I’m a Failure, and Damn Proud of It!

I’m-a-Failure-and-Damn-Proud-of-It-Todd-NielsenWow – What an amazing and awesome month. The goal of the 2nd Annual International Blogathon was to give the world a gift of greater leadership acumen from an international stand-point. Learning leadership views from across the globe helps increase our leadership wisdom by giving us differing perspectives. It certainly has met that goal for me personally.

I hope that the blogathon writers have inspired you.

I hope that your world becomes better because of the knowledge gained this month.

I hope that you were inspired to make changes that will impact your success.

What is Success?

Success,” hmm… it’s a very interesting and elusive word. The definition is different for every person, and every organization. It is a goal that is constantly moving to new heights. For the truly successful, it is a journey that never comes to an end. It’s a constant climb that refines you, strengthens you, and fertilizes your growth.

“Success is a climb that never ends, the journey refines you, strengthens you, and fertilizes your growth”  Tweet This!

Recently an individual asked me what some of my strengths were. This person new of my expertise and qualifications, but I thought for a moment and had two things enlighten my mind that were completely opposite and opposing from each other. Could these two things really be my strength?

The first strength that I thought of was that I have had a lot of success in my life. I have associated myself with successful people. I know what works in helping organizations create success. I have seen what successful people do to create even more success, and I have read huge volumes of books in learning how to personally create success in different areas of my personal and professional life.  So I thought, sure why can’t that be a strength?

The Second Strength, That Greatly Outweighs the First

The second strength I thought of – is a polar opposite from the first – and greatly overshadows it. It’s probably the single largest factor that has impacted success in my life. The second strength is, um, well… I have failed. I have a failed a lot. Failure has taught me what does not work, what NOT to do. It has molded me, chopped down the rough edges, and refined and focused me into the person I am today. I am sure the same is true for most people, but my failures greatly outweigh my successes.  So by quantitative comparison, I AM A FAILURE, and as the title suggests, I’m damn proud of it. If it weren’t for the failures I’ve had, I could never have reached the success I now enjoy.

The Failure Masochist

No, I’m not a masochist that enjoys the pain of failure or the struggles that are associated with it. I don’t look for opportunities to fail. I really strive to NOT, set myself up for failure. I strive to learn from my struggles so that I don’t repeat them. Unfortunately, no matter what I do… failures come, and they are almost always painful. They break me down, and make me grow. Like a forest that erupts into blooms after a fire scorches it to the ground, so must we be after our failures come.

Are we on the Path of Success, or the Path of Failure?

It may feel like the path of failure, but it is the path of success. Whenever I begin to veer off the path of success, I get poked and prodded by failures that direct me toward a straighter and faster route to even greater success. Failures are the enablers that help us reach success considerably faster. Without failures, we could never have success.

“Failures are the enablers that help us reach success considerably faster. Without failures, we could never have success.”  Tweet This!

The last month has resulted in some of the greatest successes in my life, but that success has been preceded by a path of innumerable failures, like a thousand fire-ants that I could not shake off. Yet those failures drive me faster towards heaps of successes. I’m sure you and I are alike; we all fail, we’re all human.

While I never look forward to my failures, I am proud of what I have learned from them and you should be proud as well.

The climb to success is wrought with failures… so let us all climb together. Let us support each other, not judge each other, look for the positive, celebrate the small successes, focus on the important things in life, and celebrate the overcoming of the many small weaknesses and failures that set us back.

“We can all do a little better, we can all become great.” Tweet This!

A Month of Success

This blogathon is chock full of examples of successes and failures. Every single writer this month shared their expertise that they have gained, by failing a thousand times first. The wisdom that resulted from those failures and the forthcoming lessons of success are priceless, and only in a small part, documented in this blogathon.

I strive to always hang out with successful people, I have told this to many. In truth though, I guess I actually enjoy hanging out with failures, since that is the path we all have taken to our success. I am honored to call the writers of the 2nd Annual International Leadership Blogathon – friends; they are some of the best group of failures I ever associated with. I only say that in jest, because they are all successful experts that kindly shared the result of their failures and successes with the world.

Until Next Time!

Today we don’t say good bye, the blogathon will live on, connections will be made deals with be stricken, and successes will be amplified. The greatness that is achieved from a single lesson this month might never be known to any us. That’s ok though.

Thank you, thank you, and thank you! It’s been enlightening. Please leave a comment and tell me what you have learned this month. What are the failures that resulted in your success?

The Power of Small Stories

power-of-stories-richard-andrewsSmall Stories are flying round every organization every minute of every day. Like mosquitoes over a lake in summer they get everywhere: in the corridors, the restrooms, the stockroom and the kitchen. They hover around the photocopier and the water cooler, they get under the door and through the smallest gap in the window. They settle for just an instant on some exposed skin and, almost unnoticed, they give a little bite. One bite’s no problem, but over time there’s one more then another; Ten, twenty, and they start to have a real impact!


Small stories are those little one-liners that are a great indicator of an organization culture.

A single story:

“I see the boss is out on the golf-course again”

tells you very little. But if the same kind of story is being repeated again and again, it becomes a big deal and whether truth or perception, it certainly has an impact on people’s beliefs and behaviors.

“I hear that the boss really bawled out Molly at the meeting last week”

quickly becomes a perceived truth that managers are disrespectful, abusive and don’t value the staff team. Forget about what it says in your values statement, it’s the Small Stories, truthful or perceived as truthful, that create the culture!

Leaders and managers are great ‘Big Story’ tellers: the annual staff day where the CEO delivers an upbeat PowerPoint about the great opportunities ahead, the monthly sales meeting, the annual appraisal, the staff newsletter and more! But most times leaders and managers don’t do small stories; they don’t like small stories. They get dismissed as ‘rumour or ‘gossip’. They’re seen as viral and uncontrollable, needing to be suppressed.

Using stories to turn negatives into positives and develop a great workplace culture.” Richard Andrews Tweet this!

You can spend a whole lot of energy trying to eradicate Small Stories but you’ve got no chance! Give up trying to kill your organization Small Stories and embrace them instead!

Small Stories don’t all need to be negative, there are great Small Stories too. What’s important is the balance between positive and negative.

So how about getting into the Small Story business?

Instead of trying – and failing to control those pesky mosquitoes, how about releasing a few of them yourself?

“It was great that Julie went that extra mile to close a deal.”

“The way John helped out in making sure that customer had a great experience of us made me feel really proud of our organization”

“There’s been a real feel of enthusiasm this week!”

Power-Small-Stories-Richard-Andrewsall have the potential to buzz around the workplace infecting people and counteracting any negative stories that may be hanging around. And if you and your management team are each releasing twenty Small Stories each week the balance between negative and positive will soon start to swing.

Positive emotion is just as contagious as negative.” ~ Richard Andrews Tweet this!

Be careful what your Small Stories are saying.

“Jane has really embraced the new strategy and has won a great new contract!”

is enough. It’s positive and everyone can draw whatever conclusion they wish to from it.

“Jane has really embraced the new strategy and has won a great new contract! It’s a shame everyone else isn’t as proactive as she is.”

ruins the whole impact! Suddenly we’ve got a story about how resistant and unhelpful the boss thinks the workforce are! What a waste of a good Small Story!

Equally, the thing that gives your Small Story wings is its truthfulness. If it’s not true, genuine and heartfelt it becomes nothing more than cynical manipulation.  Don’t be fooled, your people will see through that in an instant!

Please don’t ditch the Big Stories. The staff day’s fun, it’s informative and it makes your people feel they belong. Instead, add to it with a simple Small Story strategy. If you can stick to it, you might notice those mosquitoes giving way to butterflies!

On Leadership and the Knucklehearted Leader

On-Leadership-and-the-Knucklehearted-Leader-Tom-SchulteIn the fast and furious pace of business and life today, motivated people are constantly looking for betters ways to get things done. People are looking for solutions in technology, in personal and professional training, and in seeking shortcuts to help get more done in less time.

So what is driving results?

Getting Stuff Done

For anyone who is responsible for getting things done through other people, one of the most important things to remember is that you are getting things done THROUGH OTHER PEOPLE. This means that to be effective with living breathing people, you have to be considerate of what drives them.

You have to take into account that they come to you with personal lives, problems, heartaches, struggles, habits and crazy families. You must lead people toward your goals and mission knowing that each and every one of the people you lead are different. And this means that they have different personal drivers.

So to know that you have to get stuff done through other people, it makes sense that you are familiar with each person’s emotional drivers. This is at the core of emotional intelligence. Knowing your people as individuals will help you help them to align their drivers to your goals and help when difficult situations arise.

Personal Core Values

So what is really driving your results?

Values drive decisions. Decisions drive behaviors. Behaviors drive results.” ~ Tom Schulte Tweet this!

Take a look at what you value the most in life. And when I say “life,” I mean your WHOLE life that includes what you value at;

  • Home life
  • Work life
  • Recreational life
  • Spiritual life
  • Emotional life

For the sake of an example, let’s say that you, the leader, have established your top values as accountabilityfamilycareerrecognitionfaith, and independence. Well, imagine if you where asked to do some task by your boss that would have you undermine or have you be in direct conflict with your top values. how would you feel? And then imagine if this kept happening to you. And no matter what you did in protest, it kept happening. You had to continually compromise your values structure.

For most people, they would end up leaving this place to get into a better environment where they could have harmony with what is important to them. And most people would characterize their former boss as a #$%#!! They would think of them as a terrible leader who carries no amount of influence with them. Although this former boss may be plenty smart, they would come across as mean, cold and uncaring.

These are what I call Knucklehearted Leaders. They seemingly have a hardened heart toward the people they lead.

True Influence

So for you to keep from being perceived as a knucklehearted leader, you have to understand that your top values are not the same as virtually anyone else’s. And if some of your values seem to match or align with other around you, the meanings you give to those values can be quite different. You have to know the people you lead so that you can try not to violate something deeply personal to them.

So asking someone to violate THEIR values is the exact same as someone asking you to violate your values. It’s unattractive and resentful.

On the contrary, think how attractive and influential a boss would be if they took the time to understand you and allow you to openly discuss your personal values in context with the work you do. For most people, an “understanding” boss who respects and honors you values would be a dream come true.

So to be the most influential  leader you can be, know your people and what drives them.

After all, this is what is truly getting you your results.

So, what is driving your leadership? Do you take into account the personal drivers of the people you lead? Or are you a knucklehearted leader who is self-absorbed? What can you do to learn and care more about the values of the people you lead? I would love to hear your thoughts!


The Top 4 Attributes Every Leader Should Embody

The-Top-4-Attributes-Every-Leader-Should-Embody-Paul-JolicoeurSometimes leaders get to stand in the lime light, marching forward in a triumphant pursuit of excellence and performance. Sometimes leadership requires standing in the shadows to support those closest to you.

Leadership is about influence and accomplishing tasks while utilizing the gifts of those you lead. This should look in part, as if the leader is serving those around them.

One of the greatest lessons I have learned on leadership and one of the greatest areas of accountability for myself is this:

Leaders set the example of ideal.”- Paul Jolicoeur Tweet this!

When people look at you, they are seeing the template of what is expected of them. Be the template you want to see reproduced.

When I am looking to recruit new leaders into the areas I manage I ask myself a simple question.  Would I want the people this person leads to be just like them?

If the answer is yes, then we move on. If the answer is no, we have a red flag.

This is not about perfection. No one is perfect and we can’t wait around to do anything until someone is.

With that in mind, here are 4 areas in which every leader should set the example in to their team.

1. Attitude

If you want positive team members that are looking for innovative ways to solve problems and enjoy what they do and who they do it with, start with you.

Your attitude is contagious, what do you want your team to catch?

You want them to stay positive and encouraging, not negative and destructive. Display the attitude you expect from them.

2. Personal Discipline

Stagnant water begins to stink. It gradually becomes unusable. A team member that stops growing will become marginalized, demoralized and eventually unusable.

Look for ways to help your team members grow.

Be a lifelong learner yourself, read books, listen to podcasts, take classes and attend conferences. Start by setting some goals for your year.  We are all motivated by the growth we see in others.

Be a motivating force for your team.

When they see you making the effort to learn and become a better you, they will be challenged to do the same.

3. Time Management

You should be showing up on time and utilizing your time well. When you spend too much time at work doing things that are not work related, your team will follow suit. You will have given them permission to waste time.

If they see you working hard, staying focused and managing your time well, you will motivate them to do the same.

4. Work Ethic

You expect those that report to you to get their work done. You want them to put their best effort into everything they do.

We expect others to give their best effort, that is why you recruited them and want to work with them.

It will be very difficult for them to perform like this if they don’t see you doing the same. If you aren’t working hard you will debilitate your team and bring their work ethic down.

We can only expect from others, what we ourselves are willing to model.

Whatever standard you set will become their highest standard. Leadership is a gift and we must steward it well.

In what other areas do you believe a leader should be the example of ideal? 

The Leadership Pendulum

The-Leadership-Pendulum-Sandro-da-SilvaDilemmas are part of a leader’s routine. Should you follow your own gut feeling or should you listen to what others say? Should you offer the market what you want to sell or should you offer what the market says it wants? Should you tell your team members what to do or should you allow them to make their own decisions?

As you can see, the questions above are either-or questions, and choosing one option automatically excludes the other. If you approach your leadership challenges this way (many of us do),  you are always confronted with the risk of choosing one option at the expense of the other. That evokes fear in you, and sometimes so much fear that it paralyzes you and disturbs you with anxiety and stress.

My experience as an executive coach has shown me that there is a way-out. Leaders profit when they realize that the two options they see are only extremes of a continuum. They feel empowered when they discover that there are many more options, many more shades of grey (50 I have heard), between the black and white extremes the normally see.

That’s when I came up with the idea of The Leadership Pendulum. The Leadership Pendulum is a tool that helps leaders become  aware of what other possibilities there are between the two extremes they at the moment see. Moving from one extreme to the other,  leaders are invited to translate what the different pendulum positions mean to their current challenge. After translating what those different positions mean, they decide which best to use or implement.

Leaders profit when they realize that the two options they see are only extremes of a continuum. “~ Sandro da Silva Tweet this!

It’s no rocket science. Try it yourself:

  1. Take a blank piece of paper and draw a pendulum on it.
  2. Think about a challenge you are facing at this moment, which you experience as an either-or situation, a dilemma.
  3. Now write down either option at one extreme of the pendulum’s trajectory.
  4. Start now moving the pendulum away from one extreme towards the other extreme. Stop at different places in the pendulum’s trajectory and translate into words what that position means to your challenge. Carry on until you have reached the other extreme.
  5. Reflect on your options, make a choice and act.

The Leadership Pendulum has proven to be very useful in a variety of situations. I invite you to try it a few times and share your experience here. My clients usually say that it frees them from the conflict and the stress of dilemma, and allows to reconcile two options that seemed mutually exclusive. That makes them feel comfortable and at ease, and I hope it does the same to you.

Ditch the Fad-Surfing, Model the Universal Truths!

Ditch-the-Fad-Surfing-Model-the-Universal-TruthsChange is hard. Continuous change is draining. Leading change is hardest of all. Leaders have to deal with a double-whammy. They have to make sense of change for themselves, while simultaneously helping others to navigate its choppy waters. And there are no magic bullets, despite what the book titles tell you. At best you can make the change less painful or shorter in duration, or ensure that the pain is less deep and disabling.

Yet so many organizations and, by implication, leaders, stubbornly adhere to the ‘magic bullet’ theory. I spent many years at one of the big 4 consulting firms. We used a phrase there about magic bullets that has stuck with me. We called it fad-surfing, and in retrospect we were pretty cynical about peddling it.

You know what I mean? Last year we went Lean, because Results Based Accountability hadn’t quite stuck the year before, and Kaizen of two years ago was too “Eastern” for our people. This year we have discovered Appreciative Inquiry and we are planning a big roll out, because we are convinced this is the tool that is finally right for our organization…

Now my purpose is not to disparage the tools – each of the ones mentioned have hugely positive potential as change vehicles. And for leadership teams that need to make a difference, quickly, I can see their seductive effect. But it won’t happen unless leaders realize that change happens in our hearts, and hearts drive behavior.

Tools and processes in themselves are necessary but insufficient conditions for effective change. People out there are change-weary, cynical and jaundiced. They have been sold the “next big thing” that will make the difference many times before. And they don’t believe it!

A leading UK leadership expert, Keith Grint, used a phrase that resonated with me. These magic bullets create a BOHICA effect: “Bend over, here it comes again!”

Many of the fads that leaders love to surf are genuinely based on good theory and practice. It’s not the tools that cause the problem, but the leader mind-set. Fad-surfers’ see the tool as the answer. But people are always the answer, never tools –and people change from their heart.

The heart to heart process is the foundation of good change the world over. Process too often wins out over humanity, and lazy application of cosmetic tinkering (looks good on the action plans) seems more seductive than the hard graft of building and nurturing positive, mutually challenging relationships.

So here’s my plea. Alongside the tools, in fact before the tools, let’s breed leaders who practice some of the fundamental, universal truths about people and change. Here are a few of mine to kick off the debate; you will surely have some of your own:

“People believe what you do, not what you say.” – Translation, we look our leaders in the eye and ask, “Do I believe in this person?” We don’t ask, “Do I like the look of this tool?” We want authentic connection that we can believe in, not the latest version of the truth.

“What you give is what you get.” – Translation, treat people as units of production and that is what they will become. Treat people as vessels of potential and over time they will reward your faith.

“People change from the heart outwards” - Translation, engage in heart to heart dialogue, do not rely on top down process roll-outs. Light small bonfires of change by example and join them together rather than trying to impose the exhortation to sign up to your latest fad. That’s what the cynics are expecting – and they are cynical with good reason.

“If you are selling hammers, you will only look for nails.” – Translation, teach people about aspirational change, not how to re-order their world to meet specific project objectives. When they believe you, they will repay your faith many times over by finding and sharing better ways to make their world a happier, healthier and more effective place.

Challenge others to take personal responsibility by doing so yourself.” ~ David Hain Tweet this

“Good practice is contagious – but so is bad practice!” – Translation, undertake regular review at ground level, look people in the eye and ask for feedback, listen deeply to what they say and adjust plans in response. Human beings respond deeply to authenticity, and we can spot the absence of it a mile off! Have the courage to role model change and the honesty to accept feedback when it’s not inspiring others.

“Challenge others to take personal responsibility by doing so yourself.” – Translation, we get inspired by others who can see in us what we are often blind to in ourselves. Not through false positives based on seductive models. Genuine encouragement to fulfill our potential is far sexier than the latest big thing. Leaders need to seek partners in aspiration, not converts to a tool or process.

If more leaders approached change with these principles in mind rather than a promoting programme based, fad surfing mind-set, people will make a real and sustainable difference in their place of work. Maybe one day we will finally see “the last of the BOHICANS”!

Want Better Employee Engagement? Change may be the Answer.

Employee-Engagement-William-PowellUnless you have been sleeping under a rock for the past 10 years or so, employee engagement has quickly taken front and center. Its influence on bottom line numbers has been researched extensively and CEOs and other organizational leaders are sitting up and taking notice. According to a Boston Consulting Group report, companies that focus on being “People” Companies have “outperformed the market average in eight out of ten years“. In 2011, that difference was 99 percentage points in favor of “People” Companies. What’s a People Company? One that is committed to investing in the development of people as a means to enjoy better economic performance.

Employee engagement has to meet organizational goals and still add value to the personal and professional goals of the individual. The moment this balance is skewed in favor of one party over another, they both lose. If you’re not up to scratch on your engagement efforts and feel like you’re trying to sort out how to begin eating this elephant, take heart. You can utilize something that may already be on your radar to help.

There is little in the life of a business that captures its attention more than significant change. A laser-like focus begins to develop and people are at least expecting something new as a means to navigate the yet unfamiliar territory change tends to bring in its wake. Change provides an opportunity for questions, the openness to communicate uncertainty and the need to become more human with others in your organization.

Questions. Open communication. Human vulnerability. All key components to good engagement. Change also gives you enough latitude to revisit your values and cultural norms. Change that’s going to come anyway may be the best excuse to get off your duff and get cracking on improving your engagement levels and work towards becoming one of those mysteriously profitable “People” Companies.

Questions. Open communication. Human vulnerability. All key components to good engagement.”~William Powell Tweet this

Here are a few tips to help make change a great catalyst for improving your engagement levels:

  1. Critique your values – Will your current values support the change AND facilitate engagement? Be true to your organizational DNA, but make sure the language around your values has adequate purpose to communicate effectively enough to increase engagement. It has to speak to individual – as well as organizational – needs, desires and goals.
  2. Re-visit your mission statement – I’ve seen many organizations spend so much time crafting language around values and engagement and cultural refinement then not even touch their mission statement. Often times, this can lead to a seriously mixed message and actually decrease engagement. It’s tough to engage in something that is confusing or contradictory.
  3. Communicate alignment – As you reinforce the ranks to be prepared for change, take that opportunity to connect their roles to the vision and values and how that will make the change less painful. When people know HOW they are contributing to the success of something bigger than themselves, engagement happens much more easily.
  4. Challenge leadership – Don’t let your leaders sit in the corner and chew their nails while they wait to get run over by the change train. Completely uncool and unfruitful. Rally them around the benefits of navigating the change. How will the change develop them as a team? As leaders? What will be the individual win and the organizational win? Have them be active in the process and the communication of the benefits of it. This will drive engagement.
  5. Get your hands dirty – Find out where people feel overwhelmed and ask how you can help make it less ominous. Everyone needs to be responsible for their own engagement, but leadership is responsible for creating an atmosphere that facilitates that ownership. Provide an opportunity for people to communicate their anxieties and perceptions of the situation. Simple dialogue can do wonders for engagement.
  6. Include others – There needs to be a plan of action to effectively navigate the change. People doing the job probably have some great insight into how best to make it more effective and productive. You hired adults, so instead of being a babysitter with a manager title, listen to what they have to say. The more influence you can give them, the more effort they will put into implementing the solution they helped develop.

Change doesn’t have to be a four-letter word. It can be the biggest blessing your organization can receive if positioned properly. Imagine coming out on the other side of change stronger and more engaged, instead of beat up and only having survived the process. It’s time to make a difference. What will you do?

10 Steps to Lead with Your Personal Brand, not Your Title!

10-Steps-to-Lead-with-Your-Personal-Brand-not-Your-Title-Peter-SterlacciGuess what CEO, COO, CFO, CIO, CMO? At the end of the day, that title of yours really means nothing. CxOs are a dime a dozen and beyond the initial ‘wow factor’ that you might receive by telling someone you are Chief ‘Something’ Officer, that is where it ends. That fancy title actually ‘commodifies’ you even at the executive level, and people simply do not get excited about commodities!

Your true ‘wow factor’ comes from how your personal brand defines your leadership.” ~Peter Sterlacci Tweet This!

 10 Steps to Lead with Your Personal Brand

How can your ‘leader brand’ differentiate you from all the other CxOs out there? Follow these 10 steps to uncover and maintain the ‘wow factor’ of your leader brand.

1. Know Yourself to Grow Yourself

Do you know how others see you? Is there a gap between how you view your leadership and how those around you do? The first step to grow yourself is to know yourself and this involves both internal reflection and gathering external feedback.

The 360˚Reach Personal Brand Assessment enables you to gather data regarding the attributes, skills, competencies and strengths that define your brand. The process begins with a self-assessment and is followed by requesting feedback from others so you can compare how you view yourself with how you are currently perceived. The results will enable you to identify areas that you want to accentuate and areas you want to diminish as you define your leader brand.

2. Articulate your VPs

The foundation of your leader brand is called your ”VPs” – vision, purpose, values, and passions.

  • Vision: Your image of what you see possible for the world – your desired future.
  • Purpose: Your role in turning your vision into reality.
  • Values: The ideals or operating principles that determine how you conduct your day-to-day activities. Your values are true to you and you do not compromise them.
  • Passions: This is what motivates and energizes you. Your passions get you out of bed in the morning, but as a leader always have ‘pure unadulterated tenacity’ to drive your passions forward.

3. Define your Target Audience

When leading your job is not to be ‘famous’, but rather to be ‘selectively famous’. In other words, identify the people who need your leadership and communicate your leader brand only to them. This target audience are the only ones who need to know you. They are the ones who will ultimately make the critical decision to follow you. Once you know your target audience, do everything in your power to nurture them.

4. Tell Your Story

Michael Margolis, founder of Get Storied, says,

“Your story is your brand. You have to get others to believe and identify with your story. When you can do that — the need to persuade, convince, or sell disappears.”

You have a unique story to tell and that story is what makes your leader brand authentic. Of course others can relate to your story because it may be similar, but it is never exactly the same. Each story is unique.  Focus on those things that make you unique and capitalize on them. Perhaps your credentials and experience got you into your leadership role, but your character and story is what will compel people to follow you.

5. Create Your ‘Leader Brand Statement’

What do you want to be known for? Having an answer to this question defines what your target audience can expect from your leadership. Remember, this statement is NOT your title! It is also not your personal mission or life purpose. It is a memorable 1-2 sentence statement that is solutions oriented. Here is a great template to use when crafting your leader brand statement:

“I want to be known for being __________ so that I can deliver __________ to __________.”

It is vital that you truly identify with your leader brand statement. You need to live and breathe this every day so take the time to make sure it best represents who you are and what you can do.

6. Build Your Brand Communication Plan

Visualize your brand communication plan as the wheels on a bicycle. Without wheels you cannot move! This plan allows your leadership to move forward.

The center of a wheel, the hub, keeps the spokes together. Likewise the center of your plan is the core leadership message you want to communicate to your target audience. Your communication vehicles, or spokes, radiate out of your core message and provide the support to keep your plan together. These may include presenting at conferences, joining professional organizations, using social media, creating a blog, writing an article or book for publication, etc.

Select a mix of vehicles that you will enjoy doing and will actually enable your leadership to reach your target audience. Remember, a broken spoke makes a wheel wobble and lose its strength. Select vehicles that you are strong at, or at least ones you are happy to make stronger. Schedule these ‘spokes’ into your calendar and commit to executing and repeating them.

7. Follow the 3Cs of Branding

Now that you know what you want to be known for and have a communication plan in place, remember to always follow the three C’s of branding – clarity, consistency, and constancy.

  • Clarity: Always be very clear about who you are and who you are not. By knowing your unique promise of value you are identifying what sets your apart from other CxOs. This is what differentiates you and allows you to attract brand loyalty among the people who are compelled to do business with you.
  • Consistency: Once you are clear about your promise of value, consistently demonstrate your brand promise everywhere. This includes your social media profiles, your website, your business cards, your communications. Everything.
  • Constancy: It is not enough to be clear and consistent if you are not always visible to your target audience. Strong leader brands are constant. They are always there for their customers, prospects, and those who can help them achieve their  goals. Be visible or run the risk of being forgotten!

8. Live in the Inquiry

Regular maintenance of your leader brand is necessary so live in the inquiry and always ask yourself if what you are doing or saying is on-brand or off-brand.  Is it contributing to your leadership message or distracting from it? Google yourself regularly to see if there is anything off-brand.  Ask for direct feedback from your community or do another 360Reach personal brand assessment to check if others see your brand in the same way you have been presenting it. If you find yourself going off-brand, take a moment to stop, assess what has happened, and get back on-brand as quickly as possible. By being on-brand your credibility is maintained.

9. Adapt and Adjust

Your leader brand isn’t static. It should evolve in response to the different expectations you face at different times in your career. Have the self-awareness to evolve your brand and if necessary even reinvent your leader brand.

10. Rinse and Repeat!

On a yearly basis go back to Step 1 and start again. It is important to establish the habit of re-assessing your leader brand and creating a new plan for the year. Has your vision or purpose changed? Do you have a new target audience? Are you no longer living your leader brand statement? Was there inconsistency in how your communicated your brand?

In the end, it is vital for any one of us, not just CxOs, to lead without a title. Perhaps Robin Sharma, author of The Leader Who Had No Title, said it best:

“Regardless of what you do in your organization, the single most important fact is that you have the power to show leadership.”

Follow the 10 steps above and you too will show your leader brand!

Finding The Final 5% of Productivity – Saving Minutes to Find Hours!

Finding-The-Final-5%-of-Productivity-Jonathan-Creaghan“Imagine for a moment the following scenario…” Bill, a colleague of yours, has just checked his e-mail and received a note from a person with whom he has a tense relationship. There is a recurring issue between the two of them, that won’t go away. He interprets this e-mail as “snarky” and “bullheaded,” so he sits there at his desk, his mind filling with scenarios and responses he would really like to send back. This internal “chatter” goes on for 10 minutes as he stews in his own emotions. He sends a reply in an equally “dry” tone and immediately regrets sending it, so he stews further in guilt for another few minutes (say 20 minutes).

Total productivity loss: 30 minutes.

As he was working on something else at the time he received the e-mail, he needs to refocus his attention: another 5 minutes to build back momentum.

Total productivity loss now: 35 minutes.

As a result of this decaying relationship, there is a heaviness and running conversation weighing within him of which he is barely aware — that won’t go away. Total time spent in chatter, tension, and loss of productive action – significantly more than 35 minutes. Especially if he takes it home, which he is apt to do.

Total productivity loss now: immeasurable with a significant cost to his inner well-being and probably his family time. Who won’t get his full attention when he gets home.

Now multiply that 35 minutes by 3 (the number of times it recurs during a month) and you see that he wasted an hour and half of time. But this is not the end of the story, because Bill and his nemesis also sit in meetings together. How productive do you think they will be? Since Bill is not the only person who wastes time reacting to emails, we can safely multiply that over the number of employees that work at his company as well.  It could run into the thousands of minutes, 100 employees translates into 3500 minutes a day (approximately 58.3 hours). Now I know that not all people, everyday, stew and keep tension inside them, so I have exaggerated somewhat to make a point.

Start to connect productivity to thought and perception rather than action and performance. ” ~ Jonathan Creaghan Tweet this!

 In error, we connect productivity to performance.  Technological gadgets are invented to save time and effort: smart phones, e-mails, laptops, and tablets were all designed to make our lives “easier and more efficient”. But my experience tells me that these endeavors don’t get at the answer to real and profound productivity improvement that exists within us and between us.

Let’s dissect the above scenario for a moment. We find that Bill is unproductive because of his limited perceptions and conclusions he made about the message in the email. Unable to break free of habitual responses, interpretations, and judgements of whom this other person is and what happened to create this situation in the first place, he follows predictable responses that waste time and energy for all involved. And the funny thing is, if you were to ask Bill if he was productive, he would say “Yes”.

When Bill learns to examine his own thinking, he is free to discover a more accurate “picture” of reality and certain things begin to occur. His mind begins to relax and open up, the resulting clarity allows him to accurately perceive situations, create options for responses, and to reconnect with what is really going on. With less “head chatter” and unnecessary emotions, Bill will be able to distinguish between actions he needs to take and those that are unnecessary.

The source of productivity is within thought and perception itself. We can perform efficient actions with the help of gadgets, but ultimately to find the final 5% of workplace productivity, we will need to learn how to work with our thoughts.

How to Solve the EGO Problem on Your Team

How-to-Solve-the-EGO-Problem-on-Your-Team-Sean-GlazeAll high-performing groups will have people who are confident, but if your team is struggling, it may be because people on your team have an ego problem.

Ego is not in itself a bad thing.

All achievers have a healthy ego.  Bo Ryan, Head Coach of the Wisconsin Badgers basketball program explains that, “The selfless player with ego is a great team mate.”

But not every player with an ego is selfless, and it is those teammates or coworkers (the ones who have a destructive ego) that make succeeding in an organization difficult.  A teammate with a “bad” ego has a negative influence on team chemistry, but also limits his or her productivity and improvement – because bad ego “Eliminates Growth Opportunities.”

A “bad ego” is dangerous.  The ancient Greeks used the word “hubris,” and that blinding self-pride was often the tragic flaw that led to a powerful character’s downfall.

So what is the difference between “Bad” ego, that destroys team productivity and cohesiveness, and “Good” ego, that contributes to group success?

The difference can be simplified as destructive arrogance vs. constructive confidence.

Read the following eight descriptions, and see if you recognize yourself or a teammate:

  • Destructive arrogance (bad ego)  – needs to be in the spotlight and takes credit for team success.
  • Constructive Confidence (good ego) – is comfortable being part of something bigger than himself.
  • Destructive arrogance (bad ego) is often difficult to approach and belittles others
  • Constructive Confidence (good ego) is open and warm while sharing encouragement
  • Destructive arrogance (bad ego) spends most of his / her time talking (and bragging)
  • Constructive Confidence (good ego) spends most of his/her time listening (and learning)
  • Destructive arrogance (bad ego) becomes defensive when a conflicting idea is shared
  • Constructive Confidence (good ego) is interested in understanding other perspectives
  • Destructive arrogance (bad ego) is threatened by others’ success and focused on self
  • Constructive Confidence (good ego) celebrates others’ success and wants team victory
  • Destructive arrogance (bad ego) refuses to acknowledge weaknesses and makes excuses
  • Constructive Confidence (good ego) admits weaknesses and takes responsibility
  • Destructive arrogance (bad ego) assumes he/she knows more than his/her teammates
  • Constructive Confidence (good ego) is willing to ask for advice and leverage others’ strengths
  • Destructive arrogance (bad ego) usually uses the word “I” in conversations
  • Constructive Confidence (good ego) usually uses the word “we” in conversations

As you read through the descriptions, did someone in your organization pop into your mind?

Did you see yourself in any of the italicized “bad ego” examples and descriptions?

If so, the good news is that anyone can modify their perspective and behavior to be a more positive and valuable member of a team.  A team ego problem can be solved.

So, if someone in your organization has an ego problem, how do you solve it?

As G.I. Joe used to say, “Knowing is half the battle!”

The most important thing you can do is to make them aware of the issue.

In many cases, just the suggestion to a person that they are damaging the team dynamic can be a powerful catalyst for them to begin making a few personal changes in their behavior.

A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.” ~Benjamin Franklin  Tweet This!

Destructive egos eliminate growth opportunities when they refuse to acknowledge their own need for improvement or refuse to see themselves as one piece of a much larger and more important puzzle.

Bad ego causes people to focus on themselves and their own personal accomplishments.  It leads to a self-importance that seeks to focus attention on them instead of seeking ways to use their talents and contribute to others.

So what are a few other ways to solve the ego problem on your team?

Well, once you have become aware of the problem (or helped a teammate to acknowledge the problem), you can try the following ideas:

  1. Have the person list the ways that others have contributed to their success – it wasn’t by themselves that they succeeded in the past, and it will not be by themselves and their own efforts that they will enjoy success in the future!
  1. Choose one of the destructive ego descriptors and then assist the person in changing REPLACING the destructive behaviors with more productive and positive ones.
  1. Identify a behavior from the constructive ego descriptors that the person may already do well and suggest ways to leverage it and begin building better relationships with the team.
  1. Have the person make it a point to inquire about other teammates more often – and have them ask for advice about things that they are working on.
  1. Place the person in situations where he/she MUST depend upon others to be successful.  Learning interdependence can be difficult, but it becomes easier once the person finds that he/she can trust and depend on others.
  1. Provide opportunities for team building activities and bonding – the more the person learns about their teammates’ strengths, backgrounds, team personality types, and challenges, the more he/she will feel a part of care for the group.

Many years ago, Benjamin Franklin wrote that “a man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.”  Our job as teammates is to work together – and remember that confident collaboration creates a far better culture (and far more success to celebrate) than arrogant competition.

When Rick Pitino was coaching the Boston Celtics, he asked Bill Russell to speak to his team before a game.  Russell agreed, and began his brief speech by telling the group that HE was the most egotistical S.O.B. in the room.  “But my ego was always a team ego.  My ego was linked with the success of my team… and the greatest disappointment I had as a player was the year i was hurt and we didn’t win a twelfth title.”

Everything we do as leaders should be geared toward building a stronger team ego.

If you are looking for a special addition to your list of meeting topics or breakout sessions as part of your next conference, consider the benefits of a team development event as a catalyst to improve your group morale, energy, and interactions!

Have you thought of anything that you would like to add to the list? Please comment below.