Leading Blog


Co-Active Leadership

Co-Active Leadership

T'S EASY TO THINK that you need a title to be a leader. So much of what we talk about when we talk about leadership is in the context of a title. It’s also easy to think that there’s only one way to lead.

In Co-Active Leadership, Karen and Henry Kimsey-House define leadership as “those who are responsible for their world.” So much of leadership is about initiative—taking responsibility. In this sense, anyone can choose to lead. “Leadership development, then, becomes about growing the size of the world for which one is able to be responsible.” Naturally, this would mean not only becoming “first-class noticers” but increasing one’s competence.

A multidimensional view of leadership allows for anyone to lead. The authors have created the Co-Active Leadership model that is multidimensional. “Everyone, at different times, plays all five roles, shifting from dimension to dimension as the circumstances and the needs of the moment require.”

The five dimensions are: Co-Active Leadership

Co-Active Leader Within
This is where all leadership begins—from within. It begins with taking responsibility for who you are, knowing your values, and then leading in alignment with those values. I agree with the authors that what we need to lead is within us, but leading with a “take me as I am” approach can lead to disaster. Self-awareness is about seeing who I am in relation to those I impact and asking ourselves if this is the person I want to be. Opening our heart is not enough. The bigger question is what is motivating the heart. From “Within” we move into the other dimensions as appropriate.

Co-Active Leader in Front
Leading in front is not about being in charge. A Co-Active Leader in Front fosters a “connection with the people who are following them and stand firmly for a clear direction and purpose.” They understand too that it is not about them, it’s also about creating the space for others to step up and share their knowledge and creativity. It’s about providing guidance.

Co-Active Leader Behind
This is about service. Co-Active Leaders Behind “focus on providing whatever is needed and, through openhearted and enthusiastic participation, advance the action in a way that holds everyone together.” They are most concerned about the whole. It’s about encouraging others.

Co-Active Leader Beside
Two can be better than one. Co-Active Leaders Beside “take responsibility for their world by creating their partnership around a shared vision and intention and supporting each other’s strength to generate a powerful synergy in which the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts.” It’s about partnering with team members.

Co-Active Leader in the Field
The field referred to here is “the energetic field that surrounds all of life and offering us information all the time.” So Co-Active Leaders in the Field is “about expanding our attention beyond individual people to connect with the energetic field that surrounds life.” It’s about drawing on insights from beyond the rational mind. It about sensing and connectedness.

Seeing leadership as more than top-down command, frees anyone to lead. Seeing leadership in the multi-dimensional way the authors present here, enriches a leaders responses and approaches to any given situation.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:45 AM
| Comments (0) | Leadership


Burn the Business Plan

Burn the Business Plan

F YOU ARE THINKING of starting a business—and apparently nine million Americans are currently thinking about it and only about 500,000 actually do each year—you will want to read Burn the Business Plan by Carl Schramm.

The highly-romanticized, high-tech startups that we read about and want to emulate are less than seven percent of all start-ups and they experience the highest failure rate of all business startups. Eighty percent disappear within five years.
Most entrepreneurs never went to college, and most did not start their companies until they were well along in their careers. The average entrepreneur is nearly forty years old when he launches, and more than eighty percent of all new companies are stated by people over thirty-five. More entrepreneurs are between forty-five and fifty-five than any other cohort, and entrepreneurs over fifty-five now create more companies than those under thirty-five. And—another surprise—the chances of a new company surviving rises with the age of the entrepreneur.

What these high-tech startups have in common with all other entrepreneurs is that they don’t follow a business plan. The detailed and rigid planning of your typical formal business plan is of little value once the business gets underway.

Just as German Field Marshal Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke once observed, “No plan survives first contact with the enemy,” “it is rare,” writes Schramm, “to find an entrepreneur who reports that his business plan was of much use…. Entrepreneurs must learn to dance to the market’s ever-changing tempo and rhythm. Planning doesn’t help and is mostly a waste of time.” Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Amex, Disney, GE, Walmart, and Google are just a few examples of companies that began without writing a formal business plan.

To build a successful company, one has to be able to change direction as shifting facts and circumstances dictate. In my experience running a manufacturing company for over 30 years, Schramm is right on.

While I believe that the basics of running a business and the type of mindset that is required can be taught or presented, I would agree that you can only learn by doing. “There is no time-tested body of knowledge that will improve the probability that a startup will be successful.”

As Steve Wozniak, Marc Randolph, and many others have suggested, a great way to learn entrepreneurship is by working in a big company. “The average entrepreneur works for someone else for nearly fifteen years before starting his own business.”
Many entrepreneurs who started their own careers in large corporations regarded them as critical to their subsequent success. Most important, they learned the culture of business, how big companies did or did not do a good job of serving their customers, and their customers’ continuously changing needs.

Building a company takes time. Rather than flipping their companies, most successful founders work at it for the rest of their lives. When you begin everything changes. “While many aspiring entrepreneurs think that starting a company is all about one good idea, in fact, successful entrepreneurs know that their first idea was seldom what made their company successful.” And here’s something to think about: “Failure rates are considerably higher for companies that are started with the intention of a short-term sale.

Every startup has one CEO. The myth that two entrepreneurs coming together makes for a better company is just that, a myth. A realistic “look at the history of startups shows that every company, even those claiming multiple founders, had just one person who functioned as the ‘entrepreneur-in chief.’ She is the person who sparked the idea, first articulated the vision for the company and brought others together; the person who functions as the company’s driving force, without whom the startup never would have happened.”

Another reason success as an entrepreneur favors age is that “creating a new product or service is an organic process, one that is shaped by background, experience, and acuity of the innovator.” “The average age of an inventor awarded a patent is forty-seven. The reason? Innovation involves a synthesis of accumulated knowledge, much of it subconscious, that the inventor has absorbed and compiled over his life.”

If you are aspiring to be an entrepreneur, you would be wise to read widely across many fields and disciplines. Innovators are curious and have a voracious appetite for learning.

Schramm tells the stories of Dyson, Head, Kasbar, Stebbins and others who “weren’t even sure that what they were toiling to achieve was a ‘company,’ they were just sure that they had really good ideas.

Other interesting ideas Schramm covers:
  • Franchising is often overlooked as a real entrepreneurial business and is generally not taught in colleges.
  • “You should operate with sufficient flexibility so that you are open to considering other ideas as you work on your original concept.”
  • Business plans are for investors. Most businesses become successful without venture capital and venture capital is no guarantee of success. “The average startup needs $50,000 in capital.” And this comes mostly from savings, credit cards, family, second mortgages and reinvesting revenues.
  • “An entrepreneur’s planning is fundamentally different from how managers in large companies follow well-researched and formalized business strategies. The planning process in a startup can be described more accurately as situational decision making, an imperfectly informed, just-in-time, default strategy.
  • “Entrepreneurial planning involves learning how to make critical decisions quickly, mostly about matters never anticipated, likely while relying on incomplete information.”
  • It takes time. “Of the thirty percent of startups that survive past five years, most are not profitable until they reach their seventh anniversary.”

Burn the Business Plan is a fascinating and accurate look at what it means to be an entrepreneur. It should be required reading in business schools and by anyone contemplating a startup. Schramm tells interesting stories of entrepreneurial successes and failures all of which add to the value of this book.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:13 PM
| Comments (0) | Entrepreneurship


Leading Clarity

Leading Clarity

HOUGH WE SPEAK of clarity as a destination—as in finding clarity—but it is more of a state we are in. We are in clarity.

In Leading Clarity, Brad Deutser states that “Clarity operates on the truth that everything is connected.” Clarity connects. “Clarity is the foundational fabric that weaves together dreams, goals, initiatives, concerns, challenges, and triumphs.

Clarity not only defines an organization, but it also protects and stabilizes it too.
Considered as a destination, clarity can be lost or obscured the moment the landscape changes, or the environmental factors dim your view. In clarity, we can see all the factors, recognize them for what they are and what they can become, and create connections that can be relied on to establish or reestablish equilibrium and an environment for growth.

This distinction matters to us because especially in times of great change and emerging opportunities, we can easily lose our way—our focus. Businesses fail—people fail—due to a lack of clarity. When disruptions come it is easy to move out of clarity.

“Clarity become central to your ability to not only visualize, but actualize your performance.” Clarity should transcend your environment. When we are in clarity, we can maintain a constant flow of energy and maintain connections.

Deutser identifies 12 circuit breakers that disconnect us from clarity: fear, ambivalence, clutter, labeling, doubt, impatience, boredom, conflict, overconfidence, physical depletion, inference or shallowness, and resources.

This comment was interesting regarding our need to tolerate ambiguity:
Being in clarity allows space where we wait for what we don’t quite understand to emerge, which keeps energy available and flowing rather than being boxed in, covered up, or mistakenly shelved through what’s already known.

Too often we miss lessons, opportunities, and shifts in thinking, because we want to quickly fill the space of not knowing.

Clarity needs structure and has to be created. So how do create this state of clarity?

Deutser begins by working inside-the-box. We all work within constraints or within our particular box—a box of our own making. So we start by understanding our box. From there we can grow and/or change our box.

When working in the box, your playing field is more defined and there is greater understanding of specifics and their possible impact on your desired outcome. There is also more empathy and connectivity in the box because there is definition. … The box provides a form of clarity for all to grab hold of and work toward. The powerful point is that the box is of your own making.

You should also understand that while the sides of the box exist, they can be permeable, to let things flow in and out, and be flexible, to expand and contract when deemed necessary; but, once inside, each element serves to interact with the whole.

clarity boxThe box has four sides—Direction, Operations, People, Engagement—a bottom—Organizational Identity—and a top—Environmental Factors.

Direction: What are our values? Where are we headed? Is leadership aligned with values?

Operations: Do we adapt well to change? What are our metrics? Do our systems and processes ensure high-quality work?

People: Do we develop our team? Do we give timely and consistent feedback? Are we highly collaborative?

Engagement: Coaching and Development, Talent Management, and Team Capabilities

Organizational Identity: Who are we? Why do we exist? What motivates us? This side—your identity—is the foundations of everything you do. It is the foundation from which you can build the space for your thinking to exist in.

Environmental Factors: What external factors affect or shape who we are? What do competitors do that we would never identify with or do ourselves?

This framework helps you to understand who you are, where you are going, and how you work. As individuals and organizations we all have constraints. So it’s really what’s in the box that drives performance. Working within the box provides the context where innovation is likely and more importantly, implementable. When you understand the box it is easier to work and be productive within it.

The box gives intentionality to everything you do. There’s no such thing as perfect, but “there is such a thing as being whole, which signifies the big picture as it weaves al the smaller pieces together. Being whole in this respect denotes a sense of closure that comes after all the parts fit together. Striving to be in clarity is about the process of becoming whole, of intentionally incorporating all the important aspects of your business into one connected form that accounts for the outside world as well.”
It is the magic of your own ability to control [the construction of your box] that both protects and nourishes and becomes that which withstands and even thrives in chaos, change, and uncertainty. If you think of the sides of that box as being permeable rather than fixed, it frees the flow of input information in and the release of old ways and toxic byproducts out and away from your core.

You build your own box. So what is your box and what do you need it to be?

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:41 AM
| Comments (0) | Management , Vision


First Look: Leadership Books for May 2018

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in May 2018. Don't miss out on other great new and future releases this month.

  Born to Build by Jim Clifton and Sangeeta Badal
  The Meaning Revolution: The Power of Transcendent Leadership by Fred Kofman
  What Happens Now? Reinvent Yourself as a Leader Before Your Business Outruns You by John Hillen and Mark D. Nevins
  Next Is Now: 5 Steps for Embracing Change—Building a Business that Thrives into the Future by Lior Arussy
  The Power of a Positive Team: Proven Principles and Practices that Make Great Teams Great by Jon Gordon

Born to Build Meaning Revolution What Happens Now Next Measure

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273

discounted books

Build your leadership library with these specials on over 39 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.

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"Elon Musk has always been an introvert thinker...where a lot of people would go to a great party and have a great time and drink and talk about all sorts of things like rugby or sports, you would find Elon had found the person's library and was going through their books."
— Errol Musk

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:35 AM
| Comments (0) | Books


LeadershipNow 140: April 2018 Compilation


twitter Here are a selection of tweets from April 2018 that you might have missed:
See more on twitter Twitter.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:18 AM
| Comments (0) | LeadershipNow 140


The Excellence Dividend

The Excellence DIvidend

OM PETERS has produced another thought-provoking book. The Excellence Dividend is 100% Peters. He is a fanatical lifelong learner and this book represents a summary of what he has learned over the last few decades. He considers it a sequel to In Search of Excellence. You might not agree with everything he writes, but it will make you think.

We are faced with a tech tsunami that threatens our work. Daniel Huttenlocher, dean of Cornell Tech, said, “The industrial revolution was about augmenting and replacing physical labor, and the digital revolution has been about augmenting and replacing mental labor.” Machine learning and Artificial intelligence will change the way we work.

Peters says that the best defense against this tech tsunami is excellence. Excellence is an offensive strategy. It's proactive. We need to focus “on the human attributes that will, effectively deployed, likely remain beyond the realm of artificial intelligence.” He believes we need to go on the offensive creating excellence in everything we do.

Excellence is not a list of dos and don’ts. It’s really a quality of heart. It’s a “state of mind.” It’s expressed in everything we do—the next thing we do. It’s our next e-mail; our next conversation. “Excellence is a moment-to-moment way of life. Or it is nothing at all. There’s no tomorrow in excellence; there is only right now.” “Excellence is the next five minutes.” Little touches are the most important differentiators. Little is greater than big.

Execution, then is everything. Execution is the leader's job. “Amateurs talk about strategy. Professionals talk about logistics,” said General Omar Bradley. “Get moving now. Get the job done. On this score, nothing has changed in 50 years, including the fact that all too often the strategy is inspiring, but the execution is largely AWOL.”

People first. Hard is soft. Soft is hard. “Your customers will never be happier than your employees.” Training is your most important investment. “Simply put,” says Peters, “helping your employees achieve a worthwhile future turns out to be the most profitable way to run a company. Period.”

When it comes to innovation WTTMSW: Whoever Tries The Most Stuff Wins and it’s corollary, WTTMSASTMSUTFW: Whoever Tries the Most Stuff And Screws The Most Stuff Up The Fastest Wins. It’s a numbers game. “If you know where you’re heading, you’re not innovating. If things work out as planned, you weren’t chasing anything interesting.”

We must become fully immersed to innovate. “To deal effectively and creatively with a given context, we must push ourselves hard, very hard, systematically, one day at a time, one hour at a time, to become fully engaged with novelty. Novel settings. Novel people. Novel everything.”

When it comes to leaders, “the best of the best are extraordinary listeners.” Most of us think we are good listeners, but we aren’t. “Listening is strategy.” It’s not passive. It’s an action word. “Fierce listening. Aggressive listening.

Peters offers a solid explanation of 26 Tactics to spur leadership excellence. Of course it would not be complete without MBWA. Managing By Wandering Around. As John le Carré said, “A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.” The list includes, you are your calendar, it’s always showtime, the rule of zero (every day is a start-up), acknowledgment, thank you, civility, and apologize.

There is much, much, much more in The Excellence Dividend. As you might expect from a Tom Peters book (or anything by him), there is a lot to digest and much to learn from. He gives specific behaviors that you can put into practice now. But I think Peters would say, “Don’t think too long. Execute on excellence NOW and learn by doing.”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:49 PM
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The GuruBook


ONATHAN LØW created The GuruBook to change, refine, and enhance your thinking. He has curated ideas from 45 internationally–known doers and thinkers on the topics of entrepreneurship, innovation, and authentic leadership.

You’ll find great insights here from the likes of Sonia Arrison, Edgar H. Schein, Henry Mintzberg, Tom Peters, Pascal Finette, Andreas Ehn, Murray Newlands, Brian Chesky, Hampus Jakobsson, Craig Newmark, Alf Rehn, Paul Nunes, Nathan Furr, Mette Lykke and others. But here are several that I found interesting my first time through the book:

Steve Blank: Startups Are Not a Smaller Version of a Large Company

We know that a startup is a temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model. The corollary for an enterprise is as follows:

A company is a permanent organization designed to execute a repeatable and scalable business model.

Once you understand that existing companies are designed to execute, then you can see why they have a hard time with continuous and disruptive innovation.

Danny Lange: Becoming Truly Data Driven

We’re seeing a development where you will be in trouble 24-36 months from now if you don’t start taking machine learning seriously. It will happen especially in industries such as transportation, shipping, finance, and retail, but all kinds of companies and leaders should look into this much deeper.

Of course, the big companies have an advantage due to the amount of data they often how. The startups lack this, and data is increasingly becoming king.

For example, you may be able to build a better app with a better backend than Uber, and pay a crew of drivers more money, but if you don’t have the data to deliver a consistently better pickup experience, all of that might not matter at all.

Christian Ørsted: Authentic Leadership is Narcissism

The leader’s most important task is not being authentic but focusing on serving. The leader’s own idea of the world or of him- or herself is completely without interest with regard to how he or she can serve the organization and the world in the best way possible.

That’s why there’s a risk that the whole concept of authentic leadership can easily give leaders an excuse for being narcissistic and focusing on themselves and their own values as leaders rather than how they create the best possible culture for their employees.

Daniel Burrus: How to Anticipate the Future

There are an amazing number of things we can accurately predict when we learn how to distinguish between what I call hard trends, trends that will happen, and soft trends, trends that might happen. Think of it as a two-sided coin. Agility is on one side, allowing you to react fast to unforeseen change, and the other side is anticipatory, allowing you to see what is coming and take action before the change occurs.

Agility is basically reacting quickly to change. Therefore, it’s important to understand that agile innovation is reactive innovation. Agile innovation will keep you reacting to disruptive innovation created by others.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:34 PM
| Comments (0) | Personal Development


Barbara Bush 1925-2018

Barbara Bush

ORMER FIRST LADY Barbara Bush was a servant leader. One of the most beloved first ladies in American history. She was witty, smart, sharp, straightforward, unpretentious, and honest.

Born Barbara Pierce on June 8, 1925, in Rye, New York, she was the daughter of a publishing executive and distant cousin of President Franklin Pierce. She has been called the “Matriarch of a Dynasty.” As the wife of the 41st president and the mother of the 43rd, George W. Bush, she was one of two women in American history to have a son of hers follow his father to the White House. The first was Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams and mother of John Quincy Adams.

The Bushes had celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary in January, making them the longest-married couple in presidential history.

She was a valuable ally in her husband’s political career. Her son George W. Bush wrote in 41: A Portrait of My Father, “One thing was for sure, Barbara Bush was willing to speak her mind.” During her husband’s 1992 reelection campaign she told the Los Angeles Times, “Some people share in their husband’s work and some don’t. That’s going to depend upon the marriage or their wife’s work. But you have to have influence. When you’ve been married 47 years, if you don’t have any influence, then I really think you’re in deep trouble.”

She worked relentlessly for family literacy. “You know sit with your arm around a little kid and read. It not only teaches them to read but it keeps the family strong.” She believed, “Everything I worry about would be better if more people could read, write and comprehend.”

Here is a selection of her thoughts on life:

“I think togetherness is a very important ingredient to family life.”

“Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people - your family, friends, and coworkers, and even strangers you meet along the way.”

“Your success as a family... our success as a nation... depends not on what happens inside the White House, but on what happens inside your house.”

"George Bush has given me the world. He is the best -- thoughtful and loving."

“If human beings are perceived as potentials rather than problems, as possessing strengths instead of weaknesses, as unlimited rather that dull and unresponsive, then they thrive and grow to their capabilities.”

“You may think the president is all powerful, but he is not. He needs a lot of guidance from the Lord.”

She told those gathered at Wellesley College for her June 1990 commencement address:
I hope that many of you will consider making three very special choices.

The first is to believe in something larger than yourself, to get involved in some of the big ideas of our time.

And early on I made another choice, which I hope you'll make as well. Whether you are talking about education, career, or service, you're talking about life -- and life really must have joy. It's supposed to be fun.

The third choice that must not be missed is to cherish your human connections: your relationships with family and friends. For several years, you've had impressed upon you the importance to your career of dedication and hard work. And, of course, that's true. But as important as your obligations as a doctor, a lawyer, a business leader will be, you are a human being first. And those human connections --- with spouses, with children, with friends -- are the most important investments you will ever make.

At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend, or a parent.

And who knows? Somewhere out there in this audience may even be someone who will one day follow my footsteps, and preside over the White House as the president's spouse. I wish him well!

She concluded her 1994 memoir with:
George Bush and I have been the two luckiest people in the world, and when all the dust is settled and all the crowds are gone, the things that matter are faith, family, and friends. We have been inordinately blessed, and we know that.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:41 PM
| Comments (0) | Leaders


Don’t Leave Workplace Civility to Chance


E'RE FACING a respect crisis. Civility and respect are not the norm in daily workplace interactions. They’re not the norm in our communities, either.

Our own observations make us keenly aware of these dynamics. Now there is research to - unfortunately - support our observations. A 2017 survey of Civility in America (an annual study undertaken by Weber Shandwick, Powell Tate, and KRC Research - found that 69% of respondents believe the United States has a major civility problem.

75% of respondents believe that incivility has risen to crisis levels. 73% feel that the US is losing stature as a civil nation.

There were few optimists among those interviewed. Only 22% of respondents believe civility in America will improve in the years to come.

Three additional studies underscore the lack of respect and civility in our workplaces.

Gallup’s employee engagement data (Employee Engagement | Gallup Topic) reveals that only 35% of US workers are actively engaged at work. Globally, the number of actively engaged employees is 15%.

TINYpulse’s 2017 culture and engagement report found only 26% of employees feel strongly valued at work.

The Workplace Bullying Institute’s 2017 study (WBI 2017 U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey | Workplace Bullying Institute) found that 19% of American workers have experienced bullying in the workplace while another19% have witnessed workplace bullying. 61% of Americans are aware of workplace bullying in their organizations.

This research and our own experiences make on thing clear: treating colleagues in the workplace with dignity and respect is not the norm.

Disrespect and incivility erode trust, performance, service, and proactive problem solving in our organizations every day.

All is not lost. I work with senior leaders of organizations of all sizes and industries to help them create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures.

Three steps are required to evolve your work culture. They are:
  1. Define.
  2. Align.
  3. Refine.

Define your desired work culture.

Senior leaders must make values as important as results - and to apply the same discipline to formalizing values expectations and measuring values expectations as they do to formalizing and measuring performance expectations.

Values must be shifted from lofty ideals to observable, tangible, and measurable behaviors. By defining company values in behavior terms, those valued behaviors becomes measurable expectations.

Let’s take “respect” as an example. One of my recent culture clients defined their respect value - one of six values they formalized - as “appreciating the worth of others and treating everyone with courtesy and kindness.” That’s a great definition, but it’s not in an observable form quite yet.

They defined the exact behaviors required with these three valued behaviors:
  • I seek and genuinely listen to others’ opinions.
  • I do not act or speak rudely or discount others.
  • I work to resolve problems and differences by directly communicating with the people involved.

These behaviors - along with the valued behaviors from their other five values - make it clear what the minimum standards of citizenship are in this organization.

Their “values clarity” efforts are complete, but they’re not done with embedding these behaviors.

Align all plans, decisions, and actions to your valued behaviors.

Senior leaders must model and demonstrate these valued behaviors in every interaction. Simply defining these valued behaviors - and marketing them like crazy with, for example, posters throughout your workspace - does nothing more than increase awareness. The only way to build credibility and inspire everyone in the company to actually demonstrate these valued behaviors every day is for senior leaders - and all leaders in the organisation - to model them in every interaction.

Every day.

This isn’t easy - but it’s required. The scrutiny is severe. The standards of interaction quality between senior leaders and everyone they interact with vastly increase.

Building credibility will take time - 4-5 months or more.

During this timeframe, senior leaders must not only model those valued behaviors, they must now coach those valued behaviors, praise aligned behaviors, redirect misaligned behaviors, etc., for the rest of their lives (!). Aligning all plans, decisions, and actions to your valued behaviors becomes a never-ending project.

This coaching, praising, redirecting, etc. is the foundation of holding others accountable for those valued behaviors. These same practices are an excellent foundation for holding others accountable for performance expectations, too.

A vital part of the align phase is creating a custom values survey, taken by all employees every six months. This survey becomes your “values dashboard,” a way to regularly measure the degree to which leaders are seen by employees as modeling the team or company’s valued behaviors.

With every run of your custom values survey, individual leaders - from senior leaders to front-line team leads - receive a profile that indicates their employees’ ratings of their demonstration of each valued behavior. Leaders are praised for aligned behaviors and coached on mis-aligned behaviors.

Note that some of my clients are doing pulse values surveys with one question of every employee asked each week rather than three dozen questions asked every six months. This provides a valuable ongoing measurement of values alignment across your leaders.

Only when leaders are held accountable for valued behaviors will those behaviors become a foundation of your healthy work culture.

Refine valued behaviors every two years or so, as needed.

The refine step is simply taking the time every two years or so to update your valued behaviors as needed. Some valued behaviors may be so ingrained you don’t need to keep them on your values list anymore. Some new valued behaviors might need to be added to address new temptations, new generations, new customer or market demands, etc.

Your valued behaviors need to evolve as your culture evolves.

These three steps work well in departments, small businesses, huge multi-nationals, and every size and type of organization in between.

The impact is powerful. When my culture clients implement these three rules, three outcomes consistently emerge. Employee engagement goes up by 40%. Customer service rankings rise by 40%. And results and profits increase by 35% - all within 18 months of implementing this proven process.

Don’t leave the quality of your work culture to chance. Make civility and respect a hallmark of every daily workplace interaction - by changing the rules, living the rules, and holding people accountable for the rules.

Watch my three minute “Culture Leadership Charge” video on YouTube for further insights.

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Leading Forum
S. Chris Edmonds is a sought-after speaker, author, and executive consultant who is the founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group. After a 15-year executive career leading high performing teams, Chris began his consulting company in 1990. He has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies since 1995. Chris is one of Inc. Magazine’s 100 Great Leadership Speakers and was a featured presenter at South by Southwest 2015. Chris is the author of the Amazon best seller The Culture Engine, the best seller Leading At A Higher Level with Ken Blanchard, and five other books. Chris' blog, podcasts, research, and video series can be found at http://DrivingResultsThroughCulture.com. Thousands of followers enjoy his daily quotes on organizational culture, servant leadership, and workplace inspiration on Twitter at @scedmonds.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:50 PM
| Comments (0) | Human Resources


The Essentials of Theory U

Theory U

E LIVE IN A TIME of massive disruptions. It is a common reaction to this change to organize, reward, and promote, selfishness. Leaders and other change makers feel stuck—unable to redirect the course of events in any significant and constructive way. We are, in Otto Scharmer’s words, “collectively creating results that (almost) nobody wants.”

Part of the problem is the way we approach what we “know” and do. We need a new way of seeing, learning, and doing. This is what Otto Scharmer hopes to do with Theory U.

With Theory U, Otto Scharmer has taken well-known ideas and combined them in a profound way. He asks, “How do we learn from the future as it emerges?”

In The Essentials of Theory U, Scharmer takes the ideas first presented in Theory U over ten years ago, and made them more accessible.

Theory U begins with our blind spot. We see the world the way we are. We create the world we live in. Action comes into the world from what is going on inside of us. Scharmer says, “I pay attention this way, therefore it emerges that way.”

So we begin to understand Theory U with the blind spot. Too often we don’t factor in our interior condition. “We can see what we do (results). We can see how we do it (process). But we usually are not aware of the who: the inner place or source from which we operate.” That is our blind spot: the place from which our attention and our intentions originate—our source.

The question for leaders is “How does our blind spot show up in our leadership?” What I give attention to, what I notice, what I act on, is a function of my interior condition. This of course, affects how and what we learn and thus what we can apply to any given situation.

Typically, we learn from the experiences of the past, but because or most issues, responding with what we have learned is not going to be enough, Scharmer suggests that we work to learn from the future as it emerges. He calls this presencing.

We can engage in the moment in two ways. One is the present moment that “is basically and extension of the past. The present moment is shaped by what has been. The second is a quality of the present moment that functions as a gateway to a field of future possibilities. The present moment is shaped by what is wanting to emerge. That quality of time, if connected to, operates from [pre-sensing] the highest future potential.”

In times like ours, it is this second presencing quality of the present that matters most because “without that connection we tend to end up as victims rather than co-shapers of disruption.”

How can we begin to presence as individuals, organizations, and as a society?

Theory U is a way of making a system (or an individual) sense and see itself. The core process can be seen in the diagram below. Looking at the bottom “U” Scharmer describes each of the seven ways of attending to and co-shaping the world:

Downloading is business as usual. Repeating the same old patterns of thought. In this state, “the world is frozen by our old mental habits and past experiences; nothing new enters our minds.

Seeing is when we suspend our habitual judgment and wake up with fresh eyes. As we suspend we have to tolerate that nothing is happening. Staying with it is the key.

Sensing is the “moment we redirect our attention from objects to source.” Our perceptions widen and deepen. “The boundary between observer and observed opens up.” We begin to see the from a perspective that includes ourselves. The system begins to see itself.

Presencing is when we let go of the old and connect to the surrounding sphere of future potential. “The boundary between observer and observed collapses into a space for the future to emerge.” We are connecting to the deepest source—the interior condition from which we operate. Our purpose. Seeing from the whole. We must be willing to drop everything that is not essential. “Crossing the threshold means to be willing to let go. TO let go of old patterns, assumptions, and even our old ‘ego-self.’ Only then is it possible to step into our dormant potential, our emerging ‘Self.’”

Crystallizing is when we begin to envision the future that seeks to emerge from a deep connection to the source. “Envisioning happens from the field of the future (rather than from our ego).

Prototyping is exploring the future by doing. Bringing the new into reality by improvising and linking the intelligence of the head, heart, and hands.

Performing by embodying the new from the context of the larger eco-system—the whole. Embedding the new through new practices, processes, and infrastructures while maintaining a connection to the source.

The inverted view on the top of the chart is about destruction rather than creation. It is the result of closed will, heart and mind—fear, hate, and prejudice. Rather than experiencing presencing after downloading, we begin to deny or silence other views out of prejudice, we entrench, manipulate, bully and eventually destroy.

Scharmer says “leadership is the capacity to shift the inner place from which we operate.” So that the primary job of leadership is to help people discover the power of seeing and seeing together.

Theory U is about change. When you as a change maker begin to see what you didn’t see before and at the same time, see your own part in maintaining and defending to past patterns and thinking, real change can begin to occur. “The key leverage point for transformational change starts with attending to how you as a change maker relate to the system that you want to change and to the system that you want to give birth to.”

For Scharmer, understanding change, boils down to this: “The quality of results achieved by any system is a function of the quality of awareness that people in these systems operate from. In three words: Form follows consciousness.

Theory U

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:39 AM
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Servant Leadership in Action

Servant Leadership

HROUGH THE PAGES of Servant Leadership in Action, we get a clearer picture of what servant leadership is and isn’t. Editors Ken Blanchard and Renee Broadwell have collected some good essays on the subject.

Ken Blanchard begins by telling us that some people think you can’t lead and serve at the same time. But that is because they don’t understand that there are two parts to servant leadership: a visionary/direction, or strategic role—the leadership aspect of servant leadership and an implementation, or operational role—the servant aspect of servant leadership. “The leadership aspect of servant leadership is the responsibility of the traditional hierarchy. The servant aspect of servant leadership is all about turning the hierarchy upside down and helping everyone throughout the organization develop great relationships, get great results, and, eventually, delight their customers.”

Raj Sisodia is a leader in the Conscious Capitalism movement and relates servant leadership to the acronym, SELFLESS: Strength, Enthusiasm, Love, Flexibility, Long-Term Orientation, Emotional Intelligence, Systems intelligence, and Spiritual Intelligence. He explains, “The servant leader is a whole person, not a fragmented being. SELFLESS reflects a harmonious blend of mature masculine and mature feminine qualities.”

Steven R. Covey says that trust is essential. “Both servant leadership and trust-based leadership stand in opposition to traditional positional leadership, which is steeped in the language of control: ‘You have to do what I say because I’m the boss.’ On the other hand, servant leaders and trust-based leaders alike draw from a deeper well of meaning. They serve first and they extend trust first. Leadership is the by-product and positional authority is, at best, an afterthought.”

Mark Floyd admits, “Servant leaders are not always perfect, but they stay true to their leadership style. They stay humble by turning the organizational chart upside down and serving others. They communicate to their teams the goals and values that form their culture so that everyone stays in focus. They are aware of their own strengths and weaknesses—through feedback and by following the greatest servant leader of all time [—Jesus]. And they continually strive to do the right thing.”

Simon Sinek adds, “The daily practice of servant leadership is less grand than people tend to think. It is not based on a series of transactions, but on the promise of being there when someone needs you most. … A leader who offers money or the potential for future riches is not earning loyalty. They are setting up a transactional relationship that is likely to promote self-interest. … A few scattered, well-intentioned actions by a leader can’t hurt, but they won’t breed loyalty. They won’t be enough to earn trust. Just like any relationship in which trust is the basis, it is the combination of a lot of little things that makes all the difference.”

To avoid the triggers that would pull you off course, Marshall Goldsmith recommends that the next time you run into a conflict, ask yourself this question: “Am I willing, at this time, to make the investment required to make a positive difference on this topic?”

Erwin McManus illustrates that servant leadership is not a technique but a way of being. After his wife watched him perform a reluctant act of service for a homeless man in a downpour, she said, “That was the greatest sermon you have ever preached.” Those words changed his life. He writes, “Frankly, I had always hoped my greatest message would be to an audience of thousands, not to an audience of one. Now I know better. Our message is always given to an audience of one—the person we are serving. In serving others, our message is our lives. We must live our message for our message to have life. To me, that’s what servant leadership is all about.”

To McManus' point, Jon Gordon adds in his essay, “My company’s mission is to inspire and empower as many people as possible, one person at a time. One person at a time means we will never be too busy to help one person in need.”

In other essays by Brené Brown, Cheryl Bachelder, Henry Cloud, Jon Gordon, James Kouzes, Patrick Lencioni, Dave Ramsey, Art Barter, Larry Spears, and many others, you will find many more helpful ideas and thoughts that will help you shape and refine your leadership approach.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 02:08 PM
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First Look: Leadership Books for April 2018

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in April 2018. Don't miss out on other great new and future releases this year.

  The Excellence Dividend: Meeting the Tech Tide with Work That Wows and Jobs That Last by Thomas J. Peters
  On Grand Strategy by John Lewis Gaddis
  New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World--and How to Make It Work for You by Jeremy Heimans
  The Go-Giver Influencer: A Little Story About a Most Persuasive Idea by Bob Burg and John David Mann
  Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs by John Doerr

Excellence Strategy Power Influencer Measure

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273

discounted books

Build your leadership library with these specials on over 39 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.

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"We read to know we are not alone."
— C.S. Lewis

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:07 PM
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LeadershipNow 140: March 2018 Compilation


twitter Here are a selection of tweets from March 2018 that you might have missed:
See more on twitter Twitter.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:29 AM
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Getting to US

Getting to US

ETH DAVIS writes, “A team begins as a collection of mes, hims, and yous. It is the job of the coach to figure out a way to get to Us.”

Davis asks, “How do great coaches turn a collection of individuals into a coherent us?” He narrows it down to four personal qualities that are the core requirements all great coaches must have in order to get a group of individuals to Us.

In Getting to Us, Seth Davis interviewed nine coaches of football and basketball, college and pro. And not only the coaches but also their wives and families, their friends, their players and colleagues. Nine very different men with very different personalities. This is really the task of every leader, but interviewing sports figures is a good place to start learning about building teams that can perform at a consistently high level.

The four core qualities form what he calls the PEAK profile: Persistence, Empathy, Authenticity, and Knowledge.

In each of the nine coaches lives, their PEAK profile was forged in different ways. It is interesting to read how each one of them was transformed by life experiences to learn persistence and empathy, how to be themselves, and how they acquired and continue to acquire the knowledge necessary to excel in their profession. You’ll find that it is a lot of small things consistently done right, that brings them success. At the same time there is the humility to modify what needs to be modified for the sake of the team.

It is interesting too, that while each possesses these four qualities, they each express them in unique ways so that there is no secret to replicate. They each had to learn to do what was right for them.

PEAK ProfileDavis sees persistence as “the strain of character one leans upon during those quiet moments when self-doubt creeps in. It is both tested and manufactured during childhood and early-adulthood adversity.” That is one thread you will find running through the lives of each of these coaches. The trick of course is to transfer that desire to learn and grow through the tough times to the team you are leading.

Empathy is the most important of all of the qualities. Empathy is being sensitive to the feelings of others. “A great coach must find ways to learn about his players, taking time to acquire the critical information that will lead him to understand how the player’s mind, heart, and guts operate.”

Authenticity is remaining true to yourself and acting accordingly. “What makes them great coaches is their refusal to be something they are not.” It’s finding what works for you and not deviating from it, “particularly in those critical moments when the team must function as a single unit or suffer defeat.”

Of course, the team has to believe that you have to believe that you know what you are doing. “Acquiring this knowledge take time and passion.” It’s a life-long pursuit. But there must be humility in the mix. “Knowledge without adaptability will eventually diminish a leader’s effectiveness. People change, games change, times change. Life authenticity, knowledge is an important step on the pathway to trust.”

Here are some of the instructive excerpts from several of the coaches he profiled:

Urban Meyer—Head football coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes

His sabbatical taught him the importance of living a balanced life and conserving energy, which replenished his persistence. Having to face his own weaknesses and limitations deepened his empathy. The time off gave him a chance to reevaluate what was important to him, which reset his authenticity.

Tom Izzo— Head Basketball Coach of the Michigan State Spartans

The principles he learned in the family store: Show up. Work hard. Give back. Stay humble.

“From day one he creates a family atmosphere and makes it known that he cares about you as an individual.”

“I spend time with my players. That’s how I get to know them and can determine which way I need to go with them.”

It takes more than a coach to get to Us. “I’ve always said, a player-coached team is much better than a coach-coached team.”

“I worry about all the time spent on Twitter. That’s why there are no leaders on teams anymore. Kids can’t communicate. … We’re teaching kids that they should have you own ‘brand.’ Be your own guy. So now at fifteen, fourteen, thirteen, it’s me me me me me me. This is not about old school/new school. It’s about right school/wrong school.”

Mike Krzyzewski—Head Basketball Coach of the Duke University Blue Devils

[and that’s Sha-SHEF-ski]

“Failure is not a destination, and you’re never going to do it alone.”

Practice plans were scheduled down to the minute, but they also included notes explaining how each drill would prepare the team for its next opponent. That allowed his players to visualize the big picture.

“I don’t coach for winning. I coach for relationships.”

He wants his players to be instinctive, not calculating—to follow the courage of their convictions, just as his grandparents did when they set sail for America. Instinctiveness begets adaptability.

Doc Rivers—Head Coach for the Los Angeles Clippers

It is through this balance between coldness and empathy that Doc Rivers gets his team to Us. When critical moments arise, he doesn’t play the victim and he doesn’t want a hug. He’d rather pivot and get moving, trusting that is players will follow.

“I learned from [Pat] Riley that the key to coaching is to get a group of players to believe there’s one agenda, and that you have the same agenda as them. If you can do that, your players are going to do whatever they can do for you.”

Brad Stevens—Head Coach for the Boston Celtics

As a college player to his coach: “What are supposed to do, just lay down for these guys?”—[Coach Bill] Fenlon gave him his first lesson on leadership. “No, you should play hard,” he said. “But do it in a way that brings them along. Don’t create a divide.” Stevens says, “I became content when I came to the conclusion of, ‘Hey moron, it’s not about you. It’s about being as good of a teammate as you can be and putting your best foot forward every day.’”

“Do you want to be around somebody who lifts you up, or somebody that breaks you down? That’s why whenever people ask me what’s your leadership style, my answer is, ‘It should be you.’ There’s an authenticity that is needed for leadership. If it’s not real, then it’s not going to work.”

“I think a lot of people in sports have missed the boat on mental health. You have to be empathetic in knowing that everybody has their own lives, and everybody has something tough going on. You need to make sure you understand that before you coach them.”

“Toughness is doing the next right thing.”

“All the good ones want to be coached.”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:19 PM
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What if Sellers Behaved as Leaders?

Sellers Leaders

AMES KOUZES,, Barry Posner and Deb Calvert have taken the ideas from the classic leadership book, The Leadership Challenge and asked, “What if sellers behaved as leaders?” What if sellers stopped selling and started leading?

In Stop Selling and Start Leading, the authors report that buyers what sellers who create personalized value and build bonds of trust, sellers who provide a meaningful and relevant experience, and sellers who demonstrate genuine leadership. Your buyers want you to inspire and motivate them while giving them an opportunity to participate in creating something extraordinary. They want you to collaborate with them, strengthen them, and encourage them in the process. This book demonstrates how to change from a selling mindset to a leadership mindset that buyers want.

Using the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership they found that sales effectiveness, like leadership effectiveness, can be significantly increased by choosing to behave differently. Without a doubt, leaders are always selling.

Briefly the Five Practices are:

Model the Way
The first step is getting in touch with your personal values and beliefs. It an inside job. Selling from who you are will give you credibility. “Buyers are on the lookout for seller behaviors that demonstrate credibility, reliability, relate-ability, and an orientation focused mostly on the interests of others.”

Inspire a Shared Vision
Like shared values, a shared vision requires finding common ground with your buyers. Translate the solution you are selling into benefits relevant so the buyer so that they can clearly see themselves a part of it. “Exemplary leaders don’t impose their visions of the future on people; they liberate the vision that’s already stirring in their constituents.” Create a story. “When you weave the emotional connection to what matters most to the buyer together with the logical case for change, you animate the vision.”

Challenge the Process
A seller who leads is always listening and always learning. They are always looking for ways to improve and challenge the status quo. Take the initiative to find dissenting and diverse views. “Making assumptions about buyers’ needs happens all the time in selling. Sellers often have a preconceived notion of what product or solution will work best for a buyer. As the buyer describes his or her needs, the seller subconsciously filters what’s being said and mentally prioritizes the information that confirms what the seller set out to sell.” Leaders always remain open to alternative paths and provide value to the buyer in the process.

Enable Others to Act
Of all the Practices, Enable Others to Act matters the most to buyers. Buyers want to share control of the sale. It makes them feel trusted, informed, and empowered. One buyer said, “A seller who can brainstorm to improve my business with my own ideas and make them come true is my choice every time.” Mutual respect. “When sellers invest in relationships, buyers will too.”

Encourage the Heart
Through the Practice of Encouraging the Heart, sellers cement meaningful connections with their buyers. Thank, recognize, and encourage your buyers. “If a buyer is making decisions you like, taking actions you want to support, or otherwise behaving in ways that move you closer to your shared vision, then you will want to see more of those actions. Recognizing them increases your chances of seeing more of the same.” Create a spirit of community. “Buyers measure seller caring by the extent they are listening, empathizing, collaborating, asking questions, sharing a vision, and being encouraging.”

Everyone Has the Responsibility to Lead Sellers who lead bring out the best in others and make extraordinary things happen. You can give your buyers “the courage to persevere when they meet challenges and must work inside their organizations to champion the shared vision.”

You can sell by example, create a story, find alternatives and exciting opportunities for your buyers, respect and enable others as part of a team, and say ‘thank you.” Differentiate yourself by leading. “The more frequently you choose to lead, the more you will create those awesome connecting experiences that make extraordinary things happen.”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:02 PM
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