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If the Shoe Fits: Who Do You Ask?

Friday, February 17th, 2017

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here.

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mHow many members of your team have been “bloodied in combat?”

How many have worked successfully through multiple economic (upturns/downturns) realities?

Who would you ask if you needed dynamic (question/discuss), as opposed to static (online postings), advice of “the been there/done that” variety to

  • land a candidate;
  • sell in a recession;
  • tweak/kill a marketing campaign;
  • beat the competition; or
  • Layoff a team member?

Don’t ask me; I’ve answered this question multiple times in varied forms.

Instead, ask millennial Tom Goodwin.

Maybe you’ll listen to him.

Image credit: HikingArtist

Ryan’s Journal: Can Culture be Defined by One Person?

Thursday, February 9th, 2017


Have you ever been a member of a group or team that is flat out terrible? I have. I have been a member of that soccer team that never won a game, the work group that wasn’t succeeding.

Did I like it? Absolutely not. Did I learn from it? I think in some ways I did.

Have you ever seen that same team or group start to succeed with different leadership? In my case I have a very real world example of where this came to pass.

I had the pleasure of serving for five years in The United States Marine Corps. During this five year time the US was involved in several conflicts and I found myself deployed to Fallujah, Iraq.

During my deployment I served with a team of 12 other Marines, together we were known as a squad. Now this is the military, but a small group of people working together can be found within any type of organization. 

Our squad was led by a leader who, while a good guy, was not well equipped to lead a group of Marines into life or death situations.

This person had some leadership challenges that ultimately led to low morale, loss of confidence and an overall lack of guidance.

To be completely clear, the group sucked. We moped around, were not excited about our purpose and lacked vision.

After some time our higher leadership realized a change should be made and they moved our leader to a role better suited for his skill set.

I will tell you right now, that was a life changer.

We had a new leader come aboard that had the experience needed, was motivated and challenged us to be better then we were the day before.

Now overall the same 13 people were on the team, but the outcome was completely different.

We worked better as a group, shared responsibilities and were proud of our accomplishments.

I look back on this one example often when I think of how one person can shape a culture. 

Now, obviously the military has a top down culture when it comes to leadership, but it also embraces servant leadership.

In this scenario our new leader embraced servanthood. He made sure we were taken care of before his needs and that reflected in our outcome.

Have you been on a team that isn’t performing to its abilities? What is holding it back?

I had a conversation the other day with my CEO and he said something that stuck with me. He said, “leadership isn’t a title, its an action”.

Isn’t that true of culture too? You and I are the ones who will set the tone.

Do I always get it right? Absolutely not! I fail more times then I succeed. I tear down when I should build, allow emotions to dictate over data and more. At the end of the day my personal culture and that of my team is dictated by my thoughts and deeds, no one else.

Who determines yours?

Image credit: David Spinks

The Proliferation Of Narcissism

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017


Have you noticed that people in general are more wrapped up in themselves than ever before?

Whether in words or pictures, they document and share what they eat, where they go, what they do and with whom they do it, not just with their friends and known acquaintances, but with the world in general.

An article in the Harvard Business Review caught my eye and, in view of the recent election, resonated.

…narcissism levels have been rising for decades, which means that our world is increasingly self-centered, overconfident, and deluded.

And the next sentence really rang a bell.

Furthermore, these increases appear to be exacerbated among leaders, since those in charge of judging leadership potential often mistake confidence for competence.

Our politicians aren’t the only place where narcissism is running wild.

Narcissists are found at the helm of more and more companies of all sizes, but are especially prevalent in the financial sector and in tech.

In 2008 financial bosses with more confidence than competence brought the global economy to its knees.

Tech abounds with narcissistic founders and very few of them will stand the test of time, as have Jobs and Bezos.

Nor is narcissistic behavior limited to top bosses; it is found at every level of management, as well as every level of contributor — from new grads through the most senior contributor.

And lets not forget kindergartners through college.

We cannot make it alone, but we care too much about ourselves to genuinely care about others. This tension between our desire to get along with others and our desire to get ahead of them represents the fundamental conundrum of human affairs.

Much as I loathe the hype around “leaders,” it’s up to the positional leader to manage the get along/get ahead dichotomy if they are to have a successful organization.

I find it ironic that so many of those who preach the importance of data sets and evangelize data-based decisions, again, especially in tech, manage to ignore the hard data on what type of leader succeeds best.

Unfortunately, our admiration for charismatic leaders comes at a price: perpetuating the proliferation of narcissistic leaders. And while the existence of incredibly successful CEOs, such as Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos (and Rockefeller, Ford, and Disney before them), may suggest that narcissism is a beneficial leadership quality, most overconfident, entitled, and egotistical CEOs are not just ineffective but also destructive — even when they manage to attain a great deal of success. For example, narcissistic CEOs overpay when they acquire firms, costing their shareholders dearly. Their firms tend to perform in a volatile and unpredictable fashion, going from big wins to even bigger losses. They are often involved in counterproductive work behaviors, such as fraud. They are also more likely to abuse power and manipulate their followers, particularly those who are naïve and submissive.

Whether you are a boss or a worker, read the article; it’s short and will provide insights into your own actions, as well as those of your boss or the boss with whom you are interviewing.

Image credit: QuoteAddicts

Golden Oldies: Book Review: Managing Leadership

Monday, January 16th, 2017


It’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.

Golden Oldies is a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.

I’m not a fan of the leadership industry; I think it has corrupted the whole notion of leadership. Anybody/everybody can be leaders at a given moment. Life changes and Jim Stroup, who wrote Managing Leadership, one of the best blogs on that subject stopped writing a couple of years ago. But all his wonderful posts are at the link and he also wrote an excellent book on the subject.

Read other Golden Oldies here.

During a conversation about positional leadership Richard Barrett said, “Reminds me of a Seinfeld joke. He pointed to professional sports teams and asked about team loyalty. The players change, the coaches change, and sometimes even the stadium changes. So, the people are really loyal to the logos on the team uniforms, just a pile of laundry. Maybe positional leadership is just laundry leadership?”

I like that—laundry leadership. Great term.

So what’s available instead of laundry leadership, especially these days when so much of the laundry is dirty?

Why not organizational leadership? Leadership that percolates from every nook and cranny of the enterprise driving innovation and productivity far beyond the norm.

Following this to its natural conclusion makes leadership a corporate asset and one that needs to be managed for it to have the highest possible impact.

Jim Stroup, whose blog I love, is a major proponent of this idea and defines and explains it in his book Managing Leadership: Toward a New and Usable Understanding of What Leadership Really Is And How To Manage It.

Of all the leadership books, Managing Leadership is the first book I’ve seen that breaks with the accepted idea of the larger-than-life leader whose visions people embrace and follow almost blindly.

Stroup says today’s corporations are far too complex for one person to know everything; that, given a chance, leadership will come naturally and unstoppably from all parts and levels of the organization making it a characteristic of the organization, rather than one person’s crown.

Sadly, fear makes the idea that leadership comes from all people at all levels and should be managed to make the most of it anathema to many senior managers; they consider leadership a perk of seniority and prefer squashing it when the source doesn’t occupy the ‘correct’ position.

I highly recommend Jim’s book. Even if the management above you doesn’t embrace this paradigm, you can within your own group. Encourage your people to take the initiative, guide them as needed, then get out of the way and watch them fly.

Entrepreneurs: Sign the Pledge

Thursday, December 15th, 2016


In case you didn’t see this in BuzzFeed, a group of techs got together and made a pledge.

A group of nearly 60 employees at major tech companies have signed a pledge refusing to help build a Muslim registry. The pledge states that signatories will advocate within their companies to minimize collection and retention of data that could enable ethnic or religious targeting under the Trump administration, to fight any unethical or illegal misuse of data, and to resign from their positions rather than comply.

Not luminaries, but people like you.

As of 10:30 pm Pacific Wednesday there were 1215 signatures.

The full text is at the pledge link (above) as are the instructions on how you can sign. There are also links if you want to be a more active participant or just want more information.

Why should you do it?

The words of Martin Niemöller, a prominent Protestant pastor and rabid anti-Nazi, who spent seven years in a concentration camp explain it best.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Actively or passively; loudly or quietly you need to speak out over the next two years.

And in two years it will be up to you to help take back Congress.

Image credit: Karen

December Leadership Development Carnival

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

leadership-carnival-5-300x134Can you believe it? Blink three times and the year disappears. Hopefully, you’ve learned a lot this year and grown in many ways. Now choose the posts from this month’s carnival that will add an edge to what you’ve already learned.

Verity Creedy writes I Believe I Can Fly: Leadership that Inspires Innovation
Learn the three conditions that we as leaders should be setting for our teams to create and execute innovative change.
Follow Verity on Twitter: @VerityDDI

Julie Winkle Giulioni shares “Not My Decision”: Constructive Responses to Workplace Decisions You Wouldn’t Have Made
Last week, many Americans had a profound experience of what employees encounter routinely on the job: responding to a decision they don’t support but must still live with. In organizations worldwide, strategies are set, markets are selected, tactics are identified…and not everyone agrees with the direction. When confronted with these situations, it’s easy for employees to feel powerless and out of control. Yet no matter the issue or the organizational level (of those deciding or those following in the wake of the decision), what remains well within each individual’s control is how he or she responds.
Follow Julie on Twitter: @julie_wg

Julie Baron wrote How to Prevent Leadership Derailment
You made it to the leadership position you have been striving for, but what must you do to avoid derailment? Learn the derailment behaviors and traits witnessed by business leaders in corporate catering, industrial distribution, construction, web design, HR technology, gift giving, marketing, and structural engineering.
Follow Julie on Twitter: @commwrks

Dana Theus shares What to Do If You’re Worried About Getting Laid Off
Dealing with the dread of being laid off can be a gift in disguise. Use the possibility of a layoff to get proactive about your career and personal brand.
Follow Dana on Twitter: @DanaTheus

JesseLyn Stoner writes How to Talk about Politics at Work
How do you talk about politics with people whose views are different than your own? It’s not a good idea to assume that everyone agrees with your views. One thing the U.S. elections showed was that what people say and what they actually believe are not always the same. And it also showed that we need to reach across the divide and try to understand what’s really driving each other. Here are six guidelines that will help your conversations be more informative and productive.
Follow Jesse Lyn on Twitter: @JesseLynStoner

Randy Conley shares 6 Strategies for Leading When People Won’t Follow
Leadership is tough enough when things are going well, much less when people are resisting your leadership. In this post, Randy Conley shares six practical strategies leaders can use to help them deal with team members who won’t follow their lead.
Follow Randy on Twitter: @RandyConley

Mary Jo Asmus wrote Your Discomfort is Whispering to You
The discomfort you feel is normal and the tendency to avoid difficult conversations is common. Listen to your gut – it’s telling you that it’s time for you to step into that uneasiness and be a leader. This post provides practical advice on where to begin.
Follow Mary Jo on Twitter: @mjasmus

David M. Dye shares Why Do So Many Leaders Suck?
Perhaps the most common question David is asked after he shares Winning Well leadership tools is: “If this works, why are there so many lousy leaders?” In this article, David shares ten reasons leaders run into problems and how you can avoid falling into the same traps.
Follow David on Twitter: @davidmdye

Tanveer Naseer writes 3 Important Lessons Leaders Can Learn From Success
Three important lessons leaders can learn from success that will help them inspire and motivate employees to bring their best efforts over the long run.
Follow Tanveer on Twitter: @TanveerNaseer

Jon Mertz shares The Coming Day After
Regardless of your feelings about our most recent election cycle, we must all work together to end the divisiveness, stalemate, and finger-pointing. No matter our segment, our status, or our role, we must dig deeper, resolve challenges, and renew our greater purpose.
Follow Jon on Twitter: @ThinDifference

Anne Perschel wrote Your Leadership Megaphone Instruction Manual
Your leadership megaphone comes with the role, and it’s always on. People use it to broadcast what they THINK you said, and the results are not always what you intended. This instruction manual will help you use your megaphone wisely.
Follow Anne on Twitter: @bizshrink

Michael Stallard shares What Mayo Clinic Discovered About Burnout
Could something as simple as having a meal with colleagues to discuss work experience-related issues help reduce burnout? Michael Stallard explains what Mayo Clinic researchers found.
Follow Michael on Twitter: @michaelstallard

Wally Bock writes about Leadership Theology
Our discussions of leadership have begun to sound like theological debates.
Follow Wally on Twitter: @wallybock

Karin Hurt shares 7 Reasons to be a Little More Grateful at Work
Karin Hurt takes time to reflect on the things to be truly grateful for at work, and encourages us to do the same.
Follow Karin on Twitter: @letsgrowleaders

Chris Edmonds writes Culture Leadership Charge: The Weakest Link
Chris Edmonds continues his Culture Leadership Charge series with this discussion of the cost of tolerating selfish, competitive players in your culture.
Follow Chris on Twitter: @scedmonds

Shelley Row wrote Give the Gift of Attention: Three Steps You Can Take Today
Shelley gives us practical tips for sharing one of our greatest gifts with others—our attention.
Follow Shelley on Twitter: @shelleyrow

Jon Verbeck shares But I’m Not an Accountant! Why Every Business Owner Still Needs to Understand Basic Financial Statements
Jon Verbeck shares a down-to-earth explanation of the three most vital financial statements with which EVERY business owner should be familiar.
Follow Jon on Twitter: @jonverbeck1

Beth Beutler wrote A Project Management Lesson from a 6-Year-Old
Beth shares some project management tips that were inspired by a 6-year-old tackling what could have been an overwhelming project of his own.
Follow Beth on Twitter: @bethbeutler

Joel Garfinkle covers How to Get Your Ideas Heard at Work
People have difficulty getting attention, let alone getting their ideas accepted and implemented. Here are three things that you could do right now to get your ideas heard at work.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @JoelGarfinkle

Susan Mazza shares How to Overcome the Tyranny of Your To Do List
To-do lists can easily transform from a useful tool to stay focused and productive to becoming an ever present reminder of all that you are not getting done. Even though you know not everything on that list is a “must do,” it is easy to get lost in the abundance of the “should do’s” that so easily pile up over time!
Follow Susan on Twitter: @SusanMazza

Neal Burgis writes Employees to Bring Ideas to the Table
Leaders need to rely and trust employees to use their creative thinking skills to generate ideas and produce results. Allowing room for your employee’s ideas helps leaders reduce supervisory control over the solutions to problems, challenges, and difficulties. The ideas employees put out generates various alternative solutions instead of one solution to what leaders want for their clients.
Follow Neal on Twitter: @exec_solutions

Mary Ila Ward shares HR Santa Clauses focus on the Employee Experience
This holiday season, HR and Talent Management leaders may need to consider a different approach on employee engagement. Mary Ila compares her real life experience of Christmas shopping for her children to how HR Santa Clauses focus on employee engagement. After all, maybe experience is what drives the engagement.
Follow Mary Ila on Twitter: @MaryIlaWard

John Hunter writes Add Constraints to Processes Carefully
Product and service design impacts the user experience. When the product is needlessly complicated and includes needless constraints it is the opposite of mistake-proofing, it is mistake-promoting.
Follow John on Twitter: @curiouscat_com

David Grossman covers The Top Reason People Resist Change and How to Best Address It
People resist being forced to change without their involvement. They don’t like change forced down their throats. People naturally resist being controlled and being uninvolved in decisions that affect them.
Hat tip to DDI World for hosting the December Carnival.

November Leadership Development Carnival

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

Here we are; a third of the way through the fourth quarter and two great things are happening today.

  1. We can all celebrate: no more political ads. Hooray!
  2. I’m sharing some great information from some of the best thinkers on all the subjects it takes to be a great boss/leader/manager these days.

So dig in, enjoy, and learn.

leadership-carnival-5-300x134Anne Perschel of Germane Coaching and Consulting submitted How Real Leaders Apologize and Mean It. Anne summarizes, “Real leaders don’t apologize AS IF they mean it. They actually mean it because they are empathetic. Empathy is the first of four elements in a genuine apology.” Follow Anne on Twitter at @bizshrink.

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited provided How to Get Along with the Colleague Who is Faster Than You. Beth recaps, “Do you sometimes have to work with a colleague whose pace is faster than yours? Beth Beutler gives some techniques for navigating swift waters in business relationships.” Find Beth on Twitter at @bethbeutler.

Chris Edmonds of the Purposeful Culture Group contributed Culture Leadership Charge: Be Present. In this post, Chris charges leaders with the importance of being fully present, so they don’t send a message of “you’re not that important.” Follow Chris on Twitter at @scedmonds.

Dan McCarthy of Great Leadership provided Leaders Should Define More Than the Mountain Top, but Less Than the Whole Plan. Dan recaps, “When it comes to defining their vision, leaders tend to fall into two camps. Camp one can clearly articulate a mountain top they want to reach, but create zero clarity on how they’re going to get to that mountain top. Camp two has their mountain top defined and they also have a step-by-step guide to get from where they are today (base camp) to their mountain top. Both camps fail to create sustained motivation in their people. Guest author Hamish Knox explains why.” Locate Dan on Twitter at @greatleadership.

Dana Theus of InPower Coaching contributed Dear Dana Workplace Advice: New To the Team And Dealing With Workplace Bullying By A Colleague. Dana writes, “Dear Dana, I recently joined a new team and one of my colleagues is treating me like the hired help! I’m not sure what to do since I am new on the team and don’t want to get a reputation early on for being difficult or refusing to do work. Help! — Signed, Between a rock and a hard place in Iowa.” Find Dana on Twitter at @DanaTheus.

David Dye of Trailblaze submitted How to Lead When It Looks Impossible. David summarizes, “Every leader faces challenges that look impossible. David offers encouragement and practical next steps based on a recent mountain he and Karin Hurt climbed.” Follow David on Twitter at @davidmdye.

David Grossman of The Grossman Group shared 7 Requirements of a Strategic Messaging Methodology. David writes, “What is a Strategic Messaging Methodology, and what can it do for you, your leaders, and your organization? Simply put, it’s a process that helps you think strategically about how you develop your story, drive alignment, and tell it powerfully—whether it’s a large organizational story or whether you want to communicate change inside your organization. ” Discover David on Twitter at @thoughtpartner.

Evan Sinar of Development Dimensions International (DDI) provided LeaderPulse: The 5 Most Valuable Gifts Most Leaders Aren’t Getting. Evan recaps, “If you missed Boss’s Day last month, it’s never too late for employees to recognize their life-changing leaders. We looked to our research to come up with five less common, but more valuable gifts.” Find Evan on Twitter at @evansinar.

Jill Malleck of Epiphany at Work contributed They Told You What They Think of You, Now What?. Jill shares, “Getting 360 degree feedback anonymously can be overwhelming and cause anxiety. Jill explains how you can pluck out the meaningful messages and take positive action.” Find Jill on Twitter at @epiphanyatwork.

Jesse Lyn Stoner of the Seapoint Center shared  7 Fail-Safe Steps to Increase Responsibility and Develop Your Team . Jesse Lyn recaps, “If you’re not offering your people the opportunity to grow – to increase their responsibility and learn new skills – you are going to lose them. But increasing responsibility without also delegating authority is a recipe for disaster. And simply delegating is not always the answer either.” Follow Jesse Lyn on Twitter at @JesseLynStoner.

Jim Taggart of Changing Winds provided Samsung’s Failed Executive Leadership. Jim shares, “Being the top leader of an organization, whether in the public or private sphere, is no easy task. What’s more appropriately called executive managerial leadership (as opposed to the overused, feel good term “leadership”), those at the helm of companies or government agencies have huge responsibilities.” Find Jim on Twitter at @72keys.

Joel Garfinkle of the Career Advancement Blog submitted 5-Step Plan to Developing Your Personal Brand. Joel recaps: “Have you developed your personal brand? No? Then it’s no surprise that you’re not moving up in your career. Implement this 5-step plan for career advancement.” Discover Joel on Twitter at @JoelGarfinkle.

John Hunter of the Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog shared Bell Labs Designing a New Phone System Using Idealized Design. John summarizes, “The basic idea of idealized design is to create a new design for a product, service or the organization based on what is feasible today (but without being limited by the constraints of the existing state). Then, use that ideal to guide you as you figure out a plan to move from the existing state to that idealized design.” Find John on Twitter at @curiouscat_com.

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference contributed Discontentment: A Great Leadership Challenge. Jon shares, “Discontentment seems to be reaching epidemic proportions. What can we do as leaders to begin to unravel it? ” Follow Jon on Twitter at @thindifference.

Jon Verbeck of JonVerbeck.com provided The Dashboard May be the Most Important Part of Your Company Vehicle. In this post, Virtual CFO Jon Verbeck explains the important parts of a financial dashboard for your company. Find Jon on Twitter at @jonverbeck1.

Julie Winkle-Giulioni of Julie Winkle-Giulioni provided Whoa! What are today’s most common leadership mistakes? Julie recaps, “As counterintuitive as it may seem, well-meaning leaders undermine staff development – and ultimately results – not because they are doing too little but because they are doing too much.” Find Julie on Twitter at @julie_wg.

Karin Hurt of Let’s Grow Leaders contributed 7 Things Your High-Performance Employees Long to Hear You Say. Karin recaps, “Your high-performing employees never seem like the MIT (Most Important Thing), but the truth is, when I meet with them and ask what they need, I hear about things they long for from their boss.” Follow Karin on Twitter at @letsgrowleaders.

Lisa Kohn of Thoughtful Leaders contributed Four Key Steps to Being, and Getting More Done. Lisa shares why we need to spend at least as much time “being” as “doing,” and how to do this in our too-busy world. Follow Lisa on Twitter at @thoughtfulldrs.

Marcella Bremer of Leadership and Change Magazine provided The Power of Less: Get More Done. Marcella recaps, “I love Leo Babauta’s message from The Power Of Less. It sounds so simple, but it’s easier said than done: Identify the essential and eliminate the rest. If you spread yourself too thin; it dilutes your power and effectiveness. Do you do little of too many things? Or do you focus on just one big goal?” Find Marcella on Twitter at @marcellabremer.

Mary Jo Asmus of Aspire Collaborative Services LLC submitted Do Less and Be More of a Leader. Mary Jo summarizes, “Being a people leader requires you to shift your mindset into knowing who you are and developing yourself within that framework.” Follow Mary Jo on Twitter at @mjasmus.

Mary Ila Ward of Horizon Point Consulting contributed Leaders and Runners, Don’t Run the Race Alone. She recaps, “In ‘Leaders and Runners, Don’t Run the Race Alone,’ Mary Ila encourages leaders to arm themselves with a wingman or wingwoman and provides tips on how leaders can gain ‘wing strength,’ emphasizing that ‘All runners, and leaders, especially those out for the long haul, need a wingman.’” Discover Mary Ila on Twitter at @maryilaward.

Michael Lee Stallard of Michael Lee Stallard submitted Finish 2016 Strong: Refocus, Reconnect, Reenergize . Michael shares, “With 2016 rapidly drawing to a close, now is the time to establish your plan to finish the year strong. Michael Stallard shares advice for leaders on meeting year-end goals.” Follow Michael on Twitter at @michaelstallard.

Miki Saxon of MAPping Company Success contributed Golden Oldie: Customer Service Week 2016. Miki writes, “There is much talk, and even some action, about “enhancing customer experience,” but, when you’re a line manager, who exactly are your customers?” Discover Miki on Twitter at @optionsanity.

Neal Burgis of Burgis Successful Solutions submitted Leaders, Start Viewing Setbacks as Opportunities. Neal recaps, “Too many leaders get flustered when a business setback occurs. You need to take a step back and look at what happened and take action to move forward.” Find Neal on Twitter at @exec_solutions.

Paul LaRue of The UPwards Leader contributed How To Lead With A Sandbox Culture. Paul summarizes, “Striking a balance between cultural and operational parameters that allows your employees room to innovate is always a challenge. Thinking of it as a sandbox in a playground will help that balance.” Follow Paul on Twitter at @paul_larue.

Randy Conley of Leading With Trust shared 10 Ways Leaders Can Easily Build Trust with Their New Teams. Randy writes, “Trust doesn’t ‘just happen’ by accident. It takes intentional effort and leaders need to have a specific game plan to establish and nurture trust in relationships. Randy Conley offers advice from the trenches in this post.” Find Randy on Twitter at @randyconley.

Shelley Row of Shelley Row submitted Pushing a Wheel Chair: Lessons in Servant Leadership. In this piece, Shelley shared lessons learned about servant leadership as she took on caregiving responsibilities for her husband.” Discover Shelley on Twitter at @shelleyrow.

Susan Mazza of Random Acts of Leadership provided I Choose to Honor You. Susan explains, “If we truly want to be constructive participants and collaborators in our democracy, we need to bring a better spirit to our conversations with each other. We need to start talking with one another about the things that are hard to talk about, to engage in conversations with people who do not look or think like us, so we can learn. We need to be far more curious and much more discerning about what we believe and what we think we know, and seek truth rather than assume we are being told the truth.” Follow Susan on Twitter at @susanmazza.

Tanveer Naseer of Tanveer Naseer submitted Why Expressing Gratitude Through Our Leadership Matters. Tanveer explains the post is, “A look at how expressing gratitude can help leaders bring out the best in those they lead and drive their organizations to succeed.” Discover Tanveer on Twitter at @tanveernaseer.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership submitted Thoughts on Retirement and Purpose. Wally recaps, “People need a purpose. Without purpose, there’s not much reason to get up in the morning.” Find Wally on Twitter at @wallybock.

Ducks in a Row: John Legere and T-Mobile

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016
T-Mobile un-carrier movement

*click image to read

John Legere is not your typical big company CEO. Legere is an ancient 58 year-old leading a company filled with Millennials in a market driven by them.

Perhaps he should be termed the “un-CEO,” just as he is branding T-Mobile as the “un-carrier.”

… his mission to turn T-Mobile into an Un-carrier — essentially the opposite of any other mobile company.

The interview with him is worth reading, especially if you want to learn how to compete against brands (AT&T and Verizon) that are better known and far richer and successfully lead people who are not like you.

In just four short years he has taken Deutsche Telekom owned T-Mobile from a joke to the third-largest and fastest-growing carrier in the US.

Not too shabby.

He radically changed the culture, and, as he says, “set out to solving customer pain points in an attempt to fix a stupid, broken, arrogant industry.”

And not just with talk; but with an additional million square miles of LTE and new services, such as Binge On (unlimited streaming at 480p quality from services like Netflix), forcing competitors to follow suit.

His advice to business school students is something that anybody at the helm of any company, from the the corner dry cleaner to the Fortune 5, should embrace.

“I can summarize everything you need to know to lead a major corporation. Are you prepared to write this down?” And then they get all ready. I tell them I can summarize how I succeed as a leader: Listen to your employees, listen to your customers, shut the f— up, and do what they tell you. Then I say that the genius of the marketing strategy that we’ve had in every company that I’ve ever been in, is that if you ask your customers what they want and you give it to them, you shouldn’t be shocked if they love it.

Ask your customers. Listen to your customers. Give your customers what they want.

Definitely rocket science.

Image credit: T-Mobile via BI

Entrepreneurs: What Leadership Looks Like

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

KG emailed me this cartoon and asked what I thought.

leader-bossI responded that I had a better image of leadership, only mine was drawn with words.

I’ve shared them here before, but a reminder never hurts.

As for the best leaders,
the people do not notice their existence.

The next best,
the people honor and praise.

The next, the people fear;
and the next, the people hate—

When the best leader’s work is done,
the people say, “We did it ourselves!”

To lead the people, walk behind them.

–Lao Tzu

Now that’s what I consider a beautiful image.

Image credit: Anonymous via the Internet

Ducks in a Row: September Leadership Development Carnival

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016


The 2016 election season is already too long.

Not to mention too divisive, too nasty, too hateful and devoid of any sign of real leadership

While we can’t hope for an actual leader, as described in this month’s Carnival,  that doesn’t mean you can’t emulate many of the qualities described no matter your position — just tweak them a bit to fit the situation.

Anne Perschel of Germane Coaching and Consulting submitted Golden Rules for Leading Transformation. Anne summarizes, “When the CEOs of Ford Motor Company, Nokia, and Microsoft began changing their respective companies’ core business and/or culture, they each established golden rules for leading transformation. Learn from them how to do the same for your company.” Follow Anne on Twitter at @bizshrink.

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited provided Why I’ve Cut Back Working at Coffee Shops. Beth recaps, “Many leaders work in locations outside of their own office from time to time. But it may not always be as productive. In this post, I share some downsides to working at coffee shops.” Find Beth on Twitter at @bethbeutler.

Chris Edmonds of the Purposeful Culture Group contributed Leading a Purposeful, Positive, Productive Culture. Chris reminds us of the important part our company culture plays in getting the results we want. Follow Chris on Twitter at @scedmonds.

Dan McCarthy of Great Leadership provided 10 Ways to Kill Off Your Star Employees. Dan recaps, “Unfortunately, organizations don’t always do a good job when it comes to nurturing, developing, rewarding, and retaining their high potential employees. In fact, it often seems like they are going out of their way to sabotage their best employees. Of course, most organizations don’t intentionally try to kill their high potentials. It’s just that many managers don’t know how to manage a high potential, and end up doing well-intended things that get unintended results. Or – in some cases – they actually do set their high potential employees up for failure, as a result of feeling threatened or jealousy. So – if you want to kill your high potentials, just follow these 10 steps!” Locate Dan on Twitter at @greatleadership.

Dana Theus of InPower Coaching contributed Insight: Pride vs. PRIDE. Dana writes, “When we flash our PRIDE around – which to an unsuspecting world can feel like a right cross – we miss a great opportunity to really share our value.” Find Dana on Twitter at @DanaTheus.

David Dye of Trailblaze submitted 5 Ways Pokemon Go Will Make You a Better Leader. David summarizes, “Video games are masterful at drawing out people’s natural, internal motivations. David shares how you can be more effective and influential when you get these same motivations working for you and your team.” Follow David on Twitter at @davidmdye.

David Grossman of The Grossman Group shared Open Ended Questions Enhance Employee Communication. David writes, “As a leader, you know that engaging employees and helping connect them to your business goals can directly impact the bottom line.  Your internal communication plan can include two-way communication vehicles like feedback channels and listening sessions to help accomplish this.” Discover David on Twitter at @thoughtpartner.

Jill Malleck of Epiphany at Work contributed Leaders Fighting Fires: What Darby Did. Jill shares, “At some point, all leaders are faced with tense situations. Learn how one leader showed a strong heart in a life-and-death situation.” Find Jill on Twitter at @epiphanyatwork.

Jesse Lyn Stoner of the Seapoint Center shared A Definition of Leadership for These Pressing Times. Jesse Lyn recaps, “What’s your definition of leadership? We need a clear, unbiased definition to form a common language. In this post, Jesse Stoner takes you through her journey of digging down to the root of the word, stripping away assumptions, and creating a definition of leadership for the pressing conversations we need to have. Unexpectedly, this process revealed a different lens for understanding leadership in today’s world. This post has sparked a lot of conversation, and you are invited to add your voice.” Follow Jesse Lyn on Twitter at @JesseLynStoner.

Joel Garfinkle of the Career Advancement Blog submitted Why Strong Leaders Have the Courage to Show Vulnerability. Joel recaps: “Not being afraid to show your vulnerabilities shows confidence and authenticity, which encourages respect and openness in your team. This attitude creates a culture of learning from mistakes and using everyone’s strengths to best move forward.” Discover Joel on Twitter at @JoelGarfinkle.

John Hunter of the Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog shared Applying Toyota Kata to Agile Retrospectives. John summarizes, “Creating a culture where it is expected that any improvement ideas are tested and evaluated is one of the most important changes on the path to a company that will be able to continually improve. If not, what happens is some changes are good, many are not and soon people lose faith that any effort is worth it because they see how poor the results are.” Find John on Twitter at @curiouscat_com.

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference contributed Business Leaders Raising Political Voices. Jon shares, “Dangers exist for businesses standing up for certain political issues, especially with the polarization present today. However, business can be a voice for positive change, and employees and customers may now expect business leaders to raise their rational voice in an environment of stalemate and divisiveness.” Follow Jon on Twitter at @thindifference.

Julie Baron of The Thought Board shared Get More Attention: Do’s & Don’ts for Working with the Media. Julie writes, “Want to increase the visibility of your business? Perhaps you seek to educate people about your service, inform them about your events, or change their opinion about your price. Maybe you want to be seen as an industry thought leader or you want to generate business leads or prospective employee interest. No matter the goal, media coverage is a great way to get more attention. These do’s and don’ts for working with the media will boost your chances of coverage success.” Discover The Thought Board on Twitter at @commwrks.

Karin Hurt of Let’s Grow Leaders contributed 6 Reasons Your Training Program Isn’t Working. Karin recaps, “Training programs are great, but sometimes mask the deeper issues. Karin shares six reasons why your training program may not be as effective as you’d hoped..” Follow Karin on Twitter at @letsgrowleaders.

Mary Jo Asmus of Aspire Collaborative Services LLC submitted When You Need to Really Listen. Mary Jo summarizes, “Leaders can always listen more, but there are times they really need to listen at a deeper level.” Follow Mary Jo on Twitter at @mjasmus.

Mary Ila Ward of Horizon Point Consulting contributed Hills in the Heat: Why You Have to do the Hard Stuff to Run and Lead Well. She recaps, “Running and leading have many overlapping lessons.  As the author sets out to train for a marathon, she reflects on how doing the hard stuff strengthens success in running and leading.” Discover Mary Ila on Twitter at @maryilaward.

Mary Schaefer shared  3 Ways to Improve Employee Engagement. Mary continues, “Are you getting everything you can from your focus on employee engagement? You may make more impact by rewiring how you think about it” Find Mary on Twitter at @maryschaefer.

Michael Lee Stallard of Michael Lee Stallard submitted 3 Ways to Lead Like Lincoln. Michael shares, “Abraham Lincoln had a talent for converting detractors into loyal supports. These three elements of his leadership and communication style explain how he did it.” Follow Michael on Twitter at @michaelstallard.

Miki Saxon of MAPping Company Success contributed Golden Oldies: Narcissism and Leadership. Miki writes, “Narcissism has always been problematic for leaders. However, it’s not about having narcissistic traits; it’s about how you choose to manage them.” Discover Miki on Twitter at @optionsanity.

Neal Burgis of Burgis Successful Solutions submitted The Curious Leader. Neal recaps, “By adopting a curious mindset, your leadership style goes hand-in-hand with curiosity. Many curious leaders are destined for the C-Suite due to their curious nature in asking questions and exploring ideas for opportunities.” Find Neal on Twitter at @exec_solutions.

Paul LaRue of The UPwards Leader contributed Why Leaders Should Build the Castle First. Paul summarizes, “A great leader showed how to create a positive culture in the midst of a negative one.” Follow Paul on Twitter at @paul_larue.

Randy Conley of Leading With Trust shared Thrown Under the Bus? 8 Tips on Dealing with Unfair Criticism. Randy writes, “Sooner or later we all get thrown under the bus and criticized unfairly, and how you respond shapes the perceptions people have of you as a leader. In this enlightening post, Randy Conley shares 8 strategies for responding to unfair criticism in a healthy and productive way.” Find Randy on Twitter at @randyconley.

Robyn McLeod of Thoughtful Leaders contributed Are you really a leader? An easy way to tell. Robyn shares, “we are truly leaders when what we do inspires those around us to be, do, and achieve more.” Follow Robyn on Twitter at @thoughtfulldrs.

Shelley Row of Shelley Row submitted Tough Decision? Use Your Secret Weapon – Values. In this piece, Shelley reminds us that we have a built-in secret weapon we can apply when making a tough decision—our values. Discover Shelley on Twitter at @shelleyrow.

Susan Mazza of Random Acts of Leadership provided Why ‘Politically Correct’ Is Not A Four Letter Word. Susan explains, “The more visible your leadership, the more important it is for you to be mindful of your words and deliberate with your messages. But personal honesty and even transparency is not the ultimate antidote to the political correctness that has polarized us and degraded our trust in politics. In fact, it may even be dangerous.” Follow Susan on Twitter at @susanmazza.

Tanveer Naseer of Tanveer Naseer submitted What It  Takes to Overcome Distractions in the Workplace. Tanveer continues, ” A lesson from Olympic rowers reveals a powerful message for leaders on how they can help their employees to overcome workplace distractions.” Discover Tanveer on Twitter at @tanveernaseer.

Tom Magness of Leader Business contributed How NOT to Micromanage. Tom summarizes, “Successful leaders stay out of the weeds by avoiding telling their team HOW to do things.  Instead, provide clarity on INTENT, essentially the WHAT and WHY, and allow the team to figure out the rest.  The results (buy-in, empowerment, innovation) are a true game-changer.” Follow Tom on Twitter at @leaderbusiness.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership submitted Getting Fairness Right. Wally recaps, “People won’t give you their best unless they feel like you’re treating them fairly. There are many ways to get fairness wrong.  Here’s what you should know to get fairness right.” Find Wally on Twitter at @wallybock.

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