Category Archives: BUSINESS

BUSINESS, CONTRIBUTORS, LEADERSHIP

The Language of Leadership: Let’s Start at the very beginning

peitlerErica Peitler is a leadership performance coach and advisor to C-Suite executives, as well as a keynote speaker and the author of the international best selling book, Leadership Rigor!

Erica has co-hosted our Leadership on the Ground Series: Season 1Season 2Season 3

For more information, visit: www.ericapeitler.com

How to Speak the Language of Leadership and Influence Skillfully

As a leadership performance coach, I am regularly reminding my clients that leadership is a “skilled-profession.” It has a language, models and frameworks that provide practitioners with tools that when used skillfully can create a positive impact on people, teams and organizations.

The challenge is in taking the time to learn this language and how to use it with what I call “conscious competency.” This involves knowing what you are doing, how to do it and why you are doing it!

The ability to speak any language requires learning some fundamental vocabulary.
As leaders we need “conversational leadership” language that is contemporary and that we can use ….right now!

Let’s get started with three important leadership concepts:

They are:

  • Awareness
  • Alignment
  • Accountability

We Can Only Change What We Can See — So We Need Awareness!

In the world of leadership, as in life, we can only affect and change things when we have awareness of them. The concept of awareness involves understanding:

  • how you show up,
  • what it is like to be with you and
  • how your behavior impacts others.

It sounds simple and straight forward, yet most leaders have low levels of self-awareness, despite their confident self-proclamations to the contrary. Why?

First of all, we all have blind spots. We don’t know what we don’t know, and if we do not get open and honest feedback, we have little opportunity or motivation to consider a change. With feedback comes an important entry point to consider making both a belief and a behavioral shift because something we are doing is either not working or perhaps it is working well and we can be doing more of it and achieving even better performance!

Second, we often disregard feedback from those whom we don’t respect, don’t like or who have a message we don’t want or are not ready to hear. We humans usually like our story, self image and may even proudly proclaim “This is who I am and it works for me.” After all, you may be a successful senior leader already in a prominent role. The problem here is that leadership today, first and foremost, is all about others and not about ourselves, so this story–if you choose to stick with it, has an unhappy ending for you as a leader. (Either directly or through the longer-term consequences of others choosing to opt out of working with or following you!). The “old school” days of command and control, hierarchical power and leaders as kings are over! It is now a world of collaboration, mutual respect and personal power over position power, if you want the best talent.

Third, without self-awareness most of the other tools in your leadership toolbox will just not work for you! It is the cost of entry to begin the process. Without it, you will not have the personal credibility to influence and inspire others.

So if your leadership mojo is just not working the way you want it to, check in with your current understanding around your own self-awareness as a way to jump-start your stalled leadership batteries! Start by getting feedback from those you trust.

Self-awareness is also the one of the critical components involved in building your emotional intelligence. Now fully accepted as that which separates today’s most successful and influential leaders from those who merely hold a title, emotional intelligence is a set of learnable skills and behaviors that everyone can improve with time, discipline and conscious practice.

Their stated curiosity to uncover blind spots, their vulnerability to openly seek feedback to improve performance and understand who they are and who they are not (yet) provides emotionally intelligent leaders with enormous leverage in getting others to follow them.

As a leadership performance coach, much of my work with executives and teams centers on skill building in the emotional intelligence area. What was historically dismissed as unimportant, “soft stuff” has now been validated in multiple research studies are the “really important and no longer underestimated stuff.” Not only has it become clear how work really gets done collaboratively today in teams and organizations, but also importantly, this “soft stuff” (or leadership skills as I like to refer to them) is really hard to learn and apply without practice and discipline. Those with a natural aptitude or appetite for emotional intelligence are often the graceful climbers of the executive ranks. The good news is, for those with the desire and ambition to become leaders at the highest levels, there is nothing that cannot be learned here with a little “RIGOR”!

For more learning on emotional intelligence and its practical business applications, check out the work of Daniel Goleman and Travis Bradberry.
How Leaders Achieve and Communicate ALIGNMENT

The ability to “execute with excellence” in any organization is dependent upon its leaders abilities to make good decisions and appropriately cascade the communication of those decisions across their organization.

Unfortunately, many companies fail to have transparent and effective decision-making and communication processes. Consequently, most leaders struggle with these skills and as a result, they often create more dysfunction and misunderstanding than clarity and closure. The resulting lack of alignment may inhibit organizational productivity and performance!

The word “alignment” in the context of leadership means having a team or organization all clearly on the same page, moving forward with focus and energy in the same direction.

Fundamentally, alignment is an output based on an input and throughput.

INPUT:
The decision making process by which a team or organization discusses, weighs in and evaluates a range of possibilities for solving a business challenge.

THROUGHPUT:
The consistent communication of the go forward decision that is cascaded across the organization by its leaders.

OUTPUT:
Alignment!

In solving a business challenge or making a decision, creativity and opportunity are born our of debating a range of options and then selecting the best one for the circumstances. The team and organization win when a wide variety of ideas are considered vs. the alternatives of groupthink or leader mandated solutions.

Possibilities and choices need to be identified, debated and examined through a variety of lenses. Through one lens, perhaps a functional department view, an option may look like a slam-dunk, while through an alternative lens, it might have significant downside risk. The power of productive conflict, or debate among trusting team members allows for an examination and determination of the best path forward for the organization at this time. It is not as simple as just making the numbers look good on paper. The complexity of business today requires understanding the dynamics around business conditions, life cycles and the competitive landscape, not to mention the possibility of a game-changing disruptive risk that you may or may not want to take at a particular moment in time. This takes an engaging and open conversation with team members demonstrating both VERITAS and listening skills!

Selecting one path forward obviously means that there will be options that are not selected despite them having potential validity as a solution and the advocacy from one or more passionate supporters. This is where the challenging nuance of alignment comes in. Alignment is the ability to agree to and fully support the go-forward decision, even when you have expressed an alternative viewpoint and your position has not been selected. Sometimes this process is referred to as “weighing-in” on the issue or decision. Having your chance to weigh-in and voice your point of view is most important and it is a critical step in achieving organizational or team alignment.

Individuals, teams and organizations run into trouble when they misunderstand alignment. Not being agreed with, being overruled and/or claiming to have “lost” a debate can be hard to take for some leaders and might be even tougher to “appropriately” explain to your team who might have been counting on you as their team leader to convince the organizational leadership of their preferred choice or outcome.

Here is where “leadership skills” come into play. Some leaders mistakenly turn a healthy opportunity to debate options for a best choice for their organization into a personal “win-lose” scenario where there are disappointments and a lack of willingness to support the ultimate decision.

Coming out of a meeting and appropriately communicating the decision outcomes, most importantly the “why” behind the choice, is a critical role for leaders to play. Skilled leaders openly express that the decision was thoroughly explored, acknowledging that different perspectives were shared and debated. They credit their teams and colleagues with broadly covering and passionately providing insights and rationale for the range of considerations. Then they share the decision outcome, why it was the one that prevailed and clearly verbalize not only their support for the go forward decision, but also state the expectation that their teams and direct reports will also support it. During the discussion they may empathize with the potential disappointment their team may feel; however, the key is to not break from the alignment with their leadership team (including throwing colleagues under the proverbial bus by claiming they still don’t agree) and to use the conversation with their team as a learning opportunity around the dynamics of organization decision-making and alignment. Taking the time to coach and develop your talent bench around these healthy decision-making and cascading communication dynamics is your job as a leader.

The challenge with alignment is not only getting your Leadership team to have the right understanding of how to move forward, but additionally, how to appropriately cascade the communication across the organization.

Alignment is fundamentally giving your heart and mind to the “go-forward” plan without second-guessing or undermining the decision. Anything short of this amounts to not being a team player. Without alignment, teams and organizations waste “blue dollars” which are people time and energy being thrown away having conversations about what “shoulda, coulda, woulda” been decided under different circumstances. Imagine instead all that could be achieved if that time and energy were focused on your go-forward plan?

ACCOUNTABILITY and The Role of the Leader

There is likely to be no organization in existence that would not like to increase the accountability they believe they currently have among their community of employees. Why do we experience such a disappointment across all industries, sectors and companies? One answer: poor leadership!

But, can poor leadership be the answer to accountability as well as every other problem an organization faces? Shouldn’t people just do their jobs and with that all will fall naturally into place?

Here is the hard truth, if you are the team or organizational leader, any problem you have has your “fingerprints” on it. You have either consciously or unconsciously created this environment or you tolerate it. Either way all roads lead back to you as the leader!

That being said, the elusiveness of accountability is something that warrants exploration. Most leaders and organizations fundamentally do not understand that accountability (like alignment in the previous section) is an OUTPUT resulting from a specific INPUT and a disciplined THROUGHPUT. Without understanding this dynamic, most leaders are lost and frustrated. So what are these magical “PUTS” all about?

The INPUT: Clarifying Expectations

The reason why accountability is elusive and leaders are continuously disappointed is because they do NOT take the time to establish clear expectations. This may sound simple, but most leaders fall into a few traps or rationalizations:

  • Employees should just do their jobs
  • They should know (or guess) what I want
  • I don’t know exactly what I want; can’t you just figure it out?

Taking a moment to thoughtfully consider that what you are asking the other person to do can mean the difference between time invested in a worthwhile challenge or time wasted on a frustrating chase. With clear expectations, you and your direct report can differentiate between wants and needs to ensure delivery of what is really being asked for and eliminate what is not. This ensures that an appropriate use of time and energy is allocated to this initiative. There is also a relationship benefit here in that you both build trust and confidence in each other while securing alignment together.

An important part of expectation setting should also include ensuring appropriate support resources from other departments are in place to contribute to the work product. This may require the leader reaching out to other colleagues to ensure alignment of priorities across the team or organization.

The THROUGHPUT: Coaching for Performance

Most leaders, with coaching and encouragement, do get better at setting expectations. Unfortunately it is not enough to simply stand by and wait for the delivery of what they asked for, believing their work is done. The work of a leader continues with the throughput required to ultimately secure accountability, which requires “coaching for performance” along the way.

This is actually the hardest part for many leaders who want to delegate and simply walk away. High performance teams and organizations build capability and skills in their employees by actively coaching for performance by varying their leadership style and the level of engagement based on the confidence and competence of the colleague they are working with. While most leaders have 1 or 2 styles as their go-to selections (usually directing and delegating), the best leaders have 4-6 and perhaps even 10 different styles in their toolbox to use selectively based on the situation. These leaders know what they are looking for, how they need to flex to the needs of a particular individual and why a certain style will work better than another. This is leadership in action, on the ground and in real time! This is also what makes the difference between a high performance leader with a strong talent bench and a frustrated one with high turnover!

The OUTPUT: Shared Accountability.

Successful accountability is “shared accountability”. Setting expectations (aligning resources as well), coaching for performance and ultimately HOLDING accountability to the deliverable that was agreed upon sounds laborious to the leader who prefers to tell you what to do or delegate and dash away. To skilled leaders, it is a series of worthwhile conversations and interactive engagements that delivers quality work while also building the talent bench through trusting relationships, teamwork and community!

peitlerErica Peitler is a leadership performance coach and advisor to C-Suite executives, as well as a keynote speaker and the author of the international best selling book, Leadership Rigor!

Erica has co-hosted our Leadership on the Ground Series: Season 1Season 2Season 3

For more information, visit: www.ericapeitler.com

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BUSINESS, INCUBATOR, PERSONAL GROWTH, WELLNESS

INCUBATOR 030: Jane Curth: Improve health by combining the power of an activity tracking device with expert evaluation

Joined in studio today by Jane Curth, Founder + CEO, of Healthyou. Healthyou improves users’ health by combining the power of an activity tracking device with expert evaluation. With data analysis, weekly feedback, and personal encouragement, users embark on a lifelong trajectory of healthy living.

Jan Curth

Discussion guide from our conversation with Jane Curth:

1. Healthyou background–including Jane’s background…what lead her to create Healthyou! And how was it started?

2. What does Healthyou do?

3. Importance of a healthy lifestyle. And why you have to set goals…

4. Importance of accountability in pursuing a healthy lifestyle.

5. We discuss the technology behind Halthyou. And its integration with FitBit.

6. Who is Healthyou’s target audience?

7. We discuss Healthyou’s ONLINE COURSES, who they are for… Hint: Continuing Education1

8. New initiative of Healthyou — starting a new initiative in education to enhance the work they are already doing. Online courses are being developed that will give pertinent information to clients. Also, online elite courses are being developed that will provide continuing education credits to personal trainers and fitness professionals.

9. We wrap up with THE WELA question of the week: “What is the best piece of financial advice you have ever received for given?”

About Jane Curth:

Jane started Healthyou amidst a life dedicated to educating and encouraging people on the benefits of living an active and healthy lifestyle. She has been an ACE (American Council on Exercise) certified Personal Trainer since 1998. She is also a retired college professor and has served for over 20 years in the field of Health and Kinesiology.

She has presented at over 18 state, regional, and national conferences on various health and fitness topics. She developed many online courses in her career and turned those experiences into her wellness coaching company, Healthyou. She is an active Baby Boomer living a wellness lifestyle and wants to help others in her generation, and younger, to live life to the fullest.

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The Incubator is made possible by the following partners:

MD Burns Nash

Wela Logo_Strategies

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AUTHORS, BUSINESS

Stragility: Excelling at strategic changes

Joined on the show today by the co-authors of Stragility: Excelling at Strategic Changes, Lisa Hillenbrand and Ellen Auster. You can learn more about the book, and Ellen and Lisa, by CLICKING HERE.
stragility

Discussion guide from today’s conversation with the co-authors of Stragility:

1. What “Stragility” is, and why it is critical to achieving organizational change.

2. Change is constant now, right? Do we need to adapt to this new normal?

3. We are talking about change at all organizational levels right?

4. What makes Stragility different from all other change management methodologies?

5. Strategy / Agile / People = The model!

6. How to get a company’s people truly engaged in the transformation, and why this is crucial.

7. Why “locking and loading” and “telling and selling” a change strategy can be fatal mistakes…

8. What it takes to manage the politics that inevitably arise around any change effort…

9. How to avoid “change fatigue” and build change fitness with every change your
organization takes on…

10. Why counterintuitive strategies like “going slow to go fast” and “changing less to achieve more” may be key to winning at change…

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Find Stragility (the book) here!

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About the authors:

Lisa Hillenbrand, who is the founder of Lisa Hillenbrand & Associates, previously served as Global Marketing Director at Procter & Gamble. She specializes in marketing, strategy, and organization change interventions that return brands to growth, and led the team that “re-engineered” Procter & Gamble’s company-wide brand building approach. Hillenbrand has delivered keynotes for the AMA, Marketing Science Institute and Thomas Edison Foundation, and has consulted with and led top rated workshops for Google, Facebook and many others.

Ellen R. Auster has more than 25 years of experience as an academic and consultant specializing in strategic transitions, transformations and turnarounds. Professor of Strategic Management and the Founding Director of the Schulich Centre for Teaching Excellence at the Schulich School of Business, York University, she has published widely in journals including The Academy of Management Review, Management Science, Sloan Management Review, The Journal of Business Ethics, and Human Resource Management. Auster has also been quoted in BusinessWeek, Time, Newsweek, Harvard Business Review, and USA Today, among other leading news sources.

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BUSINESS

Rodd Wagner: How employee motivation impacts productivity and engagement

Joined today in studio by Rodd Wagner, the Vice President of Employee Engagement Strategy with BI Worldwide.

Rodd Wagner

Discussion guide from my conversation with Rodd Wagner:

1. We’re interested to hear about your recent work on studying employee motivation in the United States, how important is happiness at work?

2. Being cool isn’t something employers necessarily aimed for a generation ago, how important is coolness now?

3. How does pay affect happiness?

4. How did you come up with the New Rules of Engagement, and what does it mean?

5. Are you “engageable?”

6. What exactly is engagement? What role does “intensity” play in this?

About Rodd Wagner:

Rodd Wagner is the New York Times bestselling author of Widgets. A contributor to Forbes, he is one of the foremost authorities on employee engagement and collaboration. Wagner’s books, speeches, and thought leadership focus on how human nature affects business strategy. He currently serves as vice president of employee engagement strategy at BI WORLDWIDE.

Wagner is a confidential advisor to senior executives on the best ways to increase their personal effectiveness and their organizations’ performance. His work has taken him to a fiberglass factory in Brazil, a vehicle engineering facility in India, a paper warehouse in Poland, a home improvement store in Wales, a medical device design site in Germany, a pharmaceutical firm in Switzerland, the Pentagon, the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, and the attack submarine USS California.

Wagner’s books have been published in 10 languages and his work featured in The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, ABC News, BusinessWeek, CNBC.com, and the Globe and Mail and National Post in Canada, and parodied in Dilbert.

Wagner holds an M.B.A. with honors from the University of Utah Graduate School of Business. He was formerly a principal of Gallup, the research director of the Portland Press Herald and WGME-TV in Maine, a reporter and news editor for The Salt Lake Tribune, and a radio talk show host.

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BUSINESS, MARKETING

Geoff Wilson: Startup thinking for corporate enterprises

Joined on the show today by Geoff Wilson, the president and CEO of 352 Inc.

About 352 Inc: Their passion is turning great ideas into compelling websites, apps and software. They build dedicated teams around every client to get you to market quickly, so that they can learn, iterate and grow your audience.

Discussion guide from my conversation with Geoff Wilson:

1. Corporate Innovation: 352’s approach to digital product development via agile methodologies.

2. Lean Startup mentality: prototype to successful product.

3. “Barely manage to lead…”

4. We discuss The Enterprise Entrepreneurship Series at Tech Square Labs for corporate innovators.

5. We discuss “Traction Marketing,” aka lean principles applied to marketing.

6. Geoff shares a few SCRUM/UX best practices.

7. We discuss the upcoming 352inc annual Hackathon, which will take place around August/September of 2016.

Geoff Wilson

About Geoff Wilson:

President and Founder of 352 Inc., Geoff Wilson is a tech entrepreneur, investor and mentor who found his passion for business at an early age. After starting a successful computer store in high school, Geoff began building websites in his college fraternity house room and 352 Inc. was born. 17 years later, his digital product development agency has grown to more than 85 employees with offices in Atlanta, Tampa and Gainesville, FL. 

As 352 grew, Geoff began to focus on the powerful impact of lean and agile methodologies. Geoff implemented these principles into 352 by reorganizing the agency into cross-functional teams and turning managers into servant leaders. Free to focus on a single project at a time, his teams’ quality of work, productivity and morale dramatically increased. Good client relationships became great ones, and 352 began down a path of unprecedented growth. Geoff calls his management philosophy “Barely Manage to Lead” and speaks at conferences about how this approach can improve any type of business.

Geoff and his wife, Kim Wilson, also have built and sold a highly successful digital product, SocialNewsDesk. SocialNewsDesk is an online social media management platform for newsrooms, and is currently being used by 85% of the television newsrooms in the United States to manage their social presence. SocialNewsDesk was acquired in 2014 by a Fortune 500 company, Graham Holdings.

Geoff’s success lead him to be named one of America’s Top 30 Young Entrepreneurs by INC Magazine, and the University of Florida Warrington College of Business’ Entrepreneur of the Year.

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AUTHORS, BUSINESS

Cam Barber: What’s Your Message?

Author Cam Barber joins me to discuss his new book, What’s Your Message?

Cam Barber

Discussion guide from my conversation with Cam Barber:

1. A lot of people offer advice on public speaking, what sets your book apart?

2. Many people have a real fear of speaking in public. What advice do you have for overcoming anxiety?

3. A big part of your book explains “chunking” your ideas to create an effective presentation? What is “chunking” and how does it work?

4. You debunk a lot of public speaking myths in the book. What are some of the more common myths?

5. You say in the book that for CEOs and leaders of any business that messaging is branding. What are some of the key factors leaders need to keep in mind when they are communicating with their customers, employees, or anyone who impacts their organization?

Find Cam Barber’s book here:

About Cam Barber:

Cam is a speaker, speaking coach and speechwriter.

His background as a radio executive helped him understand how to get inside the mind of an audience and trigger message recall.
He developed the Vivid Method for Public Speaking as a response to the mechanical acting skills being taught for business presentations and media settings. The first version was built on natural style and message transfer – hence the nickname ‘message man’. Delighted participants also found that this simple, practical focus reduced public speaking anxiety.

Clients now rave about the ability to relax under pressure, the power of Vivid Messages and the simple approach that generates twice the impact using half the effort. Cam Barber has helped craft presentations for dozens of Top 100 companies and coached speakers, CEOs and other presenters to make their message more powerful.

When he’s not speaking, coaching or writing, Cam consults on message management.

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