit and non-profit, large corporations and small privately-owned businesses are executing their strategic plans. As we begin yet another calendar/fiscal year, let’s explore what really goes into thinking strategically as a leader in the 21st Century dynamic business environment.In the past few month’s I’ve given multiple speeches and presentations around these strategic leadership competencies as they are at the core of staying relevant and achieving sustainable success in their businesses. These competencies are based on the research of Kimberly Boal and Robert Hooijberg...
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The Innovator’s Book

innovate
With a theme of adaptability in this month’s post, it is only fitting to review this author’s latest book. I’ve reviewed Dr. Max McKeown’s books before and his latest does not disappoint. “The Innovator’s Book – Rules for Rebels, Mavericks and Innovators” is unique in that is does not at all read like your typical business book. Yet it is the kind of book that with few words gets one thinking about how they are thinking about and implementing their strategies for sustainable success.My favorite page in the entire book is titled “What you know can hurt you” When I read it, it struck me how tritely we use phrases like “continuous learning” and “we need to innovate” without really understand what we are asking ourselves to do. With that, I listed most of the page below to give an idea of how the book is set up to generate new...
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If the flower does not bloom...

flowers-blooming
…fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower”What bloomed in your business this year? What didn’t? This is the time of year when many leaders are taking stock of their business to celebrate successes of the past business cycle. Possibly salary increases and bonuses for the deserving are part of the discussion along with stronger relationships for the upcoming year. It is also the time of year to understand the misses from what was planned twelve months prior. Reflecting on what assumptions changed or did not play out as planned and what was misinterpreted leading to less than desired results.As we go through these conversations and reflections, it might be easy to identify individuals and teams who contributed to both the successes and the misses. While rewarding the high contributing teams for their great work is a must, stopping there misses the bigger issue identified in the title with...
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The Best Teacher…

try-fail-try-again-till-succeed
…is Your Last MistakeWhat is your attitude towards failure? We ask this question, or a variation of it, many times when coaching leaders at all levels of an organization. Interestingly enough, we get more absolute answers from front line managers and supervisors and more broadly defined answers from senior management. Said differently, our experience tells us we see less leeway for failure on the front lines to the point of wanting to be stressfully perfect to a different attitude towards failure where it is a means to learn and grow. I am not suggesting these experiences are scientifically representative, merely what our experiences are with the topic. The question is, why the difference at all?It’s amazing how frequently we hear about the lessons we learned from our mistakes along the pathway of life. Learning how to walk, riding a bike, driving a car and all the other things that people learn...
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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 Missing Piece Workbooks are now available!

BAMM5
If you liked the value you found in "The Missing Piece" books you’ve read over the past several years, you’ll love the new workbooks that align to each of your Missing Piece favorites! Each respective workbook includes the original text from the corresponding book that brings the Business Alignment Maturity Model to life in the context of your business. We moved the questions from the end of each chapter into the section of text that speaks to each question. No searching back through the chapter to refresh your memory, it’s all right there to help you put what you read into the context of your organization and team. Best of all, we added specific tools referenced in the books to better support your goal planning, business analysis and operational metrics. These tools will get you started faster to create sustainable success for your organization!If you are a Corporate Leader, click here and scroll to the...
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“Without ambition, one starts nothing...

dontbesupset
...Without work, one finishes nothing.”In today’s dynamic business environment, it seems far too many leaders are struggling with getting started in a direction for their business, completing a strategic objective for their business or some combination of the two. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote in the title then ends with, “The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.” In the context of today’s business environment, how ambitious is the team you lead to move in a specific direction as a team? How hard is your team willing to work as a team to finish what they start and achieve the team’s desired results? Let’s explore both questions through the lens of leadership required to answer them effectively.However, before we get to ambition and work ethic, let’s first level-set on the use of the term “Team”. Unfortunately, team and teamwork are often used improperly to describe a group....
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“Profit is a By-Product…

loyalty-ss-1920-800x450
…of Serving Clients Exceptionally Well”Every once in a while, we get into a conversation with leaders about profit and how to improve profit margins and profitability. Before we get too far into the discussion, I make sure we are in agreement on what profit is in the context of leadership. Without that level-set, the conversation can dramatically bypass the key decisions needed to truly enjoy the profitability the leader is looking to achieve.Because we’ve had several of these conversations recently, it made sense to share what I believe is the essence of sustainable profitability. The title quote comes from Katherine Mauzy, the Head of Financial Advisor Talent Acquisition at Edward Jones. For context, earlier this year Edward Jones was named one of FORTUNE Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For”, the 20th year they’ve made this list! Let’s go ahead and break down her quote from a leadership perspective.Profit is a...
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Don’t Raise Your Voice…

Persuasion
…Improve Your Argument!Much is written about conflict and how society continues to struggle with managing it in an open forum. I see this struggle first-hand with my own clients who continue to work on their effective communications skills, especially with those who disagree with them. One of the key skills of leadership is the ability to influence and persuade their teams to go where they have not yet gone before, knowing they have to change but cannot do it on the strength of their own motivations. The Leader’s ability to persuade, and manage through the potential resistance, is directly proportional to their ability to build an argument supporting why their followers should behave differently than they are currently.With the advent of technology infused communications tools, the ability to persuade should be easier. The ability to reach more people efficiently theoretically makes the process itself more efficient. However, if you put a...
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