Leading Blog


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 is 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
| Comments (0) | General Business


The 3 Mental Qualities of Great Leaders

Mind of Leader

EADERSHIP BEGINS in the mind. To lead effectively we must understand what is going on inside of us, so that we can lead ourselves. Only when we have developed a consistent habit of doing that can we then better understand and lead others and then collectively our teams and organizations.

In The Mind of the Leader, authors Rasmus Hougaard and Jaqueline Carter of the Potential Project, report that there are three mental qualities that stand out as being foundational for leaders today: Mindfulness, Selflessness, and Compassion. They call it MSC Leadership. All three work together and enrich the others.

MSC Leadership


Mindfulness is about managing your attention and in turn managing your thoughts. Mindfulness enables us to respond to our circumstances instead of reacting. The two key qualities of mindfulness are focus and awareness. These two qualities “help us to be mentally agile and effective.” “As your mindfulness increases, your perception of ‘self’ starts to change. More specifically, a stronger sense of selfless confidence arises, helping you develop the second quality of MSC Leadership: selflessness.


They describe selflessness as “the wisdom of getting out of your own way, the way of your people, and the way of your organization to unleash the natural flow of energy that people bring to work. Selflessness combines strong self-confidence with a humble intention to be of service.” It is interesting the way they put that.

Selflessness is often thought of as weak by the uninitiated. It is important that selflessness is combined with self-confidence. You become an enabler. “You are not worried about being taken advantage of, because you have the confidence to speak up for yourself if needed. At the same time, you’re not driven by your own interests. You have a strong focus on the well-being of your people and your organization.”

This is a tough one for many leaders. According to a study completed at the University of California, Berkley, “when many leaders start to feel powerful, their more benevolent qualities start to decline. Leaders are three times more likely than lower-level employees to interrupt coworkers, multitask during meetings, raise their voices, and say insulting things.” Also, they are more likely to be rude, selfish, and unethical. We have seen many leaders that think they are above the mores of everyone else. It’s not easy to keep yourself in perspective. Mindfulness plays a big part in that.

As we become more selfless, “we naturally begin attending more to other people: we show more interest in them and offer more care. In this way, compassion arises as a natural outgrowth of selflessness.”


Compassion is benevolent leadership. “It’s the ability to understand others’ perspectives and use that as a catalyst for supportive action.” Compasion combines with wisdom. Wisdom gives compassion a compass so that choices can be made that are thoughtful and holistic.

A compassionate organizational culture “supports positive intentions toward others, and at the same time instills the wisdom and professionalism in everyone to make tough choices. This includes sometimes doing things that are difficult bit will benefit the culture and the organization in the long term.”

MSC Leadership begins with you—inwardly—and then flows outward to your people and then your organizational culture as a whole. “It requires that we take an unflinching look at ourselves, at how we interact with our people, and at how our organizations operate.” The Mind of the Leader looks at this whole process and provides practical methods to apply each of these three qualities of mind to your leadership. This book provides a well-articulated and comprehensive look at these essential qualities of leadership.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:10 PM
| Comments (0) | Leadership Development


Brand-Culture Fusion: Are You Who You Say You Are?


T WOULD SEEM that it would go without saying that your culture and your brand should be one and the same. Individually, who you are on the inside should be who you are on the outside.

In Fusion, Denise Lee Yohn makes the case that “you can unleash great power when you fuse together your organization’s two nuclei: your culture—the way the people in your organization behave and the attitudes and belief that inform then (i.e., “the way we do things around here”)—and your brand or brand identity, how your organization is understood by customers and other stakeholders.”

She notes that often a company creates a mission statement that states what they want the business to do to create value for their stakeholders and a separate and different brand statement about what they want to be known for. This makes no sense. They should be the same.
It simply doesn’t make sense to specify the values through which you engage your employees if those aren’t linked to the way you want your employees to engage customers. Instead, you should bridge the gulf between organizational and brand values by using one set of core values to describe the unique way you do things on the inside and the outside. Your values should function as the “operating instructions” of your organization—that is, they should inform, inspire, and instruct the day-to-day mindset and behaviors of your people.
Denise identifies nine brand types: Disruptive, conscious, service, innovative, value, performance, luxury, style, and experience brands. She recommends that you first identify your main brand type that your organization falls into and then identify the kind of culture required to deliver on it. Do the values that currently exist in your organization align with those that correspond to your brand type? Are you who you say you are?

Your communications, policies and procedures, compensation, environment, and rituals, should reflect the values that exist in your organization. Denise offers a number of ways to do that.

It is difficult to transform your culture to define your brand. It’s easier to define your brand by your culture.
In some situations, you’re actually better off allowing your culture to lead your brand. If your convictions are so strong that you are more committed to promoting your purpose and values than achieving and particular business or brand goal, then you should prioritize your culture as the driver of your brand identity. Or if you operate in the public sector or yours is an institution such as a science or faith-based organization where a well-defined brand was not needed in the past, you can shape a more authentic brand identity through the inherent values of your people than through an eternal or contrived aspiration. So long as your culture is not fundamentally toxic or dysfunctional, you can use it to shape your brand.

Whatever the case, the goal remains the same—achieve brand-culture fusion by infusing your culture into your brand.

Take the FUSION Assessment to determine your “desired culture”—the culture you ought to cultivate to support and advance your brand identity, or the brand identity you’d like to evolve to. You’ll also have an opportunity to assess how far off you are from your desired culture and to pinpoint where you need to make changes in your brand or culture (or both) to fuse them together.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:37 PM
| Comments (0) | Marketing


Timeless: 10 Enduring Practices of Apex Leaders


HE FOUNDATIONAL PRINCIPLES of leadership don’t change over time. They are indeed timeless. Brian Dodd examines in Timeless (Kindle) what it takes to reach the top of your profession. How do you become the best at what you do? How do you become an Apex Leader?

Dodd has selected the 10 key practices that Apex Leaders have in common. While character, patience and empathy are important for a leader to sustain their leadership, they are not necessarily the behaviors and practices needed to get to the top of their chosen profession. To be sure, Dodd writes, “there are times when a leader’s talent can take them to places where their character cannot sustain them.” But that’s another story. Here, Dodd focuses on the achievement side of the equation. What is required to be the best at what you do?

Brian Dodd is the Director of New Ministry Relationships for Injoy Stewardship Solutions an organization founded by John Maxwell. While Timeless will resonate with Christian leaders, the principles apply across all organizations and contexts.

As readers of his blog have come to expect, Dodd draws on many examples from the world of sports. All of these principles are found in scripture and are being successfully applied by Apex Leaders in organizations of all types.

Here are 10 things Apex Leaders have done and will always do to achieve great success with Dodd’s insights:

Apex Leaders Build Great Teams
Apex Leaders are part of selfless, humble teams who are committed to each other’s success. Your team is your primary difference maker. Apex Leaders look for skill, work ethic and passion when building a team.

Apex Leaders Are Humble
Humble leaders do not deny their talents but are thankful for them. Humble leaders acknowledge that no matter how good they are, they are in constant need of support. All successful leaders must be servant-leaders first. They acknowledge they have been granted opportunities not for personal gain, but for the betterment of others. Humble leaders know they have not arrived. The mission and vision of what they are trying to accomplish is too important to remain the same.

Apex Leaders Continually Improve
Are you willing to be rebuilt? Pride and arrogance are enemies of continual improvement. An Apex Leader never asks, “Am I part of this organization’s past?” but, “Am I going to be a part of the future?” Continual improvement assures sustainability and continual options.

Apex Leaders Work Hard – Very Hard
Many leaders think their talent and competence alone will get them where they need to go, but hard work will always beat talent and competence when talent and competence don’t work hard. Proverbs 6:10-11: “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a thief.” No one is there to applaud the lonely work, but everyone applauds its results.

Apex Leaders Form Strong Relationships
One of the most impressive things about the leadership of Jesus was his continual focus on relationships. There is only one thing in your business which appreciates—your people. The most important relationship a leader needs to cultivate and protect is the relationship with their family. If you want to accomplish anything great as a leader, you must surround yourself with competent staff.

Worth thinking about: Almost all important decisions made about you and your career take place when you are not in the room. So, always leave a trail of kindness and respect behind you.

Apex Leaders Make Others Better
No matter how talented you are, you need someone who can make yourself better. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

Apex Leaders Show Consistency
Organizations and their people suffer because of a lack of appreciation for consistent excellence. No athlete ever demonstrated consistent excellence better than the legendary Hank Aaron. We over-celebrate big results and under-appreciate consistent excellence. Aaron reminds us greatness is not always achieved through short-term spectacular results but sometimes through long-term consistency.

Apex Leaders Give Generously
The model of a generous life is investing in spiritual truth, intellectual capital, money, praise, encouragement, influence, and joy in other people’s lives.

Apex Leaders Lead by Example
You cannot lead by example if you do not effectively lead yourself first. Leading by example means putting the mission of your organization above your personal aspirations. Leaders who lead by example fight for unity.

Apex Leaders Deliver Results
Achieving results is one of the primary things separating Apex Leaders from all others. Delivering results requires preparation, decisiveness, talent, limiting unnecessary mistakes, energy, continual improvement, confidence, good health, and passion. Five-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady said, “Every year has its challenges in different ways … you’ve always got to work on something.” They also deliver under pressure. Brady said, “To me, what separates really good players from great players—execute well under pressure. The biggest game. The biggest stage. That’s what playing quarterback is all about.”

A leaders character and people skills make someone want to follow them. The ability to deliver results determines if someone actually will follow them.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:18 AM
| Comments (0) | Personal Development


Meltdown: Why Our Systems Fail and What We Can Do About It


E ARE IN the golden age of meltdowns, write Chris Clearfield and Andras Tilcsik. “More and more of our systems are in the danger zone, but our ability to manage them hasn’t quite caught up. The result: things fall apart.”

As systems become more complex, we are more vulnerable to unexpected system failures. In Meltdown, the authors examine a fatal D.C. Metro train accident, the Three Mile Island disaster, the collapse of Enron, the 2012 meltdown of Knight Capital, the Flint water crisis, and the 2017 Oscars mix-up, among other meltdowns, and discover that while these failures stem from very different problems, their underlying causes are surprisingly similar. These stories told here are a compelling look behind the scenes of why failures occur in today’s many complex systems.

Using sociologist professor Charles Perrow’s theory that as a system’s complexity and “tight coupling” (a lack of slack between different parts—no margin) increase the chance of a meltdown. In other words, these failures are driven by “the connections between the different parts, rather than the parts themselves.”

Some systems are linear and in these systems, the source of the breakdown is obvious. But as systems become complex, as at a nuclear power plant, the parts of the system interact in hidden and unexpected ways. Because these systems are more like a web, when they breakdown, it is difficult to figure out exactly what is wrong. And worse still, it is almost impossible to predict where it will go wrong and all of the possible consequences of even a small failure somewhere in the system.

As more and more of our systems become more complex and tightly coupled, what do you do? How do we keep up with our increasingly complex systems?

Oddly enough, safety features are not the answer. They become part of the system and thereby add to the complexity. And when something goes wrong, we like to add even more safety features into the system. “It’s like the old fable: cry wolf every eight minutes, and soon people will tune you out. Worse, when something does happen, constant alerts make it hard to sort out the important from the trivial.”

There are ways to make complex systems more transparent. For example, using premortems. Imagine in the future your project has failed. Write down all of the reasons why you think it happened. A 1989 study showed that premortems or prospective hindsight, boosts our ability to identify reasons why an outcome might occur and therefore deal with the potential problems before they occur.

We also should encourage feedback and sharing of failures and near-misses. “By openly sharing stories of failures and near failures—without blame or revenge—we can create a culture in which people view errors as an opportunity to learn rather than as the impetus for a witch hunt.”

Encourage dissent with a more open-leadership style. People in power tend to dismiss other’s opinions. Leaders should speak last. You have to work on the culture. Ironically, the authors note, introducing anonymous feedback actually highlights the dangers of speaking up.

Bring in outsiders and add diversity of thought. Outsiders will see things we don’t and are more willing to ask uncomfortable questions. Also in a more diverse environment we tend to be more vigilant and question more. When we are around people just like us, we tend to trust their judgment which can lead to too much conformity. “Diversity is like a speed bump. It’s a nuisance, but it snaps us out of our comfort zone and makes it hard to barrel ahead without thinking. It saves us from ourselves.”

Transparent design matters. We need to see what is going on under the hood. Being able to see the state of a system by simply looking at it can be an important safeguard.

These are just a sampling of the ways we can learn to manage complex systems. This doesn’t mean we should take fewer risks. On the contrary, these solutions—structured decision tools, diverse teams, and norms that encourage healthy skepticism and dissent—“tend to fuel, rather than squelch, innovation and productivity. Adopting these solutions is a win-win.”

We can make our systems more forgiving of our mistakes by thinking critically and clearly about our own systems. How many things have to go right at the same time for this to work? Can we simplify it? How can we add margin?

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:54 PM
| Comments (0) | Problem Solving


9 Secrets to Creating a Successful Future

Book of Mistakes

F SOMEONE IS WILLING to share the wisdom of their experience, it’s worth taking the time to absorb their message. By seeking out the experiences of others, we can grow faster with less drama.

In The Book of Mistakes, Skip Prichard has created for us an absorbing fable of a young man and a young woman who are both part of a mysterious journey to learn the nine mistakes that tend to trip us up. While they make sense, they are not always intuitive. The truths presented here often stand between us and success.

The main story follows David whose life of promise has become ordinary. Through a life-altering event, he has a chance meeting with an Old Man who sets him on a journey that will take him to meet nine unique people who will share the nine mistakes and the impact these mistakes have had on their own lives.

The nine mistakes are framed by three universal laws that are found in an ancient book of wisdom. The parallel story is about Aria and how she comes to be the keeper of the book of wisdom and how she learns of the three laws.

9 Secrets
Printable Graphic download

The three universal laws enable the nine secrets to creating a successful future. To avoid the nine mistakes, you need to:

1. Live your own dream. “A life choreographed by someone else is not our finest performance.”

2. Recognize your inherent value. “Don’t accept the limitations others put on you.” “Others are so quick to define us. They set expectations. They don’t realize when we’ve changed.”

3. Reject excuses. “Behind every excuse is a door to greatness.” “If you want to take your life back, take your thoughts back.”

4. Surround yourself with the right people. “Your friends determine your fate.” “Replace naysayers, doubters, and energy drainers with encouragers, winners, and motivators.”

5. Explore outside your comfort zone. “Mediocrity is the end result of too much comfort.”

6. More forward through challenges with determination and purpose. “Don’t let current circumstances define your destiny.” There will be setbacks but “It doesn’t mean you have to be good at everything or do everything, but if you think it’s a skill that you need to fulfill your purpose, you need to find a way through it.”

7. Stand out. “Standing out is as simple as consistently outperforming expectations.”

8. Act boldly with the knowledge that your potential success is unlimited. “The only limitations you need to worry about are the ones in your mind.” “Helping others magnetizes people to your cause and enhances your success.”

9. Pursue your goals with urgency. Live each day as if it’s your last and your first. “Your last keeps you focused on what really matters. You think about people, about loving those around you. Your first is important because you also must have a longer view, or you will never accomplish the goals that are hard and take longer.”

Each mentor David encounters has their own story that illuminates the mistake they share with us. Their experiences help to identify and relate to the mistake and help us to take action to avoid the mistake in the future. Prichard brings a lot of wisdom to each of these common life issues.

The story is engaging for young and old. Share this book widely because these are the kinds of mistakes that create regret down the road. At the end of your life these are the things that you look back on and wonder why no one ever told you about these pitfalls. We are never too old to learn them and some are more difficult to deal with because of the baggage that often accompanies them. Now is the time to set your course.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:45 AM
| Comments (0) | Personal Development


6 Steps to Building a Community

Power of Community

N BUSINESS AND IN LIFE, it’s all about relationships. We are designed to connect with others. When we are connected to something larger than ourselves, we find meaning. We make a difference.

Organizational health is facilitated by building community within your organization. It’s not easy, and it can’t be forced. Community is a long-term solution to engagement, commitment, and talent retention. In The Power of Community, Howard Partridge has broken down the process of building a community within your organization into three keys with six action steps.


The first key to building community in your business is supporting your team members. “Many employees feel no one care about them. What if you started helping your team members reach their goals in life? This is a major key to the whole idea of community. In order to get support, we have to give support.” So this is where you begin:

1. Value True Community
Make community your top priority. You can’t build it if you don’t value it. You begin by asking these on your team about their personal goals and dreams. Then begin to help them with that or connect them with people who can. It’s about “care and coach” rather than “command and control.” Find someone to support.

2. Pursue Champion Connection
Place a high value on your team. They should not be treated as a resource but as friends. If you support them, they will support you. “Pursuing champion connections means investing intentionally in relationships that have the potential to become strong alliances of support and mission. On the inside of your organization, you’ll want to begin by selecting a couple of people on your leadership team who you know are loyal to you. Begin intentionally investing in those relationships, and then you can expand the size of the group from there.” Do this on the outside of your organization too. Identify people who have the same values as you but also people who have different gifts than you.


The second key to building community in your business is encouragement. “Encouragement is what inspires people to do the things they don’t feel like doing, the things they fear doing, and the things they don’t know they can do.” The next two steps demonstrate encouragement:

3. Inspire Emotional Trust
When you build others up you, give them the emotional fuel to do the things they wouldn’t do on their own. Community requires trust. Can people trust you with their emotions? When people trust you, they share more which allows you to help them even more. Trust builds commitment. You build courage through encouragement. You encourage people by knowing their story, affirming their value, and recognizing their gifts.

4. Practice Gift Exchange
When we recognize and even promote others’ strengths and talents we allow for people to share their abilities with us and let us share our abilities with them—both inside and outside the organization. We all benefit when we can leverage each other’s strengths. Because “all of your team members are operating in their gift zone, there’s a tremendous amount of energy and excitement, because everyone is essentially doing what he or she was born to do.”


The final key to building community in your business is accountability—the ability to accept responsibility for one’s own actions. “Accountability is key to becoming the person you were created to be. That’s because it is only by being accountable that you can discover and develop your gifts and help others discover and develop theirs.” This means that you first “have to take responsibility for your own actions, be respectful to your team members, be open to them, and allow yourself to be vulnerable. You also have to be willing to admit when you’re wrong, confess that you don’t have all the answers, and ask your team for feedback on how you’re doing as a leader.” Build accountability by:

5. Invite Openhearted Encounters
When you are living a lifestyle of accountability, you can invite openhearted encounters. Openhearted encounters are ones where the faithful friends on your team can speak openly and honestly to you even if what they have to say might be hurtful. Sometimes we need help seeing the truth. These encounters “can happen intentionally, or unintentionally as a result of following the first four steps. When we value true community, pursue champion connections, inspire emotional trust, and practice gift exchange, we set ourselves up to invite openhearted encounters.”

6. Build Growth PODS
PODS are Power of Discovery Systems. “A POD is a small group of 7 to 9 people that meet on a regular basis for the purpose of fostering more effective communication, accountability, and implementation.” It’s interactive and is designed to “allow participants to discover what they need to do rather than being taught (or worse told). Growth PODS bring all three keys, support, encouragement, and accountability, and the previous five steps into one simple structure that will not only help your company be more productive but, more important, help your team build community.”

You can begin the process by creating your first POD. A free POD template for each of the chapters of this book are available to download at HowardPartridge.com/PODS

Go build your community.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:45 AM
| Comments (0) | Human Resources , Positive Leadership


First Look: Leadership Books for March 2018

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

  Professionalizing Leadership by Barbara Kellerman
  Talent Wins: The New Playbook for Putting People First by Ram Charan, Dominic Barton, Dennis Carey
  The Mind of the Leader: How to Lead Yourself, Your People, and Your Organization for Extraordinary Results by Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter
  The Essentials of Theory U: Core Principles and Applications by C. Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaeufer
  Meltdown: Why Our Systems Fail and What We Can Do About It by Chris Clearfield and Andras Tilcsik

Kellerman Talent Wins Mind of the Leader Theory U Meltdown

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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"Today a reader, tomorrow a leader."
— Margaret Fuller

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:31 AM
| Comments (0) | Books


LeadershipNow 140: February 2018 Compilation


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

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:36 AM
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Talent Magnet: How to Get and Keep Top Talent

Talent Magnet

S YOUR ORGANIZATION a Talent Magnet? An organization so attractive that top talent will be standing in line to work there?

Too many organizations find themselves in the positon of not being able to find enough qualified people to meet their growth goals.

To answer the question, what attracts top talent, author and Vice President of High Performance Leadership at Chick-fil-A, Inc. Mark Miller commissioned a research study to interview over 7000 people from age fourteen to sixty-five and included both professional and hourly workers across all educational backgrounds. The result is Talent Magnet.

Talent Magnet looks at the talent predicament from both sides—both those seeking work and those recruiting workers. It is the story of CEO Blake Brown who finds that they have a talent crisis and begins a journey to discover what it takes to find and keep top talent. It is also the story of his son Clint and his friends who are looking for a great place to work.

What they discover is that what top talent wants and what organizations need to provide is a Better Boss, a Brighter Future, and a Bigger Vision. These concepts are all broken down in the story, but the diagram below provides an overview.

Talent Magnet

You don’t advertise that you're trying to attract top talent, you simply create the culture that top talent is looking for. “If you build it they will come.” You make people aware by practicing the qualities that make a top talent culture—Better Boss, a Brighter Future, and a Bigger Vision. An organization’s leadership must understand their individual roles in delivering on the promise.

On their journey to discovery, they realized that “Many looking for work will be indifferent to our message, but Top Talent will resonate deeply with our story.” The promise should run through all of your corporate communications: engaged, caring leadership, champions of growth and opportunity, and a connection to a larger story that impacts society.

The Top Talent Magnets are universal; they are not gender or age specific. People may leave and move on and take their skills with them. Each job is a learning opportunity. And you want people with that kind of mindset because that will serve you best. When your goal is to help your people learn the skills that will serve them the rest of their life, then you are more likely to attract and retain top talent that will drive your organizational goals.

Blake concludes, “Working with people is the most challenging and rewarding part of being a leader. We can never shirk the responsibility. It comes with the job. If we abdicate our people responsibilities, we forfeit our leadership. People must always be our top priority. More than vision, strategy, creativity, marketing, finance, or even technology, it is ultimately people who determine our success.”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:42 PM
| Comments (0) | Human Resources


Blowing Past Our Limits


INTER OLYMPIC gold medalist Picabo Street said, “To uncover your true potential you must first find your own limits and then you have to have the courage to blow past them.”

We do not come to our potential without struggle. Most of life is not under our control, but that’s where our opportunity lies.

Courage can push us beyond our imagined limits. Courage leads to the persistence required to practice consistently to a desired end.

The most common fear leader's face is the fear of failure. You will face moments when you want to back down because everything inside of you says, “Don’t take the risk.” It is in those moments that your decision to hold back or jump will determine the defining moments of your life. When we look back over our lives, the extraordinary moments, the turning points in our lives required pushing through the fear. Our potential is just beyond our fear.

Courage requires clarity, energy, direction, and action. Courage means taking the first step into the unknown that begins the process to a positive, desired end. When we demonstrate courage, we open the doors to other virtues like humility, kindness, patience, and persistence. All require courage.

Courage is contagious. Billy Graham said, “When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened.” If we, as Street said, have the courage to blow past our own limits and step into a new place, we will encourage others to do the same. People feel our courage and will, in time model courage in their own lives. We owe it to those we lead to face uncertainty and the accompanying risks and blow past them.

What courageous action should you take today?

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This post is adapted from the LeadershipNow newsletter: Lead:ology February 2018. Take a moment to add yourself to the e-mail list.

Leadology Newsletter

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:18 AM
| Comments (0) | Elements of Leadership


Key Tips for Bridging the Generational Divide in the Workplace

Generational Divide

ILLENNIALS NOW MAKE UP the largest percentage of the workforce. As workers, they’re characterized as brazen, fearless and unwilling to take “no” for an answer. Their assuredness and technological expertise have radically changed office dynamics. Top-down, command-and-control leadership styles are outdated and ineffective with this modern-day workforce.

The clash of perspectives, with the Boomer generation craving the comfort of a hierarchical organization and Millennials demanding inclusion and collaboration, impacts the bottom line. Millennials will abandon any job if the culture their manager has created is unworkable for them. If it means more than six jobs in ten years, so be it. But such turnover is costly. Research shows the average cost of employee turnover is about 20 percent of the employee’s annual salary. Other costs of not adapting leadership styles for your younger employees are harder to quantify, including lost knowledge, relationships, opportunities, and more.

Transforming from an entrenched and unworkable generational disconnect into a dynamic organization able to face 21st century challenges collaboratively requires key actions, including:

1. Reassess attitudes toward junior employees.

Boomers and Millennials have distinct differences in how they act and how they want to be regarded in the workplace. These differences are potentially lethal to your business, particularly when leaders aren’t prepared to make the most of the talent and innovation the young employees bring. Strategies that move managers, supervisors and executives away from being simply directors to become “people developers”—coaches, motivators and listeners—will serve in providing the collaborative culture Millennials crave. And management will realize that all generations in the organization respond better to relational leadership opposed to directives and demands.

2. Realign workplace expectations.

Boomers remain in the mindset that junior employees have to pay their dues and show respect, just as they had to do. But Millennials expect their supervisors to understand the amazing life experiences and skills they bring. They value autonomy, flexibility and opportunity to express their opinion. Leaders are challenged to clearly communicate expectations and standards and allow the young employees to take ownership of their work. This means treating them as owners, not renters. Treating them like renters allows them to do the minimum amount of work and expect others to fix any problems. Owners, on the other hand, have skin in the game and own their part of the overall results.

3. Capitalize on new skills.

Millennials bring a specific set of game-changing technological skills to the workplace, yet Boomers often have no idea what these tools are, what they do or how they’re changing the business landscape. In the multi-generational workplace, a useful approach for capitalizing on Millennials’ skills is to employ “reverse mentoring.” Instead of the usual older-to-younger employee mentoring, the junior employee mentors the senior employee. Reverse mentoring helps close the technological knowledge gap, empowers high-potential employees and drives understanding and empathy between generations.

Companies who can effectively bridge the generation gap through leadership strategies that harness the potential of Millennials will create a competitive advantage. After all, the young employees are yearning for personal value in their work and the opportunity to contribute to something that matters. The alternative is that the manager—and the organization—become irrelevant.

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Leading Forum
This post is by Kelly Riggs and Robby Riggs. Kelly Riggs is an author, speaker and business performance coach for executives and companies throughout the U.S. and Canada. Kelly is a former sales executive and two-time national Salesperson of the Year with well over two decades of executive management and training experience. Robby Riggs is a corporate consultant specializing in strategic transformation initiatives and driving successful change in companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100s. Their new book, Counter Mentor Leadership: How to Unlock the Potential of the 4-Generation Workplace, offers practical, actionable advice that improves workplace culture and enables organizations to bridge the generational divide. Learn more at CounterMentors.com

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:30 PM
| Comments (0) | Human Resources , Leadership


The Little Kindnesses Matter


RESIDENT WILLIAM MCKINLEY would often informally invite confidants to the White House to review the day's business or discuss the problems of the days ahead. Charles Dawes was often one such guest. In Portrait of an American: Charles G. Dawes (1953) by Bascom Timmons, he quotes from Dawes diary about one such gathering:
He was considering the appointment of a minister to a foreign country. There were two candidates. The President outlined their qualifications, which seemed almost identical. Both were able, experienced, honest, and competent. Each was equally entitled to preference from a political standpoint. Then he told this little story, an incident apparently so unimportant that, except for its consequences, it never would have been told, an incident so trivial that the ordinary man would have forgotten it. But McKinley was not an ordinary man.

The President said that, years before, when he was a member of the House of Representatives, he boarded a streetcar on Pennsylvania Avenue one stormy night, and took the last seat in the car, next to the rear door. An old and bent washerwoman, dripping wet, entered, carrying a heavy basket. She walked to the other end of the car and stood in the aisle. No one offered her a seat, tired and forlorn as she looked. One of the candidates whom the President was considering—he did not name him to us—was sitting in the seat near which she was standing. He was reading a newspaper, which he shifted so as not to seem to see her, and retained his seat. Representative McKinley arose, walked down the aisle, picked up the basket of washing, and led the old lady back to his seat, which he gave her. The present candidate did not look up from his newspaper. He did not see McKinley or what he had done.

This was the story. The candidate never knew what we then knew, that this little act of selfishness, or rather this little omission of an act of consideration for others, had deprived him of that which would have crowned his ambition of perhaps a lifetime.
Dawes relates this lesson:
We never know what determines one's career in life. Indeed, it may be these little forgotten deeds, accumulated, are the more important factors; for it is they which must, in many cases, provide us with the opportunity to do the greater deeds, and we unconscious of it. Why comes this reward in life? Why that disappointment or failure? We cannot know with certainty. This we can know, however, and this story illustrates it: There is no act of kindliness, however small, which may not help us in life; and there is no act of unkindness, however trivial, which may not hurt us. More than that: The habitual doing of kindness always adds to our happiness, for kindness done is duty performed. Unkindness always breeds an unhappy spirit, for unkindness is duty neglected.
Malcolm Forbes once said, “You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:01 PM
| Comments (0) | Leaders , Leadership Development


3 Strategies to Prepare Your Millennials for Their Leadership Roles


ANY EXPERIENCED LEADERS predict a skill and experience crisis at the management level due to the vast numbers of retiring Baby Boomers. They may have cause for concern. Estimates from multiple sources project that Millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce as early as 2025. The question you need to answer is, “Do you have Millennial leaders who are ready to take over and fill the voids left by your experienced Baby Boomers?”

Consider these three action steps as you prioritize Millennial leadership development.

1. Boost Accountability by Strengthening Character

A lack of determination and resilience, low accountability and, a know-it-all attitude were some of the character concerns raised by 270 business owners and CEO’s who participated in our Millennial Survey.

Our sales force development work also indicates that 60% of sales professionals often play the blame-game. They adamantly inform management that the reason they aren’t hitting their numbers is due to the economy, the competition, the weaknesses of their company, or a combination of all of these. This externalized perspective is futile. It robs the complainer of their growth potential. How can we be proactive in developing strong character in our up-and-coming leaders?

Take action:
  • Mentor emerging leaders on character-based issues. This includes taking personal responsibility, developing determination, knowing how to do what is right over what is easy, being trustworthy in all areas of life, and being accountable for their choices.
  • If your up-and-coming leader is playing this game of externalization, challenge him or her to think more constructively. When they focus on leveraging their internal skills, strengths, and resources, finding creative solutions becomes easier.

2. Build Confidence by Leveraging Strengths

Some Millennials believe they possess an unlimited well of knowledge just because they are able to find the answer to just about any question on Google or YouTube. This phenomenon is validated by research.

Yale doctoral candidate, Matt Fisher, and his colleagues Mariel Goddu and Frank Keil, conducted fascinating research on this topic. They asked people a series of questions that appeared to be general knowledge but were actually difficult to answer. Some of the participants had access to the internet and others not. They published their findings in an article, “The Internet Makes You Think You’re Smarter Than You Are.” [Interview] They came to the conclusion that head knowledge lacks the deep roots of real-life experience that provides the confidence to stand in any storm and press through any obstacle.

Take action:
  • Use an assessment to enable your emerging leader to discover his or her strengths. The insights gained will build confidence and aid productivity, performance, and engagement at work.
  • Support your Millennial leader with personal mentoring to gain confidence. They will develop the ability to turn perceived failures into stepping stones to move forward and achieve greater business results.

3. Maximize Collaboration by Aligning Core Purpose

I was inspired when I first learned about the process, Life’s Core Purpose, developed by Jeff Pelletier. It is a powerful mentoring tool to help your Millennial leader get a deeper understanding of where they can create win-win synergy. Their best synergy is when their vision and values align with the company’s vision and values. Life’s Core Purpose process invites leaders to serve at the intersection of their core competence and core passion by asking: “Is there something I am personally great at all the time at a core level? And, is there something I care deeply about all the time at a core level?” The goal is to apply what we do well to what we care about deeply so that performance can accelerate!

Take action:
  • Guide your emerging leader to figure out which aspects of his job energize him or her. This knowledge helps them to discover their core passion.
  • Present your Millennial leader with opportunities to make a positive contribution to their community and to the world. It will enable them to align their personal and professional goals, and you will be rewarded with a highly motivated, dedicated, and focused employee.

Will you be left high and dry when your Baby Boomers retire? If you are concerned about filling the voids left by your experienced Baby Boomers, it’s not too late. Step up and take action to implement real-world, rubber-meets-the-road leadership development strategies. Prioritize time to transfer skills, knowledge, and experience to boost accountability, build confidence, and maximize collaboration in your up-and-coming leader so that your business will thrive even after your last Baby Boomer has retired.

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Leading Forum
This post is by Danita Bye. She is a member of Forbes Coaches Council, is a leadership and sales development expert and author of the new book, Millennials Matter: Proven Strategies for Building Your Next-Gen Leader.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:18 PM
| Comments (0) | Leadership Development


Creating Great Choices

Creating Great Choices

FTEN WHEN FACED with a problem we see only a single solution or perhaps none at all. When we get stuck we need to create new and better choices. Choices that solve the problem in a new, more successful way without the compromises we usually settle for.

If we understand that we all have different mental models—our view of how the world works—we use those various models to improve our own.

Once we see things in a certain way, it becomes very difficult to see things in a new way. Integrative thinking is a method to do just that. Roger Martin introduced the practice of integrative thinking in his book, The Opposable Mind. “The opposable mind is one that can use the tension between a set of ideas to create new and superior answers to challenging problems. This follow-up book, written by Martin and adjunct professor Jennifer Riel, Creating Great Choices, provides the methodology to do just that.

Martin finds that there are three elements missing from most decision-making processes: metacognition, empathy, and creativity.

When employed, metacognition allows us to understand better our own thinking and existing mental models that influence our decisions and the choices available to us. Empathy allows us to understand the thinking of others, which in turn illuminates the gaps in our own thinking and areas where we might connect with others. Finally, creativity provides the imaginative spark to create new and better choices rather than just accepting the options held in tension before us.

integrative thinking

Martin and Riel explain the integrative thinking process in four steps:

Articulate the Models

Step one is to Articulate the Models, that is “to frame the problem and tease out two opposing models for solving it.” What are the core elements of each model? The idea is to create a two-sided dilemma from a general problem like whether to use a centralized structure versus a decentralized structure or consumer needs versus shareholder expectations. Ultimately you will not choose between the two, but to use the two models or approaches to create a better choice. The outcome we will look for, won’t be a compromise between the two choices, but a choice that takes the best of both that will produce an outcome that is preferable to the existing ones.

Examine the Models

Step two is to Examine the Models. While holding them in tension, define the points of tension between the two models or approaches, illuminate the assumptions, and determine the cause-and-effect forces. As you look at the models, ask, what are the forces that drive the most important outcomes or the benefits we most value of each? How might we change how we think about the approach? What is similar? What is different? What benefit would you be loath to give up from each model?

Now you want to shift from understanding the models to creating new models, “creatively building from both opposing models to design an answer that is ultimately superior to either one.”

Examine the Possibilities

So in step three, you Examine the Possibilities. Explore other resolutions. Here there are three directions you might go to find a better choice: the hidden gem, the double-down, or the decomposition.

In the Hidden Gem, you take “one deeply valued benefit from each of the opposing models and throw away the rest. You imagine a new approach designed around the two gems.” And “you will need to replace all of the elements you’re throwing away with something new.” “I want one small element of A and B.” In the Double-Down, causality is key. If you identify one of the models as the one you would choose if it just weren’t missing one critical element, you Double-Down. “I want all of A and one key element of B.” In Decomposition, you do both—two contradictory things at once. You will need to “reach a different understanding of the problem you’re trying to solve.” In other words, you will need to break the problem apart and apply one solution to each. “I want all of both.”

Assess the Prototypes

Finally, in step four Assess the Prototypes to test different possible answers to find an answer that can actually be implemented. Proving an idea that is new is possible only in theory. A new model is possible only if we think differently. “At this stage, gaps in logic are necessarily the sign of a bad idea; rather, they are the hallmark of a new one. Gaps represent an opportunity to clarify and refine what a possibility could be. Possibilities become richer as they become more concrete because there is less abstraction within which to hide.” They recommend that when trying to communicate a new idea, try using storytelling, visualizing, or modeling—words, pictures, and/or objects. Look for ways to disprove the idea or under what conditions might it not work. In this way, you can finds ways to strengthen the idea.

What Is Your Stance?

Going into any decision-making process, you need to understand your stance—where you are coming from—who you are and what you are trying to do. What informs your thinking? Different stances drive different outcomes.

As a leader, your job is to be clear about your own thinking, knowing that your own models or views of the world are at least a little bit wrong. Understand others view of the world to inform and improve your own. And patiently search for answers that resolve the tension between opposing ideas to find the opportunities to create better choices.

Integrative thinking isn’t for every problem you face. “But when you find that your conventional thinking tools are not helping you to truly solve a problem, integrative thinking can be the tool that shifts the conversation, defuses interpersonal conflicts, and helps you move forward.”

Martin and Riel have included in this integrative thinking user’s guide, templates to help you work through each of the four steps. Keep it handy.

Of Related Interest:
  How to Develop Integrative Thinking
  Integrative Thinking: The Opposable Mind

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:49 PM
| Comments (0) | Problem Solving , Thinking

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