Category Archives: LEADERSHIP

AUTHORS, BUSINESS, LEADERSHIP, PERSONAL GROWTH

Game Changer 03: The Think And Do Effect

Welcome to Episode 03 of Be A Game Changer: The Think And Do Effect Take action to win the game of business and life! A series that provides the light, the path, and your map to a better future!

Discussion guide from Episode 03: The Think And Do Effect

1. What does it even mean to be a game changer?

2. Game changers recognize that life is a game, and they play to win.

3. Bill provides a quick overview of the Think And Do Effect.

4. Most people overthink and never do. And some people Do without thinking it through. Too many people never think AND do.

5. The key is this: once you think about an important action to take, you do have to actually take immediate action to move the ball forward.

6. Winners often win because they take action first.

7. If you wait until the situation is perfect before proceeding, you will lose. It will NEVER be perfect…

8. “The shorter the distance between thought and action, the greater the likelihood of success.”

Think And Do Effect9. Game changers take immediate action after an intelligent thought.

10. By not taking action, you lose momentum and credibility.

11. How do you know when you have thought enough about a potential action?

12. Design and lead verses reacting and following. Reacting is playing someone else’s game, and that NOT what game changers do.

13. In football (and in the game of life), it’s better to hit than BE hit…

14. Failing forward: when you think and do, you will sometimes make mistakes. Don’t let fear of mistake prevent action. Rather, look at those types of mistakes as learning opportunities…

15. How important is instinct here? It is a driver of confidence in think and do.

16. With regards to instincts, can you improve your instincts? Or is the bigger issue actually listing (and trusting) your instincts?

17. “You have to think deliberately and act decisively.”

18. How do you think deliberately?

19. The importance of creating your own environment (and how this is part of defining the rules of the game YOU are playing)…

20. When you DO, how do you deal with the naysayers? Taking action will usually result in someone reacting negatively. (Honestly, you need naysayers — they give you guidance on where you are).

21. Game changers don’t let naysayers deflect them from their path…

22. You have to become your own force multiplier.

23. Make momentum your ally.

About the co-host, Bill Wooditch:

Game ChangerBill is a keynote speaker and peak-performance business training coach. He is a mentor and advocate for those who actively seek and are determined to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.

He began his career with $200 to his name, a suitcase, one corduroy suit and two ties. Retreat wasn’t an option; there was only one way – Always Forward! His purpose, energy and conviction fueled his meteoric sales success. In two years, he “found a way and made a way” to become the top salesperson at Liberty Mutual – a company employing over 19,000 people at the time. Ready for the “next challenge”, he was recruited by and joined the 6th largest broker in the world, Corroon & Black (currently the Willis Group), where, for two consecutive years, he earned the distinction as the top producer in the company.

Today, he is the founder, CEO, and president of The Wooditch Group, a privately held risk management and insurance services firm. The Wooditch Group provides client-centric solutions and comprehensive risk management programs for domestic and international clients whose revenues range from $10 million to over $3 billion. He is also the founder of Think Next, Act Now!, a company that trains and mentors tomorrow’s entrepreneur today.

He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at Purdue University and his Master’s degree in Public Administration at Penn State.

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You can find Bill’s book here:

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This series is made possible by:

stamped logo“Think Next, Act Now” is an entrepreneurial movement. It is a teaching platform, a coaching forum that emphasizes action, and the link between thought and action makes a difference in the outcome you determine or the result that is determined for you.

When you see, seize, and create opportunity for yourself, you take a BIG step toward becoming recession proof, and changing your life.

If you are determined to make a change in your life — “Think Next, Act Now” will provide the essential toolkit to move your life forward!

Only realized potential cashes the check of reality! Now is the time to realize your potential – Think Next, Act Now and go “Always Forward!”

To learn more, go to BillWooditch.com!

###

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AUTHORS, BUSINESS, LEADERSHIP, PERSONAL GROWTH

Game Changer 02: How to define what it means to YOU to be a game changer

Welcome to Episode 02 of Be A Game Changer: How to define what it means to be a game changer: What is your path? What will bring achievement and happiness? Take action to win the game of business and life! A series that provides the light, the path, and your map to a better future!

Discussion guide from Episode 02: What does winning look like for YOU?

1. What does it even mean to be a game changer?

2. Game changers are remarkable. They are accountable.

3. Game changers recognize that life is a game, and they play to win.

4. And in playing the game, we discuss why “play” seems to have a negative connotation.

5. And in playing the game of business and life, yes, we play to win. But there do not have to be losers. We can all win this game! Move away from the “Zero Sum” thinking…

6. Having a definition of what winning the game of life means gives you freedom. You now have a concrete endeavor to seek. You know where you want to go. That alone is enlightening!

7. A game changer has to know where they want to go, and what they want to change and influence, right?

8. What is happiness? And why is knowing what that means to you important?

9. Joy verses happiness. There IS a difference.

10. Destinations are markers that show us where we are, and what we still have to do. Understand that most people don’t know where they want to go, and that causes a lot of stress.

11. “The chase is the foreplay. That’s all the fun!”

12. You also have to recognize there is a cost to achieve your destination. And you have to know if you are willing to pay that cost. Game changers are willing to do so. (Hint: the cost is emotional) You have to bang through fear.

13. And there will be collateral damage along the way. Game changers know and expect this.

14. You have to keep raising the bar.

15. Game changers look at fear as a signal, an indicator, a marker that they are close. And the bigger the fear, the closer they are to achieving their destination.

16. “You don’t bargain with success.”

17. There are three phases: Achievement phase, maintenance phase, and the Phase of Next (the growth). Most try to maintain once they achieve their first success, but true growth comes when you push from there. Game changers do NOT maintain for long.

game changer18. Activity rules success. The more activity you have in life, the more exposure to opportunities for success.

19. Directed and measured activity verses mindless, justify-your-salary activity.

20. Game changers don’t watch the clock, they are purely focused on directed and measured activity.

21. A game changer knows when their activities and work are moving the ball forward towards the goal.

22. Take “the money” part of the table. Game changers aren’t focused on the money. They don’t play small…they think bigger than that.

23. We again discuss the importance of your message here. There has to be alignment between the message and the messenger. But you also have to be able to adapt and adopt and be sensitive to how others feel. People have to believe in you…

About the co-host, Bill Wooditch:

Game ChangerBill is a keynote speaker and peak-performance business training coach. He is a mentor and advocate for those who actively seek and are determined to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.

He began his career with $200 to his name, a suitcase, one corduroy suit and two ties. Retreat wasn’t an option; there was only one way – Always Forward! His purpose, energy and conviction fueled his meteoric sales success. In two years, he “found a way and made a way” to become the top salesperson at Liberty Mutual – a company employing over 19,000 people at the time. Ready for the “next challenge”, he was recruited by and joined the 6th largest broker in the world, Corroon & Black (currently the Willis Group), where, for two consecutive years, he earned the distinction as the top producer in the company.

Today, he is the founder, CEO, and president of The Wooditch Group, a privately held risk management and insurance services firm. The Wooditch Group provides client-centric solutions and comprehensive risk management programs for domestic and international clients whose revenues range from $10 million to over $3 billion. He is also the founder of Think Next, Act Now!, a company that trains and mentors tomorrow’s entrepreneur today.

He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at Purdue University and his Master’s degree in Public Administration at Penn State.

###

You can find Bill’s book here:

###

This series is made possible by:

stamped logo“Think Next, Act Now” is an entrepreneurial movement. It is a teaching platform, a coaching forum that emphasizes action, and the link between thought and action makes a difference in the outcome you determine or the result that is determined for you.

When you see, seize, and create opportunity for yourself, you take a BIG step toward becoming recession proof, and changing your life.

If you are determined to make a change in your life — “Think Next, Act Now” will provide the essential toolkit to move your life forward!

Only realized potential cashes the check of reality! Now is the time to realize your potential – Think Next, Act Now and go “Always Forward!”

To learn more, go to BillWooditch.com!

###

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AUTHORS, BUSINESS, LEADERSHIP, PERSONAL GROWTH

Game Changer 01: The Always Forward Mindset and Philosophy

Welcome to Episode 01 of Be A Game Changer: The Always Forward Mindset and Philosophy! Take action to win the game of business and life! A series that provides the light, the path, and your map to a better future!

Discussion guide from Episode 01: Always Forward:

1. What does it even mean to be a game changer? “Nothing can happen without taking an action…”

2. A game changer influences an outcome.

3. Most people aren’t engaged enough in their own lives (or careers) to be game changers. “Most are observers, not participants in life…”

4. Game changers thrive on pressure.

5. Bill provides an overview of what is meant by ALWAYS FORWARD.

6. Most think they are moving forward, but most really are not. How do you know?

7. Taking action removes fear, which is what holds back most people.

8. You will have setbacks. Game changers accept that, but keep moving forward.

9. We discuss mentorship, which is critical to helping you become a game changer.

Always Forward10. Mentors hold you accountable, but they teach you how to move forward, and what roadblocks to pay attention to.

11. “Walking through the grass barefoot…”

12. Understanding your message to drive forward, taking intelligent risk.

13. Knowing what will happen when you cross your Rubicon, and when you do, your life will never be the same. And the only way to be a game changer.

14. You have to know what price you are willing to pay to achieve what you want to achieve.

15. Be careful about what you want, because you just might get it.

16. If you aren’t moving forward, you will atrophy.

17. How do you find out what your Rubicon will be? Too many people don’t know.

18. You do have to find YOUR voice.

19. You will feel insecurity, but therein lies your opportunity to go always forward. It can be a learning moment, a part of growth.

20. The importance of continuous learning. Game changers are always learning, always expanding their thinking. And sometimes you have to learn how to learn…

21. But don’t fall on always learning and NEVER taking action or a step forward.

22. How do you know what your next step is? Forward motion is critical, but many don’t know where to go…

23. “You have to think next…”

About the co-host, Bill Wooditch:

Always ForwardBill is a keynote speaker and peak-performance business training coach. He is a mentor and advocate for those who actively seek and are determined to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.

He began his career with $200 to his name, a suitcase, one corduroy suit and two ties. Retreat wasn’t an option; there was only one way – Always Forward! His purpose, energy and conviction fueled his meteoric sales success. In two years, he “found a way and made a way” to become the top salesperson at Liberty Mutual – a company employing over 19,000 people at the time. Ready for the “next challenge”, he was recruited by and joined the 6th largest broker in the world, Corroon & Black (currently the Willis Group), where, for two consecutive years, he earned the distinction as the top producer in the company.

Today, he is the founder, CEO, and president of The Wooditch Group, a privately held risk management and insurance services firm. The Wooditch Group provides client-centric solutions and comprehensive risk management programs for domestic and international clients whose revenues range from $10 million to over $3 billion. He is also the founder of Think Next, Act Now!, a company that trains and mentors tomorrow’s entrepreneur today.

He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at Purdue University and his Master’s degree in Public Administration at Penn State.

###

You can find Bill’s book here:

###

This series is made possible by:

stamped logo“Think Next, Act Now” is an entrepreneurial movement. It is a teaching platform, a coaching forum that emphasizes action, and the link between thought and action makes a difference in the outcome you determine or the result that is determined for you.

When you see, seize, and create opportunity for yourself, you take a BIG step toward becoming recession proof, and changing your life.

If you are determined to make a change in your life — “Think Next, Act Now” will provide the essential toolkit to move your life forward!

Only realized potential cashes the check of reality! Now is the time to realize your potential – Think Next, Act Now and go “Always Forward!”

To learn more, go to BillWooditch.com!

###

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AUTHORS, BUSINESS, LEADERSHIP

Andrea Simon: How anthropology will lead to more effective change management

Joined on the show by Dr. Andrea Simon, a Corporate Anthropologist with Simon Associates Management, and the author of On The Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights. Learn more about Andrea Simon here!

Discussion guide from today’s conversation with Andrea Simon:

1. What is a corporate anthropologist, and how does this focus differ from traditional change management practice?

2. What are innovation games?

3. Turning observation into innovation.

4. We discuss her latest book: On The Brink: A Fresh Lens To Take Your Business To New Heights.

5. A new way to think about developing strategy.

6. You need more observant eyes (and how do you develop more observant eyes).

7. Andi walks us through several case studies on how to apply anthropology to corporate change and innovation.

About Andrea Simon:

· Founder and CEO of Simon Associates Management Consultants

· Author of On The Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Business to New Heights

· Trained practitioner of Blue Ocean Strategy® and Innovation Games®

· Sought-after professional speaker and workshop facilitator

· PhD in Anthropology, tenured Professor in American Studies and Anthropology

· Visiting Professor at Washington University in St. Louis

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Find Andrea Simon’s book here:

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HR, LEADERSHIP

HR Latte: When HR Kills Innovation Efforts

Part 1: Guest Josh Berry in a new #KeyPointPodcast series
“When HR Kills Your Innovation Efforts”

iHR logo

HR Latte, episode 85

Series: When HR Kills Innovation Efforts

HR is a core piece of the innovation equation and can make or break your innovation efforts. Econic helps corporations map and execute innovation. After working with many corporations in many different industries, Josh Berry, Co-Founder of Econic has discovered some barriers to successful innovation that have their roots in HR.

In Part 1 of this series, Rayanne Thorn invites Josh Berry to talk about People and whether or not everyone is cut out to be part of an innovative company. Just as the opposite can have a negative effect on any company, bringing the right people to an innovative company and then providing them with the right opportunities can promote incredible success.

Tune in as Josh discusses what he has discovered from his years of consulting and working with HR departments.

Discussion Points for this episode:

  • Recognizing the HR barriers to innovation success
  • Why disruptive companies need to be so disruptive
  • Does technology actually provide a solution?
  • Necessary shifts to HR processes in an innovative company
  • Not everyone is cut out to be an innovator
  • Getting the “People” part right
  • How to Identify Innovators

    On Twitter

    @Josh_Berry
    @Ray_anne
    @HRLatte
    and @intrepid_NOW

    *Click here for past Episodes 1-66

    HRLatte is made possible by:

    Dovetail Software logoDovetail Software delivers web-based solutions & help desk programs that enable organizations to reduce administrative & support costs, diagnose & resolve complex business problems, and increase efficiency, while improving support.

    Rayanne loves hosting talk radio and continues to hone this craft in every way possible by creating and hosting several educational and promotional radio shows, hosting & moderating webinars and podcasts, as well as a featured host on intrepid.media.

    For more information about how you can use online radio or podcasting to educate your target audience or customer, compliment your marketing efforts, and grow your brand recognition, feel free to message Rayanne on Twitter, LinkedIn, or via email at rayanne@intrepid.media.

     

AUTHORS, BUSINESS, LEADERSHIP

Ron Wallace: Leadership Lessons the UPS Way

Joined on the show today by Ron Wallace, former delivery driver and retired president of UPS International, and author of the new book, Leadership Lessons From a UPS Driver: Delivering a Culture of We, not Me. You can learn more about Ron Wallace and his book by clicking here!

Discussion guide from my conversation with Ron Wallace:

1. There are a lot of leadership books, so why did we need one teaching lessons about the UPS way?

2. Working at UPS gave him a PHD in teamwork and accountability…

3. “A view from the front lines…” What any true leader needs.

4. A focus on people, NOT business plans.

5. CLICK HERE to learn your Leadership IQ! What is Leadership IQ, and why do you need to know YOUR score?

6. Isn’t everyone a leader? Even if you are just leading YOURSELF?

7. Understanding that the process of working on your leadership skills NEVER ends.

8. A successful organization needs its own unique business culture. We all understand this. But HOW do you actually build one? And how do you improve it?

Ron Wallace

About Ron Wallace:

Ron Wallace knows something about hard work and leadership. Over a career of four decades, he went from a UPS driver to the president of UPS International, where he was responsible for the operations of UPS in more than 200 countries and led more than 60,000 employees.

Now, in his new book, Leadership Lessons from a UPS Driver: Delivering a Culture of We, Not Me, he is pulling back the curtain on UPS’s company culture of “we, not me,” and the principles written by the original UPS founders that have guided the success of the company for the past century.

The book describes how UPS inspired generations of motivated employees, and teaches leaders at any level how to build strong, unified teams and successfully weather the inevitable storms that come with running an organization. This straightforward, simple style of leadership provides a blueprint for individuals or companies to build on their past successes, sharpen their leadership skills and successfully adapt to future challenges.

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BUSINESS, CONTRIBUTORS, LEADERSHIP, LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH

Get used to being uncomfortable

I have a good friend going through a tough time right now. He’s just recently suffered a big loss, and despite putting out a strong front to the world, I know he is struggling mightily.

“I suck at this,” he says. Followed by “I feel so broken.”

I get it. We’ve all been there.

And then today, as I write this, I had a big business setback myself. A project I was counting on fell through at the very last minute.

“How could this have happened to me,” I yelled out loud earlier today, within earshot of my poor wife who had no choice but to listen to my frustrated rant.

I’m feeling pretty blue as a result. This despite the fact that at this very moment in my life, I’ve never been happier, I’ve never felt more optimistic, and the growth track with my business remains overwhelmingly positive.

But setbacks and losses still suck. They still hurt. A lot. And it’s easy to fall into a tailspin as a result.

Here is what I am learning: Setbacks are a regular part of life. As much as you don’t want them to happen, they do. YOU HAVE NO CHOICE IN THIS MATTER.

And instead of curling up in the fetal position, or venting through loud vocal obscenities and rage like I do, foolishly, you have to suck it up and move on.

As a new friend of mine says, you have go forward, “Always Forward.”

Business and life is uncomfortable. It just is. If you expect it to be smooth and easy, you’ll be disappointed.

But it is moving forward, picking yourself back up, taking one step forward at a time = THE ONLY WAY TO KEEP GOING.

You know this, even if you are unwilling to admit it.

All the great ones do this. You can too. I can too. And I have to, for people are counting on me.

Life is uncomfortable. And it always will be. You have no choice but to accept that, and take that on as a personal challenge, and embrace it.

The Sun will come up tomorrow, the clock will keep ticking, dust will keep going through the hourglass, and you’ll still be there…

The question is will you be wallowing in it and sucking on your thumb? Or will you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move forward…Always Forward?

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AUTHORS, BUSINESS, LEADERSHIP

Steve Gold: Harnessing the power of smart experiments

Joined on the show today by Steve Gold, a leadership consultant and author of a new book called How We Succeed: Making Good Things Happen Through the Power of Smart Experiments. You can learn more about Steve Gold by clicking here.

Discussion guide from my conversation with Steve Gold:

1. “Life is a series of experiments and explorations.”

2. The back story and the research for How We Succeed and the concept of a smart experiment.

3. What exactly does Steve mean by an experiment…

Note: You are doing experiments ALL THE TIME…You just aren’t doing SMART experiments…

4. Why are we doing experiments all the time, every day? Do both individuals AND organizations conduct experiments?

5. What’s the difference between a SMART experiment and a not-so-smart experiment?

6. FINALLY, we discuss how to conduct a SMART EXPERIMENT. And it involves four steps: Design, Decide, De-Risk, and Deliver.

Find Steve’s book here:

About Steve Gold:

Steven K. Gold empowers individuals and organizations using the lessons of entrepreneurial strategy and practice. As Chairman of Gold Global Advisors, he advises clients throughout the United States, Europe, Middle East and Asia. Steve began his career as an entrepreneur. He started and successfully exited several ventures in the fields of biotechnology, software, mobile mapping and intellectual property. He was then invited to teach entrepreneurship, first as Senior Partner for Entrepreneurship at Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, and later as Professor of Entrepreneurship Practice at Babson Global.

Steve has taught entrepreneurial strategy and practice to audiences around the world. Steve is the author of Entrepreneur’s Notebook: Practical Advice for Starting a New Business Venture (2006) and How We Succeed: Making Good Things Happen through the Power of Smart Experiments (2016). He’s an expert on the behavioral science of sustainable success who helps leaders and organizations compete most effectively in today’s global environment.

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AUTHORS, BUSINESS, LEADERSHIP

Rick Tiemann: A new approach to developing world class leaders

Joined on the show today by Rick Tiemann, President of The Executive Group, and author of Developing World Class Leaders: The Ultimate Guide to Leadership Development.

Discussion guide from my conversation with Rick Tiemann:

1. Why do the vast majority of leadership programs fail?

2. We discuss how great leadership is related to emotional intelligence.

3. Rick shares his opinions on the standard way we assess leaders (performance reviews, peer-to-peer, assessment reviews). Do they work? Should they even be used?

4. Rick shares a different way to assess leaders!

5. What are the best ways to invest in staff, and why that’s one of the most important tasks an organization can undertake.

6. Training vs. Development

7. We discuss Three Dimensional Leadership and its impact on organizations.

You can find Rick Tiemann’s book here:

About Rick Tiemann:

Rick Tiemann started The Executive Group in 1991 and works with companies in the areas of organizational and business development. His expertise is on developing organizational effectiveness through employee selection and development with a targeted focus on sales and leadership. His experience in mergers and acquisitions including turnarounds and employee integration make him a sought after consultant to organizations preparing for or in the midst of implementing change.

With over 40 years of business experience including having owned three businesses, Rick has worked in both national and international arenas and has held positions of Director of Sales and Marketing, VP of Sales, Asian Business Development Manager, and President of a 75 million dollar company in the fire and security industry.

He brings a unique mix of sales and business expertise along with a deep understanding of personality and performance potential to his practice. Over the past 24 years he has interpreted more than 12,000 16PF assessments.

Rick is also an accomplished Executive and Behavioral Coach and uses his insight into behavior to assist CEO’s, Sales and Operations Managers, and business owners in their professional development.

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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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