“This accountability crap is for the birds...

However, without it I would never get anything done.” This was an actual quote from a client of mine earlier this year.  They were going through a dramatic change in their business and recognized the value of accountability, no matter how painful it might be.  It also reminded me how crucial it is for leaders to hold themselves, and those around them, accountable in order to achieve sustainable success. In their 2012 book, consultants John Blakely and Ian Day suggested accountability falls into three major categories.  Personal Accountability which focuses on one’s personal values, beliefs and attitudes that drive them toward action; Interpersonal Accountability which focuses on common goals, responsibility and shared work; and Organizational Accountability which focuses on standards, norms and measurements that apply to the entire organizational system.  Let’s explore each one a little deeper. Personal Accountability – accountability in general starts here!  What we believe, we think and...
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Entrepreneurial DNA

For many entrepreneurs, a metric of success is staying in business for five years or more.  Having successfully crossed that threshold, one of the reasons is being aware of, and managing to, our strengths and weaknesses as entrepreneurs.  This month’s book review is from someone who is a resident expert on entrepreneurial styles or DNA.  In "Entrepreneurial DNA", Joe Abraham explores the four key profiles of entrepreneurs and why it is important to understand not all entrepreneurs are created equal. My favorite section is Part 2 (of 3) where he takes the reader through an in depth profile of each DNA style and then strategies to optimize your business based on your style.  After reading this section, you will be sure to recognize your primary style and possibly a secondary style. You will also better understand how to leverage your strengths and execute strategies to minimize your entrepreneurial blind spots. Enjoy...
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“The Chains of Habit are too weak to be felt…

…until they are too strong to be broken.” I have been thinking a lot about this quote from Warren Buffet as the topic of habits comes up frequently in my work as a business coach.  What do habits have to do with leadership?  Everything! Our habitual thinking about what leadership truly entails determines our eventual success in a 21st Century business environment.  So let’s break down the quote into its two parts to see what we can learn about being a more effective leader. “The Chains of Habit are too weak to be felt…” We have often heard the road is “…paved with good intentions.”  How many times have we attended a leadership-training course, or any training course for that matter, that had little effect on our current behavior?  In the same vein, how often have we read a good business book that had little effect on our current behavior?  The...
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A Millennial Mind - The Final Chapter

As a way to close out my internship, I want to dedicate this blog to what I have learned about leadership during my internship at RPC Leadership Associates. One of the first things I asked was if leadership would give an edge in an unforgiving business environment.  As I go into my last year at NIU, I realize how important it is to prepare for getting my first job.  Getting that first entry-level position in the business trenches is the last great challenge in a bachelors degree program.  After the first job, you will always have experience on your side when job hunting. So as I selfishly posture for a powered up resume and practice my 30-second elevator speech, I have to ask again, how does leadership help me get that first job? My answer?  Leadership is not just the way you lead, even though the root word may have everyone...
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The Right Decision Every Time

In keeping with the theme of effective decision-making this month, I recently read The Right Decision Every Time by Luda Kopeikina.  Her research working with over 100 successful CEOs provides us with great insights into the process of making effective business decisions in an easy-to-read business case example format. My favorite parts of the book are Chapter 8, which speaks to managing our emotions and Chapter 9, which deals with managing opposing opinions.  Managing conflict in the business workplace is a key challenge for all leaders in today’s business environment.  The ability to manage the emotional element of tough decisions as well as the feedback and opinions from others who may disagree with your perspective is invaluable.  These two chapters provide valuable insights in managing emotions and opposition to ultimately make the best decision for the situation. Enjoy the Book!
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"You Can't Talk Yourself Out of a Problem...

…You Behaved Yourself Into.” The topic of choices and effective decision-making has been top of mind recently given the recent spate of headlines highlighting poor choices and decisions in politics, entertainment, business and professional sports.  Worse, the sideshow that becomes the attempts to apologize and/or explain the choices and decisions is what prompted the title, credited to Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  So what does it take to make an effective leadership decision? One of the most critical elements in effective decision-making comes from the decision-maker’s perspective in the decision.  Without the proper perspective, or frame of reference, what appears to be a good decision from one perspective turns out not to be from the perspective of others on the receiving end of the decision. An easy example from my own experience involves workforce reductions.  If the perspective is to reduce expenses to a given number,...
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"You Can't Talk Yourself Out of a Problem...

…You Behaved Yourself Into.” The topic of choices and effective decision-making has been top of mind recently given the recent spate of headlines highlighting poor choices and decisions in politics, entertainment, business and professional sports.  Worse, the sideshow that becomes the attempts to apologize and/or explain the choices and decisions is what prompted the title, credited to Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  So what does it take to make an effective leadership decision? One of the most critical elements in effective decision-making comes from the decision-maker’s perspective in the decision.  Without the proper perspective, or frame of reference, what appears to be a good decision from one perspective turns out not to be from the perspective of others on the receiving end of the decision. An easy example from my own experience involves workforce reductions.  If the perspective is to reduce expenses to a given number,...
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A Millennial Mind - Week 8

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A Millennial Mind - Week 7

Ethics.  Dun dun dunnnn… The word rings with a lightening bolt strike in the background and if you’re in college, it’s a word that is synonymous with an hour-long lecture about “mom tests” and an honest world.  I don’t mean to make light of a very serious topic but we live in a world of trying to get ahead.  It’s about making a better life for the next generation and being able reach the limits of what you can do. What I struggle with is the grey area of ethics and I feel most of my Millennials do also.  We get that theft is bad, we get that cooking the books and sexual harassment is bad.  I’ve heard and read that Millennials are a generation of cheaters.  We cheat and have a hard time seeing it as a moral slight.  I must concede that this observation is quite accurate but I...
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A Millennial Mind - Week 6

Today’s topic is a story I want to share.  Its about a thought evolution that ended with a decent “ah hah” moment.  So here it goes… As I was listening to Pandora while working out, “Reach for the sky” by Social Distortion came on.  The chorus line “Reach for the sky, ‘Cause tomorrow may never come” rang in my head and I had an interesting thought.  I’ve always heard the “seize the day” motivational talks as weak and short sighted. What possible expectation could the speaker have of you? Should we go out and start knocking out our bucket lists since tomorrow may never come?  Hey, I’ve always wanted to own a bar, should I grab a loan and enjoy debt, since tomorrow may never come?  Or maybe just sell all my assets and go into the world, to find the meaning of life, because why are we really here? Once...
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A Millennial Mind - Week 5

Attitude is everything.With a military background I transitioned from high school into an institution that didn’t care if you liked the decision or not.  Communication in the chain of command went one direction and you did as you were told.As I transitioned into civilian life I realized that my attitude is a huge factor in my success.  I had a hard time relating to fellow college students and it showed.  Working in groups was a nightmare and it created a lot of unnecessary conflict.So what have I learned?  Fake it until you make it.I may dislike the situation I am in but when I go in with a positive attitude (even a fake one), I found that the situation turns out better 10 out of 10 times.  I found that negativity has a way of being contagious and may even poison the purpose of situation.  Being positive will create an environment...
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The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

In keeping with the theme of teamwork this month, I chose to go back to the bookshelf for a book I’ve read several times and find something new each time I read it.  “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni speaks to many of the challenges leaders face with creating a true high performing team.  In his book he identifies these five team dysfunctions told through the eyes of a new CEO of a fictitious company: Absence of Trust Fear of Conflict Lack of Commitment Avoidance of Accountability Inattention to ResultsThe fable format allows the reader to identify with some of the challenges he identifies in the story.  While I liked the discussion around all five, my favorite is the discussion around the Avoidance of Accountability.  I believe the true measure of a team is their ability to hold themselves mutually accountable and, in my experience, is a rare...
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Leadership Lessons from...

…the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks! With the exciting finish to the Stanley Cup finals fresh in our minds, it presents yet another opportunity to look into the leadership ideas from the championship journey.  In this case, the idea of teamwork and organizational alignment seem to be the very essence of the Chicago Blackhawks success! The story really begins in 2010 when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup against Philadelphia.  Shortly after that game, the realities of free agency and business side of professional sports forced the team to part ways with some of the outstanding players from that championship team.  The realities of business are no different.  Leaders will have to ask, “What is the right team to achieve future desired results?”  It will not necessarily be the team that won the last championship or achieved past successes.  Rather, it will need to be the team that will win the...
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A Millennial Mind - Week 4

I recently had a good long conversation with a friend about her job at a logistics company that she hates.  Not to be misunderstood, she doesn’t hate it because she isn’t good at what she does; she hates it because their business processes and leadership are weak.  This weakness poisons the company well and leads to major employee dissatisfaction. One issue is due to one of the most cliché nepotisms in the book.  Her first line manager is the boss’s son.  And here I thought that sort of thing only happened in the movies.  He is ineffective in that he asks his employees for advice on decisions and waffles before going a slow safe route. While he may be qualified on paper, he doesn’t have what it takes to fill what the position demands. Because it’s the boss’s son, what can she and her fellow employees do to fix their situation?...
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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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A Millennial Mind - Week 3

In our ongoing guest blogging series, our intern asks the readership how to describe leadership in an interview.  Enjoy! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Today’s rant derives from a personal pet peeve of mine.  It has been a recurring theme during interviews and classes and I seek a better understanding from the perspective of our readers. The word “leadership” has to be one of the most overused buzzwords in business.  It ranks up at the top along with “synergy” and “leverage” as a powerful and descriptive word that is cheapened by gross overuse.  While this word is of course undoubtedly important, I’m afraid it isn’t used in the proper context in many situations. The situation I speak of comes from the classic interview question, “Tell me how you have shown good leadership?” This question drives me crazy because, I always feel the interviewer wants you to describe how you’re going to be the next Churchill. ...
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A Millennial Mind - Week 2

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A Millennial Mind - Guest Post

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Well Said!

I recently had the privilege of facilitating a workshop on using persuasion in the sales process to a group of fellow business coaches.  In many respects the idea of persuasion fits with this month’s book that highlights a variety of different and effective ways to persuade a decision maker, whether it be in the sales process or not.  “Well Said!” by Darlene Price includes many ideas on how to present, speak and otherwise carry yourself more effectively to convey your ideas. My favorite part of the book is the discussion around the concept of establishing your credibility.  The author speaks to the three Factors of Perception as keys to establishing true credibility with an audience or listener.  The Factors of Perception are: Visual Factor – How does the audience or listener see you in the manner in which you dress, the room, and your body language? Vocal/Verbal Factor – How does...
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People Hear Words...

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