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LeadershipNow 140: December 2022 Compilation


twitter Here are a selection of tweets from December 2022 that you will want to check out:

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$ podcasts Trust And Inspire

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:35 AM
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Leading Thoughts for December 29, 2022

Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:


Charles Handy on the nature of vision:

“A plan or a strategy which is a projection of the present or a replica of what everyone else is doing is not a vision. A vision has to reframe the known scene, to reconceptualize the obvious, connect the previously unconnected dream.”

Source: The Age of Unreason


Korn Ferry CEO Gary Burnison on failure:

“The most important aspect of failure is not the moment of defeat or loss. Rather, it is what happens the moment after failure occurs and a choice is presented: to allow fear to rule or to shift from setback to lesson learned. Henry Ford said, ‘Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.’ I don’t know a CEO who can’t identify with that sentiment, knowing that it takes both success and failure to shape one’s ability to lead. Success may instill confidence, but it is failure that imparts wisdom. With wisdom comes the inner serenity needed to change a bridge between failure and success.”

Source: No Fear of Failure: Real Stories of How Leaders Deal with Risk and Change

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Leading Thoughts Whats New in Leadership Books

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:09 AM
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How Important Is Coaching in Professional Development?

Gladieux Coaching

AS A LIFELONG communication skills coach, I was asked recently by one of my colleagues how important individual coaching attention is for a person to learn and grow at any stage of their career. Of course, this is sort of like asking a baker if bread is worth baking.

I’ve seen many breakthrough moments when people from all walks of life set their sights on developing new thoughts, actions, and habits. So, I’m going to say coaching is pretty important, both when we’re kids and when we’re adults. Here’s why: none of us can see ourselves as others do. We often look right past our beautiful, natural gifts (and every one of us has them, although we haven’t all become aware of them). We also might gloss over some weaker points we’d benefit from addressing sooner rather than later. Looking outward from inside our bodies, we see out into the world but can’t observe the effects of our own energy and behaviors on others as easily as those who are paying attention can see us.

In my book Communicate with Courage: Taking Risks to Overcome the Four Hidden Challenges, I illuminate obstacles that hold most of us back at some point in our lives and present methods of overcoming them. The “big four” in my experience include:

  • Hiding: Fear of exposing our supposed weaknesses
  • Defining: Putting too much stock into our assumptions, being quick to judge
  • Rationalizing: Leaning on pessimism to shield ourselves from taking chances, engaging in conflict, or doing other scary but potentially rewarding actions
  • Settling: Stopping at “good enough” instead of aiming for something better in interactions

It’s often useful to ask others where they see us compensating in communication or in life rather than stretching to reach our potential. We can choose to open ourselves up to others and invite them to share their observations, feelings, and opinions about us and the way we interact as we move through the world.

Sometimes that feedback comes from a mentor or in a formal coaching relationship, and other times it’s family, friends, or co-workers who can shine a light on a path forward if we make them feel safe to do so.

One-on-one coaching (or executive coaching) is tricky territory. Some folks who want to share advice or questions for us to ponder don’t have our best interests at heart. It’s possible they may care more about themselves and what they get from the interaction than what we receive from the communication. Some people would have us believe they’re able to guide us fairly and capably, but they’re not qualified to do so or might be blind to their own limitations.

So, buyer beware. Don’t be too quick to believe praise OR criticism unless you’ve thought through the coach’s skill and motivations. Choose someone to trust – which involves risk – and who you believe is:

  • Ethical,
  • aware of their own strengths and limitations,
  • experienced in guiding others through the challenges facing you, and
  • courageous enough to shoot straight but never callous or condescending in their communication.

I mentor many adults who didn’t have a role model in their youth and many who did. It is possible to nurture one’s own learning at any age and possible to find mentors if one is willing to do a few hard things, such as:

  • Discover information about one’s strengths and how, when overused, they become weaknesses,
  • welcome both objective and subjective data about oneself (objective data might be personality or performance assessment, subjective data could mean asking others how they experience you),
  • place trust in a competent guide for the discovery process.

You asked for a sample goal. Here are a few that people in jobs ranging from nursing home administrator to mechanical engineer are working on this week:

For a client who’s finding their voice – participate in every meeting you attend for one month; for one who finds it hard to focus – document and prioritize a task list, then share it with your boss to become more aligned. For the client who feels overwhelmed – create a self-care menu and use one entry daily; for one who manages a large team, document what wows you about your employees and where they need to improve to make giving feedback easier at performance review time.

Some coaching clients receive recipes to try to help them give more resonant praise, apply more skillful delegation, or approach a conflict constructively. We all have different growth needs. We’ll always have growth needs. As long as we’re breathing and learning, it’s never too late to make positive change.

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Leading Forum
Michelle Gladieux is President of Gladieux Consulting, a Midwest-based team known for the design and presentation of seminars in communication and leadership topics around the U.S. She facilitates strategic planning and executive coaching for clients in diverse industries, in governments, at non-profits, and in academia. She has 18 years of collegiate teaching experience at three universities in her home state of Indiana, accepting her first faculty position at age 23. She's worked as a Human Resources and Training Director in the cold storage, robotics, and construction industries and enjoys visiting conferences as a keynote speaker and workshop presenter. She is the author of Communicate with Courage: Taking Risks to Overcome the Four Hidden Challenges.

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7 Coaching Skills Coaching Effect

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:52 AM
| Comments (0) | Leadership Development


It’s Not TV: HBO


MEDIA reporting veterans Felix Gillette and John Koblin trace the history of HBO’s humble launch on November 8, 1972, with “some 375 subscribers,” to the challenges it faces today in an industry they essentially created in It’s Not TV: The Spectacular Rise, Revolution, and Future of HBO.

It is both a cultural history and an engaging organizational story full of drama, industry politics, and changing social mores. Below are just a few excerpts that create food for thought:

❧ Michael Fuchs: If we’re going to establish a character in this business, it’s got to be through original programming.

❧ Michael Fuchs: There’s no modern Dickens. So, I sent a note out and said, “let us be Dickens,” let us look at contemporary society like no one else in the country.

❧ Their mission, in short, was to create quality noise.

❧ The quickest way to go out of business in the internet age, they believed, was to make decisions based on your own business, preferences, political beliefs, desires, and tastes. They vowed to follow the data wherever it took them.

❧ On HBO in the mid-2000s: It just felt like there were a bunch of people who were trying to manage for retirement. Let’s not rock the boat.

❧ 2008: It was a very comfortable company. Everything in the offices is first class. There’s a gym. There’s a cafeteria. There’s an on-site acupuncturist, an on-site tailor, and an on-site masseuse. That creates a certain complacency.

❧ Great television came only from one place. From listening to artists and supporting their instincts and visions zealously. The thing about testing is it tells you about the past, not what the future is. What HBO knew how to do was to find the thing nobody was looking for and turn it into something everybody thought they wanted all along.

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What Makes Business Rock Starbucks

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:46 AM
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Motivation: To Do or Not to Do

McGarvey on Motivation

DIFFERENT things motivate different people in different ways. The more we understand the nature of how someone is motivated, the easier it is for us to adjust our communication to match up with their natural motivational tendencies. The key is to pay attention to their language because it contains elusive clues to their underlying motivational traits.

What are motivational traits? Everyone has a number of underlying factors that motivate them. Once you understand this key distinction, you can then adjust your communication approach to align with these traits, empowering you to be more persuasive with a variety of people. For example, knowing that your staff members, Michael and Afua, are motivated by high financial compensation is important. Moreover, the details of their motivational traits can help you make the most of this knowledge.

Understanding Away from and Toward Motivation

One motivational trait you can quickly understand and adjust to is the direction of motivation. Some people are motivated by “away from,” that is, what they can avoid, prevent, or eliminate. In other words, they are motivated to move away from what they don’t want to have happen in their lives. In comparison, other people are motivated by moving “toward” things that they want to achieve, accomplish, or attain.

For example, Michael and Afua both value money, and they both negotiate strongly for more compensation in performance reviews. But why? Are they moving away from or toward something money offers them? You can find out by asking them questions and listening to their language.

When you talk to Michael and ask him what is important about money, he reveals that he is stressed about how he will fare financially after retirement. He tells you that he doesn’t want to struggle in retirement like his parents. Michael is moving away from a retirement reality he fears. When you talk to Afua, she reveals that she wants a higher salary so that she can more easily afford the vacation rental she has always wanted. Afua is moving toward her ideal vacation.

Both Michael and Afua can be motivated with financial incentives, and they can also be motivated by framing a discussion about that incentive in the context of what they are moving away from or toward. Money is just a means that gets people closer to achieving what they value, after all.

Say you want to motivate both Michael and Afua to agree to put in additional discretionary work time over the weekend to meet a fast-approaching deadline on a major project. For Michael, you might suggest that the bonus he would receive from doing this extra work could be invested in a fund to build up his retirement nest egg so that he can avoid worrying about financial struggles when he retires.

With this knowledge about Afua, you may realize that she is motivated by money as it relates to the prospect of taking more luxurious vacations. For her, you could suggest that the bonus she makes could be put toward spoiling herself and booking her dream vacation rental.

There are many other ways to leverage your understanding of the direction of motivation, and as you begin to recognize people’s motivation, you will think of interesting ways to appeal to their specific orientation.

Understanding Options and Procedures Motivation

Another key motivational trait is whether someone is oriented to options or procedures. Someone who is options-oriented is motivated by possibilities, choice, and change. Someone who is procedures-oriented is motivated by pattern, process, and the “right” way to do something. You have likely found that it has been easier to motivate people who share your preference for options or procedures. It is necessary to have people of both orientations in your organization, and both are found in about equal numbers in the workforce.

To identify people who are options-oriented, look for those who like to create, design, and develop. Those with this motivational tendency enjoy figuring things out as they go, rather than make a detailed plan. They want to break the rules and come up with something unique. However, they are also likely to suffer from a lack of follow-through and may get distracted easily.

On the other hand, those who are procedures-oriented will want to find the “right” way to do something and then avoid changing the process that brought about the “right” end result. They want to plan carefully, and they have an incredible ability to follow through on a process or a whole project to completion. They care about “how” and can be so focused on process and details that they may miss the bigger picture or alternative ways of accomplishing goals.

It is best to think of motivational traits as a spectrum rather than a definite label that you can apply to a person. All people fluctuate in these (and other) motivational traits depending on a number of factors. Some people, roughly 20%, will appear to be a combination of being motivated by both options and procedures. Determining which motivational styles an individual is currently demonstrating will allow you to better match them, resulting in an increased ability to motivate them.

Procedures-oriented people will be more responsive to phrases such as:

  • What do you think are the best steps to take to accomplish this?
  • Where should we start?
  • What is our plan from there?

Options-motivated people will be more responsive to phrases such as:

  • Let’s brainstorm our options for accomplishing this?
  • Which of these choices would you prefer?
  • How many ways can we approach this?

Applying Motivational Tools

Options/procedures and away from/toward motivational traits are rich tools to help you identify the best language patterns to use with different people as you seek to motivate them. Note, there are even more motivational traits for you to explore, including internal/external and sameness/difference. As with all knowledge that enables you to be highly persuasive, you have a responsibility to apply this information ethically and with utmost integrity. Exploring and applying your understanding of any of these traits will equip you to be more masterful as you Ignite a Shift.

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Leading Forum
Stephen McGarvey is an international speaker, an expert on persuasion and influence, and the founder of a boutique consulting firm, Solutions In Mind. He assists corporations and audiences around the world in solving difficult communications problems by guiding them on an engaging, fast-paced, fascinating journey inside the unconscious mind. His new book is the USA Today and Wall Street Journal #1 Best Seller Ignite a Shift: Engaging Minds, Guiding Emotions and Driving Behavior (Morgan James Publishing, July 2022). Learn more at solutionsinmind.com.

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Drive Promotions

Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:57 AM
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Leading Thoughts for December 22, 2022

Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:


Erica Ariel Fox on developing an internal Lookout so you can see your reactions rather than just acting on them:

“When life hands you a situation, your Lookout sees where you’re headed. Before you do or say anything, the Lookout lets you know. With that information, you might or might not choose to change course. If you do, you’ll get a different outcome than what you’ve gotten before. Developing your Lookout skills over time will create the lasting change you want, in your leadership and in your life.”

Source: Winning from Within: A Breakthrough Method for Leading, Living, and Lasting Change


Gary Hamel on the need for leaders to be stewards:

“If you are a leader at any level in any organization, you are a steward—of careers, capabilities, resources, the environment, and organizational values. ... What matters now, more than ever, is that managers embrace the responsibilities of stewardship. ... If you’re a manager or an executive, your stewardship obligations extend far beyond yourself and your family. Yet in recent years many business leaders have blithely dodged those responsibilities. So, ask yourself, am I really a steward?”

Source: What Matters Now: How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation

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Leading Thoughts Whats New in Leadership Books

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:45 AM
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How to Solve Our Wild Problems

Wild Problems

THERE ARE PROBLEMS that can be solved by a simple cost-benefit analysis. But there are problems where the solution lies beyond that — something deeper — something irrational even. The big decisions in life, what Russ Roberts calls Wild Problems — whether to marry, who to marry, what career path to follow, ethical dilemmas — “can’t be made with data, or science, or the usual rational approaches.”

In 1838, Charles Darwin faced a wild problem. Darwin was trying to decide if he should marry. Like many, he made a list of the pros and cons and wrote them down in his journal. But marriage, like most wild problems, can’t be reduced to measurable rational reasons. It is much more nuanced than that. Not everything can be boiled down into a yes or no. But more than that:

Making a list of pluses and minuses when facing alternative universes is a way of trying to imagine what it will be like under each choice. Thus seems rational and is a version of trying to maximize what economists call expected utility—your expected well-being in the future.

Darwins Marriage Problem

At the top, he wrote, “This is the Question – Marry – Not Marry.” Then on the pro side, he tried to imagine what it would be like to be married. On the right side, he tried to imagine what it would be like not to marry.

Darwins Marriage Problem

Darwin is looking at marriage from just what you can see from the outside—the outer life of marriage.

Darwin’s list tells us more about Darwin than it does about marriage. His list of pluses and minuses—especially the pluses—is the list that someone would make who has never been married and has no access to the upside of the inner life of a married man. Darwin’s ignorance is part of the reason his negatives about marriage (banishment! Degradation! Idle fool!) are so emphatic and his positives are so mild (female chit-chat).

It is hard to define what the consequences of your choice are about to make if you have no experience with the choice you are about to make. You can’t really know the costs and benefits of a choice until you have experienced it. Darwin can’t rightly judge the upside of marriage and so he can’t know if the expected costs outweigh the expected benefit. Not only that, if he gets married, the experience will change him in ways he can’t imagine—what he values and what is important to him.

Moving beyond costs and benefits—pain and pleasure—is the idea of flourishing. “Flourishing includes living and acting with integrity, virtue, purpose, meaning, dignity, and autonomy—aspects of life that are not just difficult to quantify but that you might put front and center, regardless of the cost.”

So what do we do when faced with a wild problem?

Roberts suggests we begin by approaching the issue by privileging our principles. That means considering what kind of person you want to be and what you want to become.

Your decisions define who you are. Don’t make tradeoffs when it comes to your essence. Live with integrity. Do the right thing and respect yourself. That at least should be the starting place.

One way to do this is to have rules that you follow no matter what. It helps to make deciding what to do simpler. For example, your rule might be, “I am the kind of person who doesn’t make jokes about my spouse in front of other people even when they are incredibly funny.” Roberts adds, “Rules are useful in maintaining who you are, our sense of self. But they’re probably even more important in helping us become who we might want to become.

Here are a few concluding thoughts from Roberts:

Try to have more experiences than fewer. Try stuff. Stop doing the stuff that isn’t for you.

Don’t assume that what works for them works for you. When you can test drive.

Sunk costs are sunk. Life choices that turn out differently from what we hoped aren’t mistakes. They’re just choices that turned out differently than we hoped.

Grit and persistence are overrated. A lot of what makes wild problems so painful is regret. All the facts are never in. It’s not a mistake when you can’t do any better. So spend less time on figuring out the “right” decision and more time thinking about how to widen your options and how to cope with disappointment if the decision turns out badly.

Not everything us under your control. Trust the opportunity and adjst the plan or journey to the new information that you learn as you go through the experience.

Instead of seeing life as a series of decision nodes where you maximize happiness or well-being looking ahead as best you can, see it instead as a journey.

Wild problems are not problems to be solved, but mysteries to be experienced, tasted, and savored.

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Farsighted How to Make Better Decisions

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:58 AM
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The 3 Biggest Problems with Accountability and What You Can Do to Fix Them

Problems with Accountability

ACCOUNTABILITY is essential for human systems to function. Whether you’re talking about governments, companies, sports teams, or families, accountability is what ensures that things run smoothly and that progress continues.

But oftentimes, problems exist with how accountability is understood and how it’s enacted that make it ineffective or even counterproductive. An awareness of the limitations of traditional notions of accountability can help leaders bring about a more inspiring, supportive, and transformational version of accountability.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” This humorous observation holds some truth, but it’s also emblematic of a more traditional approach to accountability — with some inherent flaws.

Here are the major limitations of traditional notions of accountability:

Results only: The primary goal is achieving task or performance results. Did you do what you were supposed to do? Did you hit your numbers this quarter? While results are certainly important, focusing solely on performance outcomes may lead to ignoring other, equally important aspects of what it means to be effective in the long run —things like better relationships and learning. It also yields a binary, “pass/fail” approach to evaluating outcomes, which can be discouraging and limit what you can learn from it.

Focus on individuals: Traditional accountability emphasizes individual responsibility. Individual responsibility is a vital aspect of accountability, but it runs the risk of people looking at situations through the lens of themselves only and missing the larger, collective goals. At worst, it can result in people developing a “that’s not my job” mentality, which can seriously undermine morale, capacity, and results.

Blame-oriented: When something goes wrong, oftentimes, the first question asked is, “Who needs to be held accountable?” This kind of backward-looking accountability focuses on apportioning blame and punishment — who needs to be “kicked in the pants?” But in the majority of circumstances, making mistakes or failing to produce are not black-and-white situations for reprisal. They can actually represent learning moments. A blame orientation induces fear and leads to people covering up problems and avoiding more robust discussions of shortcomings, resulting in lost opportunities for learning, growth, and improvement in the long run.

The upshot of these limitations is that they undermine the power of accountability as a force for excellence, connection, and learning. These problems turn accountability into something that’s essentially transactional: “Focus on the result, do your part, and don’t mess up!” This approach is limited because it’s more narrow, sterile, and even fear-invoking. It leaves a lot of possibilities on the table.

So what’s the solution? Here are three strategies for taking a different approach to accountability that will allow you to capture the upsides of strong accountability while sidestepping the pitfalls.

1. Focus on people and results

Instead of emphasizing just the task-related outcomes you’re aiming for, make sure you also pay attention to people’s experience in working towards those outcomes. How do you want people to feel about themselves and each other as a function of their work together? How do you want people to grow during that process? And when reflecting on the question of “How well did we do?” make sure you make space to consider how team members experienced the process, how relationships were affected, and how much people learned.

2. Make accountability a team sport

Broaden the frame of accountability to go beyond what individuals are responsible for to create a collective sense of responsibility for meeting the team’s goals. Talk about what that means — whether that’s covering for other team members, helping others achieve their goals, sharing information and resources, soliciting others’ feedback, and being able to see the big picture. Everyone must be accountable to themselves but also to each other, as well as shared groups of stakeholders (customers, suppliers, investors, and the public).

3. No matter what happens, look for the learning

Have a growth mindset that sees failures, errors, and setbacks as important opportunities for growth. When problems occur, instead of focusing on who was at fault, determine who is responsible for improving the situation, what can be learned from what happened, and what you’ll do differently next time. Normalize the fact that things sometimes go wrong by talking about your own mistakes and what you’ve learned from them.

Done differently, accountability could be something that’s transformational, creating a mindset in which everyone takes responsibility for both individual and collective goals, no one wants to let anyone else down, and people are continually learning and improving. As a result, accountability changes from creating dread and worry to promoting vibrancy, engagement, and connection.

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Leading Forum
David C. Tate is a licensed clinical psychologist, executive coach, and an assistant clinical professor in psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, as well as a lecturer at the Yale School of Management. He is co-founder and CEO at Conscious Growth Partners, a consultancy that helps organizations thrive through better leadership, teamwork, and culture. Marianne Pantalon is a licensed clinical psychologist and executive coach. She is co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Conscious Growth Partners, LLC. She also serves as a senior facilitator for the Interpersonal and Group Dynamics Program at Yale University School of Management. Their new book with co-author Daryn David is Conscious Accountability: Deepen Connections, Elevate Results. Learn more at consciousgrowthpartners.com.

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Sharing Accountability Five Accountabilities

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:21 AM
| Comments (0) | Management


Leading Thoughts for December 15, 2022

Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:


Theologian Richard Foster on the need for deeper thinking:

“Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or a gifted people, but for a deep people.”

Source: Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth


Science writer Stephen Johnson on the mental routines that you typically experience in unison:

“The more you learn about the brain’s architecture, the more you recognize that what happens in your head is more like an orchestra than a soloist, with dozens of players contributing to the overall mix. You can hear the symphony as a unified wash of sound, but you can also distinguish the trombones from the timpani, the violins from the cellos.”

Source: Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life

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Best Books of 2022 Whats New in Leadership Books

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:02 AM
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Why Startups Fail: Six Issues to Avoid

Why Startups Fail

THE FACT IS most startups fail. More than two-thirds of them never deliver a positive return to investors.

Tim Eisenmann is a professor at Harvard Business School, where he’s led The Entrepreneurial Manager, a required course for all of their MBAs. While he taught students how to build winning startups, he felt he wasn't giving them the full picture if he couldn’t identify why so many were failing. So, he set out to find out. The result is Why Startups Fail: A New Roadmap for Entrepreneurial Success.

Eisenmann introduces the Diamond-and-Square framework to help aspiring entrepreneurs know whether they have actually identified an attractive opportunity and determine what types of resources are required to successfully capitalize on it.

Diamond-and-Square Framework

The four elements in the diamond collectively specify the opportunity: what the venture will offer and to whom; its plan for technology and operations; its marketing approach; and how the venture will make money.

Customer Value Proposition: This is the most important. A new venture absolutely must offer a sustainably differentiated solution for strong, unmet customer needs.
Technology and Operations: A startup must be able to fulfill its value promise, which entails actually inventing the product, building git, physically delivering it, and servicing it after it’s been sold.
Marketing: How much to spend on marketing. Premature scaling of marketing and product development efforts is a widespread cause of startup failure.
Profit Formula: This is your plan for making money. The other three elements of the venture’s opportunity dictate revenue and costs.

To capture this opportunity, the venture will need the right resources in the right amounts as indicated by the four outside “square” elements.

Founders: The founder fit can have a decisive impact on venture outcomes. Co-founder conflict can tear a startup apart.
Team: If the other elements in the diamond-and-square framework are aligned, a weak team is unlikely to deal a death blow to the venture.
Investors: Founders must decide when to raise money, how much to raise, and from whom. Mistakes here can have grave consequences.
Partners: As with decisions about team members, bad choices about partners rarely are the primary cause of a startup’s demise. But they are more likely to boost the odds of failure by creating yet one more serious problem for management to deal with.

It is easy to blame the founders. Eisenmann went deeper and identified six patterns of failure, looking at ventures that initially showed promise but subsequently crashed to earth because of errors that could have been averted.

The vast majority of startup failures can be attributed to these six reasons and can be divided into three cases for early-stage failures and three cases for late-stage failures. Eisenmann explains each using examples of startups that fell prey to these sources of failure.

Good Idea, Bad Bedfellows

People are the most common cause of failure. Although startup success is thought to rest mainly on the founder’s talents and instincts, the wrong team, investors, or partners can sink a venture just as quickly.

Entrepreneurs sometimes identify an attractive opportunity but fail to mobilize the resources needed to capitalize upon it. Deficiencies may include poor founder fit — due, for example, to conflict between cofounders or their lack of relevant experience; other team members’ shortcomings; low value-added by investors; and lack of alignment between the venture’s priorities and those of strategic partners.

Startups are more likely to be vulnerable to the Good Idea, Bad Bellows failure pattern when they pursue opportunities that involve 1) complex operations requiring tight coordination of different specialists’ work; 2) inventory of physical goods; and 3) large, lumpy capital requirements.

False Starts

Many early-stage startups fail after their founders rush their first product to market, skipping upfront research that would determine whether they have identified strong, unmet customer needs and the best solution for those problems. As a consequence, the venture’s first product is likely to miss the mark. The entrepreneur can pivot, but they have boosted their failure odds by wasting time and money on a flawed first product.

Entrepreneurs can avoid false starts by undertaking a thorough and thoughtful design process before commencing engineering work. Iteration should stop only when you’re confident you have formulated a compelling customer value proposition.

False Positives

Early adopters and mainstream customers have different needs, and both need to be tested. Crowdfunding campaigns may demonstrate a product’s appeal to product category enthusiasts, but they don’t provide data on mass-market demand.

Success with early adopters can be misleading and give founders unwarranted confidence to expand. Success with early adopters can be misleading and give founders undue confidence to expand prematurely — or, if the needs of mainstream customers differ from those of early adopters — head in the wrong direction. Once the mistake is evident, the venture can correct course, but pivots can be costly once resources have been committed.

Speed Trap

Despite the pressure to “get big fast,” hypergrowth can spell disaster for even the most promising ventures. Hypergrowth can put great strains on a startup, and these strains can prove fatal when growth is not profitable — that is, when the marketing costs incurred to acquire a new customer exceed the profit the venture can expect to earn, over time, from that customer.

To avoid you need to ask four categories of questions—known as the RAWI test—to determine if you are ready to scale successfully:

1. Ready? Does that startup have a proven business model?
2. Able? Can the startup access the resources necessary to expand rapidly?
3. Willing? Are the founders eager to grow the business?
4. Impelled? Does the startup have aggressive rivals?

Help Wanted

Rapidly scaling startups need lots of capital and talent, but they can make mistakes that leave them suddenly in short supply of both.

In contrast to Speed Trap victims, some startups manage to sustain product-market fit as they scale but stumble due to shortfalls in management talent or capital — or both. Delays or mistakes in recruiting senior leaders for mission-critical roles can derail a venture, as can the sudden shifts in investor sentiment that can foreclose access to capital — even for healthy startups.

Cascading Miracles

The bigger the vision, the more challenges you face, and a shortfall with any one of them could be enough to kill the vision, thus requiring a cascade of miracles to succeed—a moonshot. How much innovation is too much?

Some entrepreneurs pursue audaciously ambitious venture concepts that require many years of product development, coupled with breakthroughs on several fronts, for example: radical shifts in customer behavior; the cooperation of established corporations that have benefited from the status quo; government support in the form of subsidies or favorable regulation; or investors willing to commit vast amounts of capital over extended periods. If any requirements are not met, the venture may fail. Consequently, the entrepreneur needs a cascade of miracles to succeed.

Dealing with Failure

Should you call it quits? Failure is typically a slow-motion affair, so it’s easy to hang on to false hope. And there is the founder’s ego that takes a hit. If you are faced with this decision, there are four questions you need to ask yourself:

1. Are you out of moves?
2. Are you miserable?
3. Do you still believe in the vision?
4. Is the window for a “graceful” shutdown closing?

Eisenmann covers how to shut down and how to bounce back. For those that want to try their hand at a new venture, the good news is that for those “who preserved relationships with team members and investors by engineering a graceful shutdown,” most will not experience any meaningful stigmatization or rejection. Take responsibility for the failure and know what you learned that can be applied to your next venture.

Eisenmann says it is “an amazing ride, creating something out of nothing. So go build something great.”

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12 Lessons for Entrepreneurs Straight Talk Startups

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Trust & Inspire Leadership

Trust & Inspire

A COMMAND & CONTROL leadership style comes naturally to us. And we resort to it far more than we think. What has always worked better and is required for successful leadership in this day and age is something Steven M. R. Covey calls Trust & Inspire leadership.

Trust & Inspire leadership is about “trusting people to do the right thing and inspiring them to make meaningful contributions.” Furthermore, it’s about “connecting people to purpose so they feel inspired not only by an organization’s leaders, but also by a sense of purpose, meaning, and contribution in their work.”

When we inspire someone, we breathe life into them. “We rekindle the inner spirit” that so much in life knocks out of us.

As opposed to Command & Control, which is transactional, “Trust & Inspire is transformational—it focuses on building relationships; on developing capabilities; on enabling, empowering, and growing people. And the irony is that not only is this the far more enduring approach, it’s actually the more efficient way [in the long run] to get things done as well.”

Many of the changes we have seen to the Command & Control approach are “changes in degree, not in kind. We’re still operating within the same paradigm.” So just how do we make the shift to Trust and Inspire?

How To Make the Change from Command & Control to Trust & Inspire

The shift to Trust & Inspire is a change in our fundamental beliefs. Those fundamental beliefs are based on the understanding that leadership is stewardship. Stewardship is holding in trust those we lead and applying everything we have been given in the service of that trust. “It’s about leaving something in better shape than when we stepped into our role.”

Covey’s Trust & Inspire framework breaks stewardship down into three stewardships that work together, and build off each other. Developing Trust & Inspire leadership needs to have all three: Modeling, Trusting, and Inspiring.

3 Stewardships Model

Modeling – Who You Are

Modeling is built on the idea that leaders go first and are developed from the inside out. “It is the source of credibility and your moral authority as a leader.”

Trust & Inspire leaders model three things: Humility and Courage—Authenticity and Vulnerability—Empathy and Performance.

Trusting – How You Lead

Do we extend trust to others, or do we withhold it? “Trusting—how we lead—flows out of the fundamental beliefs of greatness being inside people and that our job as a leader is to unleash people’s potential, not control them. We unleash the greatness inside people through trusting them.” Not trusting others makes for an exhausting life.

It is important to clarify expectations and practice accountability. “When you clarify expectations, you create a shared vision and agreement upfront about what is to be done.” And it is a two-way street. We grow people through trusting. “Great leaders grow people, and nothing grows people better—or faster—than an extension of trust.”

Inspiring – Connect to Why

Inspiring others “flows out of the belief that people are whole people—made up of body, heart, and spirit—and that the job of a leader is to inspire others from within rather than merely trying to motivate them from without.”

Trust & Inspire leaders connect people to Purpose—a sense of contribution (why work matters), People—self, relationships (caring), and team (belonging).

Making the Transition

Trust & Inspire is a mindset. It becomes who you are even when in some situations you might have to act with authority. But here’s the thing:

Trust & Inspire leaders have already built credibility and relationships that allow them to act decisively as needed yet with integrity. The difference between a Command & Control leader and a Trust & Inspire leader, even if their actions are exactly the same, is that their behavior is interpreted completely differently, becomes it comes from a different place.

Trust & Inspire is not a hands-off laissez-faire leadership but a very active, committed form of leadership. Making the transition to Trust & Inspire is not easy because it requires a change in fundamentals and beliefs. But the results are worth the effort.

Truat & Inpire Leader

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Leading Thoughts for December 8, 2022

Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:


Jim Wallis on moving forward after a crisis:

“Not all of our old habits, behaviors, and institutions are bad, just as not all new ones are good. We need to uncover some forgotten lessons that have served us well in the past and make sure the baby of our better choices doesn’t get thrown out with the bathwater of our mistakes.”

Source: Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street by Jim Wallis


Alan Stein Jr. on character:

“Character means you understand that there are more things beyond winning and losing. The workplace and the business world are not all zero-sum games. There can be more than one winner, and a workplace of battling egos inevitably suffers in productivity.”

Source: Raise Your Game: High-Performance Secrets from the Best of the Best

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Leading Thoughts Whats New in Leadership Books

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The Best Leadership Books of 2022

Best Leadership Books of 2022

The titles listed below—published in 2022—reflect a need to get realigned with solid leadership practices and thinking.


9781647821159 Smart Growth: How to Grow Your People to Grow Your Company
by Whitney Johnson

(Harvard Business Review Press, 2022)

Growth is the goal. Helping people develop their potential—enabling them to articulate and become the self they want to be, are capable of being, and that best serves them and others in the short and long term—is what we as individuals and leaders strive toward. But how do we grow? It turns out it happens in a predictable way, which means we can understand where we are in our growth and chart a way forward. In this compact, complete guide, Whitney Johnson dives more deeply than ever into the S Curve of Learning so that you can envision how growth happens and direct yourself and others in your organization to create a culture that fosters it. The growth and learning journey comes in three phases: the Launch Point, the Sweet Spot, and Mastery. Compelling examples of successful people will show you when and why growth is slow, how to keep going, what to do when growth and learning are almost too fast to keep up with, and how to leap from one growth journey to another. (Blog Post)


9781541701243 The Crux: How Leaders Become Strategists
by Richard P. Rumelt

(PublicAffairs, 2022)

What passes for strategy in too many businesses, government agencies, and military operations is a toxic mix of wishful thinking and a jumble of incoherent policies. Richard P. Rumelt’s breakthrough concept is that leaders become effective strategists when they focus on challenges rather than goals, pinpointing the crux of their pivotal challenge—the aspect that is both surmountable and promises the greatest progress—and taking decisive, coherent action to overcome it. (Blog Post)


9781982143725 Trust and Inspire: How Truly Great Leaders Unleash Greatness in Others
by Stephen M.R. Covey

(Simon & Schuster, 2022)

We have a leadership crisis today, where even though our world has changed drastically, our leadership style has not. Most organizations, teams, schools, and families today still operate from a model of “command and control,” focusing on hierarchies and compliance from people. But because of the changing nature of the world, the workforce, work itself, and the choices we have for where and how to work and live, this way of leading is drastically outdated. Stephen M.R. Covey has made it his life’s work to understand trust in leadership and organizations. He offers a simple yet bold solution: to shift from this “command and control” model to a leadership style of “trust and inspire.” People don’t want to be managed; they want to be led. Trust and Inspire is a new way of leading that starts with the belief that people are creative, collaborative, and full of potential. (Blog Post)


9781541701243 Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making
by Tony Fadell

(Harper Business, 2022)

After building the iPod, the iPhone, and co-founding Nest, Tony Fadell’s latest venture is an investment firm called Future Shape. They call themselves “mentors with money.” Their aim is to not only provide funding but help when founders really need it. Build is an incredible opportunity to learn how to start, grow, and exit a business from someone who has been through it all. Obviously, he didn’t do everything right along the way, but he did learn from it, and he shares the lessons with us. (Blog Post)


9781982179670 CEO Excellence: The Six Mindsets That Distinguish the Best Leaders from the Rest
by Carolyn Dewar, Scott Keller and Vikram Malhotra

(Scribner, 2022)

From the world’s most influential management consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, an insight-packed, revelatory look at how the best CEOs do their jobs based on extensive interviews with today’s most successful corporate leaders—including chiefs at Netflix, JPMorgan Chase, General Motors, and Sony. Being a CEO at any of the world’s largest companies is among the most challenging roles in business. Billions, and even trillions, are at stake—and the fates of tens of thousands of employees often hang in the balance. Yet, even when “can’t miss” high-achievers win the top job, very few excel. Thirty percent of Fortune 500 CEOs last fewer than three years, and two out of five new CEOs are perceived to be failing within eighteen months. For those who shoulder the burden of being the one on whom everyone counts, a manual for excellence is sorely needed. (Blog Post)


9781647823511 A New Way to Think: Your Guide to Superior Management Effectiveness
by Roger L. Martin

(Harvard Business Review Press, 2022)

Over a stellar career, Roger Martin has advised the CEOs of some of the world's most successful companies. From the beginning, he noted that almost every executive he talked to had a "model"—a framework or way of thinking that guided their strategy and activities. But these models tended to become automatic, so much so that when one didn't work, the typical response was just to apply it again—with greater enthusiasm. Martin took a fresh, critical approach to helping. When company leaders came to him with fundamental questions—How do you decide where to play and how to win? What is the key to shaping and changing corporate culture? How can you design a successful, sustainable innovation process?—his first response was to break the spell of the current model with a memo articulating a new way to think about the problem at hand and a more powerful and effective way to successfully overcome it. (Blog Post)


9780593235386 Build for Tomorrow: An Action Plan for Embracing Change, Adapting Fast, and Future-Proofing Your Career
by Jason Feifer

(Harmony, 2022)

The moments of greatest change can also be the moments of greatest opportunity. Adapt more quickly and use the power of change to your advantage with this guide from the editor in chief of Entrepreneur magazine and host of the Build for Tomorrow podcast. We experience change in four phases. The first is panic. Then we adapt. Then we find a new normal. And then, finally, we reach the phase we could not have imagined in the beginning, the moment when we realize that we wouldn’t go back. Build for Tomorrow is designed to accelerate that process—to help you lessen your panic, adapt faster, define the new normal, and thrive going forward. (Blog Post)


9781637743294 The 6 Types of Working Genius: A Better Way to Understand Your Gifts, Your Frustrations, and Your Team
by Patrick M. Lencioni

(Matt Holt, 2022)

The 6 Types of Working Genius is the fastest way to help people identify the type of work that brings them joy and energy, and avoid work that leads to frustration and burnout. Beyond the personal discovery and instant relief that Working Genius provides, the model also gives teams a remarkably simple and practical framework for tapping into one another’s natural gifts. In classic Lencioni fashion, Pat brings his model to life in a page-turning fable that is as relatable as it is compelling. He tells the story of Bull Brooks, an entrepreneur, husband, and father who sets out to solve his own frustration at work and stumbles into a new way of thinking that changes the way he sees his work, his team, and even his marriage. In addition to this book, Lencioni and the Table Group have created a 10-minute assessment that helps individuals quickly identify their gifts and apply this model to themselves and their teams. (Blog Post)


9781647821067 Getting Along: How to Work with Anyone (Even Difficult People)
by Amy Gallo

(Harvard Business Review Press, 2022)

Work relationships can be hard. The stress of dealing with difficult people dampens our creativity and productivity, degrades our ability to think clearly and make sound decisions, and causes us to disengage. We might lie awake at night worrying, withdraw from work, or react in ways we later regret—rolling our eyes in a meeting, snapping at colleagues, or staying silent when we should speak up. In Getting Along, workplace expert and Harvard Business Review podcast host Amy Gallo identifies eight familiar types of difficult coworkers—the insecure boss, the passive-aggressive peer, the know-it-all, the biased coworker, and others—and provides strategies tailored to dealing constructively with each one. (Blog Post)


9781541751040 Why Managers Matter: The Perils of the Bossless Company
by Nicolai J Foss and Peter G Klein

(PublicAffairs, 2022)

It’s tempting to be seduced by futurist fantasies where every company has the culture of a startup, and where employees in wacky, whimsical office settings, liberated from hierarchies and bosses that oppress them, are the foundation for breakthrough performance. “Get real,” warn Nicolai J. Foss and Peter G. Klein. These fads ironically lead to micromanaging and, often, to disaster. Companies and societies, they show, need authority and hierarchy to coordinate work, including creative work. And, counterintuitively, they illustrate how the creative use of authority and hierarchy helps companies to be more agile and flexible, enabling educated, motivated people and teams to thrive. And not a moment too soon: they provide evidence that global challenges such as the proliferation of artificial intelligence, economic disruption, empowered knowledge workers, and black swan events such as the pandemic actually make hierarchy and the job of the manager more important than ever. (Blog Post)


9780593420584 Ideaflow: The Only Business Metric That Matters
by Jeremy Utley and Perry Klebahn

(Portfolio, 2022)

We all want great ideas, but few actually understand how they’re born. Innovation doesn’t come from a sprint or a hackathon--it’s a result of maximizing ideaflow. Jeremy Utley and Perry Klebahn of Stanford’s renowned Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (aka the “d.school”) offer a proven strategy for coming up with great ideas by yourself or with your team, and quickly determining which are worthy. Perhaps you have experienced low ideaflow. Have you been in that quiet conference room, with a half-filled whiteboard, and an unmet business target?. With the proven system in this book, entrepreneurs, managers, and leaders will learn how to tap into surprising and valuable ideas on demand and fill the creative pipeline with breakthrough ideas. (Blog Post)


9781119898481 Decisions Over Decimals: Striking the Balance between Intuition and Information
by Paul F. Magnone, Christopher J. Frank and Oded Netzer

(Wiley, 2022)

Agile decision making is imperative as you lead in a data-driven world. Amid streams of data and countless meetings, we make hasty decisions, slow decisions, and often no decisions. Uniquely bridging theory and practice, Decisions Over Decimals breaks this pattern by uniting data intelligence with human judgment to get to action – a sharp approach the authors refer to as Quantitative Intuition (QI). QI raises the power of thinking beyond big data without neglecting it and chasing the perfect decision while appreciating that such a thing can never really exist. Successful decision-makers square critical thinking with open-mindedness by blending information, intuition, and experience.


9781523002887 The Human Side of Innovation: The Power of People in Love with People
by Mauro Porcini

(Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2022)

It is in part a memoir by one of the world’s leading designers—the first chief design officer at both 3M and Pepsi. But even more, it is a manifesto for a genuine, authentic, and deeply humanistic approach to design, one that aims to create personal and social value first and financial and economic value afterward. Putting people first requires what Porcini calls unicorns: people who are in love with people, who have a genuine fire in them to create meaningful solutions for actual human beings. In this book, he describes them, celebrates them, and details their superpowers so you can find them, hire them, grow them, and retain them.


9788985936605 Executive Presence: Step Into Your Power, Convey Confidence, & Lead With Conviction
by Joel A. Garfinkle

(JAG Press, 2022)

Executive presence matters. When 400 CEOs were asked how they choose next-level leaders, 89% of them said they looked for one critical trait-executive presence. This quality is crucial for professional success. In Executive Presence, Joel Garfinkle shows you how to step into your power, convey confidence, and lead with conviction. As you rise in your organization, your executive presence must keep pace with your growth. The higher the stakes, the more you need that power and presence. (Blog Post)



9780063074774 The President's Man: The Memoirs of Nixon's Trusted Aide
by Dwight Chapin

(William Morrow, 2022)

From Richard Nixon’s “You-won’t-have-Nixon-to-kick-around-anymore” 1962 gubernatorial campaign through his world-changing trips to China and the Soviet Union and epic downfall, Dwight Chapin was by his side. As his personal aide and then Deputy Assistant in the White House Chapin was with him in his most private and most public moments. He traveled with him, assisted, advised, strategized, campaigned and learned from America’s most controversial president. As Bob Haldeman’s protege, Chapin worked with Henry Kissinger in opening China—then eventually went to prison for Watergate although he had no involvement in it. It’s a story that ranges from Coretta Scott King to Elvis Presley, from the wonder of entering a closed Chinese society to the Oval Office, and concludes with startling new insights and conclusions about the break-in that brought down Nixon’s presidency. (Blog Post)


9781400067077 Becoming FDR: The Personal Crisis That Made a President
by Jonathan Darman

(Random House, 2022)

Becoming FDR traces the riveting story of the struggle that forged Roosevelt’s character and political ascent. Soon after contracting polio in 1921 at the age of thirty-nine, the former failed vice-presidential candidate was left paralyzed from the waist down. He spent much of the next decade trying to rehabilitate his body and adapt to the stark new reality of his life. By the time he reemerged on the national stage in 1928 as the Democratic candidate for governor of New York, his character and his abilities had been transformed. He had become compassionate and shrewd by necessity, tailoring his speeches to inspire listeners and to reach them through a new medium—radio. Tracing the physical, political, and personal evolution of the iconic president, Becoming FDR shows how adversity can lead to greatness, and to the power to remake the world. (Blog Post)


9781982140748 A Man of Iron: The Turbulent Life and Improbable Presidency of Grover Cleveland
by Troy Senik

(Simon & Schuster/Threshold Editions, 2022)

Featuring a wealth of in-depth research and newly uncovered details, A Man of Iron explores the remarkable life and extraordinary career of Grover Cleveland—one of America’s most unusual presidents and the only one to serve two non-consecutive terms. Grover Cleveland’s political career—a dizzying journey that saw him rise from obscure lawyer to president of the United States in just three years—was marked by contradictions. A politician of uncharacteristic honesty and principle, he was nevertheless dogged by secrets from his personal life. A believer in limited government, he pushed presidential power to its limits to combat a crippling depression, suppress labor unrest, and resist the forces of American imperialism. A headstrong executive who alienated Congress, political bosses, and even his own party, his stubbornness nevertheless became the key to his political appeal. The most successful Democratic politician of his era, he came to be remembered most fondly by Republicans. (Blog Post)


9781419752568 12 Notes: On Life and Creativity
by Quincy Jones

(Abrams Image, 2022)

12 Notes is a self-development guide that will affirm that creativity is a calling that can and should be answered, no matter your age or experience. Drawing from his own life, and those of his many creative collaborators past and present, Quincy Jones presents readers with lessons that are hardworking and accessible, yet speak to the passion of self-expression. He includes sections as deep as how to transform grief into power, and as practical as how to set goals and articulate intentions through daily affirmations. Weaving his story throughout, Jones lets readers in on his own creative process, as well as the importance of letting honesty, hard work, and good relationships drive your career. (Blog Post)

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Whats New in Leadership Books Best Books of 2021

Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:00 AM
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“In Search of Excellence” Revisited

Search of Excellence Revisited

IN 1982, Tom Peters and Bob Waterman released In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best-Run Companies. The book was a huge business bestseller and served as a guide for managers for many years to come. It became required reading in business school classes. Yet, 40 years later, few now speak of the book. Perhaps it’s time for In Search of Excellence to find a new audience.

When the book project started in 1978, the U.S. was in the midst of an economic quagmire. Inflation was in double digits while productivity and personal income were stagnant — an economic condition that became known as stagflation. Interest rates were through the roof. Interest rates on real estate loans had climbed to 20 percent and higher. The country was suffering an existential crisis, as well, amidst an OPEC oil embargo coinciding with Vietnam War and Watergate fatigue. Feel familiar?

September 11th, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Great Recession, the COVID pandemic, and polarized politics have created our own existential worries. Yet, Peters and Waterman pointed out that there were bright spots in the economy. In spite of the times, some companies were pursuing excellence in the execution of their missions. They believed if the characteristics of excellent companies could be identified and shared with corporate America, more organizations could perform better and lift the country out of its doldrums.

Consider the timelessness of these key qualities:

Eight Characteristics of Excellent Companies

Like Jim Collins accomplished in Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t, Peters and Waterman developed a methodology for their study. Structure, strategy, people, management style, systems and procedures, guiding concepts and shared values, and corporate strengths and skills, along with financial performance, served as criteria for selecting excellent companies. Forty-three companies made the cut, with eight common characteristics identified among them:

  1. A bias for action rather than overanalyzing situations
  2. A customer-first focus in all decisions
  3. Ongoing innovation with new products, services, and processes through autonomy and entrepreneurship
  4. Productivity through well-trained, rewarded, and empowered front-line employees
  5. Hands-on, value-driven leadership
  6. Sticking to the knitting and avoiding distractions from the key business
  7. Avoiding top-heavy executive ranks and organizational bureaucracy
  8. Simultaneous loose-tight properties in which firm targets are set, but individual discretion is allowed to attain them

The eight characteristics of excellent companies are well-known today, even if most aren’t aware of their source. But knowledge and application are two different animals. How many companies today are actually excellent? How many companies exhibit these eight characteristics? And is a new study needed to identify today’s excellent companies to serve as beacons to lift the country out of its malaise?

Perhaps not. Buried within the text, Peters and Waterman offer the bottom line of how to identify excellence in companies. It’s one we use every day, consciously or not, whenever we buy something. At the best companies, “The love of the product and customer was palpable.”

Love the Customer

Love. It’s a strong word, eliciting romance and passion. But it can be adapted in a business context to reflect values of caring, kindness, consideration, respect, and honesty. Love can also be understood by placing it on the end of a continuum with its opposite: greed. We recognize a company’s greediness when it misleads, avoids making things right with its customers, ignores the well-being of its employees, layers bureaucracy between executives and everyone else to avoid accountability, shirks quality, and hits the customer with sneaky profit practices like hidden fees and up charges.

Love and greed. You know them when you see them. For example, each time my local Culligan service delivery man comes with salt for my water unit, he tries to leave an unneeded extra bag in my garage. He tells me it’s to cut down on the number of trips to my house and save gas. He never gives me a straight answer on why he just doesn’t put the required amount in the unit and leave it at that. I now have six extra bags that have accumulated in my garage from the times I haven’t been able to stop this practice in person. The corporate office hasn’t solved the problem for me either. Whether it’s an accounting trick to boost sales per stop or a fuel savings for the driver, one thing is clear: Culligan is making a decision that’s good for them but not for the customer. That’s what greed, and not love for the customer, looks like.

Harkening to the Golden Rule, companies should treat customers as they would like to be treated. Fred Reichheld, the creator of the Net Promoter Score, believes that love and greed are the foundations of two different types of capitalism: customer capitalism and financial capitalism. Customer capitalists abide by the Golden Rule with customers, whereas financial capitalists make decisions with the bottom line as their only guide. However, treating the customer with love is the best way to boost the bottom line in the long run. Financial capitalism, on the other hand, is concerned with short-term results without regard for long-term consequences.

Capitalism is under scrutiny today as to whether it’s the right system for the country to operate under. Might simply loving the customer help companies make a better case for what capitalism can provide? Might loving the customer help companies play a role in boosting the morale of the country?

Excellence is Discovered in the Details

You can also identify a company pursuing excellence and one that loves the customer by how much it pays attention to the details in its products and services. Consider a movie theater. Is the condiment area stocked with supplies? Are the seats and aisles cleaned well between shows? Are the restrooms maintained well? These little touches add to a special environment for how we experience a movie. If the theater looks like it’s given the care of a messy college dorm room, we’re better off waiting for the movie to come to our big-screen televisions at home.

With these qualities in mind, let’s circle back to the state of the world today. Our political climate might be hard to change, but we all have the chance to improve matters in our work. Given that today isn’t the only era in which these struggles have taken place, nor will it be the last, the pursuit of excellence remains one of the best ways to bring purpose and satisfaction back to our lives. Enlightened managers with a new commitment to excellence and quality in the 1980s made a difference. A job well done by enough of us in these times can bring a needed change to the world.

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Leading Forum
Michael Goldsby is the Stoops Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship and Chief Entrepreneurship Officer at Ball State University. Rob Mathews is the Executive Director of the Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute at Ball University. His new book with co-authors Min Basadur and Rob Mathews, Design-Centered Entrepreneurship, Second Edition (Routledge, 2022), provides a research-driven, step-by-step approach to creative problem-solving. Learn more at www.elprofile.com.

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Scaling Up Excellence Commanding Excellence

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First Look: Leadership Books for December 2022

First Look Books

HERE'S A LOOK at some of the best leadership books to be released in December 2022 curated just for you. Be sure to check out the other great titles being offered this month.


9780593298510How to Calm Your Mind: Finding Presence and Productivity in Anxious Times by Chris Bailey

When productivity expert Chris Bailey discovered that he had become stressed and burnt out because he was pushing himself too hard, he realized that before he could continue to give advice on productivity, he needed to learn how to rein things in and take a break. Productivity advice works—and we need it now more than ever—but it’s just as vital that we also develop our capacity for calm. By finding calm and overcoming anxiety, we don’t just feel more relaxed and at ease—we invest in the missing piece that leads our efforts to become sustainable over time. We build a deeper, more expansive reservoir of energy to draw from throughout the day, and have greater mental resources at our disposal to do good work and live a meaningful life.

9781954759770Make It Count: Ensuring When Life Expires Your Legacy Lives On by Hunter Ballew

Make It Count came about after a serious and unfortunate incident. Hunter was chasing his dreams, moving from serving in the US Marine Corps for six years, to working as a full-time Firefighter and EMT, to exploring entrepreneurship. He was contemplating his move from the fire department to live his passion of owning a business when it happened ― his friend and former partner at the fire department, Jordan, was killed in a tragic car crash. The incident struck Hunter deeply as he realized that Jordan, who had made such a mark on the lives of those who knew him, wasn't going to be around to do that anymore. His life had unexpectedly ended at the young age of 30, and he had run out of time — no more memories made with his wife and newborn daughter, no more time with his family and friends, no more chances to fulfill his dreams. So that's when Hunter decided to practice one of the dominating principles he teaches in his new book: help others realize the importance of making the most of the time they're given and building a legacy that will last.

9781264278152Better Humans, Better Performance: Driving Leadership, Teamwork, and Culture with Intentionality by Peter Rea, James Stoller, and Alan Kolp

Build a sustainable high-performance culture around the seven classical virtues. Virtue is more than a word: It’s a way for us all to live, a way to flourish as human beings. And when applied to organizational life, virtue serves to enhance engagement, strengthen teamwork, and foster success in business. Better Humans, Better Performance connects the classical virtues―Trust, Compassion, Courage, Justice, Temperance, Wisdom, and Hope

9780785261629Leveling Up: 12 Questions to Elevate Your Personal and Professional Development by Ryan Leak

Whether you're a leader of ten, a hundred, or many more, there's no one more important to lead than yourself. If you're not leading yourself, why would anyone else want to follow you? Ryan Leak speaks to thousands of leaders every year, and he has learned that the most successful people have taken ownership of their own development—and in order to realize your potential, you need to fully understand yourself. Being a great leader is not about having all the answers but asking the right questions—and that starts with careful introspection and inviting others to tell you what they see in you. Leveling Up helps you focus on the person you're becoming and think about the goals you want to accomplish

9781264669158The Bold Ones: Innovate and Disrupt to Become Truly Indispensable by Shawn Kanungo

Disruption for disruption's sake isn't a smart strategy when you're seeking ways to accelerate your career and become truly indispensable. In The Bold Ones, you'll discover it's more about being bold than disruptive: being simultaneously confident enough to challenge industries, yet practical enough to recreate them. Internationally celebrated disruption strategist Shawn Kanungo offers a playbook for individuals who know they need to become bolder to push their careers and companies forward―but don't know how to innovate: You'll learn where to start, what to do, and how to break through with your ideas. Distilling lessons learned from some of the world's most extraordinary disruptors, The Bold Ones presents eight unconventional pillars to success.

9781119931409Wise Decisions: A Science-Based Approach to Making Better Choices by Sheila Ohlsson and James E. Loehr

Every 15 minutes, each of us can make ten or more small decisions. Some of them are relatively inconsequential, while others can change the course of our lives. What if you could improve all of your decisions, across the board, and start to build a healthier, more productive, and meaningful life? In Wise Decisions: A Science-Based Approach to Making Better Choices, a team of accomplished industry experts delivers an evidence- and research-based blueprint for making the best decisions you can with the information you have. You’ll learn to make the targeted, repeated investment of energy required to turn your decision-making process into one informed by reason, emotion, intuition, and science.

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“A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.”
— Henry Ward Beecher

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Leading Thoughts for December 1, 2022

Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:


Designer Mauro Porcini on getting the question right:

“The quality of the question is fundamental: far too often, people generate a whole set of correct answers for a whole set of wrong questions. And too often, people forget to question the validity of their questions, finding comfort instead in the correctness of their answers.”

Source: The Human Side of Innovation: The Power of People in Love with People



Crisis management consultant James Lukaszewski on integrity:

“Each scenario begins with and is made worse by breakdowns in integrity. Before somebody breaks the rules, before somebody breaks the law, before some executive gets into deep difficulty and becomes highly visible, there is a systemic fracture, sometimes even collapse, of integrity. I define integrity as the inherent tendency in individuals and organizations to do the right thing at every opportunity when confronted with choices, options, or dilemmas.”

Source: Speech, Avoiding Integrity, March 2, 2007

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Look for these ideas every Thursday on the Leading Blog. Find more ideas on the LeadingThoughts index.

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Leading Thoughts Whats New in Leadership Books

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